- Insight #1: The best RB spot of the week belongs to Tony Pollard
- Insight #2: The shallow RB spot of the week belongs to Jerome Ford
- Insight #3: The underrated QB player of the week is Sam Howell
- Insight #4: The top selling player of the week is Gus Edwards
- Insight #5: The #1 trade target is Cooper Kupp
- Insight #6: Rachaad White is trending upward
- Insight #8: Here are two sneaky disclaimers
- Insight #9: Najee Harris is a veteran on the rise
- Insight #10: James Conner’s usage is something to keep an eye on
Fantasy football analyst Sal Vetri will use this space to deliver his keys to victory each week of the 2023 NFL season.
Insight #1: The best RB spot of the week belongs to Tony Pollard
Pollard scored fewer than 10 points again in Week 9. We warned you last week that he was in a tough spot with Pollard facing the Eagles’ No. 1 defensive line. Philadelphia had allowed the fewest points and yards to the opposing RBs at the start of the game.
But just a week later, Pollard is now in the best spot of the week. He will enter as a 17-point home favorite against the Giants. New York allows the third-most yards and fifth-most points to opposing RBs. At six similar points in his career, Pollard averaged 16.5 fantasy points.
Insight #2: The shallow RB spot of the week belongs to Jerome Ford
He played his highest game of the season against the Cardinals. Ford set season highs in chances, snaps and targets and appears to be fully healthy after that massive 25-touch game in Week 9.
But now Ford has to compete against his division rivals, the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have arguably the best defense in the NFL and their run defense is easily in the top 10. Baltimore only allows opposing backfields 13 fantasy points per game. It’s difficult to keep Ford after the effort he saw last week, but expectations should be tempered in this tough duel.
Insight #3: The underrated QB player of the week is Sam Howell
He continued his recent success in Week 9, throwing for 325 yards and finishing as a top-10 quarterback again. Howell has benefited from the Commanders throwing at historic speed. Washington is throwing 72% of its passes this season. Howell leads the league with an average of 39.2 pass attempts per game and is on pace to set the NFL record for passes in a season.
This high passing volume has made Howell a top-10 fantasy option this season. He has finished in the top 15 at the position in seven of his nine starts this year. He faces the Seahawks in Week 10, who are allowing an above-average 255 yards per game.
Insight #4: The top selling player of the week is Gus Edwards
Edwards scored 17.2 points in Week 9 and is now averaging 22 points over the last three games. So why is it a best seller? Let’s discuss.
Edwards’ recent production is unsustainable. He has scored six touchdowns in his last three games and scored 17.2 points on just five total touches in Week 9. Edwards lost playing time in last week’s blowout win, but a bigger problem is looming.
Rookie Keaton Mitchell was involved in the first half of this game. He was not only dedicated but also productive. Mitchell gained 138 yards on just nine carries. Coach John Harbaugh explained after the game that the RB deployment would continue to be a rotation. Trade Edwards ahead of his difficult matchup against the Browns in Week 10.
Insight #5: The #1 trade target is Cooper Kupp
He hasn’t scored more than seven points in a month, but that needs more context. In Week 9, Brett Rypien was Kupp’s quarterback and Rypien struggled with accuracy, completing only 46% of his passes. Matthew Stafford was injured in a disastrous loss to the Cowboys in Week 8.
Kupp’s recent problems have been overstated. He is now entering the bye week, once again making him no longer useful to the leaguemates who have him in your league. Your league mates may be desperate for a deal. Look to trade for Kupp, who should get Stafford back after the bye week.
Insight #6: Rachaad White is trending upward
He has proven me wrong over the last three weeks. Despite being ineffective on the ground, White was a consistent fantasy producer. Since Week 7, White has played 80% of the Bucs’ snaps and averaged 5.7 goals per game. This resulted in 17.7 fantasy points per game and three straight top-12 finishes during that time.
White faces the Titans at home this week. Tennessee has been average in the run game this season, but the true test for White will be in the passing game against his linebackers. The Titans are allowing the fewest receptions to RBs this season. If White overcomes this hurdle, we can consider him safe to play in the coming weeks.
In his four healthy games this season, he averaged just 5.8 points. Watson has struggled to develop any kind of chemistry with QB Jordan Love, as 50% of Watson’s targets this season have been uncatchable. That puts him 99th out of 105 qualified receivers.
Watson was injured again in Week 9. He suffered injuries to his head, chest and back during a contested catch late in the game. It’s unclear if any of these injuries will force him to miss time. So, track his status before week 10.
But the bad news for Watson doesn’t stop there, as Aaron Jones’ return to full health is also bad news. The Packers leaned on Jones, giving him 20 runs in Week 9. This resulted in just 26 pass attempts for Love, so it’s safe to assume this will be the Packers’ ideal game plan moving forward. This would result in less volume for Watson.
Insight #8: Here are two sneaky disclaimers
Tee Higgins has been ruled out and Josh Downs is trending to miss Week 10, opening up some sneaky waiver wire adds in Trenton Irwin and Isaiah McKenzie.
Irwin started in Week 5 when Higgins was out. He scored 14 fantasy points on 10 targets. He was effective in this game despite Joe Burrow not being fully healthy. But now Burrow is healthy and playing at an MVP level. Add Irwin.
McKenzie lost the starting job to Josh Downs this summer, but McKenzie is still a dynamic player. If Downs misses, expect McKenzie to be on the starting line. The slot played a key role in this offense and was a popular spot for Gardner Minshew to attack. When Downs left the game last week, McKenzie played a season-high 24 snaps.
Insight #9: Najee Harris is a veteran on the rise
He was a popular backup candidate last summer and there were a lot of concerns going into the season. Jaylen Warren was on the rise and Harris wasn’t efficient in his last two seasons.
But since leaving in Week 6, Harris has been quietly playing well. He worked 56% of the snaps and earned 16.4 opportunities per game, averaging 14 fantasy points during that stretch. This is the best effort he has seen since the start of last season. Harris will face a banged up Packers defense this week.
Insight #10: James Conner’s usage is something to keep an eye on
He is expected to return from IR this week after playing just four good games this season. In those contests, he averaged a strong 70% of snaps and 18 chances.
Since being placed on IR, the Cardinals have struggled to be efficient on the field. We expect Conner to reclaim his role in a tough matchup against the Falcons. He also gets Kyler Murray back, which should lead to more red zone drives and upside for Conner. If he regains his elite playing ability, Conner will become a mandatory starter every week going forward.