Every week, at least one player becomes my fascination of whether he’s worthy of a fantasy football start or bench. The decision can be a mental wrestling match, but for the purpose of brevity, only one player can be chosen as the fantasy football gamble of the week.
The best fantasy football gamble for Week 9
Tracking my predictions: 2-6-0
Win: Player produces ≥ 75% of projected fantasy points
Loss: Player produces >75% of projected fantasy points
Tie: Player is ejected or leaves with an injury
Here I sit, 2-6 with four bad beats and consecutive whiffs leading up to Week 9. This must be how the New York Giants or Washington Football Team feel … there’s a creeping sense of hopelessness and despair. That is, until I remember back to what I personally would say was my finest fantasy football season yet.
Picture it … San Diego, 2012 … my fantasy team sported a thoroughly embarrassing 2-5 record, residing in last place. I decided it was time to completely rebuild around two key pieces, so four trades later, I had acquired Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.
In Week 8, I squeaked out a victory by fewer than three points to get to 3-5. Week 9 saw me blow out my opponent by 43 and inch closer to 0.500. The next week, Stafford and Megatron combined for 65.45 points, and I scored 185, rattling off my third straight win to get back to even in the W-L department. I knew the team was something special at that point. I’ll spare you the week-to-week recap from there, but suffice it to say, that team never lost another game.
Goonies never say die.
Each week, when narrowing my player choice for this spot, one thing always becomes a factor … do I play is safe and recommend a player with an easier chance of meeting the expectations, or do I swing for the fences. In other words, there’s always a measure of risk one has to weigh on the proverbial scale of difficulty.
This week, maybe I’m on tilt, but something about this situation has me feeling it a little more than the others I assessed.
QB Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs
The controversial news surrounding Aaron Rodgers being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list makes for endless TV banter, but what intrigues me the most is finally getting to see Love start a meaningful game. Not just a regular-season contest but one that has huge implications for both franchises.
Nerves will be a factor, and mistakes will be made, but as 2019 Jameis Winston taught us, if at first you throw 30 interceptions, try, try and try again, because eventually you’ll toss 33 touchdowns … or something like that. The point is, even through a ridiculous number of errors, Winston still finished as the QB2 overall that year. It wasn’t pretty, but he still did it. The same kind of situation happened back in 2006 with Jon Kitna … in fact, he threw more picks that scores and still finished QB3.
Why do I bring up those players? Well, Love’s situation could play out in a similar way, albeit just in a single-game microcosm. The Packers will need to throw to keep pace with KC, and this one is at Arrowhead, so we all know how that can go for an inexperience passer. Playing him in fantasy requires the acceptance of mistakes.
Love is in an interesting situation … if he’s awful, no big deal. Rodgers put him in this situation, right? If he’s awesome, the conversations begin about whether the Packers should expedite the heir-apparent situation. Sounds crazy? Maybe. We can revisit if he wins and plays well. And, don’t discount the idea there could be some kind of sanction against No. 12 that winds up costing him games.
The Packers get Davante Adams and Allen Lazard back from the COVID-19 list, a week after losing tight end Robert Tonyan to a torn ACL. There’s some merit to the idea Lazard could be utilized in that Tonyan role as a quasi-tight end/WR hybrid out of the slot. They’re the same height, close enough in weight that it’s irrelevant, and Lazard is a capable blocker. All of that only holds true of Marquez Valdes-Scantling (hamstring) is activated for the game. If not, Lazard stays at wide receiver and the offense chugs along. We cannot forget Randall Cobb coming off a two-score game in Adams’ absence, showing the vet still can run a quality route and work a less savvy defensive back.
The Chiefs, for their part in this situation, have allowed every quarterback but Baker Mayfield (Week 1) and Taylor Heinicke (Week 7) to score 20-plus fantasy points in 2021. We’ve seen Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen and Ryan Tannehill all go for north of 24 points, with all but the Tennessee quarterback fitting into the 30- to 39-point range.
What do they have in common with Love? Mobility. He’s not going to get confused with Lamar in the open field, but the two most common traits to appear on any of his college scouting reports were arm strength and mobility. The Rodgers variety — move around in the pocket, buy extra time as the play breaks down, and wait for a receiver to get open. Kind of like what we see from Herbert and Daniel Jones, who managed 222-2-1 last week with a few Pop Warner wide receivers at his disposal.
Now, Matt LaFleur could derail my entire logic train right off the tracks by forcing Love into being a game manager and handing off the ball 40 times in effort to keep Patrick Mahomes on the sideline and prevent his own QB from making mistakes. That is entirely possible. Precisely, this is the top area of concern for me. It’s not that Love hasn’t started a regular-season game before or that it’s on the road in a hostile environment. It’s that knowing exactly how a coach will chose to operate is more art than science, unless we’re talking about Jeff Fisher. That dude was as predictable as the sun rising.
So, if you’re in a tough spot with Tom Brady on a bye, Rodgers watching from quarantine, Russell Wilson still hurt and on a bye, or any number of the other reasons why your QB situation has induced a stream of expletives flowing freely, all you need is a little Love in Week 9.
My projection: 272 passing yards, 30 rushing yards, 2 TD passes, 1 INT (23.6 fantasy points)