Fantasy football analyst Sal Vetri will use this space to deliver his keys to victory every week of the 2023 NFL season.
Finding No. 1: The best RB spot of the week belongs to Tony Pollard
Pollard scored under 10 points again in Week 9. We warned you last week that he was in a sketchy spot, as Pollard was facing the Eagles’ No. 1 defensive line. Philadelphia had allowed the fewest points and yards to opposing RBs entering that game.
But just one week later Pollard is now in the best spot of the week. He’ll take on the Giants as a 17-point home favorite. New York allows the third-most yards and fifth-most points to opposing RBs. In six similar spots in his career, Pollard averages 16.5 fantasy points.
Finding No. 2: The sketchy RB spot of the week belongs to Jerome Ford
He’s coming off season-high usage against the Cardinals. Ford earned season highs in opportunities, snaps and targets, and appears to be fully healthy after this massive 25-touch game in Week 9.
But now Ford has to face his division-rival Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have arguably the best defense in the NFL and their run defense is easily a top-10 unit. Baltimore allows only 13 fantasy points per game to opposing backfields. It’s hard to sit Ford after the usage he saw last week, but temper expectations in this tough matchup.
Finding No. 3: The underrated QB play of the week is Sam Howell
He continued his recent success in Week 9, throwing for 325 yards and once again finishing as a top-10 quarterback. Howell has benefitted from the Commanders throwing at a historic rate. Washington is throwing on 72% of its passes this season. Howell is leading the league averaging 39.2 pass attempts per game and is on pace to set the NFL record for passes in a season.
This high pass volume has fueled Howell to being a top-10 fantasy option this season. He’s finished top 15 at the position in seven of his nine starts this year. In Week 10, he’ll face the Seahawks, who are allowing an above-average 255 passing yards per game.
Finding No. 4: Sell-high player of the week is Gus Edwards
Edwards earned 17.2 points in Week 9, and is now averaging 22 points over his past three games. So, why is he a sell-high? Let’s discuss.
Edwards’ recent production isn’t sustainable. He’s scored six touchdowns his last three games and in Week 9 he produced 17.2 points on just five total touches. Edwards lost playing time in the blowout win this past week, but there’s a bigger issue developing.
Rookie Keaton Mitchell was involved in the first half of this game. Not only was he involved, but he was productive. Mitchell earned 138 yards on just nine carries. Coach John Harbaugh stated after the game that the RB usage would continue to be a rotation. Trade Edwards before his difficult matchup against the Browns in Week 10.
Finding No. 5: The No. 1 trade target is Cooper Kupp
He hasn’t scored more than seven points in a month, but this needs more context. In Week 9, Brett Rypien was Kupp’s quarterback and Rypien struggled with accuracy, completing just 46% of his passes. Matthew Stafford was injured in a blowout loss to the Cowboys in Week 8.
Kupp’s recent struggles have been overstated. He now enters the bye week which makes him not useful once again for the leaguemates who have him rostered in your league. Your leaguemates may be desperate to make a deal. Try to trade for Kupp, who should get Stafford back after the bye week.
Finding No. 6: Rachaad White is trending up
He’s proved me wrong the last three weeks. Despite being inefficient on the ground, White has been a consistent fantasy producer. Since Week 7, White has played 80% of the Bucs’ snaps and averaged 5.7 targets per game. This has led to 17.7 fantasy points per game during this time and three straight top-12 finishes.
White will face the Titans this week at home. Tennessee has been average against the run this season, but the true test for White will be against their linebackers in the passing game. The Titans allow the fewest receptions to RBs this season. If White gets past this hurdle, we can consider him matchup-proof in future weeks.
Finding No. 7: Christian Watson is trending down
He’s averaging just 5.8 points in his four healthy games this season. Watson has struggled to develop any sort of chemistry with QB Jordan Love, as 50% of Watson’s targets this season have been uncatchable. This ranks 99th out of 105 qualifying receivers.
Watson was injured yet again in Week 9. He suffered injuries to his head, chest and back on a contested catch late in the game. It’s unclear if any of these injuries will force him to miss time, so track his status heading into Week 10.
But the bad news for Watson doesn’t stop there, as Aaron Jones returning to full health is bad news too. The Packers leaned on Jones, giving him 20 carries in Week 9. This led to just 26 pass attempts for Love, so expect this to be the Packers’ ideal game plan moving forward. This would result in less volume for Watson.
Finding No. 8: Here are two sneaky waiver wire adds
Tee Higgins has been ruled out and Josh Downs is trending to miss Week 10, which opens up some sneaky waiver wire adds in Trenton Irwin and Isaiah McKenzie.
Irwin started in Week 5 when Higgins was out. He earned 14 fantasy points on 10 targets. He found success in this game despite Joe Burrow not being fully healthy. But now Burrow is healthy and playing at an MVP level. Add Irwin.
McKenzie lost the starting slot job to Josh Downs this summer, but McKenzie is still a dynamic player. If Downs misses, expect McKenzie to start in the slot. The slot has been a key role in this offense and a favorite spot for Gardner Minshew to target. McKenzie played a season-high 24 snaps once Downs left the game last week.
Finding No. 9: Najee Harris is a veteran on the rise
He was a popular avoid candidate this past summer with plenty of concerns heading into the season. Jaylen Warren was trending up and Harris wasn’t efficient in his previous two seasons.
But since his Week 6 bye, Harris has been quietly playing well. He’s handled 56% of the snaps and earned 16.4 opportunities per game, averaging 14 fantasy points during this stretch. This is the best usage he’s seen since the start of last season. Harris will face a banged-up Packers defense this week.
Finding No. 10: James Conner's usage is something to watch
He’s expected to return from IR this week after playing in just four healthy games this season. He averaged a strong 70% of the snaps and 18 opportunities in those contests.
Since being placed on IR, the Cardinals have struggled to be efficient on the ground. We’d expect Conner to take back his role in a tough matchup against the Falcons. He also gets back Kyler Murray, which should lead to more red-zone drives and upside for Conner. If he regains his elite usage, Conner becomes a must-start every week moving forward.