While it may feel like the season just started, we're already headed down the back stretch of the 2019 Fantasy Football season. Let's dig into the emerging trends that can help you as we approach the Fantasy playoffs. 

Data is typically courtesy of Pro Football Reference, RotoViz, the RotoGrinders Premium Usage App, airyards.com or PFF. Always feel free to hit me up on Twitter @YardsPerGretch with any questions about anything I covered or to ask my thoughts on something I glossed over. That is some of my favorite feedback, because sometimes it's something I've missed.

Here are some important statistical acronyms to know for Stealing Signals:

Green Zone - Inside the opponent's 10-yard line.
HVT - High-Value Touches: for running backs, all receptions and all touches inside the 10 yard line. 
TRAP - Trivial Rush Attempt Percentage: for running backs, the percentage of all touches that are not high-value touches.
WOPR - Weighted Opportunity Rating: a metric created by Josh Hermsmeyer, it balances team share of targets and team share of air yards. Because a player's WOPR is a share of his team's overall opportunity, it's important to consider team volume as additional context. 
RACR - Receiver Air Conversion Ratio: also created by Hermsmeyer, RACR is calculated as total receiving yards divided by total air yards. Similar to yards per reception or yards per target, but per air yard instead.

Week 9
Week 9
49ers 28 - Cardinals 25

It would have been easy to expect a dull game Thursday night with the 49ers coming into Arizona as double-digit favorites led by one of the league's best defenses and running games. But we got plenty of Fantasy production instead, and a pretty exciting game where the 49ers outlasted the Cardinals with three straight third-down conversions to milk out the final five minutes after Arizona had cut the lead to three. San Francisco was 11-for-17 on third-down conversions in the game, extending drives in a way that limited overall possessions in the game and allowed them to finish with a substantial play advantage over Arizona, running 69 plays to Arizona's 50.   

Apart from maybe George Kittle, Tevin Coleman came into the game with perhaps the highest Fantasy expectations of anyone. He finished with a disappointing 12-23 rushing line plus two catches on four targets for 13 yards. Coleman was never going to be able to repeat his four-touchdown performance on just 13 touches, but his role in Week 9 was fine, including two green zone touches, one of which went for a touchdown that was called back by holding. He also had a bad drop in the fourth quarter and a screen that was well set up and would have gone for a big play. 

Matt Breida is still very involved, and he looked good playing through an ankle injury, rushing 15 times for 78 yards and catching two balls for 14 more. The key here is the 49ers entered Week 9 producing more RB Fantasy points as a team than any other offense, so while they both may not hit every week, there's plenty of value in a shared backfield when the scheme and line set up for rushing success and they also utilize the backs in the passing game. 

Kittle was very good despite an early knee injury, scoring for just the second time this season (he's had three other touchdowns called back by penalty) and then later getting tackled at the half-yard-line to continue his lack of touchdown luck even in a game where he did find the end zone. His 8-6-79-1 line was solid, but even better days are ahead, assuming health. His role and ability have been obvious all season.

Emmanuel Sanders backed up a strong share of the passing volume in his first game with the team by again being the featured wide receiver, going 9-7-112-1. He's now accounted for a healthy 24% of targets and 39% of the air yards in his two games with the team. With Kittle at 25% targets in those two games, we have a pretty clear top two options that make it tough to trust the other names.

The next best option right now is Deebo Samuel, as Dante Pettis has returned to part-time snap shares of 31% and 30% in the past two games. Pettis did score in Week 9, but on his only target. Samuel was far more involved, and his 7-4-40 line could have been much better if not for a bad drop in the end zone. 

Still, this is a run-first team that looks like it now has a legit No. 1 WR on top of its highly-active TE, so Samuel's volume will be hit-or-miss. Jimmy Garoppolo's 37 pass attempts were a season high by four, and his 317 yards and four touchdowns were also season highs. Garoppolo played well in a plus matchup and gets two more in a row with Seattle and then Arizona again, both at home, in the next two weeks. 

Kenyan Drake played a ton for Arizona. He broke off a 36-yard run on the game's first play and capped off the first drive with a 5-yard score, and went on to handle 19 of 21 running back touches, with Zach Zenner and Alfred Morris rushing just once each. Drake's 15-110-1 rushing line and 4-4-52 receiving line (he also caught a 2-point conversion) against a great defense will certainly give Arizona coaches plenty to think about; how this now three-headed backfield plays out will be a challenge to handicap going into Week 10. 

For the time being, Edmonds seems like the longest odds to make a short-term impact, and he's probably droppable if you need the room. A big part of his value was a stranglehold on the No. 2 job, but he won't have that anymore. That's not to say he might not retain his No. 2 role, because that's certainly one possible outcome here, but it's the upside outcome for him and even in that scenario Drake should have at least earned some work. 

Drake's potential outcomes are the widest, as he could revert to No. 3 on the depth chart when everyone is healthy or have carved out a legitimate piece of a committee. It's unlikely he'd start over David Johnson if Johnson is healthy, but Johnson's value is certainly fading with both of his current backups having played very well in his absence. He might find himself sharing snaps more frequently going forward, and might also be brought along slowly in his recovery given the other options available. He's also likely the only one of the three with a legitimate shot at playing a lion's share of the backfield if all three are healthy just because of his status. And of course, we might see him split out more to get two backs on the field, which wouldn't be a bad thing for Johnson's value. 

Kyler Murray's final stat line was strong, but he benefited from a long catch-and-run late by Andy Isabella, and he missed a couple of throws early and was lucky a 49er defender dropped what could have been an easy interception. The 88-yard touchdown accounted for more than a third of Murray's 241 passing yards, though he continues to add value on the ground with 34 rushing yards. 

Isabella played just 13 snaps, though that was a season high for the hyped rookie and perhaps he could work into a late-season role. Christian Kirk struggled with Richard Sherman in coverage often throughout the night. He's still a key piece of this passing game, and he should have had a third catch on his five targets but Murray missed him on a third down. Both Murray and Kirk will be strong plays in Tampa next week before a rematch with San Francisco. 

Larry Fitzgerald went 4-4-38 and looked a little better than he has in a while, but his targets totaled just 10 air yards and his recent run of play will make him tough to trust. KeeSean Johnson and Pharoh Cooper both played ahead of Isabella, and both tight ends continue to be more involved than they were in the season's first few weeks, so the targets are just not very concentrated behind Kirk, the backs and at times Fitzgerald. 

There's some signal in Arizona's inability to get off the field on defense, but the Cardinals' offense has run just 49 and 50 plays in the past two weeks, their two lowest totals this season. They've averaged 67 plays per game in their other seven contests and while they may be slowing down a bit offensively, game context has largely driven the recent lack of volume. That should bounce back.

  • Signal: 49ers RBs — split backfield with Coleman as lead, plenty of value overall; Emmanuel Sanders — No. 1 WR volume two games in a row  
  • Noise: Cardinals — 50 offensive plays  
Week 9
Texans 26 - Jaguars 3
  • Snap Notes: Carlos Hyde: 56% (+3 vs. season average), Duke Johnson: 47% (-2% vs. season average), Keelan Cole: 82% (+48% vs. Week 8 season high), Seth DeValve: 51% (-8% vs. Week 8 season high), Josh Oliver: 45% (+6% vs. Week 8 season high)
  • Key Stat: Carlos Hyde — 19 carries, 160 rush yards, but 0 high-value touches

Given how the Texans pulled away at the end — it was 12-3 as late as the final minute of the third — one could argue this game wasn't as lopsided as the final score. And yet, it felt exactly that lopsided, and the pass/run ratios do a good job of encapsulating that. The Texans dominated, and ran 34 times against 28 passes, while Jacksonville threw 47 passes and logged just 15 rush attempts, including four Gardner Minshew scrambles. 

There was a lot unchanged from prior weeks here. Leonard Fournette struggled running in a tough matchup on the ground, but his strong receiving workload gave him a stable PPR floor. Carlos Hyde was a TRAP back, without a single high-value touch in the win. DeAndre Hopkins' aDOT was alarmingly low (7.5), as his 11-8-48-1 line indicates. His 9.8 yards per catch this season are a career low by more than two yards, which caps his upside but isn't a significant concern when he's dominating targets the way he has been since Will Fuller's injury.

Hyde's 160 rushing yards look absolutely amazing on the stat sheet, but note he ripped off his two longest runs of the season at 48 and 58 yards, the latter of which should have went for a score but he got stripped from behind just before the goal line. He certainly could have had a bigger day, but for as good as he's looked, betting on big rushing plays is a fool's errand, and his lack of passing game work means he doesn't have that to fall back on. 

Duke Johnson got the lone green zone touch, a carry from the 1-yard line, which was the result of Houston hurrying up to prevent Jacksonville from substituting after a 21-yard Hopkins catch. He punched that in, and also caught all five targets he saw for 68 yards to outproduce Hyde in PPR even as Hyde wound up with a YPC north of 8. That's what six high-value touches will do for you, though I'm still hesitant to use Duke as anything more than a bye week fill-in, as his route share was right at his season average. The main point is that even with Hyde sitting seventh in the NFL in rushing yards and playing well, his 10.7 PPR points per game barely surpass Johnson's 10.2, which feels like a disappointment. This is yet another example of why we target pass-catchers and the high-value touches in a backfield. 

Kenny Stills was on his way to a solid bounce back game before leaving early, finishing at 4-4-52, and no one else in Houston's passing game did much given the lack of pass attempts. Deshaun Watson could have had a slightly bigger game if the Texans challenged a potential rushing touchdown where he pretty clearly got in, but they opted not to and Watson threw the score to Hopkins instead. 

Gardner Minshew turned the ball over four times in the fourth quarter, and whether it's the right call or not, his days are probably numbered after Jacksonville's Week 10 bye with Nick Foles likely to be ready to return. He spread targets around — D.J. Chark led with nine targets and 117 air yards, but posted an inefficient 4-32, while Chris Conley was next in line with Dede Westbrook out. Conley was also inefficient with just two catches and 32 yards on seven targets and 96 air yards. Keelan Cole stepped into a larger role (routes on 85% of dropbacks) and Seth DeValve (46% routes) was far more productive than rookie Josh Oliver (54% routes), who played a bit more but doesn't appear to be moving into a full-time role as quickly as I'd hoped. 

One final note here is while Ryquell Armstead racked up three of his five catches on the final futile drive with Fournette done for the day, he's perhaps one of the most valuable stashes in Fantasy Football right now. Last week, I got asked on the Fantasy Football Today podcast who the best waiver wire stash is. I noted it would certainly be a handcuff running back, but I knew my answer of Justice Hill wasn't great. Hill's a fine stash in deeper leagues, but Armstead would be my pick now. He's Alexander Mattison lite as the clear-cut No. 2 behind a lead back who hasn't yet played 16 games in a season, and Armstead has shown enough — especially in the passing game — for us to believe there would be significant upside if Fournette missed time. 

Armstead should be rostered in all leagues, and as a general strategy at this point of the season as you move past bye weeks, you should be looking to roster players like him rather than, for example, backups at onesie positions like QB or TE or even depth wide receivers. There's no position where a player can go from afterthought to playoff difference-maker like RB, as evidenced by Damien Williams, Jaylen Samuels and Justin Jackson last year. 

  • Signal: Ryquell Armstead — clear No. 2, better use of a bench spot than a backup QB, TE or depth WR
  • Noise: Carlos Hyde — inflated 8.4 YPC, did have a shot at a TD but don't bet on big runs
Week 9
Eagles 22 - Bears 14

The Eagles dominated on the ground and shortened the game, possessing the ball for more than double the amount of time the Bears did including a 16-play drive that ate up more than eight minutes in the fourth quarter. At the half, the Bears had punted on all six drives and had 9 total yards. They wound up running 42 plays, totaling 164 yards of offense and converting just 10 first downs, all of which were easily season lows. 

The vast majority of Chicago's offensive production came on two second-half drives, the first of which featured a 53-yard Taylor Gabriel reception. After a Mitchell Trubisky scramble to the 1, Tarik Cohen got the call on second down and got stuffed before David Montgomery punched it in on third. A couple of drives later, Montgomery had a 30-yard reception, then got two straight carries at the 1-yard-line after a 7-yard run from Cohen from the 8. 

So Montgomery still gave up some Green Zone work, although he got the majority of the touches at the goal line and was the only one able to punch the ball in, which perhaps bodes well going forward. His 76 total yards led the team, while Gabriel was the only other player with more than 20. Allen Robinson was a total bust in a plus matchup, but he saw five targets and 87 air yards while Mitchell Trubisky threw just 21 times all game. 

The biggest takeaway here is the Bears are a mess. They are bad offensively and teams are attacking them on the ground since Akiem Hicks' injury — they've given up 140-plus rushing yards in three of their past four games after teams averaged 61.5 per game against them in their first four. That's a bad recipe, but it also needs to be said they won't be this bad every week. Still, Montgomery and Robinson are the only guys I can imagine starting in the short term.

Jordan Howard went 19-82-1 against his old team, and added a catch. Miles Sanders went 10-42 and had three catches, marking his fifth straight game with at least that many. Nothing new there, other than game flow meaning more RB touches overall.

DeSean Jackson's return was short-lived, as he left after just four snaps. He's now scheduled for core muscle surgery and will miss multiple more weeks if not the rest of the season. 

For Week 9, that meant the Eagles running their recent offense with heavy two-TE sets. As we've discussed in recent weeks, Dallas Goedert's production doesn't mean negative for Zach Ertz, as much as it may feel that way because they are both tight ends. I wrote about this in my DFS column last week:

"There's concern about Ertz because of the presence of Dallas Goedert, but Ertz is still running a full share of routes every week... that doesn't really matter for Ertz, who is now way cheaper than he should be, especially on DraftKings, just because another tight end on his roster has been solid of late." 

Ertz had 11-9-103-1 to lead the team, while Goedert was still involved, catching four of five targets for 39 yards. Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor each saw eight targets and over 100 air yards, but neither caught more than four or hit 40 yards, with Jeffery notably having a few key drops. Those are the four main pieces in the passing game with Sanders also being a consistent presence, at least as long as Jackson remains a nonfactor, which could be the rest of the season. 

  • Signal: Bears — struggling against the run, can't sustain drives, a bad recipe
  • Noise: Bears — 42 offensive plays, 21 pass attempts; Allen Robinson — volume was fine, especially as a share of the team's overall passing (0.63 WOPR)
Week 9
Steelers 26 - Colts 24
  • Snap Notes: Jaylen Samuels: 63% (+18% vs. previous season high), Trey Edmunds: 27% (+24% vs. previous season high), James Washington: 43% (-4% vs. previous season low), Zach Pascal: 94% (two weeks in a row over 90%), Parris Campbell: 62% (highest since Week 4)   
  • Key Stat: Jaylen Samuels — 16 HVT (NFL single-game high in 2019)

A late Adam Vinatieri miss gave Pittsburgh its fourth win in a game that saw Jacoby Brissett knocked out early with an MCL sprain that puts his status for Week 10 in doubt.

Trey Edmunds ran 12 times for 73 yards, and there will certainly be some interest in him on the waiver wire. Leave him. Edmunds played just 17 snaps, so he was in almost exclusively for running plays. After a 45-yard run early, he averaged just 2.5 yards on his 11 other tries. He didn't even get the green zone work, as Jaylen Samuels took three of four carries in close, despite Samuels rushing just eight times overall on the day. 

It's easy to look at the carry split and misinterpret this backfield. Samuels played substantially more, ran routes on 84% of dropbacks and saw all 13 running back targets. Since he caught all 13, he had a 21-touch game, and since it's easier to rack up yardage in the passing game, he totaled 83 yards despite just 10 rushing on his eight carries. His 16 high-value touches were the most by any back in a game this season. 

We expected to see Samuels used heavily in the passing game and that came through, even as Edmunds was involved. In two-back committees where the passing back is also playing the lion's share, the passing back is very valuable and the early-down grinder without much carry upside just isn't. Of course, James Conner and perhaps Benny Snell will be back eventually, which only further makes chasing Edmunds a nonstarter. He's a cheap add if you're desperate, at best. 

Mason Rudolph completed 26 passes on the day, so Samuels accounted for exactly half of those. His dinking and dunking limited the receiving options, and it was Vance McDonald and James Washington who were most productive, meaning JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Washington were nearly nonexistent. Washington ran routes on just 51% of dropbacks so I'm not overreacting to his 4-4-69 day, as he's failed to earn consistent targets in that playing time range. 

On the Colts' side, Zach Pascal's playing time spike stuck with T.Y. Hilton out, as he ran routes on 97% of dropbacks as the clear top passing game option. Chester Rogers came in at 71%, his second-highest rate of the season, while Parris Campbell's 63% was also a season high, but he'll miss time after breaking his hand. Campbell's injury opens up even more work, and increases Pascal's likelihood to lead the team in targets over the next stretch, as he did in Week 9 with a 6-5-76-1 line.

Jack Doyle and Rogers each scored and had the next two most valuable receiving workloads with WOPRs of 0.33 and 0.32, though neither of those figures is particularly strong (Pascal's was 0.60). Campbell's five targets and five receptions included just 10 air yards, and he added three rush attempts for 27 yards; they used him as something of a hybrid, getting him touches around the line of scrimmage to try to get him in space in a role that reminded of Percy Harvin, a frequent comp of Campbell's throughout the draft process in part because both played similar roles in Urban Meyer offenses in college. Campbell looked good in that role, racking up 80 total yards, but it's not clear how long he'll be out.

Campbell's role and Nyheim Hines' presence meant no targets for Marlon Mack, who rushed 21 times for 89 yards but didn't have a single high-value touch. 

  • Signal: Zach Pascal — No. 1 usage with Hilton out; Parris Campbell — Percy Harvin type gadget role; Jaylen Samuels — high-value role
  • Noise: Trey Edmunds — 72 rushing yards (only played 17 snaps), JuJu Smith-Schuster — 16 receiving yards despite 64 air yards (which isn't great, and he's obviously handicapped by the offense, but there was decent volume for a down game)
Week 9
Bills 24 - Washington 9

I shared a tweet from Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com last week about Washington playing fast games, and he updated that this week.

With Dwayne Haskins making his first start, Washington was content to run despite trailing throughout, which never applied pressure on the Bills, who don't mind taking the air out of the ball either. The two teams combined for just 42 pass attempts, which is the second fewest combined attempts in a game this season, trailing Washington's mud bowl against San Francisco a couple of weeks ago.

Haskins went 15-of-22 for 144 yards and took four sacks. Terry McLaurin led the team with six targets, but went for just 4-39. McLaurin's been one of the season's biggest stories, but is borderline unplayable until we see something change. Washington does get the Jets after a Week 10 bye, so a case could be made to start him there, but his upside is severely capped by this iteration of the offense, while no other passing option is worth rostering. 

Adrian Peterson rushed 18 times for 108 yards and added a 22-yard reception, and he'll continue to have some low-upside TRAP-back value as long as he gets that type of workload. Derrius Guice is very much worth a stash if he hasn't been picked up already in your league, as he should get some run down the stretch and this offense is built for running backs to accumulate touches right now.

On the winning side, John Brown went 7-4-76 with 130 air yards, good for the highest WOPR in Week 9. Of course, his opportunity share being great is limited by the team's total volume, as Josh Allen threw just 20 passes. 

Devin Singletary looked great, dominating snaps again and totaling 99 yards in the first half on his way to a 20-95-1 rushing line with 45 receiving yards on three catches. His 20 carries were a great sign, as he had just 20 combined in his previous four games and it wasn't clear whether Gore still held the advantage on early downs. Singletary also continued to run routes on a substantial share of dropbacks (61% this week), though his receiving is capped by the low-volume passing offense and Allen's scrambling tendencies. 

The green zone split between Singletary and Frank Gore was of particular note, as Singletary got a look from the 8-yard line early on, but then Gore got three straight rushes from the 1 when the team got back down there in the second quarter. Gore was stuffed all three times before Allen succeeded on a QB sneak on fourth down.

Late in the fourth quarter, with the game well in hand, the Bills got back down there again, and Singletary stayed on the field for back-to-back carries at the 4 and 2, the latter of which he punched in for a touchdown. To the extent that Gore's role might include short-yardage work, his inability to actually convert it may have opened the door for Singletary to have more access to high-value touches going forward, which would only be a good thing for the rookie.

  • Signal: Devin Singletary — workload expanding; Terry McLaurin — severely handicapped by the offense, in JuJu Smith-Schuster territory
  • Noise: Bills — 20/39 pass/run ratio
Week 9
Panthers 30 - Titans 20
  • Snap Notes: Corey Davis: 77% (-1% vs. season average), A.J. Brown: 69% (+4% vs. previous season high) 
  • Key Stat: A.J. Brown — routes on 80% of dropbacks (season high)

I'm sort of debating whether to even talk about Christian McCaffrey anymore. He's leading the NFL in high-value touches per game, but is also tied for the league lead in touchdowns on low-value touches, which is to say long runs, and all four of his have come from at least 40 yards out, including a 58-yarder in Week 9. I suppose we can try to poke holes by saying he likely can't keep that up, and then maybe we could talk about how he's on pace for "only" 84 catches after 107 last year ... but the reality is his profile is pretty unimpeachable.   

His dominance of the offensive touches and yardage has limited the other guys at times, but this week Curtis Samuel's air yards finally paid off — 6-3-64-1 with 136 air yards — and D.J. Moore put together an efficient 10-7-101 line (137 air yards). Greg Olsen was quieter but a 5-3-40 line isn't bad for a tight end. This offense, of course, remains highly concentrated to those four. 

I talk about Derrick Henry every week — because, let's face it, there's not much else going on with the Titans — and it's always about high-value touches. Last week I noted his lack of an upside since Week 1, and this week he posted a 24.9-point game in PPR formats.

All I can say in response is he set a season high with three receptions, and both of his two touchdowns came as part of his four HVT, which tied a season high. So he was less of a TRAP back this week ... but there's more. I keep calling him a TRAP back because he now has 175 touches and just 22 have been high-value, but he's also scored eight touchdowns — seven of which have come on those 22 HVT, with the eighth being an 11-yard run, so one yard outside the green zone. In other words, he's a TRAP back who has been wildly efficient with the HVT he does get, which doesn't prove the whole TRAP/HVT stuff wrong, so much as this is just a dude being great despite a hollow workload. 

I suppose it's a little unfair to say there's nothing else going on with the Titans on a week Ryan Tannehill threw for 331 yards. There was also a pretty interesting trend with the wide receivers, where for the second time all year and first time since Week 3, Corey Davis didn't lead the team in routes run. 

That's right, we finally saw the full A.J. Brown game, as he played a season high in snaps and ran routes on 80% of dropbacks, also a season high. Back in Week 5 we saw a game where Brown spiked to a 74% route percentage, but Davis ran routes on 90% of dropbacks that game and Brown was also behind Adam Humphries. Brown's routes dipped the next three weeks and he's otherwise topped out at 61%, so this Week 9 spike to lead the team with Davis dipping to 76% certainly seems a little more notable. 

Brown has looked like the team's best receiver all season, overcoming a subpar quarterback situation to post 10.5 yards per target to easily lead the team's wide receivers. With the extended playing time, Brown earned a team-high seven targets and 102 air yards, returning a 4-81 line. If it sticks, he could be a Fantasy factor down the stretch. 

Behind him, things were balanced, with each of Davis, Jonnu Smith, Humphries and Tajae Sharpe seeing four or five targets. The balance meant that even in a 300-yard passing game, no one was all that productive.

  • Signal: A.J. Brown — role maybe expanding for real this time? 
  • Noise: Derrick Henry — I know I sound like a hater but seven touchdowns on 22 high-value touches is an unsustainable rate (though maybe his role will shift a bit if the season high in HVT this week signifies something, who knows?)
Week 9
Chiefs 26 - Vikings 23
  • Snap Notes: Damien Williams: 72% (season high, +30 vs. Week 8), Darrel Williams: 18% (-5% vs. season average), LeSean McCoy: 10% (-14% vs. previous season low), Olabisi Johnson: 83% (+9 vs. Week 8 season high), Laquon Treadwell: 28% (+6% vs. Week 8 season high), Ameer Abdullah: 13% (+5% vs. season average), Alexander Mattison: 8% (-13% vs. season average)
  • Key Stat: Damien Williams — 74% snap share, routes on 53% of dropbacks

The Chiefs got a late win over the Vikings, and Patrick Mahomes notably ran out onto the field in his street clothes to celebrate with kicker Harrison Butker after his game-winning field goal, and he looked healthy and agile in doing so. Look, you never know what kind of signals you'll uncover grinding the tape, and I'm betting on Mahomes being back next week based on that mobility (and his questionable status before Week 9, which indicated he was close). 

Damien Williams was the big story during the game, quickly subbing in after LeSean McCoy started (one week after he didn't get a touch until the fourth quarter) and going on to play a whopping 72% snap share, with Darrel Williams playing 18% and McCoy falling to just six snaps (10%). 

I had no idea what to expect coming in, but this was my best guess:

"I've maintained Damien Williams is a stash and even a low-cost buy because of the upside inherent in the lead back role in this offense. And while McCoy has been the lead back most of the season — and has been efficient — he hasn't had the upside we saw from Damien Williams at the end of 2018. 

Ultimately I have no idea what will happen going forward, and that was only McCoy's second fumble this year, but Damien Williams did look good late and is still a great fit for this offense. Literally nothing would surprise me in terms of how this backfield might play out in Week 9, including (Darwin) Thompson's light role being a precursor to him becoming a factor or Darrel Williams suddenly being a key player again. But if I had to guess, I kind of think we'll see Damien Williams as the lead next week (with McCoy still involved), which might be wish-casting because, again, for three quarters Damien looked like he didn't have a role at all."

I'm not sure we can lock in Damien for a 70%-plus snap share going forward, but the broadcasts can often tell us a lot because of the production meetings these guys do with the teams, and in this one we heard a lot of talk about how the team thinks similarly to what I suggested above — that Damien is a great fit for the offense and they want him to be the lead back (which, incidentally, is what they told us all offseason). And if we take that information and couple it with Damien playing as much as he did and the fact that he produced, including breaking off the longest run in the NFL this season for a 91-yard touchdown, there's plenty of room for optimism.

The issue is it's unlikely McCoy will be so limited every week the rest of the way, so expect a little more of a split at times, and it's definitely notable that the 91-yard touchdown accounted for 73% of Williams' 20.8 PPR points. But there are positives to look forward to here that we didn't see show up, one of which was Damien seeing both green zone touches, and another was him running routes on 53% of dropbacks, his highest rate since Week 1. He didn't score and caught just two passes for 3 yards, so the HVT weren't really there this week. 

The receiving work is the part of Williams' game that is most enticing, especially because in Weeks 1 and 2 with Mahomes under center Williams racked up 33 air yards (solid for a RB) while getting out in downfield routes. Over the past couple of weeks, I've talked about the number of running backs producing big Fantasy points on similar plays this year, and we actually saw the upside from Williams this preseason with a 62-yard touchdown reception on a wheel route. With Mahomes' return imminent and Williams back in the driver seat at the running back position, expect a couple of downfield targets in the next couple weeks. 

Speaking of downfield passing, Tyreek Hill preyed on Minnesota's struggling corners to the tune of 8-6-140-1 with 155 air yards. He's in the discussion for overall WR1 the rest of the way. Beyond him, Sammy Watkins (10-7-63) and Travis Kelce (9-7-62) dominated targets, and the ancillary pieces were barely used now that the stars are back at full health.

Minnesota's injured star, Adam Thielen, was active and started but made it through just seven snaps. But despite Thielen checking out early, Stefon Diggs had a rough go of it, seeing just four targets on 38 Kirk Cousins attempts, and catching just one. 

With Thielen out and Diggs getting locked up, Laquon Treadwell, of all people, led the Vikings in receiving, which was probably the first time that's happened — but why would I look that up? Dalvin Cook's 45 receiving yards on his four catches made him the second most productive receiving option, as Cousins completed just 50% of his passes for a 5.8 YPA against one of the league's softer pass defenses. He did throw three scores, to Kyle Rudolph, Bisi Johnson and Ameer Abdullah. Look, it was gross, and I'm considering it a one-game blip; our full-season sample is much longer. 

If Thielen misses more time, I still expect this passing offense to flow through Diggs. You might be tempted to consider Rudolph, but over the past three games where he's scored twice, he's actually seen one fewer target than Irv Smith. Now the Vikings run a lot of two-TE sets so this is not dissimilar from the Eagles' discussion, but Rudolph's route percentage has topped out at 80% this year which is a number Ertz has consistently eclipsed, so the tandem situation in Minnesota does limit Rudolph a bit more. Plus, it's a lower-volume passing offense with a (typically) more dominant No. 1 WR so there just aren't as many targets to go around. Put another way: Rudolph has 170 yards on the entire season, so just don't.  

I can't really explain Dalvin Cook's day, either, given the way the Chiefs give up rushing yardage. I guess the best way to explain it is that 116 total yards without a score seems light. 

  • Signal: Damien Williams — huge snap share, route share
  • Noise: Vikings passing game — one of the most concentrated passing games in the league featured their WR4 and RB3 and sometimes football's just weird
Week 9
Dolphins 26 - Jets 18

The Dolphins got their first win in what was an entertaining first half that transitioned into the type of second half you might expect from these teams, with four field goals and a safety being the only scoring after the break. In fact, both teams wound up recording a safety in this game, because of course they did. 

Sam Darnold got off to a fast start, hitting Jamison Crowder often on an opening drive that went for a touchdown. Crowder finished the first drive with a 4-50-1 line, and finished the day at 9-8-83-1. Later in the first half, Darnold hit Ryan Griffin for what looked like a second score, but it was overturned by replay and he immediately threw one of the worst interceptions of the season, sort of just shot-putting the ball toward a mass of bodies in a highlight you've surely seen by now. 

Darnold seemed unwilling to go downfield throughout; Robby Anderson checked in with just four targets, two catches and 33 yards on a team-leading 77 air yards. Griffin went 8-6-50 as the only other WR or TE over 20 yards. 

Le'Veon Bell's consistent routes translated to nine targets and eight receptions for 55 yards, and they went to him early and often as he racked up 120 total yards. That's the good; the bad was that the Jets again failed to create a single high-value touch for a running back, though they did get close on the drive before the half and just chose not to run it despite plenty of time on the clock.

Then there's the really bad, which is that Bell needed to go for an MRI Monday on his knee. If he misses time, note that Bilal Powell has played ahead of Ty Montgomery as the No. 2 in recent weeks. 

Bell broke 20 PPR points without a score, but assuming he's healthy — a pretty big assumption — my optimism about him against a soft schedule is a little tempered if this offense is so bad that he can't see scoring opportunities even against the Dolphins. Still, the Jets will get five more cracks at it against poor defenses over the next five weeks. 

Miami's day was all about Ryan Fitzpatrick and his willingness to push the ball down the field, as we've discussed here prior. Both Preston Williams (9-5-72-2 on 124 air yards) and DeVante Parker (6-4-57-1 on 53 air yards) had solid days as his favorite downfield targets, although Williams was unfortunately lost for the season with a knee injury. The injury will make Parker a matchup-based WR3 option given his relatively consistent air yards. 

It may also open things up for tight end Mike Gesicki, who has been getting down the field as well (6-6-95 with 75 air yards). Gesicki's an athletic second-year guy who has been seeing reasonably consistent volume since the team's bye, averaging five targets, 60 air yards, 3.8 receptions and 49 receiving yards per game in four games while running routes on at least 60% of dropbacks in each game.

Mark Walton handled the lead side of a tandem while Kalen Ballage played a bit more, but Walton has now been suspended for four games by the league. In all likelihood, that will mean Ballage in a feature role, though Ballage's well-documented receiving struggles might force Miami to consider a secondary passing downs back. Walton ran routes on 74% of dropbacks in Week 9 and saw four targets, while Ballage was targeted once and has just four catches all season. 

Patrick Laird and Myles Gaskin are the other backs on the roster. Laird showed some strong receiving chops at Cal, but the UDFA has played special teams only this year, not logging an offensive snap despite being active on a weekly basis. Gaskin was the team's seventh-round pick in the 2019 draft, and while he hasn't been active yet, teams often choose their final active RB spot based on special teams play. Gaskin was a four-year starter at Washington who set the Huskies' all-time rushing mark, and is the more likely of the two to make an offensive impact. We'll have to monitor what we hear from the Dolphins, but this isn't a high-upside situation; if I'm making a play here, it's for the unknown in Gaskin, because we have a pretty good idea Ballage isn't likely to be a difference-maker. 

  • Signal: Dolphins — available opportunity at RB, WR; Mike Gesicki — role expanded a bit since Week 5 bye, might benefit from Williams injury
  • Noise: Robby Anderson — 0.30 RACR over past three weeks (86 receiving yards on 288 air yards)
Week 9
Seahawks 40 - Buccaneers 34
  • Snap Notes: D.K. Metcalf: 95% (+3% vs. Week 8 season high), Chris Carson: 85% (-4% vs. season high), Jacob Hollister: 80% (+28% vs. previous season high), Luke Willson: 23% (rib injury), Ronald Jones: 53% (+4% vs. previous season high), Dare Ogunbowale: 27% (-6% vs. season average), Peyton Barber: 14% (-10% vs. previous season low) 
  • Key Stat: Mike Evans — 257 air yards (NFL single-game high for 2019, was already leading the league in the category)

Seattle and Tampa played perhaps the best game in Week 9, with the Seahawks ultimately winning with an overtime touchdown. There were Fantasy points galore. 

Jameis Winston played a very good game, save for a lost fumble where he basically just dropped the ball. The Bucs also turned to Ronald Jones — finally — to start and carry the load as a lead back. Those two things led to an efficient offensive day, which helped Tampa get out ahead, forcing Seattle to throw. And we like when Russell Wilson has to throw, especially against a defense like Tampa's.

Wilson finished 29-of-43 for 378 yards and five touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime. And against a defense where he could pick his spots, he picked Tyler Lockett early and often, as his favorite target racked up a Week 9 high 18 targets, also displaying his trademark efficiency with a 13-152-2 line. Behind Lockett, Wilson looked to D.K. Metcalf, who came alive in the second half to post 9-6-123-1, including a 53-yard touchdown. Metcalf should still see plenty of playing time as Josh Gordon assimilates into the offense, and as I noted last week both of these guys can play together while Lockett slides into the slot more. But when you zoom out Gordon will certainly contend for some of the downfield looks in the offense. 

This was Metcalf's first game over 70 yards since Week 1 and we talked last week about how his two touchdowns were defensive breakdowns, so he's really boomed against two bad pass defenses in the Falcons and Buccaneers right before Gordon comes on. He's certainly been good, but I don't expect this type of production to continue, which would make him a sell candidate if you can get solid value for him. I expanded on my expectations for Gordon in Seattle's offense in a reaction post last Friday

Luke Willson suffered a rib injury that forced him out of the game early, which allowed Jacob Hollister to run routes on 72% of dropbacks. Hollister caught an early 1-yard score and also the game-winner in overtime, finishing 6-4-37-2. Hollister looked good, and there are reasons for optimism, but I'm not really buying it when his production was mostly touchdown-based and he had just 37 yards in a game where Wilson threw for 378, especially as Gordon will further limit the looks to the tight end position. 

There wasn't much more in terms of receiving production, largely due to Lockett and Metcalf combining for 63% of the targets and 73% of the yards.

Chris Carson was in a feature role again, despite fumbling two more times. Pete Carroll seems to care as little about fumbles as any coach I've ever seen, which is great news for Carson who has fumbled five times (plus a sixth on a botched handoff that wasn't credited to him, but was his fault in my estimation). He had a 59-yard run which helped him to a 16-105 rushing line against a tough defensive front, and chipped in two catches for 28 yards. He also got three green zone carries, including two tries from the 1-yard line on separate drives and another from the 4, all of which were stuffed. His workload remains strong.

Ronald Jones got the start and carried the ball four times on the Bucs' opening drive for 28 yards and a score. He wasn't nearly as efficient the rest of the day, but Bruce Arians stuck with him and said Monday that Jones has earned the right to start and lead the backfield going forward, so it's possible Jones' role expands even more from here. Jones ran a route on a season-high 36% of dropbacks and caught both targets sent his way, finishing with an 18-67-1 rushing line and 15 more receiving yards.

Behind him, Peyton Barber rushed four times on just 11 snaps, but Dare Ogunbowale was still a nuisance in the passing game. Ogunbowale ran his lowest route percentage of the season at 23%, but was on the field for a late 1-yard touchdown run as the Bucs hurried to the line after a completion to Mike Evans down to the 1. Each of Jones, Barber and Ogunbowale had one green zone touch, so Jones finished with just three high-value touches. He's a solid start next week against the Cardinals, but we'll be hoping to see more work in the passing game plus a better share of the green zone work.

Evans came into this game leading the NFL in air yards per game, and he saw more air yards in this one than any player in a game all year, so he'll be holding onto that distinction. Evans is now averaging 158.5 air yards per game, well beyond Kenny Golladay's second-ranked figure of 124.3, and it's helped him post some explosive lines like the 16-12-180-1 he put up in Week 9. 

For some, that's started the questions about Chris Godwin, but remember, as I've said for weeks, both of these guys are No. 1s for Fantasy. Yes, sometimes one will out-produce the other, but this offense has plenty of volume to go around, and just because Evans did what he did doesn't mean Godwin's 9-7-61 isn't a perfectly usable "down game."

Breshad Perriman also translated his air yards from last week into an 8-4-42-1 line, which sort of got me and my comment last week that "Perriman's theoretical value far surpasses his actual potential to do more than have maybe one random boom game." Except Perriman's touchdown was on a fluke play where the pass wasn't intended for him and ricocheted high in the air and he was in position to run under it, and if he didn't have that 15-yard touchdown his line would have been nothing, so I'm sticking to my guns here. 

Similar to Seattle, Tampa's pass game was very concentrated, and beyond those three no one had more than two targets as Cameron Brate played limited snaps while battling his injury. 

  • Signal: Ronald Jones — lead back role, passing game bump, do need to see a little less of a TRAP workload but he's all systems go given the Arizona matchup next week
  • Noise: Jacob Hollister — benefited from Luke Willson injury and elevated passing opportunity in this game, but was still touchdown-dependent
Week 9
Raiders 31 - Lions 24
  • Snap Notes: Zay Jones: 92% (+52% vs. Week 8), Jalen Richard: 33% (+5% vs. season average), Ty Johnson: 62% (+23% vs. Week 8), J.D. McKissic: 38% (+2% vs. previous season high), Paul Perkins: 4% (-6% vs. Week 8)
  • Key Stat: Marvin Jones — 154 air yards, Kenny Golladay — 146 air yards (fourth and fifth most in Week 9) 

Detroit and Oakland played a back and forth game where neither team led by more than a possession at any point, which is the kind of game where script doesn't really dictate too much in terms of play volume and we can get a pretty good read on what happened just by perusing the box score. It makes it easy. 

Josh Jacobs was the focal point for the Raiders, rushing 28 times for 120 yards and two scores. He didn't record a catch but racked up a Week 9 high six green zone rushes, which also ties for the most in a single game by any player. He remains their preferred green zone option, but his shaky receiving role may have taken a hit with Jalen Richard coming through late with two long receptions to set up Oakland's game-winning score. Richard's lack of usage all year has been a little bizarre after a wildly efficient 2018 that featured 68 receptions, but he's run more routes than Jacobs each of the past two weeks. Jacobs' 34% route percentage was his lowest since Week 3, while Richard has been at 47% in back-to-back games. 

Zay Jones played a big snap share opposite Tyrell Williams with Darren Waller at tight end, so of course it was Hunter Renfrow who led the team in receiving with a 7-6-54-1 line. Jones and Williams each had four targets, as did Richard, while Waller saw just two in a game where Derek Carr spread his 31 passes around. Foster Moreau caught another touchdown and Marcell Ateman mixed in for a big 34-yard catch, but most weeks we should expect Williams and Waller to lead the team in receiving volume, with Jones and Renfrow as the ancillary pieces. Still, Williams and Waller clearly have more to compete with than they did in the early part of the year. 

The Lions attacked the Raiders through the air all day, with Matthew Stafford throwing 41 times for 406 yards and three scores against just 20 team rush attempts. Both Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay racked up air yards as the key cogs of the passing game, with Jones going 10-8-126-1 and Golladay 7-4-132-1. T.J. Hockenson (7-3-56) and Danny Amendola (5-3-29) were relegated to more complementary roles, and no one else was very involved. 

With Tra Carson hitting IR, J.D. McKissic got the start for the Lions, with Ty Johnson again leading the team's backfield in snaps. Paul Perkins played just three snaps, all of which were rush attempts for him, as McKissic and Johnson mostly split the bulk of the work. Johnson out-carried McKissic nine to four and ran routes on 55% of dropbacks to McKissic's 41%, but McKissic got out in a downfield route that resulted in a late 26-yard touchdown catch that was the main production here. 

Johnson wasn't very good for the second straight week, but he should theoretically have value in this role. He got the lone green zone touch, a carry from the 3, but didn't score, and totaled just 36 yards. Both backs caught three passes, with McKissic going for 33 more yards in the air and even more rushing yards on five fewer carries. 

  • Signal: Josh Jacobs — losing some routes to Jalen Richard, could trend toward TRAP back status in games where the Raiders don't generate the green zone looks; Zay Jones — full snap and route share
  • Noise: Lions RBs — tough read for now with a split backfield in an offense ignoring the position somewhat, other than in the passing game, and Johnson is theoretically more valuable but McKissic was far more productive this week
Week 9
Chargers 26 - Packers 11
  • Snap Share: Melvin Gordon: 63% (+3% vs. previous season high), Austin Ekeler: 34% (-11% vs. previous season low), Andre Patton: 82% (second consecutive game over 80%), Davante Adams: 83% (first game since Week 4), Marquez Valdes-Scantling: 69% (-5% vs. season average), Geronimo Allison: 65% (+6% vs. season average), Allen Lazard: 46% (-21% vs. Week 8), Jake Kumerow: 24% (-27% vs. Week 8)
  • Key Stat: Chargers — 38/28 pass/run ratio

Davante Adams returned for Green Bay, which led to Aaron Rodgers — who averaged over 300 yards passing and posted a 10:1 TD:INT ratio in the four games Adams missed — throwing for a season-low 161 yards on 35 attempts. That doesn't make much sense. 

The Packers just looked flat all day, and CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson mentioned at the half Matt LaFleur had told the broadcast team they "got in a little late" and he wished "they did it a little differently," referencing their travel, and at the half his comments built on that, saying they were playing tired and hadn't woken up yet. They just never seemed to flip that switch.

It's anecdotal, sure, but road teams do sometimes just look flat, and while I'm hesitant to put too much weight on seemingly innocuous comments like these, it's also hard to ignore completely. There's absolutely a human element that can get missed at times with black and white data analysis, and while it's probably true that this game exposed some flaws the Packers have, it could also be true that the outcome was a little more extreme due to external factors. I'm willing to consider a bit of a mulligan. 

Overall, the Packers mustered just 184 total yards, the first time they failed to reach 300 since the Thursday night season opener against the Bears in Week 1. They went extremely pass heavy, rushing just 11 times, and ran just 49 plays overall. As far as usage trends, Aaron Jones maintained the lead side of the running back committee, and he and Jamaal Williams split routes nearly 50/50, but neither back saw any downfield looks like Jones had been seeing in recent weeks with the wide receivers back to full health.

Williams out-targeted Jones six to four and caught all six of his, including four in the fourth quarter and a late touchdown, while Jones caught just one pass and Jones' eight carries were both a big percentage of the ground work and a low total due to the team abandoning the run. Expect Jones to bounce back in better scripts. 

Adams saw 11 targets and 111 air yards while playing a relatively full snap share, but didn't catch any of his deeper looks, returning seven catches for just 41 yards. Allen Lazard, who led the Packers in routes the past two weeks, dipped behind Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison to fourth among wide receivers, while Jake Kumerow fell to a bit role. Lazard did out-target both Valdes-Scantling and Allison — neither of whom was productive on their two targets each — and Lazard was second on the team with 72 air yards, catching three of four targets for a team-high 44 yards. Lazard's involvement will muddy things up behind Adams, who should be expected to dominate targets most weeks anyway. 

Melvin Gordon got in a season-high snap share in the plus script and notched 20 carries against a defense that has hemorraged rushing yards. It was a great matchup and the script played out perfectly for his current role — and for the Chargers stated desire to run more after firing offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt last week — and Gordon returned a 20-80-2 rushing line to go along with 4-3-29 receiving. 

Austin Ekeler ran routes on a season-low 32% of dropbacks, and we got further confirmation the playing time between these two will likely be sensitive to script. Ekeler did rack up 70 rushing yards of his own on 12 carries and catch his four targets for 23 yards, and he got two green zone touches to Gordon's three, so he remained involved in close. Gordon got both carries from the 1-yard line, but Ekeler got back-to-back tries from the 5 and 2 in the fourth quarter. Unlike a lot of receiving backs, Ekeler maintains some green zone appeal with five touches in that area in the five weeks since Gordon's return, compared to Gordon's 10. 

Other than those two backs and one more pass to third-stringer Justin Jackson, Philip Rivers targeted just three players — Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Hunter Henry. Henry led the team with 10 targets and seven receptions, posting 84 yards, and his consistency since returning from injury is well documented. 

Williams' consistent volume, most notably in terms of air yards, finally translated a bit as he went 4-3-111, but his production was interestingly mostly of the after-the-catch variety as he took a crossing route 56 yards up the sideline for his big play. He should still have bigger days ahead. Allen went 4-3-40 and there's no need to panic there; things always get thin when a team runs 10 more times than they throw. 

  • Signal: Chargers — definitely went more run heavy, but we'll see how much of that sticks if they trail in future games; Chargers pass-catchers — concentrated passing tree; Packers pass-catchers — muddy behind Adams
  • Noise: Packers — there are mild concerns here, but I'm not overweighting a single outcome; Aaron Jones — 9 touches (script-related)
Week 9
Broncos 24 - Browns 19
  • Snap Notes: Diontae Spencer: 50% (+40% vs. Week 8 season high), Fred Brown: 14% (-49% vs. Week 8 season high), Noah Fant: 86% (+4% vs. Week 8 season high), Nick Chubb: 60% (-1% vs. previous season low), Dontrell Hilliard: 40% (+3% vs. previous season high)
  • Key Stat: Broncos RBs — 2 HVT (at least 5 in every other game this year, 9.25 average)

After looking pretty competitive against the tough Patriots defense last week, we got the more frequent bad version of the up-and-down Browns. There's been a lot of talk about how bad they've been overall, but this is a team who also crushed the Ravens in Baltimore and clearly has plenty of talent. I'm on record as being very down on their coaching and have only felt more confident in my assessment after Week 3 that Baker Mayfield has regressed in terms of his ability to get through reads. There seems to be almost no focus on what to do with the ball if the first or second read isn't there, and the play doesn't work as intended. 

That's a scheme issue and a communication issue and while Baker could certainly play better, I'm still squarely of the belief that this offense would be far better with better coaching — you can go to the other extreme and look at how Andy Reid's scheme has allowed Matt Moore to find success with clever play designs and easy reads that keep him in rhythm — something I'm going to keep in mind over the offseason as it relates to Baker's long-term potential. 

The Broncos deserve some credit, of course, but after Brandon Allen threw eight times in the first quarter, he threw just 12 more times all game as Denver played conservatively — they got their points on chunk plays and ran just 43 plays overall — and dared the Browns to erase an early deficit. And the Browns' inability to do that ultimately decided the game. 

Of Allen's 20 throws, eight went to Courtland Sutton, who continues to dominate this season despite his circumstances. 

Sutton caught five balls for 56 yards and that first-quarter touchdown, and he's the classic example of a very good receiver seeing an elite share of his team's passing game (his 0.87 WOPR in Week 9 was fifth highest on the week, and his seasonal WOPR of 0.63 is sixth-highest in the league) but who is dealing with limited overall volume in the offense and subpar quarterback play. He's in a class with Allen Robinson and John Brown as guys you want to start but also recognize it's a tough bet to make that they can overcome that every week. 

Other than Sutton, Noah Fant saw four targets, taking a short pass 75 yards to the house and catching 24- and 16-yard passes later to build out his first career 100-yard day. I've been optimistic on Fant's usage all year and have played him at times but I'd argue if you used him in Week 9 (he was a vaguely popular DFS play) you caught lightning in a bottle. In the big picture, Fant has all the tools to be successful, and it was great to see that shine through this week. But going forward, be wary of chasing production that was largely the result of one big play that featured considerable yards after the catch given this was the first time Fant's hit 40 yards all year. 

One thing I've harped on all year is how Joe Flacco has elevated the RB target rates, and I noted last week that was a concern with the switch to Allen. The backs combined for two targets here, which is a very bad sign and explains Royce Freeman's worst output of the season. Phillip Lindsay was able to break off a couple of longer runs, including a 30-yard touchdown, but you can't count on nine low-value rushes returning 92 yards and a score most weeks. 

The backs in this offense had averaged a strong 9.25 high-value touches per week leading up to this game, with at least five in every game, but totaled two here. Unfortunately, the quarterback switch may turn this from a split backfield where both were at least flex options into one where neither should be started.  

Despite my comments, Cleveland wasn't terrible offensively, putting together six drives of eight plays or more, but routinely settling for field goals as their inability to execute in crucial spots showed up time and again. They ran 30 more plays than the Broncos, including 42 pass attempts from Baker Mayfield, though Mayfield threw for just 273 yards. 

Jarvis Landry easily led with 13 targets, going 6-51-1. Odell Beckham went 6-5-87. For the season, both players have 67 targets, with Beckham's season line being 39-575-1 (774 air yards) and Landry's 36-555-1 (624 air yards). That's obviously a positive note for Landry based on his preseason expectations and a negative one for Beckham.

Ricky Seals-Jones suffered a knee injury that allowed Demetrius Harris to see a bit more work, but David Njoku shared on social media that his cast is off and the expectation is that he'll be back soon to handle most of the tight end targets the rest of the way. Antonio Callaway continues to run as the No. 3 but hasn't done much to warrant Fantasy roster consideration. 

Another guy set to return is Kareem Hunt, and he should be back this week. Nick Chubb rushed 20 times for 65 yards and caught four of five targets for 26 more, but ran routes on just 43% of dropbacks, his second straight week below 45% after averaging a 60% route percentage before the team's Week 7 bye. 

Last week, I had this to say on Chubb:

"Chubb ran routes on just 32% of dropbacks, a season low and only the second time he's been below a 50% route percentage. With the two early fumbles and the tough road matchup, this might have just been a rest situation. But Kareem Hunt isn't far from returning, and Dontrell Hilliard running his highest route percentage of the year and seeing four of the five running back targets isn't a great sign for the concerns that Chubb could start to lose some work. Chubb still broke off a 44-yard run and rushed for 131 yards on 20 carries overall, and it seems likely he'll retain his green zone role in any scenario, but ceding passing downs work is never a good thing for RB value."

Hilliard only took two targets this week, but that trend continued. Considering Hunt's imminent return, we have to be very concerned about Chubb's ability to maintain RB1 usage the rest of the way. He's still extremely talented and will still be an every-week start, but the weekly upside appears to be taking a pretty big hit.

  • Signal: Nick Chubb — passing game role already decreasing, Kareem Hunt due back; Broncos RBs — quarterback switch may turn this from a split backfield where both were at least flex options into one where neither should be started
  • Noise: Noah Fant — don't chase YAC
Week 9
Ravens 37 - Patriots 20
  • Snap Notes: Marquise Brown: 57% (first game since Week 5), Miles Boykin: 39% (lowest since Week 5), Nick Boyle: 84% (+17% vs. previous season high), Mark Andrews: 34% (-7% vs. previous season low), Mohamed Sanu: 100% (+46% vs. Week 8 Patriots debut), Phillip Dorsett: 99% (+6% vs. previous season high), Ben Watson: 100% (+30% vs. Week 8), James White: 42% (-1% vs. season average), Rex Burkhead: 36% (most since Week 3), Sony Michel: 22% (matches Week 3 season low) 
  • Key Stat: Mohamed Sanu — 0.74 WOPR (seventh highest in Week 9)

Baltimore took it to the Patriots on the ground early, and then when the Patriots rallied back and cut the game to four by halftime, Baltimore took it to the Patriots on the ground late, too, pulling away with back-to-back 14-play drives that took at least eight minutes and ended in touchdowns. 

Lamar Jackson rushed 16 times for 61 yards and two scores, while also throwing for 163 and a score on his 23 pass attempts. Marquise Brown returned for the Ravens, but it was actually Nick Boyle leading the way for Baltimore with five catches on five targets and the TD. Brown went 4-3-48 and Mark Andrews went 3-2-21, and both should still be considered the lead receiving options while Boyle and Hayden Hurst also mix in as Jackson targets his tight ends heavily.

There's perhaps some small reason for concern regarding Andrews, through. Coming out of the bye, he ran routes on a season low 50% of dropbacks, while Boyle shot up to 65%, a season high for Boyle by 15 percentage points. It very well could have been matchup-based facing the Patriots, and Andrews' season average route percentage is 64% so he can clearly produce without running routes on every dropback, so for now it's just something to keep an eye on. 

Mark Ingram rushed 15 times for 115 yards including a 53-yarder early in the second quarter, but Gus Edwards got the lone RB rushing touchdown from 12 yards out on the very next play after Ingram's big run. Ingram did see three of four green zone touches among the backs, and leads Edwards 17 to 9 in that category for the season, but of course Jackson has to be considered here. Jackson's touchdown runs were from 1 and 3 yards out, and for the season Jackson now has 11 green zone rushes for four scores. 

Ingram did see three targets and catch two passes in this one, but we know we can't really rely on his receiving work. And the sharing of the green zone touches certainly doesn't help matters. That said, he continues to average a strong 5.1 yards per carry as the threat of Jackson has a substantial impact on the running lanes the backs get, and he has at least 12 carries every week, so Ingram maintains a higher floor than most TRAP backs. 

Tom Brady sent 25 of his season-high 46 pass attempts to Mohamed Sanu (14-10-81-1) and Julian Edelman (11-10-89), who each played 100% of the team's snaps in what was the most concentrated snap distribution I can ever remember from the Patriots. Beyond those two, Ben Watson also played 100% (5-4-28) and Phillip Dorsett played 99% (4-2-13). 

Sanu's usage was remarkable, especially because his 136 air yards were far more than Edelman's 59, and Sanu's 0.74 WOPR in Week 9 makes him a strong option after the Patriots' Week 10 bye. N'Keal Harry was inactive, but is another name to consider as he seems to be trending toward a late-season role, which would be at the expense of Dorsett if it comes to fruition. 

James White led the backs in snaps in the plus script, while Rex Burkhead played his most extensive share since Week 3 after missing several weeks. Burkhead actually ran more routes than White, but White out-paced him as he pulled in a 30-yard catch and went 3-2-46 receiving while also leading the team in rushing with a 9-38-1 line. Burkhead was only targeted twice with one catch for 16 yards, but has some appeal going forward in PPR formats. We've covered Sony Michel's lack of receiving role, and while he did see two short targets here, he was mostly scripted out of the game.

  • Signal: Mohamed Sanu — Week 9 role suggests legit potential to be Patriots' No. 1 WR, which fits with the draft capital given up to acquire him
  • Noise: Ravens — 41 rush attempts is high, even for them
Week 9
Cowboys 37 - Giants 18
  • Snap Notes: Randall Cobb — 76% (+4% vs. season average), Evan Engram — 69% (-4% vs. previous season low)
  • Key Stat: Giants — fewer than 300 yards of offense in four of their past five (were over 370 yards in each of their first four)  

The Giants got out to a fast start, but Dallas kept coming and piled up 429 yards of offense to eventually pull away. 

Back at full strength following the Week 8 bye, Dallas played their main five guys at least 75% of the snaps each, with rotational guys like Blake Jarwin and Tony Pollard mixing in. Ezekiel Elliott rushed 23 times for 139 yards but wasn't targeted for the first time this year, though his 80% snap share suggests that was more the product of Dak Prescott not needing to check down. Pollard saw three targets, but those were more of the designed play variety as Dallas tried to get him in space. 

Prescott threw for 257 yards and three scores on 35 attempts, and while Jarwin caught a 42-yard touchdown on his lone target, the three main receivers and Jason Witten dominated the volume overall. Witten led the team with nine targets at his typically low aDOT, catching eight for 58, while each of the receivers had at least 80 air yards, led by Amari Cooper's 135 that helped him to a 7-4-80-1 line. 

Michael Gallup's six targets were on the low side, but his 14.0 aDOT was solid, and while he only brought in two passes he made an acrobatic play on the sideline to turn one into a touchdown. Cobb caught six of his eight targets for 35 yards, but isn't much of a Fantasy option while Gallup still is the better secondary receiver here with more consistent usage.

The Giants were also concentrated with their snaps, other than Evan Engram cycling out a bit more than usual. Engram was used plenty, tying Saquon Barkley for the team lead with eight targets and catching six for 48. 

Each of Golden Tate, Darius Slayton and Barkley played at least 80% snap shares, with Tate and Slayton up over 90%. Tate had a solid 6-6-42 line that featured a fantastic one-handed catch that was very nearly a touchdown, while Slayton was far less productive at 4-1-6. Cody Latimer scored the team's lone touchdown but played sparingly. 

Coming off a big game, Barkley's production has to be a bit concerning, particularly as he had to pull off a 65-yard catch-and-run to get to 95 total yards on 20 touches. Daniel Jones threw for just 210 yards on 41 attempts and turned the ball over three more times, and his struggles have made it easier for defenses to key on Barkley. It's not helpful that Barkley's eight targets combined for negative-10 air yards; he's being asked to do quite a lot behind the line of scrimmage to earn his yards. 

Barkley will continue to rack up touches and maintains both his high-reception upside and big-play ability, but expectations are naturally high for a guy who went No. 1 in plenty of drafts, and while his weekly floor is high because of the dual workload, his profile is definitely a bit weaker than McCaffrey's due to his offense's ineptitude. 

  • Signal: Giants — offense is struggling, do get the Jets next week
  • Noise: Blake Jarwin/Cody Latimer — both guys played small roles despite their touchdowns