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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Commissioner’s Corner: Week 9 Fantasy Football Start ‘em or Sit ‘em

How much should Antonio Brown be valued in his first week as a Buc?

Former pro bowler and current Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown is active against the Saints in week 9
| Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It is week 9 of the regular season, and for most of us, we are only four short weeks away from our fantasy football playoff brackets.

This is the point in the season where you’re looking at where you’re at and where you could be heading into the final stretch of games. Usually about now, if you’re at or above .500 and among the majority, you have a good chance. If you’re under......better luck next year.

Hopefully you have some good opposing matchups with low Points For in the upcoming weeks. What’s killing me are these dang bye weeks (have I ever said I hate bye weeks?). All my best players have been benched with no more options left to pick up.

With injuries still a factor, there are still some options that you might be able to pick up to help you win down the stretch. Yup, you guessed it.....even Antonio Brown made the list.

Let’s get into our starter recap first.

Starter Recap

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New York Giants Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Buccaneers fearless leader Tom Brady was my starter pick for week 8. This game was fully intended and expected to be a blow out but the Giants sure had other plans. Just as Evan and I talked about on the Bucs Nation Podcast, the Giants actually came to play. The defense was able to stop Brady from marching all over them.

Brady didn’t necessarily have a terrible outing from a fantasy perspective though. He was still able to score 21 FPTS with 279 yards and 2 touchdowns. Luckily no interceptions this game. He threw 40 passes to eligible receivers, but only completed 28. If he was able to get warmed up quicker, things could’ve very well been a lot worse for the G-men as he did get things going with Evans and Gronkowski in the second half.

For my fantasy running back option, I went with Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Boy, that didn’t go well did it?

There’s literally no excuse why fantasy owners had to be punished like they were. He is arguably one of few RB1’s that should be relied on week to week. I think every analyst and fantasy owner had no doubt Edwards-Helaire would have a great score against a team that ranked 25th against opposing running backs, regardless of Le’Veon Bell’s presence. Just proves one thing is for sure, you should never ever assume anything.

Edwards-Helaire scored 6 FPTS (might as well have been a goose egg - don’t worry owners, I’ve got your back!). He split carries with Bell practically down the middle, getting only 21 yards on 6 carries. Neither back scored a touchdown. This is probably the biggest shock coming out of week 8. According to ESPN, he should be only be considered no higher than a RB2 against the Panthers in week 9. I’m not going that far, but he’s worth watching for sure.

My wide receiver pick was Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans. He didn’t get going until late, likely due to discomfort that Brady had early on, but he did manage to pull in a touchdown which saved his day.

Evans scored 16 FPTS with 5/7 receptions netting 55 yards and a touchdown under the lights in primetime on Monday Night Football. There’s a lot of talk about how Antonio Brown will be utilized, so as an owner there might be some concern. Marshon Lattimore hasn’t had a great season, but he does typically have Evans’ number when it’s called. With Godwin also returning, I’m just not confident he’ll be able to produce the fantasy value week in and week out.

I started Rob Gronkowski at tight end. I want to believe that my readers are listening to me and picking him up, or maybe it’s just happening naturally. Regardless, week after week we’ve seen fantasy owners acquire him. He had another +2.8 acquisition rate this past week heading into a favorable matchup against the Saints who are ranked 30th against opposing tight ends. He’s now currently on 95% of rosters and started in 77%.

I’ve been blasted by my own fantasy owners in a league that I manage about my love for Gronk. Haas anyone been looking at his fantasy stat lines? He scored double digit fantasy points in 50% of his matchups. He’s had over 50 yards receiving three times. He’s now scored in three consecutive games. He is sitting pretty comfortable with a 10 PRK out of all tight ends.

Last week Gronkowski got 14 FPTS with only 41 yards, but he did manage to get the first touchdown of the game in the third quarter against the Giants last week which apparently turned the Bucs toward the winning direction. I think the Brady/Gronk connection is alive and well in Tampa Bay, and all fantasy owners should continue to ride that for the rest of the season. There are arguably some unfavorable matchups, but not too many. He’ll do well down the stretch, starting this week.

Now for the fun to begin. Next week will start our official fantasy football playoff run, but those that are even in consideration need to start with a ‘W’ in week 9. Let’s get to it!

Quarterback

NFL: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Start: Josh Allen (QB4), Buffalo Bills (vs. Seattle Seahawks)

Allen started off the 2020 NFL season red hot. Actually, I’d go as far as to say white hot (which is hotter by the way). He scored 28 or more fantasy points in weeks 1-4. Since then he hasn’t broken 18. Maybe defenses are clueing in on Brian Daboll and Sean McDermott’s game plan.

Cole Beasley and Stefon Diggs are having good seasons. John Brown was hurt since week 4, which put a damper on things. Diggs is definitely a fantasy WR1 this year with an average of 17 fantasy points per game. Only three touchdowns, but tons of yardage each week. Beasley is currently ranked 23rd but he’s been highly effective with two games over 100 yards. He’s seen double digits every week except weeks one and eight.

The bottom line is, the Bills have weapons. John Brown is healthy again and it’s a favorable matchup for all their receivers and Allen playing at home against a Seattle defense that is ranked dead last against opposing wide receivers. The wow factor is that the Seahawks have allowed an astounding average of 56 fantasy points per game against opposing wide receivers (NFL average is 34).

Sit: Lamar Jackson (QB15), Baltimore Ravens (@ Indianapolis Colts)

I’m sure just about every fantasy owner wasted a fairly high pick to make sure they got the reigning NFL MVP. Probably picked up immediately after Mahomes did. I was able to get him in the third round. Luckily I was also able to pick up Aaron Rodgers by round six (phew!).

Unless Jackson is running the ball into the end zone himself, he’s just not that effective this season. He’s an amazing talent, but seriously ineffective in the passing game. He’s only gone over 60% completion percentage three times this season.

Last week he scored 14 FPTS against a very good Steelers defense ranked 5th against opposing quarterbacks, so we can’t blame him for that. The Colts are however ranked third against opposing quarterbacks, so the situation is just a bit more bleak for the former MVP. Keep him on your bench, don’t get rid of him. I wouldn’t even trade him. He’s always better down the stretch, so he’ll be good to get you in and through your fantasy playoff bracket.

Running Back

NFL: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Start: Zack Moss (RB46), Buffalo Bills (vs. Seattle Seahawks)

I believe all the pre-season hype on Moss is finally coming to fruition. Many were dead certain that Singletary wouldn’t hold onto his starting position for long, and I guess we finally saw that last week. Moss was considered very Marshawn Lynch’esque in his build and downhill running capabilities.

He out snapped Singletary for the first time all season in week 8, doubling his productivity. He scored 20 FPTS with 81 yards on the ground and managed to hit pay dirt twice last week against the New England Patriots. The Seahawks are sitting right in the middle of the pack against opposing running backs, so I’m not overly concerned with their front four.

If this trend continues, you should count on Moss to carry you up to and through the fantasy playoffs as RB2 or a consistent Flex option.

Sit: Ronald Jones II (RB13), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. New Orleans Saints)

Sorry to do this guys. As our very own Evan Winter said on the Bucs Nation Podcast week 9 preview, we’re not sure what to call him anymore. He’s no longer Rojo, he’s “RoFo.” I said it before in one of my start/sit articles that Ronald Jones II has proven himself to be a significant threat even with Fournette returning. Yes he is but the fact is if Fournette is healthy, Leftwich and Arians want to keep defenses from keying in on their game plan.

If Fournette is healthy, he will remain an active part of the overall game plan. You’ll never know if he’s only going to be used in passing downs, late in the game, or just third downs. So, then it leaves Rojo owners guessing at how he’ll be utilized any given week. Since he’s not very good at pass catching, Brady is likely not to pass him the ball unless he absolutely needs to.

I’m sure this could be the game that Jones goes off too. The point is, you don’t know and that’s what makes the Bucs offense so dangerous. This is a must win, so the Bucs coaching staff will do whatever works in their favor, especially against a defense ranked 6th against opposing running backs.

Wide Receiver

Pittsburgh Steelers v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Start: Corey Davis (QR34), Tennessee Titans (vs. Chicago Bears)

Yahoo analysts have Corey Davis starting this week against the Bears, but Adam Rank of NFL.com does not. I’m going to agree with the guys at Yahoo on this one.

He’s projected to score 11 FPTS in week 9 against a very good Bears defense. No doubt this is going to be tough, but this is a case where Tannehill needs a consistent target to start connecting with, and Davis could be that guy.

Davis scored and impressive 26 FPTS last week with 128 yards on 8 completions and a touchdown. He’s scored double digit points every week this season. His lowest fantasy score came in week three against Minnesota before going on a bye week and then found himself contracting COVID-19 landing in on the COVID-19/Reserve List.

Even though A.J. Brown is still the primary target, Davis is a reliable target. Bears are likely to try and lock down Brown, which will free up Davis for some nice playmaking opportunities. I’m not saying he’s a WR1, but he’s worth a start if you have Higgins, Green, Landry, Kupp, Woods, Fulgham, or Reagor which are all on bye this week.

Sit: Antonio Brown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. New Orleans Saints)

I’m actually laughing as I’m writing this. When you read my bold prediction on Sunday, you’ll know why. He doesn’t even have a PRK yet, and we’re already talking about him in fantasy circles.

I can actually appreciate the Bucs picking up AB. If Antonio Brown produces anything like he used to, he can help the Bucs nail the coffin closed for the rest of the NFC (maybe even the rest of the league). Three of the greatest wide receivers in the league today are sitting on one team, having balls thrown to them by the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. WOW!

Feel free to jump on the bandwagon. Stash him away, and wait for the playoffs. He’s already been picked up on 84% of rosters, and rightfully should be. I picked him up in all three of my leagues as soon as I heard he was heading to Tampa.

All I’m saying with this one is, let’s give him some time to settle in. You saw how long it took Brady and Gronk to acclimate to the new system here in Tampa. There is nothing timid about an Arians offense, so Brown will definitely need some time to get settled in.

Tight End

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Football Team Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Start: Logan Thomas (TE19), Washington Football Team (vs. New York Giants)

A lot of discussion around Thomas this week. I’m actually surprised too since the matchup doesn’t appear favorable. Let’s not forget the touchdown pass to Gronk last week that Brady was able to throw him.

It appears you’re not going to get much out of tight ends this season. You’ll be lucky if your tight end breaks 50 yards any given Sunday. The Giants have allowed an average of 10 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. Of which 19 points were relinquished to the Buccaneers.

Thomas is currently projected to get 7 FPTS, but that’s with no touchdowns. I actually think that’s probably going to be the only way he’ll seriously get involved, so I’m tacking on 6 and predicting 14 FPTS. A bit optimistic, but Logan Thomas (like Gronkowski) has scored in consecutive games now. He was 100% on his targets catching 4/4 in week 7 against Dallas.

Sit: Mark Andrews (TE7), Baltimore Ravens (@ Indianapolis Colts)

He was, and continues to be, a significant weapon for Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens. He’s been lights out most weeks, except......the Ravens game plan is pretty damn predictable. Any decent defense can clue in on them and shut them down pretty quick as we’ve seen with Lamar Jackson’s lackluster season so far.

This week’s matchup is probably the worst you could ask for. The Colts are ranked number one against opposing tight ends. I’m sure you heard that from me before since I stated the same last week in my starter recap about T.J. Hockenson.

Now, I was actually proven wrong as Hockenson was able to reel in 13 FPTS, but that was a freak occurrence. The only other time the Colts allowed more than 10 fantasy points to opposing tight ends was in week 5 against the Bengals.

Andrews is Jackson’s favorite target. He’s the only top 10 fantasy option the Ravens currently have on their roster. Mark Ingram II is still injured and Marquise Brown has not been effective at all. The next best is J.K. Dobbins, who’s ranked 39th among running backs. He hasn’t scored double digits since week 5, so if you can afford it, sit him this week.

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