The Eagles kicked off Week 9 in the NFL with a win over the Texans to push their record to 8-0, and now we move on to a light weekend slate that has six teams on the bye. Hopefully, you’ve filled any roster holes on your fantasy squad already, and are ready to focus on the weekend betting slate.
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Miami Dolphins at Chicago Bears
Justin Fields, CHI, Over 49.5 Rushing Yards (Model Projection: 55.6)
Tyreek Hill, MIA, TD Scorer, +100 (Model Projection: 0.6)
Justin Fields has flipped his narrative over the past two weeks, but he had been a decent bet to top 49.5 rushing yards even before he was unleashed in the quarterback run game against New England. Fields’ lowest rushing total since Week 2 is 47 yards, and he has posted at least 60 yards and a touchdown in each of the last two games. Throw in the fact that the wind may be a significant factor on Sunday, and I like Fields to top his rushing yards total.
On the other side, Tyreek Hill, who leads the NFL with 961 receiving yards, has just two receiving touchdowns, well behind Travis Kelce and Stefon Diggs’ NFL-leading mark of six, and his teammates, Jaylen Waddle (five) and Mike Gesicki (four). Things are going to even out for Hill sooner or later, and even if the wind is going, look for Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel to scheme Hill open on some looks, and for the touchdown luck to break his way.
Minnesota Vikings at Washington Commanders
Kirk Cousins, MIN, Over 1.5 Pass TDs, -125 (Model Projection: 2.3)
T.J. Hockenson, MIN, TD Scorer, +205 (Model Projection: 0.4)
With the addition of tight end T.J. Hockenson to the Minnesota offense, it would be difficult for quarterback Kirk Cousins to ask for much more help. Cousins already had Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, and Adam Thielen in the mix, and now that Hockenson is in a more functional offense, NFL fans will get to see the ceiling on the multi-talented tight end.
Hockenson may not play his usual number of snaps in his first outing, but I anticipate that the Vikings will get him incorporated for some of their red zone packages ahead of this weekend’s trip to Washington. Look for Cousins to toss at least two scores in his revenge game, and for Hockenson to be on the receiving end of one.
Carolina Panthers at Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Mixon, CIN, Under 66.5 Rushing Yds, -115 (Model Projection: 61.4)
Joe Mixon’s volume continues to be relatively high, but he has only topped 65 yards in two games this season, and he averaged 3.0 yards per carry in one of those games, racking up 82 yards on 27 carries in a Week 1 overtime loss to the Steelers. Things aren’t likely to get easier against a Carolina front that features several talented players, led by Brian Burns, who could be the latest edge rusher to take advantage of Cincinnati’s offensive line.
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
Geno Smith, SEA, Over 1.5 Pass TDs, -130 (Model Projection: 1.9)
Kenneth Walker III, SEA, Over 71.5 Rushing Yards, -130 (Model Projection: 74.8)
DeAndre Hopkins, ARI, Over 83.5 Receiving Yards, -115 (Model Projection: 90.4), TD Scorer, +105 (Model Projection: 0.7)
The Seahawks and Cardinals played a low-scoring game the first time around, but Arizona has DeAndre Hopkins for this one, and while rookie Tariq Woolen will likely get his share of wins if lined up on “Nuk”, it’s difficult to imagine anyone completely containing Hopkins with the way he’s come out of the gate (262 yards in two games since returning from suspension). The matchup with Woolen, which is likely to take place given that Hopkins’ default alignment is left receiver and Woolen’s is (defensive) right corner, should be outstanding, but look for Hopkins to top his receiving yards total for the third straight week and to get into the endzone for the second consecutive game.
On the other side, Kenneth Walker took 21 carries for 97 yards in the first matchup, and the MSU product should be expected to continue carrying a significant load. Geno Smith isn’t likely to throw any touchdowns Walker’s way, given that the rookie has been used almost exclusively as a ball carrier, but Smith seems primed to continue dropping dimes to DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Marquise Goodwin.
Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Matthew Stafford, LAR, Over 0.5 INTs, -105 (Model Projection: 0.6)
To round out the bets, we’ll take Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford to throw an interception. Stafford, who is second in the NFL in interceptions, needs at least one pick to tie the now-benched Matt Ryan for the league lead.
Stafford does have competition for the season-long lead – he is tied with Houston’s Davis Mills and Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett – but the Texans already played, and the Steelers are on a bye, setting Stafford up with a prime opportunity to take the outright lead coming out of the Week 9 in the NFL.
It is a long ways from where the Rams were a year ago, though Stafford’s interceptions remained an issue during their championship season. It helps the Rams that the Bucs lost pass rusher Shaq Barrett for the year, but with a beat-up Cooper Kupp and iffy weapons behind him, Stafford is a solid bet to turn the ball over again.
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Steven Clinton, better known as "The Professor", is a former D-1 Quality Control Assistant (Northwestern, Toledo) who holds a B.A. in Economics and M.S. in Predictive Analytics from Northwestern University. He maintains an end-to-end NFL game projection model and is a film junkie who breaks down the tape of every NFL game.