Fantasy Football Believe it or Not: Can you trust the Browns or Jaguars?
The Browns were a disappointment in Week 8. So were the Jaguars running backs. Can you trust them moving forward?
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For many of us, Week 8 was a debacle. Raheem Mostert, David Njoku, and Jordy Nelson completely disappointed. Jameis Winston threw four picks and got benched. Even the typically reliable Drew Brees laid an egg. But there is no time for tears.
Week 9 approaches and with it comes the first Byenado of the season. Six teams are off the schedule and tough roster decisions must be made. It starts in Jacksonville.
You can drop Carlos Hyde and T.J. Yeldon.
The Carlos Hyde debut with the Jaguars was underwhelming, to say the least. He ran the ball six times for 11 yards. As bad as that is, it was four more carries and 4 more yards than T.J. Yeldon picked up on the ground. Yeldon saved his day with a strong performance in the passing game, but I'm not sure how often we can count on Jacksonville playing from behind.
This looks like a full committee until Leonard Fournette returns, which could be as soon as Week 10. There's no reason to hold on to Hyde or Yeldon in a 12-team league.
Verdict: Believe it.
In fact, there's not a player on this team other than Fournette I would suggest holding on to. I expect this defense to get healthy during the bye, and Fournette should be right there with them. There will be rare occasions when Yeldon sees enough work in the passing game to be relevant in PPR, but I wouldn't bet on guessing which week that will be.
Perhaps the best test for whether someone is droppable is how popular they'd be on waivers. Can you see yourself scrambling to pick up Hyde or Yeldon on their bye week? I doubt it.
It's time to add DJ Moore.
Or maybe, if you were wise enough to hold on to him, it's time to gloat a little. Because the Panthers rookie receiver is coming on strong. After seeing just four targets in the first three weeks of the season, Moore has come alive after the bye. In Week 8 he saw a career-best six targets and turned them into five catches for 90 yards. He also ran the ball twice for 39 yards.
Moore now has at least 67 total yards in three of his past four games. He tied for the team lead in targets in Week 8. All the signs are there pointing to a second-half surge, and he's available in 85 percent of leagues. That should change in a big way when waivers run.
Verdict: Believe it.
In fact, I'll go a step further. It's time to start Moore. Because in Week 9 he's facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This defense has allowed 14 different receivers to either score a touchdown or top 100 yards. Tyler Boyd did both in Week 8. If Moore matches this week's 22 percent target share against Tampa Bay, he may just be a top-10 receiver.
You can't trust this Browns offense.
Baker Mayfield has teased us with his tantalizing upside, but he's only topped 20 Fantasy points once in seven games. Nick Chubb was set free with the Carlos Hyde trade, but his lack of involvement in the passing game still makes him touchdown-dependent. Jarvis Landry is still seeing a ton of targets, but he has the lowest catch rate among players with at least 62 targets. And don't even get me started on Njoku.
This Browns offense has been a complete debacle, and firing Hue Jackson and Todd Haley isn't going to fix it.
Verdict: Don't believe it.
I understand your frustration, I really do. But you don't want to overthink this. They get the Chiefs in Week 9. They face the Falcons in Week 10. Now is not the time to jump off the Browns bandwagon, at least not the stars.
Chubb faces a defense this week that just gave up 173 yards on the ground to Phillip Lindsay and Devontae Booker. Landry is going to see double-digit targets, so you can't sit him. And Njoku is a tight end. How many of them can you really trust? I could understand benching him if you can find a better option, same for Mayfield. I don't love the idea of this much instability surrounding a rookie quarterback, but the fact is we don't know how this offense is going to respond to the firing of Jackson and Haley.
For Week 9 you need to trust the matchup and start (most of) your Browns.
The Raiders are one of the worst teams in the league and look like they'll be playing from behind for most of the year. So it probably sounds weird that they have two starting running backs in Fantasy. But right now they do.
Martin looked good until he fumbled, running for more than 5 yards per carry behind an offensive line that was finally moving in the right direction. Richard caught another eight passes once the team fell behind and now has the fifth-most receptions among all running backs.
Both of these backs are solid flex plays each week that look more like low-end No. 2s with all these teams on bye.
Verdict: Believe it.
Martin isn't a must-start, but he looks like he'll get you six-to-eight points most weeks and will get the goalline work if the Raiders ever get in that situation again. There are good matchups left on his schedule and no one to challenge for the early-down work.
Richard is a good start in PPR, this game script is one we're going to see a lot of in Oakland. He has caught 86 percent of his targets this season and led the team with a 28 percent target share in the team's first game without Amari Cooper.
Start them both in Week 9.
Larry Fitzgerald is back.
Well, Byron Leftwich didn't quite give us the Bruce Arians experience he promised, but he did get Fitzgerald involved. Fitzgerald saw a season-high 12 targets and looked like his old self (no pun intended). He caught eight of those targets for 102 yards and his second touchdown of the year. More importantly to Leftwich, the team won. I'd expect more of the same moving forward, so Fitzgerald will be a must-start receiver after his bye.
Verdict: Believe it.
You don't want to make too much of one week's worth of data, but a 34 percent target share is a great sign. It also makes sense, because this is what the Cardinals did before Mike McCoy. In the past three years, Fitzgerald had at least 141 targets and at least 101 receptions every year. He's too far behind that pace to match those numbers this year, but that's the pace I would expect moving forward.
So who should you sit and start? And what shocking QB could win you Week 9? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy football rankings for every single position, and see which shocking QB finishes in the top 10 this week, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.
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