SEC in Fantasy, Week 9: Cam bounces back

Cam Newton and the Patriots were struggling mightily. While the win over the Jets was much closer than expected, No. 1 looked like his old self again.

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Not a single soul was within twenty feet of Jakobi Meyers.

The snap hit Cam’s hands with eight seconds left in the game; his pass hit those of the wide-open Meyers with just four remaining.

The quarterback’s look off left and ever-so-subtle pump fake was enough to occupy the attention of the bailing safety, move the underneath zone-covering linebacker left, and allow his favorite target, who he had already connected with 11 times on the night to break in from the right boundary to the inside of the numbers and sit down in a huge halo of space. Number 12 won the Newton, Meyers, and the rest of the Patriots an absolute must-win divisional game versus the winless Jets on Monday Night Football.

Up until that point of the night, the story of the game was clearly Joe Flacco. Stepping in for the injured Sam Darnold, Flacco had thrown for 262 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to Breshad Perriman. But it was Flacco’s poorly thrown go-route interception on the Jets’ first play from scrimmage with six minutes to go that led to the Patriots tying the game at 27 just after the two-minute warning.

That is something Newton and the Patriots did not do for the first time all season — turn the ball over. It’s no secret that the turnover bug had been plaguing New England every single week. Last week, Newton managed to rid himself of his interception woes. After throwing a total of five in the span of two previous weeks, Cam kept a clean sheet through the air in Buffalo in Week 8. However, he coughed up the football in the red zone on a potential game-winning drive against the Bills, costing his team a chance to get back in the win column against the AFC East leaders a week ago.

So when Newton found himself in a similar situation on Monday night with the critical eye of the nation examining his every move, he couldn’t let it get away.

So with the game in the balance and just eight seconds showing on the scoreboard within the strangely barren MetLife Stadium, Cam shifted his eyes, moved the defense and relied on former NC State quarterback turned wide receiver, Jakobi Meyers, to break in to the similarly vacant zone of the secondary. Meyers did and Cam spun one of his patented full-effort heaves into his arms at the Jets 33 yard line — a 22-yard hookup that had them within Nick Folk’s target field goal range of just over 50 yards.

Gunner Olszewski furiously signaled for the timeout, which was granted with three seconds to go. Newton had done his job. Safely and swiftly, he had gotten the New England offense 45 yards down the field in 44 seconds. Three seconds later, the right foot of Nick Folk had sent the football through the uprights and the Jets to its first 0-9 start in franchise history.

Newton’s final stat line was quite impressive, completing 27 of 35 passes (the 8th incompletion was a spike the play prior to the big throw to Meyers) for 274 yards. Though he did go a fourth consecutive game without throwing a touchdown pass, Newton found his way into the end zone twice as a ball carrier. Overall, it was 290 yards of total offense, two touchdowns, and most importantly to Cam and the Patriots a third line in the win column.

With Cam’s bounce-back performance accounted for, let’s take a close look at the rest of the action from the SEC this week:

Alabama

QB: Tua Tagovailoa (Dolphins) – 21.4

RB: Josh Jacobs (Raiders) - 13.3

RB: Damien Harris (Patriots) – 7.1

WR: Jerry Jeudy (Broncos) – 22

WR: Julio Jones (Falcons) - 13.9

TE: Irv Smith Jr. (Vikings) – 14

FLEX: Cam Sims (Football Team) - 12.5

TOTAL = 104.2

Tasked with a more pivotal role in his second career start, Tua flashed some of the “throw on the go” talent that made him a top five pick. His throwing accuracy, touch, and mobility were on full display throughout critical moments on the road in Arizona. Finishing 20-28 for 248 yards with two passing touchdowns and running seven times for 35 yards, Tagovailoa shook off a lackluster debut and led the Fins to an impressive upset win over the formerly 5-2 Cardinals.

For the first time this season, Josh Jacobs outscored Damien Harris in a week both were active. Jacobs took 14 carries for 65 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, and caught a pass for three yards. Harris was in the middle of another impressive showing on Monday night until a brutal collision in the fourth quarter took him off the field for the remainder of the game, ending with 14 carries for 71 yards.

Raise your hand if you had Jerry Jeudy racking up twice the number of targets and outproducing Julio Jones in Atlanta this weekend. Easily the best game of his rookie season, Jeudy set career highs in targets (14), receptions (7), and yards (125), adding a score to a tremendous stat line. That Jeudy touchdown was an immediate answer to Julio’s third score of the season - a WIDE open corner route to the end zone. Though it wasn’t the huge game many predicted going in for Jones, he brought in five of his seven targets for 54 yards.

Irv Smith Jr. doubled his career touchdown total in Minnesota. The second year pro made both of his Week 9 catches count, reeling in a 9-yard touchdown catch in the late first quarter and a 1-yard touchdown grab in the middle of the third. Speaking of making your catches count, Cam Sims may have only caught three passes on Sunday but they went for 32, 45, and 33 yards. For those of us keeping count, that totals 110 yards. Pretty impressive for a receiver whose career high in yardage coming into the day was 22.

Arkansas

RB: Jonathan Williams (Lions) - 0

TE: Hunter Henry (Chargers) – 5.3

FLEX: Jeremy Sprinkle (Football Team) – 0

TOTAL = 5.3

Though Henry got three more targets than a week ago, the results were the very same - four catches, 33 yards. In his past five games, Henry is averaging 3.4 catches for 30.2 yards. Though consistent, this is not the kind of production his fantasy owners thought they were getting.

Auburn

QB: Cam Newton (Patriots) – 24.6

RB: Kerryon Johnson (Lions) – 8.0

RB: Peyton Barber (Football Team) - 0

WR: Darius Slayton (Giants) – 1.3

TE: C.J. Uzomah (Bengals) - INJ

FLEX: Chandler Cox (Dolphins) - 0

K: Daniel Carlson (Raiders) – 7

TOTAL = 40.9

What was shaping up to be a Week 7-like disaster for the Auburn alumni was saved by Cam’s much needed game-winning performance on Monday Night Football against the lowly Jets. Two short yardage rushing touchdowns, 274 passing yards, and 16 rushing yards racked up his best fantasy day since Week 2.

Kerryon Johnson saw his highest snap total of the season this weekend, and turned in a season-best 65 all-purpose yards. As you know, the backfield situation for this crew remains fluid — but with Peyton Barber getting one offensive snap and Chandler Cox recently receiving a healthy scratch, we’ll take the silver linings wherever they appear.

Darius Slayton’s fantasy production has taken a nosedive as the Giants receiving corps has gotten healthier. His one target, one catch, six yard game on Sunday is certainly the most alarming, but Slayton now has two catches or fewer in three of his past four outings.

Carlson welcomed the far milder conditions on Sunday with a perfect kicking line, drilling each of his four extra points and hitting what ultimately proved to be the game-winning field goal with 4:42 to go in a wild one in LA.

Florida

QB: Jeff Driskel (Broncos) - OUT

RB: La’Mical Perine (Jets) – 4.8

WR: Demarcus Robinson (Chiefs) – 8.9

WR: Brandon Powell (Falcons) - 7.8

TE: Trey Burton (Colts) – 1.1

FLEX: Jordan Reed (49ers) - 0.8

TOTAL = 23.4

It looks like Frank Gore is still the preferred back for the Jets, very impressive for a guy who was taken in the third round of the Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams draft. Until something changes we should expect La’Mical Perine to produce lines similar to his six carries for 19 yards, two catches for another 19 yards performance last night.

Demarcus Robinson was the leading Gator again in Week 9 with three catches for 34 yards and touchdown, but losing a fumble on the final play of the first half. Brandon Powell scored his first career touchdown on a 9-yard throw from Matt Ryan, and added a 4-yard rush.

Georgia

QB: Matthew Stafford (Lions) – 10.4

RB: Todd Gurley II (Falcons) – 12.5

RB: D’Andre Swift (Lions) – 11.2

WR: Isaiah McKenzie (Bills) - 9.1

WR: Chris Conley (Jaguars) - 8.7

TE: Isaac Nauta (Lions) – 0

FLEX: Mecole Hardman (Chiefs) - 6.3

K: Rodrigo Blankenship (Colts) - 5

TOTAL = 63.2

Stafford had a really tough week, unable to practice due to having high-risk close contact with a non-team member who tested positive for COVID-19. Though he was able to clear all isolation and testing protocols, Stafford’s performance on the field suffered, throwing multiple interceptions for the first time this year before having to be taken out of the game due to concussion concerns. For a second consecutive week, Stafford’s status for Sunday is in question and he will need to pass several tests during the week to rejoin his team in Week 10.

Gurley carried the ball 19 times for 53 yards and a touchdown, adding a couple of catches for two yards. Though his rushing efficiency is low (below 2.8 yards a carry in each of his last four games) TGII is still producing solid fantasy numbers due to being second in the League in rushing touchdowns. Though he did not score a touchdown, D’Andre Swift eclipsed the double-digit mark in fantasy production for the fourth time in his last five games, racking up 97 yards of total offense for the Lions.

The former Georgia receivers all took different paths to their fantasy output on Sunday. Isaiah McKenzie caught his lone target for a 25-yard touchdown from Josh Allen in the Bills win over the Seahawks, Chris Conley hauled in seven Jake Luton debut passes for 52 yards in Jacksonville. And Mecole Hardman had three catches for 48 yards, including back-to-back catches for six and 32 yards in the second quarter of the Chiefs narrow victory over Carolina.

After four consecutive weeks of double-digit kicking performances earlier in the year, Rodrigo Blankenship has now been short of that mark in three consecutive games.

Kentucky

RB: Benny Snell Jr. (Steelers) – 0.1

WR: Randall Cobb (Texans) – 3.6

WR: Lynn Bowden Jr. (Dolphins) - OUT

TOTAL = 3.7

Randall Cobb reeled in each of his three targets for 21 yards in the Texans win versus fellow AFC South cellar-dwellers, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

LSU

QB: Joe Burrow (Bengals) – BYE

RB: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Chiefs) – 10.9

RB: Leonard Fournette (Buccaneers) – 7.1

WR: D.J Chark (Jaguars) - 24.1

WR: Justin Jefferson (Vikings) – 7.9

TE: Foster Moreau (Raiders) – 0

FLEX: Russell Gage (Falcons) – 2.1

TOTAL = 52.1

We’ll start this off with the more impressive unit this week, the wide receivers. D.J. Chark got the day going in a big way, housing a 73-yard catch and run on the second pass of Jake Luton’s NFL career. The pair connected seven out of 12 times for a total of 146 yards, but failed to link up on the 2-point try at the end of regulation, costing them a chance at overtime. Though Justin Jefferson’s 64 yards led the Vikings in receiving by a considerable margin, he did get the benefit of a touchdown to boost his fantasy output this week. In fact, three of his past four games have ended with a mere total of three scoreless catches.

Splitting five rushes with five targets, CEH managed just 34 all-purpose yards for the Chiefs on Sunday. However, a 4-yard receiving touchdown in the third quarter gave Kansas City its first lead of the game, which they would not relinquish. Finally, in a game that saw the Bucs set an NFL record for fewest rushing attempts (5) of all-time, Leonard Fournette got one of those and managed to get back to the line of scrimmage. He did, however, haul in all six of his targets for 41 yards in the Sunday Night embarrassment at the hands of the divsion-rival Saints.

Mississippi State

QB: Dak Prescott (Cowboys) – INJ

TOTAL = 0

Isaiah Zuber went back to the practice squad and Jordan Thomas was cut this week, leaving Mississippi State with zero active offensive skill position players in the NFL at this time.

Missouri

QB: Drew Lock (Broncos) – 30.2

TE: Albert Okwuegbunam (Broncos) – 1.2

TOTAL = 31.4

Maybe this is just what he does. For the second week in a row, Drew Lock has waited until the fourth quarter to pop off. There is a strong case to be made that the defensive intensity has turned off considerably, allowing him to throw with a drastically higher efficiency than the other six quarters.

In both games, the Broncos have been trailing by multiple touchdowns headed into the final quarter and made a late push. In Week 8, one final throw as time expired was enough to beat the ever-heartbroken Chargers. This time, the Broncos’ final drive never got off the ground, resulting in a 4-and-out on its own 20 to seal a seven-point loss to the Falcons. Lock’s box score was 25-48 for 313 yards, an interception, seven rushes for 47 yards, and three total touchdowns.

Ole Miss

RB: Jordan Wilkins (Colts) – 4.8

WR: D.K. Metcalf (Seahawks) – 20.3

WR: A.J. Brown (Titans) – 18.1

TE: Evan Engram (Giants) – 13.3

FLEX: Dawson Knox (Bills) - 0

TOTAL = 56.5

The former Ole Miss pass-catchers had another strong weekend. D.K. and A.J. were both targeted nine times Sunday afternoon, and the results were similar. Metcalf caught seven of the nine thrown his way for 108 yards and a late 7-yard touchdown, while Brown caught just four of his passes but racked up 101 yards and a score thanks in large part to his first half 40-yard touchdown connection with Ryan Tannehill.

After an up-and-down start due to varying usage, Evan Engram has been steady in his past three weeks. A 16-yard touchdown catch helped shoot him into double figures for the first time this season.

South Carolina

RB: Mike Davis (Panthers) – 6.2

RB: Rico Dowdle (Cowboys) – 0

WR: Damiere Byrd (Patriots) – 9.0

WR: Bryan Edwards (Raiders) - 0

TE: Hayden Hurst (Falcons) – 9.7

FLEX: Jared Cook (Saints) - 2

K: Ryan Succop (Buccaneers) - 4

TOTAL = 30.9

Though a pre-game report of a “drive rotation” seemed to hint towards a bigger role for Mike Davis, he played less than a third of the offensive snaps and took just one hand-off on Sunday. He was able to be a factor in the passing game, catching five passes for 34 yards.

Damiere Byrd and Hayden Hurst had similar roles in their respective matchups. Hurst caught seven out of eight targets for 62 yards, while Damiere Byrd brought down five of his nine for 65 yards on Monday night.

A couple of unfortunate surprises this week for the Gamecocks on Sunday night. For starters, the Saints scored two touchdowns via goal-to-go passes to a tight end but neither of them went to Jared Cook. After being the All-SEC tight end for three consecutive active weeks, Cook was held to just two catches for 30 yards during Drew Brees’ offensive explosion. The second surprise was the fact that as a result of Tampa Bay getting their eyeballs pushed in, Ryan Succop was only able to attempt one face-saving field goal from 48 yards out with 5:57 to go in the game, which he hit for the only Bucs score of the night.

Tennessee

QB: Joshua Dobbs (Steelers) - OUT

RB: Alvin Kamara (Saints) – 13.4

RB: Jakob Johnson (Patriots) – 1.6

WR: Cordarrelle Patterson (Bears) – 6.0

WR: Marquez Callaway (Saints) - 2.1

TE: Luke Stocker (Falcons) - 1.7

FLEX: Jason Witten (Raiders) – 0.5

TOTAL = 25.3

As you can gather by now, Alvin Kamara’s services were not necessary in Week 9. Still, he managed a first half touchdown run, making his new 2020 floor game total 13.4 points.

Cordarrelle Patterson tied his season-high in fantasy scoring after catching all four of his intended passes for 27 yards and running the ball three times for 13 yards in the Bears Sunday afternoon loss. He remains a low-volume, do-it-all gadget for Matt Nagy.

Texas A&M

QB: Ryan Tannehill (Titans) – 14.6

RB: Cullen Gillaspia (Texans) - 0

RB: Trayveon Williams (Bengals) - BYE

WR: Christian Kirk (Cardinals) – 20.8

WR: Mike Evans (Buccaneers) – 8.4

TE: Jace Sternberger (Packers) – 0.6

FLEX: Josh Reynolds (Rams) – BYE

K: Josh Lambo (Jaguars) - 9

TOTAL = 52.8

Facing a strong Bears defense, Ryan Tannehill had an uncharacteristically inefficient afternoon. Completing just 10 of his 21 passes, Tannehill threw for a season-low 158 yards but managed to toss two touchdown passes, did not turn the ball over, and got the win. His 19-3 TD to INT ratio remains one of the best in the game.

Christian Kirk was supposed to be playing second fiddle to DeAndre Hopkins this season. Many fantasy experts argued for those who drafted Kirk to drop him and seek production on the waiver wire after a slow first two games preceded an “inactive due to injury” tag in Week 3. Since returning in Week 4, Kirk has six touchdowns to Hopkins’ two, including a 5-1 tally in the last three games. Sure, Nuk is likely going to get more targets and yards on a weekly basis (this is only the second time this season Kirk has led in both) but Kirk is finding the end zone at a much higher rate, making him 30 spots higher on the overall fantasy rankings since Week 5.

Josh Lambo returned to the Aggie list for the first time since Week 1 after hitting from 59 and 30 yards and splitting his extra point attempts, going 1-2 on Sunday. However, he reinjured his gluteus medius muscle again, putting him back on the injured reserve — this time, it will have to be for the remainder of the season.

Vanderbilt

RB: Khari Blasingame (Titans) – 0

RB: Ke’Shawn Vaughn (Buccaneers) - OUT

WR: Trent Sherfield (Cardinals) - 0

TOTAL = 0

Froot Loops or Cheerios?

FANTASY STANDINGS THROUGH WEEK 9

1. Alabama: 855 (last week - 1)

2. LSU: 691.2 (2)

3. Georgia: 690.6 (3)

4. Texas A&M: 531.3 (4)

5. South Carolina: 421.6 (5)

6. Auburn: 389.9 (6)

7. Ole Miss: 356.3 (7)

8. Tennessee: 272.1 (8)

9. Florida: 220.7 (9)

10. Mississippi State: 151.9 (10)

11. Missouri: 107 (12)

12. Kentucky: 96.9 (11)

13. Arkansas: 61 (13)

14. Vanderbilt: 16.4 (14)

WEEK 9 ALL-SEC FANTASY TEAM

QB: Drew Lock (Missouri/Broncos) – 30.2

RB: Alvin Kamara (Tennessee/Saints) – 13.4

RB: Josh Jacobs (Alabama/Raiders) – 13.3

WR: D.J. Chark (LSU/Jaguars) - 24.1

WR: D.K. Metcalf (Ole Miss/Seahawks) - 20.3

TE: Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama/Vikings) – 14.0

FLEX: A.J. Brown (Ole Miss/Titans) - 18.1

K: Josh Lambo (Texas A&M/Jaguars) – 9

TOTAL = 142.4

Somehow, despite his lowest turnout of the season at just 13.4 fantasy points, Alvin Kamara once again led the pack of SEC running backs. There is just no escaping it at this point. The man was on the field for just 51% of the Saints offensive snaps Sunday night, got single digit carries and targets, set a new scoring floor for the season, and STILL was the #1 back!

D.K. Metcalf is the only other returning All-SEC player from Week 8. His former teammate A.J. Brown and Josh Jacobs made the list for the third time this season. The number one SEC receiver of Week 9, D.J. Chark, is back for the first time since a similar output in Week 4.

Drew Lock, Irv Smith Jr., and Josh Lambo each receive All-SEC Fantasy Team honors for the first time this season. Lambo is the first non-tight end to make the list despite not reaching 10 points.

Missouri is quickly climbing the ranks, jumping a spot for the second consecutive week. As we said last week, if Drew Lock can continue his fiery fourth quarters or even extend some of that production into the previous three, Missouri will be a Top 10 SEC NFL fantasy team.

Just 0.6 points separates Georgia from LSU, but because Gurley and CEH are getting a week off, the quarterback situation will likely determine the ranking after Week 10. With Burrow’s BYE week in the rearview mirror and Stafford’s availability in question for the second week in a row, LSU should have an opportunity to put a little bit more space between itself and the Dawgs.

As for Auburn, the Tigers were able to get 10 points closer this weekend, and that was without the services of Barber and Parkey. With Cam facing a tough test on Sunday night against the Ravens, Auburn could really use more opportunity for its ancillary pieces to catch the Gamecocks and get back into the Top 5.

Check back in with us on Tuesday, as we go over all of the stories and fantasy scoring from the SEC in the NFL this season, right here on The Auburn Observer.

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