In Week 9, Ryan Fitzpatrick has retaken his starting job, Ben Roethlisberger has a dreaded road game in Baltimore and Russell Wilson has been throwing touchdowns at an insane rate. Do you start em or sit em?
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Start em: Quarterbacks
Stud Alert: Jared Goff, Rams
Entering Week 9, Jared Goff is the 6th-best QB in fantasy, and he would probably be ranked higher if his team wasn’t so good. Seriously. Goff is 3rd in the league in passing yards and passing TDs despite the fact that Todd Gurley leads the league in rushing yards and TDs. However, in last week’s showdown with the Packers, we saw what Goff can do in a shootout situation — 295 yards, 3 TDs. His upcoming matchup with the high-powered Saints offense could take a similar turn, making Goff a great starting option. For what it’s worth, the Saints are also 3rd-worst in the league against fantasy QBs.
Drew Brees, Saints
If Goff’s value is contingent upon a shootout with the Saints, then it only follows that Drew Brees deserves a look this week as well. Sure, he was disappointing against the Vikings, but Minnesota was steam-rolled by the Saints’ running game in a way that nobody expected, and turnovers by Kirk Cousins and Adam Thielen put the game out of reach early. Against the Rams, Brees should be forced to play at his best for all four quarters, which, in the past, has meant stellar fantasy output.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buccaneers
He’s back, baby! After a record-breaking start to the season, and an anticlimactic benching in Week 4, Ryan Fitzpatrick has retaken his starting job. He’ll face the Panthers this week, who have allowed multiple passing TDs in their last six games. That high floor combined with Fitzpatrick’s potential to rack up outrageous yardage places him firmly in the starting tier. In fact, he could easily score over 20 points, which is not bad at all for a player that you likely picked up this week.
Other names to consider: Tom Brady, Patriots; Alex Smith, Redskins
Sit em: Quarterbacks
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
If you’ve followed fantasy football for longer than a season or two, you’ve no doubt heard about Ben Roethlisberger’s notorious home/road splits. Away from Heinz Field, Big Ben’s completion percentage slumps and his TD: INT ratio suffers. In Week 9, Ben will travel to Baltimore to face a Ravens team that is top-5 against fantasy QBs this season and hungry to bounce back after allowing the Panthers to score 36 points last week. Look for other options.
Dak Prescott, Cowboys
Dak Prescott entered his Week 8 bye with back to back 20+ point performances, and then the Cowboys acquired former first-round wideout Amari Cooper. There are reasons to be optimistic about Dak in the second half of the season, but the Tennessee Titans have been tough against QBs all year long, allowing only 1.3 passing TDs per game–the lowest in the league. Vegas projects this Monday Night Football matchup as the lowest scoring game of the week, which is never good for fantasy output. Look elsewhere this week.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Russell Wilson has proven me wrong once or twice this season, but he simply cannot continue throwing touchdowns at his current rate. Over his last 54 attempts (a 3-game span), Wilson has thrown 9 TDs. If you can’t do that math, it works out to 1 TD for every 6 attempts. For perspective, Patrick Mahomes, who is playing at an MVP level, is throwing 1 in 11. So, yeah, regression is coming for Wilson, and, when it does, his fantasy production will take a massive hit. Remember, the Seahawks are the most run-heavy team in the league, so volume is unlikely to ever work in Wilson’s favor. He makes me nervous this week.
Other names to avoid: Case Keenum, Broncos; Matthew Stafford, Lions
Start em: Running Backs
Lamar Miller, Texans
Nobody is ever excited about playing Lamar Miller, but, if you had him the past two weeks, the boring choice paid off. In Week 9, Miller should again be a solid, if uninspiring, option. He’s received the 8th most rushing attempts this season despite missing a game, and this week he’ll face a Broncos team that is allowing 5.3 YPC–3rd-worst in the league. If the Texans can get ahead, as they should, Miller should be force-fed the ball in the 2nd half.
Latavius Murray, Vikings
Latavius Murray has been a top-10 RB over the past three weeks, so, if you’ve been paying attention, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. He’s handling 17 carries and a handful of targets per game, and he’s scoring at a high rate. This week, he faces the Lions, who allowed Chris Carson to score over 20 points in Week 8 and have been a bottom-10 RB defense this season. Dalvin Cook may return in Week 11, but you should be able to get one more good game out of Latavius Murray before he turns back into a pumpkin.
Chris Thompson, Redskins
As has been the case throughout his career, Chris Thompson has had some tough breaks with injuries this season. However, his performance on the field has been encouraging. In the five games that Thompson has played, including one that he exited early, he is receiving a 20.4% target share. That’s a career high, and one of the highest in the league amongst running backs. The Redskins do love to force the ball to Adrian Peterson when they’re ahead, but that may be easier said than done this week against the Falcons. More likely, the Redskins will be playing catch-up, which hopefully means lots of dump-offs and checkdowns for Chris Thompson.
Other names to consider: Jordan Howard, Bears; Kerryon Johnson, Lions
Sit em: Running Backs
Tevin Coleman, Falcons
Tevin Coleman has been bailed out by some touchdowns and big plays, but he’s been generally ineffective this season. In fact, entering Week 9, he’s averaging just 3.8 YPC. Now he runs (literally) into a Redskins’ defense has held Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Christian McCaffrey to a combined 91 yards on 36 attempts over the past three weeks. I don’t think Coleman is going to outplay any of those guys, so, if you have to start him, you’re banking on a touchdown or a ton of passing work.
Derrick Henry, Titans
Before his bye in Week 8, Derrick Henry had his best game of the season against the Chargers. Do not be fooled. Henry may receive a lot of carries as the “starter,” but he has just 1 TD and hasn’t topped 57 rushing yards in a game. Plus, Dion Lewis is playing significantly more snaps–66% to just 40% for Henry–and he functions as the pass-catcher/3rd-down back. When you combine these facts with a matchup against Dallas’ above average rush defense, Henry is an obvious “sit” candidate.
Peyton Barber, Buccaneers
Peyton Barber has been startable in 2 out of his last 3 games, but I don’t expect that to be the case this week against the Panthers. Remember, Ryan Fitzpatrick is back under center, and, while there may be no correlation, Barber finished outside the top 40 in all four games that Fitzpatrick has started this season. Perhaps with Fitzpatrick racking up 400 yards a game and throwing for long-bomb touchdowns, there’s no room for Barber to get in a rhythm or to fall into the endzone from the 1-yard line. I also expect Jacquizz Rodgers to fill in on passing downs with rookie Ronald Jones out, which will only further damage Barber’s value.
Other names to avoid: LeSean McCoy, Bills; Alex Collins, Ravens
Start em: Wide Receivers
Sammy Watkins, Chiefs
There was some chatter early in the week that Tyreek Hill could be forced to miss some time with a groin injury, which would have launched Watkins into immediate fantasy stardom. It seems now that Hill will suit up on Sunday, but Watkins is still worth a start. He plays on the best offense in the league, he’s received at least one red zone target in 7 out of 8 games this season, and he faces the Browns in Week 9, who are currently 24th against fantasy wideouts.
Kenny Golladay, Lions
Three catches for 49 yards over his past two games. Yikes. After a hot start to the season, Kenny Golladay’s usage of late has been both perplexing and frustrating. However, you shouldn’t be rushing to replace him with some upstart you snagged off the waiver wire. If you didn’t hear, the Lions traded Golden Tate —their top receiver this season in terms of targets, receptions, and yards — to the Eagles on Tuesday. That means roughly 10 targets per game are now up for grabs. Golladay was already bound for some positive regression, but now he has a chance to really breakout. His matchup against the Vikings isn’t ideal, but the volume should be there for a solid bounce back game.
Jarvis Landry, Browns
Jarvis Landry is being targeted on 31.1% of the Browns’ pass attempts this season, which is the highest target share in the league. I know that the production hasn’t always matched the opportunity, but I still believe that Landry can flourish in the right matchup. He proved as much against the Buccaneers in Week 7, when he caught 10 passes for 97 yards and a TD. Landry will have another favorable matchup this week against the Chiefs who are 20th against wide receivers. The game script should also favor Landry as the Browns will be forced to throw for four quarters (or longer, knowing the Browns) to keep up with Mahomes and company.
Other names to consider: Josh Gordon, Patriots; DeSean Jackson, Buccaneers; D.J. Moore, Panthers
Sit em: Wide Receivers
Demaryius Thomas, Texans
Whenever a player is traded to a new team, especially when it’s a better team, there is a tendency to overestimate the potential of that player. Demaryius Thomas is a great example of this. Yes, Deshaun Watson is better than Case Keenum, and the Houston offense is better overall; however, it is important to remember that Thomas isn’t going to learn the entire playbook in less than a week. Furthermore, Deandre Hopkins is going to continue to soak up most of the targets in Houston’s run-heavy offense. Maybe Thomas will carve out a role for himself at some point, but you’d be better off looking elsewhere in Week 9 and waiting for the dust to settle.
Tyrell Williams, Chargers
I have never been a fan of boom-or-bust players, especially the ones that are mostly bust. Tyrell Williams finished outside the top 40 in five consecutive games before posting back to back top-10’s in Week’s 6 and 7. Nothing changed about Williams’ usage. He is averaging 4 targets per game and received exactly 4 targets in each of those contests; he was just lucky enough to break free for a few long touchdowns. I don’t see that happening every week, and the alternative is an 8 or 9 point performance, so I would prefer just to avoid the risk altogether.
Every Jets Wide Receiver
There are so many options, and none of them are good. Robby Anderson is banged up. Quincy Enunwa may or may not return from injury. Jermaine Kearse has proven capable of disappearing. Rishard Matthews was just signed off the street. One of these guys will probably have a nice game on Sunday, but there is no way to predict who it might be. The Jets’ offense has been poor, and the Dolphins have been tough on wide receivers. Stay away.
Other names to avoid: Geronimo Allison, Packers; Amari Cooper, Cowboys
Start em: Tight Ends
Greg Olsen, Panthers
At age 33, perhaps Greg Olsen is no longer the fantasy stud that he once was; however, a good matchup is a good matchup, and the Buccaneers are just that. So far this season, the Bucs have been toasted by Zach Ertz, Vance McDonald, Austin Hooper, David Njoku, and others. They’ve allowed a tight end touchdown in 4 of their last 5 games, and at least 50 receiving yards in 6 of 7. In what should be a high-scoring game, Olsen will see his share of targets, and the metrics tell us that he could have a big performance in Week 9.
David Njoku, Browns
Someway, somehow, David Njoku ran 29 routes in Week 8 without receiving a target, despite catching 11 passes for over 100 yards in the two games prior. If you took my advice to start him, I sincerely apologize. But I still believe my line of thinking was correct, and I believe Njoku will get back on track in Week 9. He’ll face a Chiefs team that is 5th-worst against tight ends, and I expect a pass-heavy game script as the Browns try to keep pace. Muster your courage and start Njoku this week.
Other names to consider: O.J. Howard, Buccaneers; Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
Sit em: Tight Ends
Trey Burton, Bears
It’s been a strange year for Trey Burton. His production has been disappointing–43rd in receptions, 46th in yardage–yet he’s the 6th-best tight end in fantasy. Burton, who has caught more than 4 passes just once this year, has been bailed out by big plays and touchdowns. I’m not forecasting many big plays for Burton this Sunday, though, as he faces the Buffalo Bills, who have been playing great defense. The Bills are top-10 against tight ends, and they haven’t allowed any tight ends to gain more than 55 yards since Week 1, despite facing Gronkowski, Rudolph, Graham, and Ebron in that stretch. Bench Burton in Week 9.
Austin Hooper, Falcons
Austin Hooper has been a pleasant surprise in an otherwise abysmal year at the tight end position; however, he hasn’t quite cracked into the tier of every-week starters. If you look closely at Hooper’s three top-10 finishes this season, you’ll notice a trend: they all came in high-scoring games. Against the Panthers, Bucs, and Steelers — all of whom field bottom-5 tight end defenses — at least 55 total points were scored. Against the Redskins, who like to establish the run and play tough defense, I’m not predicting a shootout. Lower expectations for Hooper this week.
Other names to avoid: Chris Herndon, Jets; Charles Clay, Bills