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Tue Nov 9th 2021

2021 Week Nine Review

It was a crazy week nine in the NFL. There were many upsets on Sunday and fantasy surprises. Sadly, many of the fantasy surprises were of the negative kind, leaving dynasty managers disappointed.

I had a mediocre week, finishing 6-4. It could have been better, but it could have been worse too. As always, at the end of the weekend, I remind myself that win or lose, it's a joy to watch football all weekend and cheer on all of my dynasty teams.

After following all of the games this week, here are a few of my thoughts on players and situations and their impact on our dynasty teams.

Ten Observations From Week Nine

Hard Setting Lineups

  • Before talking about the actual games, I first wanted to talk about a terrible week for setting lineups. A rash of bad news impacted dynasty teams. Derrick Henry had surgery and is out for at least the remainder of the fantasy season. Calvin Ridley stepped away from football to focus on his mental health. Michael Thomas announced that he had a setback and will not return to play this season. Aaron Rodgers got COVID and sparked a national controversy. Noah Fant was also placed on the COVID list. Henry Ruggs killed a woman and her dog in a highspeed crash that led to his arrest and being cut from the team. Several players were suddenly moved to IR while others were designated to return but reportedly on a pitch count. There were only three afternoon games, making it hard to have a player to throw in your starting lineup if another player was suddenly declared inactive. I changed my starting lineups this week more than any week thus far in the season and wrestled with every decision. It was not a fun week leading up to kickoff.

Upsets are Upsetting

  • Once the kickoffs arrived, it turned into a week full of upsets. Several home favorites got smashed by visiting teams, including the Cowboys, Rams, Saints, Bengals, and the Bills to the Jaguars on the road 9 to 6. These upsets were upsetting to fan bases and dynasty managers because apart from garbage time points in the case of Dak Prescott, losing quarterbacks brought down the fantasy production of all the players on their teams. What was true of the NFL games in week nine was true in many of my dynasty matchups. I was favored to win in all four games I lost this week. I had the painful experience we've all had before of watching my winning percentage drop throughout the day on Sunday. We've all been there before, and it's upsetting. Thankfully, I think some NFL teams will bounce right back and their fantasy production with them, but a few teams now have legitimate reasons for concern.

Forget About It

  • I'm willing to chalk up their upset losses to a bad week rather than a trend for a few teams. I'm not concerned about the Cowboys, Rams, or Bills. I think they will eat some humble pie and bounce right back next week. It's not as if you would consider benching any of the fantasy-relevant players on these teams, but I want to reassure everyone that there is nothing to be concerned about with the likes of Dak Prescott, Matt Stafford, Josh Allen, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Zeke Elliot, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Darrell Henderson, and Stefon Diggs. I didn't see anything that made me think that defenses have figured them out. It was just a bad week for these three offenses, so stay the course with these players.

Where There's Smoke There's Fire

  • However, I am concerned about the offenses of some teams who have put together consecutive weeks of poor production. I am worried about the Chiefs, Bengals, and Saints. The Saints have the excuse of losing their starting quarterback. As mediocre as Jameis Winston was, he could still move the offense better than the Saints' backups, Trevor Siemian and Taysom Hill. Alvin Kamara, I'm afraid, will see a dip in his production the rest of the season. He's the only player defenses need to try to stop, and they will focus all of their attention on him. Since the Bengals' upset road-win over the Ravens in week seven, the Bengals' offense has been stifled. In the last two games, Joe Mixon has found the end zone three times, but he's only averaging 50 yards rushing per game. Defenses are giving more attention to Ja'Marr Chase, and he's had his worst two fantasy games of the season the last two weeks, averaging 39 yards per game after his 201-yard game in week seven. The Chiefs averaged 34 points per game the first seven weeks of the season but averaged half over the last two weeks. Something is wrong with the offense and Patrick Mahomes is proving to be human. He's already thrown more interceptions (10) than he did in the entire regular season last year (6). Tyreek Hill is producing for dynasty managers in PPR leagues, but he's no longer giving managers the week-winning games with big plays. Travis Kelce is on the worst stretch of play in the last 5-6 years of his incredible career. Something is wrong with these offenses. While you can't leave the best fantasy players on these teams out of starting lineups, you do have to temper expectations and have to question your dynasty teams' ability to compete for a championship this season.

Giant Problems

  • While dynasty managers eagerly wait for Saquon Barkley's return, only Devontae Booker is worth putting in starting lineups. The Giants are content to win games with their defense, and they have no faith in Daniel Jones because his pass attempts per game are falling, and his banged-up receiving corps can't help the offense. Sterling Shepard used to be a reliable starter in PPR leagues, but he can't stay off the injury report. Kenny Golladay finally returned to play this week but had just two catches for 28 yards. Kadarius Toney had his one breakout week in week five but has been injured or unproductive in every game since. Evan Engram finally scored his first touchdown of the season this week, but take that play away, and he had just two catches for eight yards. The Giants have a bye week this week. If Barkley isn't back the following week, this offense is in serious trouble, and dynasty managers should avoid its players at all cost.

Ruggs-less Raiders

  • Sunday was the Raiders' first game without Henry Ruggs, whom they cut after his arrest. It was our first chance to see what the offense would look like without the speedy deep threat, and it did not look good. I hoped this would be the opportunity for Bryan Edwards to emerge as Carr's leading receiver. He did not. Though he was on the field for 59 snaps, he ended the day with no catches on four targets. Darren Waller predictably led the team in targets (11) and receptions (7). The rest of the targets were primarily check-down passes, except for one twenty-yard catch by Zay Jones. It's just a one-game sample size, but it was not a promising day for Bryan Edwards truthers like myself. The Raiders are apparently signing DeSean Jackson to fill a similar role to Ruggs. Perhaps he can help the team, but he'll likely not help dynasty teams. Apart from Waller, it's hard to confidently start any Raider, especially when Kenyan Drake out-touched Josh Jacobs again and both have battled injuries.

Blast From The Past

  • James Conner won or cost people weeks on Sunday, and Jordan Howard is once again the leading running back in Philadelphia. Conner went ballistic on Sunday, singlehandedly costing me two dynasty games. Chase Edmond got injured on the Cardinals' first offensive play, and the Conner was off to the races in their blowout defeat of the 49ers. The Cardinals' last-minute scratch of Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins led to a conservative run-heavy game plan led by backup Colt McCoy, the only backup quarterback to win a game this week. I've always loved Conner and was surprised to see Pittsburg let him go to Arizona. His aggressive running style and power in short-yardage have been on full display this season. He's carried fantasy teams with touchdowns this season, but he was unleashed in the running and passing game with Edmonds sidelined. He's moved from the "gotta-have-a-touchdown" category to an every-week starter while Edmonds is injured. I think the Cardinals will be smart with him, though, and get Eno Benjamin some more touches in the coming weeks. Jordan Howard, once a reliable dynasty asset, had moved from the waiver wire to a considerable starter after his performances over the last two weeks. Howard led the team in touches this week with 17 and scored a touchdown for the second week in a row (two last week). While Miles Sanders is on IR, Howard has moved from a "start him if you're desperate" player to a startable player. Philadelphia was committed to the run this week, even in a game they were trailing. Their offensive philosophy is changing, and Howard is reaping the benefits.

On The Field And Out Of The Doghouse

  • The 49ers welcome George Kittle back on the field and let Brandon Aiyuk out of the dog house. In a game they were trailing from the get-go, the 49ers were forced to pass, and this week Kittle and Aiyuk were the top targets ahead of Deebo Samuel. Kittle was supposedly on a pitch count, but he played 43 snaps and caught six of eight targets for 101 yards. Aiyuk had his best game of the season, scoring 15.7 fantasy points. The 49ers' offense is at full capacity now, which means Samuel's target share will drop. Dynasty managers can't rely on Samuel to carry their teams like he did the first half. Kittle demands too many targets and Aiyuk is finally back in Shanahan's good graces. Both of them looked awesome on Sunday, and their dynasty value finally deserves to rise again after a pitiful start to the season. Their rise in value will lead to a drop in Samuel's value. Hopefully managers with Deebo on their roster, like me, road his success to wins and a high chance of a playoff spot. I think we'll need to hang on the rest of the season while managers with Kittle and Aiyuk catch up to us.

Purple People

  • The most exciting game of the week was a matchup of purple on purple. The Ravens and Vikings battled into overtime in a back and forth affair. I believe it was the third overtime game for each team, which is wild. Minnesota promised to get Dalvin Cook the ball more this week, and they did. He had a 100-yard day but was unable to find the end zone. Justin Jefferson finally came back to life, scoring a touchdown for the first time in four weeks, while Adam Thielen spared fantasy managers by scoring a touchdown on one of his two catches. Sadly, Thielen deserves to be thought of as a touchdown-dependent player at this stage of his career. It's hard not to start him, though. Lamar Jackson went nuts again with more than 100 yards rushing, and three touchdown passes. Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman were his most productive targets, though Brown scored most of his fantasy points in overtime, and Mark Andrews had more targets than Bateman. Bateman is very close to becoming an every-week starter in fantasy lineups. His future is bright, as is the future of two other rookie wide receivers from this class.

Two Rookies Breakouts

  • It was great to see Elijah Moore have his first breakout game on Thursday night, and DeVonta Smith had his best fantasy game since week one. Moore's injuries prevented him from an early-season breakout, though he earned a starting role on the team when the season started. Smith was also a starter in week one and scored a touchdown in his first NFL game but has been kept out of the end zone until Sunday afternoon when he had his second 100-yard receiving game. Moore had a two-touchdown game on Thursday and looked explosive in his runs after the catch. This was a strong wide receiver rookie class. It's fun to see two of them begin to break out in their rookie seasons. Dynasty managers with these men on their rosters are rightfully excited to see them play and have hopes to see them starting in their lineups for the next decade.

Week Nine Waiver Wire

As a reminder, I play in 27 to 30-man roster 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, but if you're in deep dynasty leagues, these are the players I would make bids on this week. I list them in the order that I would prioritize them.

It's a bad week on the waiver wire, but there is one player I am eager to add this week.

Eno Benjamin

  • Benjamin was the clear backup to James Conner after Chase Edmonds left the game injured. He made the most of his first touches in the NFL, carrying the ball nine times for 39 yards and a touchdown. Edmonds is likely to miss several weeks with a high ankle sprain. Benjamin won't get the kind of workload that Edmonds did during that stretch, but he'll get more than he did this Sunday once he's worked into the game plan. The Cardinals need to do everything they can to keep Conner healthy for the long haul, so they will need to give Benjamin more carries than they did on Sunday. Benjamin was a great NFL prospect even though he fell to the 7th round in NFL drafts. Most dynasty managers carried him through much of the season last year but dropped him somewhere along the way. He's finally on the field and should be added back to dynasty rosters this week.

Olamide Zaccheaus

  • This week, I was very unclear who stands to gain in the Atlanta offense while Calvin Ridley leaves the team for mental health reasons. I thought it would be Tajae Sharpe or Russell Gage. Instead, it was Zaccheaus, at least for this week. Zaccheaus played just over half the snaps as Sharpe and Gage, but he was the one who found the end zone on two of his three catches. He needs more playing time before I'd encourage dynasty managers to pick him up in every league, but he's worth adding in very deep leagues.

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.

Here are my thoughts on trades that took place in my leagues this week. I hope these trades give you an idea of how other active owners value these players and future picks.

It was an active trading week in my leagues.

Deebo Samuel <=====> DeVonta Smith and a 2022 1st round pick and 2nd round pick

  • In this ten-team league, three teams are 5-3, and four teams are 4-4, so there's no clear team at the top. In this case, a lot of teams are still contenders this season. This trade was made between teams that are both 5-3. One manager wanted the immediate impact of Samuel over waiting on Smith's development. I think he was too impatient and gave up way more than he should have for Samuel. Samuel and Smith separated by only four spots in my wide receiver rankings at 17th and 21st, respectively. A player-for-player trade seems fair, so the picks make this a one-sided trade in my eyes.

 Derrick Henry and a 2022 1st round pick <=====> Joe Mixon

  • This trade was made between a contending team and a rebuilding team. The team who received Mixon is in second place mainly based on the production of Henry this season. He needed a replacement for Henry to stay in contention. The team that received Henry and the first-round pick is in second to last place and can use this trade to rebuild and make his chances of finishing last this season increase. I don't have a winner or loser in this trade. Both teams did exactly what they needed to help their teams. This is an excellent example of a dynasty trade between a rebuilder and a competitor.

Boston Scott <=====> Mark Ingram

  • I made this trade in a league with Alvin Kamara on my roster. I wanted to have Ingram as a handcuff since my team, a competitor, would not fare well if Kamara got injured. Ingram signed a two-year contract, so I wanted to have Kamara's handcuff for this year and next. The team I traded Scott to was hurting at running back and had Kenny Gainwell in his starting lineup even after Scott outplayed him last week. I thought he might want to secure the Eagles' backfield, and he did. Sadly for him, Jordan Howard has muddied those waters. That said, after he made this trade with me, he made the following trade to really help his team and his running back situation.

Aaron Jones <=====> J.K. Dobbins and a 2022 2nd round pick and a 2023 1st round pick

  • His team no longer needs Boston Scott because he traded to get Aaron Jones, making him "in it to win it" this season. In my mind, four teams have championship rosters this year, and he is one of them. Giving up J.K. Dobbins and a first and second-round pick, however, was a hefty price. I like the Dobbins side of this trade because Jones is too inconsistent in his fantasy production. Dobbins will recover fine from his injury and help the other team rebuild quickly. The 2023 rookie class is supposed to be far better than the 2022 class, so I like that he could get a first-round pick in 2023 instead of 2022, even if it makes his rebuild take a bit longer. This will be a fun trade to look back and analyze a few years from now.

Marvin Jones <=====> Kendrick Bourne and a 2022 3rd round pick

  • This minor trade was made in my 14-team all-flex league. Neither side team is clearly rebuilding or contending. I think the Jones manager must have been tired of Jones's lack of production this year and was ready to move on from him for a younger player and pick. The team that acquired Jones is 3-5, while the team that received Bourne and a pick are 4-4 and currently would not make the playoffs. I bet both teams just wanted a change in their roster. Both Jones and Bourne are startable players in a 14-team league with no kickers or defenses and 10-man starting lineups. I like the Jones side of this trade a little more because I like him more than Bourne, and third-round picks in a 14-team league rarely hit.

Emmanuel Sanders <=====> Mike Davis and 2022 3rd and 4th round picks

  • The team that acquired Sanders in this trade is by far the best team in the league. They needed Sanders to start this week and to provide depth as he marches toward the playoffs. Mike Davis was useless on his roster, so he was willing to give him up along with what will be very late third and fourth-round picks. The team that received Davis and the picks is a competitive team, too, but was willing to give up one of their older players for backend running back depth and a few late picks. I think I favor this Sanders side of this trade since he can help a team this year, but it's close. The other team will have two more late-round stabs in next year's rookie draft, which is helpful since few of them pan out. At least he'll be able to throw a few more darts next year.

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