Week 9 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet

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Each week, the Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet will combine analysis, data and game predictions with a confidence scale to help owners get a definitive answer on who to start in their leagues.

Say, what do all those snazzy numbers mean? That's our confidence scale. It slides from 10.0 for a legendary start to 5.0 for an average rating to a 1.0 for a pathetic rating.

Is the confidence scale based on a specific scoring system? It is based on standard leagues but is (mostly) applicable to PPR leagues. You should probably consult our PPR-specific rankings for more detail.

Who is listed below? Everyone that matters, but anyone already starting in 90 percent or more of CBSSports.com leagues is considered an obvious must-start. We're not going to waste your time trying to convince you to start Todd Gurley.

What if someone isn't listed below? If someone's missing, it's not an accident. Anyone missing is a definitive must sit, if not a must-cut player. Or they're on bye.

What's the best way to find a specific player on this page? Use your personal search function -- CTRL-F on PCs and Command-F on MACs. If neither of those are options, or if you're on a mobile device, you can search by game. Games are listed by starting times.

What if I am still unsure who to start or sit after reading this? Ask me! Shoot me a note on Twitter (@daverichard) (I'll keep an eye out for the #CBSFCS hashtag). You can always consult our rankings, too.

Let's march forward!

Raiders at Steelers, Sun., 1 p.m. ET

Quarterbacks
Derek Carr (6.3): Carr just dismantled the Jets and will try to keep the momentum rolling. The Steelers defense has been tough, pinning down all but one of the last six quarterbacks they've faced to 18 Fantasy points or less. As a bye-week quarterback he's a good option but not the best of the week.
Ben Roethlisberger (8.9): Oakland's defense has dramatically improved but not against the pass. Geno Smith, who came off the bench, was the sixth quarterback this season to record at least 21 Fantasy points against them. This feels like a bounce-back game for Roethlisberger.

Running backs
Latavius Murray (7.3): Hard to sit this fella after he ran for over 110 yards on the Jets last week, but the Steelers run defense has been outstanding and the Raiders figure to play from behind. At least lower expectations for Murray and call him a No. 2 Fantasy rusher.
DeAngelo Williams (7.5): In all but one game this season a Steelers running back has posted at least 10 Fantasy points. Williams has done it three times including last week. It'll be a tough task to do it against a Raiders run defense that has held rushers to 3.6 yards per carry on the season and zero rushing touchdowns through five games, but Williams has to be given a chance in Fantasy by virtue of his workload.

Wide receivers
Amari Cooper (8.9): Big, fast and physical receivers have found the end zone against the Steelers for three straight weeks. If the Raiders are forced to throw more than run, Cooper should rebound in a big way from Week 8.
Michael Crabtree (7.0): It's tough to find flaws in a receiver who has notched at least eight targets in all but one game this season and a touchdown in each of his last two. Simply put, Crabtree is taking full advantage of his coverage in an offense with a capable quarterback. It should continue in Week 9.
Antonio Brown (9.3): Obvious must-start.
Martavis Bryant (7.5): Roethlisberger tried to get Bryant going with nine targets including four on passes of 15-plus yards. The Raiders have allowed 29 pass plays of 20-plus yards (but only four of 40-plus yards). Bryant's potential keeps him in the No. 2 receiver discussion.

Tight ends
Clive Walford (2.5): Walford is playing a decent amount of time (close to half of the team's snaps), but he's far from a fixture in the Raiders offense. The Steelers have been solid against tight ends including holding Eifert and Travis Kelce to under 80 yards each in consecutive weeks.
Heath Miller (6.2): The Raiders can't slow down tight ends, and their best coverage linebacker, Neiron Ball, is out. Last week Kellen Davis scored on the Raiders for Pete's sake! It's enough to make Miller a low-end starter, though it sure doesn't hurt that he was a trusted target for Roethlisberger last week.

Defense/Special teams
Raiders (4.8): The Steelers were held to 10 points last week, their lowest total of the season. The Raiders are allowing 23.7 points per game on the road and have four sacks in their last two games. In a pinch, they'll work as a bye-week replacement but that's about as far as you should go.
Steelers (5.2): Maybe before the season this looked like a juicy matchup for the Steelers. Not so much anymore -- the Raiders are scoring 25.4 points per game. However, you'll still go with the Steelers DST because it has scored 11-plus Fantasy points in six of its last seven.

Titans at Saints, Sun., 1 p.m. ET

Quarterbacks
Marcus Mariota (4.4): The matchup is obviously grand, but Mariota is too risky to trust with a depleted receiving corps. His best pass catchers are Delanie Walker and Harry Douglas. Good luck?!?
Drew Brees (8.8): The Titans pass defense isn't anything great but has held its own against the quarterbacks it has faced. Brees is coming off a monster game and should be re-energized. It's hard to expect a bad game from him at this point.

Running backs
Antonio Andrews (6.0): Sure, the Saints run defense has allowed 4.8 yards per carry on the season and will be without two starting linebackers. But Andrews is just now earning the majority of snaps for the Titans and didn't do a ton with them at any point this season. For example, last week's seven Fantasy points (10 in PPR) was a three-game high. That's a good game for him. By default, he's a low-end No. 2 Fantasy rusher this week.
Dexter McCluster (3.6): Ridiculously tough to lean on. Even if the Titans play from behind (like last week) it's not a guarantee he'll end up with good numbers.
Mark Ingram (8.7): Obvious must-start.
C.J. Spiller (4.7): You've got to figure his playing time and touches will increase following the injury to Khiry Robinson. The stars are aligned -- he's at home, on turf, against a poor run defense -- it's just a matter of him delivering. He had nine Fantasy points last week thanks to a touchdown, his second-best game of the season.

Wide receivers
Harry Douglas (3.95): He's expected back this week, which is a welcome sight for the Titans considering the lack of depth and experience in their receiving corps. Thanks to a surplus of targets heading his way, if you're looking for a receiver with a shot at 60 yards, maybe more, go with Douglas.
Dorial Green-Beckham (3.9): After firing coach Ken Whisenhunt, it's pretty clear the Titans have turned the calendar to 2016. That should mean more opportunities for Green-Beckham, who has played over 60 percent of the snaps in the last two weeks but has just three targets and one catch to show for it. That should go up with Kendall Wright out -- but it might not mean a lot statistically.
Brandin Cooks (7.6): Finally, Cooks had the kind of game we were hoping for. It came against an awful defense with no pass rush and afforded Cooks the chance to score twice. That's really the only difference between Week 8 and Weeks 1 through 7. The Titans have allowed at least one receiver to land 10-plus Fantasy points in each of their last six games and will play this one potentially without top cornerback Jason McCourty. That helps.
Willie Snead (6.0): Maybe the best part of Snead's Week 8 was the eight targets, the second-most he's had this season. That might have been a byproduct of the Saints opting to pass 50 times against a bad pass defense, so have expectations reeled in for him heading into Week 9. The glimmer of hope is that the Titans could play without two of their top four corners, which could put pressure on them to properly cover all of the Saints' wideouts.

Tight ends
Delanie Walker (5.0): Delanie's been a disappointment in standard formats but does provide Tennessee with a steady target in the middle of the field. Averaging right around 10 yards per catch, he's a good bye-week option but that's really it.
Benjamin Watson (8.1): Watson continues to be a steady part of the Saints offense, one not expected to disappear anytime soon. The Titans have been pretty good against tight ends this season but owners will need a really good option to start ahead of Watson this week.

Defense/Special teams
Titans (2.8): You do know the Saints scored 52 points last week, right?
Saints (6.0): It's never good to trust bad defenses, especially with two linebackers missing, but favorable matchups matter. Six straight DSTs have posted a minimum of 12 Fantasy points against the Titans. The Saints have posted 12 or more Fantasy points in two of their last three.

Jaguars at Jets, Sun., 1 p.m. ET

Quarterbacks
Blake Bortles (5.0): Crazy but true: the Jets have allowed an opposing quarterback to notch over 30 Fantasy points in each of the last two weeks. Two weeks ago it was understandable (Tom Brady), but last week was surreal (Derek Carr). Bortles has the receiving corps capable of making a dent, but the Jets defensive front will put pressure on him and could cause some turnovers. That's primarily why Bortles registers as a low-end bye-week quarterback. He'll have better matchups ahead.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (6.6): Fitzpatrick can play through his injured thumb, which means the Jets are scared to trust their other quarterbacks. Jacksonville's defense shouldn't hurt him much -- it has allowed big Fantasy point games to Brian Hoyer and EJ Manuel in consecutive weeks. So long as Fitzpatrick has both of his stud receivers, he should be expected to gather at least 20 Fantasy points.

Running backs
T.J. Yeldon (6.1): The only way Yeldon delivers what Latavius Murray delivered last week is if he gets the kind of touches Murray had. Yeldon had 20 carries and a catch in Week 7 versus Buffalo and made 17 Fantasy points from it, but the Jets figure to be tough on Yeldon, particularly after looking foolish at Oakland the week prior. He's a decent No. 2 running back.
Chris Ivory (8.8): This should be a solid game for Ivory after getting pelted by the Raiders last week. Jacksonville has allowed only one 100-yard rusher on the season but quality starters have found the end zone against them most matchups. Ivory's a safe bet for a rebound.

Wide receivers
Allen Hurns (7.4): Offenses are no longer scared to go after Jets cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine. Last week Cromartie got burned on the kind of deep route Hurns has been running for two seasons. He's got a shot of being productive for a Jaguars offense that figures to throw a lot.
Allen Robinson (6.1): The thinking is that Darrelle Revis will attach himself to Robinson for most of the game. While Revis is starting to show some cracks in the armor, he's still done a nice job pinning down opposing top receivers. Robinson might be in for a tough game so keep expectations down.
Brandon Marshall (8.7): Obvious must-start.
Eric Decker (7.9): Decker stayed productive even without Ryan Fitzpatrick, notching his sixth straight game with at least nine Fantasy points in standard formats (11 in PPR). The Jaguars have allowed multiple touchdowns to receivers in each of their last two games.

Tight ends
Julius Thomas (6.4): Rob Gronkowski is really the only tight end to hurt the Jets badly this season, but he has really been the only test this defense has had. Thomas' size and speed could give him an edge against the Jets defenders (minus safety Calvin Pryor, by the way) and his targets should bubble up after getting just five in Week 7.

Defense/Special teams
Jaguars (4.4): Only two DSTs have exceeded 10 Fantasy points against the Jets this season and both scored a touchdown in order to get there. The Jaguars seem unlikely to score on defense and should be susceptible to the Jets' offense.
Jets (7.3): In his last three games, Bortles has been picked off five times, sacked 11 times and seen the defense score on him once per game. That has helped each of the last three DSTs to play the Jags post at least 12 Fantasy points even though Jacksonville has averaged 28.3 points per game. The Jets are a must-start.

Rams at Vikings, Sun., 1 p.m. ET

Quarterbacks
Nick Foles (2.8): It doesn't matter if the Vikings have allowed two straight quarterbacks to earn over 20 Fantasy points, Foles has become a swell game manager who's reliant on his defense and rookie running back to help deliver wins. He has two games with multiple touchdowns, none since Week 4. The Vikings should be able to contain him.
Teddy Bridgewater (4.6): The combination of uneven play and a tough matchup against an improving Rams defense makes Bridgewater a big risk.

Running backs
Todd Gurley (9.1): Obvious must-start.
Adrian Peterson (8.6): Obvious must-start.

Wide receivers
Tavon Austin (4.6): The inconsistent Austin typically saves his best games for domes and artificial turf. The Vikings don't have the dome but do have the turf. They also boast a defense that's allowed a score to a receiver in five of their last six games. With around eight to 10 touches per game lately, Austin's a risk as a No. 3 Fantasy option but he has scored a bunch lately and the Rams can't just hand it to Gurley 40 times.
Stefon Diggs (7.3): Diggs is rocketing toward must-start status, but the Rams present his toughest matchup so far. St. Louis has allowed just three touchdowns to wideouts on the year and only one has eclipsed the 100-yard mark. He's squarely a No. 2 receiver this week.

Tight ends
Kyle Rudolph (3.9): The Rams have returned to being tough on tight ends, making Rudolph a risk. He's easy to get away from considering the depth at the position.

Defense/Special teams
Rams (7.5): This will be a tussle for a tough Rams defense as the Vikings have averaged well over 300 total yards and 21.0 points per game. No one should sit the Rams but maybe have expectations lowered a notch.
Vikings (7.0): Three of the last four DSTs to take on the Rams have posted six Fantasy points or less! That's because the Rams aren't putting Foles in a position to take a lot of sacks or throw a lot of turnovers (never mind that four-interception game at Green Bay). But they might have to at Minnesota, and that could lead to some decent numbers for the Vikings DST. They're worth taking a shot on, but they'll play without defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and linebacker Eric Kendricks. That's two strikes against them.

Packers at Panthers, Sun., 1 p.m. ET

Quarterbacks
Aaron Rodgers (8.0): You might be jittery to start Rodgers again -- the Panthers have allowed just one quarterback to get to 20 Fantasy points (and none higher). But he's taking on the Panthers after their defense played into overtime on Monday. He also had a near-perfect game against them at home in 2014. Expect a good game.
Cam Newton (7.6): Cam has found ways to put up nice numbers at home and really should have had a monster game on Monday. The Packers held Newton to 205 passing yards, 41 rushing yards and one score in Green Bay last season, proof that they know how to limit him. But they might play this one without cornerback Sam Shields, opening the door for Cam to target rookie cornerback Damarious Randall. Expect better numbers from Newton this time around, but he might not get much more than 21 or 22 Fantasy points.

Running backs
Eddie Lacy (6.3): We saw Lacy as the Packers' lead back, but he didn't look that much better than before the bye week. Even though Lacy is more bulk than swift he will take on a Panthers defense that played on Monday. Maybe it gives him a slight edge.
Jonathan Stewart (8.2): Since the bye, Stewart has averaged 4.2 yards per carry and, more importantly, topped 20 carries per game. The Packers run defense was gashed last week by the Broncos and really hasn't been stout against effective run teams all season. Even on a short week, Stewart is a must-start.

Wide receivers
Randall Cobb (7.2): If there's reason for optimism on Cobb it's that it seems unlikely that Josh Norman will shadow him all game long. That means a lot of matchups against slot corner Bene Benwikere, which can be favorable. The Colts did a nice job working the middle of the field against Carolina on Monday -- the Packers could duplicate it with a decent dose of Cobb, who had nine targets and six grabs at Denver for an uncharacteristic 27 yards.
James Jones (5.0): No matter where he lines up, Jones figures to see a big dose of Josh Norman and Charles Tillman. Of the four touchdowns scored by receivers on the Panthers this season, three were by non-starters and one was by a starting outside receiver in garbage time. Jones is a risky play.
Davante Adams (2.5): There's no good reason to start Adams. He lines up outside (tough matchup), he had just two targets last week and he has totaled eight Fantasy points over three-and-a-half games this season. Forget it.
Ted Ginn (4.3): The Panthers have no choice but to stick with Ginn and his stone hands. The Packers have allowed over 230 yards to wideouts over their last two games but it's come on a boat load of pass attempts. He's a boom or bust bye-week receiver in standard leagues.

Tight ends
Richard Rodgers (4.7): Teams have started to wise up against the Panthers and go to their tight ends. In the last three weeks the position has taken 38 targets and turned them into 24 catches, 277 yards and a touchdown. Rodgers is a semi-sneaky last-ditch tight end option for those looking for bye week help.
Greg Olsen (8.0): Obvious must-start.

Defense/Special teams
Packers (5.4): 9, 8, 9, 9, 8. Those are the Fantasy point totals from DSTs playing against the Panthers over the last five games. Expect something like that from the Pack.
Panthers (5.6): Only the Broncos DST has posted more than 10 Fantasy points versus Green Bay this season. Don't be shocked if the Panthers DST delivers a good-but-not-great game after playing a long game on Monday.

Dolphins at Bills, Sun., 1 p.m. ET

Quarterbacks
Ryan Tannehill (4.9): Even though Tannehill's track record against Rex Ryan's defenses isn't pretty, he's still taking on a Bills defense that has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in six of seven games. Playing with a depleted offensive line, even against a Bills defense missing tackle Kyle Williams, does not help his case. He probably has a ceiling of about 19 Fantasy points.
Tyrod Taylor (6.5): Taylor went to town on the Dolphins in Week 3, scoring three times and throwing for 277 yards. Miami has allowed seven passing touchdowns in its last two games, which bodes well for Taylor, particularly since Sammy Watkins looks like he'll be active. Taylor also has multiple scores in three of his last four.

Running backs
Lamar Miller (7.8): With the Bills D-line missing a key piece in Kyle Williams, there's some optimism for Miller to deliver good numbers. Not only have the Bills allowed a rushing score to a running back in three straight, they've allowed 4.6 yards per carry in their last two games without a full dose of Williams.
LeSean McCoy (7.7): It's not the same matchup the Bills enjoyed in Week 3 -- since the bye the Dolphins have wrangled running backs for 3.3 yards per carry, a massive improvement. McCoy would need to make a big impact as a receiver to help his numbers, but he hasn't had more than three grabs or 46 yards through the air this season. He's probably best as a No. 2 Fantasy running back.
Karlos Williams (4.2): Williams could work his way back into the Bills run game with a handful of touches. He's shown a nose for the end zone, scoring in every game he's played in. As a third running back or low-end flex, he's not bad.

Wide receivers
Jarvis Landry (6.3): Would you believe that since the bye Landry has averaged 14.0 yards per catch? That's a smidge more than even Matthews. His role has changed a bit and his usage remains consistent, particularly if you factor in the time he rested in Week 7. For all the talk about the Bills secondary, they've allowed a ton of stats this season.
Rishard Matthews (6.2): Matthews scored twice on the Bills (once in ultra-garbage time) and had 113 yards back in Week 3. There's a chance the Bills emphasize coverage on him but there's a better chance Matthews can find numbers simply because the Bills coverage has been exploited routinely this season.
Sammy Watkins (5.3): It's great that Watkins might be back, but he hasn't played to even modest expectations so far this season. In the span of four games he's caught 11 of 18 targets for 147 yards and two scores. That makes him seem like a touchdown dependent receiver. Luckily, he's taking on a Dolphins pass defense that has allowed eight touchdowns to wide receivers in its last six games (and four since their Week 5 bye). You could do worse.
Robert Woods (3.2): With Watkins out, Woods would have figured to hog a ton of targets. But with Watkins back those targets could be so-so. Expect mediocre numbers from Woods.

Tight ends
Jordan Cameron (3.3): There's no reason to trust Cameron as he's had one game with more than three Fantasy points in his last five despite getting a mostly consistent diet of targets. He also got nicked up in practice. You can do better.
Charles Clay (6.3): In Week 7 the theory was that the Bills had so few pass catchers that Clay would get a ton of numbers. That didn't happen. But Tyrod Taylor didn't play then, and Taylor seems to like throwing to Clay. His best game of the year came at Miami in Week 3 and could come in at around nine Fantasy points in the second meeting with his former team. Quality tight ends have ripped apart the Dolphins all season.

Defense/Special teams
Dolphins (5.0): Without Cameron Wake, the Dolphins DST takes a major hit. Where will the pass rush come from? DSTs against the Bills have averaged three sacks per game over their past four along with plenty of turnovers. The Dolphins will do better than the goose egg they recorded versus Buffalo in Week 3, but it might not be way better.
Bills (6.4): One area the Dolphins have not improved since the bye is sacks allowed. Ryan Tannehill has been nabbed 11 times in three post-bye games and five times last week at New England. You better believe the Bills will gear up to take Tannehill down and create some takeaways, just as they did in Week 3. The DST had 18 Fantasy points that week.

Redskins at Patriots, Sun., 1 p.m. ET

Quarterbacks
Kirk Cousins (5.1): Cousins is coming off of a career-best four-touchdown game but is still really hard to trust. Sure, the Patriots have allowed a bunch of numbers to quarterbacks on the season but the Pats have a way of making the inconsistent quarterbacks look particularly bad. If you're starting Cousins, you're hoping for him to do well in garbage time and not throw more than two interceptions.
Tom Brady (10.0): Obvious must-start.

Running backs
Chris Thompson (4.5): If things hold to form before the bye week, Thompson will continue to serve the Redskins as their passing downs guy. In his last four games he averaged four carries, seven catches and just over 62 total yards per game. That doesn't offer a whole lot in standard leagues, but in PPR, he's not half bad. He should have a good shot at seven grabs and 60 yards as the Redskins play from behind.
Matt Jones (3.9) & Alfred Morris (3.4): Jay Gruden can say all he wants about running the ball coming out of the bye, but this isn't the week where the run game will have many opportunities. On average, opponents are handing the ball off to running backs just under 20 times per game against the Patriots. For guys who split like Jones and Morris, that puts a major cap on their expectations. Last week the Patriots allowed their first rushing touchdown to a running back since Week 3. Neither guy is a reliable start.
LeGarrette Blount (8.3): The matchup sets up very well for Blount. Not only have the Redskins allowed 5.6 yards per carry over their last three, but they've also seen opponents call for handoffs 31.7 times per game in that span. There's no way Blount won't be involved if the Pats find themselves up big in the second half. He's a No. 1 running back this week.
Dion Lewis (7.4): Lewis' role is pretty much carved out for the Patriots, and he has proven his worth. The big concern has nothing to do with the Redskins (they're allowing 5.6 yards per carry over their last three games) but rather with LeGarrette Blount being the guy who does the clock killing in the second half. It could send Lewis' touches under double digits.

Wide receivers
Pierre Garcon (5.6): There's actually some appeal to Garcon this week -- the matchup's not bad and the Patriots will have their hands full trying to take away DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed. The key will be targets for Garcon -- they're not always there when Jackson is on the field, but in this case, with Washington expected to play from behind, he could end up being a very nice bye-week replacement or third receiver.
DeSean Jackson (4.7): D-Jax has played against Bill Belichick just once in his career (in 2011) and was kept under wraps despite 10 targets. The hunch is that Belichick will order his defense to properly cover Jackson so he doesn't beat them deep. Tack on that Jackson is playing in his first game since suffering a hamstring injury and it makes it the wrong time to put him back into lineups.
Julian Edelman (9.2): Obvious must-start.
Brandon LaFell (4.2): This is LaFell's best matchup to date against a Washington secondary that has struggled through injuries and bad play all season long. Washington has allowed multiple touchdowns to wide receivers in four of its last give games.
Danny Amendola (3.4): He had one target last week after landing nine in the two weeks prior. It makes Amendola a risky play, even in a favorable matchup.

Tight ends
Jordan Reed (7.8): Reed has posted at least eight Fantasy points (14 in PPR) in every game he's finished this year, and last week's 11 catches on 13 targets (and two touchdowns) tells you exactly how important he is to Cousins. The Patriots haven't really been tested against a big-time tight end like this all season.
Rob Gronkowski (9.7): Obvious must-start.

Defense/Special teams
Redskins (3.0): You're joking, right? DSTs to play the Patriots have posted 10 or fewer Fantasy points in every game this year.
Patriots (6.6): Each of the last three and four of the last five DSTs to take on Washington have garnered at least nine Fantasy points. They're not getting to Cousins very often (eight sacks allowed) but they sure are picking him off a bunch (eight interceptions allowed). The Pats are a safe pick.

Falcons at 49ers, Sun., 4:05 p.m. ET

Quarterbacks
Matt Ryan (7.8): Maybe there's a little concern over how much Ryan will have to throw -- this is a 49ers team averaging a league worst 13.6 points per game, after all. But Ryan is averaging 39 pass attempts per game and should keep firing away. He's scored at least 22 Fantasy points in two of his last three -- that's a fair expectation for Week 9.
Blaine Gabbert (1.5): Gabbert's rise to starter in San Francisco has more to do with Kaepernick struggling than anything else. In case you were wondering, Gabbert has three career games with multiple passing touchdowns and one game with 20-plus Fantasy points over 27 career starts.

Running backs
Devonta Freeman (9.5): Obvious must-start.
Kendall Gaskins (3.7): On top of being a total fish out of water pressed into action, Gaskins will take on a Falcons run defense that has allowed 3.6 yards per carry to running backs this season. It has also allowed 10 touchdowns, so if there's a glimmer of hope, it's that the big, physical Gaskins somehow finds the end zone -- something he did 34 times in college. Expect him to share some reps with Pierre Thomas and Shaun Draughn.

Wide receivers
Julio Jones (9.6): Obvious must-start.
Roddy White (2.3): Last week Leonard Hankerson was out and White still was outproduced by Jacob Tamme. That's kind of crazy. Surprisingly, he's still on 60 percent of CBSSports.com rosters. No one knows why.
Torrey Smith (2.7): There's absolutely no appeal in Smith so long as Gabbert is his quarterback. Color us skeptical -- we'll have to see Gabbert turn Smith into a Fantasy sensation before we trot him into a lineup.

Tight ends
Jacob Tamme (6.0): Sure looks like he's the No. 2 receiver for the Falcons so long as Leonard Hankerson is sidelined. If you start him, you're counting on the targets being there. There's no guarantee of that, but the Niners pass defense certainly has some holes Tamme can find success against.

Defense/Special teams
Falcons (8.3): It would be the biggest surprise of all time if the Falcons defense couldn't contain an offense led by Blaine Gabbert, Kendall Gaskins and Torrey Smith. The Niners scored nine total points over their last two games, and that's before they turned to Gabbert! One worry: Atlanta will play without three starters including two in the secondary. Against a better opponent, they'd be bench meat.
49ers (4.0): Jim Tomsula's unit has scored eight Fantasy points or less in six of its last seven games. The Falcons offense is averaging 26.6 points per game. San Fran may also be without three defensive backs -- against Julio Jones that is bad, bad news.

Giants at Buccaneers, Sun., 4:05 p.m. ET

Quarterbacks
Eli Manning (9.3): Manning's six touchdowns had just as much to do with the matchup as it did his own play. But with the way the Giants run game looks (and the way the Bucs run defense has been shining), we should expect plenty of stats from Manning. The past three quarterbacks to play against the Bucs have averaged 339.0 yards and three touchdowns each. Bucs leading pass rusher Jacquies Smith was ruled out, helping Manning's matchup.
Jameis Winston (5.8): Drew Brees sure showed Winston a path on how to slice and dice the Giants pass defense last week. But Winston isn't quite the savvy vet that Brees is, nor does he have quite as good of an offensive line, nor does he have as reliable of a receiving corps. But Winston has been sharp since the bye, posting back-to-back games with multiple touchdowns and a 63.8 completion percentage. He's not the best choice as a bye-week quarterback (the Giants do have eight interceptions in their last three games) but he's not the worst.

Running backs
Shane Vereen (4.4): Whether Orleans Darkwa plays or not, Vereen is the only reliable Fantasy running back on the Giants roster, and even that is pretty much limited to PPR leagues. In the past four games, the Bucs have given up 62.5 rush yards per game, 7.1 receiving yards per game and zero rushing touchdowns to running backs. If you start Vereen, you're looking for 50 total yards.
Doug Martin (9.3): The dud by Martin last week wasn't for a lack of trying -- the Bucs game him 23 carries. If he lands 23 carries against a porous Giants run defense, he'll be awesome for Fantasy.
Charles Sims (4.3): In a pinch Sims could work out for you as a bye-week running back. His production has stunk since the bye as the Bucs have started to lean on Martin for roughly 60 percent of the snaps.

Wide receivers
Odell Beckham (9.7): Obvious must-start.
Rueben Randle (4.9) & Dwayne Harris (3.7): It is so like Randle to come up empty in a game where his quarterback throws six touchdowns. And it's just like Harris to land a pair of touchdowns when no one's expecting. There's no doubt that the weakness of the Bucs defense is in the secondary but there's only so much hope you can have for these guys when Odell Beckham is hogging targets, especially in the red zone.
Mike Evans (8.8): After wide receivers caught five of the seven touchdowns Brees threw last week, there's gobs of optimism for Evans to destroy the Giants secondary. A receiver has scored in each of the last four against the Giants.
Adam Humphries (2.8): With Vincent Jackson out, it looks like Humphries is getting an opportunity to play. He had six targets and three catches last week and should enjoy the same kind of favorable matchup everyone else to play the Giants have. Want a deep, deep sleeper for Week 9? This is it.

Tight ends
Will Tye (4.1): The Giants will enlist in Tye as a fill-in for Larry Donnell, who is week-to-week according to coach Tom Coughlin. Tight ends have a knack for finding openings against defenses like the Bucs, so if you're desperate for one, consider Tye.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (6.25): Assuming he plays, Seferian-Jenkins should grab a bunch of targets and make plays against this depleted defense that's been weak against tight ends for much of the year.

Defense/Special teams
Giants (4.2): Remember when the Bucs offense was a great matchup? Not anymore -- each of the last three DSTs to play the Bucs have scored six Fantasy points or less. Skip the Giants, even if they get Jason Pierre-Paul back.
Buccaneers (3.4): In the Giants' eight games this season they let one DST -- the Eagles in Philadelphia -- walk away with a big game. In every other game the Giants have allowed three sacks or fewer and averaged 26.8 points per game. Pass on the Bucs.

Broncos at Colts, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET

Quarterbacks
Peyton Manning (7.0): On one hand, you have Manning going up against his old team. The Colts have been pitiful defensively, allowing 20-plus Fantasy points to five of the last six quarterbacks they've taken on. But Peyton hasn't found even 12 Fantasy points in his past four starts, and the Broncos would probably be thrilled to run after how they performed against Green Bay last week. The hunch is the Colts defense is bad enough to help make Peyton's receivers (hopefully including Vernon Davis) look great, which should be enough to give Peyton one of his best days statistically.
Andrew Luck (5.9): Does Luck have the pass-catchers to help him move the chains against this top-shelf defense? Sure, but he also has an offensive line that could get him mugged by the pass rush on a regular basis. Tack on injuries to his shoulder, ribs and ankle, plus playing on a short week, plus T.Y. Hilton's foot injury, and it all looks like bad news. It would not be a surprise to see him throw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, but with three turnovers. In a typical Fantasy league that would mean 18 points, which would be the most for any passer against the Broncos this season.

Running backs
Ronnie Hillman (8.4): Seems clear he's the Broncos' best back, which means he'll get the most work against a Colts run defense that has allowed a minimum of 10 Fantasy points to six straight starting rushers. Expect significantly more than that from Hillman.
C.J. Anderson (6.8): The Broncos figure to continue to run the ball as much as possible, so Anderson will take snaps. Offenses are averaging 25.5 handoffs per game to running backs against the Colts, and Hillman will definitely not get that many. Anderson could do some decent damage on 12 or so carries plus some catches.
Frank Gore (5.1): A lot of people will write off Gore because he's old, but he's not really the big problem in Indy. His O-line isn't helping him out and many of the defenses he has faced have been good. That's the case this week. Either bench Gore of keep expectations down for this tough matchup.

Wide receivers
Demaryius Thomas (9.5): Obvious must-start.
Emmanuel Sanders (8.5): Obvious must-start, even with the bad game last week. The matchup is just too sweet.
T.Y. Hilton (4.45): Hilton has a foot injury that could sideline him. He didn't practice all week and appears to be a game-time decision. Even if he plays, Broncos cornerback Chris Harris could keep his numbers down. It's another really hard matchup for Hilton -- only two receivers have put up over 10 Fantasy points against Denver all season (Mike Wallace and Travis Benjamin).
Donte Moncrief (4.5): It would almost be better for Moncrief if Hilton played if only so he knew he'd see single coverage. But regardless, the Broncos' cornerbacks are deep and play tough. If we assume Hilton is out, Moncrief could then end up getting the Harris treatment. That would be a major problem. Denver has allowed one touchdown to a receiver this year.
Andre Johnson (3.8): When Luck started finding Johnson in the fourth quarter last week, his passing numbers ticked up. Of course the Colts will play the matchups, so if Johnson winds up covered by neither Chris Harris nor Aqib Talib, Luck will believe he will help the cause. He's actually a sneaky play as a low-end flex.

Tight ends
Vernon Davis (4.3): No one is expecting Davis to be very involved in the Broncos offense this week, but you never know. Even with a basic package of plays, Davis provides a matchup problem for the Colts secondary. No one should start him, but in time he will be a solid factor for the Broncos, be it in terms of coverage or stats.
Coby Fleener (4.9): Fleener's playing time might be on the rise with Rob Chudzinski in control of the offense. Like Johnson, Fleener was a big factor in the second half last week and could draw some decent matchups for Luck to challenge. As far as bye-week tight ends go, he's in the mix.

Defense/Special teams
Broncos (7.1): Count on a lot of sacks and turnovers against the Colts. Holding Indy to a handful of points might be an issue, but the rest of the matchup should suit the Broncos just fine.
Colts (3.8): The Colts are playing on a short week following a sloppy road loss. The timing is bad for them to show up and shut the Broncos down.

Eagles at Cowboys, Sun., 8:30 p.m. ET

Quarterbacks
Sam Bradford (4.8): Dallas' defense, complete with a solid pass rush, has become a nuisance for quarterbacks lately. After holding Eli Manning and Russell Wilson to one total touchdown and under 225 yards each, the outlook isn't so rosy for Bradford. He's an easy quarterback to cut, much less bench.
Matt Cassel (3.6): Philadelphia's secondary isn't that great, but with 16 Fantasy points in his last two games combined, Cassel is not in a position to take advantage. Each of the last three quarterbacks to play Philly have been below 20 Fantasy points anyway.

Running backs
DeMarco Murray (7.6): The hunch is that the Eagles will come out of the bye week with a rejuvenated run game. When they played back in Week 2, the Eagles' schemes and formations tipped off the Cowboys defense. Expect some major changes in terms of formations and play calls, the likes of which should benefit Murray. He should finally have that big revenge game we were all counting on in September.
Ryan Mathews (5.3): There could be some changes in Mathews' usage coming out of the week-long break for the Eagles. Anyone who watches the games can see Mathews is the better runner for what Chip Kelly asks of his backs. He's not a bad choice if you're thin at running back in Week 9.
Darren Sproles (4.8): Sproles' track record proves that whenever he's on turf, the Eagles use him more. Expect a minimum of 10 touches.
Darren McFadden (6.9): For the second straight week, McFadden gets a tough matchup. But for the third straight week it seems likely he'll get a lot of touches and grind his way to over 100 yards. The only thing that could slow him down is ... well, you know what it is. Don't have to say the "i-word" here.
Christine Michael (3.2): There's no doubt what Michael's role is now -- backup to McFadden. That makes him a must-own lottery ticket type of Fantasy bench player. He's not worth starting this week but is worth stashing.

Wide receivers
Riley Cooper (4.8): Cooper has served as the Eagles' top deep threat. He was shut down in his last game but could wind up getting some downfield shots against the Cowboys' secondary.
Jordan Matthews (4.55): Roster him? Fine. Start him? It's a risk, especially in non-PPR leagues. He's proven to be quite a bust since the early weeks of the season and the Cowboys pass defense has wound up being pretty good. Matthews' last big game was versus Dallas in Week 2.
Dez Bryant (7.1): Dez passed the eyeball test last week and lands a cherry matchup against the Eagles, who have allowed a minimum of nine Fantasy points to every No. 1 receiver they've faced (and 10-plus points to six of seven top-flight pass catchers). Consider 10 points a safe expectation for Bryant, who is still working some rust off after not only missing time with the foot injury, but reps in training camp because of a hamstring injury too.
Terrance Williams (2.2): If Romo were playing, we'd like Williams a lot against the Eagles' shady secondary. But with Cassel, there aren't enough targets to go around and feel good about Cowboys receivers not named Dez.

Tight ends
Jason Witten (4.5): Not only does Witten have a tough matchup, but he's hovered around six Fantasy points or less since Week 2. Why are we starting him again?

Defense/Special teams
Eagles (6.2): Each of the last three DSTs to play the Cowboys have posted 11-plus Fantasy points. This is a list that includes a Giants defense that got shelled last week in New Orleans, by the way. Philadelphia's a pretty safe pick.
Cowboys (5.8): Three of the last four DSTs to play the Eagles came away with at least 11 Fantasy points, and the Cowboys managed an awesome 23 points against Philadelphia back in Week 2. They won't be as successful this time around, but they should still be solid.

Bears at Chargers, Mon., 8:30 p.m. ET

Quarterbacks
Jay Cutler (6.8): Cutler has had exactly 21 Fantasy points for four straight games. He can certainly aim for five straight at San Diego given the state of the Bears run game without Matt Forte. San Diego's secondary is getting healthy but isn't completely impenetrable.
Philip Rivers (9.2): The Chargers can't run and the Bears' pass defense is weak. Seems like a pretty good combo for Rivers to continue his aerial assault. He has 30-plus Fantasy points in four of his last five and hasn't had a bad game since Week 3. The Bears aren't going to change any of that.

Running backs
Jeremy Langford (7.2): Expect Langford to get most of Forte's workload, maybe losing touches in certain situations to Antone Smith. Luckily for Langford, he will start in a dream matchup against a Chargers defense that has struggled mightily with running backs. He's a good No. 2 running back fill-in for anyone.
Danny Woodhead (7.0): It's kind of a tough matchup for Woodhead; the Bears have been good both against the run and against pass-catching running backs. Chicago hasn't let a running back score on them in three straight and own a 7.3 yard per catch allowance against the position. Woodhead's targets figure to go up with Keenan Allen on the shelf and he'll need them to stabilize his numbers and keep him from being called a touchdown-dependent running back. Given the landscape of running backs this week he's fine as a No. 2 option.
Melvin Gordon (4.6): Right when you think Gordon is turning a corner, he does something to turn you off. Earlier this season it was fumbles. Last week it was averaging 3.0 yards per carry. Gordon is an interesting flex option this week for two reasons. One, the Bears run defense doesn't allow many touchdowns but does give up decent yardage to running backs. Two, the Chargers could build a lead and let Gordon help kill the clock in the fourth quarter.

Wide receivers
Alshon Jeffery (9.4): Obvious must-start.
Marquess Wilson (4.1): We've seen Cutler lean on Wilson in the past without hesitation. If Eddie Royal misses Week 9, Wilson could end up in single coverage against cornerback Brandon Flowers. That might not be so bad for him.
Steve Johnson (6.9): No one expects a single receiver to replace Allen's targets in San Diego, but Johnson should lead the way. A polished route runner and savvy veteran, one thought is that the Chargers move Johnson around the formation and have him take over as the lead receiver. Johnson has 37 targets in six games and could average closer to eight targets per game moving forward. The Bears have allowed at least one touchdown to a receiver in all but one game this season.
Malcom Floyd (5.5): A dependable veteran for Rivers, Floyd will get a shot to see more targets now that Allen is on injured reserve. Considered more of a deep threat than anything else, he should serve as a boom or bust No. 3 receiver for this week and the rest of the season. Remember, he'll not only split Rivers' attention with other receivers but with the tight ends and running backs too.

Tight ends
Martellus Bennett (5.1): Bennett is into his mid-season swoon, disappointing Fantasy owners everywhere. The Chargers have allowed big numbers to tight ends, but getting safety Eric Weddle back this week could make things tougher. Bennett is an OK starter, but there's a lot of risk in starting him.
Antonio Gates (8.5): Don't think about the Bears defense as solid against tight ends (they are). Think about who has scored on them for much of the season. Way more often than not it's been physical pass catchers who have doomed Chicago. Expect a lot of targets for Gates and the numbers to follow.

Defense/Special teams
Bears (3.6): San Diego is averaging 25.0 points per game in its last five, and for all of their O-line woes, Rivers has been sacked nine times in those five games. It's no surprise DSTs against the Chargers have delivered single digits in four of those five games (the Steelers were the exception thanks to a touchdown).
Chargers (4.6): The good: only two DSTs to play Chicago have posted less than 11 Fantasy points. The bad: the Chargers DST hasn't had a game with more than eight Fantasy points this whole season. Pass 'em up.

Browns at Bengals, Thu., 8:25 p.m. ET

Quarterbacks Johnny Manziel (2.4): There's no way you should start Manziel on a short week against a Bengals defense that has held five of seven opposing quarterbacks to 17 or fewer Fantasy points. The Browns have thrown one touchdown in their last three against Marvin Lewis' Bengals.Andy Dalton (7.2): Dalton has a strange track record against the Browns -- three of his last four against them involved zero passing touchdowns (including both 2014 games). He's also thrown at least one interception against the Browns in each of his last six. He also has a horrible track record on Thursday nights (one score, six interceptions in three career Thursday fames). That said, the Browns secondary is a mess and Dalton has been playing great. It's tough to sit him.

Running backs Duke Johnson (4.9): Last year the Browns upended the Bengals with a huge dose of the run. Maybe they try it again -- the Bengals have allowed 5.7 yards per carry and 8.8 yards per catch to running backs over their last four games. Johnson had 12-plus touches for four straight games before getting only three in Week 8. He remains a valid PPR Fantasy option.Isaiah Crowell (3.3) & Robert Turbin (1.7): Neither of these guys can run effectively. Crowell has averaged 2.5 yards per carry in his last four and Turbin 3.3 yards per carry. We're pretty much at the point where both backs are probably better off on waivers.Jeremy Hill (8.5): Hill led the Bengals' backs in touches last week and has a gem matchup. Expect this game to be the one the Bengals get him going to regain confidence.Giovani Bernard (8.1): It was weird to see Bernard get just three touches last week with no explanation. He still played nearly as much as Hill and should again in Week 9 with a better matchup. The Browns have allowed 5.0 yards per carry and 11.3 yards per catch to running backs this year.

Wide receivers Travis Benjamin (4.0): The bloom is off the rose for Benjamin, who has seen his targets, catches and yardage dip over the last couple of weeks. Besides, the Bengals have held all receivers to 10 Fantasy points or fewer in their last three. Manziel starting helps a little, but Benjamin isn't worth the risk.A.J. Green (8.6): Obvious must-start.Marvin Jones (4.4): The Browns allow plenty of numbers to receivers including plenty of non-No. 1 guys. Questions about how much the Bengals will have to throw put a cap on expectations for Jones. He's a good bye-week replacement but that's about it.

Tight ends Gary Barnidge (6.5): The go-to target for McCown, Barnidge has never demonstrated any solid stats with Manziel. The Bengals were on a roll covering tight ends until Heath Miller turned 10 catches into 105 yards against them last week. Manziel is going to have to make that kind of commitment to giving Barnidge targets in order for the tight end to help Fantasy owners. He suddenly seems risky.Tyler Eifert (8.2): Eifert should get enough targets to turn in a solid game against the Browns. Considering their depleted secondary it wouldn't be a surprise to see Eifert rebound with a good stat showing.

Defense/Special teams Browns (3.2): DSTs have had mixed results against the Bengals, but the Browns DST has rarely found success this season and shouldn't be trusted.Bengals (9.2): Let's see, they're hosting the banged-up Browns led by Johnny Manziel on a short week. If they don't bring back a lot of Fantasy points, something crazy happened.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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