Start’em Sit’em Week 9
As I forewarned you in last week’s start’em sit’em column, week 9 will have a slew of teams on bye. The teams that will not be playing are the Cardinals, Bengals, Colts, Jaguars, Eagles, and mercifully, the Giants. With all these teams serving their bye week, you may find yourself relying on players that you normally wouldn’t. If you find yourself unsure of who to start and who to sit, this is the column for you.
Scoring and stats are based on half-point per reception scoring and come from fantasydata.com
In fantasy, it is imperative to take the good with the bad. While this column was wildly successful in week 7, it was without its imperfections in week 8. The most notable name to flop last week was 49ers running back, Raheem Mostert, who had just two carries against the Cardinals. Between Mostert in week 8 and Alfred Morris in week 6, Kyle Shanahan, involuntarily, doesn’t seem to be opposed to pulling the wool over the eyes of the fantasy football community. Needless to say, the famous rant by Matthew Berry has aged incredibly well. It wasn’t all bad though for this column as bright spots were suggesting you start Lamar Miller, OJ Howard, and the suggestion to sit Kyle Rudolph.
I've played fantasy football for over 30 years. Last night, I had my worst loss ever. pic.twitter.com/gNkcptCrHa
— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) October 16, 2018
With all of that being, here are your week 9 starts and sits.
Start’em Sit’em Quarterbacks
Raiders at 49ers
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 5.3%
The 2018 season hasn’t exactly been kind to Derek Carr. Prior to their bye week, the Raiders signal caller had just one game with multiple touchdown passes and was dealing with whispers of him being booted out of Oakland. The trade deadline has come and gone and Derek Carr is still wearing silver and black. Despite the abomination that has been the Raiders 2018 season, he did have a decent bounce-back game in week 8 against the Colts. In a losing effort, Carr would throw for 244 yards and three touchdowns. Now, Carr and the Raiders will have a short commute to Santa Clara as they prepare for the 49ers on Thursday Night Football. After eight weeks this season, the 49ers are allowing the seventh most points to the position and have only intercepted an opposing quarterback twice. Last week, the 49ers would allow Cardinals quarterback, Josh Rosen to have his first professional game with over 200 yards passing and multiple touchdowns. After this week, the Raiders schedule won’t be as friendly to Carr as it will be this Thursday. So if you’re up against it on bye weeks, now may be the time to cash in on Carr.
Saints vs. Rams
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 62.8%
In the two weeks since the Saints bye, Drew Brees has finished outside the top 20. If the schedule is telling us anything, the future hall of fame quarterback is in for another down week. This week, the Saints will take on an undefeated Rams team that is allowing the sixth fewest point to the quarterback position. Currently, the Rams have yet to allow an opposing quarterback to have a top five week. Clearly, this will not become the norm for Brees, but for now, fantasy owners may find the Saints quarterback working through a scheduling rut.
Start’em Sit’em Running Backs
Packers at Patriots
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 24.1%
In each game since week 5, Aaron Jones has had more rushing attempts than any other running back in Green Bay. With Ty Montgomery now off to Baltimore, that should open up a few more carries and I like Aaron Jones to be the lead man yet again in week 9. This week, the Packers will play a Patriots defense that last week was in the top 10 of fewest points allowed to the running back position. It is important to remember though that when a defense is facing a team with quarterback issues like the Bills, it allows the defense, like the Patriots, to stack the box and focus on the run. In the two weeks prior to week 8, when the Patriots were facing competent quarterbacks, they were in the top 10 in most points allowed to running backs. Aaron Rodgers will open things up, keep the Patriots defense on their heels, and from there it provides ample opportunity for Jones. I understand that putting your trust in a running back with just one top 20 performance is not easy. That being said, I like Jones’ chances to produce in week 9.
Ravens vs. Steelers
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 52.8%
So far this season, at the running back position, Alex Collins has had just two games inside the top 20. On top of that, he has also compiled more yards and has scored more touchdowns on the road. Then comes the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 9. Currently, the Steelers are allowing the fewest points to the running back position. Along with the tough opponent, Collins has had just one game this season in which he has more than 20 total touches. Considering that this Steelers defense is not giving up a lot of touchdowns, Collins will need a sufficient workload to warrant being started. I just don’t see this panning out for the Baltimore running back and I’m suggesting that you sit him this week.
Start’em Sit’em Wide Receivers
Chiefs at Browns
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 50.9%
In half point formats, Sammy Watkins had just one top 20 performance over the first seven weeks of the season. Then came week 8 against the Denver Broncos as Watkins would have eight catches for 107 yards. As if that wasn’t enough, for just the fourth time in his career, Watkins would score two touchdowns in a game. In week 9, Watkins will look to score a touchdown in consecutive games for the first time as a Chief and will have to do it against the Cleveland Browns. While coaches are cleaning out their desks in Cleveland, the Browns defense is allowing the sixth most points to the wide receiver position. On top of his recent performance, and his upcoming opponent, it is still unknown if the Chiefs will have Tyreek Hill available as the speedster receiver is dealing with a groin strain. The Browns are sporting a very talented rookie in Denzel Ward at the cornerback position. That being said though, this defense can still be taken advantage of, and with an offense like the Chiefs coming to town, you can bank on it.
Broncos vs. Texans
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 6.6% – Likely to spike after waiver claims
I’m going to preface this nomination by stating that Courtland Sutton’s 6.6% start percentage will undoubtedly be on the rise. That being said, I feel compelled to throw Sutton’s name in this week’s column following the trade deadline. On Tuesday, Sutton’s now former teammate, Demaryius Thomas, was traded from the Denver Broncos to the Houston Texans for a mid-round pick. That trade not only opens a path to more targets in the Broncos offense, it also opens the door to Sutton sliding into your starting lineups. For the most part, the Texans defense has done fairly well against the wide receiver position. Currently, among teams that have allowed over 1,200 yards to wide receivers, the Texans are one of just three teams to allow six touchdowns or fewer. That being said though, in week 8, the Texans allowed the 10th most points to the position and are also dealing with a slew of injuries in the secondary. After eight weeks this season, Sutton has caught 17 of 37 targets for 324 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers will most assuredly be on the rise.
Titans at Cowboys
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 9.2%
Before we go any further, it should be noted that Corey Davis’ 9.2 starting percentage is due in large part to the fact that the Titans had their bye in week 8. However, I’m suggesting that in week 9, you may want to leave Davis right where you left him, on your bench. Coming out of their bye, the Titans will head to Dallas to take on the Cowboys. While the headlines prior to this game will be all about the debut of Amari Cooper in Dallas, their defense should be given a bit of credit. The Cowboys, who also spent last week on a bye are allowing the fewest points to the wide receiver position. That rank is due in large part to the Cowboys being one of just seven teams to allow six touchdowns or less to wide receivers. In week 4, Davis was a top five wide receiver. Outside of that week 4 outing though, Davis has failed to finish a game inside the top 20. Given his history of underperforming, and the Cowboys defense, I do not like Davis in week 9.
Start’em Sit’em Tight Ends
Buccaneers at Panthers
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 43.9%
Last week, I had suggested that you start OJ Howard. If you took advantage of my advice, it likely paid off for you as Howard would finish the week as the fifth best tight end in fantasy. With his start percentage sitting at 43.9%, I feel compelled to mention his name yet again in week 9. It isn’t a difficult call to make when seeing that the Buccaneers will head to Carolina to take on a Panthers defense that is allowing the sixth most points to the position. Last week against the Panthers, the Ravens tight ends would combine for seven receptions, 67 yards, and a touchdown. In the week prior to that, Eagles tight ends would combine for 30.6 fantasy points against this same Panthers defense. It isn’t just about the Buccaneers week 9 opponent though. Since the Buccaneers bye in week 5, OJ Howard has routinely put up a top 10 performance. Couple all of this with the return of Ryan Fitzpatrick and it is becoming blatantly obvious that you should start Howard.
Patriots vs. Packers
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 64.6%
Well, this isn’t something you see every day. No matter how you slice it, Rob Gronkowski is not having the season that fantasy players had envisioned. On the year, Gronkowski is the eighth tight end in scoring. He has also had five games in which he was twentieth or worse at the position. This is more than likely due to lingering injuries, most notably his back, but on top of all of this, his week 9 opponent is far from a cake walk. On Sunday night, the Patriots will take on the Green Bay Packers, and so far this season, the Packers are allowing the second-fewest points to the position. They are only allowing an average of 42.2 yards per game and are just one of two teams to not allow a touchdown to the tight end. I get it, the knee-jerk reaction is, if you own Gronkowski, you start Gronkowski. That being said, if you take his name out of the equation, and just look at the numbers, the Patriots tight end is a tough play in week 9.
Start’em Sit’em Defenses
Chiefs vs. Browns
Understandably so, the defense of the Chiefs has built a reputation for being a liability. If you look closely though, the tides may ever so slowly be turning. Over the last two weeks, the Chiefs DST has finished among the top 10 in scoring defenses. Since week 4 of this season, defenses that play against the Browns have finished 11th or better in scoring. Other folks who play fantasy may not be ahead of the curve on this matchup. With an overabundance of bye weeks, the Chiefs are as solid of play as any in week 9.
Dolphins vs. Jets
I get it, when you look at the schedule for week 9, you see the Dolphins are playing the Jets, and it seems like an easy fix to your bye week woes. However, when seeing how the play of the Dolphins defense has translated into fantasy production, you should probably pump the brakes on the Dolphins. Since week 6 of this season, the Dolphins defense has failed to score more than 10 points in a game. I’m not suggesting that the Jets will have an offensive explosion in week 9, but I’m simply saying that keeping the Jets at bay doesn’t necessarily translate into a top fantasy defense. Start the Chiefs instead, and be happy.