Game Flowbotics A-to-Z - Week 9

With six teams missing in Week 9, you might have to start some sketchy waiver adds. To help you sort through the bye week madness, here’s the latest installment of the Game Flowbotics matchups spreadsheet:

Week 9 Game Flowbotics

Editor’s Note:  Have questions? Check out this Game Flowbotics primer from earlier in the season or contact @GameFlowbotics on Twitter.

Now let’s dive in, A to Z, for Week 9 of the 2018 NFL season.

A-B is for Amendola Blastoff.

Typically tracked as No. 3 receivers by FootballOutsiders for DVOA purposes, slot receivers have torched the Jets this season, seeing 9.7 adjusted targets for 78.5 adjusted yards per game (league average is 6.5 for 52.1). T-minus two days to liftoff for Danny Amendola.

C is for Cam Convergence.

The stars have aligned for Cam Newton. Facing Tampa’s last-ranked defense by DVOA, he’s the QB2 in my Week 9 rankings, and I’m tempted to leapfrog him ahead of Patrick Mahomes into the top spot. Sorting out his weapons is a tougher exercise…

D is for Devin & D.J.

This could be a rare slate when Devin Funchess and D.J. Moore are simultaneously usable in fantasy. In most weeks, there just aren’t enough targets to go around. Newton ranks 20th among relevant quarterbacks in pass attempts, and a good chunk of those will go toward Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffrey.  Moore figures to be the low man on the totem pole most weeks, but Tampa Bay is a special matchup for pass-catchers. The Buccaneers allow 26-plus adjusted yards more per game than the NFL averages to both No. 1 and No. 2 wide receivers. If Moore’s mini-breakout continues on Sunday, look to sell next week.

E-F-G is for Evaluating Flacco’s Guys.

In Joe Flacco’s first meeting with the Steelers this season, he spread the love between his wide receivers. Michael Crabtree saw eight targets, while John Brown and Willie Snead each saw seven. Snead’s six receptions equaled what Crabtree and Brown combined for, but Brown took one of his three catches 71 yards and another for a 33-yard touchdown to lead Baltimore’s receivers in fantasy scoring. But despite Crabtree’s Week 4 dud, he’s a good bet for a bounce-back in this week’s rematch. To this point passers have attacked Pittsburgh most often with possession-type wideouts like Jarvis Landry, Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Julio Jones, and A.J. Green.  Crabtree isn’t necessarily on the level of all those players, but he best fits the archetype that’s seen 9.1 adjusted targets for 80.8 adjusted yards per game against the Steelers. You might have better plays, but byes should push Crabtree into starting consideration for most fantasy owners this week.

H is for Held Hostage.

I have Stockholm syndrome with Antonio Callaway. I figured it out when Matt Kelley had to overtly reject an answer to a podcast question where I tried to identify as a truther for Cleveland’s stone-handed receiver. Aside from a 3-81-1 stat line in Week 2 against New Orleans, Callaway hasn’t cracked 10 standard fantasy points once this season, but I am spellbound by Callaway’s clear path to usage. He has 44 targets through eight games, but despite his struggles, only Jarvis Landry (94) and David Njoku (52) have seen more from Browns quarterbacks. Callaway isn’t so bad. He’ll see a lot of targets this week as the Browns try to keep pace with Patrick Mahomes and company. He has to. He’s not holding my roster spots hostage. I want him there, I swear.

I-J is for Injured Joey.

Despite early-week optimism for Joey Bosa to return in Week 9, the news-breakers and blurbers now peg him as likely to sit for another week. There goes half the intrigue I had for Chargers at Seahawks. Oh well, we don’t get Bosa chasing Russell Wilson, but we still get Philip Rivers facing a surprisingly good Seahawks defense. Seattle bottled up Detroit’s offense last week, as predicted in the previous A-to-Z, but containing the Chargers’ offense is a tougher task. Los Angeles ranks second in offense and third in passing offense according to DVOA, generating those efficiency marks without significant production from Keenan Allen. But this is a sneaky good matchup for Allen to finally break out. Seattle ranks 20th in defense against No. 1 wideouts, allowing above-average adjusted targets and yardage to the position.

K-L is for Killer Line.

With a total of 60-points, Rams at Saints to be an epic shootout. The usual suspects from both sides of the matchup merit consideration in DFS, but Flowbotics points us most fervently toward Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods. The Saints rank dead last in DVOA against No. 1 and No. 2 wide receivers. Cooks also has the classic “revenge game” narrative in his favor. A less obvious play I like is Ben Watson. Ever since Jared Cook went off in Week 1, other tight ends (and quasi tight ends like Mike Williams) have continued the onslaught against the Rams’ middle-of-the-field defense. Los Angeles allows 8.0 adjusted targets and 64.5 adjusted yards per game to the position, and both those numbers are above the league average.

M-N is for Movie Night.

My partner and I stayed in on Halloween and watched The Mummy with Tom Cruise. I haven’t regretted a programming choice so much since last Sunday when I watched the entirety of Washington versus New York.

O-P is for Our Phylactery.

Full disclosure: I was searching an online thesaurus for a synonym to “mascot” and “phylactery” popped up. It’s a bit of a stretch to call Alex Smith a vessel for scriptures or holy relics, but mascot doesn’t start with a “p,” so here we are. In Week 9, our hero takes the field against Atlanta’s 28th-ranked pass defense. The Falcons are even worse against the run (31st), but don’t let fear of an Adrian Peterson takeover steer you away from Smith’s $5000 price tag on DraftKings. The Falcons have allowed 20-plus points to passers in every game since Week 2, making Smith a supreme bargain, as foretold in the late-round quarterback scriptures.

Q-R-S-T is for Question of Rushing Supplanting/Supporting Trubisky

The spreadsheet’s first game listed for Sunday is Chicago versus Buffalo, and the matchup puts owners in a predicament with Mitchell Trubisky. Buffalo’s already atrocious offense will be helmed by Nathan Peterman. Last year against the Chargers, Peterman threw 19 interceptions (approximate) in the first 26 minutes (approximate) of the game. Exaggerated numbers aside, the Bills remain a safe bet to score the slate’s fewest points. Trubisky might not have to do much or even be able to do much against a Buffalo defense ranked fourth in both passing defense DVOA and overall defensive DVOA.

And while Trubisky has made up for his accuracy issues with rushing production, a lack of pressure on the Bears to keep scoring could make this the ideal week for Chicago’s coaching staff to throw Jordan Howard a bone and let him do the rushing damage. But the Bears can’t run on every play, so I err on the side of Trubisky remaining startable in two-quarterback formats (especially with so many teams on bye). Still, at QB16 in my rankings, I’m four spots lower than consensus on Trubisky. He isn’t appealing in DFS, either. The Bears are favored by 10 points, but because the over/under is only 37 points, they’re only implied to score 23.5 points. That’s not good enough with so many big totals to target in other games.

U-V-W is for Upgrading Various Wideouts.

The trade deadline freed up a lot of targets for new recipients across various teams. Here’s an exceedingly brief armchair stock report:

  • Stock Up:  Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, T.J. Jones, Courtland Sutton, Emmanuel Sanders, Jeff Heuerman
  • Stock Down:  Nelson Agholor, Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, Jordan Matthews

Where’s Keke Coutee, you ask? I don’t see his value changing much with Demaryius Thomas joining the Texans. Thomas doesn’t really encroach on the types of routes Coutee typically runs, and the rookie’s skill set matches up better with Deshaun Watson’s game than the vet’s. With that said, the Broncos aren’t a great matchup for Coutee. Denver ranks second in pass defense and second against No. 3 wide receivers. If Coutee disappoints and is dropped leading into his Week 10 bye, consider pouncing because his schedule on the other side is more favorable.

X is for X-rated.

Things are bound to get a little risque this week, if not downright erotic, when Adam Thielen faces Detroit’s last-ranked defense against slot receivers by DVOA. If you’ve been putting off that conversation with your kids about the birds and the bees, Sunday is as good a time as any, and Thielen’s sexy matchup is an ideal crutch analogy.

Y is for Yellow-bellied. 

Everyone tells me the Aaron Jones breakout is upon us, so why am I still afraid to use him in Week 9? Maybe it’s the Patriots’ ninth-ranked run defense by DVOA. Maybe it’s the potential for Green Bay to fall behind against New England’s potent offense and abandon the run. Or maybe Mike McCarthy has simply burned us too many times. C’mon Aaron, show out this weekend and give this cowardly lion some courage going forward.

Z is for Zoidberg.

The crustaceous sawbones from Planet Express was my division avatar of choice for the Scott Fish Bowl because I’m up for whatever. Yes, even starting Jacquizz Rodgers.

As ridiculous as my running back depth chart is in #SFB8, I don’t hate the matchup for ‘Quizz this week. Ronald Jones is out, Peyton Barber is allergic to catching passes, and Tampa Bay could very likely be playing from behind. Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel like I’m getting excited about the first cup of dumpster juice in the morning. Good luck in Week 9.

Editor’s Note: DVOA, Adjusted Line Yards, Adjusted Sack Rate, and Versus-Receiver statistics from Fantasy Scoring and Red Zone statistics from Snap data from

Greg Smith

Greg Smith is an engineer, co-founder of, and enthusiast for the strategy and design of variance-based games.  When he started playing fantasy football in 2001, his home league's small number of teams necessitated starting two quarterbacks.  That necessity has since grown into obsession, making Greg one of the preeminent champions of 2QB and Superflex formats.

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