It’s time for our Week 9 Starts and Sits! Remember, we’ll do our best to predict outcomes based on what’s given to us. That’s diving into the numbers, digging through the juicy matchups, examining trends, watching the film, and collecting data that should lean towards certain players being better starts than others. While it won’t always play out that way, fantasy is a game of what’s most “likely” to happen and we need to attack it that way.
Every week we try to make some of your decision-making easier with what we’ve collected, but ultimately it’s your call on what you want to do with your team. I’ll try to avoid the slam-dunk stud plays and focus more on players you’re teetering with putting in your starting lineups. We’re going to discuss Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, and Tight Ends on each week’s slate, and I hope that we can win you the week!
Now, let’s get to it.
Quarterbacks to Start:
Joe Burrow | Cincinnati Bengals: The only quarterback with multiple passing touchdowns in every game this season is, you guessed it, Joe Burrow. Joe Burrow is coming in hot having at least three touchdowns in three consecutive games. Burrow has scored at least 20.3 fantasy points in every game since Week 4 and ranks only behind Tom Brady and Josh Allen in fantasy points among quarterbacks over that stretch.
In two games against Cleveland last year, Burrow passed for 722 yards, had a 6-1 TD/INT ratio, and had 53 rushing yards to boot with a score. That same Browns defense get gets to face for the first time this year has given up the 8th most fantasy points to quarterbacks and t-3rd most passing touchdowns this season. Cincinnati also is second in the NFL in explosive passing play percentage, while Cleveland ranks in the bottom ten of teams. Burrow should be a great start here.
Taysom Hill | New Orleans Saints: Everyone’s favorite quarterback once deemed as a fantasy-eligible tight end is back in the saddle and expected to start for the New Orleans Saints this week against their divisional foe in the Atlanta Falcons. The last time we saw Taysom Hill as a starter, it was Weeks 10-13 last season. Hill was the QB13 at over 17 fantasy points per game over that stretch with four passing touchdowns and four rushing touchdowns. Hill also averaged over 50 rushing yards per game over that time and gave a great rushing floor, which for fantasy is huge for quarterbacks.
Hill gets to face these Falcons who are the 5th worst against opposing quarterbacks this season, allowing over 21 fantasy points per game to the position. With Hill’s rushing combined with the opponent, Hill projects as a great streamer for Week 9 and potential great quarterback pick up the rest of the season with Jameis Winston on IR.
Derek Carr | Las Vegas Raiders: The Raiders have been through a lot off the field this season. More than most teams will go through and there’s no doubt about that. This will be a strong test of a team’s mental strength as the Raiders travel to the Meadowlands to take on the New York Giants. Derek Carr won’t have Henry Ruggs III to throw to anymore, but he should still be a great play this week. The QB17 on the season has scored 20 or more fantasy points in each of the last two weeks and five of seven games he’s played in this season. I would expect Zay Jones or Bryan Edwards to take the top off the defense and have this team not miss a beat in terms of what Ruggs was providing this offense.
Carr will take on a Giants defense that while they’re only giving up 17.7 points per game to quarterbacks this year, the Giants allowed Matt Stafford, Dak Prescott, and Jameis Winston to all score 20 or more fantasy points in Weeks 4-6. Combine that with the fact that Carr is averaging 20.36 fantasy points on the road this season, and I like this matchup for him.
Quarterback to Sit:
Matt Ryan| Atlanta Falcons: The QB15 on the season, Matt Ryan currently ranks behind Taylor Heinicke and Mac Jones in terms of fantasy points among quarterbacks. That’s perspective with how much Ryan has fallen in terms of fantasy over recent seasons as his fantasy points per game have dropped in each of the last four seasons. Ryan is also down Calvin Ridley, which means he’s down a Top-10 wide receiver and a huge playmaker in this offense. I do want to commend Calvin Ridley for doing what was the best for his well-being because mental health truly matters. What’s worse is Ryan is also averaging career-worst yards per attempt this season, which has basically eliminated the big play from this offense.
What makes this matchup even scarier is Ryan did not have success against the Saints last season. The Saints gave up a combined 505 passing yards between the two games (252.5 per game) and only one touchdown with two interceptions. The Saints this year are 6th best against opposing fantasy quarterbacks, allowing only 17 fantasy points per game and only 10 passing touchdowns on the entire season. That’s 1.25 per game. Look elsewhere for your quarterback this week.
Running Backs to Start:
A.J. Dillon | Green Bay Packers: For those that know me, Dillon being praised by this writer led to him having to change his Twitter picture to a toilet. However, you have to have a short memory in Fantasy Football, and I’m doing that with Dillon here. After his Week 7 clunker, Dillon put up 16 carries for 78 yards (4.8 ypc) and played 40% of the snaps in Green Bay’s win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8. That was with a game plan to keep the ball out of the air as much with Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling all unable to play.
The Packers will face the Kansas City Chiefs who are giving up 25 fantasy points per game to the position and are one of seven teams to allow 50 or more receptions to running backs this season. With Aaron Rodgers unable to go, Jordan Love will need to utilize both his running backs heavily, and I’d expect Dillon will have a big involvement in this week’s game plan (Aaron Jones might be a top 3 RB this week).
Boston Scott | Philadelphia Eagles: In a Week 8 game that saw the Eagles blow out the Detroit Lions by nearly 40 points, we saw what felt like a running back by committee in the box score. Jordan Howard, Boston Scott, and Kenneth Gainwell all saw at least 12 touches, while Howard and Scott both scored two touchdowns. When you peel back the curtain though, the Eagles might’ve given us some clues to follow for who will lead this backfield. Scott led the Eagles in snaps on Sunday and has 19 touches and three touchdowns over the last two weeks, which leads the team on the ground. Gainwell had just six snaps through the first three-quarters of last week’s game and received most of his work in the fourth quarter when the game was already in hand. Howard will be a threat at the goal line but seems to be the clear number two to Scott.
The Chargers have allowed seven rushing touchdowns over the last three weeks and allowed six running back to score over that time (Damien Harris, Devonta Freeman, Le’Veon Bell, Latavius Murray, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt). Scott should be in for a good game here and should be a solid flex play.
Nyheim Hines | Indianapolis Colts: Jonathan Taylor might be the RB1 on the week, but the problem is everyone is playing him. Let’s dig deeper here and talk about the running back who spells him in Nyheim Hines. Hines is mostly known for his occasional big games and receiving ability, which plays great in this matchup that has Colts as 10.5 point favorites.
The New York Jets are giving up over 37 fantasy points per game, 13 total touchdowns, and the second-most receiving yards to opposing running backs this season. Hines is more of deep flex play, but I think he has the chance to produce in a short week where Taylor might not get his full workload.
Running Back to Sit:
Carlos Hyde | Jacksonville Jaguars: This is all contingent of course that James Robinson is inactive. If Robinson plays, Hyde wouldn’t even be mentioned as a possible play and would be a waste of time to write about this week. If Robinson is active for the Jaguars this week, you have to play him. I don’t care what the matchup says. While Hyde did have 15 touches for 72 yards last week, I don’t expect the volume or the game script to favor him in this matchup.
Hyde’s opponent this week is the Buffalo Bills who rank as the worst matchup for opposing running backs, allowing less than 17 fantasy points per game to the position. The Bills defense has also only allowed three scores on the ground this year, with Antonio Gibson and Derrick Henry the only two to reach paydirt. Laviska Shenault will most likely mix in and Jamal Agnew should be receiving some short targets as well. I’d fade Hyde even with Robinson potentially out.
Wide Receivers to Start:
Van Jefferson | Los Angeles Rams: The Rams wide receiver room got a little less crowded with the departure of DeSean Jackson. Even though Jackson was just released, he’d gradually been faded from this offense, as Jefferson has accumulated 13 targets and at least 11.8 PPR points over the last two games. That is with a 17% target share over that time. In research gathered by NumberFire’s JJ Zachariason, these are the routes between Jackson and Jefferson over the last month, in comparison to Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp:
Week 5: Jackson 15 routes / Jefferson 23 routes
Week 6: Jackson 9 routes / Jefferson 24 routes
Week 7: Jackson 3 routes / Jefferson 40 (Woods & Kupp 41)
Week 8: Jackson 0 routes / Jefferson 31 routes (Woods and Kupp 31)
Jefferson has a 14% target share this season and with Jackson gone, I expect that to rise slightly. In this great matchup against the Tennessee Titans that have allowed the most receptions, yards and are third in receiving touchdowns allowed, I expect Jefferson to be a sneaky flex play and potentially catch a long touchdown.
Rashod Bateman | Baltimore Ravens: A great cash game-play this week in daily fantasy and great flex for your normal lineup, Bateman has had at least six targets in both games since returning from IR and has an 18% target share over that time. Bateman’s 7-109-0 line through two games isn’t flashy, but he’s been heavily involved in the Ravens offensive game plan.
Bateman gets to face the Minnesota Vikings secondary this week, which allows the 8th most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers at over 40 points per game. They’ve also given up t-4th most receiving touchdowns and have struggled to contain opposing wide-outs all season. In a game with a high point total, Hollywood Brown will be the smash play, but I’d expect Bateman to give you double-digit PPR points.
Jaylen Waddle | Miami Dolphins: Jaylen Waddle has been a target machine in this Dolphins offense. On the season, Waddle has 8 more completions and 12 more targets than the next closest Dolphins wide receiver and is continually the first option looked at in this offense. While Waddle only has one top ten fantasy finish among wide receivers this season, he has at least 15.3 PPR points in two of his last three games, and at least eight targets in each of those games. The Dolphins are 6.5 point favorites vs Houston and should be able to score at will in this matchup.
Those Houston Texans have allowed 36.9 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers, which ranks 13th against the position. I think Tua Tagovailoa has some extra motivation to play this Texans team with the swirling trade rumors and will air the ball out a ton this game, making Waddle a good play.
Wide Receiver to Sit:
DeVonta Smith | Philadelphia Eagles: If you have DeVonta Smith on your team, you are honestly not sure what to do at this point. Smith hasn’t scored a touchdown since week 1, and he ranks as the WR42 this year, at barely 10 fantasy points per game. Smith has only scored double-digit fantasy points in half his games this season and has alternated nine target and sub-five target games over the last month.
Besides the inconsistency, the biggest reason I’m down on Smith is his matchup. The Los Angeles Chargers have allowed only Mecole Hardman, Hunter Renfrow, and Rashard Higgins to score this season among wide receivers. They are giving up the least amount of fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season, only allowing 26 fantasy points per game to the position. I expect the Eagles to try and again attack on the ground like they did last week and am fading Smith here.
Tight End to Start:
Tyler Conklin | Minnesota Vikings: Tyler Conklin is coming off a great Week 8 in which he had five catches for 57 yards against the Dallas Cowboys on seven targets. The TE15 has now scored double-digit fantasy points in back-to-back games and has accumulated 12 targets over that stretch. I’d expect Kirk Cousins to utilize Conklin as this matchup has one of the highest over/unders on the slate.
This matchup is as juicy on paper as it gets for a tight end, as Conklin gets to face the Baltimore Ravens this week. The Ravens have given up the most targets, touchdowns, and fantasy points to the tight end position this season. They’ve also given up the 6th most receptions and second-most yards while allowing the 8th highest target share to tight ends. Conklin who has been a nice player himself and has a healthy 14% target share should be a great tight end streamer this week.
Tight End to Sit:
Tyler Higbee | Los Angeles Rams: Count me as someone who bought in on the “Tight End going against the Texans” narrative and played Higbee in a lot of DFS last week. Higbee was a huge disappointment and cost people big in Week 8. What seems to be troubling is nothing seems to be changing from what we’ve seen over the last couple of seasons. Higbee is averaging less than nine fantasy points per game and now has seven straight games with 46 or fewer receiving yards and five games with 9.6 fantasy points or less. That with just two touchdowns on the season isn’t getting the job done. He had three catches for 25 yards on three targets, and he’s now gone seven games in a row with 50 receiving yards or less. He also has just two touchdowns on the season.
What makes this worse is that Higbee takes on a Titans team that struggles mightily against wide receivers, but has only allowed three tight ends to score this season. They actually allow only seven fantasy points per game to tight ends and only 22 catches on the season. Fade Higbee here.