Outliers, Week 9

A comparison of the weekly positional rankings and the Top 200, this is an output of the players who could either have unexpected good or poor fantasy weeks.


This article will take a weekly look at players who are either undervalued or overvalued in a given week. The outlier value players offer is calculated by a comparison between the Top 200 forward, a look at the top 200 players with the whole season in mind, and the initial weekly Footballguys rankings. Both sources are from the Footballguys.com subscriber content. An emphasis will be on the players with the largest differences between the season outlook and this week only. Also, a preference will be given to differences for the higher ranked players. Some of these differences will be due to injury, the matchup of the week, or short-term situation.  Now, let's look at this week's outlier players. 


Alex Smith

  • Top 200 ranking: 11
  • Weekly ranking: 5
  • Difference: +6

Smith has played the best football of his career this season.  Even without the aid of great receivers, the veteran passer has put up very good fantasy stats.  We like his chances of moving the ball easily against a Dallas Cowboys defense that has given up some big games to opposing quarterbacks. 

Cam Newton

  • Top 200 ranking: 12
  • Weekly ranking: 4
  • Difference: +8

The Kelvin Benjamin-less Panthers face the Falcons this week.  Newton played much better in 2015 without Benjamin in the lineup but this divisional matchup will be a big test.  We like Newton’s upside in this game as the Atlanta defense gave up good production through the air last week to the Jets.  Newton is a much better quarterback than Josh McCown.  It will be interesting to see how the Carolina offense adjusts and utilizes rookies, Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel.

Kirk Cousins


  • Top 200 ranking: 9
  • Weekly ranking: 11
  • Difference: -2


Cousins and his middling offense travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks.  While rookie Deshaun Watson put up big points against the vaunted defense a week ago, we are not expecting Cousins to do the same.  This is a Washington offense that is still desperately seeking a wide receiver not named Jamison Crowder to step up.  The loss of Jordan Reed will not help matters, either. 

Andy Dalton


  • Top 200 ranking: 14
  • Weekly ranking: 24
  • Difference: -10


Dalton and the Bengals travel to Jacksonville to face the top defense in the league against the position.  This will be a very difficult matchup for the Cincinnati passer.  The Jaguars yield 20% fewer points than the second-best pass defense versus quarterbacks (Baltimore Ravens) and have the secondary to clamp down on A.J. Green and the Bengals pass catchers. 

Running Back

Lamar Miller


  • Top 200 ranking: 9
  • Weekly ranking: 5
  • Difference: +4


Miller and the Texans are coming off a narrow loss in Seattle a week ago and host the Colts this week.  Indianapolis is the third-worst defense at containing opposing running backs.  The game flow of this contest should make Miller an even stronger option than normal.  We expect Houston to dominate this game, from start to finish, allowing the Texans running game to get a large number of carries. 

Christian McCaffrey


  • Top 200 ranking: 12
  • Weekly ranking: 8
  • Difference: +4


McCaffrey appears to be the big beneficiary of the Kelvin Benjamin trade to Buffalo.  We like his chances of catching at least eight passes in the game against Atlanta.  The Falcons yield the seventh-most Points Per Reception (PPR) points to the running back position.  In a game that should be high scoring, the rookie will touch the ball frequently. 

Jay Ajayi


  • Top 200 ranking: 23
  • Weekly ranking: 50
  • Difference: -27


This ranking reflects the low chances of Ajayi playing extended snaps in the game this week against the top run defense in the NFL, the Denver Broncos.  He has to learn the offense in just a few days.  Sure, Ajayi will be ranked higher in the coming weeks as he gets acclimated to the Eagles’ offense and has better matchups.  The combination of these two factors leads us to not endorse the ex-Dolphin in Week 9. 

Alvin Kamara


  • Top 200 ranking: 7
  • Weekly ranking: 10
  • Difference: -3


Kamara has played well this season.  While the matchup looks like a positive one for the Saints running game, the game flow should benefit Mark Ingram II more than the rookie.  If New Orleans can acquire a lead against Tampa Bay, as expected, Kamara will be watching Ingram playing from the sideline.  Ingram could be sitting on a monster outing versus the Buccaneers. 

Wide Receiver

Julio Jones


  • Top 200 ranking: 6
  • Weekly ranking: 2
  • Difference: +4


Jones has erupted against the Panthers in the past and we are expecting similar this week.  Carolina is the eighth-worst defense in holding opposing fantasy receivers in check.  Injuries and lack of depth have taken a toll on this secondary.  The Falcons desperately need a win against their division rival and will rely on the play-making pass catcher to get loose down the field. 

Larry Fitzgerald


  • Top 200 ranking: 15
  • Weekly ranking: 7
  • Difference: +8


Fitzgerald could be playing in his last season and wants to go out with a bang.  Quarterback Drew Stanton has relied HEAVILY on Fitzgerald in the past.  The matchup against San Francisco is a plum one and Stanton has confidence in only the veteran pass catcher.  Fitzgerald could top 15 targets in this game.

T.Y. Hilton


  • Top 200 ranking: 21
  • Weekly ranking: 27
  • Difference: -5


Hilton has not been in synch with quarterback Jacoby Brissett this season.  The Colts rarely throw the ball deep to the star receiver.  Hilton will be the focal point of the Houston secondary.  He should get plenty of unwanted attention.  Like most weeks, Hilton could break off a big play but is not likely to be a fantasy star. 

Will Fuller V


  • Top 200 ranking: 13
  • Weekly ranking: 25
  • Difference: -12


The game script should set up well for the Texans running game against the Colts this week.  Indianapolis has a sieve of a run defense.  Fuller is due for some touchdown regression after scoring touchdowns on more than half of his receptions (7 touchdowns on 13 receptions).  He is still an upside fantasy player, but there is ample risk in the game Houston should dominate. 

Tight End

Zach Ertz


  • Top 200 ranking: 3
  • Weekly ranking: 1
  • Difference: +2


Ertz is a strong play this week against Denver.  For a great defense in almost every other category, the Broncos are horrendous against the tight end position.  Denver is the third-worst in the NFL as evidenced by the Travis Kelce dominance Monday night.  Given the prowess of the Broncos cornerbacks, we expect the Eagles to attack via Ertz. 

Nick O'Leary

  • Top 200 ranking: 35
  • Weekly ranking: 22
  • Difference: +13

With Charles Clay expect back in the lineup soon, O’Leary has limited chances to be fantasy-viable.  The game against the Jets this week sets up for a quality outing for the young tight end.  New York is the eighth-best matchup for opposing tight ends. 

Ryan Griffin

  • Top 200 ranking: 42
  • Weekly ranking: 12
  • Difference: +30

Griffin gets one more start as the Texans anxiously away the return of C.J. Fiedorowicz back from injured reserve.  Griffin gets the middle-of-the-road Colts defense.  He is a solid spot starter who is expected to put up low-end TE1 fantasy numbers.

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