Hey, 2016 NFL draft class, come on down!
The No. 1 (Jared Goff) and No. 2 (Carson Wentz) players selected overall in 2016 posted huge fantasy scores in Week 9, leading their respective teams to comfortable wins. The 1 p.m. ET game block was rife with lopsided scores, with four of the seven games being decided by at least two touchdowns, three of them by at least three. That led to some bloated fantasy scores during Sunday's early games.
As we do each week, we recap the week's winners and losers from a fantasy perspective, complete with applicable game and historical data. Check back after the conclusion of the 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET (and, when applicable, Sunday Night Football) games for our pick of the week's best and worst.
Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints: What a rookie season he's having, both as a pass-catcher and as a runner. Kamara set career highs -- granted, it was just his eighth career game -- with 31.2 PPR and 25.2 non-PPR fantasy points, the former leading his position during the 1 p.m. ET game block. While Kamara has been known more for his receiving ability -- he and Christian McCaffrey are the only running backs with at least three receptions in every game this season -- his performance on Sunday gave him a 6.16 yards-per-carry average in his four games since his Week 5 bye, which is second best in the league among running backs behind only Leonard Fournette (6.19). Should the Saints consider expanding Kamara's rushing chores, something that would be more likely to happen in 2018 than this season, he'd be a threat for a top-five ranking spot at the position.
Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams: He and the Rams thrashed the New York Giants defense on Sunday, his 311 yards and four passing scores equaling a career-best 28.44 fantasy points. It's the fifth time in his eight games this season that he has scored at least 16, and as I noted in the Matchups Map this week, Goff has played directly into the hands of his matchups (including in this game). Fantasy managers were mostly aware of the opportunity, as Goff was the 13th most-started quarterback in Week 9 (31.8 percent). He gets another plus matchup against the Houston Texans in Week 10.
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills: He was the standout on Thursday Night Football, his 26.90 fantasy points fueled in large part by what was only the third time out of his 51 career games that he had a rushing touchdown and at least two passing touchdowns. It gave him 63.62 fantasy points in his past three games, none of which had Kelvin Benjamin on the active roster (Benjamin was acquired last Tuesday but was inactive on Thursday). While Taylor has a more challenging matchup against an excelling New Orleans Saints defense in Week 10, Taylor -- especially with Benjamin likely ready by then -- has earned your start.
Todd Gurley II, RB, Rams: Like Goff, Gurley thrived facing the Giants' bruised, battered and exhausted defense -- and I say that despite their being fresh off the bye week -- amassing 24.4 PPR fantasy points on Sunday. It's the sixth time in Gurley's eight games this season that he has scored at least 20, giving him a (for now) position-leading 187.4 for the season. To put that number into perspective, consider that he scored 198.2 in all of 2016, playing twice as many games then (16) as he has this year (8). Gurley is on pace for 374.8 fantasy points, which would be the 25th-best total in NFL history.
Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: As mentioned above, Captain Consistency was at it again on Sunday, putting up an outstanding 24.76 fantasy points and sealing the victory early on despite facing a stingy Denver Broncos defense -- they hadn't allowed 18 or more fantasy points to any quarterback in their first seven games of the season, their 14.5 average the 13th lowest in the league entering the week. It gave Wentz a whopping 193.58 fantasy points through the first nine games of his sophomore campaign, which ranks fifth all time behind only Kurt Warner (204.82, 1999), Dan Marino (198.68, 1984), Jeff Garcia (196.96, 2000) and Daunte Culpepper (193.60, 2000). It also cemented Wentz's status as a completely matchup-proof quarterback, a locked-in top-five weekly starter.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts: Not many people believed in Hilton in Week 9, but he rewarded the 63.2 percent in ESPN leagues who started him with a 34.5 PPR and 29.5 non-PPR fantasy point total. Those were the third- and second-best point totals in any of his 87 career games, with his 37.1 (second best, behind only his 37.3 in 2014 Week 6) and 30.1 (best) in 2013 Week 9 the only time in which he had more using either scoring system. Hilton has endured a rather up-and-down year -- he has three games of 20-plus PPR fantasy points and four of six or fewer in his past seven games alone -- but Jacoby Brissett's installation at quarterback has breathed some life into his season. A particularly tough matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers is next up, however.
Corey Clement, RB, Eagles: Thanks to his three touchdowns -- two rushing and one receiving -- Clement enjoyed a 25.6 PPR fantasy point day on Sunday, which not only set a new career high for him but actually nearly doubled his season total entering the week (30.2, in 8 games). Still, it needs to be considered that two of his scores and eight of his 12 carries came in the second half, after the game was well out of hand, and that fellow Eagles running back Jay Ajayi also enjoyed a 13.7-point performance (backed by a 9.6 yards-per-carry average) that should keep him heavily involved in future weeks. Clement, rostered in just 0.83 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 9, is a worthy flier, but greater opportunity is probably coming for Ajayi well before him.
Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants: He was the top-scoring tight end during the 1 p.m. ET game block (17.0 PPR fantasy points), giving him three consecutive games with at least that good of a score. The greater takeaway from Engram's performance, however, was his continued heavy usage, as he had a team-high 10 targets despite Sterling Shepard (9 targets) being active. That gave Engram 63 targets in his first eight NFL games, which is five more than any other tight end has had through that many games since target data was available (1992 on). He also has the sixth-most PPR fantasy points (99.2) through his first eight career games of any player since 1960:
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles: He played a large role in Wentz's big day, catching six of his 11 targets for 26.4 PPR and 20.4 non-PPR fantasy points, stepping up on a day where slot man Nelson Agholor (5.6 points on four targets) was the Eagles' receiver facing the tougher matchup. It still wasn't an easy one for Jeffery, which is why his score is encouraging for his value going forward. He, Wentz and the Eagles will enjoy their bye in Week 10.
Robert Woods, WR, Rams: For only the fifth time in his 65 career games, Woods managed to score 20 or more PPR fantasy points, his 23.0 on Sunday representing his fourth best and fewer than four shy of his 26.8 career high set in 2014 Week 12. He was yet another Rams player who capitalized on the favorable matchup against the Giants, something 15.6 percent of those in ESPN leagues prepared for in advance.
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys: After letting down his fantasy teams in Week 8, Prescott rebounded with 26.66 fantasy points on Sunday -- his fourth-best score in any of his 24 career games. That gives him 172.22 through eight games, putting him on pace for 344.44, or nearly 60 more than he had during his rookie year of 2016 (286.88). It'd be the second-best sophomore-year point total of any player in history (Dan Marino, 354.66 in 1984). In addition, Prescott's 459.10 fantasy points through his first 24 career NFL games are the fifth-most by any quarterback in history, trailing only Cam Newton's 507.72, Daunte Culpepper's 484.72, Kurt Warner's 472.18 and Robert Griffin III's 469.60. Prescott is a legit, locked-in QB1 regardless of matchup.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Arizona Cardinals: Thirty-seven carries! Thirty-nine touches! Peterson became the oldest player since at least 1950 to manage at least as many of either, but was his game really a "Winner"? Well, when you're used that heavily in a game at the age of 32 years, 229 days, you're bound to put forth a worthwhile fantasy point total -- he finished with 16.7 in PPR and 14.7 in non-PPR scoring, the former eighth-best among running backs through the 4 p.m. ET games. Still, it's worth pointing out that Peterson's score was actually the seventh-worst out of the 93 instances of a player amassing at least 39 touches in a game during that same time span. His hefty usage is a boon in fantasy, as it pumps up his counting numbers, but his 4.2 yards-per-carry average in his first three games for the Cardinals isn't especially impressive considering the strength of his matchups. Speaking of strong matchups, Peterson was started in 86.6 percent of ESPN leagues on Sunday, 10th-most among running backs.
Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs: The top-scoring tight end of Week 9 (through the 4 p.m. ET games) -- big surprise! -- Kelce brought home 20.3 PPR fantasy points. He was easily the most-started tight end (99.5 percent of ESPN leagues), and with Zach Ertz missing Sunday's game due to a hamstring injury, Kelce took over the position lead in fantasy points (144.6) for the season.
Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys: Though he was only started in 4.22 percent of ESPN leagues, Williams' 23.1 PPR fantasy points were surely a welcome sight to those who risked using him in larger formats. It was the first time since 2015 Week 17 that he managed as many as 20 fantasy points, and it was the fourth time in his 72 career games that he reached that plateau.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: His day concluded on the next-to-last play before halftime, after he was ejected for fighting with Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Green's 1.6 PPR fantasy points (and 0.6 in non-PPR) represented not only his season worst, but also his fourth worst using either scoring system in 94 career games. Green, who entered the week the fourth-highest-scoring wide receiver in PPR (117.2), was the fourth-most-started player at his position on Sunday (98.3 percent).
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers: For the second time in his past four games, Stewart had negative fantasy points, his minus-1.9 setting a new personal low in his 125 career games, exceeding the minus-0.4 he scored in Week 6 this season. Two fumbles were mostly responsible. It was, in fact, the worst individual PPR point total by any running back who had at least 10 carries in a game since at least 1950. Using non-PPR scoring, only Mike Alstott (minus-2.0, on 16 carries, in 1999, Week 10) had worse. While Christian McCaffrey's yards-per-carry average (2.86) leaves plenty to be desired, he's right there with Stewart (2.89) in the category, fueling questions about whether the Panthers might be better off expanding McCaffrey's role in the running game. Stewart, rostered in 74.8 percent of ESPN leagues, can be cut in 10-team formats.
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Typically I exclude injury-influenced performances from this side of the list, but Winston belongs despite his halftime exit as it was due to the shoulder that has bothered him since he initially injured it in Week 6. He was still started in nearly half of ESPN leagues (46.2 percent) on Sunday and delivered his teams just 3.48 fantasy points. Winston has a grand total of 32.98 fantasy points in his past four games combined -- he had six and a half fewer than that in Week 4 alone -- raising concerns about his long-term health. He's in dire need of a rebound performance against the New York Jets defense next week, assuming he's cleared to play.
Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers: Winston's teammate Martin was the Buccaneers player everyone wanted active in Week 9 -- he was the 13th-most-started running back (83.7 percent) -- but the running back was held to a mere 0.7 fantasy points on his eight carries. The Buccaneers simply could not get anything done on offense, but Winston's injury bears watching throughout the practice week, as it'll have a bearing on Martin's utility in coming weeks. Martin gets another outstanding matchup in Week 10 against the Jets, but after a game like this, he cannot be trusted as an RB1 nevertheless.
Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers: Sensing a theme? Evans, Winston's preferred target, was predictably shut down while playing half a game with Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterback, the result a mere 2.3 PPR fantasy points on six targets. Only in 2015 Week 2 did Evans score fewer (0.0). He was the most-started wide receiver in ESPN leagues on Sunday (99.2 percent), but it's probably time to take the Saints' defense more seriously as a tough matchup for the position (as well as for opposing quarterbacks).
C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos: Though a brief exit from the game due to an ankle injury contributed to his so-so performance, Anderson's role did come largely into question on Sunday. He scored 1.3 fantasy points on a team-high nine carries, his lowest total all season and lowest since he scored just 0.9 in 2015 Week 10. What's more, Anderson played just 23 snaps to Devontae Booker's 24 (6 carries) and Jamaal Charles' 18 (4 carries), which hints at future running-back-by-committee arrangements.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills: His was one of the week's most disappointing fantasy performances, his 2.5 fantasy points on 12 carries on Thursday while facing a Jets defense that had allowed the 11th-most fantasy points per game to the position entering the week (24.5) representing the fifth-worst score in any of his 126 career games.
Cameron Brate, TE, Buccaneers: More Buccaneers! Brate's 1.9 PPR fantasy points on four targets is most frustrating, however, if you consider that Luke Stocker had 9.3 of his own, thanks to a receiving touchdown on his two targets (both caught).
Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins: Unlike Deshaun Watson in Week 8, Cousins couldn't solve the Seattle Seahawks defensive puzzle on Sunday. Cousins scored just 8.32 fantasy points, the week's third-worst score by any starting quarterback (through the 4 p.m. ET games), and the seventh-worst score of any of his 49 career starts. He was started in 49.0 percent of ESPN leagues, 11th-highest among quarterbacks. Worse yet, things might not improve much in his next two matchups (MIN, @NO).
Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: It was the Cowboys wide receivers, not Witten, who benefited from Prescott's big game, as the veteran tight end managed a mere 1.5 PPR fantasy points on his one target on Sunday. It tied for Witten's eighth-worst fantasy score in his 231 career games -- keep in mind that his seventh-worst (1.3) occurred in Week 3 -- and it was only the 11th time in his career that he was targeted one time or fewer. He was the sixth most-started tight end in ESPN leagues in Week 9 (67.9 percent).