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Chiefs and Saints offenses dominate, led by Kareem Hunt and Michael Thomas — NFL

As we do each week, we recap the week’s best and worst from a fantasy perspective, complete with applicable game and historical data. Check back after the conclusion of the 1 and 4 p.m. ET (and, when applicable, Sunday Night Football) games for our picks.

The best

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: His NFL career is off to an extraordinary start, as his 26.8 fantasy points on Sunday, in his 10th start, gave him 254.1 points in his career to date as a starter. That’s the most by any quarterback since 1950 — and very likely all time — through 10 career NFL starts, breaking Deshaun Watson’s 5-week-old record. Mahomes’ 3,185 passing yards and 29 passing touchdowns also set records in those categories through a quarterback’s first 10 career games, underscoring his excellence. He’s a weekly candidate for the No. 1 positional ranking regardless of matchup, and since he’s now on pace for more than 430 fantasy points for the season, he has a realistic chance at setting a single-season record for points by a quarterback — Peyton Manning’s 410.0, in 2013, is the current standard at the position.

Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs: His season has no longer been quiet, as for the second time in the past three weeks, he scored at least 30 PPR fantasy points, finishing Sunday’s action with a best-among-the-1-p.m.-ET-games 33.1. While much of Hunt’s production in recent weeks has come in the receiving game, he has had seven rushing scores in the past seven weeks combined. He now has 198.5 points for the season in nine games, which is already 19.4 more than he had through that many games of his rookie 2017 (179.1).

Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints: Lost in the chatter surrounding Thomas’ recreation of Joe Horn’s flip-phone touchdown celebration of 2003 was the fact that the third-year wide receiver set a new personal best for PPR fantasy points with 39.1 on Sunday. Thomas caught 12 of his 15 targets in the game, the seventh time in his career he finished in double digits in each category. He now has 70 receptions through eight team games, putting him on a pace for 140, which would be the second-most by any player in NFL history (Marvin Harrison, 143 in 2002). Thomas has a favorable second-half schedule that includes game against the Falcons (Week 12) and Buccaneers (Week 14), so he might yet make a run at Harrison’s record as well as the top fantasy scoring spot at his position this season.

Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints: For the seventh time in his 24-game, two-year NFL career, Kamara reached the 30 PPR fantasy point plateau, with his 33.6 the most among running backs through the 4 p.m. ET games. Only one player in history had more 30-point games through 24 NFL games: Edgerrin James, who had eight. Kamara now has 218.7 points through eight games, moving into second place among running backs for the season. Only 10 running backs since 1950 had more through eight team games of any season.

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers: His breakthrough campaign continued on Sunday, as he set a personal best with 32.7 PPR fantasy points, second most among running backs from the 1 p.m. ET games. That pushed McCaffrey’s seasonal point total to 165.0, which is 56.5 more than he had through the Panthers’ first eight games of 2017 (108.5). He also now has 49 catches, putting him on a pace for 98, which would be the fifth-most among running backs in history behind only Matt Forte’s 102 in 2014, Larry Centers’ 101 in 1995 and 99 in 1996, and LaDainian Tomlinson’s 100 in 2003. McCaffrey is a PPR beast, a locked-in RB1 in those formats.

Tevin Coleman, RB, Atlanta Falcons: Speaking of personal bests by running backs, Coleman’s 32.6 PPR fantasy points represented a career high for him as well. That was an especially impressive number considering the matchup — the opposing Washington Redskins hadn’t allowed more than 21.3 points to any individual running back entering Week 9 and were the second-best schedule-adjusted defense facing the position. That helps explain why Coleman was started in only 57.4 percent of ESPN leagues (21st among running backs). He did, however, still share rushing work with Ito Smith, running the football 13 times compared to Smith’s 10, so continued caution is warranted. Coleman and the Falcons face the Cleveland Browns in Week 10, so he’s a worthwhile RB2/flex.

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons: His excellent rebound season, which has been overshadowed by Mahomes’ bigger year, continued with a position-best-from-the-1-p.m.-ET-games 28.0 fantasy points. That pushed his season total to 198.1 points, the eighth most by any quarterback through his team’s first eight games of any season since at least 1950. Ryan has looked much more comfortable in Year No. 2 of Steve Sarkisian’s offense, and there appears to be no end to his QB1 production in sight, as the Falcons’ second-half schedule contains some extremely favorable matchups (two standouts: @NO, Week 12; and TB, Week 17). Heck, he even completed a touchdown pass to Julio Jones on Sunday.

Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs: While Hunt had one of Mahomes’ passing scores, Kelce was Mahomes’ go-to guy in the passing game on Sunday, as Kelce had position highs (through the 1 p.m. ET games) with nine targets and 28.9 PPR fantasy points. It was the eighth consecutive game in which Kelce had at least 10 points, by far the longest such streak in his career, and that was the third-best single-game score in his 73 career games. He’s a locked-in, weekly TE1.

Duke Johnson Jr., RB, Browns: It’s about time he performed in fantasy, as Johnson’s 29.6 PPR points were easily a season high and helped him set a new personal best in the category, though they came in his ninth game of the season. Unfortunately, his early struggles caused him to be dropped in a good share of ESPN leagues, as he’s on rosters in fewer than 50 percent and was started in only 18.3 percent (32nd among running backs). Johnson and the Browns, however, have an excellent set of second-half matchups for running backs, including games against the Cincinnati Bengals (Weeks 12 and 16), Denver Broncos (Week 15) and Houston Texans (Week 13). Don’t sleep on this rebound.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: While his 25.2 fantasy points on Sunday was only third-best among quarterbacks from the 1 p.m. ET games, what made the effort so unusual was that it occurred in Baltimore. That was easily the most points he had ever scored in any of his 11 career road games against the Baltimore Ravens, as he had averaged 10.6 points in his previous 10 and never scored more than 19.4 (2013 Week 13). As his fantasy managers saw this as a poor matchup — understandably — Roethlisberger was started in only 38.6 percent of ESPN leagues, 13th-highest among quarterbacks in Week 9.

Chicago Bears defense/special teams: In one of the most obvious matchup plays of the season — the opposing Buffalo Bills had afforded opposing D/STs the most fantasy points per game entering the week — the Bears dominated the Bills’ offense to the tune of a position-best (through the 1 p.m. ET games) 29 fantasy points. Having the turnover-prone Nathan Peterman as their quarterback put the Bills in a rough position against a defense that brings plenty of pressure, and if not for Peterman’s rushing touchdown with 5:41 to go in the game, the Bears would’ve reached the 30-point plateau. Since the Bills have become an automatic play for the opposing D/ST, here are their next five opponents: New York Jets (Weeks 10 and 14), Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 12), Miami Dolphins (Week 13), Detroit Lions (Week 15).

O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: His emergence as the Buccaneers’ go-to tight end, regardless of whether Ryan Fitzpatrick or Jameis Winston is under center, continued on Sunday, as he scored a season-high 21.3 PPR fantasy points. Howard captured six targets to Cameron Brate‘s three — Brate scored 4.5 points in the process — and registered his sixth consecutive game with at least 10 points. Howard was started in 56.8 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 9, ninth highest among tight ends, which suggests he’s already being regarded as a weekly TE1. Based upon recent returns, he looks like he belongs there.

Adam Humphries, WR, Buccaneers: For the first time in his 52-game NFL career, Humphries reached the 20 PPR fantasy point plateau, his 28.9 on Sunday the most among wide receivers from the 1 p.m. ET games. He saw eight targets and caught all eight of them, as the Buccaneers were forced to the air early and often, evidenced by Fitzpatrick’s 40 pass attempts. It’s not a performance we should expect to see again, though Humphries does have 62.4 points on 31 targets in his past four games and plays for a pass-heavy offense, so it’s possible he could contribute as a matchups-dependent WR3/flex in larger leagues.

Jeff Heuerman, TE, Denver Broncos: His 11 targets and 24.3 PPR fantasy points were by far career bests, as he was Case Keenum‘s go-to receiver on Sunday. It’s not something to expect many weeks, though, considering Heuerman had 29 targets through the Broncos’ first eight games of the season. He was started in 6.4 percent of ESPN leagues, 19th-highest among tight ends.

Drew Brees, QB, Saints: Thanks in part to his rallying the Saints to a 45-35 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, Brees captured the week’s highest quarterback score (through Sunday’s 4 p.m. ET games) with 31.4 fantasy points. It was the third time this season alone that he had scored 30 or more and the 23rd time he had done so in his career, further extending his all-time NFL record.

Jared Goff, QB, Rams: On the losing end of the Saints-Rams game, Goff scored 29.3 fantasy points, the second-most among quarterbacks through Sunday’s 4 p.m. ET games. That gave him 194.5 for the season and moved him into third place at the position, though he has yet to have his bye week and has had the extra game’s advantage over a few of the players behind him. Goff has made excellent use of the three wide receivers he has at his disposal, and a healthy Cooper Kupp helped elevate his statistical performance on Sunday. Expect more of the same in the next two weeks against the Seattle Seahawks and the Chiefs.

The worst

Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings: While Cousins will certainly accept his team’s result — the Vikings won 24-9 in a game in which they never trailed — his fantasy managers were far from pleased with his 6.9-point effort. That was his worst single-game score of the season, his fifth-worst score in any of his 66 career NFL starts and only his 13th game of fewer than 10 points in any of those 66, and he was started in 77.6 percent of ESPN leagues (fifth highest among quarterbacks). Cousins simply didn’t need to do much in a game his Vikings dominated on defense, attempting only 22 passes, so don’t read too much into the performance. He now has his bye week, but a tough matchup against the Bears’ defense is next up in Week 11.

Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Bears: His 8.0 fantasy points on Sunday was his second-worst performance of 2018 behind only his 5.6 in Week 2, and had to be considered a significant letdown considering he had scored nearly 125 points in his previous four games combined and was started in 41.2 percent of ESPN leagues (11th highest among quarterbacks). While the mediocre matchup had a lot to do with it, Trubisky simply didn’t need to do much in a game thoroughly dominated by his defense. He’ll probably need to be more involved in Week 10 against the Detroit Lions, making him a high-end QB2.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: He was surely less pleased with his team’s result than Cousins, and Stafford’s fantasy managers were probably just as unhappy with his 7.1 points in the same game. Thankfully, Stafford was started in significantly fewer ESPN leagues — his 27.9 percent rate was 15th highest among quarterbacks — as many saw his decline in pass attempts as well as this matchup as concerns. Still, this was his first game beneath 10 points since Week 1 (8.0), and it casts doubts upon his utility in fantasy in the next month, with a pair of matchups against the Bears (Weeks 10 and 12) and another against the Los Angeles Rams (Week 13) on his schedule the next four weeks.

Jared Cook, TE, Oakland Raiders: The fifth-highest scoring tight end for the season entering the week — and that’s despite his already having had his bye week, which is not something any of the four ahead of him could claim before Week 9 — Cook let his fantasy managers down in a big way on Thursday Night Football, scoring 4.0 PPR fantasy points on only two targets. It was the third time in his past four games that he scored six or fewer points, continuing to support his reputation as a wildly streaky performer, and it came against a San Francisco 49ers defense that represented one of the 10 most schedule-independent matchups against the position entering the week. Cook’s time as a locked-in TE1 might be in his past, even though he was started in 73.2 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 9, fourth highest at the position.

Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears: His 2.3 PPR fantasy points represented a season low, and while it’s understandable that he wouldn’t have been needed to any great extent as a receiver in a game the Bears’ defense completely dominated, that Cohen managed only 5 yards on his six carries was a disappointment. He let down a lot of his fantasy managers, who started him in 87.4 percent of ESPN leagues, 10th highest among running backs. Cohen should be needed more in upcoming matchups against the Lions (Week 10) and Vikings (Week 11), so continue to regard him a weekly RB2.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Redskins: Though his 6.3 PPR fantasy points didn’t place him at the very bottom of his position’s rankings for the week, that they came in what was an outstanding matchup against the Falcons was notable. Peterson was started in 90.2 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 9, eighth most among running backs, so clearly more was expected from him after he scored 26.6 points in a similarly great Week 8 matchup against the New York Giants. It cast some doubt upon his ability to hold up over a season-long workload, as well as his matchups utility, though he does have a good opportunity to rebound in another strong Week 10 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers: Started in a whopping 96.5 percent of ESPN leagues, seventh most among wide receivers, Evans let his fantasy managers down in a big way with a season-low 2.6 PPR fantasy points. Worse yet: That came on 10 targets, as he caught only one of his 10 throws from Fitzpatrick in a tremendously disappointing performance. In fact, that point total was his third worst in any of his 69 career NFL games. Worse yet: Evans has to take on Josh Norman and the Redskins in Week 10, so things might not improve much unless Fitzpatrick can show improved performance next week.

John Brown, WR, Ravens: His bounce-back season stalled on Sunday, as he scored a season-low 4.7 PPR fantasy points on six targets. Joe Flacco simply couldn’t get anything going against the Steelers, and the quarterback relied much more on Willie Snead IV, who had team highs with eight targets and 12.8 points. Brown and the Ravens now have their bye week, and perhaps the week’s rest will do him some good down the stretch.

Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks: For the first time all season, Lockett fell short of 10 PPR fantasy points, with the 5.4 on four targets representing his worst single-game performance since 2017 Week 16 (1.9). He simply couldn’t get open against the Chargers’ defense, with Doug Baldwin (11.7 points on four targets) enjoying the greater success of the two wideouts. Lockett might not find things much easier against the Rams in Week 10, though he does have a much more favorable schedule in the season’s final seven weeks.

Mark Ingram II, RB, Saints: One of the few prominent skill players from Sunday’s Saints-Rams game not to make a significant fantasy impact, Ingram’s 2.6 PPR points represented his fewest since 2016 Week 8 (minus-1.5). It was the second time in his past three games that he was held under 10 points, and he now has 21.0 points on 40 total touches during that three-week span. Ingram hasn’t looked quite the same as his 2017 form since returning from suspension, though he does get a much more favorable matchup in Week 10 against the Cincinnati Bengals. He’ll still warrant RB2/flex consideration for that game.

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