Here’s my top 10 things to watch from a fantasy perspective in Week 9:
1. Brock Osweiler was the inspiration for zeroBadQB, not drafting players with premium picks on teams that could have bottom five QBs. I have no doubt Osweiler is a bottom five QB. Now he’s on the road against a team that can get after a QB. Emmanuel Sanders needs a show-me week anyway off of his ankle injury. So that leaves Demaryius Thomas, who I would play with fingers crossed for maybe a garbage time touchdown. Or maybe Paxton Lynch comes in and does something, though if he had any chance in the eyes of the Broncos coaches, I assume he’d be playing now.
2. C.J. Anderson has just 34 carries the past three weeks but with a bye cross your fingers he can do something against the 23rd-ranked defense in yards allowed per carry.
3. There is no shutdown corner this week for Sammy Watkins with Janoris Jenkins suspended by the team indefinitely. This should really open up the Giants pass defense of the kind of game we expected from Watkins when healthy back in August when he was still with the Bills. You can’t play Watkins with confidence, of course, but I would definitely play him. I assume a lot of focus during the bye week was devising ways to get Watkins more involved.
4. Orleans Darkwa is averaging more than five yards per carry but can’t seem to wrestle all the carries away from the stable of so-called Giants backs, none of whom are good at running the football. Darkwa is a sleeper RB12-to-15 if the bye made the Giants resolved to make him the primary RB as he should be after leading the team to their shocking Week 7 win over the Broncos.
5. The Saints D is nothing to pick on anymore, actually allowing less points per game than the Broncos. New Orleans is 12th overall in points allowed. I got grief for saying Mark Ingram is a buy this week but people still think Alvin Kamara is a RB2 so the question of whether Ingram is for real given his production the last three weeks, when he’s fourth in the league in rushing yards and first in rushing TDs. I think he is.
6. More on the Saints … look for Josh Hill, who has taken two-thirds of the tight end snaps, to emerge as a top 12 tight end. He was trendy in fantasy for his receiving a couple of years ago.
7. Without Kelvin Benjamin, who is the alpha-dog in the Carolina passing game? I can’t believe it will be Devin Funchess, whose role I do not expect to change. The Panthers obviously want to get faster so maybe Christian McCaffrey gets used more as a slot receiver and Curtis Samuel becomes more of a five-to-10-target focus. Samuel, just 21, ran a combine best 4.31 40 and has Tyreke Hill potential when Hill came out of nowhere last season around this time.
8. Will the Houston Texans passing game be non-functional with Tom Savage or can his WRs lift him up? This rarely happens but it’s possible. It happened with a number of Vikings teams in the Randy Moss/Cris Carter era. But I will bet the former and trade DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller now rather than hope for the best. But I do hope for the best because our game needs more good players.
9. Jordan Reed is likely out Sunday and since Vernon Davis does some decent things with him active, shouldn’t that mean that this ageless wonder thrives as the No. 1 TE? It hasn’t worked out that way in the past, with Davis averaging 11.4 PPR points in Reed’s absence. I think Davis at this stage of his career can only do things occasionally when in mismatches that will now be less frequent with teams not having to key more on Reed. In half-point PPR he’s just another guy in the bucket to start at tight end. But, again, this is not a normal week so play him.
10. Is Green Bay a dead team now, meaning a zeroBadQB one, which means that Jordy Nelson is in 2016 DeAndre Hopkins-land going forward this year? Brett Hundley was a trendy DFS pick in his first game as a starter but was awful. He provides a running threat that theoretically could help Aaron Jones, but I’d bet against that, too. You have to play Jones because he is the RB1 and is obviously talented. But I would just drop Ty Montgomery if he is not a serious backfield receiving threat this week. Throwing boatloads of dump-offs to Montgomery should be the primary focus of the Packers passing game for now.