Demos: Week 9 fantasy projections

Khari Demos

Week eight will be remembered for being upset central. For Atlanta, Cincinnati, Las Vegas, Minnesota and Miami, these squads all probably had your parlays out of whack this weekend.

Pittsburgh remains the league's only undefeated, holding off Baltimore in a battle of the AFC North's finest. The Steelers and Kansas City seem to be the cream of the AFC, but Buffalo seems to have some life now after taking down its arch nemesis with New England.

Russell Wilson continues to cook, with four more touchdown passes and 26 through seven games. He's on pace for 59, potentially his first MVP and the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

That is if Tampa Bay or New Orleans have anything to say about it. What a matchup that'll be Sunday night, with a rematch of the Saints' win from week one.

My top waiver wire picks are Indianapolis' Jordan Wilkins, Detroit's Marvin Hall and Chicago's Darnell Mooney, as they worked in either spot duty or continue to expand their roles in their respective offenses.

Aside from Wilson and DK Metcalf's continued scorching of the league, week nine's top performance belongs to Dalvin Cook (226 yards from scrimmage, 4 total TDs) as he led the Vikings to an upset victory in Green Bay.

Before we look ahead, stay tuned on the COVID cases affecting the league, including Detroit QB Matt Stafford and several Packers and 49ers in the Thursday nighter.

Start 'em — Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers

The rise of "Hairbert" has been televised. The No. 6 pick of the 2020 draft has been en fuego, despite the Chargers continuing to Charger.

He's averaging 303.3 yards per game with a 76.4 QBR, a 104.5 passer rating and a completion rate of 67.4%. Not only does he have three 300-yard passing games in six starts, he's got a 3:1, TD-to-INT ratio (15 TDs, 5 INTs).

In his last four games alone, the Oregon alumnus has had three TDs or more in each game.

Herbert's next task is with Las Vegas, as the Raiders come off a big win in Cleveland. The defense did allow only six points, 122 passing yards and forced a fumble, but I attribute that more to bad weather in the Land, the up-and-down play of Baker Mayfield, and a Browns offense adjusting to life without Odell Beckham Jr.

Quarterbacks have had a fair share of success against Vegas' D, as three QBs have hit the 300-passing yard plateau and three have accounted for three or more TDs against them.

Sit 'em — Dallas wide receivers

The Cowboys' receiving corps may just be the most talented in the league. But that doesn't mean a thing when you've got a mess of a quarterback situation.

Ben DiNucci (21-for-40, 180 passing yards, 2 lost fumbles, 21.3 QBR, 64.5 passer rating) showed why he's a third-stringer and his wideouts suffered for it. Michael Gallup (7 receptions, 61 yards) had a decent day, but CeeDee Lamb (4 receptions, 46 total yards) and Amari Cooper (1 reception, 5 yards) were both held down against Philadelphia.

With Andy Dalton out Sunday after being placed on the COVID-19 list, the Cowboys will either start Garrett Gilbert or Cooper Rush, with the latter moving up from the practice squad. Add in a matchup with Pittsburgh, things could get ugly for Big D.

Now I'm not the biggest fan of the Steelers' secondary, but their front seven is playing at a Steel Curtain level. The 'Boys banged up offensive line will battle with a unit that leads the league in sacks (30) and QB hits (76), is second in tackles for loss (60.5), tied for second in defensive TDs (2), and is third in interceptions (10) and points allowed per game (10.6), respectively.

Sleeper of the week — Jared Cook, TE, New Orleans Saints

Cook has been one of Sean Payton's most reliable pieces since 2019, scoring 13 TDs since joining NOLA last season. He's also one of Drew Brees' favorite targets, as they've linked for scores in four of the last five outings Cook's played in.

Although his target and reception shares aren't gaudy — 4.8 targets per game, 3.2 receptions per game — his touchdown numbers have stood out as the Saints' top goal-line weapon. And with it being unclear if Michael Thomas and/or Emmanuel Sanders will return this week, Cook is one of the key cogs in New Orleans' offense.

I think a piece to consider here is that NFL scrimmage yardage leader Alvin Kamara will be keyed on heavily, due to his ability as a runner and receiver. With Kamara getting some extra eyes, this could open things up for Cook down the seams.

Plus the South Carolina product had his best game of the year against Tampa in week one, hauling in seven catches for 80 yards and a season-long 46-yard reception.

Bills fantasy outlook — Seattle Seahawks

Ladies and gentleman, here are your 6-2 Bills. Buffalo finally got the monkey off its back, taking down the Patriots for the first time since 2016 and the first time at home since 2011.

This game had a feel of the Bills' traditional and historic formula. Leaning on a run-heavy attack (190 yards, 3 TDs) and a stingy-defensive showing, Buffalo did not need Josh Allen to carry the franchise on his back (11-for-18, 177 total yards, 1 rushing TD, 1 INT).

Big thanks to Cam Newton (15-for-25, 174 passing yards, 54 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD) who had a decent day, especially with the elements in Orchard Park, but his late-game fumble was what stole the headlines.

Cam was a piece of what's been the main concern for the Bills' D, though, as the Pats rushed for 188 yards and they outgained Buffalo, 349-339. The Bills did, however, hold New England to a 1-for-3 mark in red zone opportunities, while the Buffalo offense went 3-for-4.

Speaking of offense, this was another game that had some positives there. Allen found Stefon Diggs (6 receptions, 92 yards) early and often, as they've become one of the top QB-WR duos in the NFL. The offensive line also protected well, giving up just one sack — the fifth time all season it's yielded one or less.

Speaking of the o-line, it cleared the way for both Zack Moss (81 rushing yards, 2 TDs) and Devin Singletary (92 scrimmage yards, 6.1 yards per carry). I do like Moss as more of the bell-cow, early-downs runner, but Singletary has shown he's more than just a change-of-pace back. This one-two punch could be up to something moving forward.

Both backs will be integral in Sunday's game against Seattle, whose 6-1 record masks some of its defensive woes. But if Allen wants to prove himself as a top-tier QB, outgunning Wilson will be a step in that direction.

Weather permitted, this game looks to have the makings of an old-fashioned shootout. Wilson's brilliance has led to the offense averaging 414.4 yards and 34.3 points per outing, respectively, with the latter ranking tops in the league.

Please don't start the Bills' D, because Metcalf and Lockett could give it fits, while some other 'Hawks may find the end zone (insert David Moore and Freddie Swain here).

If anything, look to the Buffalo passing game to excel, which could mean big days for Allen, Diggs, John Brown and Cole Beasley. But if the Bills are chasing Seattle from behind, Singletary may be the more crucial back, due to his impact in the receiving game.

Respond to sports reporter Khari Demos on Twitter @riri_demos or at khari.demos@gnnewspaper.com. Also, be sure to listen to the GNN Sports Podcast, on Spotify, Anchor, Apple Podcasts and more.

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