Is Duke Johnson finally back as a fantasy-relevant running back? A look at some of the best and worst fantasy football performances from Week 9 and whether they were a fluke or a sign of things to come.
Surprise of the Week
Duke Johnson Jr. (CLE)
Week 9: 20.6 Standard Points; 29.6 PPR
As a Browns fan, I have been waiting for the moment where the offense gets Duke Johnson more involved. This past week I finally got my wish and I believe Freddie Kitchens, former Browns running back coach prior to promotion, has found a way to be a more creative coordinator than his predecessors. Johnson had 74 receptions for 693 yards last year and was a valuable asset in PPR leagues. Obviously Johnson will be unable to match the career highs he was able to set last year, but I do believe he has the opportunity to put up the same numbers going forward that made him an asset last season.
The Duke caught all nine targets to lead the team in receiving yards with 78 yards while collecting two touchdowns on the day. Mayfield has been under pressure all year and Johnson gives the rookie quarterback another outlet to get the ball out quickly and make plays. Kitchens designed plays to give Johnson space and I believe he sees Johnson as a very important cog in the slow starting Browns offense. At this time it is safe to believe that Johnson has a role when the Browns are playing from behind, and the Browns are almost always playing from behind.
Week 9 Performance: Fact
Mitchell Trubisky (CHI)
Week 9: 8.0 Standard Fantasy Points
Let’s all start this exercise by saying together that Mitchell Trubisky is not an average quarterback in the National Football League. When I have watched his throws I am reminded of Jaguars games with Blake Bortles and at times you question whether or not he can complete a simple 12-yard post route. The ball is rarely a tight spiral on target that gives Bears receivers an opportunity to make a play after the catch. In football there are athletes that play quarterback and then there are quarterbacks who are athletes. You can guess which category Mr. Biscuit falls in.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, we have to address the larger elephant in the room. Trubisky is a good fantasy quarterback, because of his athleticism and the system he is in. I am not convinced Matt Nagy believes in him, and I believe a lot of Nagy’s playbook is held back from the current Bears play-caller. However, with all of that being said, Nagy is making the system quarterback-friendly by designing plays that gives the Bears weapons the ability to make big plays with open space. The second year quarterback is making the plays he is supposed to make and leaving much more on the table to take, and that is why I have to remain on Mr. Biscuit Island. Trubisky is not a good quarterback, but Nagy makes it possible for Trubisky to have the statistics of an above average quarterback.
Week 9 Performance: Fiction
Dalvin Cook (MIN)
Week 9: 10.9 Standard Points; 14.9 PPR
Dalvin Cook finally produced a decent fantasy day, but stats can be deceiving. If we take away Florida State product’s big run of 70 yards, the sophomore running back had nine carries for 19 yards with a 2.1 yard per carry. On that 70-yard run, Cook eclipsed 22 miles per hour on the speedometer, which is the fastest speed recorded by any ball carrier this NFL season. As a fantasy owner you were delighted to see the points Dalvin put up, but you have to recognize the 2.1 yards per carry with the understanding that he wasn’t fully healthy or confident against the Lions.
Minnesota has a bye in Week 10 and that will allow Cook another week to ensure the hamstring is fully healthy, which I still believe is hampering the Vikings’ bell cow and impacting his performance. Cook has never been in question as a three-down back for Minnesota and he is a special talent that will open up the team’s playbook. If the Vikings are going to make the playoffs, they need a healthy Cook. Week 11 fantasy owners should expect to see a healthy and confident Cook for the first time this season.
Week 9 Performance: Fiction
Ryan Fitzpatrick (TB)
Week 9: 24.0 Standard Points
Fitzmagic has thrown for 17 touchdowns, which is more than Ben Roethlisberger, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers. Just a reminder that he was also benched for two games to make room for Famous Jameis and his infamous interceptions. Fitzpatrick has clicked with this offense, averaging 28.2 fantasy points per game (I am excluding the Bears game) and there doesn’t seem to be any slowing down.
This Tampa Bay Buccaneers team has one of the best wide receiver groups in the league and he is willing to let it sling at will in an attempt to keep the Bucs in a situation to win the game. The team’s defense is one of the worst in the league, which provides our favorite backup quarterback plenty of opportunities to load up on points.
Week 9 Performance: Fact
Cordarrelle Patterson (NE)
Week 9: 12.8 Standard Fantasy Points; 13.8 PPR
Bargain Bill just found a 6’2″, 230-pound running back who he originally signed to return kicks. Cordarrelle Patterson now has 20 carries in two weeks and seems to be enjoying his new role in the offense. When I watched Patterson I couldn’t stop thinking about how much better he was at being Derrick Henry than Derrick Henry is at being Derrick Henry. The Patriots love to have their hard running power backs for short yardage situation and the 27-year-old fits that mold perfectly right now with Sony Michel being injured.
I am buying Patterson as a real weapon in the backfield who can shrug off any one armed tackle and I think Belichick wants to give Patterson carries every week. Will Patterson carve a role as a deep league potential flex play with Michel being out? Yes. Will Patterson have fantasy value when Michel returns? Doubtful. Will Patterson impact Michel’s value when he returns? Absolutely.