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Mon Nov 9th 2020

2020 Week Nine Review

Garbage Time Counts

Week nine was not as entertaining as week eight from an NFL standpoint, but plenty of fantasy points scored in uncompetitive games. Even though the marquee matchup to end the day was a blowout. It was still a fun Sunday of football since we were able to follow our fantasy players.

I had a decent week, personally. It looks like my dynasty teams will finish 5-3 this week. Win or lose; it's a joy to watch football all weekend and cheer on all of my teams.

After following all of the games this week, here are my thoughts on what we learned after week nine and its impact on our dynasty teams.

Week Nine Observations

Too-Little-Too-Late

  • Week nine was not the most competitive from an NFL standpoint, but teams' come-from-behind efforts were kind to fantasy football. I counted five onside kick attempts at the end of the early games, meaning five teams scored late were too far behind to kick the ball off and use timeouts. While it was less entertaining from an NFL fan standpoint, dynasty managers were happy to get the late touchdowns from Christian McCaffrey, Jimmy Graham, D.K. Metcalf/Russell Wilson, Drew Lock, and Jake Luton (okay, no one started Luton). The too-little-too-late comebacks amounted to no NFL wins, but they indeed amounted to points that carried fantasy teams to wins. When the NFL competition is less than compelling, fantasy football can keep us engaged and rooting for garbage points.

Guessing Game

  • While watching the Pittsburg vs. Dallas game, I was reminded how frustrating it is to start wide receivers from either team this year. Each team has three talented wide receivers, but every week a different one leads the team in fantasy points. I wish there were a clear WR-1 on each team, but there is not. In the last three weeks, a different receiver from each team led the team in fantasy points. Pittsburg's leaders in the previous three weeks were Johnson, Claypool, and Smith-Schuster. Dallas' leaders the last three weeks were Cooper, Lamb, and Gallup. All six players are usually starting in fantasy line-ups because they have high floors with a few exceptions because of their consistent targets, but only a few times has one of them performed well enough to win dynasty managers a game. I wish one player from each team could establish themself as the most-targeted and highest-scoring wide receiver week to week, but it's not likely to happen this year. Hopefully, for dynasty's sake, this will change in years to come.

Third-Year Breakout

  • Wide receivers typically breakout in year two rather than year three, as was commonly thought. Christian Kirk, however, is playing by the old rule. Since missing week three with an injury, he's had 343 yards receiving and six touchdowns, resulting in 83 fantasy points. He's been second on the team in targets and snaps since that point and is living up to what dynasty managers hoped when they drafted him in the first or second round three years ago. I had Kirk as my #3 ranked rookie wide receiver that year behind D.J. Moore and Anthony Miller. It took him some time to shine, but now he's establishing himself as one of the top receivers in the 2018 class alongside Calvin Ridley, D.J. Moore, Courtland Sutton, and D.J. Chark. I'm going to move him much further up in my dynasty rankings this week.

Opportunity Knocks

  • This year, Kalen Ballage bounced from the Chargers to the Jets and then back to the Chargers again, and for some reason, he led the team in carries this week and scored 15 fantasy points while doing so. Justin Jackson hurt his knee on the first possession, and instead of giving the ball to their fourth-round rookie pick, Joshua Kelley, they gave the lead role to the guy who has been on and off their practice squad this year. I've seen enough of Ballage to believe this is a one-week-wonder. I won't look to pick him up on waivers this week. I leave that to other managers who want to deal with the mess of a backfield in Los Angeles until Austin Ekeler returns and dominates touches again. However, another running back has bounced around the league this year that I would be interested in picking up. Salvon Ahmed received his first carries of the year after moving from the San Francisco practice squad to Miami. The Dolphins were without Myles Gaskin and Matt Breida, and they don't trust Jordan Howard for more than goal-line touches. Ahmed out-performed Howard in the game, though Howard did score a goal-line touchdown. Miami has already proven that they were willing to give the lead running back role to a player they signed off a practice squad in Myles Gaskin. They could do the same with the other Washington Huskie on their roster. Ahmed will be my top waiver priority this week. I mention it here instead of in the waivers section in hopes that the guys in my league may not see this. Ahmed was my top recommendation to draft in the 5th round of rookie drafts last year. I was very surprised that he did not get drafted by an NFL team and was thrilled when the 49ers signed him as an undrafted free agent. I thought he would have a chance to compete with the muddy backfield in San Francisco and become Shanahan's next star UDFA running back. Instead, he was picked up by Miami and now has a chance to show what he can do on a team in need and not afraid to start him over guys they are paying more than him.

Week Nine Injuries

Christian McCaffrey

  • McCaffrey injured his shoulder late in the game on Sunday, and reports indicate that he may miss more time after finally returning from his ankle injury on Sunday. He was back to his old self, scoring 32 fantasy points on Sunday. CMC managers will be devastated if he winds up back on IR. Mike Davis played incredibly well in the first three games that CMC was out this year, but he lost a lot of steam and did not play well in the last four games while CMC was on IR. I'm not sure that this one game was enough rest to make Davis a suitable starter again if CMC misses time. He doesn't seem like he's able to handle the full workload.

Kyle Allen

  • Alex Smith will cement his comeback player of the year award now that he's the starting quarterback in Washington. Allen's ankle injury looked very similar to Dak Prescott's, meaning he will miss the rest of the year. Smith threw for 325 yards and one touchdown, but he also threw three interceptions. I'd chalk the interceptions up to rust. I believe he will play far better after a week of practice. Smith has far more experience than Allen and appears healed from his horrible leg injury and months of surgery and therapy. He checks the ball down a lot but should move the offense as much as Allen could. I don't think there will be a dropoff in the fantasy output of Washington players.

Preston Williams

  • Williams was looking like a favorite target of Tua Togavailoa before injuring his foot after a touchdown catch. It appeared to be a severe injury, but X-rays have come back negative. He's still likely to miss a game or two, though. Jakeem Grant should get more playing time in his absence but should not be a viable fantasy player. On the other hand, Devante Parker should see increased targets while Williams is out, rightly raising the expectations of Parker, who is already an every-week starter.

David Johnson

  • Johnson sustained a concussion on Sunday. Players often come back the next week after a concussion, but concussion effects can also linger. Duke Johnson took almost all of the snaps and carries to finish the game and caught four passes. Duke did not look impressive and should not start in fantasy line-ups even though he'll be the clear starter in Houston if David Johnson misses time. The Texans already could not sustain a run game. It will be even harder for them to do so with Duke Johnson. Deshaun Watson and all the pass catchers in Houston should benefit the most by this injury if it lingers.

Laviska Shenault

  • Shenault left the game early with a hamstring injury, and Chris Conley performed well in his place, catching seven passes for 52 yards. Perhaps rookie Jake Luton, who got his first start on Sunday, built a rapport with Conley on the back-up team for the first half of the season. It's unclear if Shenault will miss any time, but hamstring injuries last a few weeks. I still don't think Conley is worth a roster spot on Dynasty leagues. D.J. Chark and Keelan Cole are the only Jaguar wide receivers worth a roster spot, in addition to Shenault.

Week Nine Waiver Wire

As a reminder, I play in 27 to 30-man roster leagues (true dynasty leagues), so the players I list here are for deep leagues only. If you play in shallower leagues, there are certainly better players than these to pick up off the waiver wire. That said, for those of you in true dynasty leagues, here is who I would be looking to pick up this week. I list them in the order that I would prioritize them.

Jake Luton

  • I picked up Luton in several leagues last week after being named the starter due to Gardner Minshew's injury. Luton will start the rest of the season even after Minshew heals because Jacksonville has to see what they have in Luton before the NFL draft when they have an opportunity to draft a quarterback. Luton looked good in his first start, leading what looked to be a last-minute game-tying touchdown drive, he failed to convert the two-point conversion. He threw for 304 yards and had one touchdown passing and one touchdown on the ground. That's a great start. He's my top waiver priority this week. I'll try to add him this week in the leagues that I did not pick him up last week.

Alex Smith

  • Smith cemented his comeback player of the year award by becoming Washington's starting quarterback for the rest of the season. He's likely already rostered in superflex leagues, but if not, I'd look to add him this week. I'd only make bids for him in one-quarterback leagues if I were thin at quarterback due to injuries. Smith could help this year, but I don't believe he'll be a starting NFL quarterback beyond this short opportunity this year.

Devontae Booker

  • Booker is only getting 10-15 snaps a week, but he's the clear handcuff to Josh Jacobs. All running back handcuffs should be on dynasty rosters, but Booker is available in a lot of my leagues. I'd look to add Booker this week and drop him for the likes of another back-end running back handcuff like D'Onta Foreman or Samaje Perine, who I recommended picking up last week.

Cam Sims

  • Cam Sims, not Steven Sims, has quietly become the WR-2 in Washington, at least the last two games where he has had the second-most snaps among wide receivers behind Terry McLaurin. I'm not confident that this will last, but his three catches and 110 yards should cause Washington to take a closer look at him in the coming weeks. I don't think I would add him to many of my teams, but I will consider it if I have another player worth dropping.

Week Nine Trades

Trades are hard to grade in a vacuum since scoring systems are different in each league, and every team has a diverse roster construction. That's why I write about trades made in my leagues and give context for why the dynasty owners made the trades. I grade the trade, but in the context of what each team was attempting to accomplish with the trade.

That said, here are my thoughts on trades that were made in my leagues this week. I hope these trades give you an idea of how other active owners value these players and future picks.

DeeJay Dallas <-----> 2021 3rd round pick

  • This trade took place in my 12-team PPR league. The team that traded for Dallas is in second place and wanted an extra piece to help him win a game last week and hoped Chris Carson's injury could amount to 1-2 more starts by Dallas. He got what he needed to help him for a few weeks. The team that received the 2021 3rd is near the bottom of the division and was wisely willing to give up a player that will likely never be a team's starting running back for a 3rd round pick, which is earlier than where Dallas got drafted in last year's rookie drafts. It was a fair trade that suited both teams' needs. I would have made the same trade if I was managing either team.

James Robinson <-----> Jaylen Samuels and a 2021 1st round pick

  • This trade took place in my 12-team, PPR league, salary-cap league. I usually don't write about trades in my salary-cap leagues because most people don't play in salary-cap leagues, and the trades are tough to grade based on the financial implications of the trade. However, this trade was for players on one-year contracts, so it's more like a normal dynasty trade. Robinson is the most traded player in my leagues this year, and it's not even close. Dynasty managers are drawing the line on Robinson's dynasty value. Is he worth a first-round pick since he's outperforming all of the other first-round rookie running back, or is he a one-year wonder? Contending teams are more willing to give away a first-round pick to see because they know he will at least become a starting running back for their team the rest of the year. That's just what happened here. A contending team made the trade to acquire Robinson, hoping he could lead their team to a championship before, in this salary-cap league, having to give him up to free agency. It's an easier trade for a contending team to make in a regular dynasty league since the team could keep Robinson, but in this case, he cannot, which means he'll be upset if this move does not lead to a championship. He'll have to beat my stellar team in that league to do so, and I don't plan to let that happen.

T.J. Hockenson <-----> Denzel Mims and a 2021 1st round pick

  • This trade took place in my 12-team, weighted PPR, tight-end premium league. Hockenson is finally living up to his of his first-round rookie status. He's becoming Matthew Stafford's most targeted pass catcher. This league gives 1.75 PPR to tight ends, so it's not as lopsided of a trade in a league like this. Hockenson is the 56th highest scoring player in the entire league, just behind Julio Jones. Hockenson should only improve, which is why one owner was willing to give up a solid wide receiver prospect and a first-round pick for Hockenson. The team that traded Hockenson is rebuilding, so I can see why Mims and a first-round pick would help his team. Hockenson is worth two players, but since even draft picks in the first round can bust, I would have rather traded for two young players who have already proved their value or potential value. I like the Hockenson side of this trade.

Corey Davis <-----> 2021 2nd round pick

  • This trade took place in my 12-team PPR league. Davis has been productive for several weeks in a row. His play has raised the question, "Can Davis finally live up to his first-round rookie value?" Few managers believe that he can, but here we see that some think he could live up to a second-round value. This trade was made by the same owner that traded Hockenson for Mims and a 2021 first-round pick. At least he's consistent. He's compiling picks to rebuild his team. I like this trade a little more than the previous one. Davis could be a late-bloomer like Devante Parker was last year, only Davis is on the final year of his contract and may not re-sign with Tennessee. Regardless, Davis may have a better career than an unknown second-round pick, but at least the owner who acquired the second-round pick accumulates picks, giving him a better chance to hit on a player who will be four or five years younger than Davis.

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