Finally, one of the players that screamed buy low amongst the leaders in high-value touches rewarded fantasy managers. That’s none other than Bengals RB Joe Mixon, who posted a historical performance as one of the only two players with more than 40 fantasy points in PPR leagues in a single half since 2018. Mixon became the 13th player with more than 40 PPR in two or more games since 2018, per TruMediaSports.
I examine the rushing and receiving data in the red zone, goal-to-go and third/fourth down situations to find players over or underperforming based on their usage and opportunities. Based on the high-value touches and opportunities, we’ll identify potential buys and sells, plus players that warrant more attention, given their underlying metrics. That said, let’s dive into the Week 9 high-value touch report.
High-Value Touches: Season-Long Red Zone Rushing
The Mixon regression finally came with four touchdowns in the first half against the Panthers. Mixon had seven rushing attempts in the red zone, tied with Jaguars RB Travis Etienne for second-most in Week 9 before Monday night. Seahawks rookie RB Kenneth Walker led all players with nine carries.
On Monday night, Kenyan Drake snuck in with seven red zone carries for two rushing touchdowns, though the second came after a Ravens interception. Then the Ravens fed Drake the rock for three straight carries pushing their lead to 27 to 6.
On the season, Mixon ranked first amongst all rushers with 30 carries in the red zone and went from two rushing touchdowns to six. Heading into Week 9, Mixon ranked second in estimated points per game (19.2), given the high-value touches and role in their offense. However, he had a career-worst -4.6 fantasy points over expected per game (FPOE/G) (No. 121), and his efficiency should spike after Week 9. Walker and Etienne continue their dominance amongst the studs atop the high-value touches leaderboards in the red zone.
Unlike Mixon, Lions RB Jamaal Williams couldn’t punch in a rushing touchdown with five red zone carries in Week 9. Among running backs with 20 attempts in the red zone, Williams has the third-fewest carries per touchdown behind Titans RB Derrick Henry and Browns RB Nick Chubb.
For context, Williams averaged 2.4 FPOE/G (No. 20) heading into Week 9 with the 18th-best EP/G. Meanwhile, Henry ranks sixth in EP/G (17.4) and 10th in FPOE/G (3.4) versus Chubb’s 14.2 EP/G (No. 13) and first in FPOE/G (6.1). While Williams isn’t a complete sell with the sixth-most carries in the red zone, we expected touchdown regression.
High-Value Opportunities: Season-Long Red Zone Receiving
In Week 9, it’s a strange group of receivers with the most high-value opportunities in the red zone. Falcons WR Drake London led with five, with Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman at four and five other players with three targets.
A duo of teammates in Packers WRs Sammy Watkins and Allen Lazard, plus Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson and WR Justin Jefferson, made the list. It’s an odd list because Lazard and Hardman might be the most intriguing outside of the must-start options in Jefferson and Hockenson.
On the season, Lazard and Hockenson are tied for 15th with 10 high-value opportunities in the red zone. The Packers continue to lose pass catchers to injury after Romeo Doubs left Sunday’s game and will miss time with an ankle injury.
Meanwhile, Hockenson garnered the second-most Vikings targets (nine) in his debut. Monitor Hockenson’s usage because he tied Adam Thielen in red zone receiving opportunities, which could continue, making Thielen someone to fade.
Although Chargers RB Austin Ekeler caught both of his targets in the red zone for -6 receiving yards, he’s the only running back with 10 or more receiving opportunities. The rest of the high-value opportunity leaders include receivers and tight ends.
Unfortunately, the Chargers’ offense hasn’t played to expectations due to injuries since they rank 17th in total offensive EPA/G, per TruMediaSports. They rank between the Lions and Bears, which isn’t what fantasy managers signed up for. But Keenan Allen, Justin Herbert, and Mike Williams battling injuries haven’t helped.
Red Zone Usage For Kansas City’s Receivers
Let’s discuss the top-two Chiefs’ receivers: JuJu Smith-Schuster and Hardman. Smith-Schuster garnered 11 targets in the red zone with Hardman at 10, but Hardman scored four touchdowns with Smith-Schuster at zero. Touchdown regression should be coming for Smith-Schuster, but it’s challenging when TE Travis Kelce remains the league leader in red zone targets at 16 with seven scores.
Typically, Hardman ranks highly in the efficiency metrics, with the 15th-highest FPOE/G (3.2) heading into Week 9. With Hardman’s game-breaking speed and quality usage during the past few weeks, he might be more than a bye-week filler, so hold or add where available.
High-Value Touches: Goal-To-Go Rushing
Eagles RB Miles Sanders and Mixon tied for first with four high-value touches in goal-to-go situations in Week 9. Sanders scored one touchdown, with Mixon punching in three. Week 9 was a welcome-back party for Falcons RB Cordarrelle Patterson, who scored two touchdowns in three goal-to-go carries after missing four weeks with a knee injury.
Patterson ran hard against a Chargers defense, which ranks 29th with -5.0 total defensive rush EPA/G.
Monitor J.D. McKissic‘s neck injury since Gibson should take on the backfield receiving opportunities if Mckissic misses time. However, tread with caution because the Washington Commanders rank 29th in total offensive EPA/G, meaning it’s a dreadful overall offense.
While only Robinson garnered a carry in Week 9, Wilson and Robinson each scored a touchdown. In Wilson’s debut with Miami, he tied Raheem Mostert in carries (50% team rush share) but bested him in rushing yards (51 to 26). Wilson also caught all three of his targets for 21 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown, with Mostert coming up empty on two targets. After Mostert’s stock rose, it took a hit after Wilson joined the Dolphins. Keep an eye on the Dolphins’ backfield usage because Wilson might be what I expected out of Chase Edmonds (traded away in Bradley Chubb deal) before the season.
High-Value Opportunities: Goal-To-Go Receiving
We highlighted Ekeler earlier in the high-value touches section for the red zone, and it turned out both his targets came in goal-to-go situations in Week 9.
Seahawks WR DK Metcalf, Jaguars WR Christian Kirk, Ekeler, London and Buccaneers TE Cade Otton tied for two high-value opportunities in goal-to-go situations, with London as the only player that didn’t score. On the season, Ekeler tied for third with eight goal-to-go targets and is the only running back with more than five.
Although Jets rookie WR Garrett Wilson garnered zero goal-to-go targets, I highlighted Wilson as a player to buy last week. Against the Bills, Wilson garnered a 37.5% target share (No. 2) with 92 receiving yards (No. 10). With the Jets heading into their Week 10 bye, Wilson serves as a must-start option in most formats, especially with Jets QB Zach Wilson looking his way.
Continue to buy high on Garrett Wilson in redraft and dynasty formats with his high-end talent and lack of pass-catching options. Plus, the Jets’ other young, talented WR, Elijah Moore, is in a rough spot given his lack of usage and trade request.
Don’t worry about Jefferson, but Harris’s usage seems fluky, with Rhamondre Stevenson dominating. Heading into Week 9, Stevenson garnered a 49% rush share and 16% target share versus Harris’s 35% rush share and 7% target share.
Be patient with Everett. However, it’s hard to have confidence in any Rams player except WR Cooper Kupp since the Rams rank 28th in offensive EPA/G.
Third & Fourth Down Receiving Opportunities
Buccaneers WR Mike Evans garnered seven targets on third and fourth down in Week 9, with Hardman in second with six. Hardman surfaced again after receiving a decent chunk of high-value opportunities in the red zone. Unsurprisingly, the Chiefs ran the most plays (68), with the Buccaneers finishing second with 58. Evans and Hardman benefited from the added volume.
Two former Ohio State Buckeyes inside the top 10 of the high-value touch leaderboards in third and fourth down targets. Saints WR Chris Olave ranks first, and Garrett Wilson tied for sixth. Both sit amongst the elite group.
Though the Saints and Jets have shaky quarterback situations, Zach Wilson and Andy Dalton lean on the rookies during crucial situations. It’s beautiful to find Garrett Wilson ranking highly in targets in the red zone and third and fourth downs.
With the Steelers dealing Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears, the passing offense probably becomes more concentrated between Diontae Johnson, rookie WR George Pickens and the other pass catchers. Amongst the receiver leaders in EP/G, Johnson ranks 11th but last in FPOE/G, indicating a lack of efficiency. Only Johnson, 49ers WR Deebo Samuel and Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin average more than -2 FPOE/G but rank inside the top 12 in EP/G. Buy low on those receivers, but prioritize Godwin, Samuel, and Johnson.
Breaking Down Chargers WRs Palmer & Carter
The Chargers returned from their bye week without Allen and Williams. With that, Josh Palmer and DeAndre Carter served as their top two receivers against the Falcons. Amongst receivers with five targets, Palmer garnered a 23.3% target share (No. 19) and a 39.8% air yards share (No. 12).
Meanwhile, Carter posted a respectable 14% target share (No. 42) and 29.5% air yards share (No. 21). Carter ran 23 routes (No. 11) out of the slot, with Palmer at 13 (No. 33).
Although Carter played a ton out of the slot, he boasted 18.3 air yards per target (No. 6) amongst slot receivers and 11.8 AY/T (No. 20) overall. Herbert needs more explosive playmakers. His 6.5 adjusted yards per attempt is down from 7.6 in 2020 and 2021. Furthermore, the Chargers’ receivers rank second to last with 6.2 air yards per target.
With Williams likely out and Allen’s uncertain injury status for Week 10, Palmer is a must-start option as a WR2 with upside. Add and stash Carter in deeper formats since he could be viable as a WR3 or WR4 with down-the-field opportunities.
WATCH MORE: Week 9 Fantasy Football Takeaways