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Predicting studs and duds for NFL Week 9

Rachel Wold
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

New faces in new places…

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

As we head into the NFL Week 9 games, football enthusiasts will get to soak in some new faces in new places now that the trade deadline has passed.

Perhaps one of the biggest trade stories to keep an eye on this week is how wide receiver Amari Cooper impacts his new Dallas Cowboys team. That trade sparked all kinds of reaction — both good and bad.

Aside from this, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers will square off for only the third time in their careers. Who will have the edge here? Meanwhile, the undefeated Rams will face a tough test on the road in New Orleans.

Enough with the spoilers. These are our stud and dud calls for NFL Week 9.


Stud: Alex Smith, quarterback, Washington Redskins

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Smith’s name is not one that immediately comes to mind when discussing high-rolling quarterbacks. But heading into Week 9, Smith deserves some notice. The Redskins host the Atlanta Falcons, whose passing defense is just awful. Opposing quarterbacks are earning an average rating of 105.9 while passing for an average of 306.7 yards per game. And, throughout seven games, the Falcons have managed only seven total takeaways, priming Smith for even more success.


Dud: Todd Gurley, running back, Los Angeles Rams

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This might freak some folks out. Instead of Gurley having one of his 100-plus, or even 200-plus rushing yard games, he could take a few steps back in Week 9. Gurley and the Rams next head to play the New Orleans Saints, who currently boast the NFL’s most stingy run defense. Really. The Saints have yielded only 3.2 yards per carry and 74.1 rushing yards on average per contest. This is the same defense that held top running backs, Saquon Barkley and Adrian Peterson, to just 50 combined rushing yards in Weeks 4 and 5.


Stud: Kyle Fuller, cornerback, Chicago Bears

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Fuller and the Bears next face those lowly Buffalo Bills in what should be a dream matchup for him. Fuller leads the Bears with three interceptions and nine defended passes as well as having recorded 23 combined tackles. He is primed for a field day against whoever is quarterbacking for the Bills and their lackluster offense. It is also worth noting that the Bills have coughed up 18 total turnovers, increasing Fuller’s chances of adding to his tally.


Dud: Kerryon Johnson, running back, Detroit Lions

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As much as the Lions attempt to feature their rookie running back in Week 9, Johnson might be slated for another stinker of a game. Johnson next has a road game against the Minnesota Vikings. This squad is giving up just 3.7 yards per carry. Even worse is the Vikings have allowed only two rushing touchdowns to the running back position. If Johnson’s Lions fall behind — just as they did in their last game — it will be Matthew Stafford who will be forced to keep up through the air.


Stud: D.J. Moore, wide receiver, Carolina Panthers

Maryland receiver D.J. Moore

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Moore had his best game to date when he last turned five catches into 90 yards. Now, he is primed for another big performance in Week 9. Moore and his team play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose defense has allowed opposing wideouts to thrive. We just watched Bengals No. 2 wide receiver Tyler Boyd torch the Bucs for 138 yards and one touchdown. Now, it is Moore’s turn to take advantage of all the freebies the Buccaneers generously give on a weekly basis.


Dud: Amari Cooper, wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys

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It is almost show time! Cooper is a Cowboy and some folks are convinced he will automatically become a No. 1 wide receiver right out of the gate. Perhaps. But, Week 9 presents Cooper with a tough matchup against the Tennessee Titans. Through seven games, the Titans have allowed only nine wide receiving touchdowns. Taking into consideration quarterback Dak Prescott has thrown only eight touchdowns all season, there is no guarantee he suddenly helps Cooper look like a rock star in his Cowboys debut.


Stud: T.J. Watt, linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers' T.J. Watt earnes rookie's top Week 1 honor.

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Watt leads the Steelers in sacks with eight and also has 30 combined tackles on record. He will look to enrich these stats when the Steelers take on the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9. Quarterback Joe Flacco is coming off a flustered and losing game in which he was sacked two times. As the Steelers attempt to retain their lead in the AFC North, Watt should be primed to swoop in and keep Baltimore’s offense scrambling.


Dud: Sam Darnold, quarterback, New York Jets

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Darnold will be looking to break a two-game losing streak when the Jets next head to play the Miami Dolphins. And if Jets fans think that Darnold will find the same success that Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson last did playing Miami (five touchdowns), think again. Darnold is not exactly surrounded by the receiving cast that last thrashed Miami’s secondary. Instead, the Jets top receivers are injured and Darnold simply cannot be trusted with 11 touchdowns on record compared to a league-high 10 interceptions.


Stud: Derek Carr, quarterback, Oakland Raiders

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Why not? Carr looked to have turned a new leaf after putting on his best performance to date in Week 8. Next, Carr faces a very beatable San Francisco 49ers team. This is a unit that is allowing 29.5 points on average per game and has given up 18 passing touchdowns. The latter number marks the second-most in the league. If Carr cannot take advantage of this dream matchup, then Jon Gruden’s expressions on the sideline should be priceless.


Dud: Doug Baldwin, wide receiver, Seattle Seahawks

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Baldwin has been a serious disappointment so far throughout his five games. Next up for the 30-year-old receiver is a home game against the Los Angeles Chargers. This defense has given up only nine wide receiving touchdowns. Yet, that might not even matter because quarterback Russell Wilson seems to have found a new weapon in David Moore. Moore has scored four times in his last three games. Baldwin seems to just be the odd man out these days.


Stud: Brandin Cooks, wide receiver, Los Angeles Rams

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In one of the most anticipated matchups in Week 9, Cooks travels back to his former digs. We can probably assume that Cooks will arrive with a nice-sized chip on his shoulder, wanting to stick to his old team. Plus, the Rams will be attempting to keep their undefeated record against a Saints defense that has surrendered the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Whether the Rams walk away with the win or not, Cooks should personally feast.


Dud: Ryan Fitzpatrick, quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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The Buccaneers announced that Fitzpatrick — who replaced a bumbling Jameis Winston in Week 8 — will start against the Panthers. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he is going to bring the Fitzmagic to Carolina. Dealing with the Panthers defense will be no picnic in the park. This defense just held Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to a mere 192 passing yards and one touchdown, while intercepting him twice. Fitzpatrick staying error-free and racking up a ton of yards might be a stretch this week.


Stud: Julian Edelman, wide receiver New England Patriots

Patriots receiver Julian Edelman suffered a devastating knee injury.

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We are starting to really see Edelman find his groove and get back to meshing with quarterback Tom Brady. In his last game, Edelman caught 9-of-10 targets for 104 yards, marking his top performance of the season. Next up, a home matchup against the Green Bay Packers looks to keep Edelman all kinds of busy. This game should be ultra-competitive with loads of passing and receiving yards to be had by all. Green Bay is also giving up 24.7 points per game on average.


Dud: Phillip Lindsay, running back, Denver Broncos

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Lindsay has been quite the gem on the Broncos offense and he is averaging 83.4 total yards per game on top of scoring four touchdowns. But in Week 9, Lindsay might struggle to hit these numbers. He will play host to a Texans defense that is yielding just 3.6 yards per carry and has allowed just two rushing touchdowns. If the Broncos are playing from behind against the high-rolling Texans offense, Lindsay and the run game might suffer.


Stud: Baker Mayfield, quarterback, Cleveland Browns

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Predicting Mayfield’s performances on a weekly basis has not been easy. But, what is easy — or at least should be — is his home matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs offense will be difficult to keep pace with, which will force Mayfield to throw the ball for days. And, he should thrive considering the Chiefs have surrendered the second-most passing yards (304.8) per game. Though, Mayfield and the Browns actually beating the Chiefs is a whole other story.


Dud: Mike Williams, wide receiver, Los Angeles Chargers

Chargers receiver Mike Williams

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Williams has been hot and cold all season, making it difficult to predict what he will bring to the table each game. In Week 9, Williams might have one of his clunker performances when the Chargers head to Seattle to face the Seahawks.

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To date, the Seahawks have given up only eight touchdowns and 148.7 yards on average per game to opposing wide receivers. On top of that, Williams’ fellow teammate Keenan Allen whining about lack of red zone targets, and Williams’ last drop, stands to bite him.


Stud: Davante Adams, wide receiver, Green Bay Packers

Davante Adams

Mark J. Rebilas, USA Today Sports

When two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks meet up at Gillette Stadium in Week 9, there should be a ton of points and yards to be had. Adams should exhaust New England’s secondary, taking into consideration the Patriots are allowing 277 passing yards on average per game. The have also surrendered 17 touchdowns through the air, priming Adams a grand day.


Dud: Marcus Peters, cornerback, Los Angeles Rams

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Peters has not been the scary force on the Rams’ secondary many speculated he’d become when he was traded by Kansas City. He has allowed since Week 1, a 120-plus quarterback rating when targeted in coverage. Might this continue when he faces Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Michael Thomas next? Thomas is one of the most elusive receivers in the league and sports a 90.6 percent catch rate. Peters last allowed Davante Adams to tally 113 yards when covering him. Thomas gets our vote in this one-on-one matchup.


Stud: O.J. Howard, tight end, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Howard just produced 68 yards and his third touchdown of the season in his last game. Now in Week 9, Howard has a prime opportunity to build on that performance. He and the Bucs play the Panthers who have allowed the most fantasy points to their opposing tight ends. To date, the Panthers have given up five touchdowns and an average of 77.9 receiving yards per contest to the tight end position. At 6-foot-6 and 251 pounds, Howard should continue to garner attention in what should be another pass-heavy game for Tampa Bay.


Dud: JuJu Smith-Schuster, wide receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster

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Smith-Schuster started off the season red hot, even outperforming fellow receiver Antonio Brown at times. But, he has since cooled down after tallying only one 100-plus yard game in his last four contests. Week 9 might be another quiet outing for Smith-Schuster facing the Ravens defense. When the two parties met in Week 4, Smith-Schuster caught only four of his 11 targets for 60 yards. As things stand now, Baltimore’s defense is currently giving up only 134.8 wide receiving yards on average per clash and a lowly seven touchdowns on the season.