It’s hard to believe we are through nine weeks of the NFL season, and of course there is plenty to discuss in fantasy football.
Each Tuesday and Saturday during the season, ESPN fantasy analyst Eric Moody will ask our NFL Nation reporters the most pressing questions heading into the weekend and what to make of the fallout after games are played. Who is primed for a big performance, who is impacted by injuries, what roles might change? Here’s what our crew had to say about some of the biggest storylines heading into Week 10.
What should we expect from Kyler Murray in his season debut and James Conner in his return from IR?
Murray wants to be his old self, but how long will that take him to get there is yet to be seen. There’ll likely be glimpses of the dynamic Murray once he gets comfortable on the field, but his arm will most likely be utilized more so Sunday against the Falcons. One big, highlight-worthy play with his legs won’t be a surprise. There hasn’t been word yet if Conner will play yet Sunday. — Josh Weinfuss
Is there any reason to expect an increase in production for New England Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson in the season’s second half?
The Patriots have been so inconsistent on offense that it is hard to decisively say that Stevenson will increase his production over the second half of the season. But as his 64-yard TD run last week showed, the potential is there, and one key will be if the same offensive line can play together more consistently. The Patriots have had seven different offensive-line configurations in their 2-7 start, primarily due to injuries. — Mike Reiss
How will Lions backfield shake out with David Montgomery back?
Field Yates goes through the numbers as who might get more snaps between Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery.
How will the Detroit Lions split the backfield touches between David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs?
With Montgomery missing the past two games with a rib injury, the rookie Gibbs has continued to get better. Ahead of the bye week, he exploded for a career best 152 rushing yards on “Monday Night Football” against the Las Vegas Raiders, but with Montgomery returning, the coaching staff will try to divide the workload. But whoever has the hot hand will likely get the majority of touches. Detroit may even experiment with both backs on the field at the same time, utilizing Gibbs’ versatility in the slot from the backfield, and as he keeps learning and growing, the opportunities are endless, according to Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. “They both have proven worthy of it,” Johnson said during Thursday’s practice. “I was talking to the skill guys earlier this week; it’s a good problem to have right now, having some mouths to feed.” — Eric Woodyard
Should fantasy managers be concerned about Josh Allen’s right shoulder injury?
Not so much. This is trending in a positive direction. Allen was a full participant in practice Thursday and Friday, which is a change from the week prior when the team limited him and held him out of the first of practice of the week to give his shoulder rest. Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey said that last week against the Bengals, “We were a little bit more vertical at times than we had been in the past because we felt good where Josh’s shoulder was at, and he felt comfortable with it,” in addition to Allen running the ball a season-high eight times vs. the Bengals. The concern should be lessened here. — Alaina Getzenberg
How will injuries to Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins affect the Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive approach?
It’s hard to have a crystal ball to see what coach Zac Taylor will do with the injury situation. Higgins definitely isn’t playing because of a hamstring injury. While Chase is questionable with a back injury, he was optimistic about playing against Houston and looked good at Friday’s practice. Fantasy managers in deep leagues who need a receiver in a pinch could start Trenton Irwin and Andrei Iosivas. Irwin has seen his target share increase whenever one of the top receivers is injured. Meanwhile, Iosivas has developed trust with Burrow and presents a boom-or-bust option as a big red zone target. — Ben Baby
Should fantasy managers be worried about Pittsburgh Steelers WR George Pickens, considering his recent performances?
It’s hard to say, but my general rule of thumb is to be wary of any Steelers offensive player — especially the wide receivers. With the inconsistencies on offense, the skill players have been very boom or bust. Defenses are doubling Pickens, and his numbers have dipped with the return of Diontae Johnson. But it’s a good bet that the Steelers will try to reassure Pickens that he’s a big part of their plans against the Packers and target him early and often. — Brooke Pryor