Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 9
As we now officially are at the mid-way point of the fantasy football season, every single game matters just that much more for fantasy football managers looking to keep their playoff aspirations alive. We saw another week of devastating injuries, breakout performances, and disappointing results across the league. With another four teams on bye for this weekend, the supply of players available is once again scarce. We will take a look at the players and the matchups to take advantage of and the ones to shy away from. Let’s look at Week 9.
Recapping last week
We had another up-and-down week from our Week 8 picks. Derek Carr finished in the top-18 while Joe Burrow was a top-10 option but Matthew Stafford had a top-5 week. Zack Moss did have a top-3 week and Leonard Fournette finished just outside the top-25 but the Ravens running back group combined for 200 yards rushing. Brandon Aiyuk had a top-12 weekend while A.J. Green finished outside the top-50 and Chase Claypool was a top-30 wideout. Richard Rodgers dropped a goose egg (because of Dallas Goedert’s return) while Hunter Henry finished inside the top-20.
With that, let’s get to Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 9.
Teams on bye: Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 9 QB’s
Chargers vs. Raiders
For most people, the former Oregon Duck quarterback has already taken over as an easy plug-and-play fantasy QB in their lineup this season. But after a so-so game against the Broncos last week, you might be on the fence. Fortunately, Herbert and company host a Raiders team that has struggled against the pass this season. While the Raiders were able to handle the Browns last week, the Raiders rank 23rd in the league for passing yards allowed and have only 7 sacks on the season, which is tied for second to last in the NFL. The Raiders also only have 3 interceptions all year. There is no doubt that Herbert and the Chargers are going to go through some growing pains, any team with a rookie quarterback has to be prepared for that. However, the one thing we have seen from this young kid is a cannon for an arm and a love for the deep shot down the field. If the Raiders aren’t able to put pressure on Herbert, they are likely to get burned. Granted, the Chargers offensive line currently rank 23rd according to FootballOutsiders, but they have been playing better as of late giving up only one sack last week. I like Herbert, and I think he’s an easy Start for week 9.
Patriots vs Jets
ESPN Starting Percentage: 15.7%
After coming off a Week 7 performance that yielded negative points, Newton bounced back with 54 yards rushing and a touchdown with 174 scoreless passing yards. On the surface, it’s not an impressive passing stat line but considering he was without his top two wide receivers and facing a tough Bills defense, it was a good showing all things considered. He now faces the Jets, who represent a juicy “get right” matchup for Newton and the Patriots after giving up over 400 yards and four touchdowns to Patrick Mahomes in Week 8. After losing four straight, the Patriots need a win and there is no better candidate to break that streak than the winless Jets. Newton has a chance to also throw his first passing touchdown since Week 3 too. He is a top-15 play in Week 9.
Titans vs Bears
ESPN Starting Percentage: 43.7%
Tannehill has played like one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this season, there is no doubt about that. He has, however, underwhelmed over the past couple of weeks with only two passing touchdowns and less than 240 yards in each of the last two games. That was after having seven touchdowns and averaging 280 yards passing in the two games prior. He now faces the Bears, who have only given up 250+ yards passing and more than one touchdown in two of eight games this season. They boast one of the top defenses and have been able to keep opposing quarterbacks at bay in fantasy. Tannehill needs to get back to his high-scoring ways but this isn’t the week to do it.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 9 RB’s
Jets vs Patriots
ESPN Starting Percentage: 18.4%
It is not advisable to recommend starting any player on the Jets, typically. However, Perine is a lock for double-digit touches and faces a Patriots defense that has given up six rushing touchdowns in the last two games. Besides the six touchdowns, they have also allowed three different running backs to go for 75+ rushing yards as well. Perine is still fighting with Frank Gore for touches but Perine is the better running back and the more reliable one in the passing game. If there was a game for Perine to score a touchdown, this would have to be the one. He is on the RB3/FLEX radar this week in the troubling landscape known as fantasy football running backs.
Cardinals vs Dolphins
ESPN Starting Percentage: 1.2%
The Dolphins have played much better than expected this season and their defense is a big reason for that. They have only given up one rushing touchdown over the last three games but they are still giving up a lot of yards. They have given up at least 110 yards rushing to opposing running backs in each of the last three weeks. Edmonds is a player on a hot streak who will be well-rested coming off his bye week. Plus, if Kenyan Drake is forced to sit with his ankle injury, Edmonds is the clear lead back on one of the best offenses in the league. There is a case to be made that Edmonds is the second-best (behind Raheem Mostert, who had 119 yards from scrimmage in Week 5) running back the Dolphins will have played against since Week 5. He is going to be a low-end RB2 option if Drake is healthy and almost be a lock for a top-20 ranking if Drake sits.
Colts vs Ravens
ESPN Starting Percentage: 76.7%
Taylor had all of the makings to be a strong second-half running back for fantasy football owners. Instead, he had 31 yards of offense on 13 touches in Week 8 against a soft Lions defense while Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines run wild against Detroit. On top of that, Taylor has an ankle injury that makes his Week 9 status unknown at this time. If he does end up suiting up, it’s tough to trust him right away after being a big disappointment this past weekend. Plus, the Colts face the tough Ravens defense, who has only given up one total touchdown to opposing running backs in the last three games. Taylor is going to be very tough to trust playing with confidence in Week 9 even if he is active.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 9 WR’s
Lions vs Vikings
ESPN Starting Percentage: 13.7%
Jones has been a disappointment this season but stepped up after Golladay went down with a hip injury in Week 8 with 39 yards and two touchdown receptions. With Golladay expected to be out this week, Jones will operate as the team’s top wide receiver against a Vikings defense that has given up six receiving touchdowns to opposing wide receivers over the last two games. This is a juicy matchup for Jones as he immediately steps in as the number three receiving option at worst in what could be a high-scoring affair. In a game where both teams are expected to rack up points due to their poor defenses, Jones could thrive in a huge spot.
Chargers vs Raiders
ESPN Starting Percentage: 10.4%
Williams is a tough wide receiver to trust with how inconsistent he is. He has 69 or more receiving yards in three of his six games while the other three are 17 yards or less. Despite being on a team with a young gunslinger in Justin Herbert, Williams hasn’t been able to produce week-in and week-out. He does have a plus matchup with a Raiders defense that gave up three receiving touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in Week 7 as we’re going to ignore Week 8’s game with the terrible weather playing a huge part in it. Williams operates as the number two wide receiver and number three/four option on a high-flying passing offense and has a lot of upside despite his boom-or-bust potential. He’s a top-36 option as a WR3/FLEX option in Week 9.
Any Indianapolis Colts WR
Colts vs Ravens
ESPN Starting Percentage: N/A
Philip Rivers threw three touchdowns in Week 8 but none were to any wide receivers. In fact, only Zach Pascal has a receiving touchdown (two) amongst all Colts wide receivers this season. With T.Y. Hilton going down with an injury and potentially missing time, we would likely see a top-three of Pascal, Marcus Johnson, and Michael Pittman. Pittman does have some fantasy relevance but is working his way back from a multi-week injury and only had one catch in Week 8. Plus, the Colts face the stingy Ravens defense who have only given up two receiving touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in the past four games. Rivers likes to target his tight ends and running backs and will continue to do so in Week 9. Avoid any Colts wide receiver this weekend.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 9 TE’s
Washington Football Team vs Giants
ESPN Starting Percentage: 0.3%
Coming off a bye week, Thomas enters Week 9 with two straight games of at least 40 yards receiving and a touchdown. Since Thomas went for 42 yards and a touchdown against these same Giants in Week 6, New York gave up 85 yards receiving to Richard Rodgers and 41 yards and a touchdown to Rob Gronkowski. Thomas is at worst the number three option in this overachieving Washington offense. He has a plus matchup and profiles as a top-12 option for Week 9 and possibly for the rest of the season with the myriad of injuries at the tight end position.
Broncos vs Falcons
ESPN Starting Percentage: 40.1%
As I say every week, it’s tough to justify sitting a tight end in fantasy football if they have a pulse (basically). While Hurst has at least 50 yards receiving in four of his last five games, he has only one touchdown to show for it. The Falcons passing offense has revolved around Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Hurst also has a very tough matchup in Week 9 against the Broncos, who have given up only one receiving touchdown (Week 1) to opposing tight ends and has kept every single tight end under 50 yards receiving. Ridley has a shot to return in Week 9 and if so, Hurst is a low-ceiling option in a tough matchup. He makes the list in my Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 9 article.
Doug Moore is a fantasy football writer for Gridiron Experts. He has previously written for sites such as ESPN, SBNation, FFToday & Inside The Pylon. He also was the co-host for the highly-rated fantasy football podcast Overtime Ireland for several years. You can find him on Twitter at @DMooreNFL