Week 9: Starts, sits, sleepers and busts for every game
Dave Richard goes through every game on the schedule for Week 9, identifying risky plays, sneaky sleepers and more for your Fantasy lineup.
Looking for some lineup advice? You've come to the right place.
With each of the Saints, Rams, Falcons and Bengals on bye in Week 9, and injuries taking their toll, you're undoubtedly looking at some tough start and sit questions. There are plenty of Fantasy-relevant names that can't be started this week, and all your leaguemates are looking to the waiver wire for short-term help, too.
Luckily, you can go through every game on the schedule right here to find out who Dave is starting and sitting for all 28 teams on the Week 9 schedule.
Houston (5-3) at Jacksonville (4-4)
9:30 a.m. ET (NFL Network)
Point spread: Texans -1.5
Kenny Stills WR
HOU Houston • #12
Age: 27 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Counting on Stills to replicate Will Fuller's role last week was clearly a mistake. For reasons only the Texans could explain, DeAndre Carter wound up with more deep targets (Stills had none!). That's tragic since Stills seems dependent on the big play, and when he's had those big plays, he still hasn't been huge for Fantasy. Not once this year has Still exceeded 14 PPR points or 10 non-PPR points in a game. If he couldn't do that against the Raiders' shoddy pass defense, there's no way he should be expected to come through against the Jaguars. It's a squad that's given up the seventh-most pass plays of 20-plus yards (31) and fifth-most 40-plus-yard receptions (seven), but one with a very good pass rush and a good enough secondary to limit Stills, who's already being limited by his target share (13% last week, 12% on the season).
Darren Fells TE
HOU Houston • #87
Age: 33 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Fells is a good-moving big guy who appears to be emerging into a red-zone beast for the Texans. He entered last week with five red-zone targets and added three more including two for touchdowns. Fells isn't just a versatile tight end who can adequately block, he also has the awareness to get himself open, something that comes in handy with a quarterback like Deshaun Watson who makes several improvisational plays per game. The Jaguars comically struggled to cover Ryan Griffin last week against the Jets (two touchdowns) and four the past five tight ends with at least three targets (that's all) have amassed at least 11 PPR and six non-PPR points. With his playing time on the rise (at least 79% of the snaps in three of his past four games) and his Fantasy production humming (at least 12 PPR points in three of his past four), it's easy to count on Fells as a streaming tight end.
JAC Jacksonville • #15
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
Last week I was nervous about Minshew because I wasn't convinced he had a good matchup and his completion percentage was trending the wrong way. This week I'm expecting his completion percentage to stay strong and I'm sure his matchup is great. The Texans have allowed at least three passing touchdowns in four straight games. Their secondary wasn't even close to fixed with the addition of cornerback Gareon Conley and now stud pass rusher J.J. Watt is out for the season. Best of all, the Jaguars should need Minshew — the Texans are fifth-best against the run (and should still be decent without Watt) while checking in at fifth-worst against the pass. I'd trust Minshew ahead of Lamar Jackson and Tom Brady this week.
Chicago (3-4) at Philadelphia (4-4)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Eagles -5
PHI Philadelphia • #24
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
The Eagles know they have a problem stretching defenses without any speed, but they have the big guys up front to hammer away on defenses. Howard churned for plenty of yards after contact last week at Buffalo, dragging defenders and falling forward for extra stats. He also continues to be the Eagles' preferred option near the goal line with five short-range scores (Sanders has zero). I think this helps him have an edge against a rapidly deteriorating Bears defense that's been smashed for seven rushing touchdowns in its past four games. Melvin Gordon had a smattering of tough runs against them last week and Latavius Murray was a battering ram the week before that. Philadelphia shouldn't have any problem giving Howard a chance to extract some revenge against his old team. He's a better option in non-PPR because he doesn't catch the ball a lot.
Carson Wentz QB
PHI Philadelphia • #11
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
The Eagles' formula for beating the Bears should include a lot of ball-control offense, not airing it out. While Chicago's pass rush has failed to come up big lately (just one sack of Philip Rivers last week), it's the pass defense that's played mostly well. Only two quarterbacks all season have had two scores against them, and only one (Teddy Bridgewater) exceeded 20 Fantasy points. For his part, Wentz has attempted under 30 passes in four of his past five and figures to be limited again. Not surprisingly, he's been below 20 Fantasy points in three of his past four.
Indianapolis (5-2) at Pittsburgh (3-4)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Colts -1
IND Indianapolis • #7
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
With T.Y. Hilton out, Brissett's numbers should be limited. It's a no-duh statement, but only once this season has Brissett put together a good game without some help from Hilton. That was in Week 4 versus Oakland, when Brissett threw 46 times while playing from behind, and two of his three touchdowns came in the final six minutes of the game. If the Broncos found ways to disrupt Brissett (12 pressures, four sacks), then you know the Steelers will too. It would be surprising if the Colts had the chance to regularly attack downfield with long passes. Expect dinks and dunks, which won't help Brissett have a big Fantasy week.
Eric Ebron TE
IND Indianapolis • #85
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
I discovered an interesting stat on Ebron: Since he arrived in Indy, the Colts have had 10 games where their run game struggled to get even 90 yards with no touchdowns. In those 10 games, Ebron came through with good Fantasy stat lines -- at least 8 non-PPR points or 11 PPR points -- nine times. I bring this up because the Colts find themselves in a tough matchup at Pittsburgh, one in which they could have a hard time running the ball. Ebron's always been a risky Fantasy starter who needs to score, and while the Steelers have been up and down against tight ends, he's only worth trusting if you can't bring yourself to start someone like Jason Witten or Greg Olsen.
N.Y. Jets (1-6) at Miami (0-7)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Jets -3
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #18
Age: 31 • Experience: 10 yrs.
Two things in this world can get rid of ghosts: The Ghostbusters and the Dolphins defense. The league's worst pass-rushing unit shouldn't hinder Darnold in the least, and a beat-up secondary with a lot of no-name cornerbacks (I guess Eric Rowe is a name you might have heard of) should get fooled pretty easily by the Jets' receivers. Darnold's a good streaming option. Anderson is a good bye-week replacement non-PPR flex considering his huge upside, even if he's typically been terrible away from MetLife Stadium and on natural grass. Thomas has stolen much of Jamison Crowder's target share from earlier this season and stands out as a high-floor bye-week replacement in PPR (10-plus PPR in two of his past three).
Minnesota (6-2) at Kansas City (5-3)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Vikings -1
Kirk Cousins QB
MIN Minnesota • #8
Age: 31 • Experience: 8 yrs.
The issue for Cousins isn't the matchup, even if the Chiefs had five sacks and a league-best 16 quarterback pressures last week, per Sports Info Solutions. The issue is whether or not Cousins will throw enough and be active enough in the red zone to contribute good numbers. Kansas City's defense has allowed at least 20 Fantasy points to opposing passers in four of its past six, containing only Joe Flacco and Jacoby Brissett. But two of the four 20-point producers, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson, did plenty of running to help pad their stats. With the hunch that Minnesota's pass defense will have some breakdowns against the Chiefs, Cousins should find close to 30 pass attempts in a competitive game and thus a good shot at efficient numbers.
LeSean McCoy RB
KC Kansas City • #25
Age: 31 • Experience: 11 year
I wish I could lay out exactly how the Chiefs' running back workload will get split, but there are three guys in play who figure to each see a decent amount of work. I like how Williams looked last week with a bunch of tough runs and a short-yardage touchdown, but that all came after McCoy fumbled in the third quarter. Will McCoy be forgiven and be back on the field? Or will Williams lead the way? It almost doesn't matter — the Vikings have given up just four total touchdowns to running backs this year (three receiving) and only two have had over 100 total yards. Besides, there isn't anyone in the Chiefs' three-headed merry-go-round of runners who can get enough touches for 100 yards anyway. Williams is your best bet if you have to pick from the two.
Tennessee (4-4) at Carolina (4-3)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Panthers -4
Corey Davis WR
TEN Tennessee • #84
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
I could see the wheels coming off of the Tannehill train this weekend. He finished Week 8 with three touchdowns, but two were set up by Jameis Winston turnovers. Tannehill was way off on his deep throws (2 for 9, both caught by Smith) and predictably went to his old friend, the check-down pass, when the pass rush was too much for him. Carolina's front seven will be the toughest he's seen in three games, and they're rested. While checking down to short-area targets like Smith may benefit the big tight end, those deeper throws to Davis he missed on last week may not only continue but be batted away or intercepted by the Panthers top corner James Bradberry, who could be on Davis' hip more often than not. All three of Smith's red-zone targets this season have been catches from Tannehill, and he could see more when the Titans get inside the 10 and don't want to be too predictable. Smith's still good enough to start, but it helps that the Panthers have struggled with tight ends the past two games (George Kittle had a touchdown called back, Cameron Brate scored in Week 6).
Washington (1-7) at Buffalo (5-2)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Bills -9.5
WAS Washington • #17
Age: 24 • Experience: Rookie
Some might give McLaurin the benefit of the doubt when it comes to catching passes from Dwayne Haskins. After all, the two teamed up at Ohio State for 11 touchdowns in 2018. But Haskins has looked terrible through spurts of two games and has only thrown to his old teammate once on 22 tries. OK, fine, that's a trend that will turn itself around, but asking for that connection to re-establish itself in a road matchup against a good Bills pass defense is asking for too much too soon. Only the Patriots allow fewer Fantasy points per game to receivers than the Bills. For now, people who have McLaurin should hope he can show some good play with Haskins so we can trust him moving forward.
BUF Buffalo • #26
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
In four games together, Frank Gore has out-touched Singletary, but Singletary has played more snaps and had significantly more catches in two of them. Granted, those two were outings where the Bills weren't steamrolling an opponent and had to play from behind. That shouldn't be the case on Sunday, but after listening to Bills coaches answer questions about ignoring their run game last week, expect both backs to see plenty of action on Sunday. It helps they're facing the lowly Redskins, complete with a run defense in the top 10 in Fantasy points allowed to running backs. I wouldn't be surprised if Gore had good numbers, but Singletary's passing game role combined with his playmaking skills give him an edge over his elder counterpart.
Tampa Bay (2-5) at Seattle (6-2)
4:05 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Seahawks -6
TB Tampa Bay • #3
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
I can't think of a better way to begin than by saying this: Matt Schaub completed 75% of his passes for 8.8 yards per attempt against the Seahawks last week. Matt Schaub. Now this doesn't mean the Seahawks pass defense stinks, but high-volume passers like Winston should come down with solid totals against them. The Seahawks pass rush is so-so and the secondary beyond cornerback Shaquill Griffin can be exploited. The Bucs will probably give up on running the ball by halftime and put Winston in position to fire 35-plus times as he's done in all but two games. The only time Winston has been below 20 Fantasy points in his last five was when he went full YOLO against the Panthers and threw five interceptions. Hopefully he can keep his turnovers to a mild one or two and keep the yardage coming for Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
D.K. Metcalf WR
SEA Seattle • #14
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
Finally! Metcalf found the end zone on throws inside the 20 last week, improving his red-zone catch rate to ... 2 of 11. OK, fine, perhaps this is an area he can keep improving in while still being a deep-ball threat for the Seahawks. His size-speed combination will be tough for the Bucs to line up with -- they did a good job with Corey Davis last week but you know Metcalf's passer is better. And this matchup has shootout potential, which would mean more targets for Metcalf. There's also that tough Buccaneers run defense that the Seahawks must work around. With a plus-matchup for the second week in a row, Metcalf should be given the chance to help Fantasy rosters as a flex. He has delivered at least 10 PPR points in three of his last four.
Detroit (3-3-1) at Oakland (3-4)
4:05 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Raiders -2
Ty Johnson RB
DET Detroit • #31
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
The Lions placed Tra Carson, their leading rusher last week, on Injured Reserve. That should give Johnson a chance at getting more opportunities, particularly with one fewer man to share touches with. Johnson was kind of a mess last week, dropping one pass and being out of rhythm with Matthew Stafford on another. But he did show off some wheels and has potential in what should be a high-scoring matchup. I don't mind him as a flex option at all.
OAK Oakland • #16
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
There's nothing better than a comfortable Carr. According to Pro Football Focus, Carr completes over 75% of his passes and averages 8.0 yards per attempt with eight scores when he's not under pressure from an opposing defense. The Lions rank 28th in quarterback pressures, per Sports Info Solutions, and have 13 sacks through seven games. If Detroit plays without top cornerback Darius Slay, the matchup should be a breeze for Williams, who has a touchdown in each game he's played. As for Carr, five of seven quarterbacks have had at least 22 Fantasy points against the Lions and each of the last two — Kirk Cousins and Daniel Jones — had over 300 yards and four touchdowns! It wouldn't be surprising if this were a high-scoring game. Carr is attractively priced for DFS (5,300 on DraftKings, 7,300 on FanDuel).
Green Bay (7-1) at L.A. Chargers (3-5)
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Packers -3.5
GB Green Bay • #30
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Give credit to coach Matt LaFleur for leaning on his running backs and coming up with ways to utilize them each week. We've even started to see the Packers use both at the same time! While Jones has been dynamic, totaling at least 80 yards in three of his past four and scoring plenty, Williams has been very touchdown-dependent. He's also been really, really lucky. His receiving score at Kansas City was a great play by both he and Aaron Rodgers, but not something the team designed. And his 1-yard plunge was set up by Jones' 50-yard catch that at first blush looked like a 60-yard touchdown strike. Normally this is when I'd say we can't count on running backs like this, but a Week 9 showdown against the Chargers should keep the numbers coming. L.A.'s run defense ranks 10th-worst in the league and gave up 10 carries of 5-plus yards each of the past two weeks, including a 55-yard thumper from David Montgomery and one rushing score per game. Jones will get his, but the Packers' game plan should include a big enough dose of the run so that Williams gets some extensive work too. He's a good No. 2 running back with a couple of extra points for the taking in PPR thanks to his receiving role.
Cleveland (2-5) at Denver (2-6)
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Browns -3
DEN Denver • #14
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
It's tough to have a lot of hope for Sutton given his new quarterback. Brandon Allen moved well in the pocket, worked fine when in rhythm and had a live arm at Arkansas, theoretically making him a fit into the Broncos' West Coast offense. Unfortunately for the Broncos, that live arm has bounced around the NFL for four years and has thrown six preseason scores, 11 preseason interceptions and zero regular-season passes. I'm especially concerned about the quality of long throws Sutton will get from Allen, something that was kind of a given with Flacco (65% catch rate). Crazy thing is that the Browns have allowed multiple scores to receivers in four of their past five, but it's been slot guys and non-No. 1 receivers who have done most of the damage. If you can start him as a flex, do so.
New England (8-0) at Baltimore (5-2)
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Point spread: Patriots -3.5
James White RB
NE New England • #28
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Typically in games where the Patriots figure to have trouble running, White gets extra work in the offense. This matchup certainly qualifies — the Ravens rank third in rush yards allowed per game and have played well as long as Brandon Williams clogs up the interior lanes. Attacking the edges with White and using him in the passing game should work out to the tune of five-plus receptions and a good shot at scoring. White's had a touchdown come off the board in two of his past three games, so perhaps there's a chance one can stick here.
Dallas (4-3) at N.Y. Giants (2-6)
Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Point spread: Cowboys -7
Jason Witten TE
DAL Dallas • #82
Age: 37 • Experience: 16 yrs.
It's true: Witten has scored in three straight games against the Giants, including once in Week 1 and twice in 2017. But it's also true that in two of those three games he totaled no more than 10 PPR Fantasy points (eight in non-PPR). Something else that's true: Witten has scored 10 PPR points or less (five non-PPR points or less) in five straight games and the Giants have managed to hold every tight end they've seen since Week 1 out of the end zone. In fact, no tight end has even 70 yards against the G-Men since Week 2 (not that Witten can get 70 yards anymore). Even with the great history, he's still a touchdown-or-bust tight end with only six red-zone targets on the year (tied for 12th among his positional peers).
San Francisco (7-0) at Arizona (3-4-1)
Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NFL Network)
Point spread: 49ers -10
ARI Arizona • #13
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Each week I kinda sorta question the 49ers pass defense and each week I get shown up by the 49ers. Will I ever learn? NO. Kirk has benefited from eight-plus targets in four of five games and landed at least 15 PPR points in three of those four. His propensity for playing in the slot (76% of snaps this season) suggests he'll stay away from top 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman. 49ers slot cornerback K'Waun Williams, who has graded well on Pro Football Focus, has allowed 10 of 12 targets to be caught over the past two games. I highly doubt the Cardinals' run game will be effective, even with a fresh-legged Kenyan Drake on a short week, so look for Kyler Murray to keep the targets coming to Kirk, who passed the eyeball test in his return last week at New Orleans. He's barely on the flex radar in non-PPR.
Kyler Murray QB
ARI Arizona • #1
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Fitzgerald simply doesn't have enough target share, nor does he have enough end-zone clout, to be trusted in Fantasy. Over the last two weeks he's caught three of seven targets for 20 yards with no scores. Only one target was ticketed for the end zone (Fitzgerald caught it but couldn't get his feet in). He's had six end-zone targets all year. Part of his problem is Murray, who threw three touchdowns in Week 6 versus the Falcons but none in Weeks 4, 5, 7 and 8. Here come the 49ers, who should keep Murray on the move and force him into short-area throws. San Francisco already yields the second-lowest catch rate in football (54.5%) and hasn't given up a passing touchdown since *double-checks notes* Week 3! Covering Fitzgerald has proven to be easier for defenses lately, so expecting his woes to continue makes sense, too.
So who should you sit and start this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 9 rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.
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