Week 9 of the 2019 NFL season has come and gone! This past week saw the league’s dominant dynasty absorb its first loss, the only openly tanking team get their first victory, and the continued rise of an MVP favorite in the Pacific Northwest. Let’s take a look at who made a lasting impression in Week 9:
JIMMY GARROPPOLO (San Francisco 49ers)
Much has been made of the (8-0) San Francisco 49ers so far this season. The headlines are a mixture of shock, surprise, and reverence for two particular parts of the team. The coach, Kyle Shanahan, and the Niners dominant defense led by Nick Bosa. The one name that’s been curiously absent or cast aside in most of these write-ups is Jimmy Garroppolo.
The second-year starter has been labeled a “game manager”, and marked as an interchangeable part of San Francisco’s offense, and he clearly took those words to heart. In Week 9 Garroppolo burned his critics with a spotless performance in a hard-fought divisional victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Jimmy G posted a final stat line of (317 Pass Yds/4 TDs) en route to the Niners’ eighth win of the year. The performance marked Garroppolo’s highest yardage (317 yards), Touchdown (4) and fantasy point (28) totals of the year so far.
He has the look of a young QB that’s learning on the job and getting better each week. Look for him to be a borderline QB1 in his next two contests against Seattle and Arizona.
TYLER LOCKETT/D.K. METCALF (Seattle Seahawks):
I’ve sung the praises of Russell Wilson all season long, so this week I decided to give his pass-catchers the credit they deserve. Coming into the 2019 season the Seahawks were seemingly at an impasse at the WR position. They had lost franchise superstar Doug Baldwin to retirement, and Tyler Lockett was still looked at as a special team’s gadget player by many around the league.
When they drafted D.K. Metcalf out of Ole Miss it was looked at as a bit of a reach even after Metcalf slipped into the third round. The big-bodied super athlete was hardly the type of downfield threat that usually lived in a Russell Wilson offense, but you would be hard-pressed to echo those criticisms after these past two months. The duo of Lockett and Metcalf has quickly become one of the best young tandems in the league, offering a lethal combination of size and speed at all parts of the field for Seattle to play with. The threat that these two represent was on full display during Seattle’s overtime victory against the Tampa Bay Bucs on Sunday.
Lockett continued his rapid ascension up the WR ranks with a blistering (13 Rec/152 Yds/2 TD) performance, and Metcalf kept pace, posting his own line of (6 Rec/123 Yds/TD). This offense will be tested by the undefeated San Francisco 49ers in Week 10, but if there’s any duo that can pass that test, it’s these two.
ZACH ERTZ (Philadelphia Eagles)
Fantasy owners around the world were finally able to exhale a long-held breath of relief on Sunday. Zach Ertz was widely drafted and regarded as one of the top 3 tight ends in the NFL for both real-life and fantasy purposes, but he had underperformed in a massive way for over the season.
In one of the Eagles toughest defensive match-ups on the year, Ertz popped back into relevance for a total of (9 Rec/103 Rec Yds/TD) en route to a much-needed win for Philly. Ertz’s score is still only his second of the year so far, but his boost in usage over fellow TE Dallas Goedert was a good sign for his fantasy prospects moving forward.
The status of Desean Jackson and the presence of Goedert will continue to eat into his week to week ceiling, but there’s no denying the chemistry between Ertz and Carson Wentz. If Philadelphia wants to finish the second half strong they’ll need to keep #86 involved in a big way.
MIKE EVANS (Tampa Bay Bucs)
We’re reaching a point where I just fill in Mike Evans’ name on these write-ups before he even takes the field on Sunday. Between him, Christian McCaffrey and Russell Wilson it’s not even a matter of WILL they blow up, it’s merely a matter of WHEN and HOW.
Evans’ spot as one of the top 3 wideouts in fantasy football is practically undisputed at this point in the season. Despite catching the ball from one of the most unreliable passers in the league, Evans has consistently produced the equivalent of fantasy gold for owners on a weekly basis.
His final stat line from Sunday (12 Rec/180 Yds/TD) marked Evans’ third game of over 180 receiving yards on the season, and his 7th TD reception of the year. I don’t have to tell you to start this man every week, but if you need an extra incentive I recommend looking at his weekly target totals (hint: they’re completely absurd).
TYREEK HILL (Kansas City Chiefs)
As the saying goes, “Speed Kills”. At least, that seemed to be the common mantra across the NFL in Week 9. Between Tyler Lockett in Seattle and Tyreek Hill in Kansas City, it felt more like a track meet than a football game at times.
The man they call “Cheetah” has more than lived up to that nickname since returning from injury back in Week 6. Over the course of the past four contests, Hill has produced (370 receiving yards/4 TD’s), including an impressive (6 Rec/140 Yd/TD) outburst against the Minnesota Vikings this past week.
Matt Moore is certainly no Patrick Mahomes, but with a player like Hill at your disposal, it seems anything is possible. Just throw the ball deep and watch the Cheetah run.
KENNY GOLLADAY (Detroit Lions)
It should be known by now that I have a bit of a soft spot of the Detroit Lions this year. I believe they’re a talented team that’s been the victim of some truly bad beats. From the multiple penalties that lost them their game against the Packers to their near defeat of Mahomes and the Chiefs, I believe Detroit has talent that they’re just not fully capitalizing on. The most prominent example of this talent is my man Kenny Golladay.
“Baby-Tron” is becoming a man before our eyes on a weekly basis, and he’s wasting no time putting the leagues DB’s on notice. His performance in Sunday loss to the Oakland Raiders (4 Rec/132 Yds/TD) marked his 3rd TD in his past two contests, and his 4th 100+ receiving game of the season so far. Golladay has avoided the sophomore slump entirely and come back even stronger in his second year in the Lions offense. He’s proven himself to be Matt Stafford’s go-to receiver (averaging 8 targets per contest), and he’s producing positive results with that workload (7 TD receptions so far this year).
Golladay is one to watch for both real-life and fantasy purposes, he has the potential to be one of the Top 10 receivers in the game in the very near future.
KENYAN DRAKE (Arizona Cardinals)
Kenyan Drake ran as fast as he possibly could to escape the Miami Dolphins and seemingly just continued running right through the 49ers defense on Thursday night football. As one of Miami’s last real “stand out” players, Drake had been relegated to mediocrity for the majority of his tenure in the league.
Getting a chance to start for Arizona in the place of the injured David Johnson was exactly the opportunity Drake needed, and he took full advantage of it in a tough match-up. The dual-threat back posted a final line of (19 touches/162 total yards/TD) in his Cardinals debut that was nearly a victory. His immediate insertion into Kliff Kingsbury offense was practically seamless, his skill set matching up Arizona’s option/play-action based offense perfectly.
Time will tell how long Drake’s tenure atop the team’s RB depth chart will last, but he’s a great player to have while it lasts. He’ll face a stingy Tampa Bay run defense in Week 10.
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY (Carolina Panthers):
It just wouldn’t be a weekly standouts write-up without this guy. Christian McCaffrey’s name has become synonymous with greatness in 2019, and with good reason. The second-year back has been hard at work shredding the fantasy record books on a weekly basis so far, echoing the type of MVP level play we saw from Todd Gurley in 2018.
Run CMC’s 13 rushing TDs on the year (10 rushing/3 receiving) lead the league for running backs, and he’s averaged 100+ yards from scrimmage in all but two games this year. He is a certifiable force of nature that refuses to be denied, and he continued his MVP campaign with a monster 36 fantasy point effort against the Tennessee Titans in Week 9. McCaffrey finished the week with a line of (27 touches/166 total yards/3 TD’s).
His current point total (225 fantasy points) has him on pace to potentially overtake LaDainian Tomlinson’s fabled 2006 season (453 points) by year’s end. CMC is one of the most powerful forces in fantasy football history, and he will lead plenty of owners to a championship by year’s end.
MY MAIN TAKEAWAY FROM WEEK 9
THE BALTIMORE RAVENS UNVEILED A BLUEPRINT FOR BEATING THE PATRIOTS.
The chatter surrounding the previously undefeated New England Patriots had been largely focused on the quality of teams they’d faced through the first half of the 2019 season. While it’s true that defeating the likes of Luke Falk, Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and Matt Barkley is hardly impressive, the reality is that New England’s defense is a legitimate top unit in the NFL.
Belichick’s time-honored tradition of drafting well defensively and emphasizing culture/discipline over flash has molded New Englands 2019 defense into one of the best he’s helmed over his past two decades of decadence and destruction in the league. Then they played the Baltimore Ravens, and a secret was revealed to the world.
That secret is that the New England Patriots offense is stagnant and ineffective when tasked with marching down a full field to score points. Tom Brady’s statistics this year will seemingly look in line with the typical greatness fans are used to seeing from the “GOAT”, but in reality, much of his success has come via short fields courtesy of his defense.
Playing against back-up quarterbacks and mid-tier starters for the first 8 weeks allowed New England to rack up turnovers and place their hamstrung offense inside their opponents’ red zone on a regular basis. This all fed into keeping the facade of greatness alive on the scoreboard while the reality of Brady’s declining skills and supporting cast were left obscured from view.
The Ravens pulled the curtain away and revealed the Patriots’ shortcomings to the world on Sunday by utilizing a mixture of exotic play-calling and effective clock management. Lamar Jackson’s athleticism and Baltimore’s ability to run the ball with three different backs confused New England early and kept them guessing well into the second half of Sunday’s game.
The Patriots had no answer for Jackson’s options runs, and when they sold out to stop him from running they were left exposed for easy passes over the middle of the field to wide-open receivers. The Ravens showed that New England could be wounded in the running game, and they could be exploited later on over the top via play-action passing.
These concepts are practically football 101, but when put into motion by a special athlete like Jackson, they became nearly unstoppable. So, what is a team to do when they don’t have an athletic freak like Jackson at quarterback? They utilize the second part of Baltimore’s blueprint, they run the ball and dominate time of possession.
Baltimore’s offense held onto the ball for 37 minutes of Sunday night game, giving the ball to Tom Brady for only 22 minutes by comparison. This was the first and only game this season that New England trailed in time of possession, and they lost by 17 points.
The Baltimore Ravens proved that the Patriots could bleed on Sunday night, and they handed the rest of the league tape that should be watched on repeat in every locker room for the remainder of the season. You don’t need a rushing QB like Lamar Jackson to beat New England. You just need to play disciplined football. Limiting turnovers, and running the ball effectively to control time of possession are the keys to victory.
If you implement this strategy correctly their defense will tire, and the game will be placed on the shoulders of the lackluster offense they’ve hidden for most of the year. This is how you beat the 2019 New England Patriots.