Now that all but the Monday night game has been played, it is time for a weekly look at the top performers from the games on Sunday, and on Thursday. After going over my thoughts, I will select a few other players who either performed above expectations, or maybe have you questioning whether you should continue starting him or not.
The goal of this article is to highlight those top guys, and if you can expect similar performances in the future. If you can’t though, I will detail what you should do with that player, and what the expectations are going forward. Let’s get right into the top performers from week 9.
QB - Matt Ryan 344 Passing Yards, 4 TD’s, 1 Fumble Lost, 27 Fantasy Points
This has started to become the norm for Ryan this season. Whether he has been facing a good defense or bad, you can always count on Matty Ice to put up numbers. This has put him firmly in the top 5 QB discussion each week. A tougher matchup against the Eagles awaits him, but as we have seen already, Ryan hasn’t been phased against good defenses.
QB - Aaron Rodgers 297 Passing Yards, 3 TD’s, 1 INT, 43 Rushing Yards, 25 Fantasy Points
Once again Aaron Rodgers finds himself in this article. He has practically told the entire league that he doesn’t need a running back, although the Packers record might disagree with me. The poor play of the Packers defense is forcing Rodgers to throw the ball constantly. For all of those that were worried 4 weeks ago, don’t be anymore as he is borderline top 3 for the rest of the season.
QB - Marcus Mariota 313 Passing Yards, 3 TD’s, 2 INT’s, 14 Rushing Yards, 1 Rushing TD, 1 Fumble Lost, 25 Fantasy Points
If we look at Mariota’s last five weeks, he has been averaging 23.4 fantasy points per game. His lowest point total in that stretch was 16. If we take out that terrible two game stretch against the Raiders and the Texans, Mariota has thrown for multiple TD’s in every other game. This is the makings of a top 12 QB now, even in that conservative offense. It is clear that Mariota has been taking that next step in his progression. A nice three week stretch of the Packers, Colts, and Bears will continue to see Mariota perform well.
RB - Melvin Gordon 32 Carries for 196 Yards and 1 TD, 4 Receptions for 65 Yards, 31 Fantasy Points
Gordon was at it again with his most amount of carries in his career. He has been seeing the volume, and the efficiency to go with that volume, making him a top 5 back. For those that took a chance on him during drafts after his putrid rookie season, you are getting reward each and every week.
RB - Latavius Murray 20 Carries for 114 Yards and 3 TD’s, 1 Reception for 13 Yards, 30 Fantasy Points
In a surprising turn of events, not only did a Running Back rush for over 100 yards against the Broncos, but he also scored 3 TD’s to boot. The fact that this came from a guy that has been horribly inefficient this year makes it all the more surprising. This is the perfect game to sell high on Murray though. You can talk him up about his propensity to reach the endzone, and then point out he did all of this against the Broncos defense. I don’t trust Murray going forward and don’t see him as anything but a low-end RB2 at the end of the day.
RB - Mark Ingram 15 Carries for 158 Yards and 1 TD, 2 Receptions for 13 Yards and 1 TD, 28 Fantasy Points
I think that timeshare with Tim Hightower may not be lasting long. Ingram went out with a vengeance and showed what he is still capable of doing when he is holding onto the football. The only concern though is that Hightower was also effective. Then you look at how Hightower once again out carries Ingram 23 to 15 and you get a different story. Those 23 carries by Hightower are more than Ingram’s highest of 18 for the season. I just can’t help but constantly see that Sean Payton has this distain for Ingram getting 20 carries, yet has no trouble giving that kind of work to an inferior back in Hightower. Until further notice Ingram is top 15 back, but has the potential to move into the top 10 with a higher workload.
WR - Mike Evans 17 Targets, 11 Receptions for 150 Yards and 2 TD’s, 27 Fantasy Points
Only twice this season Evans has failed to score at least one TD. Even in those games Evans has scored at least 5 points providing at least a little bit of production when he is at his worst. Evans has vaulted himself up right next to that upper elite tier which hosts the likes of Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, and Odell Beckham Jr. The consistency and upside you are getting from Evans is far greater than anybody outside of those top 3, and he may even be above Odell Beckham Jr. because of that consistency.
WR - Michael Thomas 8 Targets, 5 Receptions for 73 Yards and 2 TD’s, 19 Fantasy Points
The first two weeks of the season Thomas scored 5 points in each game. Since then Thomas has 5 weeks of double digit points, with the other week ending with 6 fantasy points with Richard Sherman draped all over him. If there is one receiver you want to own from the Saints, it is Michael Thomas. The consistency and high floor he offers is far greater than the upside Brandin Cooks has been offering. All in all this is the making of a top 12 receiver right now. but next week will be rough for him against that tough Broncos defense.
TE - Jason Witten 10 Targets, 8 Receptions for 134 Yards and 1 TD, 19 Fantasy Points
Well this one certainly turned back the clocks. It was like vintage Witten out there. Sadly though this is going to be a one time occurrence. His usage his severely limited by Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott, and Cole Beasley. Witten may have another few games where he goes for near 70 yards and a TD, but those will be difficult to predict. Against a Browns defense that struggles to defend anyone, Witten will not have as much freedom again this season. He is someone you can use in a pinch in a bye week, but don’t expect him to score above 10 points. Just plan for something around 4-5 fantasy points and sit back. If he scores a TD then that is just gravy.
TE - Vance McDonald 6 Targets, 3 Receptions for 84 Yards and 1 TD, 14 Fantasy Points
A deep play threat at the Tight End position is difficult to ever trust, especially when Kaepernick is your Quarterback. You are free to ignore this, as it is far too difficult to predict which week is the one where he catches a deep TD pass. There are better options available.
TE - Antonio Gates 9 Targets, 5 Receptions for 75 Yards and 1 TD, 13 Fantasy Points
This game was setting up to be the one where Gates could really make a full comeback. The matchup was too good for him to not perform well. Gates is still a big redzone threat, but the yardage was a nice addition this week. Going forward he should be viewed as a top 10 guy, although when Hunter Henry comes back he might slip a spot or two depending on how the usage once again plays out.
Now a look at a couple of other performances that stood out to me from Sunday’s games:
RB - Todd Gurley 12 Carries for 48 Yards, 4 Receptions for 26 Yards, 6 Fantasy Points
I really don’t know what to do with Gurley. This Rams offensive line has done nothing to help Gurley get any sort of momentum going. The good news is that he hasn’t completely had a dud of a week recently with reaching at least 6 points in every week except the first. While that doesn’t sound like good news for a 1st round pick, just know that it probably could be worse with how terrible he and his offensive line has looked. It isn’t going to get better next week either against the Jets defense. I still have Gurley as a top 15 back because I still believe he has to get going at some point. I will probably be wrong, but I feel that the odds are better that he turns it around rather than completely flopping the rest of the season.
RB - Ryan Mathews 5 Carries for 15 Yards and 1 TD, 7 Fantasy Points
If there was ever a guy you needed to move on from two weeks ago, that guy was Ryan Mathews. He has gone from being an okay FLEX option to barely being rosterable. Sure he has scored a TD in each of his last two games, but don’t let that fool you. This guy is barely on the field, and is barely getting any touches. The only times he is being used is in the redzone. So while that is nice for his scoring upside, there is literally no yardage upside here. While it depends on who your other backs are and what is on the waiver wire, I wouldn’t have an issue if you dropped him for someone with higher upside. If you are fine at RB, I would suggest looking to see if J.J. Nelson is on your waiver wire. Currently he is available in 90% of ESPN leagues. He is someone I would jump all over to grab if you are only relying on Mathews as a potential FLEX option.
WR - Allen Robinson 11 Targets, 7 Receptions for 76 Yards and 1 TD, 13 Fantasy Points
So a week after calling him out Robinson decides to do this. Even after a solid game from him, I still don’t think I can trust him, as this was his first game eclipsing 75 receiving yards, and he barely did that here. Blake Bortles has regressed heavily from last season, which is the biggest reason Robinson has not been trustworthy this season. Sure Robinson is still a top 20 guy, but I struggle thinking of him as more than a borderline top 15 receiver.