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Week 9 Trending Players: Who’s Up, Who’s Down?

Eight weeks of football are in the books and now we’ve really collected mostly all of the data points needed to make informed decisions. It’s virtually impossible to watch every second of every game, so naturally, there are things that you miss from week to week. This article aims to name mostly under-the-radar, mid-tier, but fantasy-relevant players that are trending up or trending down. You’ll never see me mention that Cooper Kupp is trending up because that’s a headline you can read just about anywhere. You’ll also never see me slap a player like Matt Breida with a “trending down” label, because (with all due respect) who cares? But you will see me hold “star” players to a higher standard by occasionally featuring them in the trending down category. The underlying purpose of this article is to identify rising players before they become popular waiver wire adds.

Trending Up

Jeff Wilson Jr. – RB, Miami Dolphins

This season has been a roller coaster ride for Jeff Wilson. He began the year as the number two option behind Eli Mitchell before an injury thrust him into a lead role. Wilson fought off promising rookies and familiar veterans to the tune of 468 yards and 2 TDs on 92 carries. Unfortunately, after a down game of 7 touches for 25 yards and a fumble, the 49ers began to look elsewhere to get the job done. The signing of Christian McCaffrey pretty much spelled the end of Wilson’s usage in San Francisco. To be fair, the Niners were a little hasty in seeking out a replacement, Wilson had played relatively well in relief, but you also don’t pass on a player like Christian McCaffrey.

Wilson has the benefit of joining a backfield that uses a system that he is already familiar with. In fact, this really is a reunion on a couple of different levels. Wilson gets his old coach back in Mike McDaniel who served as Kyle Shanahan’s assistant in San Francisco,  he’s also reuniting with his former running mate. It wasn’t too long ago that the Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert shared a backfield. In San Francisco before the birth of Eli Mitchell, Wilson and Mostert mixed in well with each other. Wilson would ultimately come out on top, largely due to injuries to Mostert. The same Raheem Mostert who has already popped on the injury report with a knee multiple times this season. Wilson is trending up, he would own this backfield if Raheem were to miss any time.

Antonio Gibson – RB, Washington Commanders

I can’t be the only one who thought that Antonio Gibson was dead and gone. Gibson had been trending in the wrong direction for some time. He went from playing 64% of snaps in Week 1 to seeing an all-season low 26% in Week 6. I believe that the injuries to J.D. McKissic played a large role in him getting the opportunity to re-emerge, but at the end of the day Gibson has been making the plays to keep himself on the field. Gibson’s success of late has nothing to do with his playing time either. In the last two weeks where he’s scored 15+ fantasy points, he was only on the field for 39% and 36% of his team’s offensive plays. Gibson’s benching must have lit a fire underneath him because his efficiency has been pretty impressive.

In Week 7 Gibson totaled 59 yards on just 10 carries, he didn’t find the end zone on the ground. Gibson, however, did come back alive in the passing game. He caught three of four targets for 18 yards and a touchdown. Week 8 was much more impressive through the air. Gibson caught all seven targets for 58 yards and another score. He was less efficient on the ground with only 19 yards on 7 carries, but its nice to see him get even that much work. Brian Robinson is still the lead back and will dominate early down carries, but Robinson is very game-script dependent. For instance, this week when Kirk Cousins puts up 350 passing yards and four touchdowns, Brian Robinson isn’t going to see much playing time. It will be Antonio Gibson on the field, being peppered out of the backfield.

JaMychal Hasty – RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

The stellar play of running back Travis Etienne made it okay for the Jaguars to trade James Robinson to the New York Jets. Naturally and deservingly, everyone is talking about how Etienne has entered RB1 territory. People are also reasonably concerned about the effect of Robinson’s presence in New York in regard to Michael Carter. But nobody, and I mean nobody is talking about the newfound opportunity that JaMychal now has in front of him. The chance to become the esteemed number two running back of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The only crappy thing about being the number two running back in Jacksonville is that you’ll be firmly entrenched behind a three-down back.

Travis Etienne has shown that he is capable of handling every-down duties. He is game script-proof. If the Jags are ahead on the scoreboard then Travis will get a ton of carries as the team attempts to milk the clock. If the Jags are down big, then Travis will be super busy in the passing game. No matter what, Travis will be busy. So how does this benefit Hasty at all? Travis Etienne happens to be a human being who needs a breather just like everybody else. Especially considering that he isn’t a big bruising back by any means. The more Etienne is used, the more Hasty will spell him. Hasty has shown homerun ability, he had a long scamper in Week 6 scoring a touchdown on the ground in Indy. With Etienne super busy last week, Hasty fell into 4 carries and another 4 targets. Hasty is trending up for as long as Etienne is trending up.

Trending Down

Courtland Sutton – WR, Denver Broncos

Well, things started off alright. For a while there it looked like Courtland Sutton was the preferred target of Russell Wilson. And for a while it looked like that would even matter if were true. The Broncos’ offense continues to look absolutely terrible. Losing Javonte Williams exposed the shortcomings that this team has on offense. Russell Wilson is no gunslinger, so without a running game to piggy-back off of this team will be in for a long second half if they can’t find a spark. I believe that Chase Edmonds could be that spark, he’ll represent another player that Wilson can throw the ball to instead of Sutton. Courtland has been trending down for several weeks now. His only saving grace is that through his struggles his playing time has not been affected.

When the quarterback comes out before the game stating that they want to get a player more involved and then said player ends that game with one catch for 13 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars, it is time to freak out. That’s exactly what happened last week in Jacksonville. Sutton played 95% of snaps and was only able to reel in one catch on four targets. Just four targets, so much for trying to get him involved. Greg Dulcich had a great day and Jerry Jeudy showed out. When you only contribute 14 yard and your team still wins, do they even need you?

Michael Carter – RB, New York Jets

I’ve already touched on it. James Robinson is a New York. While his debut left a ton of meat on the bone, I believe that Robinson will be the clear leader of this backfield by the end of the season. When Breece Hall went down with a season-ending ACL injury it gave Michael Carter the chance to step up and be the guy for his team. His only real competition at the time was pass-catching back Ty Johnson. So needless to say, the sky was the limit. Unfortunately for Carter, he didn’t carpe diem. Instead, he left the door open for another back to come in.

In the first full game without Breece Hall, Michael Carter only received seven carries, which he turned into just 26 yards. He was more effective in the passing game, turning in a 4-35-0 line on seven targets. This is a team that already knows what they have in Carter. The second-year back played in 14 games last season, rushing for over 100 yards in only a single game (Week 16 vs. JAC). The acquisition of Robinson sucks for Carter, but it is great for the team’s future. When Hall is healthy they’ll have the best running back tandem in the NFL. Michael Carter is trending down, his stock is free-falling with no signs of pulling up.

AJ Dillon – RB, Green Bay Packers

It’s funny. This season, due to the lack of qualified pass catchers, the Packers have been forced to evolve into a semi-run first offense. That’s not the funny part, obviously. The funny part is that in spite of this, AJ Dillon really hasn’t done squat this season. If he is still on your redraft roster it is simply because of name value and the fact that he’s one of the best handcuffs to own. But that’s just the thing. AJ Dillon was never supposed to be a handcuff this season. He was projected to split the backfield work 50-50. It pretty much went that way through the first four weeks of the season, but the last four weeks have told a different story.

After snap counts of 51%, 57%, 53%, and 58% in the first four weeks, Dillon has seen a decline in the last four weeks, playing in only 32%, 49%, 30%, and most recently, 42% of snaps. The move away from AJ is a bit puzzling because he was actually enjoying a solid start to the season. The lack of usage is the main reason that Dillon is trending down. You can point to game script as a reason for Dillon’s lack of playing time, but he’s not been on the field in neutral game scripts. Alas, AJ Dillon will likely be in next week’s slump-buster section of this article. The Packers get a dream matchup against the Lions next week, they very weak against the run. A struggling Packer squad should come out and run the air of the ball tomorrow, so Dillon’s usage here will be very telling.

Slump Buster

Romeo Doubs – WR, Green Bay Packers

It seems that every week I mention a player in my trending down section and one of them blows up the next week. So I thought that it was only fair that I give them a shout-out for their bounce-back performance and making me look dumb. This week Romeo Doubs gets his flowers.

In my defense, when I tagged Doubs as “trending down” last week I also said, “Romeo Doubs will probably be featured in the “Slump Buster” section of this article next week.” I knew that a lopsided matchup against the Bills paired with Allen Lazard’s absence would lead to a big day for the rookie. Romeo ended the game with four receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. I think it suffices to say that this performance snaps his three-week rough patch. Welcome back Romeo Doubs.

More Week 1 Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | Flex Rankings

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