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Welcome back RotoBallers! It's hard to believe we are already at Week 9 of the NFL season, but here we are. I hope everyone fared well in Week 8. It was a tough one for me personally. There were lots of plays I really LOVED. About half of those plays had really great performances and the other half had horrible games.

If you had a bad Week 8, I'm here to help you bounce back. If you had a profitable Week 8, hopefully, I can help you add to your bankroll again. My initial reaction when looking at the Week 9 schedule is to circle the Tampa Bay/Carolina matchup and obviously the Rams/Saints game which carries a monster 59.5 Over/Under.

There were some players that changed teams at the trade deadline. Trades not only impact the players that will be joining new teams, but also the guys that will be asked to step into larger roles in place of traded players. Lots to get to on this slate and I'm excited to dive into Week 9, so let's get started!

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All ownership projections in this article are courtesy of the awesome folks at UFCollective. They provide the most accurate ownership projections that I have found in the DFS industry and now offer their content directly to the public. It is a premium product that is worth every penny and available here. They offer NFL, NBA, and MLB content for both DraftKings and FanDuel. You can follow them on Twitter @UFCollective.

 

Week 9 NFL DFS Power Pivots for DraftKings GPPs

As I mention every week, ownership considerations should come at the end of your weekly research process. Ownership projections change throughout the week and I highly recommend that you refer back to this column before finalizing your lineups. I will update ownership projections and add injury notes with additional strategy thoughts on Saturdays.

 

QB CHALK: Patrick Mahomes ($7,100)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 23% *UPDATED: 11%

POWER PIVOT: Ryan Fitzpatrick ($5,500)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 9% *UPDATED: 8%

Just when I think I'm out...they pull me back in.

I can't seem to get away from the Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback, no matter who is playing the position in any given week. I went down in flames with the good ship Jameis last week, but I'm hopping right back on for a dose of FitzMagic in Week 9. Those of you that read last week's Power Pivots know that I was all-in on Jameis Winston and despite what ended up being a disastrous week, I stand by the play. The bottom line is that if Winston doesn't get pulled for repeatedly throwing picks, he would've had a successful fantasy day.

This Tampa Bay passing offense is what you would grow in a lab if you wanted to manufacture fantasy points. The Bucs are loaded with talented pass catchers and are forced to be aggressive due to having one of the worst defenses I have seen in several years. That defense has led to Tampa Bay attempting over 41 passes per game while on offense.

The aggressive tag is certainly accurate when discussing Fitzpatrick. The journeyman QB hasn't been afraid to push things down the field and is averaging 10.8 yards per target. This should play well against a Carolina defense that has consistently allowed deep passes this year.

Fitzpatrick has played extremely well when given the reigns of this offense. In his first three starts of the year, he passed for over 400 yards and 30 DraftKings points in all three, before getting the quick hook in Week 4 upon Winston's return from suspension. There is some concern that Tampa Bay might start playing QB roulette, but I believe that Fitz will start and finish this game barring an injury.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Pat Mahomes' projection has dropped significantly, while Ryan Fitzpatrick is holding fairly steady. The big mover of the week is Cam Newton ($6,600) who is all the way up to an ownership projection of 20%. Understandable, since he gets a dream matchup against a horrible Bucs defense. Newton is a great play and offers a more predictable outcome than Fitz. I probably won't go outside of the Car/TB game at the QB position, except to grab a few shares of Jared Goff ($6,000) and Drew Brees ($6,100) in the LA/NO matchup that carries a massive Over/Under.

 

RB CHALK: Todd Gurley II ($9,500)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 40% *UPDATED: 36%

POWER PIVOT: Kareem Hunt ($7,700)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 28% *UPDATED: 25%

Yes, you read the header correctly, Todd Gurley's DraftKings price has DECREASED by $300 this week to $9,500. Obviously, he's once again projected to be the most popular running back on the slate. You can't go wrong with Gurley in a game against the Saints that carries a massive total. As I've mentioned a couple of times in the past, Gurley is the one player this season that is almost "pivot proof", as he doesn't really have bad games.

While not a true pivot, Kareem Hunt is a slightly less-chalky RB option. At $7,700 he also offers some salary-relief and is a tremendous play in his own right. Since a slower-than-expected start to the season, Hunt has been doin' work over the past month. The second-year back is averaging 29.7 DraftKings points per game over his last three. This hot streak can be attributed in part to Hunt's increased usage in the passing game. He has five catches in each of the last three games, that he has converted into 4 receiving TD's.

Hunt's matchup is a juicy one, as he draws a Cleveland defense that was just destroyed by John Conner last week. The Browns have struggled to stop any opposing backs this year and have allowed more rushing TDs to running backs than any team in the NFL. Against a Cleveland defense with the combination of a run defense that's 24th in yards allowed per carry and a pass defense that grades out as first in DVOA against the pass, this should shape up to be a "Kareem Hunt game" for the Chief's high-powered offense.

It's early in the week as I write this, but I have toyed around with some lineup builds that have both Hunt and Gurley together. It's a bit risky, but there is enough value available this week to make it possible. Whether you try to jam them both in or pick one, both Gurley and Hunt offer a great combination of floor and upside.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Our highlighted players' ownership projections are holding steady. Alvin Kamara ($7,300) is going to be very popular at his reasonable price tag, as is Carolina's Christian McCaffrey ($7,800). Lots of injury notes at the RB position this week...Melvin Gordon ($8,200) has carried a questionable tag all week, but practiced Friday and seems likely to play. He's in a tough matchup against Seattle, but is the king of all contrarian plays in Week 9. For some reason, Minnesota seems insistent on getting Dalvin Cook ($5,300) snaps this week. This makes the outlook for Latavius Murray ($5,100) cloudy. Adrian Peterson ($6,000) is coming off a huge game and draws a dream matchup against Atlanta. With Chris Thompson ruled out and Kapri Bibbs questionable, Peterson might be in line to live up to his "All Day" nickname. Detroit's Theo Riddick ($3,800) will return against Minnesota, which puts a damper on Kerryon Johnson's ($5,600) upside in an already tough matchup. Broncos RB Royce Freeman ($3,800) is again questionable. If he's ruled out, Phillip Lindsay ($5,500) would be a nice value play. Seattle's Chris Carson ($4,700) will likely be a game-time decision with a hip injury. I will personally steer clear of the Seattle backfield, as I always feel like I'm guessing on who will get the carries.

 

WR CHALK: Courtland Sutton ($3,900)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 23% *UPDATED: 19%

POWER PIVOT: Emmanuel Sanders ($6,400)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 5% *UPDATED: 7%

Really neat situation in the Houston/Denver matchup this week. As I'm sure you know, the Broncos traded WR Demaryius Thomas to the Texans earlier this week and are now playing them in Week 9. So we have a lot of different dynamics surrounding this game. Denver's rookie WR Courtland Sutton has been the focus of heavy DFS buzz since the trade was announced and he is expected to be the highest owned WR on the slate. At just $3,900 Sutton is a tremendous value and a talented player that will see an uptick in usage due to Thomas' departure.

At the risk of getting too cute, I'm eyeing a pivot to "the other guy" in Denver, Emmanuel Sanders. While DFS players are flocking to get Sutton in lineups, the superior Broncos receiver appears to be an afterthought. Sanders is currently projected to garner around 5% ownership. I'm going to monitor his ownership levels as the week progresses, but if it holds around 5% Sanders will offer tons of leverage in GPP's.

Even before the Thomas trade, Sanders was the lead dog of the Broncos receiving corps. He is averaging just over eight targets per game and has had good chemistry with Case Keenum since his arrival in Denver. While Sutton will certainly see an uptick in usage, Sanders will also pick up some of the targets that DT leaves behind. The $6,400 price tag is the cheapest we have seen Sanders since Week 3 and he brings legit 30-point upside to the table.

The Texans aren't a matchup that jumps out at you on paper, but they haven't been shut down against WRs either. Houston ranks middle of the pack in pass defense DVOA, but has suffered some injuries to the secondary and have relinquished the fourth-most TDs to WR's in the NFL. The matchup is a winnable one for Sanders, especially if he continues to work primarily from the slot, as I expect to be the case, with the young, explosive Sutton working on the outside for the most part.

SATURDAY UPDATE: It appears that Emmanuel Sanders continues to fly under-the-radar. Fire him up as a strong leverage play. Minnesota's Stefon Diggs ($6,800) is questionable and did not practice Friday. If he's out, Adam Thielen ($8,900) will be relied upon even more with Aldrick Robinson ($3,200) and Laquon Treadwell ($3,300) in line to pick up the slack. Cooper Kupp ($6,000) is slated to return for the Rams in a juicy matchup against New Orleans. Get him in your lineup if possible. Keep an eye on the status of Dolphins WR Kenny Stills. If he's ruled out, DeVante Parker ($4,600) would be in line for tons of work again this week. Carolina's Torrey Smith has been ruled out, opening the door for rookie speedster D.J. Moore ($4,300) to flourish in a dream spot against Tampa Bay.

 

TE CHALK: Travis Kelce ($6,600)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 23% *UPDATED: 21%

POWER PIVOT: O.J. Howard ($4,300)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 2% *UPDATED: 7%

Those of you that read Power Pivots every week know that this space has been a running advertisement for Browns' TE David Njoku. Well...the Njoku train ran off the tracks against Pittsburgh last week, when my man logged straight goose eggs across the stat sheet in a juicy matchup against a Steelers defense that had been lit up by tight ends. My only consolation from that performance is that Cleveland management fired head coach Hue Jackson AND offensive coordinator Todd Haley as a result of the game.

I will have some Njoku this week (I'll never let go Jack!), but I want to highlight another TE that I'm really excited about. O.J. Howard is living up to the hype that made him a first-round draft pick out of Alabama in 2017. The guy is ultra-talented and is flourishing in this Tampa Bay offense that has been forced to attack every week. Howard has went over 50 yards in six of seven games this season. He won't be negatively impacted by the Tampa Bay QB change, as Howard hauled in an 18-yard TD pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick last week.

He draws a juicy matchup against a Panthers defense that has allowed the most TDs to the TE position in the NFL. Carolina is 26th in DVOA against the pass and should see tons of attempts from a Bucs pass offense that is 2nd in the league in yards per pass. This matchup has a massive Over/Under of 55 points with the Bucs slated as six-point underdogs. This should lead to a very positive game script for the TB passing attack. I had minor exposure to Howard last week through ill-fated Jameis Winston stacks and I plan to increase my Howard shares by a great deal in Week 9. He works as a stand-alone play or can be used in Carolina/TB game stacks.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Kelce still sits atop ownership projections and is a great play if you can afford him. I'm going to be all over Howard this week. Like the entire Panthers offense, Carolina TE Greg Olsen ($4,700) is projected to be popular. You guys know I'm not getting out of here without my weekly David Njoku ($4,600) mention *DUCKS*. I love the idea of going back to the well after his no-show in Week 8. Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph ($3,600) has been quiet lately, but would become a very viable discount option if WR Stefon Diggs is ruled out.

 

D/ST CHALK: Miami Dolphins ($2,800)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 10% *UPDATED: 10%

POWER PIVOT: Chicago Bears ($4,100)

Projected DraftKings Ownership: 7% *UPDATED: 11%

Similar to last week's mindset when highlighting Washington against an Eli Manning led Giants offense, I'm again taking a common sense approach to DEF/ST in Week 9. With Nathan Peterman expected to draw the start for the Buffalo Bills, I'm locking in the Chicago Bears as my defense of the week.

As a lifelong Tennessee Vol fan, I feel that I've got a bit of insight into Peterman, who started his career at UT. In similar fashion to his NFL career to this point, the guy imploded in his first career start against Florida in The Swamp and couldn't get playing time for a really bad Vols team. This led to him transferring to Pitt, where he found a bit of success. I was honestly shocked when he was considered a draftable prospect.

The only thing that might keep Chicago's ownership levels under control is their position-high $4,100 price tag. Unlike most weeks when I try to save salary at defense, I'm very willing to spend up for a matchup against Peterman. I don't foresee the shaky second-year player turning around a Bills offense that has been the worst passing unit in the NFL. Fire away with Da Bears!

SATURDAY UPDATE: Chicago has unsurprisingly moved to the top of ownership projections, as the matchup against Nathan Peterman and the Bills is a hard one to pass up. For those looking to save salary at DEF/ST, I actually don't mind going back to a Pittsburgh Steelers ($2,300) defense that was the chalk last week, but is projected to be less than 5% owned in Week 9. The Steelers are second in the NFL in sacks and seem to be gelling over the last several weeks, allowing only 18.6 points per game and amassing 11 sacks over their last three games.

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