Fantasy Football Winners and Losers of Week 9 - Roto Street Journal
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Fantasy Football Winners and Losers of Week 9

WINNERS

QB       Matt Ryan     25/34 for 344 yds     4 TDs, 0 INT     36 fantasy points

At some point in the not too distant future, I am going to have to get onboard the Ryan Express.  There is simply no way around this fact, because every week that goes by with me secretly assuming Ryan and the Falcons will collapse as they have SOOOO many times in the past… well, frankly it is starting to make me look really stupid.

The Falcons’ offense is ridiculously good.  It is easy to reflexively say that Julio Jones, who is 2nd in the league in receptions and yards as of the time I am writing this piece, is the 1 man show who makes this team go—except that it is simply is no longer true.  Is Jones their best offensive weapon?  Sure.  But just look at what the Falcons did on Thursday night if you want to get a feel for why everyone should fear this squad:

Ryan passed for 344 yards and 4 TDs, spreading it out to 7 different receivers.  Jones led the way with 111 yards on 8 grabs (as you might suspect), but his long reception was for 21 yards.  There were 5 other guys on his team who caught a longer pass than that—and in fact the Falcons lead the NFL in plays over 20 yards by a country mile.  Add to that the 130+ yards on the ground that the Falcons (playing without RB Tevin Coleman) put up, and you have a serious problem on your hands if you are an NFC team.

Matt Ryan’s stats through 9 games are as follows: 2,980 yards passing, 23 TDs, 4 INTs, with a passer rating of 119.0.  This puts him on pace to pass for just under 5,300 yards with 41 TDs and around 7 picks.  Utterly disgusting numbers.  And lest you think he is just a dome QB, his production is pretty much equal at home and on the road this year.

I remember when the Saints won the Super Bowl like 5-6 years ago, I was one of the last to believe.  I saw them play all year, and because I had never really experienced success from the Saints before, I just assumed it was fool’s gold and eventually they would fizzle out.  I don’t want to make the same mistake again with Ryan and the Falcons.  Am I declaring them my pick for the Super Bowl?  No, not just yet.  But I am now convinced they can beat anybody out there.

It’s better to be late to the party than to miss the whole thing.  And I’m finally in the door.

RB     Melvin Gordon      32 for 196 yards rushing, 1 TD      4 receptions on 4 targets for 65 yards     36 fantasy points

I was literally writing this paragraph as a gushing acknowledgement of Mark Ingram’s resilience, as Ingram had been benched for fumbling recently and had come back with a massive game in San Francisco.  Ingram was not just silencing the doubters.  He was loudly telling them to shut the fuck up.  But as I wrote, Melvin Gordon kept on running.  Melvin Gordon kept on scoring.  And eventually I had no choice but to scrap what I had to say about Ingram and give Melvin Gordon the respect he is due.

Remember when Melvin Gordon didn’t score any touchdowns last year?  It happened.  Less than a year ago.  Gordon played a whole year and did not get the ball into the end zone even once.  Of course, his position in fantasy drafts suffered mightily as a result, and people were left to wonder if this guy could ever be the fantasy stud they thought he might be one day.

Well, after this week, Gordon has stumbled his way into the end zone 12 times through 9 games.  If you’re keeping track, that puts him on pace to score TWENTY TOUCHDOWNS this year.  That has got to be the biggest turnaround, I don’t know… ever, maybe?  Gordon is on pace to carry the ball 343 times this season.  There is a phrase to describe that many carries and touchdowns in the fantasy community: a shitload.

RSJ writer Jimbo Slice mentioned on the podcast this week that the Titans’ run defense was sneaky good and he expected Gordon to be neutralized on Sunday—which was not a crazy argument.  Gordon, unfortunately, did not get the memo that the Titans’ run D was good, however.  So we just got more of the same from him.

WR      Mike Evans      11 for 150 yds on 17 targets, 2 TDs      39 fantasy points

Mike Evans had one of the most spectacular one handed catches you’ll ever see on Thursday night when the Bucs hosted the Falcons, and he paid dearly for it.  Evans is currently going through the concussion protocol and his status for next week is uncertain, but for now I’m going to concentrate on the great stuff Evans did this week—and there was plenty of it.

First off, let’s talk about the 17 targets that came Evans’s way.  By itself, it is an impressive number to be sure, but it elevated his total for the year to 103.  That puts him on pace to be targeted by his quarterback 206 times this season.  If that insane number ends up being where Evans lands, it would place him 2nd all time for targets in a season, behind only Rob Moore in 1997.  You know?  Rob Moore?  Anyway… that sort of volume can result in only one thing: an out of control fantasy monster.  Keep in mind Evans is the only game in town and he is a go-up-and-get-it type receiver, which works out perfectly for Jameis Winston’s QBing style.  It isn’t going to stop any time soon if he remains healthy.

Second, let’s look at his touchdowns.  He scored 2 on Thursday, but Evans has scored 8 times so far this year, which is obviously a huge number through 8 games played.  I’ve always been a big believer in touchdowns being a little random and not to put too much weight in them when trying to measure a player’s value relative to another player’s.  However, in the course of almost certainly losing an argument on this very issue with my RSJ colleague and podcast cohost, The Wolf, I may have come to accept there can be certain exceptions to the rule (subscribe to the damn podcast).

The Wolf argued that touchdowns are far less random for certain styles of players, and Evans is the best example of that he could think of.  Unlike Amari Cooper, who I liked more and argued for the superiority of, red zone targets are a huge part of Evans’s game.  In fact, in an and-goal situation, a pass attempt to Evans seems almost like a sure thing.  When dealing with a player like that, touchdowns are less random, and it is fair to assume Evans will continue to (at the very least) be targeted with touchdowns in mind.

I will leave you with his stats at season’s end if his pace up until now continues:

110 receptions on 206 targets, 1490 yards, and 16 touchdowns. (insert eggplant Emojis here.)  I am officially a believer.

TE      Jason Witten      8 for 134 yds on 10 targets, 1 TD      28 fantasy points

What year is it?  If you answered 2012 because you woke up a little groggy and saw some of Jason Witten’s Sunday afternoon performance against Cleveland, no one would blame you.  Tony Romo’s security blanket became Dak Prescott’s sledgehammer for at least 1 day, catching 80% of the balls thrown his way, scoring a touchdown, and blowing all other tight ends in the league away in the process.

Witten shone brightest in a week that no other tight end (except maybe Antonio Gates) did much.  As someone who has traditionally pulled against the Cowboys, I have gradually found myself disliking them less and less this year, and a workmanlike performance like this from Witten only strengthens my resolve to start rooting for them.

The Cowboys run the ball better than anyone.  Their quarterback doesn’t turn the ball over or make big mistakes.  If Witten becomes a star again—or even a major contributor—Dallas is going to be in the Super Bowl.  Mark my words, people.

LOSERS

QB      Ben Roethlisberger      23/45 for 264 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 rushing TD                          18 fantasy points

If you’re going purely by the stats, there were maybe 3 big name guys who had more disappointing fantasy days than Brave Ben.  At the end of the day, however, I couldn’t pin the label of Loser of the Week on Matt Stafford, Andrew Luck, or Cam Newton. Why?  Because all of those guys went on the road and actually won—Luck and Stafford in games they were decided underdogs in.

Instead, I am calling a guy who is playing on one leg my loser of the week.  Maybe it is more a commentary on how highly we regard Roethlisberger that his mere presence made most of us paying attention think the Steelers would go on the road and win this week against the Ravens.  In truth, however, the 21-14 final score didn’t represent how much the Ravens controlled this game—and keep in mind that the Ravens were in the midst of a 4 game free-fall coming into the contest.

Roethlisberger looked slow (of course), not terribly accurate, and only managed what amounted to garbage points to super stud Antonio Brown late in the game.  For the third time in a row, the Steelers went on the road and looked like a steaming pile of dog shit—losing to Philadelphia, Miami, and now the hapless Ravens.  It is officially time to panic.

I argued a couple weeks ago after that Miami loss that people were way overrating the Steelers.  I stand by that rant 100%.  They are now in a 3-way dogfight for supremacy in the AFC North, a division pretty much everyone figured they’d win before the season.  Don’t be surprised at all if they end up losing the division and missing the playoffs in the process.

RB      Todd Gurley      12 rushes for 48 yards, 4 receptions for 26 yards    10 fantasy points

This was the hill that the Rams were going to fight on to make a last ditch attempt to save a season that none of us (if we are being honest) ever though would be worth a rat’s ass anyway.  Well, they fought on that hill on Sunday, and they died.  You will not be hearing from the Rams again this year, and Todd Gurley, despite his talent, has not done anything to change that stark reality.

Outside of the Panthers’ own “we don’t play defense” division, only the awful 49ers have given up more points than Carolina.  Undeterred by the stats suggesting they should score 25-30 points against the Panthers’ terrible defense, the Gurley-led Rams put up 10—and those all came in the 4th quarter.  It was another in a growing line of offensive disasters for Los Angeles, and this is a trend you can count on to continue.

I still don’t doubt Gurley’s talent.  I’ve seen him explode, I know what he’s capable of.  But I now fear regularly for his safety as the only worthwhile part of an otherwise laughable offense, and I am beginning to wonder if this hellish season will rattle him psychologically moving forward.  Only time will tell, but you can throw the towel in on this season.

WR      Jarvis Landry      3 for 33 yds on 6 targets      6 fantasy points

It was tempting to give this dubious honor to Brandon Marshall, who also had an underwhelming game in Miami and whose team actually lost, but at the end of the day Landry (who I predicted as my stud of the week) underperformed to a degree he couldn’t be ignored.

It is tragic what a guy like Ryan Tannehill (or Brock Osweiler) can do to a great talent like Jarvis Landry (or Deandre Hopkins).  In Landry, you’ve got a top 10 guy—maybe close to a top 5 guy—who is going to drop out of the top 20 as far as WR fantasy scoring after this piece of shit performance we were treated to Sunday afternoon.  Stuff like that makes me legitimately angry to watch.

I feel sorry for Landry, but I don’t think there’s any saving him this year.  The trends are all bad for him.  He had 31 receptions in his first 4 games.  In his last 4 games he has 18, down a whopping 42% from where he started.  Am I the only one who thinks maybe Tony Romo should go to Houston or Miami for a couple years to end his career?  I’ll bet Landry wouldn’t try to talk him out of that move.

TE        Gary Barnidge             3 for 23 yds on 3 targets                                5 fantasy points

Jimbo Slice, who thought Melvin Gordon would not produce this week, felt the same way about Gary Barnidge.  The Wolf, who fancies himself quite the tea leaf reader, LOVED Barnidge this week and declared him his stud of the week.  When you add to that the fact that Jimbo declared Antonio Gates his stud of the week and The Wolf named Gates his bum of the week, this became what amounted to a dick measuring contest.  And Jimbo’s log won out.

A lot of people wanted to believe this was a sneaky game for the Browns—a trap game for the seemingly indestructible Cowboys.  Forget the fact that the Browns are 0-8 and the Cowboys are 7-1!  What do wins and losses mean anyway?  The Browns are due!  The Cowboys are going to be overconfident!  Don’t be surprised at all if Cleveland really pushes Dallas!  They might even win!

Fuck.  Off.  Idiots.

The Browns suck.  They will always suck.  And Gary Barnidge?  Well, evidently he sucks too.

Author

  • The Truth is the oldest (and wisest) member of the RSJ team. He loves reality TV, is skeptical of pass catching running backs, and thinks John Elway is the greatest quarterback of all time.

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