We’re 9 weeks into the season and still, we have surprises in the NFL.
The Patriots can lose a game! The Dolphins can win a game! The Browns…well not everything is a surprise.
Let’s run through our weekly group therapy session as we take a look at Fantasy Heroes and Villains from Week 9’s NFL matchups!
Hero: Lamar Jackson – QB – Baltimore Ravens
It should be standard now that Jackson, cemented as a top-end QB every week, is expected to produce. Week 9 was going to be the real litmus test of his greatness though. Under the lights of Sunday Night Football Jackson was facing the undefeated New England Patriots, a defence that had forced 25 turnovers and 31 sacks so far this season, and the mind of coach Bill Belichick.
Jackson was more than up to the challenge, as he thrust himself into MVP consideration with a signature performance that helped crush the Pats 37-20 in front of the world. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions and stamped his authority on the game by adding 61 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs himself. This helped Jackson put his Ravens over the top on Sunday night, and hopefully helped your fantasy team too.
Hero: Zach Ertz – TE – Philadelphia Eagles
There has been a genuine question over the last couple of seasons as to who the best fantasy tight end in a post-Gronk world is. Travis Kelce has blossomed in Andy Reid’s Kansas City offence, and George Kittle emerged as a yardage monster last season for the 49ers, but the most reliable has been Zach Ertz. Over the last three weeks, however, he has struggled along with the whole Eagles offence, and before Week 9 it was reasonable to wonder if he needed to be owned at all?
He needed to be owned this week though. Ertz came back to fantasy relevance with a bang, posting his first 100-yard game of the season as he caught 11 balls for 103 in total, including an end zone grab that helped sink the increasingly hapless Chicago Bears, and keep the Eagles alive in the NFC Wild Card hunt. You’ll miss him on bye next week but make no mistake: Zach is back!
Hero: Tyler Lockett – WR – Seattle Seahawks
Is there a more beautiful sight for fantasy fans than seeing one of your players have a big game, and then seeing that game go to OT? Those tasty extra snaps aided Tyler Lockett and the Seattle Seahawks to a vital conference win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and also helped Lockett’s fantasy owners!
The wideout did most of his damage in regulation time, posting team-highs in both yards (152) and receptions (13), as well as adding two TD catches to his monster day. All this led to Lockett being the highest-scoring player in fantasy this week, with his closest challenger being his own QB Russell Wilson. Here’s hoping you stacked those two in your line-ups in Week 9.
Villain: Gardner Minshew – QB – Jacksonville Jaguars
Minshew Mania has swept the NFL this season, and the contagion spread across the pond as the Jags faced off against the Texans in ‘home’ divisional tilt at Wembley this Sunday. Gardner Minshew, fresh off back-to-back 20pt+ fantasy performances, looked set to continue his solid production against a Texans D ranked near the back of the pack in pass defence and now without star pass rusher JJ Watt for the rest of the season.
Unfortunately for Jags fans, moustaches and swag don’t travel. Despite throwing for over 300 yards for the second time in his career, Minshew failed to throw a touchdown pass and turned into a turnover machine. The Jags QB for the first time looked every inch the rookie he is, throwing two picks and coughing the ball up twice for the Texans D to recover as fumbles. With Jacksonville on bye next week and Nick Foles projected to be healthy in time for Week 11, Minshew’s time as a viable Fantasy asset may be at an end. What a disastrous way for it to finish.
Villain: Keenan Allen – WR – Los Angeles Chargers
Maybe the biggest surprise of the game week came in Los Angeles, as the ugly-looking Chargers put one over Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in a late afternoon game. You’d think that for the Chargers to overcome an improved Green Bay defence here, they’d need a big day our of their star wide receiver Keenan Allen, Phillip Rivers’ favourite target, right?
Not even close. Allen, who hasn’t topped 61 yards since Week 3, continued his poor production while all those around him blossomed. Solid performances from the other skill position players left Allen drawing coverage and feeding off scraps, catching 3 of his 4 targets for a meagre 40 yards and being kept out of the end zone for the 7th week of 9 this year. He may be having a healthy season for the first time in a while, but Allen has been killing your team this year if you’ve kept the faith.
Villain: Aaron Jones – RB – Green Bay Packers
More misery in LA on Sunday, but this time from the opposite sideline. Jones has been one of the most reliable running backs in the NFL this season, and his incredible production has seen him appear in the Heroes section of this column, and top fantasy scoring more than once. Coming off a monster game against the Chiefs last week, it was reasonable to assume he’d continue to produce against a stale LA Chargers team here.
Reason can make a fool of us all. The Packers could get nothing going on the ground as Jones carried the ball just 8 times for 30 yards. Even his only catch of the game was for a loss of one yard. Jones will have better games this year, but I can only hope you weren’t relying on him to carry your team this week because if you did, well, you must feel just like the Packers do.