Both running back and wide receiver have been crushed by big injuries this year, and some key quarterback injuries have hurt the values of other players on their offenses, too. Heading into Week 9, fantasy football owners might be searching the waiver wire for streamers or relying on late-round sleepers to carry the day in potentially must-win matchups. Do you dare sit a star like Amari Cooper or Lamar Jackson in favor of a pickup like Derek Carr or Marvin Jones? Can you trust Antonio Brown in his first game back or any Patriots running back ever? If you have lineup questions like this, you’ve come to the right place, as SN’s Vinnie Iyer is dishing out fantasy start ’em, sit ’em advice and DFS tips ahead of Week 9.
Based on matchups, situations, talent and usage, here are the players to either avoid or deploy this week. Keep in mind that four more teams — the Eagles, Rams, Browns and Bengals — all have byes. That means players such as Travis Fulgham, Cooper Kupp, Kareem Hunt, Tyler Boyd, and others, won’t be available for your lineups.
WEEK 9 FANTASY: Sleepers | Busts | Start ’em, sit ’em
Fantasy Football Week 9 Who To Start: Quarterbacks
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs (vs. CAR), Russell Wilson, Seahawks (at BUF), Aaron Rodgers, Packers (at SF), Kyler Murray, Cardinals (vs. MIA), Deshaun Watson, Texans (at JAX)
Josh Allen, Bills (vs. SEA). Let’s hope he can break out of his funk in a potential shootout against Russell Wilson. He should be helped by home field and a bad pass defense that applies little pressure.
Justin Herbert, Chargers (vs. LV). Herbert is throwing aggressively downfield and getting it done in great spots with whatever weapons he chooses to use.
Tom Brady, Buccaneers (vs. NO). He started slowly against the Giants, but he still was a solid QB1 and can pick apart this secondary better than he did in Week 1 with greater receiving talent.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (at DAL). The Cowboys are offering little resistance in coverage against wide receivers and tight ends alike, and Big Ben should get the ball out quickly to his playmakers.
Matt Ryan, Falcons (vs. DEN). He could be missing another top wide receiver this week, but the Broncos really can’t cover his targets outside and inside.
Kirk Cousins, Vikings (vs. DET, $6,200 on DraftKings, $7,100 on FanDuel). He won’t stand idly by while Dalvin Cook has all the fun for a second consecutive week in a second shootout with Matthew Stafford.
Derek Carr, Raiders (at LAC, $5,700 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel). Carr took a few dents in the wind in Cleveland, but SoFi Stadium is a more comfortable venue as he exploits a struggling Chargers’ pass defense opposite Justin Herbert.
Drew Lock, Broncos (at ATL), Nick Foles, Bears (at TEN)
WEEK 9 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker
Fantasy Football Week 9 Who To Sit: Quarterbacks
Lamar Jackson, Ravens (at IND). The bottom line is you don’t need to be locked into him every week anymore with his passing struggles taking away from his running upside. The Colts are a nasty opponent on the road.
Ryan Tannehill, Titans (vs. CHI). Do you really want to trust him at home against their pass rush and cornerbacks who can contain his top two targets?
Drew Brees, Saints (at TB). Brees grinded to a good day at Chicago, but Tampa Bay can make It rougher for him on the road.
Teddy Bridgewater, Panthers (at KC). He doesn’t fare well against teams that blitz effectively, and he’s headed to a turnover-packed day opposite Patrick Mahomes.
Cam Newton, Panthers (at NYJ). Look, on paper, the Jets’ defense is weak and it makes sense for this to be a get-right game, but he’s simply not playing well enough to trust with limited pop around him.
Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins (at ARI). A rookie’s first road matchup against an aggressive defense that’s playing much better of late? No thanks.
Philip Rivers, Colts (vs. BAL), Daniel Jones, Giants (at WAS)
WEEK 9 PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker
Fantasy Football Week 9 Who To Start: Running backs
Derrick Henry, Titans (vs. CHI), Dalvin Cook, Vikings (vs. DET), James Robinson, Jaguars (vs. HOU), Aaron Jones, Packers (if he returns, at SF) Alvin Kamara, Saints (at TB), Christian McCaffrey, Panthers (at KC), Josh Jacobs, Raiders (at LAC), Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys (vs. PIT), Todd Gurley, Falcons (vs. DEN), Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs (vs. CAR), James Conner, Steelers (at DAL), Chase Edmonds, Cardinals (vs. MIA), Chris Carson, Seahawks (if he returns, or Deejay Dallas, at BUF)
Antonio Gibson, Washington (vs. NYG). He should see increased touches after the bye, and the matchup is decent enough.
David Montgomery, Bears (at TEN). The Titans’ run defense remains weaker than you think, and he’s running hard, trying to get every yard available.
David Johnson, Texans (at JAX). The Jaguars’ defense will remain a mess after the bye, and he should have a strong scrimmage day with at least one score.
Damien Harris, Patriots (at NYJ). Harris dropped his second hundy of the season last week, and he should be busy against the Jets as the Pats attempt to find the easiest path to victory.
Justin Jackson, Chargers (vs. LV). He was the man in the middle of all the action last week, and he’ll keep up his hot hand against the Raiders.
JaMycal Hasty and Jerick McKinnon, 49ers (vs. GB). Look, if they combine for a quarter of Dalvin Cook’s damage against this awful overall running back defense, they both will be viable RB2s or flexes.
Gus Edwards and JK Dobbins, Ravens (at IND). The matchup is tough, but so was the Steelers, and if Mark Ingram (ankle) misses another game, it would really help both their chances to produce.
Phillip Lindsay, Broncos (at ATL, $5,200 on DraftKings, $5,700 on FanDuel). The Broncos need to give Lindsay more work with Melvin Gordon not doing much.
WEEK 9 DFS CASH LINEUPS: DraftKings | FanDuel
Fantasy Football Week 9 Who To Sit: Running backs
Melvin Gordon, Broncos (at ATL). The matchup is awesome, but he appears here regularly now with his role in flux.
Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones, Buccaneers (at NO). This committee is getting ugly again, and this matchup is definitely tough. More of the receiving work will go away from them, too.
Jonathan Taylor and Jordan Wilkins, Colts (vs. BAL). Taylor may not go because of a sore ankle, but if he does, it’s hard to trust this frustrating committee that also includes Nyheim Hines against a tough Ravens front seven.
Devin Singletary and Zack Moss, Bills (vs. SEA). They both gashed the Patriots, but their direct split is highly TD-dependent until one fade. The Seahawks have been pretty good against the run in general, too.
D’Andre Swift and Adrian Peterson, Lions (at MIN). Swift was rattled last week against the Colts, and the Vikings are starting to hold up better against the run. Kerryon Johnson is complicating things again, too.
Le’Veon Bell, Chiefs (vs. CAR). That revenge game against the Jets was a massive bust. This matchup is fantastic, but he probably won’t see enough significant work behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Wayne Gallman, Giants (at WAS). Gallman scored but still didn’t look great against the mighty Bucs front, and the presence of Dion Lewis and the addition of Alfred Morris with no Devonta Freeman (ankle) make him tough to trust.
Joshua Kelley, Chargers (vs. LV). Troymaine Pope got more run behind Jackson filling in for Austin Ekeler in Denver, which is a bad development for the rookie’s value going forward.
WEEK 9 DFS TOURNAMENT LINEUPS: DraftKings | FanDuel
Fantasy Football Week 9 Who To Start: Wide receivers
Davante Adams, Packers (at SF), DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals (vs. MIA), Michael Thomas, Saints (if he returns, at TB), Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, Falcons (if he plays) (vs. DEN), DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, Seahawks (at BUF). Tyreek Hill, Chiefs (vs. CAR). Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, Buccaneers (if he returns) (vs. NO), Allen Robinson, Bears (at TEN), A.J. Brown, Titans (vs. CHI), D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, Panthers (at CAR), CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys (vs. PIT), Stefon Diggs, Bills (vs. SEA), Keenan Allen, Chargers (vs. LV), Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, Vikings (vs. DET), Terry McLaurin, Washington (vs. NYG), Will Fuller, Texans (at JAX)
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson, Steelers (at DAL). They had it rough against the Ravens, but JuJu and Claypool came through. Now, all three will have fun against the Cowboys’ secondary.
Marvin Jones Jr. Lions (at MIN). He needs to keep acting like their No. 1 after a slow first half, and the matchup is terrific for a streaky player.
Brandin Cooks, Texans (at JAX). Cooks should work their defensive backs all over the field like Will Fuller does.
Mike Williams, Chargers (vs. LV). He went back to making big plays for Justin Herbert, and the Raiders tend to give them up deep.
Jerry Jeudy, Broncos (at ATL). He should be busy in a terrific spot in the slot against an overmatched secondary.
Christian Kirk, Cardinals (vs. MIA). Kirk is locked into a key role, and the Cardinals can move him around from the trickier matchups outside.
Antonio Brown, Buccaneers (vs. NO). This is a bit of a deep-league dice-roll since we don’t know what his role might be in a crowded receiving corps, but you can bet Brady will want to hit him on a long ball.
Laviska Shenault Jr., Jaguars (vs. HOU, $4,200 on DraftKings, $5,400 on FanDuel). He should have a connection with fellow rookie Jake Luton in garbage time against a secondary away from Bradley Roby.
Michael Gallup, Cowboys (vs. PIT, $4,000 on DraftKings, $5,400 on FanDuel). The Steelers struggle with field-stretching speed receivers, and Gallup has shown a decent connection with Dallas’s backup QBs, so maybe he does some work in garbage time.
Darnell Mooney, Bears (at. TEN, $3,900 on DraftKings, $5,500 on FanDuel). The Titans’ secondary is slow and can get only a little better with Desmond King. Mooney’s speedy, big-play qualities should get the attention of Nick Foles away from Allen Robinson again.
WEEK 9 FANTASY: Top pickups | FAAB budget planner | Buy-low, sell-high
Fantasy Football Week 9 Who To Sit: Wide receivers
Amari Cooper, Cowboys (vs. PIT). His status as their go-to guy doesn’t help because he draws the most attention with a weaker QB situation. The Steelers won’t let Dallas’s backup QBs connect with him again.
DJ Chark, Jaguars (vs. HOU). The Texans are set to get Bradley Roby back, and Chark will be hurt by losing his chemistry with Gardner Mnshew (thumb).
DeVante Parker, Dolphins (at ARI). Patrick Peterson isn’t a shutdown guy like he once was, but the Cardinals should look to bottle up Tua Tagovailoa’s best target.
Corey Davis, Titans (vs. CHI). The Bears have the size and the smart coverage skills outside to contain him.
Marquise Brown, Ravens (vs. IND). The “soldier” didn’t do much even with a touchdown against the Steelers, so he’s hard to trust with his QB struggling to pass in a bad spot.
Darius Slayton, Giants (at WAS). Sterling Shepard is a more appealing WR3 at this point, and along with Golden Tate, Slayton’s role has been noticeably cut into.
Jamison Crowder, Jets (vs. NE). We’ll see if he can return from a sore hamstring, but there’s no need to force a Jets wideout into your lineup in this matchup.
Scotty Miller, Buccaneers (vs. NO). Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin (finger) pretty much end his run of viable value.
Curtis Samuel, Panthers (at KC). Don’t chase the big Week 8 box score of a third receiver against a solid secondary.
MORE WEEK 9 DFS: Best stacks | Best values | Lineup Builder
Fantasy Football Week 9 Who To Start: Tight ends
Travis Kelce, Chiefs (vs. CAR), Mark Andrews, Ravens (at IND), Darren Waller, Raiders (at LAC), Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers (vs. NO)
T.J. Hockenson, Lions (vs. MIN). He should be busier in a solid matchup with no Kenny Golladay (hip).
Noah Fant, Broncos (at ATL). This is a good spot for him to get back on track even with the presence of Albert O.
Hunter Henry, Chargers (vs. LV). He hasn’t done much since Justin Herbert took over and started looking deep. Here’s a bet the Chargers will go back to looking for Henry in the red zone in a good matchup.
Eric Ebron, Steelers (at DAL). He’s been key for Big Ben, and the Cowboys can give up chunk plays to this position, too.
Evan Engram, Giants (at WAS). He looked better against the Buccaneers, and he should remain busy for Jones in Washington.
Hayden Hurst, Falcons (vs. DEN). He could definitely see another bump up in usage should Calvin Ridley (foot) miss the game.
Jordan Reed or Ross Dwelley, 49ers (vs. GB). They will keep throwing to their tight end without George Kittle (foot); it’s just a matter of Reed (knee) returning healthy or Dwelley drawing the start.
Logan Thomas, Washington (vs. NYG, $3,700 on DraftKings, $5,000 on FanDuel). Thomas has been a key target for Kyle Allen and should be busy again with Terry McLaurin seeing a good chunk of James Bradberry in coverage.
Fantasy Football Week 9 Who To Sit: Tight ends
Jonnu Smith, Titans (vs. CHI). He’s disappeared in the offense with a committee at the position, and this isn’t a good get-right spot.
Jared Cook, Saints (at TB). Cook cools off from the Bears game with less work with more wideout attention.
Robert Tonyan, Packers (at SF). The 49ers actually remain solid against the tight end, mainly because they’ve gotten worse against wide receivers.
Mike Gesicki, Dolphins (at ARI). He belongs more on the waiver wire than in lineups at this point.
Darren Fells, Texans (at JAX). He could be splitting work with Jordan Akins again, hurting his upside in a good spot
Trey Burton, Colts (vs. BAL). There are too many Indy tight ends involved to keep trusting him in a low-scoring affair.
Dalton Schultz, Cowboys (vs. PIT). The Steelers are stronger against tight ends than wide receivers.
Jimmy Graham, Bears (at TEN). The Titans have some issues in the middle of the field, but his usage is fading because of the wideouts and Cole Kmet.
Fantasy Football Week 9 Who To Start: Defenses
Steelers (at DAL), Chiefs (vs. CAR), Patriots (at NYJ), Washington (vs. NYG), Ravens (at IND), Colts (vs. BAL), Texans (at JAX), Titans (vs. CHI), Bears (at TEN), Packers (at SF), Buccaneers (vs. NO), Giants (at WAS)
Cardinals (vs. MIA, $2,900 on DraftKings, $4,300 on FanDuel). Tua Tagovailoa will be under pressure and make some mistakes trying to keep up with Kyler Murray. It won’t go like the 2018 Orange Bowl.
Fantasy Football Week 9 Who To Sit: Defenses
Bills (vs. SEA), Seahawks (at BUF), Chargers (vs. LV), Falcons (vs. DEN), Jets (vs. NE), Saints (at TB), Broncos (at ATL), Vikings (vs. DET), Dolphins (at ARI)