The Shadow Knows Week 9 2022

By Gary Davenport
Gary Davenport


The Seattle Seahawks are one of the surprise success stories of 2022, and a big part of the reason that quarterback Geno Smith has played well is the presence of wide receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. After the Seahawks got a big win against the New York Giants in Week 8, Lockett made some waves with a comment that some perceived as a veiled shot at former Seattle signal-caller.

"I think the biggest thing is that it is amazing what we can accomplish when nobody cares who gets the credit," he said, via the New York Post. "My high school basketball coach used to always talk about that. When you look at this team that we have, we have a bunch of guys that are willing to buy in. When you look at the rookie class, they probably haven't said 500 words since they've been here. They just put their head down and work, like literally. And they listen, they do whatever you want them to be able to do, and they go out there and they shine each and every week. So for us, everybody says 'we're all we got, we're all we need', but we know there's going to be wins and losses throughout the season, and you just have to be able to learn how to overcome whatever comes your way."

That the first sentence of that quote was taken out of context and used to bash Wilson is very 2022. But it doesn't take away from the truth of what Lockett said. There isn't a more surprising first-place team in the league than the Seahawks, who head to Arizona Sunday to face a Cardinals team trying to get their season back on track.

Arizona's best cornerback is undoubtedly Byron Murphy, who has kicked inside for the Redbirds since Antonio Hamilton returned. Per Ryan Sanudo of All Cardinals, Murphy has held his own against some of the league's top receivers this season.

"In Week 2, Murphy held Pro Bowl Davante Adams to two receptions for 12 yards on seven targets," Sanudo wrote. "He would return a fumble 59 yards to get the Cardinals a win overtime in the same game. The 24-year-old also limited Cooper Kupp to 44 yards on four catches and A.J. Brown hauled in just three passes for 35 yards."

Lockett had an eventful Week 8, dropping a sure touchdown before redeeming himself later in the game. If Lockett does draw Murphy in coverage most of the game it's a hit to his value, dropping him into low-end WR2/high-end WR3 territory. It could also conceivably mean a bump for DK Metcalf if Smith decides attacking the weak link in the Arizona secondary is a wiser course of action than going at Murphy.

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (Gabriel Davis vs. Ahmad Gardner)

It's no secret that New York Jets cornerback Ahmad Gardner isn't lacking in confidence-you don't get the nickname "Sauce" on accident. That confidence and exuberance has carried over to the pros-and it has served him well. Gardner has played a key role in New York's 5-3 start, drawing praise from head coach Robert Saleh in the process.

"Every player is different, they're all unique, and they all execute their assignment in different ways," Saleh said. "You want to encourage them to be able to do that in their own special way, because when you do that, it just pops off the tape. When you do that, it manifests to the personality that you see and guys that will do everything to protect it in how they handle themselves, how they handle each other and the effort at which they play on the football field."

Gardner's coverage ability is a big part of the reason why the Jets have allowed the seventh-fewest PPR points per game to wide receivers in 2022. It goes without saying that Stefon Diggs is a "go" regardless of opponent or matchup. But while Gabriel Davis has a sky-high fantasy ceiling, he can also have a frighteningly low floor. And in this bad matchup, the latter may be more likely than the former.


Miami Dolphins at Chicago Bears (Xavien Howard vs. Darnell Mooney)

The Bears made a big-time move to bolster the passing game at the trade deadline, bringing in wide receiver Chase Claypool in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The addition of Claypool may well be a good thing for Bears quarterback Justin Fields. But per Ian Wharton of Pro Football Network, it's not going to do Darnell Mooney's already lagging fantasy value any favors.

"The addition of Claypool to the Bears' receiving room certainly isn't good news for Mooney," he said. "Mooney has already been a drop candidate for fantasy managers since he hasn't reached the end zone yet. Yet, his last five games have been more promising, averaging 67.4 yards across that span. Claypool won't take a consistent number of targets away from Mooney because he's more of a variance player who thrives despite an inefficient catch rate. But the concern for Mooney is losing any number of quality targets, as he's only seen more than six in a game one time. Siphoning even two away from Mooney is harmful to his fantasy value."

Claypool probably won't be a major factor in Chicago's offense in Week 9. But that also means that the Dolphins will have their best healthy cornerback cover Chicago's only consistent receiving threat. Between Howard's coverage and the lack of target volume that has plagued Mooney all season long, he's an iffy fantasy start-at best.




Las Vegas Raiders at Jacksonville Jaguars (Davante Adams vs. Tyson Campbell)

Tyson Campbell of the Jacksonville Jaguars might just be the best player at his position in the NFL that no one is talking about. The second-year pro from Georgia is light-years better in 2022 than last season, but Jaguars cornerbacks coach DeShea Townsend told John Shipley of Jaguar Report that he isn't surprised by Campbell's progress.

"Well, I think from seeing his development from watching the tape beginning last year to this year, and then the conversations that we had when I first got here and took the job and of what he wanted to do ... You know, a lot of times people say what they want, and then you don't see the action, but for him to say what he wants to do, and they come out every day and meet and work the way that he does," Townsend said. He's a man of his word."

Campbell has allowed just 52.3 percent of the passes thrown in his direction to be completed, with a passer rating against of 64.0. When he's on his game Davante Adams is capable of a huge game against anyone, but we have also now seen two games from Adams this season with less than 15 receiving yards. Adams is a WR1 every week but his bye. But drawing Campbell in coverage doesn't help his chances of a smash stat line.




Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (Jakobi Meyers vs. Stephon Gilmore)

Colts cornerback Stephon Gilmore spent four seasons with the Patriots before an acrimonious split in 2021. However, time appears to have smoothed over the hurt feelings between Gilmore and the Pats-when asked by reporters ahead of Sunday's return to Gillette Stadium about his time playing for Bill Belichick, Gilmore had only good things to say.

"I had a lot of great games, a lot of accolades, and I got coached by a great coach," Gilmore said. "(Patriots owner) Robert Kraft was great to me, too. It's where I played some of my best ball. We won a lot there. So, it was a great experience. It was a great place to play. There's a great atmosphere there. And it's a great opportunity for me to play there again. To me, it's one of the best football cities in America."

Gilmore is playing as well as he has in a long time this season, and the Colts have made a habit of having Gilmore shadow opposing No. 1 wideouts this year. However, what Gilmore does not usually do is kick inside to the slot, where Jakobi Meyers (easily New England's most reliable receiver) spends most of his time. Gilmore or no, the Colts have been a tough fantasy matchup for receivers though, so Meyers is a so-so WR4 play in Week 9.




Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (DeAndre Hopkins vs. Tariq Woolen)

Tariq Woolen of the Seahawks wasn't the first cornerback drafted in 2022. Or the second. Or the fifth. But eight weeks int o the season, it can be argued he's been more than just the best corner. He's been the best rookie defender period. Per John Boyle of the team's website, Woolen said he's not letting the hot start go to his head.

"I know that hard work never goes unnoticed and if you just keep coming to work, keep doing what you are doing, and are willing to get better, something great is willing to happen," he said. "I'm just making strides in the right direction and I'm just keeping a positive mind frame. I stay a positive person no matter how bad things get, so I just try to have a positive mindset, and knowing that having that mindset and knowing that you will get better, the sky is the limit."]

Woolen is Seattle's dream corner physically-long and fast. He's also playing lights out football-his passer rating against is just 47.1. But the moment that DeAndre Hopkins got back on the field for the Cardinals, Kyler Murray started peppering him with targets-a whopping 27 in two games. That volume alone makes Hopkins a must-start-regardless of coverage matchup.




Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Jalen Ramsey vs. Mike Evans)

The 2022 season hasn't gone according to plan for either the Rams or Buccaneers-both teams are two games under .500 heading into a game many saw as a potential NFC Championship Game preview. Tampa's struggles have some whispering about the team's 45-year-old quarterback, but wide receiver Mike Evans told reporters that blaming Tom Brady for Tampa's start is just kooky talk.

"Nobody's pointing the finger at Tom Brady," Evans said. "It's a whole team. A team game. The ultimate team game. It's not just one player. It never has been. He's the best to ever do it. I mean, he hates losing. That's all he knows is winning and being 3-5 is not good enough, so we've gotta turn it around and soon."

The Rams are every bit as desperate as the Buccaneers after getting waxed by the 49ers last week. Evans and Jalen Ramsey have no shortage of history against one another, and there have been shadow matchups between the pair. But the last of those came in the playoffs last year with Chris Godwin on the shelf. The more likely possibility this week is that Ramsey sees both Tampa stars in coverage, so neither Bucs pass-catcher gets much of a downgrade here.