We’re more than halfway done with the 2020 fantasy football season and with most trade deadlines approaching this week, here are the NFL Week 9 fantasy risers and fallers.
The athletic freak of a tight end that is Evan Engram was a guy we were high on over here at the RSJ. Then we watched him crack double digits only one time through the first 6 weeks in PPR scoring (a 6 catch for 68 yards game in week 2) and insults were thrown—hate cuts may have been suggested and even followed through on. And now, since we’ve been paying attention, we’re back on the Engram Train. Weeks 7-9 have seen Engram targeted 9, 10, and 10 times, respectively. He has had at least 5 catches in each of those games, and he scored this week which was good enough to make him the TE3 for Week 9.
We’ve talked about it on the pod several times—the gap between Travis Kelce and everyone else at tight end is an absolute chasm. With that in mind, if Engram continues to get the targets that he’s getting is there really anyone other than Kelce you’d definitively want as your TE? Maybe Darren Waller? The fact is, Engram has gone from a player folks were hate cutting a few weeks ago, to arguably the second-best fantasy tight end going right now. And that… is the definition of a guy’s stock going up.
The Jags said it. They told us this was coming. The Wolf and I reported it dutifully on the podcast, albeit snickering every few words. So, for those of you listening, you knew it before it happened.
When the guys from jaguars.com said the Jags were expected to “throw downfield more” with new quarterback and household name Jake Luton, the news was greeted with (in my opinion) an appropriate amount of skepticism. Sure, I figured their QB might try to sling it a little more—I just doubted the WRs would actually catch many of them. Well, I was wrong. Luton threw for 304 yards and a score (which for a Jags’ QB is like throwing for 600), and almost half of those yards came from throwing to DJ Chark.
Chark hauled in 7 catches and was targeted 12 times. He turned those looks into an impressive 146 yard receiving day and accounted for Jacksonville’s lone score through the air. The rest of the Jaguars’ WRs only managed 66 yards combined. Those are attention-grabbing numbers.
Now, it’s true—Chark has been an up and down performer. Just a week ago, he had a miserable 1 catch game (although even in that one, he was targeted 7 times). But the fact that this week’s numbers came in his first game with a new quarterback would have to be considered encouraging. If the Jags are going to become a more successful aerial team, and remember—I said IF—DJ Chark seems a good bet to be the biggest part of that aerial pie.
Here is a guy whose fantasy stock has been going up. And up. And up. And then up some more. With Robby Anderson as the well-established WR1 for the Panthers, and DJ Moore as the alleged WR2, there did not initially appear to be loads of aerial pie left for a guy like Curtis Samuel to chow down on—especially with the return of fantasy points factory Christian McCaffrey returning to action. Not. So. Fast.
Samuel’s most recent game was the best of the year. He was targeted 9 times and pulled in all 9 of them for 105 yards and a touchdown. Getting the ball thrown your way 9 times when Anderson and McCaffrey are out there too is a serious nod from QB Teddy Bridgewater. Catching all 9 of them and scoring too? You’d have to think Samuel is going to keep getting action.
While Moore’s stock has gone up and down and has recently plummeted (Moore has just 4 receptions for 73 yards in his last 2 games combined), Samuel has filled that void and then some. Since Week 5, Samuel’s points under PPR scoring are as follows: 8, 10, 16, 21, 27. As far as tracking a stock goes, I’m pretty sure that one looks a lot like an arrow pointing straight up. It seems like the power structure has shifted in the Carolina receiving corps.
After watching the Baltimore offense struggle to put up the fantasy points most of us expected they would all season, we found ourselves cautiously optimistic about seeing a little bit of a turnaround in Week 9. The overcrowded backfield had finally corrected itself due to Mark Ingram’s injury, and Lamar Jackson had mentioned how he was going to make a point of getting Hollywood Brown more involved. Everything was falling into place.
Let’s everybody pump the brakes. The suddenly dangerous two-headed backfield of JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards ran the ball 23 times for 53 yards, splitting the carries and the paltry yards almost exactly down the middle. They also each caught 2 meaningless short passes. Anyone expecting a workhorse to emerge would have been sorely disappointed.
Lamar Jackson’s passing was mediocre at best. While he had his 58 yards on the ground, Jackson only threw for 170 through the air. As far as getting the ball to WR1 Hollywood Brown, not so much. Brown was targeted 5 times, and only managed to catch 3 for 38 yards. If this counts as more involvement, I’m not signing up.
And last but not least, don’t forget TE mainstay Mark Andrews. Andrews had impressive games in Weeks 4 and 5 (against Washington and Cincinnati for whatever it’s worth), but since then he has been total trash. Scoring 4, 6, and 5 fantasy points in his last three outings, Andrews has not caught more than 3 balls or racked up more than 32 yards in any game during that stretch. It’s hard to be too excited about anyone on the Ravens’ offense right now.
Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay
Speaking of things it’s hard to be excited about, let’s transition to the terrible running game of the Broncos. It’s going to be fairly easy to keep this one brief.
Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay, both guys who have had their moments of greatness or at least goodness in the NFL, ran the ball 14 times for a grand total of 41 yards combined last week. They also COMBINED for 1 reception that went for 9 yards. Those numbers by themselves are jaw-droppingly bad, but when you take the time to consider they took place against the Atlanta Falcons, there’s no need to draw the argument out any further. It doesn’t seem like you can start either of these guys anymore.
It sure seems like Devin Singletary is cuttable. The heir apparent to the Bills’ backfield, Zack Moss, didn’t exactly set the world on fire with his 9 rushes for 18 yards and a score in a win for Buffalo on Sunday. But let’s take a moment to examine Singletary’s stat line. Singletary got 2 carries. He managed to turn those two carries into 1 yard. And yes, he caught 3 balls for 33 yards, but it seems like his time as any sort of reliable RB is at an end.
It has now been 5 games since Singletary cracked double digits in PPR fantasy points, and he has averaged 34 yards rushing and less than 20 yards receiving over that stretch. 5 games is not a small sample size—it’s over half the games played this season. When a team starts giving a guy 2 rushing chances a game at the end of 5 miserable games like these, they’re telling us all something: if this guy was ever the guy… he’s not the guy anymore.