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Week 9 Fantasy Football Fades: Will Mixon lose mojo vs. Browns?

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We’ve had our share of hits and misses in the fade column — Tyler Lockett went ballistic last week — but we trudge forward.

The goal of any fantasy season is to make as many good decisions as possible, hoping that the accumulation of good decisions will get you where you need to go. I am not saying everyone listed in this article needs to be automatically benched on your roster — your team depth and context will determine how you play that. Perhaps you’ll use this column more for a DFS slant, or as a springboard to player props.

Like anything else, I advise you to consider any reasonable argument you come across but ultimately make your own measured decision.

Joe Mixon vs. Cleveland

I’m figuring the Bengals will attempt to win this game through the air, noting the pass-funnel defense of the Browns. Cleveland ranks 25th in pass-defense DVOA, but a stout third in run-defense DVOA. It’s hard to find running lanes against this front seven.

I don’t expect any seasonal player will bench Joe Mixon, given his projectable volume and his run of touchdowns over five straight weeks. But will the Bengals use Mixon in a dedicated passing role? He’s caught 13 balls in three different starts this year, but his other five games have featured just four catches. Samaje Perine has been a regular change-of-pace option in this offense, though his snaps were down last week.

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It’s not like I’m expecting Mixon to completely lose his mojo, as I’m slotting him at RB14. But this is the most difficult rushing opponent on his schedule, and I suspect Joe Burrow will get the keys to the Cincinnati offense this week. Temper your expectations.

DeAndre Hopkins at San Francisco

DeAndre Hopkins stands at WR10 in standard (for the third straight year), but it’s been a different path to that number than usual. Normally we think of Hopkins as a target hog, but he’s sitting at just 49 looks through eight games — a 38 percent drop from last year’s target pace.

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10)
How long will touchdowns buoy DeAndre Hopkins? (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

Hopkins has kept the points flowing through touchdown deodorant (seven scores), but this week he’ll be working with an injury-compromised Kyler Murray or backup Colt McCoy. Seasonal managers always have to play Hopkins, but he’s a fade for DFS and prop purposes.

Robby Anderson vs. New England

You probably don’t need help benching Robby Anderson these days — he’s been under 50 receiving yards since Week 1, and has caught just eight of his last 28 targets.

But let’s take it a step further — why is Anderson still taking up roster space in 46 percent of Yahoo leagues?

Sam Darnold is in a funk (a date against New England is unlikely to fix that), backup P.J. Walker is unlikely to be a savior, and the return of Christian McCaffrey will only push Anderson further down in the offense’s pecking order. Forget about the ADP you dispensed for Anderson in the summer, understand what a sunk cost is. Your bench space is better utilized elsewhere.

George Kittle vs. Arizona

As a football fan, I’m thrilled at the prospect of George Kittle returning. He plays with energy and joie de vivre, and his blocking will also spark the San Francisco running game.

But whenever Kittle does return, we have to be reasonable about initial expectations. He’s missed a solid month with his calf injury, and there’s always been a light touchdown haul over his career. He’s only spiked twice in his last 12 games, and it’s been 14 touchdowns over 57 career appearances. I blame this more on the San Francisco quarterback play, but the elephant in the room still deserves mention.

Arizona’s a difficult tight end draw — the Cardinals currently stand No. 1 when it comes to defending the position. If Kittle does indeed start Week 9, my projection will be muted. And not a chance I’d spend $21 for his salary in Yahoo DFS.

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