The Best of Week 9 - Footballguys

Matt Waldman scouts our in-season content and shares five must-knows and his takes on each.

You guys have a ton of articles.

This statement about Footballguys is a blessing but it can feel like a curse. Our staff delivers insights that change seasons for the better yet realistically, no fantasy owner has the time to read everything we publish in a week.

If this describes you, let me be your scout. Here are five insights from Footballguys articles that I find compelling for the weekend ahead. I'll share what should help you this week, touch on the long-term outlook, and sometimes offer a counterargument.

1. The Sharp Report

If you're a DFS player and not reading Ryan Zamichieli's Sharp Report, you're doing it wrong. Zamichieli tracks the elite DFS players in the format and analyzes their choices with the mission of identifying universal teaching points for line-up building. Then, he delivers the "Sharp Play" for the upcoming week.

Here's an example of some of the lessons he shares after supplying a more in-depth breakdown of the choices (these are successful plays from Week 8):

Why Kareem Hunt?

  • Only viable running back for his respective team.

  • Running back at home on a heavy favorite.

  • Playing in a game with a high projected total.

Why James Conner?

  • Only viable running back available for his respective team.

  • Running back at home on a heavy favorite.

  • Continued elite production at a consistently low price (relative to the production level.)

Why Tyler Boyd?

  • The matchup against the weakest secondary in the NFL

  • Plays primarily in the slot, an especially strong matchup against Tampa Bay's weak secondary

  • The team is favored in a game with one of the highest projected totals on the slate

Once he reviews the previous week, Zamichieli shares his Sharp Play of the week, and his hit rate has been strong this year — seven of the eight picks he's made have scored at least 20 points and two of those options were suggestions where less than one-third of all DFS players added to their rosters.

This week's Sharp Play is Kenny Golladay:

On Tuesday afternoon the Detroit Lions shipped Golden Tate to Philadelphia in exchange for a third-round pick. Tate led the Detroit Lions in targets by a wide margin-- his 27 percent target share was nearly 10 percent higher than Detroit’s second most-targeted wide receiver. Second-year wide receiver Kenny Golladay stands to benefit the most following Tate’s departure as the receiver on the roster who typically dominates on intermediate routes. Golladay’s 12.3 average depth of target is significantly higher than Golden Tate’s mark at 6.5, but even so, he checks in over 3 yards shorter than Marvin Jones Jr Jr, Jr., the other wide receiver competing to fill this void in the aerial attack. The matchup for Golladay is nothing to envy, but the volume of targets he projects for at just $6,200 makes up for that.

Matt's Verdict: Zamichieli's hit rate speaks for itself but if my observational analysis of the film will help, then here it goes...Kenny Golladay benefits from a likely bump in volume and from a quarterback who aggressively targets his receivers. Marvin Jones Jr earned enough contested targets to rank third in the NFL in these type of receptions.

While Golladay isn't the bendy Plastic Man that Jones is at the catch-point, he's the prototypical big and fast rebounder who will also earn his share of 50/50 options. The Lions also like featuring Golladay on over routes, which gives the receiver an inherent advantage against cornerbacks as long as the quarterback earns enough time to complete these intermediate routes that work across the middle.

The cornerback begins the route with outside shade on the receiver and has to chase the receiver across the field. Unless the defensive back has elite speed, even a slower receiver against a faster cornerback has an advantage.

I agree that the "Sharp Play" is Golladay.

2. Fantasy Overview's WRs matchups to exploit in November

This week's Fantasy Overview profiles exploitable and avoidable defensive matchups for the month of November. Jeff Haseley organizes the information in an efficient way after sharing his rationale for these matchups with each fantasy position.

If your team has the services of Melvin Gordon III III or Alex Collins, you'll like Haseley's outlook for each. Read the feature for all of his positional takes. Here are his thoughts on the exploitable plays at the wide receiver position.

Teams to Exploit

  • New Orleans - The Saints on average allow 16 receptions, 1.9 receiving touchdowns and 236 yards to wide receivers this season. All are league-leading statistics.
  • Tampa Bay - 16 receptions allowed per game to wide receivers, 1.9 receiving touchdowns allowed to wide receivers and 212 average yards to wide receivers over the last four weeks.
  • NY Jets - 17 average receptions per game allowed to wide receivers over the last four weeks, including 1.8 receiving touchdowns allowed per game in that span.
  • Cincinnati and Atlanta - Both have allowed on average 203 and 202 yards to wide receivers this season. Atlanta has allowed 1.7 receiving touchdowns per game to wide receivers.

Next four games

New Orleans: LAR, at CIN, PHI, ATL
Tampa Bay: at CAR, WAS, at NYG, SF
NY Jets: IND, at MIA, BUF, Bye, NE
Cincinnati: Bye, NO, at BAL, CLE
Atlanta: at WAS, at CLE, DAL, at NO

Matt's Verdict: Haseley's choices (with the exception of the Saints but don't overreact and bench Zach Ertz...) also offer exploitable matchups for tight ends. It's especially worth noting that Tampa, Cincinnati, and Atlanta offer strong opportunities for receivers who earn targets in the middle of the field. Notable options who might be below the radar of "start 2-3" receivers, but are worth consideration for bye weeks and desperation situations include D.J. Moore and Richie James, Jr. (if Nick Mullens earns more starts).

3. Jene Bramel's Mid-Week Injury Expectations

The great thing about Jene Bramel's injury work that he updates daily in three big offerings per week (Monday, Mid-Week, and Saturday) is that Jene values accurate information above hot takes. If he tells you that he has doubts about what a team is saying, a player's availability, or a short-term/long-term outlook, you better take his information serious. Personally, I'm totally alright with making a wrong decision based on Jene's assessments because I know his information is carefully considered.

Here are some notable injury notes from his Mid-Week Injury Expectations:

***Dalvin Cook managed a limited Wednesday practice after saying he didn't want "to do anything stupid" on Monday. We're back to where Cook was two weeks ago when he tested his hamstring in an early week practice. If Cook is cleared to do more than rehab later this week, we may see him return. It's still more likely Cook rests this week, increases his conditioning through the bye week, and returns full strength in Week 11.

***According to Sean McVay, Cooper Kupp could've played last week had the Rams chosen to push his recovery. He has "a very good chance to play this week" assuming his practice participation goes smoothly. His return to individual drills on Wednesday is an excellent start.

***There's also good news on Tyreek Hill, who left Sunday's game with a groin strain. He was back fully practicing on Wednesday and looks likely to play -- barring a late-week setback.

Matt's Verdict: While these notes are important, the pro tip for maximizing your use of these reports is to examine the in-depth work that Jene updates throughout the week with the tables of information by position — especially the offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, and defensive backs. You should consider that injuries to defensive tackles and linebackers will help the opposing ground game and issues with edge players and defensive backs will hurt the passing game.

Also, do the same for the offense. Here are some tips to consider when analyzing this information:

  • Guards and centers are important for running inside or if those teams pull their linemen to the edge.
  • Offensive tackles matter as much for outside zone or perimeter-running teams.
  • If the opposing defense blitzes a lot or has a great pass rusher at defensive tackle, guards and centers are vital.
  • If the opposing defense has a great edge defender or doesn't blitz much, tackles and guards who have the rapport to handle twists take on more importance.
If you find these tips helpful and would like to see more incorporated into the injury analysis, let me know.

4. Waivers of the Future

Daniel Simpkins' long-term analysis of strategic plays on the waiver wire offers assistance to re-draft and dynasty league players. Let's highlight some of the players that Simpkins mentions who could have long-term dynasty value as well as year-end production for teams that could be in the position to rest its starters during the final weeks of the fantasy playoffs.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Malcolm Brown, LAR- For the time being, Brown, not John Kelly, is the primary backup to Todd Gurley. We saw this play out when Gurley left the game in Week 2 to get fluids for cramps. We’ve also seen Brown spell Gurley in recent games for a series or two when he needed a rest. While I expect both would see work if Gurley were to miss significant time, it would be Brown who would lead that committee. Brown hasn’t gotten many chances because Gurley has been very healthy in his NFL career. However, when he has gotten an opportunity, Brown has flashed. He may have value after this year if he can go to another team in the restricted free agency process, but that’s tough to project at this time.

Contending 1%, Rebuilding 10-30%| Teddy Bridgewater, NO- A trade sent Bridgewater from the Jets to the Saints in exchange for a third-round pick. Bridgewater looks to be fully recovered from the horrific injury that cost him his starting spot in Minnesota and played well in the preseason. He could be the heir apparent to Drew Brees, which is great for his long-term value. In superflex leagues, be willing to spend 50%+ percent on Bridgewater if he’s inexplicably still out there.

Watch List| Justin Jackson, LAC- He’s back on the active roster and has some very impressive college tape. Melvin Gordon III III missed time in week seven and though Eckler got the bulk of the work, Jackson got a few carries. With more opportunity, he may surprise the coaching staff with what he can do and earn a bigger opportunity down the road.

Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1-10%| Josh Reynolds, LAR- Reynolds got elevated from the watch list three weeks ago due to the concussions suffered by both Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp in week five. Both were able to play in week six, but Kupp was injured and Reynolds has played more of a role since. As Matt Waldman documented in an episode of the RSP Cast, Reynolds is very skilled and will have the chance to grow as a role player this year with perhaps more usage coming next year. This injury situation may escalate that prediction. The Rams clash with the Saints in an important NFC matchup in the upcoming week.

Matt's Verdict: These four players have long-term dynasty value but also offer cheap one- or two-week upside if we learn that any of these teams run away with its respective division and opt to rest their core options. As we've seen with Reynolds, they're also good injury replacements to known studs.

5. D.J. Moore is emerging

Let's reverse this a bit. My Top 10 column will be the featured piece and we'll let Sigmund Bloom give a verdict. Since Bloom will be subbing for me next week while I'm moving (rumor has it that I'm moving to Cleveland for a new job based on a petition of Twitter users. If I'm not back in two weeks you know where to look...), we'll give you a preview of Bloom playing my role.

This week's Top 10 led off with the Panthers offense and the emergence of rookie receiver D.J. Moore. Carolina riddled the Ravens defense early with a mix of fun offensive plays that featured a lot of option. Here's how I broke it down:

Last week, The Top 10 profiled the Panthers' red zone offense and why there was room for growth. On Sunday, Carolina did more to integrate the option game into its offensive gameplan — especially with D.J. Moore, who is earning use commensurate with his skills.

Moore, Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, and Curtis Samuel have the ball-carrying skill of running backs and Carolina is becoming emboldened with its usage of these skills from each. McCaffrey and Samuel were running backs in college and understand how to run between the tackles, around the edge, and in the open field. They're both adept satellite receivers.

In terms of function, Newton has been a fullback and option quarterback for many years. Moore has the frame and skill to win out-leverage linebackers in space.

Moore's low center of gravity, stop-start quickness and acceleration make him especially dangerous over the middle because when he breaks the first tackle, he's gaining at least another 10-20 yards. He's not yet a strong perimeter option because he struggles against superior press-man corners and his boundary work on fades and go routes lacks the technique and situational awareness for Moore to thrive at this point of his career.

The Panthers are picking its spots with how it uses Moore on the perimeter. The offense is pleased with him as a slot receiver and finds ways to use him in the intermediate passing game to generate longer gains — and without a go-go-gadget mentality.

Moore runs good intermediate routes where the Panthers use him. Here's an excellent catch of a well-placed throw into coverage on a dig route late in the half that helped Carolina reach mid-field, and eventually field goal range to pad its lead.

Where Moore is the greatest source of offensive unpredictability for the scheme is the option game. When Carolina puts Moore, Samuel, McCaffrey, and Newton in the lineup, the defense has to be disciplined to defend every pre-snap shift, every post-snap motion, and every play-fake and pitch-fake. This pair of plays in sequence against the Ravens is a great example.

The Panthers didn't begin this sequence in the red zone but the offense got there quickly with this work. There are so many hints of potential pitches, throw-outs, keepers, jet sweeps, and reverses embedded into this offense and Moore earned 100 yards receiving by the end of the half — and the Ravens were out of this game by then.

Considering how much the Panthers went to these looks during the first half against the Ravens, it's an exciting indication that more (and Moore) is on the way. If Carolina can further streamline its alignments so its offense runs a variety of these plays from similar looking sets, defenses will have an even more difficult time guessing correctly.

The Panthers are second only to the Rams in rushing yards per game and tied for sixth in the league in rushing touchdowns. With Greg Olsen back, Moore emerging, and even Curtis Samuel beginning to do good work in the short passing game, Moore has been and continues to be an emerging fantasy options worth an investment.

Sigmund Bloom's Verdict (From his Sleeper's column): D.J. Moore (vs Tampa Bay) - Don’t you dare put Moore back on your bench after his usage highlighted his immense abilities in what looked like a tough Week 8 matchup against the Ravens. He should flourish against a woeful Bucs defense at least one score to an opposing receiver in every game this year, and multiple scores in over half of their games to date. They’ve also allowed a receiver to go for at least 88 yards in every game, and usage trends point to that being Moore this week.

Good luck this week!