Outside the Huddle: Week 9

Fantasy football suggestions for when you face the player in your league who told you that Aaron Rodgers was finished in Green Bay.

It’s been a long, drawn out, exhausting week due to several happenings going on throughout the country. Or what Jets fans like to call a typical NFL season. We may not have a president yet, as of this writing, but we have football Sunday where we can take joy in beating the bag out of that guy at your work who acts as if he’s the company’s own CNN pundit. Perhaps one player who may have a future career in politics is Aaron Rodgers. Six months ago, the Packers allegedly drafted his replacement in Jordan Love. The word was that Rodgers wasn’t happy and was seeking a trade. His relationship with Danica Patrick is caput and his estranged family continues to bash him all over social media. But I must say he looked pretty damn happy throwing touchdowns to Davante Adams Thursday night. If 24 touchdowns and 2 interceptions puts his job security at riskthen I guess 95% of the NFL will gladly accept those deficiencies. Speaking of deficiencies, the Jets play the Patriots on Monday night, and the Giants play the Football Team, but Christian McCaffrey is back with the Panthers and Antonio Brown will make his debut Sunday night for the Buccaneers, which is good news for those of you in need of a wideout and bad news for those of you with Mike Evans, who is certain to lose targets.

Here’s two matchups to consider spouting off to your John King wannabe opponent this week:

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys (vs Steelers) or James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs Texans)

Outside of Alvin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliott is arguably the next-best running back in the league. He’s been a fantasy dream ever since his rookie season in 2016 and has been a no-brainer in anyone’s lineup. He’s currently eighth in the NFL with 521 rushing yards and has 5 touchdowns plus another 220 receiving yards and 1 receiving touchdown. So why is there any question about his status? “Disinterested” was a word I heard an analyst use about Elliott’s game against the Eagles last Sunday night, and this week, the Cowboys play the Steelers in what should be an extremely one-sided game. With Dallas torn between starting Garret Gilbert and Cooper Rush, I’d be surprised if Zeke reaches 50 yards on the ground. We may see the end of this presidential election before we see another Cowboys touchdown.

James Robinson’s fantasy stock shot up two weeks ago after he ran for 122 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers, which exceeded his 100-yard plus performance against the Titans in Week 2. This week, the Jags play the 1-6 Texans, who’ve given up the sixth-highest fantasy totals to opposing backs all season. Robinson’s projected as a top-ten fantasy pick and is likely on your opponent’s radar already. But that’s OK because the Jags are also 1-6 and just as bad. And now they’ll be without Gardner Minshew and will start rookie Jake Luton. Yes, only the Cowboys have given up more rushing yards than the Texans’ 165 yards per game, but are the Texans really worried about being beaten by Jake Luton? Besides, the Texans are ranked sixth in passing yards per game, so they’re looking for a shootout, which doesn’t bode well for Robinson, who’s about to see a stacked defensive line that will be daring Luton to throw.

Your angle: The Cowboys are a train wreck, but you’ve got to make Zeke look like a brand-new locomotive.

T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions (@Vikings) or Jimmy Graham, TE, Chicago Bears (@ Titans)

With George Kittle out, the fantasy tight end options are pretty much Travis Kelce vs the rest. T.J. Hockenson had a season-high 10 targets last week against the Colts defense that is ranked among the best in the NFL, but unfortunately he failed to find the end zone after three-straight games with a touchdown. The eighth pick in the 2019 draft out of Iowa benefited from joining an experienced offense led by Matthew Stafford, and his four touchdowns leads all receivers, including Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. So this week appeared bright going against the Vikings and the third-worst passing defense. Until Stafford was placed on the Covid-19 list early this week for having close contact with an infected person, which means Chase Daniel could be the man behind center if Stafford tests positive. The Lions were 0-8 last season when Stafford didn’t start, and Daniel was barely mediocre in his three appearances, so expect theLions offense to struggle despite playing an inferior opponent.

There once was a tight end who was Jimmy Graham. Dominant in the league in his first five seasons with Drew Brees in New Orleans, Graham led the NFL in 2013 with 16 touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl in five of his first eight seasons. But after failing to find a regular connection with Rodgers in Green Baythe last two seasons, he arrived in Chicago hoping to revive his career and instead found himself in the middle of a quarterback controversy. Graham is ranked eighth among fantasy tight end scorers but has seen a tremendous drop off in production, averaging six targets over the last five games during which he’s only had one touchdown compared to three over the first three games. Against the Saints last week, he had 2 catches for 13 yards, but this week he’ll go up against a Titans passing defense ranked in the bottom-ten of the league, which means more opportunities in the red zone and a major uptick in potential value.

Your angle: Trust in Nick Foles with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

Greg Oldfield’s stories have appeared in Hobart, Carve, Barrelhouse, and Maudlin House, among others. He also writes about soccer for the Florida Cup and the Brotherly Game and often rambles about soccer on Twitter. 

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