Week 9 brings us four more bye week teams: Detroit, Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Washington.
Last week brought multiple successful picks and fades, including Damien Harris (80 yards, TD), Michael Pittman (overall WR2), Terry McLaurin (WR61), and Pat Freiermuth (TE3).
Each week, I will bring you an early look at which players to target and fade for the upcoming Sunday DFS slate on DraftKings and FanDuel. I’ll do this by using our large suite of analytical fantasy tools, most specifically, our FantasyLabs Player Models.
Keep in mind that a lot can change between now and when lineups lock. Our Player Models update in real-time to help make quick lineup decisions before rosters lock.
This is a wonderful time of year, so let’s take a deep dive into which players to target in the ninth week of the 2021 NFL season.
Daniel Jones ($5,600 DK, $7,300 FD)
Jones presents incredible value as the 14t highest priced signal-caller on DraftKings and the 15th highest priced on FanDuel. Despite playing against some challenging recent defenses (Rams, Cowboys, Carolina), Jones still ranks among the most productive rushing quarterbacks in DFS.
He will return to the Meadowlands to face a Las Vegas defense that has allowed the third-most rushing yards per game to opposing quarterbacks. The Giants have battled through injuries to both running back Saquon Barkley and leading wide receiver Kenny Golladay. Both have a chance to return for Week 9, which would provide a significant upgrade for Jones.
This game has a 46.5 point over/under with only a three-point spread, setting up a game scenario that projects as a close game that could approach 50 total points. Jones rushing upside provides a high ceiling in our FantasyLabs Tournament Models on both sites. Jones is our fifth-ranked quarterback per DraftKings scoring.
Kyler Murray ($7,900 DK, $8,200 FD)
Kyler Murray started off on fire, with two consecutive overall QB1 performances in the first two weeks. However, his production has been much more sporadic the last month. Murray has provided the following fantasy performances in the last four games: QB23, QB6, QB8, QB26. He now faces a San Francisco defense that has held him to an average of 190 passing yards in two career games at Levi’s Stadium.
Murray’s fantasy production is greatly dependent upon his rushing, which has been limited with 10 or fewer yards in three of the past four games.
Arizona’s offensive line has played well, especially in run blocking. The Cardinals’ front five ranks second-best in power run blocking per Football Outsiders, which explains why head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s team ranks fifth in rushing rate per game.
Murray only ranks 20th in pass attempts per game, which means he has to his value on efficiency and rushing stats. I don’t see either one happening in this critical NFC West showdown at San Francisco. I’m fading Murray at his high price on both sites.
Running Back Targets
Elijah Mitchell ($5,800 DK, $7,100 FD)
Elijah Mitchell has become the clear RB1 for the 49ers, a very productive place to be in DFS. In the five games Mitchell has played, he has totaled a 60% or higher snap share. Mitchell tallied a 69.2% snap share in Week 8, his highest of the season.
San Francisco is the sixth-most run-heavy team, trailing the Cardinals, who they host on Sunday. Due to injuries, Mitchell has been limited to just five games, but his efficiency ranks among the top running backs this season. Here are some of Mitchell’s key metrics per PlayerProfiler:
- 73.3% Opportunity Share (5th among RBs)
- Five Breakaway Runs of 15 Yards or More (10th)
- 4.9 True Yards Per Carry (11th)
Mitchell has tallied those numbers despite ranking second overall with an average of seven defenders in the box per carry. He earns our 12th-best rating on DraftKings despite being the 15th-most expensive running back. I prefer Mitchell over higher-priced running backs such as Damien Harris, Cordarelle Patterson, and Devontae Booker.
Myles Gaskin ($5,800 DK, $6,100 FD)
I still believe in Myles Gaskin as a DFS option, especially at his reasonable price on both sites. Gaskin is the RB26 in price on FanDuel despite producing two Top 8 fantasy games over the past four weeks. He returns home to face a Houston defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, including the most rushing yards to the position. The Texans are the only NFL team that has allowed over 1,000 rushing yards to opposing backs.
With Malcolm Brown now on injured reserve, Gaskin should see the most opportunity of the season. He is the best receiving back on the roster and has averaged 13.5 carries over the past two weeks. Gaskin remains one of the league’s most efficient backs. He just needs consistent opportunities.
Leading RB targets-per-route (minimum 100 routes):
31% — Cordarrelle Patterson
26% — Myles Gaskin
25% — D’Andre Swift
24% — Alvin Kamara
24% — Najee Harris
24% — Chuba Hubbard
22% — J.D. McKissic
21% — Javonte Williams
21% — Jonathan Taylor
— Context Matters (@dwainmcfarland) October 27, 2021
I’m rolling with Gaskin over higher-priced options such as Chuba Hubbard, Darrel Williams, and Melvin Gordon.
Wide Receiver Target
Tee Higgins ($5,300 DK, $6,600 FD)
As for superstitions, this is the exact same price on both sites as Michael Pittman was last week. This is a clear usage play for a wide receiver that totaled an 86,8% snap share last week. Higgins also ran a season-high 13 routes with consecutive weeks of over 100 air yards. He certainly displayed the ability to make the difficult catch against the Jets.
This is tough, Tee Higgins 😮
— ESPN (@espn) October 31, 2021
Now that quarterback Joe Burrow is fully recovered from his torn ACL, the Bengals have picked up the offensive pace. Cincinnati now ranks 16th in neutral script game pace after residing among the bottom four teams over the first four weeks of the season.
Higgins ranks 14th at the position in targets share and top 20 in unrealized air yards. He faces a Cleveland secondary that ranks 25th in pass defense DVOA per Football Outsiders. The cost of teammate Ja’Marr Chase has risen dramatically, where he is the third highest-priced receiver on the Sunday slate.
I’m buying into the Higgins Week 9 breakout in a game with a 47-point over/under but only a 2-point spread. With 15 targets just two weeks ago at Baltimore, the fantasy explosion is inevitable for the dynamic second-year wideout.
Wide Receiver Fade
Justin Jefferson ($7,500 DK, $7,600 FD)
At what point will Justin Jefferson’s price start to reflect his lack of production? The Minnesota second-year wideout has only produced one fantasy wide receiver performance inside the overall positional top 10. His metric rankings against his peers reveals good but not great production. Jefferson ranks among the top 20 in target share and top 16 in receiving yards, but that does not justify the third-highest price on FanDuel and fourth-highest price on DraftKings.
The biggest difference from his fantastic rookie 2020 season is the lack of a deep ball connection with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Jefferson was fourth in completed air yards last year, averaging 7.6 yards per target. This year? Jefferson is just 23rd with 5.7 yards per target.
This week, Jefferson faces a Baltimore defense on the road that has allowed the fifth-fewest schedule-adjusted fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Cousins has thrown for just one touchdown in three of their past four games, and teammate Adam Thielen has totaled 22 targets in their past two games. Thielen remains the preferred red-zone option, and teammate K.J. Osborn’s 4.48 speed has given Jefferson deep ball target competition.
I prefer much lower-priced DFS wide receivers such as Cee Dee Lamb, Jaylen Waddle, and Brandin Cooks this week.
Tight End Target
Tyler Conklin ($3,000 DK, $5,200 FD)
Just as Justin Jefferson has struggled, Minnesota tight end Tyler Conklin is flourishing. Conklin has earned over 80% of the snap share since Week 4 and has improved his fantasy production in each of the past three weeks. He has filled in nicely for injured starter Irv Smith Jr., ranking Top 10 at the position in receptions, receiving yards, and yards after catch.
Minnesota will need to attack the stingy Baltimore pass defense through the tight end position, as the Ravens are far less efficient at defending tight ends (second-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game) than wide receivers (fifth-best).
The tight end position in DFS is challenging, and a low-priced player has outperformed expectations every week. We recommended Pat Freiermuth last week, and he finished as the overall TE3. Conklin is our second highest-rated tight end on DraftKings’ Sunday slate in the Sean Koerner Player Model.
In one of the few games with a 50-point over/under on the Week 9 Sunday slate, Conklin is a great value play with top five overall positional upside.