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5 must-read stats: Devin Funchess' time to shine

Happy Week 9!!

Each week I'll be giving you five stats to think about as you make your fantasy roster selections. I am also going to give you three high-ceiling picks at each position (QB, RB, WR, TE) and a kicker and defense that might be available to stream. I am trying to go outside the top few at each position and find some picks that could deliver exceptional value based on their matchup and opportunity (volume, game plan, projected final score). I'm going to try to avoid listing the players who are too obvious.

My goal is to help you think about edging out your opponents with a strong floor and exceptional upside picks. So, the "rules" for this article:

  1. Not super obvious.
    1. As exclusive as possible to this article.
    2. You give me feedback and we evolve it together. Twitter (@cfrelund) is the best for this, unless you are creepy then just stick to rules 1 and 2.

Got all that? Let's go!!!

1. 15 percent

That's the increase in the percentage of the time the Saints defense has blitzed in their five-game win streak (27 percent before to 42 percent). The Buccaneers reliance on the passing game (second-highest average, 65.6 percent) has resulted in the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game (81.1) and put Jameis Winston in less favorable situations. His 61.8 completion percentage (20th) and 10:6 TD:INT ratio fall to 55.7 percent and 5:3 versus the blitz, and I project him to have at least one turnover this week. In this game, my model gives the Saints offense results that are above their season averages, as Tampa Bay's defense is 32nd on third down (so, the most generous). O.J. Howard, Adam Humphries, and Ted Ginn are the best upside plays in my model (remember ... I am not including the must-start players unless they are an "avoid"). P.S. Brees has my highest ceiling for any QB this week, and I like Brandon Coleman as a sleeper.

2. 243

That's the weight Kelvin Benjamin is listed at when I googled him. At 6-foot-5 with a big body, Benjamin lined up in the slot quite a bit in Carolina. His absence could change the space defenses give the Carolina offense and allow for the run game to improve. Cam has been the lead rusher in three of their games this year ... and fumbled five times (most in the NFL). In this game, turnovers figure to be the deciding factor (even more than they are in most games). Atlanta is 27th in turnover differential (-5) and Carolina is 29th (-7). For fantasy: Devin Funchess has seen six or more targets in seven games (11 against the Saints the week Benjamin was out). Yes, Russell Shepard, Ed Dickson and even Curtis Samuel (in that order) get bumped up, but in this game, Jonathan Stewart also gets a nice increase (and you already know about Christian McCaffrey). My order on the other side: Mohamed Sanu, Austin Hooper, Tevin Coleman.

3. Stat snacks to tell your friends that should be relevant this week:

 » The Texans have scored 30-plus points in five straight games
 » The Rams have held their last three opponents under 20 points per games

4. Things that probably won't last ...

 » The Raiders defense has ZERO interceptions through eight games. Their secondary is very injured, but this is unlikely to last.
 » Will Fuller's touchdown reception rate is 52 percent (seven touchdowns on 13 receptions). I'm not saying he won't score this week, but his efficiency rate is unsustainable ... especially with Tom Savage set to return as the quarterback.
 » DeAndre Hopkins has zero touchdowns in Vontae Davis' coverage in seven games.
 » The Jaguars defense allows 138.6 rushing yards per game (32nd).

5. If-thens ...

Adapting your lineups post injury-report is one of the biggest keys to fantasy wins -- especially in formats where you have access to all the players each week. Here are three for now. I'll tweet out more as they come in. Again, Sam Bradford is in here this week:

 » If Buccaneers wide receiver Adam Humphries doesn't play, upgrade O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate (in addition to the wide receivers).
 » If Cole Beasley is out, Ryan Switzer becomes a smart but risky flier.
 » If Andre Ellington doesn't play, upgrade Adrian Peterson (even more). Between Drew Stanton starting and the past trends of increased run play calling plus the 49ers vulnerability to the run, targeting the run game in this one is logical.
 » If no Jamison Crowder, upgrade Josh Doctson (and Vernon Davis).

High Ceiling

QB: Derek Carr, Jay Cutler (there is RISK here) 
RB: Alex Collins, Aaron Jones, Jonathan Stewart, Ameer Abdullah, Orleans Darkwa 
WR: T.J. Jones, Terrance Williams, depending on injuries: BAL WRs 
TE: Jack Doyle, Vernon Davis, Julius Thomas (yep, risky again)  
DEF: Lions, Cardinals, Falcons (riskiest)

Follow Cynthia Frelund on Twitter @cfrelund.

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