Week 9 Fantasy Football Recap: 6 Most Important Players to Analyze

All aboard the Doug Martin train! Next stop: Victory Town.

You may have noticed that numberFire was a little light on the articles last week. Over on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the numberFire offices became shore-front property. Meanwhile, here in Chicago, my intestines tried to turn themselves into balloon animals (I requested a dog at the hospital, but they denied me). We all had some problems last week.

All of us, that is, except for numberFire's projections system. A breakout game for Doug Martin? Yeah, we had that. Cam Newton having a bounceback week? We had that too. Brandon Marshall eviscerating the Tennessee secondary? Check again.

As always, here are some of the key names to know, how they performed in comparison to numberFire's expectations, and what to expect from them in the next couple weeks.

Locked on Target, Sir

Brandon Marshall - Chicago Bears
Week 9 Final Points: 30 (#1 WR)
numberFire Projected Points: 13.80 (#1 WR)

Brandon Marshall has led the Bears in targets every single week this season, has had double-digit Cutler looks in each of the previous three Bears games, and was facing the Titans' #30 opponent-adjusted defense. Yes, it wasn't exactly a stretch to put him at the top this week. I just wish this blind monkey would stop bragging that he saw it coming, too.

But even when compared to top receivers facing weaker defenses - like Megatron against Jacksonville or Victor Cruz against Pittsburgh - Marshall stood out to us this week for one main reason: his catch rate. At 65.6%, Marshall's catch rate is among the top of all receivers and even ranks first among all non-running backs on the Bears (Matt Forte is at 71%). Even though he has been double covered much of the season, Marshall is obviously Cutler's favorite target and has still been able to corral the catches at an incredible clip.

It's because of that catch rate that, even against some tougher matchups in Houston and San Francisco the next two weeks, you won't see Marshall fall that far down the rankings. If you sit him at all moving forward, then your fantasy owners' license should be revoked.

Cam Newton - Carolina Panthers
Week 9 Final Points: 21 (#4 QB)
numberFire Projected Points: 18.13 (#6 QB)

Cam Newton had not scored above 15 fantasy points since Week 4 and had done it only twice all season. So what gave numberFire's stats analysts the big idea to put RGIII 1.0 up high this past week? It's all about the running game and the matchup.

Newton hasn't been afraid to take off with the ball so far this season, and he's been effective while doing it. He's had at least five rushing attempts in every single game so far this season, and in each of the three games leading up to this Panthers-Redskins matchup, Newton had registered at least 37 rushing yards. Considering that 52% of his rushes have been considered "successful" - meaning that they increased the Panthers' net expected points on the drive - it wasn't too much of a stretch to picture him doing it again. numberFire projections gave Cam 42.28 projected rushing yards and 0.40 projected rushing TDs for Sunday's game, both totals he finished right around (37 yards and 1 TD).

On the flip side, President Obama did not exactly bring the Bears' defense to D.C. with him for this season, as the Redskins have been especially poor against opposing quarterbacks. numberFire's #18 opponent-adjusted defense has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season, a fact that gave Newton owners even more confidence starting him this weekend.

Where Did That Come From?

Doug Martin - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 9 Final Points: 51 (#1 Everything Forever)
numberFire Projected Points: 13.03 (#6 RB)

We thought he would be good. We just didn't think he would be "Third Best Fantasy Performance since 1995" good.

Doug Martin likely solidified himself as a first round fantasy selection next year by virtue of not one, not two, but three runs longer than 45 yards. How out of the ordinary was that? Well, his longest run on the entire season before yesterday was 41 yards against the Vikings the week before. Through Week 6, Martin's longest run on the season was 22 yards. Let's just say that the numbers don't exactly point to Martin being able to reproduce those runs on a consistent basis.

Still, with Martin receiving the vast majority of the carries moving forward and Tampa Bay calling more running plays than passing plays in each of the past two weeks, the Muscle Hamster will remain a must-start for the rest of this season. San Diego and Carolina the next two weeks provide solid matchups for him as well.

Carson Palmer - Oakland Raiders
Week 9 Final Points: 28 (#1 QB)
numberFire Projected Points: 12.85 (#22 QB)

For a guy that numberFire projections actually missed on, we turn to the #1 fantasy QB this week: Carson Palmer. If those words have been said so far this decade, I'd be absolutely shocked.

And if they're ever said again, I'd be equally shocked. Palmer's numbers this week are a classic case of play-from-behind-itis. The Raiders needed to throw the ball a ton to stay in the game against the Doug Martins, and Palmer obliged. His 28 FP is the first time he's even broken 20 so far this season, and it was the first time he's thrown for four touchdowns in a game in a Raiders uniform.

But with that said, Palmer may make a sneaky good bye-week filler or injury replacement for your fantasy team moving forward. The Raiders have now thrown on 65.6% of their offensive plays so far this season, including an incredible 85% in this past week's game. A Week 10 game against the Ravens may be tough-ish (even with the injuries), but the subsequent three weeks against New Orleans, Cincinnati, and Cleveland could allow Palmer a chance to shine.

But You Were Supposed To Do So Well!

Robert Griffin III - Washington Redskins
Week 9 Final Points: 13 (#15 QB)
numberFire Projected Points: 18.25 (#5 QB)

Warning: the RGIII bandwagon jet is now coming in for a landing. Please restore all chairs and tray tables to their upright positions and buckle your seatbelts. Thank you.

After five 20+ FP performances in Washington's first six games of the season, Griffin has only 11 and 13 FP in his past two games. And each of those weeks, Washington played not-exactly-renowned defenses in Carolina and Pittsburgh.

So what gives? It's not the amount of throwing chances; Washington has passed the ball on over 60% of their offensive plays in each of the past two weeks. It's not RGIII's ability to rush the ball, either; he had 53 yards rushing on 11 carries against Carolina.

But the problem is the types of passes Griffin is attempting. He's simply not getting the ball down the field. Against Pittsburgh, only three of Griffin's 16 completed passes went for longer than 20 yards; his longest pass on the day went for 37. Against Carolina, the problem was even worse; only two of his 23 completed passes went for longer than 20 yards and his longest was a 25-yarder to Leonard Hankerson. Without stretching the field, both defenses could key in on the line of scrimmage to stop both Griffin and Morris. Especially for an offense that had three passes above 60 yards in their first five games, not being able to connect on the deep ball is a major problem.

Percy Harvin - Minnesota Vikings
Week 9 Final Points: 1 (#65 WR)
numberFire Projected Points: 12.72 (#5 WR)

That RGIII bandwagon jet might have a hard time landing. Because the charred remains of the Vikings offense bandwagon jet are strewn all over the runway.

Despite Seattle's #7 opponent-adjusted defense, we thought Percy Harvin would get enough looks to have a great quantity over quality day. Well, he did lead the Vikings in targets. With six. Of which he caught two. For ten yards. Let's just say things didn't go his way.

His 24 rushing yards were negated by a fumble, leaving Harvin with just a single FP on the day after going for double-digits in each of the previous four weeks. Fantasy owners may be quietly trying to sneak away. However, I expect the real Harvin to come back, and quickly.

Minnesota still is throwing the ball on 52.8% of their offensive plays so far this season; despite Ponder's abysmal Sunday, he still threw the ball 44.9% of all plays against the Seahawks. And if Ponder's throwing, there's a good chance Harvin's going to be the target; he's led the Vikings in targets every single game so far this season.

The Ponder bandwagon may be a hollow shell, but the Harvin one is not necessarily tethered to it. As long as Harvin remains the clear #1 receiver (and he has been all season), he's still a must start every week. Don't take too much stock in this game.