Check out our fantasy football Start’em or Sit’em picks for Week 9 of the NFL season before setting all of your lineups.
After a spooky trade deadline day on Halloween that say the likes of Jay Ajayi and Kelvin Benjamin moved to different teams, it will be interesting to see what happens with this trades and see what kind of an impact they will have on the football season. This week is the bye-pocalypse for fantasy football with the Bears, Browns, Chargers, Vikings, Patriots and Steelers all missing out on the action this week. All things considered, here are my Start’em and Sit’em candidates for Week 9.
QB Start of the Week: Alex Smith (KC) vs. DAL
Despite being the QB1 so far in 2017, Alex Smith had his worst game of the season last week versus Denver with 202 yards, one TD and one INT. The Kansas City gun-slinger has shredded his past reputation as both a game manager and a non-relevant fantasy QB. He has expanded his range this season, targeting his wide receivers more downfield than he has in the past (25 passing plays of over 20+ yards so far this season), having a big impact on his fantasy season. This awakening has made him one of the best fantasy values of the season, since no one expected him to be a fantasy QB that could be relied on. This week Kansas City takes on Dallas, the 20th ranked defense against the QB this year. Think of last week as an outlier for Smith and continue to expect him to be a big performer going forward this season. Start Smith in Week 9.
QB Start’em: Tyrod Taylor (BUF) vs. NYJ
Tyrod Taylor is one of the best sleeper quarterbacks in fantasy football. Taylor is never going to be a headliner QB in the NFL and may not even be the franchise QB for Buffalo going forward after 2017, but Taylor has always had the ability to perform admirably in fantasy football. This season Taylor ranks as the QB16, but he has excelled in positive matchups, such as a 20 point performance in Week 7 versus Tampa and a 19 point performance versus New York in Week 1. His ability to exploit the weaker defenses along with his overall playmaking makes Taylor a good fantasy QB. This week Buffalo faces off against the Jets in their second matchup of the season. The Jets have the 22nd ranked defense against the QB, and gave up over 260 total yards and two TDs to Taylor in Week 1. Taylor also has a new receiver to connect with and become acquainted with in Kelvin Benjamin. Benjamin was acquired at the trade deadline and will surely impact the Bills offense. Look for Taylor to not only match, but improve upon, that production in Week 9.
QB Start’em: Russell Wilson (SEA) vs. WAS
The QB1 for Week 8 was the other component of the potent game in Seattle, Russell Wilson. Wilson and the Seahawk offense have come together in recent weeks after starting the season as a hot mess. The offensive line has melded together and will only get better with the new tackle in town Duane Brown. His weapons have also gotten better as the season has progressed, getting healthier and making better connections with Wilson, which obviously stands to be a positive for Wilson. Another factor that will make Wilson a good fantasy QB going forward is the lack of run game in Seattle. Seattle has had no luck getting a running game going in 2017, they rank as the 6th worst rushing attack in the NFL; meaning that the offense will run almost exclusively through Wilson. In Week 9, the Seahawks take on the Redskins, the 18th ranked defense against the QB. Wilson will keep his momentum going this week and will be a good start this week.
RB Start of the Week: Alex Collins (BAL) vs. TEN
Alex Collins has asserted himself as the lead RB in Baltimore. The Ravens have been lacking in the running game for most of the season with injuries to some of their key players (both Woodhead and West have been out for multiple weeks throughout the season), but Collins seems to be healthy and a good fit for this offense. This was especially so in last week’s matchup against the Dolphins where Collins rushed for 113 yards on 18 attempts. While Collins does have to split up some of the work with fellow RB Javorius Allen, he is more of pass-catching back who will see more snaps in those scenarios where Collins will be the early down back who will see more rushing plays.
This week Baltimore faces off against Tennessee, a defense that allowed over 20 points to the RB in their last game versus the Browns in Week 7. Collins will continue to have the lion’s share of the rushing attempts for Baltimore and will be a good start in Week 9.
RB Start’em: Adrian Peterson (ARI) vs. SF
Adrian Peterson has most certainly been one of the most hyperbolic players in fantasy football this season. He started the season so poorly in New Orleans, never getting more than nine rushes and 35 yards through Week 5. This unfortunate start caused a situation where Peterson was traded from the Saints to the Cardinals before Week 6. In his Arizona debut, Peterson erupted for over 25 points (0.5 PPR scoring) against the Buccaneers, showing us all that he still has something left in the tank. While he did slightly disappoint his owners in Week 7 with a poor 3.8 point performance, he still has the ability to be a fantasy relevant RB when the game flow goes in his favor. This will be an especially important narrative going forward as the Cardinals will be looking for a new offensive identity due to the injury to Carson Palmer. Peterson will be in line for more work for the rest of 2017 and he should be able to take advantage of this enhanced workload in the upcoming matchup. In Week 9, the Cardinals take on the 49ers, the 32nd ranked defense against the RB and a defense that has given up 330 yards and three TDS to running backs in the past two games. His new workload and this juicy matchup have me starting Peterson this week and expecting big things from him.
RB Start’em: Aaron Jones (GB) vs. DET
At the start of 2017, it was almost a forgone conclusion that Ty Montgomery would be the lead back in Green Bay and he would be a player that would have a huge fantasy impact on lineups every week. That narrative has fallen silent over the past few weeks sue to the emergence of Aaron Jones. The rookie RB from the University of Texas at El Paso has burst onto the scene and has surely left a mark on the Packers offense. Jones filled in very well for Montgomery in Week 4 after Montgomery injured his ankle in that game and has continued his success since that point. Since Week 4, Jones has rushed for 346 and three TDs, making a fantasy impact for those that snagged him off of the waiver wire. After the bye week, the question on the mind of many fantasy owners is how this Green Bay Backfield will look going forward. Will Jones continue to be the workhorse back while Montgomery continues to get little work? Or will there be more of timeshare situation where both backs will be used? While I believe it will be the later and I think both backs will get close to equal work going forward into 2017, I also think Jones has established himself in the minds of the Green Bay coaches and will still have a role in the offense that will continue to keep him fantasy relevant. This week Green Bay faces off against Detroit, the 19th ranked defense against the RB position. Look for Jones to maintain his relevancy this week and be a good RB to start in Week 9.
WR Start of the Week: Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) vs. SF
Despite the catastrophic injury bug that has affected the Arizona Cardinals this season (both Carson Palmer and David Johnson are out for the year), Larry Fitzgerald remains healthy and a positive storyline to keep track of. Fitzgerald ranks as a WR1 once again this year and has impressed his owners that grabbed him this year. Many of those owners are skeptical though in light of the Palmer injury, very wary about new starter Drew Stanton. While his numbers will take a hit due to the decrease in QB talent, this hit will be minimal. Fitzgerald is just too important to the offense to not be a part of this offense going forward.
In Week 9, the Cardinals take on the 49ers, the 21st ranked defense against the WR. While Fitzgerald was only held to 11.2 fantasy points in their first matchup, his will build on that performance and is a great start this week.
WR Start’em: Paul Richardson (SEA) vs. WAS
One of the best wide receivers in Week 8 was surprisingly Paul Richardson. Richardson has shown that he can make big plays in the past and he certainly did so in the matchup versus Houston. He finished with eight receptions for 105 yards and two TDs, a huge statline for the fourth year WR. He is a part of one of the hottest new offense right now in the Seattle Seahawks, and while this particular statline may not be replicated, Richardson is becoming one of the top options in this great passing game and should be considered fantasy relevant going forward. This week the Seahawks take on the Redskins, a defense that has allowed over 23.8 fantasy points to wide receivers on average in the past three weeks. With a high caliber offense around him and a QB looking his way often, Richardson is a great start for Week 9.
WR Start’em: Golden Tate (DET) vs. GB
In what was a surprise to many fantasy owners and Detroit fans alike, Golden Tate was able to play in Week 8 versus the Steelers and was not only just able to suit up, but ended up making a big difference in the game for the Lions. Tate did not seem to be effected by his shoulder injury in this game and he was able to be fantasy relevant with 86 yards on seven receptions. Tate also had eight targets in this game, which was second to Marvin Jones, but Tate is still the season leader in targets and continues to be a vital part of the Matthew Stafford led Lions. In Week 9, Detroit faces off against Green bay, the 24th ranked defense against the WR position. Tate will build off of his performance in Week 8 and will be a great WR to start this week.
TE Start of the Week: Jack Doyle (IND) vs. HOU
One of the top tight ends last week was the Colts leader in targets, Jack Doyle. Doyle had a monster game, getting 12 receptions on 14 targets for 121 yards and one TD against the Bengals. Doyle has certainly become a favorite of incumbent QB Jacoby Brissett and this chemistry will help Doyle continue to have big games like this in more games this season.
This week the Colts take on the Texans, the 27th ranked defense in the league versus the TE and a defense that has allowed three TDs to tight ends over the past two weeks. Doyle will have another strong game this week against a great matchup, start him this week.
TE Start’em: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (NYJ) vs. BUF
Austin Seferian-Jenkins has become a premier TE even though he was not available to start the season. Since ASJ debuted in Week 3, he has been producing at a TE1 level and has paid off for many owners that have had him this season. While ASJ did have a less than stellar game last week versus Atlanta, that had to do with the monsoon the players had to suffer through more so than anything. ASJ still led the team in targets last week and is one of the most targeted players for the whole Jets offense, meaning his role in the offense is an important one and he will continue to make a fantasy impact for the rest of 2017. In Week 9, New York faces off against Buffalo, the 24th ranked defense against the TE. Look for ASJ to bounce back in this upcoming game and be a great start for Week 9.
TE Start’em: Ed Dickson (CAR) vs. ATL
Since the injury to Greg Olsen back in Week 4, the new TE that has suited up for Carolina is Ed Dickson. He has not been overly impressive since taking over this role, he averages 5.3 fantasy points per game when you take out his outlier performance in Detroit where he had five receptions for 175 yards. He is still an important player for the Panthers, he does rank fourth in targets for the Panthers, meaning Cam Newton at least likes him slightly over some of his other options. However, Dixon’s unpredictability makes him a shaky fantasy asset, as most owners won’t know when to play him and went to not. This week is a week where I would not. His matchup versus Atlanta is bad, the Falcons are the 11th ranked defense against the TE, along with Cam Newton dipping back down to his less-than-stellar performance. These factors have me staying away from Dickson this week, sit him this week.
D/ST Start of the Week: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. CIN
The Jaguars D/ST have been much like their actual feline mascot, the have made prey of weaker offences this season and have especially been able to pounce on quarterbacks in their matchups, both due to their elite DBs Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye and their amazing ability to get sacks (lead the league with 33 so far in 2017). Much like their matchup against the Colts in Week 7, the Jags face an offense that has a blaring weakness at the offensive line and a QB that is used to getting sacked in Cincinnati. (the Bengals have allowed 22 sacks this season). Both of these factors give me a large amount of confidence in the Jaguars D/ST this week and I am expecting another top finish for them in Week 9.
QB Sit of the Week: Andy Dalton (CIN) vs. JAX
Outside of the spectacular game in Seattle last week, the best QB for Week 8 was none other than Andy Dalton. Dalton finished with 243 yards and two TDs, which is a fairly good game and matches up with how Dalton has performed in the past. While at times in his career he has been a great fantasy QB, this year there are a lot of concerns about his offense and it has affected his fantasy relevancy. His offensive line is abysmal, they’ve allowed 22 sacks so far in 2017, having Dalton run scared every time he drops back. These offensive line problems have prevented the Bengals from getting a solid run game, meaning teams have keyed on shutting down Dalton which obviously has affected his numbers.
This week the Bengals play the Jaguars, the 1st ranked defense against the QB in 2017. The Jaguars have a great defensive unit, they lead the NFL in sacks with 33 and have also had multiple games this season where they had 10 sacks. This matchup will be too much for Dalton and he will spend a lot of time on his back this week. Keep Dalton on the bench and look for better options elsewhere in Week 9.
QB Sit’em: Cam Newton (CAR) vs. ATL
Cam Newton has been a fantasy yo-yo this season. He is gone through multiple stretches this year, some of which were spectacular (like his 316 yard and three TD game in Week 4) and recently he has been mediocre (365 yards, one TD and four turnovers in the past two weeks). There are a lot of things that are going poorly for the Carolina offense, not all of which have had to do with Newton, but they also have had an effect on him and should continue to keep Newton from establishing a consistent positive flow. One of these factors is his decrease in wide receiver weapons, his leading receiver Kelvin Benjamin was just traded on Tuesday to the Buffalo Bills for draft picks. This, compounded with the loss of Greg Olsen for the rest of the year, leaves Newton especially thin when it comes to pass catchers and it will be interesting to see how he adapts to that situation going forward. This week the Panthers face off against the Falcons, the 17th ranked defense against the QB. This shadiness in the new offense has me in the dark on Newton, keep him on the bench this week.
QB Sit’em: Kirk Cousins (WAS) vs. SEA
Even though he does not have a top 50 fantasy wide receiver, Kirk Cousins has still been able to perform near the level that he has shown us throughout his career and is currently the QB8 for 2017. He has spread the ball around and made himself a better QB for it. While this may be good for the NFL, it is not especially great for fantasy he and his wide receivers poor performances will eventually catch up with him. Until he finds a WR that can consistently perform and be there for the Washington QB, his owners are playing a dangerous game in starting him. This week is a matchup I wouldn’t want to play around with Cousins. In Week 9 Washington faces Seattle, a defense that was just exposed against Houston, but overall has the talent to contain quarterbacks, and has done so in other matchups, such as keeping four QBs under 10 fantasy points in 2017. Bench Cousins this week.
RB Sit of the Week: Ameer Abdullah/Theo Reddick (DET) vs. GB
While having more of things is most often better than having one, this idiom does not necessarily apply to fantasy football. Both Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick are the pseudo starters for the Detroit Lions backfield. They both have their own roles in the offense, with Abdullah being more of an early down back and Riddick being the past catcher. While they both may have a role in the offense, they both have not been utilized extremely well in the offense and haven’t lived up to their preseason expectations so far. The Lions are once again one of the worst rushing teams in the NFL (27th in both rushing attempts and yards), which clearly has affected Abdullah in his ability to make an impact. As far as Riddick goes, he has just seen a decrease in usage overall, seeing more than five receptions in only one game this season. Though owners had high expectations for both backs, neither have lived up to the hype and need to be viewed differently going forward this season.
This week the Lions take on the Packers, a defense that stifled the Lions in the past. This muddied usage along with a bad matchup have me sitting both Abdullah and Riddick this week and have me looking forward to better matchups.
RB Sit’em: Jay Ajayi (PHI) vs. DEN
Yes, you read that correctly. Jay Ajayi is no longer a member of the Miami Dolphins. He was traded on Tuesday’s deadline to the Philadelphia Eagles, going from one of the worst offensive situations in the entire league to legitimately one of the best. The Eagles as a team are firing on all cylinders currently and this addition only makes them stronger unit. While I have high hopes for Ajayi as a rest of season running back and are expecting similar to his 2016 numbers in Philly, I am lowering my expectations for the first 2 weeks. In Week 9, Philadelphia faces off against Denver, the 1st ranked defense against the running back. This terrible matchup along with a week 10 bye has me excited for Ajayi but have me lowering my expectations and sitting him this week.
RB Sit’em: Alfred Morris (DAL) vs. KC
The Ezekiel Elliott drama seems to be coming close to an end. Over the past week he was denied another appeal, meaning that it is likely that his six-game suspension will stick and he will miss Weeks 9 through 14. In the meantime, Dallas will have to use his group of backups in his place. This has led to an interesting fantasy football question, which one of these running backs behind an elite Dallas offensive line can be fantasy relevant for the rest of 2017? While some will say Darren McFadden based on his past production before Elliott’s time, and some may go with Rod Smith as a dark horse candidate, a vast majority of analysts and experts seem to agree that is the next man in line in Dallas is Alfred Morris and should see a book of the workload for the Cowboys. Well this does sound like a recipe for an elite waiver wire running back pick up, I’m not so sure how good Morris is going to be. It has been a few years since he has been a main back, going back to his days in Washington from 2012 to 2015. Since he has been in Dallas he has not impressed, and even spent some time being inactive last season in favor of McFadden. In the glimpses he has shown this year, both in the preseason and the regular season, he has not been overly impressive bringing to light why there is even a question as to who will take over and Dallas. Morris’s inability to impress the Dallas coaches, along with the threat that the team could go with a full running-back-by-committee situation and his tough matchup this week versus Kansas City, the 11th ranked defense against the RB position have me very cautiously approaching this situation. I would keep Morris on the bench this week until things are more clear as to who will be suiting up for Dallas and who will be left on their bench.
WR Sit of the Week: Alshon Jeffery (PHI) vs. DEN
Alshon Jeffery is a top talent at the WR position and in some games in 2017 has played like it. While Jeffrey does possess the talent, he does also have an ability to disappear in certain games, such as a two catch performance in Week 7. The change of scenery from Chicago to Philadelphia has also been a positive for Jeffrey, as this one year deal has seemed to work well for him. The Eagles offense is doing well and Carson Wentz is having one of the best seasons at the QB position across the NFL. While all these things are great and have led to success for Jeffrey in 2017, this matchup is one I’m afraid he will disappear in. This week the Eagles play the Broncos, the 4th ranked defense against the WR. Jeffrey will surely be a high concern for the Broncos DBs and will very likely be shadowed by either Chris Harris or Aqib Talib, which has not been good for fantasy wide receivers this year. This bad matchup has me concerned about Jeffrry’s production, with that in mind I would sit him this week.
WR Sit’em: Rishard Matthews (TEN) vs. BAL
Rishard Matthews was the lead WR in Tennessee last season with receptions, 945 yards and nine TDs. Many owners expected a slight decrease on his production for 2017 but he has still be a disappointment with 27 receptions for 393 yards and one TD. He hasn’t been the same WR even though the Titans offense has been better in 2017. Matthews will look to get back on track after the bye but will have tough sledding in this matchup. In Week 9 Tennessee takes on Baltimore, the 2nd best defense against the WR position. This matchup will be tough for all of the Titans wide receivers, especially Matthews. Sit Matthews this week.
WR Sit’em: Sterling Shepard (NYG) vs. LAR
The lone man left for the Giants wide receivers is Sterling Shepard. Due to injuries to the two players above him on the depth chart (OBJ and Brandon Marshall) and even the guy under him (Dwayne Harris), Shepard is the guy who is in line to receive a large amount of targets from Eli Manning. This will happen surely, Manning has little left to throw the ball to and Shepard is a talented WR in his own right, but I am just skeptical about this matchup and how he will do being the lead for the first time in the NFL. This week New York takes on the Los Angeles Rams, the 7th ranked defense against the WR position. Both his new role and this bad matchup have me feeling nervous about Shepard, causing me to sit him this week and look forward to better matchups ahead.
TE Sit of the Week: Evan Engram (NYG) vs. LAR
Evan Engram is one of the top targeted tight ends in the NFL. The New York rookie is one of the last remaining viable receiving options for the Giants in light of injuries to three of their top wide receivers. This obviously has increased Engram’s role and he has been a vital asset to them since Odell Beckham Jr. was injured in Week 5. While this should continue to be a positive thing for Engram going forward, this week’s matchup is particularly difficult and is not one I would feel confident playing him in.
In Week 9 the Giants take on the Rams, the 4th ranked defense against the TE. I expect the Giants offense is a whole to struggle against a good Rams defense, which will affect Engram’s final stat line. With other options on the waiver wire, I would bench Engram this week and look to get someone on waivers instead.
TE Sit’em: Nick O’Leary (BUF) vs. NYJ
When Charles Clay went down in week 4 for the knee injury, many fantasy owners assumed that the next TE would be in line for lots of targets and would be a good start going forward. This has not fruited however as Nick O’Leary, the tight end that replaced Clay, has been poor so far in his starting role. Tyrod Taylor has found other ways to get the offense going and the offensive coordinator has relied more on the running game then they did before Clay’s injury. This shift in philosophy along with a tough matchup versus the Jetshave me sitting O’Leary this week and potentially giving up on him as a fantasy relevant tight end for the rest of the season.
TE Sit’em: Austin Hooper (ATL) vs. CAR
The Atlanta Falcons offense is not lived up to their amazing numbers from last year. While this was expected by many, as the 2016 Falcons offense was one of the best in NFL history, many owners still expected the Falcons to be a competent offense and possibly one of the better ones in the NFL. They have been merely mediocre however ranking as the 13th best passing and the 15th best rushing team so far this year. One player that has been affected by this mediocrity is Austin Hooper. While some will look at his stats and be impressed with some of the games he has had this season, like his 19.8 fantasy point game in Week 1, I don’t believe in his ability to be a consistent fantasy TE. He has never had a stretch of more than two games this year with 5 points (0.5 PPR scoring) and his target share is too inconsistent. This funky role in the offense along with the rough matchup versus the Panthers, the 10th ranked defense against the TE this season, has me sitting Hooper in Week 9.
D/ST Sit of the Week: Baltimore Ravens vs. TEN
One of the best D/ST units last week and throughout the whole season was the Baltimore Ravens. They have been a turnover machine with 15 so far this season, ranking in the top five in the NFL. These turnovers along with TD scoring have kept this unit afloat. However the team they play this week has been good at keeping the ball to themselves. In Week 9, Baltimore takes on Tennessee, the 16th ranked offense against opposing D/ST units with only five turnovers this season (outside of the game where Matt Cassell was under center). Despite their high ranking, sit the Ravens D/ST this week and look for better units on waivers.