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Top 10 Fantasy Football Busts for Week 9

Lamar Jackson - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

It's Week 9 and the playoff push is officially on. Whether facing elimination or attempting to move one step closer to locking in a playoff berth, lineup decisions have never had more at stake.

Your bye week disclaimer includes a week of rest for any Bengals, Browns, Eagles, or Rams. Fantasy managers with a hole in their RB1 or RB2 spot thanks to the absence of Joe Mixon, Kareem Hunt, or Miles Sanders will have to call upon their depth, while anyone relying on Cooper Kupp or Robert Woods will have to do the same.

Thankfully, our RotoBaller team is here to guide you through every fantasy football matchup and offer advice on weekly waiver wire pickups. As you look to make those all-important start/sit decisions, ensure to be mindful of the red flags associated with certain players' situations or matchups. Conveniently, my top-10 fantasy football busts for Week 9 is here to highlight such circumstances for you. As always, good luck this week, RotoBallers!

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Lamar Jackson vs. Indianapolis Colts

Lamar Jackson was the first quarterback off the board in the majority of drafts this season. That has not worked out. Fortunately, he finishes the season with a favorable schedule. Unfortunately, that favorable stretch doesn’t start this week.

A road matchup with the Colts, the toughest defense on opposing quarterbacks, does not represent a get-right spot for the struggling passer. Jackson has finished as a top-12 option just three times this year and has been the QB17 or worse on four occasions. He has not topped 208 passing yards since Week 1 and is averaging 58.7 rushing yards per game, down from 80.4 a season ago. This combination has resulted in Jackson sitting as the QB14 nearly halfway through the season.

Matthew Stafford is the only quarterback to have finished as a top-12 option against Indianapolis and while they have not faced a star-studded list of signal-callers, the Colts are formidable against both the run and the pass. Allowing only 13.2 fantasy points per game to the position, the Colts have surrendered only 67 total rushing yards to quarterbacks, with no quarterback rushing for more than 20 yards in a game. While it may be difficult to sum up the courage to bench the reigning NFL MVP, managers rostering strong streaming candidates such as Ben Roethlisberger should make the switch and avoid another letdown.


Jonathan Taylor vs. Baltimore Ravens

Things were looking bright for Jonathan Taylor after Marlon Mack’s season-ending injury. Things are looking bleak for Jonathan Taylor as we approach Week 9. The Colts found success with their running backs last week, but Taylor was a no-show to the party as Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines combined for nearly 40 fantasy points. Strangely, Taylor’s RB9 performance in Week 6 stands as his sole top-12 finish of the season, while Hines has done so twice. Hines has actually twice bested Taylor’s peak outing, with finishes of RB5 and RB7, while Wilkins did so as the RB6 last week. That week saw Wilkins out-carry Taylor 20-11 and Hines out-target him 5-2.

The shift did not come out of nowhere, as Taylor was reportedly dealing with an ankle injury. Ominously for fantasy GMs, Head Coach Frank Reich claimed to not have been aware of the injury during the game. A healthy Taylor could very well reclaim his spot atop the depth chart, but Taylor’s play has not done him any favors. Averaging only 3.89 yards per carry this season while running behind an elite offensive line, Taylor has accumulated more than 68 rushing yards in a game only once. Wilkins and Hines have been even worse from an efficiency standpoint, but Wilkins did post 87 rushing yards last week.

Taylor’s role is not guaranteed this week and even if it was, the Ravens are not an exciting matchup. Baltimore donates the second-fewest fantasy points to the running back position, dishing out only 16.2 points per game. That is a small pie to divide between three rushers. Managers deserve to have their pie and eat it, too, making Taylor unappetizing this week.


Corey Davis vs. Chicago Bears

Although Corey Davis is the WR36 on the year, he is actually tied with Keenan Allen as the WR14 in points per game. That is buoyed by the fact that he was the WR5 last week, as he had formerly not finished above WR20. Nonetheless, Davis has enjoyed a nice bounceback in terms of fantasy relevance and has emerged as a capable starting option. Davis has yet to earn the label of “must-start”, however, as prior to last week he had produced three straight finishes of WR31 or lower.

The Bears present an intimidating challenge to opposing offenses, especially in the passing game. Chicago allows the third-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers and the fewest to quarterbacks. This is not going to be an explosive game from the Titans and Davis will be hard-pressed to provide high-end production while fighting for targets with A.J. Brown and Jonnu Smith.

Both teams are likely to lean on the ground game, limiting the numbers of plays run and coincidingly the number of opportunities for Davis to produce for fantasy managers. Chicago has given up only two touchdowns to wide receivers on the season and Davis is likely to match up with star corner Kyle Fuller on the majority of his routes. Davis needs to be highlighted as an undervalued and emerging fantasy asset, but this is a week for managers to turn to their depth options.


Ezekiel Elliott vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Elliott’s fantasy finishes through the first five weeks of the season were RB3, RB9, RB16, RB13, and RB2. Zeke’s finishes the past three weeks have been RB28, RB40, and RB31. If you thought a road tilt with the Eagles was a tall order, it's best not to check the numbers for rushers facing the Steelers. Pittsburgh allows only 16.6 fantasy points per game to opposing backfields, good enough for third in the NFL. While the Ravens found success on the ground against the Steelers last week, the Ravens benefit from an elite quarterback and offensive line. The Cowboys at one point in 2020 boasted a similarly strong combination, but those days are in the rear-view mirror.

Reality in Dallas may be altered once again when Andy Dalton returns, but for the time being the Cowboys plan to run out one of Cooper Rush or Garrett Gilbert at quarterback. After a quick search to confirm these are both NFL players, fantasy managers will note that the experience level of either quarterback is not at the confidence-instilling level. Rush has thrown three NFL passes while Gilbert has attempted six. The Steelers are hardly shaking in their cleats.

Expect Pittsburgh to sell out to stop the run and force the Cowboys to attempt, and fail, to beat them through the air. Zeke desperately needs a touchdown to succeed this week and that is unlikely to come to fruition, as he has not scored in his past three games and faces a defense that has allowed only five rushing scores all season. His workload will keep him from totally burning managers, but the ceiling is nonexistent. If you have another option, sit Zeke.


Ryan Tannehill vs. Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears gave up only one top-12 performance to an opposing quarterback over the entirety of last season, and that quarterback was Patrick Mahomes. The Bears had also not allowed a single top-12 quarterback performance this season until Drew Brees finished as the QB8 last week in a game that required overtime. That should be all the analysis needed to bench Ryan Tannehill this week. For further verification, the Bears allow the fifth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks at 15.6 per game, only 0.3 more than the second-place Patriots. Jared Goff’s 16.9 fantasy points served as the most surrendered by Chicago in a game prior to last week, and that was only good enough for a QB18 finish.

Tannehill has three top-12 performances on the season, three on the peripheral, and one bust week. The past two weeks have seen him fall outside QB1-range, however, and this is not the matchup to insert him into lineups expecting a bounceback. As the Titans lean run-heavy, Tannehill typically relies on extreme efficiency to produce for fantasy managers. Such an approach should prove disappointing in a matchup with the stingiest defense in the NFL in terms of fantasy points allowed per pass attempt. Tannehill has been remarkably consistent since taking over in Tennessee but faces a defense that has consistently stymied similarly strong attacks. Quarterback is deep enough that the Titans’ starter shouldn’t be yours.


D.J. Moore vs. Kansas City Chiefs

D.J. Moore was expected to be a high-volume receiver for checkdown Teddy this season but has been more of a volatile big-play threat. He has seen more than six targets just once in the past six weeks and has caught five passes only once during that stretch. He has three receiving scores on the season, but two came in one game, meaning he has not often bailed managers out with a touchdown despite the explosive plays. Moore has become the clear secondary option, as Robby Anderson outpaces him 68-59 in targets and 51-33 in receptions.

While he is the WR15 on the season, Moore is the WR26 in terms of points per game. In a dream spot last week, Moore disappointed against Atlanta by finishing as the WR51 and going over 57 minutes without a single catch. That theme is not uncommon for Moore in 2020, as he now has four performances of WR49 or lower. The floor is evidently low, which is concerning heading into a matchup with an underrated Chiefs’ defense.

Kansas City is fourth against fantasy receivers, allowing only 23.6 points per game. Incredibly for a team that is often forced to defend long stretches of garbage time, no wide receiver has finished higher than WR23 against the Chiefs this year. That is hardly a match made in heaven for a player who is typically all ceiling and no floor. Moore has the potential to seriously burn fantasy managers this week. He should be treated as a risky WR3 and avoided where possible.


Ronald Jones II vs. New Orleans Saints

Demonstrating the short leash that comes with having Bruce Arians as a head coach, Ronald Jones fumbled last week and immediately ceded way to Leonard Fournette in the Tampa Bay backfield. Jones saw only seven carries last week and eleven total touches, compared to Fournette’s fifteen carries and eighteen touches. The workload has swung back and forth throughout the season and has become a major headache for fantasy managers.

Jones will need to produce on the ground in order to pay dividends, as Fournette has commanded 20 targets over his past four games and appears to be the preferred option in this aspect of the Bucs’ offense. Fournette has also averaged 11.3 carries per game over that same stretch, compared to the 14.6 that Jones has averaged this year. If the carry count leans towards Fournette this week, it could mean trouble for Jones.

The Saints are an extremely formidable foe for opposing rushers, as evident by the fact that they have surrendered the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the position and have yet to allow a top-twelve performance. New Orleans allows only 17.3 points per game, which will not suffice if it is to be split nearly evenly between Jones and Fournette. Giving up only 3.6 yards per carry, good enough for third in the NFL, the Saints are also third in rushing yards allowed and rushing touchdowns allowed. This is a defense to avoid in the best of situations, and this is certainly not the best of situations. There will be fantasy points to be had in the Buccaneers’ backfield, as this offense figures to remain elite, but managers should look to decipher this code next week instead.


Tua Tagovailoa vs. Arizona Cardinals

Tua Tagovailoa’s NFL debut was a smashing success for the Miami Dolphins but not necessarily one for the quarterback’s personal stat line. While the Dolphins beat up on the Rams through excellent play on defense and special teams, the offense was asked to do very little. In fact, Tua threw for only 93 yards in the victory. He added no rushing yardage but did add a passing score to DeVante Parker. Tua completed only twelve passes on a 54.5% completion rate. Pro Football Focus ranked Tua as the second-worst passer last week and he now faces a defense that allows the seventh-lowest completion rate and the tenth-lowest yards per attempt.

The Cardinals have only allowed two top-fifteen fantasy finishes this season and one such instance was to Russell Wilson. Outside of that game against the Seahawks, the Cardinals have allowed an average of only 224 passing yards per game. That number seems absurdly low, but keep in mind that the Cardinals have faced quarterbacks such as Jimmy Garoppolo, Dwayne Haskins, Joe Flacco, and Andy Dalton. Those are hardly world-beaters. Nonetheless, a quarterback who looked as limited as Tua did last week should not be thrust into starting lineups, especially while making his first career road start against a defense that has been performing well. Sit the rookie until the training wheels come off.


Hayden Hurst vs. Denver Broncos

Hayden Hurst is the TE8 on the season but is just the TE13 in terms of points per game. We’ve seen him pick it up recently, thankfully, as he has posted finishes of TE7, TE9, and TE13 over the past three weeks. Hurst went over 50 yards in each of those games and has now done so in four of his last five games, establishing a floor that is difficult to find with such a shallow position. Calvin Ridley is banged up and questionable to play, which could open up additional looks for Hurst.

Unfortunately, this week’s matchup is not one to exploit. The Broncos rank top-ten against fantasy tight ends and have been especially tough in recent weeks. In consecutive weeks we have seen Travis Kelce finish as the TE27 and Hunter Henry finish as the TE18 against Denver. There were some weather-related shenanigans that played a role in Kelce’s poor showing, but the Broncos have shown a resistance to the tight end position throughout 2020.

Rob Gronkowski is the leading receiver amongst tight ends versus Denver, with the 48 yards he posted in Week 3 serving as the benchmark. The Broncos have not allowed a touchdown to a tight end since Week 1, and it will take one for Hurst to produce impactfully this week. With the state of the position, it might be difficult to pivot, but managers would be wise to explore alternative arrangements.


Wayne Gallman vs. Washington Football Team

Wayne Gallman took over as the starter for the Giants last week with Devonta Freeman missing due to injury. Gallman converted the opportunity into twelve carries for 44 yards and a touchdown, while adding eighteen yards through the air. Freeman has been a limited participant in practice and his status for this week’s road trip to division rival Washington is unclear. If Freeman suits up the Giants would likely split the workload between the two running backs, making both difficult to trust. Should Freeman miss this week’s game, Gallman is still only a desperation play due to the difficult matchup.

Washington ranks sixth against fantasy running backs and have been consistently sturdy outside of blips against the Rams and Browns. Outside of those two games, Washington has allowed only eleven points per game to opposing rushers. Even including those games, the number sits at 17.6 points per game. Gallman commanded only 32 snaps last week while Dion Lewis and Alfred Morris both saw the field for 21 apiece. That type of distribution severely limits the upside of Gallman, as the Giants managed only 61 rushing yards in their last matchup with the Football Team.

Although Washington has allowed eight rushing scores on the season, only four of those have come from running backs. This is likely to be a low scoring affair, and Gallman’s lack of upside is accompanied by a host of red flags. Unless forced to look his way due to bye week or injury crunches, Gallman is best left on the sidelines this week.

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