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2023 Fantasy Football: Targets, Fades for NFL Week 9

Oct 22, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Josh Downs (1) runs the ball for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Week 8 was an interesting one. The Denver Broncos stymied the Kansas City Chiefs for the first time in the Patrick Mahomes era; the Carolina Panthers picked up their first win; the New York Giants logged negative passing yards; and Sam Howell, Dak Prescott and Will Levis were the top three fantasy quarterbacks — just as everyone expected. 

Week 9 should bring some equally spicy storylines, although bye weeks ramp up again with the Broncos, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and San Francisco 49ers out. Managers must find temporary replacements for all the skill players and quarterbacks for those teams. 

Week 9 also has an international game between the Miami Dolphins and the Chiefs in Frankfurt, Germany, that will start at 9:30 a.m. ET. There are many key fantasy players in this game, so don’t forget to set those lineups early.

Below, we will break down one player at each position to target (love) and one player at each position to avoid (hate) for your Week 9 fantasy football lineups based on matchups, injuries, strategies and more.

Love/Hate for NFL Week 9

Players We Love This Week

Dak Prescott (at PHI)

After a relatively slow start to the year, Prescott has looked better lately. He was the fantasy QB1 in Week 6 against the Los Angeles Chargers and finished as the QB3 in Week 8 after a monster four-touchdown effort against the Los Angeles Rams

More than half of Prescott’s total passing yards went in the direction of CeeDee Lamb, who reeled in 12-of-14 targets for 158 yards and two touchdowns. 

Prescott will have an excellent opportunity to repeat his previous success on the road against their NFC East rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, who were torched for four touchdowns by Howell. 

Overall, the Eagles have given up the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, and with the Cowboys’ offense firing on all cylinders, Prescott should be in the top-six conversation this week. 

Josh Downs (at CAR)

Josh Downs is quietly sneaking into the must-start category. He has scored double-digit fantasy points in half-PPR scoring in five of the last six weeks and has been targeted the same number of times as Lamb (56). His 11.8 yards per catch is more than respectable, and his 216 yards after catch rank 13th among receivers. 

Downs has shown great chemistry with fill-in QB Gardner Minshew, who could be the Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback for the remainder of the season. Downs is a solid WR3/flex option this week against the Panthers. 

Darrell Henderson Jr. (at GB)

Darrell Henderson Jr. has turned back the clock and become the Rams’ RB1 once again. The 2019 third-round pick from Memphis was waived by the Rams in November, then claimed by the Jaguars briefly and then waived again. 

He was signed to the practice squad two weeks ago on the heels of Kyren Williams’ injury and picked up where he left off. Henderson saw 18 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown in Week 7 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and tallied 15 touches for 85 all-purpose yards in Week 8 against the Cowboys. 

He split snaps with Royce Freeman both times but has out-touched and out-produced Freeman in both instances.

Amid the volume of injuries (and bye weeks) to navigate, Henderson should offer fringe-RB2 value in Week 9 — especially with this juicy matchup. The Rams go on the road to take on the Green Bay Packers, who have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs and the sixth-most overall rushing yards this year. 

Dalton Kincaid (at CIN)

Dalton Kincaid truthers can rejoice at long last. The rookie tight end, who elicited a great deal of hype going into the season, had a sluggish start, leading many to drop him for the sake of roster space. Kincaid missed Week 6 against the Giants while in concussion protocol but has been impressive since. 

He reeled in all eight of his targets for 75 yards in Week 7 against the New England Patriots and caught 5-of-7 for 65 yards and his first career touchdown in Week 8 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Patriots’ and Buccaneers’ defenses are more fearsome against the pass than this week’s opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals, who are bottom two against fantasy tight ends through eight weeks. Kincaid will be a locked-in TE1 play with top-five potential in Week 9. 

Players We Hate This Week

C.J. Stroud (vs. TB)

C.J. Stroud was a popular Week 8 add coming off the Houston Texans’ bye week amid copious injuries at quarterback and because his team is squaring off against the lowly Panthers. 

He has three games with 21 or more fantasy points — the same number as Prescott, one more than Joe Burrow and three more than Trevor Lawrence. Stroud was mediocre, completing 16-of-24 attempts for 140 yards and one touchdown.  

He has a low ceiling this week against the Buccaneers, whose defense is middling against signal callers. He will be a borderline QB1 with four teams on bye. 

Jordan Addison (at ATL)

While it could be too early to deem “Addiseason” completely dead, there is certainly cause for concern. In fairness to Jordan Addison, the rookie has been fantastic during the last four weeks and even more spectacular since Justin Jefferson was injured.

Against the 49ers in Week 7, Addison had 123 yards and two touchdowns, finishing as the WR1 in half-PPR for the week. In Week 8 against the Packers, he finished with a solid 82 yards and a touchdown. 

Unfortunately, this Minnesota Vikings offense takes a significant hit with QB Kirk Cousins going down last week with a (presumably) season-ending torn Achilles. Next up on the depth chart is Jaren Hall, a fifth-round selection from BYU this year. 

Hall played conservatively when replacing Cousins and completed 3-of-4 attempts for 23 yards. Addison falls into the WR3/flex tier against the Atlanta Falcons, with Jefferson still sidelined. Addison’s ceiling will be much lower, given the downgrade at quarterback. 

Emari Demercado (at CLE)

Emari Demercado dominated the Arizona Cardinals’ backfield workload in the team’s Week 8 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. He logged 20 carries to Keaontay Ingram’s two and out-snapped Ingram 42 to 29, equating only to 78 rushing yards. 

A popular Week 5 waiver addition, Demercado has provided mediocre fantasy production since James Conner went down. Even without the threat of Connor returning soon, Demercardo is a risky play moving forward, given his efficiency struggles and the Cleveland Browns on deck. 

The Browns have allowed the seventh-fewest rushing yards this year and just held Kenneth Walker III in check last week. Demercado will be a low-upside RB3 for Week 9. 

Darren Waller (at LV)

Darren Waller was on the other side of this love-hate column just one week ago with the New York Jets — who had allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends — on deck. Waller did not even crest the one-point mark in half-PPR scoring after aggravating a hamstring injury during the game. 

His status for Week 9 is unclear, so managers should continue to monitor injury reports throughout the week. That said, the Giants only mustered -9 passing yards, with Tyrod Taylor leaving the game with broken ribs early. 

Daniel Jones is cleared to return this week from his neck injury, increasing Waller’s outlook for Week 9 and beyond. That said, the volatility in the Giants’ offense and Waller’s injury status should give managers pause, especially in the short term. If he and Jones play, Waller is a low-end TE1 with boom-or-bust potential. 

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