Week 8 is in the books and….WOOF! My quarterback suggestions were relatively solid with Derek Carr as the second highest scoring QB for the week, and Trubisky and Dalton as the #9 & #10 respectively. Where the “woof” applies is regarding week 8’s tight end performances. The tight end position as a whole has been difficult to navigate this season, but last week was particularly atrocious. Duds for days! Njoku – dud! Benjamin Watson – dud! C.J. Uzomah – dud! Chris Herndon of all players was the only one who delivered with one catch for one touchdown. Given its proximity to the year’s spookiest holiday, Week 8 was fittingly spooky for tight ends. Despite the complete failures we witnessed, it’s important to practice forgiveness. This is a week-to-week game. Having a short term memory and putting Week 8 out of your mind will help moving forward.
Now we head right into Week 9. The Byepocalypse is officially upon us with six teams on Bye. Time to take shelter! Reminder: this article highlights primarily low(er) owned, high upside quarterbacks and tight ends for both DFS & Season Long formats.
Ryan Fitzpatrick @ Carolina Panthers – FD: $7,100 | DK: $5,500
He’s back baby! There’s a reason I was fading on Winston last week. We were due for a Jameis Winston week. If you’re curious about what that is, it’s four interceptions give or take. With the Interception Man riding the bench, our man Ryan Fitzmagic is back in the swing of things. On Sunday, in just a little over a quarter of play, Fitzmagic was able to throw for 194 yards and two touchdowns ending the week as a QB1. That’s his magic. That’s his upside. Now he’s playing on the road against a tougher defense this week, but his potential for that kind of explosive performance permeates through any existing doubts. He’s only 6% owned in season long leagues. So, if you’re struggling with Byes this week there’s an extremely good possibility that he’s available to claim off of your waivers.
Joe Flacco vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – FD: $7,500 | DK: $5,300
Is he elite or is he not elite? The jury is still out, but it’s frankly not relevant. It’s just fun to bring up. Flacco has not been reliable so far this season, but it’s important to play the match-ups. Pittsburgh has been an easy defense for opposing quarterbacks, and I expect that trend to continue in Week 9. This past Sunday, on a down outing by the Browns, Mayfield still managed two touchdowns and an interception. His yardage was low, but I’m not looking too much into how the Browns performed on Sunday given the fallout we’ve since witnessed resulting in Hue Jackson’s and Todd Haley’s firing. The first time the Ravens faced off against the Steelers this season Flacco threw for 363 yards and two touchdowns. I’m anticipating a similar performance from this veteran QB in Week 9.
Dak Prescott vs. Tennessee Titans – FD: $7,000 | DK: $5,100
The stat that matters for Dak this week is the Cowboys’ success playing at home. They’re undefeated at home this season, and they’ve yet to win a game on the road. Dak’s coming off his best passing performance of the season throwing for 273 yards and a touchdown, but his fumbles cost him what should have been another strong fantasy showing. He has his chance to make up for it this week against the Titans who are on the decline after losing three games in a row. The addition of Amari Cooper to this offense is a positive on paper, but we’ll see how long it’ll take him to adjust to the Cowboys’ offense. At the very least it will draw the attention of the Titans’ offense, opening up weaknesses for Dak & Co. to exploit elsewhere. Let’s not forget Dak’s ability to run the ball. He’s put up 100+ rushing yards and two touchdowns over the past two games. Things appear to be improving for Dak, and he should be considered as a great option for fantasy this week.
Mitchell Trubisky @ Buffalo – FD: $7,800 | DK: $5,800
Trubisky is the QB #7 on the season, and is still just 70% owned in season long formats. He’s had four stellar games in a row, and I’m predicting that he’ll make that 5 this coming Sunday. The Bills have a good defense against the pass, but make no mistake they can be thrown on. Tom Brady just threw for 324 yards against them, and Luck managed for four passing touchdowns against them the week before. The thing is the Bills’ offense is such a disaster that opponents’ game scripts just don’t call for much passing. Even still, we’ve seen Trubisky and the Bears pour it on their opponents earlier this season (i.e. vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers). Trubisky’s ability to run gives him a safe floor, and the Bears’ high power offense obviously presents his upside. He should be a solid play in a week where a lot of players are fading on him due to his match-up.
Baker Mayfield vs. Kansas City Chiefs – FD: $7,400 | $5,600
Listen. I’m just as uncomfortable about it as you are. Monday was a wild ride for the Browns, and not in a good way. Hue Jackson’s firing was long overdue, and the anticipation for Todd Haley to be named the interim HC was palpable. Then the hammer dropped. Todd Haley sacked. An apparent power struggle for the Browns’ offense ended in disaster. Now take a deep breath, and hear me out. Mayfield may still be worth the play this week. Yes, even with Gregg Williams as HC of a Browns’ team that is trying desperately to stay afloat. The only reason to consider Mayfield this week is his match-up against the Chiefs. The Chiefs rank among the worst against quarterbacks half way through the season. Their consistency in this statistic is key. His positive match-up, coupled with how weak the quarterback field is for Week 9 makes him somebody to consider. The Chiefs are likely going to walk all over the Browns’ defense, and Mayfield will be leaned upon to throw early on in this contest. It’s not pretty, but it should work.
Hail Mary Quarterback of the Week
Alex Smith vs. Atlanta Falcons – FD: $7,500 | DK: $5,000
Alex Smith seems to have reverted back to his Alex Smith ways. Throwing for 175 yards and a touchdown won’t win you your fantasy match-ups. Normally, I wouldn’t be recommending Smith for fantasy purposes, but this isn’t a normal week. Byes have dwindled the pool of quarterbacks to draw from, but more importantly, his match-up against the Falcons is too scrumptious to ignore. The Falcons’ defense is in tatters. Before their Bye last week, Eli Manning managed to throw for 399 yards and a touchdown against them. Including the horrible Week 1 performance by Nick Foles, quarterbacks are averaging 318 passing yards and 2.5 touchdowns against the Falcons’ defense. The opportunity is there for a rare great game from Smith. The risk in playing him is the Skins’ reliance on their run game. Adrian Peterson appears to have returned to form over the last two weeks. If he can continue his dominance on the ground, there will be no need for Washington to ask Smith to throw. That risk and his huge potential upside is why Smith is this week’s Hail Mary play.
O.J. Howard @ Carolina Panthers – FD: $6,000 | DK: $4,300
Fitzpatrick loves Howard the same way Winston loves Brate. Only difference is, Fitzpatrick relies on Howard between the twenties as opposed to solely as a red zone option. Howard is on his way to a thousand yard season, and benefits from being on a team that is perpetually in throwing situations. He also has the best possible match-up this week among all tight ends. I don’t know how it happened exactly, but the Panthers are now the weakest defense against the tight end position. Howard should be able to have a solid game against a weaker defense with a quarterback under center who likes to target him. There aren’t a lot of great tight end options this week, so it’s going to get spooky the deeper we dive into this week’s starts. Gotta take advantage of positive match-ups and situations whenever you can at this point in the season.
Ed Dickson vs. Los Angeles Chargers – FD: $4,700 | $3,300
It’s been a long time coming, but we finally got to see Ed Dickson in a Seahawks’ jersey. What a sight to behold. In his debut for Seattle, Ed caught both of his targets for 54 yards and a score. Not bad for a player who had missed basically half the season with injury. It’s not exactly a “rapport” per say, but it took Wilson no time to depend on Ed in the red zone. That reliability coupled with Ed’s ability to break off a big play gives him fantastic upside. With Dissley on IR, Dickson becomes the de facto TE1 on this roster. The match-up this week isn’t a cake walk, as the Chargers are middle of the pack against the tight end position. Dickson’s upside primarily comes from his quarterback play, and opportunity.
Vance McDonald @ Baltimore Ravens – FD: $5,300 | DK: $3,700
Vance was neither disappointing or exciting last weekend. The Steelers were able to get the job done on the ground with James Conner doing his best John Conner impersonation. Jesse James & Vance McDonald were both targeted three times, and again, we saw Vance make more of his targets than his tight end counterpart. This trend will continue through the rest of the season. The Steelers will face off against another division rival this week in the Ravens who have shown their weakness against the tight end position all season. Vance had a solid game against them in their first showdown in Week 4, but squandered it with a fumble loss. He’s got a solid floor this week, with rare upside for the position. Vance is also just 46.5% owned, so there’s a 50/50 chance you he’s available in your season long formats. He’s as close to a safe play you’re going to find on waivers.
Chris Herndon @ Miami Dolphins – FD: $5,400 | DK: $3,000
Listen, I was wrong about a good portion of my tight end starts last week, but Herndon managed to save my behind with his lone catch touchdown. The fact of the matter is Darnold seems to have found his tight end, and has connected with him for three touchdowns over the last three weeks. The Jets are on the road this week facing a Miami defense that has allowed 5 touchdowns to tight ends over the last three weeks. There’s a disconnect somewhere in that defense, and I think the Jets will be looking closely at ways to exploit it. The last time the Dolphins looked like they had a solid defense was in Week 2 against the Jets. So they’ll be looking for this matchup as a “get right” kind of game. Herndon needs more targets for me to have more confidence in him, but his ability to find the endzone has him looking like a poor man’s Brate.
Hail Mary Tight End of the Week
Mark Andrews vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – FD: $4,600 | DK: $2,600
This is a pure dart throw glory play. The Ravens have a rotation of four tight ends that they use each game. Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst are both rookies. Maxx Williams was anticipated to be the truth when he came on, but suffered some serious setbacks due to injury during his career thus far. He’s not been targeted over the past three weeks. Nick Boyle, well…he’s Nick Boyle. There’s nothing exciting there. I was a Hayden Hurst fan during the offseason. More people lean Hayden given the first round draft capital the Ravens spent on him in this year’s draft. Fact of the matter is though he’s been injured, and in Hurst’s absence Mark Andrews has become one of Flacco’s preferred tight end targets as the season has developed. The Steelers still have a weak defense against tight ends, and gave up a garbage time TD to Seth DeValve. I still think Hurst will emerge as the leading tight end receiver on the Ravens, but this week Andrews should have the advantage.
QB/TE COMBO OF THE WEEK
There’s one combo here that burns brighter than all the rest this week. The Magic Man is ready to light the world on fire again. It stands to reason that his favorite tight end target is primed to have a great game against the worst tight end defense in the League. There’s not much more to say. Their rapport was established early on this season, and when Fitzmagic was thrown back into the offense on Sunday, they quickly re-established that rapport. O.J. Howard and Fitzmagic is the best stack out there for Week 9.