One Big Thing – NFC – Week 9

Updated: November 14th 2020

Every week we learn a little bit more about how a team sees each player as a part of their offense allowing fantasy footballers to react (positively or negatively) to those actions. Each week I will look to capture the “One Big Thing” that should have an impact on each team going forward and how you, the savvy fantasy player, can use that to your advantage.

NFC EAST

 NY Giants

Darius Slayton still has consistently played on 85+ percent of the snaps but since Sterling Shepard’s return in week 7 his targets have dropped significantly. Slayton has two (2) or fewer catches in three (3) of the last four (4) games and only 15 targets the last three (3) games. Meanwhile, Sterling Shepard has seen 26 targets. I do not think this is all on Slayton though as it has been clear watching the Giants’ games that quarterback Daniel Jones struggles to make throws consistently and Slayton has been missed on several open routes that could have been big plays and/or touchdowns. I do not know if the Giants will move on from Daniel Jones if they have a chance to draft one of the quarterbacks next offseason but it could be better for Slayton to have a more accurate passer rather than a big arm bomber.

 Washington

Alex Smith has returned to the starting role for Washington and while everyone has pointed to how well Terry McLaurin has played with the quarterback carousel around him this moved could put J.D. McKissic on the fantasy radar for the rest of the season. Smith has always been a quick release, find the running back when nothing is immediately open type of quarterback and it showed last week. McKissic led the team with nine (9) catches. For a team that will likely be playing either keep up or catch up, McKissic could become the new James White; a running back that sees two to five carries a game but has eight to twelve targets.

 Dallas

If you had told me going into last week’s matchup that Dallas would be minus two (2) in turnovers and double the Steelers in penalties I would have thought the game would have been 44-10. The Cowboys surprisingly had a big lead in the fourth quarter that required fifteen unanswered points by the Steelers to remain undefeated. The team finally looked like they were playing for something and left it all out on the field with trick plays and a big-time effort from their fourth starting quarterback in 2020, Garrett Gilbert. Fantasy-wise it was not much different a result for anyone but rookie CeeDee Lamb, who had 71 yards and a touchdown, but this performance is one that the team might be able to use as motivation and rally a few more wins this season. Not drafting in the top 5 could potentially save a lot of jobs heading into 2021.

NFC NORTH

 Green Bay

I mean, with all his running backs on the COVID list except for Aaron Jones who was coming back from an injury, and playing against a banged-up 49ers team we knew it was going to be another Aaron Rodgers game. The veteran quarterback made it look easy and smiled the whole time doing it. He and Davante Adams are destroying secondaries right now with 422 yards and six (6) touchdowns their last three (3) games. Another cupcake matchup against the one-win Jacksonville Jaguars could mean another game close to 200 yards for Adams in week 10, especially if Allen Lazard missed another week.

 Chicago

David Montgomery is terrible and the only thing that is making him even rosterable at this point is his volume. He has only surpassed 15 PPR points once in the last seven (7) games despite averaging over 18 touches per game. Every week the meme of him circulates showing the traits of all the great running backs that they projected him to be like and at this point, it is just sad. Who knows what the Bears’ plans are for the draft in 2021 as they have plenty of needs along the offensive line and potentially a quarterback that could cost them a lot of capital to go get. If they take a running back in any round though we have to assume that they will eat more into Montgomery’s workload and relegate him to most fantasy benches.

 Detroit

It was a tough week for Matt Stafford as he had no chance to prepare while in COVID isolation right up to game day and he did not have his top weapon Kenny Golladay to help him out. He then was knocked out of the game in the second half and Chase Daniel had to come in. At least the coaching staff is starting to come around to using D’Andre Swift more as he has seen the most snaps of any Lions running back each week since their week 5 bye. If the team does not improve its win total this season it seems unlikely that the current coaching staff will remain in place. Hopefully replaced by one that will give more opportunities to young players, rather than trying to milk what is left of veterans like Adrian Peterson and Danny Amendola.

 Minnesota

Another week, another dominant performance by Dalvin Cook who once again went over 200 total yards. His success has come at the expense of Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson who have only seen 17 targets between the two over the last two games. I do not think the team cares though as they have now won two straight and found their formula for success. It was a tough start to the season, and the playoffs are still a long shot, but if the team can finish strong the rest of the season (7-9, 8-8) it should prevent the front office from doing anything too brash with the roster. Just keep letting Dalvin “Cook”.

NFC SOUTH

 Carolina

A strong performance against the reigning Champs saw the Panthers take the Chiefs to wire. They also saw the return of All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey who picked up where he left off with 37 PPR points. Unfortunately, he picked up a shoulder injury at the end of the game that will force him to miss at least week 10. At this point though either you survived without him coming into week 9 that another week should not make the difference, or you are out of playoff contention and should be looking for him to just get healthy. In the meantime, Curtis Samuel has come onto the scene and put up his second consecutive 20 point performance and the first 100-yard receiving game of his career. The two receivers above him, D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson might have bigger clout in the fantasy community but Samuel is the hot receiver right now and could continue to rise as a dynasty asset heading into 2021.

 Atlanta

Is Hayden Hurst a top 5 dynasty tight end? Currently the TE6 in PPR and tied for seventh (7th) in points per game for tights that have played at least three (3) games, Hurst is coming off of four (4) straight double-digit games so one could make the argument. The Atlanta offense has always had a strong fantasy tight end during the Matt Ryan era with the likes of Tony Gonzalez and Austin Hooper and now potentially Hayden Hurst taking on that role. Tight ends tend to be later bloomers than the other skilled positions so although Hurst is 27 there is a potential for at least a half-decade of value as a reliable fantasy option. The big question mark is how much of this offense will still be here moving into the next season. Matt Ryan might be gone, although his contracts along with Julio Jones’ are such albatrosses that it could be unlikely. Either way, if Hurst can closeout 2020 with as strong a performance as his first half he could be right in the thicket of that second tier of tight ends heading into 2021.

 New Orleans

The Saints once again knew exactly what they wanted to do beat the Buccaneers and they executed it to perfection. The offense took advantage of an aggressive defense with quick passes over the Bucs’ blitzes. It also helped to have both Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders back on the field together for the first time since week 1. Drew Brees might not put up consistent 300-yard games like he had in his prime years but he showed on Sunday night that he can still be a championship fantasy quarterback. A healthy Saints offense will be tough to beat come playoffs.

 Tampa Bay

If the Saints knew exactly what they wanted to do, the Buccaneers had no idea what their plan was for Sunday night. The team got so scared of being behind in the shootout that they shot themselves in the foot by not staying balance to try and keep the Saints offense off the field. Tom Brady started with four (4) three-and-out drives and the offense had two (2) rush attempts total on those four (4) drives. The team is still one of the best five teams in the league and this game was more of an albatross than anything, but still, the yo-yo performances the Bucs have had this season will make it very difficult to win 3 or 4 games in a row against teams like the Saints in January.

NFC WEST

 San Francisco

It would be hard to blame the 49ers for their poor performance on the short week. They were without their starting quarterback, tight end, two running backs, and basically, their entire receiver core was a last-minute scratch for COVID concerns. Much of the 337 total yards came well into the second half once Green Bay had a comfortable lead. If the team is in fact considering moving on from Jimmy Garoppolo after this season it is obvious after watching this game that Nick Mullens is better served as a career backup rather than a franchise leader and the team would have to look at outside options. With the team still young and a lot of weapons still on rookie deals, the 49ers could bounce back to contention next season once everyone returns healthy. For now, though, it is likely a top 12 draft selection in their future.

 Seattle

It had been a while since Russell Wilson had to avoid as much pressure as he did last week as the Bills gave him fits all afternoon and resulted in four (4) turnovers. He is an elite quarterback so Wilson still managed to put up 34 points but the game was very much about the Bills controlling both sides of the ball. If teams use this blueprint of just consistently attacking Seattle’s secondary more shootouts could be needed from Wilson and Co. to be able to keep pace atop the NFC. That is not necessarily a bad thing from a fantasy outlook.

 Arizona

Kyler Murray is becoming matchup-proof as even going up against the number one ranked defense Murray scored a week 10 best 38 points with another three (3) passing touchdowns along with his first career 100-yard rushing performance and another score on the ground. His breakout this season has been even greater than I think many who were bullish on him to begin the season thought it could be. He has quickly moved into the top 3 of dynasty quarterbacks and if not for the stellar performances of several other quarterbacks this year would like to

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