Week 9 Start/Sit


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Week 9 Start/Sit

Graham Barfield and Scott Barrett are here to help you out with all of your Start / Sit needs with a deep rundown of their favorite- and least-favorite plays every single week. This article will be continually updated with news throughout the week, so make sure you keep it locked on our projections and on this column all the way through to kickoff on Sunday.

Start / Sit recommendations for “Shallow” leagues refer to 10-team leagues while “Deep” is 12- or 14-teamers.


Shallow leagues

Start: Justin Herbert at Falcons

Even without Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, we still like Herbert as a mid-range QB1 this week. Simply put, the matchup is just too good to imagine him failing. The Falcons rank worst in passing YPG allowed (318.1), 2nd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing QBs (+6.6), and 2nd-worst in pressure rate over expectation (-11.4%). And Herbert has 108 pass attempts over his last two games, so even if things are a little shaky to start, we know he’s going to go out swinging. [SB]

Start: Tua Tagovailoa at Bears

Tua is playing at an exceptionally high level right now as the Dolphins have rolled out of the gates. Tua is averaging 0.58 fantasy points per dropback, trailing only Patrick Mahomes (0.59) and Josh Allen (0.61) on the season. After trading DE Robert Quinn and LB Roquan Smith in recent weeks, this Bears defense is in a tough spot. Chicago ranks league-average in most defensive metrics, but I think that’s due in large part to a very easy schedule to this point with games against Trey Lance (in a monsoon), Davis Mills, Carson Wentz, and an injured Mac Jones.

Tua has finished as a top-12 (QB1) scorer in 3-of-4 full starts this year and we like him as a top-5 play for Week 9. [GB]

Deep leagues

Start: Justin Fields vs. Dolphins

Fields has scored at least 17.0 fantasy points in four straight games, including back-to-back top-5 finishes. Over this four-week sample, Fields ranks as the overall QB2, or as the QB6 by FPG (21.7). And over the last three weeks, he has more rushing yards (230) than Alvin Kamara (210) and Rhamondre Stevenson (186). After scoring 26.0 fantasy points in a bottom-7 matchup last week against the Cowboys, Fields gets a far more favorable matchup this week, up against a Dolphins defense that’s given up the 6th-most FPG (20.3) and the 6th-most rushing FPG (3.9) to opposing QBs. [SB]

Sit: Matthew Stafford at Buccaneers

Stafford has finished as a QB1 scorer – that’s top-12 in fantasy points on the week – just once all year and that was all the way back in Week 2 vs. the Falcons (18.9 FP, QB11). The Bucs’ defense has struggled in recent weeks and just lost DE Shaq Barrett (Achilles) for the season, but we just have not seen a ceiling yet from Stafford at all this season. Tampa sends extra pass rushers more often than any defense in the league (35.4% blitz rate) and L.A. has struggled to keep Stafford clean, allowing pressure 46.4% of the time when Stafford has been blitzed (eighth-highest rate). This will probably be another sluggish day for the Rams offense. [GB]

Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start

Underrated: Trevor Lawrence vs. Raiders

I’ve been leading the “Lawrence is overrated” bandwagon for a while now. And while I don’t think I’m wrong on this point, I do think we could see him surprising with a starter-worthy performance. Las Vegas ranks 2nd-worst in fantasy points allowed per dropback (0.54) and 3rd-worst in opposing passer rating (134.0), and whether schedule-adjusted (+7.2) or not (22.7), the Raiders also rank worst in FPG allowed to opposing QBs. Every QB they’ve faced thus far has hit at least 17.0 fantasy points against them, including Ryan Tannehill (19.8), Russell Wilson (26.4), Davis Mills (19.1), and Andy Dalton (17.2), with all of those QBs (minus Dalton) hitting season-highs. So, I’m bullish on Lawrence exceeding expectations this week, but I probably still wouldn’t be starting him outside of superflex and 2QB leagues. [SB]

Running Backs

Shallow leagues

Start: D’Onta Foreman at Bengals

Foreman has been something of a revelation for the Panthers in the fallout of the McCaffrey trade. Over the last two weeks, Foreman has 41 carries for 236 yards (5.8 YPC) as the Panthers have shifted more toward the run with PJ Walker under center. Carolina is a large road underdog (+7) here, but I expect them to try and slow down the game with their ground attack here. Cincinnati hasn’t been an overly difficult matchup for opposing RBs, either. They’re allowing 105.1 rushing yards per game (seventh-most) since losing DT D.J. Reader in Week 3. We have Foreman pegged as a strong RB2. [GB]

Start: Rhamondre Stevenson vs. Colts

Even with Damien Harris fully back from a hamstring injury, Rhamondre Stevenson remained on top of the lead role last week. He led the duo in snaps (63% to 41%), carries (16 to 11), and targets (8 to 2). The Colts have been a tough run defense all year long – they are allowing the fifth-fewest YPC (4.0) – but have surrendered the sixth-most receptions (5.9) and fourth-most yards per target (6.8) to opposing RBs. As long as Stevenson keeps getting funneled targets in the pass game, he is still a low-end RB1 even with Harris getting 10-12 carries. [GB]

Deep leagues

Start: Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Chargers

If he’s active this weekend, it’s hard not to immediately put C-Patt back in lineups as a RB2. By his own admission, Patterson is “90% healthy” and has a chance to return from I.R. after he needed his knee scoped. This is an amazing spot for Patterson matchup-wise considering that the Chargers are the premier run funnel defense once again. This front seven is getting shredded to the tune of 6.07 YPC (worst) and, in case you need a reminder, Patterson was off to an awesome start until his injury. Among the 46 RBs with 50 or more carries on the season, C-Patt ranks second in success rate (65.9%) on zone-blocking runs and he is first in runs of 10+ yards (19%). [GB]

Start: Deon Jackson at Patriots

In Week 6, without Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines, Jackson played on 67% of the team’s snaps, scoring 28.1 fantasy points on 12 carries and 10 targets. Phillip Lindsay – the only other active RB – saw only 3 carries and 3 targets on 33% of the team’s snaps.

Heading into Week 9, Hines is no longer on the roster and Taylor seems legitimately questionable to play, still dealing with an ankle injury. If he sits, Jackson should be viewed as a mid-range RB2. Yes, there’s a new inexperienced QB under center, who only targeted RBs three times last week. Yes, this is a bottom-3 matchup on paper. Yes, this is a bottom-3 offensive line (by PFF run blocking grade). But, I think double-digit target upside is valuable and rare enough that it’s probably worth chasing. And given his 67% snap-share and 80% carry share, his floor is high enough that it doesn’t really feel like much of a gamble. [SB]

Sit: Brian Robinson vs. Vikings

Here’s what I wrote about Washington’s backfield in Week 8 Stat-Pack: “Unless Robinson starts running better, I could see this backfield devolving into a three-man committee with Antonio Gibson getting more early-down and goal-line work.”

Well, it didn’t take long, but Robinson played on a season-low 25% of the snaps in Week 8 and he got eight carries while Antonio Gibson got 7 carries. His comeback is an amazing story, but the bottom line is that he’s really struggling to generate explosive plays. Robinson hasn’t averaged more than 3.7 YPC in any of his four games this season and just 22% of his carries have gained five or more yards (last).

The Vikings have quietly been good against the run (3.83 YPC allowed; third-fewest), leaving Robinson as a TD-dependent FLEX. [GB]

Sit: Clyde Edwards-Helaire vs. Titans

The Chiefs backfield has devolved into a nightmare for fantasy. In their Week 6 game before the bye, Isaih Pacheco was named the “starter” pre-game – but Jerick McKinnon ended up leading the RBs in snaps (44%) followed by Pacheco (30%) and Edwards-Helaire (27%). In fact, CEH’s snaps have been cut in four-straight games (56% > 43% > 42% > 27%) and he is the RB37 by XFP in this stretch. Yikes. This is also a brutal matchup for the Chiefs' run game up against a Titans front-seven that is allowing 75.4 rushing yards per game (fourth-fewest) and ranks #1 in FootballOutsiders Run Defense metrics. CEH is a weak RB3 for Week 9. [GB]

Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start

Underrated: Khalil Herbert vs. Dolphins

This is by no means a good matchup for Herbert – Miami is allowing the second-fewest rushing yards per game (71.0) and second-fewest YPC (3.78) – but I’d be remiss to not mention that he’s on the pathway to potentially taking over as the “1A” over Montgomery.

Among the 32 RBs with at least 75 carries this season, Herbert ranks third-best in yards after contact (3.98 per carry), second-best in missed tackles forced (0.34 per carry), and second-best in gains of 10+ yards (18.6%). We know the Bears will run it no matter what, giving Herbert FLEX appeal on a tough Week 9 slate for RBs. [GB]

Wide Receivers

Shallow leagues

Start: Christian Kirk vs. Raiders

Kirk seems to have cooled following an early season hot streak, averaging only 9.3 FPG over his last five games. Even so, he still ranks 24th in XFP/G (13.9) and 24th in FPG (13.6). And we like him quite a bit more than those (fringe-WR2) numbers imply, in a perfect get-right matchup against the Raiders. Las Vegas ranks worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing QBs (+7.2), worst against opposing slot WRs (+7.0), and 8th-best against opposing outside WRs (-4.2). Luckily for Kirk, he runs 75% of his routes from the slot. So, start him this week as a high-end WR2. [SB]

Start: Josh Palmer at Falcons

Palmer should be back this week, cleared from the concussion protocol on Wednesday. But Mike Williams will sit out, and Keenan Allen is probably closer to doubtful than questionable.

In games Allen failed to play fewer than 33% of the team’s snaps, Williams averages 8.6 targets and 19.1 FPG (11 games). In all other games of his career, he averaged just 5.3 targets and 8.6 FPG.

And Palmer too averages 16.8 XFP/G (~WR10) and 15.3 FPG (~WR13) in his four fully healthy games without Allen.

So, clearly, Palmer has risen to the occasion before. And “Justin Herbert’s WR1” appears to be a very valuable role. And then, in addition to this, Palmer has a near-perfect matchup – Atlanta has given up the most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WRs (+13.0, 1.75X more than next-closest), the 2nd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing outside WRs (+7.1), and the 3rd-most FPG to opposing WR1s (21.5). We like him this week as a high-end WR2. [SB]

Start: D.J. Moore at Bengals

Over the last two weeks, Moore leads all WRs in YPRR (4.33) and ranks behind only Tyreek Hill and DeAndre Hopkins in target share (36.8%). He’s finished 18th and 4th in XFP over this stretch, and 9th and 5th in fantasy points scored. And this may in fact be sustainable if P.J. Walker continues to play at a high level – Walker ranks 4th in PFF grade over the last two weeks (83.6) and leads all QBs in wow-throw rate over the full season (11.3%).

Of course, Moore and Walker both get a brutal bottom-6 matchup this week. But Moore’s volume has been so good, and the Walker-to-Moore connection so effective, that I’d be happy to start Moore as a high-end WR2 this week. [SB]

Deep leagues

Start: Allen Lazard at Lions

Perhaps Somewhat quietly, Lazard ranks 22nd in FPG (14.0). And this is despite the fact that he was limited in his Week 2 debut, and that he played on only 59% of the team’s snaps in Week 7 (due to a shoulder injury). Adjusting for that, he averages 13.7 XFP (~WR27) and 15.8 FPG (~WR14) across his four healthy games, with 6, 8, 8, and then 9 targets in these games.

And he draws a phenomenal matchup in Week 9. Detroit fired their defensive backs coach earlier this week, and it’s not hard to see why – they’re giving up the 5th-most FPG to opposing WRs (40.1), as well as the 5th-most FPG to opposing WR1s (18.8) and the most fantasy points over expectation to opposing slot WRs (+150%), which is where Lazard ran 63% of his routes in Week 7 (with Sammy Watkins back).

If he’s cleared to return without any limitation this week, I’d start him as a low-end WR2. [SB]

Start: Rondale Moore vs. Seahawks

Moore was moved back to the slot last week (52% of routes), and to great success, scoring 23.4 fantasy points on 8 targets. And this appears to be a very valuable role in the offense: Greg Dortch averaged 7.7 targets per game (~WR29) and 15.3 FPG (~WR32) across the three games he led Arizona in routes run from the slot. Moore averages 8.7 targets per game (~WR18) and 15.8 FPG (~WR28) across the three games he’s run over 40% of his routes from the slot.

So, assuming Moore is back in the slot this week, he has a favorable matchup; Seattle is neutral against slot WRs (-0.2) but 3rd-best against outside WRs (-5.7). Granted there’s a chance Arizona pushes him back out of position this week (like in Week 7), to let DeAndre Hopkins exploit the more advantageous matchup in the slot. So, with that concern baked in, we like Moore this week as a high-end WR3. [SB]

Start: Tyler Boyd vs. Panthers

Over the past two seasons, Boyd averages 6.5 targets and 13.3 FPG (~WR26) in his four games without Tee Higgins or Ja’Marr Chase. In all other games he averages 5.6 targets and 11.9 FPG (~WR36). We like him this week as a high-end WR3, up against a Carolina Panthers defense that ranks 6th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs (+2.4). [SB]

Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start

Underrated: Damiere Byrd vs. Chargers

Definitely don’t start Byrd this week. I don’t even think he should be rostered in deep leagues. I just want it in writing that I wouldn’t be shocked if he has a big game:

Over the last two weeks, Byrd leads all receivers in YPRR (5.46) and ranks as the overall WR15 in fantasy points scored. He’s hit at least 14.5 fantasy points in back-to-back games. And his usage seems to be growing, as his route share jumped from 12% to 42% to 58% in Week 8. He’s averaging 2.0 deep targets per game over this span (would rank 5th-most over the full season), and the Chargers rank 2nd-worst in FPG allowed on deep passes (9.0). And they rank 3rd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing outside WRs (+5.8), which is where he’s run 80% of his routes. [SB]

Tight Ends

Shallow leagues

Start: Gerald Everett at Falcons

Mike Williams is out this week. Keenan Allen is probably closer to doubtful than questionable. And Josh Palmer and Donald Parham are not yet locks to return, despite clearing the concussion protocol earlier in the week.

Everett ranks 7th in targets per game (6.1) and ranks 11th in FPG (9.9), and has seen at least 7 targets in back-to-back games. He draws a very winnable matchup in Week 9, up against a Falcons defense that’s given up the 6th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs (+3.1). We like him this week as a mid-range TE1. [SB]

Deep leagues

Start: Evan Engram vs. Raiders

Over the last four weeks, Engram ranks 3rd in targets per game (7.5), 2nd in XFP/G (14.0), 6th in FPG (12.0), and 2nd in total receiving yards (231, +35% more than the next-closest Jaguars receiver). He ranks as our TE8 this week, up against a Raiders defense that’s given up the 2nd-most FPG to opposing TEs (15.3). [SB]

Start: Robert Tonyan at Lions

Given the state of the Packers WR room, I have to think we will see Robert Tonyan way more involved this week. Allen Lazard (shoulder) is hurt, Randall Cobb is also hurt (ankle; IR), Christian Watson has been bitten by the injury bug all year (knee/hamstring/concussion), and Sammy Watkins looks out of shape coming back from a hamstring injury.

This is a great spot to get Tonyan a few more opportunities against a Lions defense that is allowing the eighth-most yards and sixth-most fantasy points per game to TEs. [GB]