Projections for Antonio Brown, Christian McCaffrey and more: Fantasy football expert roundtable

Week 9 will be highlighted by some much-anticipated returns to action. For Antonio Brown, he’ll be seeing the field for the first time since Week 2 of 2019. For Christian McCaffrey, it’s been since Week 2 of this season as he’s nursed a high-ankle sprain back to health. How will Brown perform in his 2020 debut? How valuable will CMC be the rest of the season?

Helping me answer these questions, and many more: The Athletic colleagues Nando Di Fino, Jake Ciely, Michael Beller, Michael Salfino and Eric Moody.

Alright, buckle up and let’s get to it!

Q. If you are re-drafting for the rest of season, where are you picking Christian McCaffrey?

Funston: No. 5 — I really hate the Week 13 bye for CMC. Week 13 is a crusher for that. Take that, plus any reacclimation volume loss, or Mike Davis-influenced volume loss (I don’t expect too much of this), and it’s enough for me to drop him a few spots (behind Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones and Derrick Henry).

Di Fino: No. 4 — Vaccaro and I did a full first-round redraft on the podcast last week, and I think he landed fourth for me (Henry, Kamara, Cook were 1-2-3). Chris talked me down a little because he still has that Week 13 bye, which could be terrible timing if there’s a playoff spot on the line.

Ciely: No. 3 — Seeing as how Kamara would be WR13 just on his receiving and Dalvin Cook is averaging more than Kamara per game and close to McCaffrey’s 2019 per game total, I’d take both of them just to offset risk of slow first few games for CMC, similar to Saquon Barkley’s return from injury last year.

Beller: No. 3 — Assuming he’s back this week, I’m taking him third overall behind Alvin Kamara and Dalvin Cook.

Salfino: No. 4-ish — Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara would have to go ahead of him at least. Then he’s not really a clear priority. I would take Davante Adams over him. The issue is high-ankle sprains are really limiting and can reinjure.

Moody: No. 3 — I’d prefer Alvin Kamara and Derrick Henry ahead of him.

Q. In his 2020 debut this week, what will be Antonio Brown’s final line?

Funston: 8/6/82/0 (11.2 Half PPR)

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Di Fino: 8/6/45/0 (8.5) — Lots of targets, but I think it’ll be a couple games until he cracks 75 yards. He was 8/4/56/1 in his one game with New England last year, so he picks up playbooks pretty quickly.

Ciely: 8/6/86/0 (11.6)

Beller: 8/5/79/1 (16.4)

Salfino: 10-7-96-1 (19.1) — Brady treats Brown like Antonio’s his big brother.

Moody: 7/5/67/1 (15.2)

Q. How would rank these RBs for the ROS: Justin Jackson, JK Dobbins, Chase Edmonds, Devin Singletary?

Funston: Edmonds, Dobbins, Jackson, Singletary — Edmonds is the RB leader in Fantasy Points/Touch (Half PPR, min. 50 touches), and I’m very receptive to the idea of his hostile majority-share takeover of the Arizona backfield. And Dobbins is just a straight bet on cream rising to the top in a ripe environment.

Di Fino: Edmonds, Singletary, Dobbins, Jackson — Singletary could put together a big stretch run in these final few weeks

Ciely: Dobbins, Edmonds, Jackson, Singletary — I’m chasing upside here, and if Dobbins can push Edwards into a complementary role instead of a near-even split, he has RB1 upside. Then Edmonds, Jackson, Singletary.

Beller: Edmonds, Jackson, Dobbins, Singletary — Damn, this is a good one.

Salfino: Dobbins, Edmonds, Jackson, Singetary — I’m assuming Drake is back soon.

Moody: Dobbins, Edmonds, Singletary, Jackson

CONSENSUS: Edmonds, Dobbins, Jackson, Singletary

Q. How would you rank these WRs for the ROS: Curtis Samuel, Jalen Reagor, Laviska Shenault, Mecole Hardman?

Funston: Reagor, Samuel, Shenault, Hardman— Reagor showed up in his first taste of NFL action in Week 8 (six targets, two end zone targets, a TD, a two-point conversion, a six-yard run). He’s talented and in a situation that should continue to provide ample opportunities, and in a variety of ways.

Di Fino: Samuel, Hardman, Reagor, Shenault — This isn’t in the spirit of the question, but if Shenault has a big game in Week 9, I’d shoot him up to No. 2. I just have no idea what that offense is going to look like

Ciely: Reagor, Shenault, Samuel, Hardman

Beller: Reagor, Samuel, Hardman, Shenault

Salfino: Reagor, Hardman, Shenault, Samuel — Not big on any of these guys.

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Moody: Reagor, Hardman, Shenault, Samuel

CONSENSUS: Reagor, Samuel, Hardman, Shenault

Q. How would you rank these TEs for the ROS: Noah Fant, Dallas Goedert, T.J. Hockenson, Robert Tonyan?

Funston: Goedert, Fant, Hockenson, Tonyan — Goedert is an elite-level TE talent in an offense that leans on the TE in the passing game more than any other. You’ll be drafting him in the TE Top 5 next season.

Di Fino: Hockenson, Tonyan, Goedert, Fant — The margins are razor-thin. Ask me again in five minutes and I could flip that order completely.

Ciely: Hockenson, Goedert, Fant, Tonyan — But literally any order would be fine by me. It’s tight end!

Beller: Hockenson, Goedert [tier drop] Fant, [cliff drop] Tonyan

Salfino: Hockenson, Goedert, Fant, Tonyan — I really like Hockenson given the Kenny Golladay injury situation.

Moody: Hockenson, Fant, Tonyan, Goedert

CONSENSUS: Hockenson, Goedert, Fant, Tonyan

Q. How would you rank these QBs for the ROS: Baker Mayfield, Tua Tagovailoa, Daniel Jones, Drew Lock?

Funston: Jones, Mayfield, Tua, Lock — This is close. I mostly ranked them based on remaining schedule. But definitely Tua first from a dynasty perspective.

Di Fino: Tua, Jones, Lock, Mayfield — Jones was 256/2 against a good TB defense. He’s running, he’s getting better. He’s like one dumb mistake away from breaking out, and he has Sterling Shepard back.

Ciely: Lock, Mayfield, Jones, Tua — No! This is trash… but Tua could easily end up No. 1.

Beller: Lock, Jones, Mayfield,Tua — None is a slam dunk over any of the others. They’re all part of the huge matchup-based QB2 group.

Salfino: Lock, Mayfield, Jones, Tua — All of these guys are trash.

Moody: Mayfield, Tua, Jones, Lock

CONSENSUS: Lock, Mayfield, Jones, Tua

Player Pick’Em

Tom Brady or Justin Herbert?

  • Brady (3 votes); Herbert (3 votes)

Salfino says: “Herbert by a wide margin.”

J.K. Dobbins or Leonard Fournette?

  • Dobbins (4 votes); Fournette (2 votes)

Ciely says: “An Arians RB? Really?”

Salfino says: “I know Bruce Arians is the Western Sheriff of Fumble Jail and RoJo is in it, but I see Dobbins as RB17 or so.”

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Ezekiel Elliott or James Robinson?

  • Elliott (2 votes); Robinson (4 votes)

Salfino says: “Wow. Robinson. The Cowboys are terrible.”

Corey Davis or DeVante Parker?

  • Davis (2 vote); Parker (4 votes)

October or November?

  • October (2 votes); November (4 votes)

Funston says: “October always provides 2-3 great weeks of great weather in my Pacific Northwest, it’s the month of Okterberfest (because having an excuse to drink is always better), it’s my son’s birthday and, while Halloween isn’t on par with Thanksgiving for me, it’s hard to knock the one day of the year when you are encouraged to really let your freak flag fly.”

Ciely says: “Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas music starting, hoodie weather, and my birthday.”

Beller says: “I’m a big fan of both. I love the fall in Chicago in the rare years that we actually get our fair share of fall weather.”

Salfino says: “November, but that’s my birthday month.”

Moody says: “Thanksgiving is superior to Halloween. “

Q. At what point between now and December 25th will you start fully indulging yourself in Christmas music?

Funston: Now — Normally I’m Team Black Friday, but I made the executive family decision that 2020 warrants an early season opener for the music of the most wonderful time of the year — if you need the pick-me-up, I say, “Game on!”

Di Fino: Now — Already there, my friend. It’s never too early!

Ciely: Black Friday — That’s officially the kickoff for everything Christmas. Can start it before, and it’s fine by me, but you asked “fully indulge.”

Beller: Now — I’ve already started listening to the Nutcracker soundtrack (are songs from a ballet still considered a soundtrack?), so I guess that point for me was a few days ago. We probably won’t get into the rest of the Christmas classics—Sinatra, Mariah Carey—until around Thanksgiving.

Salfino: Christmas Eve —I do not fully indulge. I guess Christmas Eve. Bah! Humbug!

Moody: Black Friday

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