Start: Derek Carr, Saints
Carr is one of three players with four games of 300 passing yards this year. No quarterback has attempted more air yards than Carr. He gets a Bears defense that ranks 31st in EPA per play allowed in large part because of their propensity for allowing chunk gains. Vegas also loves the spot, giving the Saints the fourth-highest implied team total of the week.
Start: Mac Jones, Patriots
The Commanders rank 30th in EPA per dropback allowed and that was before they traded away Montez Sweat and Chase Young. The two players have combined for 65 pressures and 11.5 sacks this year. The Patriots have a 22-point implied team total this week. That’s higher than the Chargers and Seahawks.
Sit: Geno Smith, Seahawks
The Seahawks are in a nightmare spot this week. They are traveling east to face a Baltimore defense that ranks second in the NFL in EPA per play allowed. The Ravens have allowed more than 216 passing yards once this year. The most they have allowed is 253 yards. That was two weeks ago when Jared Goff put up some numbers in garbage time after getting trashed by Baltimore’s defense for three quarters.
Sit: Jordan Love, Packers
Love has completely fallen apart after his hot start to the season. Since Week 2, he ranks 26th in EPA per play and 30th in CPOE. He has five scores and eight interceptions over his past five games. That is despite getting fantastic matchups with the Raiders, Bears, and Vikings over the past three weeks. Love is looking less and less like the answer for Green Bay every week.
Start: Gus Edwards, Ravens
Edwards popped up on the injury report on Wednesday with a toe issue but was back to a full participant in practice by Thursday, so that shouldn’t affect the elite role he has been playing in recent weeks. Edwards has seen 60 percent of the Ravens’ carries and 89 percent of the team’s goal line attempts over the past three weeks. On an offense that has found its stride, Edwards’ goal line usage makes him a good bet for a touchdown every week.
Start: Jonathan Taylor, Colts
Last week Taylor entered halftime with 11 carries for 94 yards and was set for a smash day. He saw one carry for one yard in the entire second half. The good news is that his snap rate was over 60 percent in the second half and he ran 16 routes to Zack Moss’s six. Indy’s last carry of the game came with just under five minutes left in the third quarter. Had they run even a few more times, the pre and post-halftime splits wouldn't have been nearly as drastic for Taylor.
Sit: Dameon Pierce, Texans
Coming out of the bye, Pierce’s role didn’t improve in the slightest. Over his past two games, he has 39 percent snap share, 42 percent carry share, and has run a route on a quarter of C.J. Stroud’s dropbacks. He is nothing more than a two-down committee back on a middling offense.
Sit: Jerome Ford, Browns
Ford set season lows in snap share, carry share, and route rate. That includes games that saw Nick Chubb take the field. He was dealing with an ankle issue but his role has been extremely underwhelming over the past month. Ford hasn’t run a route on at least half of his team’s dropbacks since Week 4 and his last goal line carry came in Week 3. He is playing a low-value role on a struggling offense.
Start: Demario Douglas, Patriots
With multiple Patriots wideouts suffering injuries in recent weeks, Douglas’s route rate is up to 80 percent in his past two outings. His yards per route run (1.93) and targets per route run (.22) both lead all New England receivers. With Kendrick Bourne and DeVante Parker out for Week 9, Douglas is the best option left on the roster.
Start: Odell Beckham, Ravens
Beckham is a deep cut after doing next to nothing this year, but his role in one of the best offenses in football is solid. After limiting his reps in Week 6, Beckham has a 21 percent target share and is averaging .26 targets per route run over his past two games. Baltimore also has the third-highest total of the week.
Sit: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seahawks
With DK Metcalf back in the lineup for Week 8, the Seahawks went back to their old ways. JSN ran a route on 64 percent of Geno Smith’s dropbacks and earned an 11 percent target share. Both marks were four-week lows. Smith-Njigba’s targets per route run also dropped to .16 and his aDOT collapsed to .3 yards. This was the JSN that was unusable for fantasy purposes early in the season.
Sit: Jordan Addison, Vikings
Addison has been crushing with Justin Jefferson out, but the biggest difference between his usage and that of K.J. Osborn has been end zone targets. He has two more targets than Osborn over the past three weeks but three more end zone targets and four touchdowns to Osborn’s zero. The touchdown frenzy should come to an end this week with Jaren Hall under center.
Start: Trey McBride, Cardinals
Even if Clayton Tune is announced as the Cardinals’ starter, McBride saw the ball enough in Week 8 to rank as a TE1 this week. He earned a target share of 40 percent and an air yards share of 41 percent. McBride ran a route on 88 percent of Joshua Dobbs’s dropbacks. With Tune as the starter, McBride would rank as a low-end TE1. Kyler Murray getting the nod would allow McBride to push for top-five numbers at his position.
Start: Dalton Kincaid, Bills
Most fantasy managers aren't on the fence about starting Kincaid unless they have another TE1 option on the roster. My recommendation here is only to say that you almost certainly do not have a better option. Kincaid is my TE3 this week. He ran a route on 85 percent of the Bills’ dropbacks in his first game without Dawson Knox in the lineup and earned an 18 percent target share. Buffalo’s matchup with the Bengals has a 49.5-point total. That’s the second-best game environment of the week and one of only three games with a total over 44.
Sit: Michael Mayer, Raiders
Among quarterbacks with at least 50 dropbacks, Aidan O’Connell ranks 37th out of 38 passers in Pro Football Focus passing grade. He ranks 32nd in both EPA and CPOE. The Raiders have a 19.75 team total. Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs are the only members of the offense I plan on playing this week.
Sit: Cole Kmet, Bears
Like Mayer, the role isn’t the issue, it’s the offense and the quarterback. The Bears have a negative seven percent pass rate over expected in two Tyson Bagent starts. Bagent has averaged six yards per attempt with one touchdown and three interceptions this year. Chicago has a 16.5 implied team total. Only the Cardinals, who are presumed to be starting Clayton Tune, project for fewer points. Kmet’s role in the Bears’ offense is solid, but, unlike McBride, it’s not enough to overcome the environment.