Week 9 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

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Start 'Em or Sit 'Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.


Notable QBs on bye: Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, Jacoby Brissett, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kenny Pickett, Daniel Jones

Start of the Week: Geno Smith at Cardinals – Fantasy's overall QB9 at the season's midway point, Smith's big yardage games have faded with just 197, 210, and 212 yards in the Seahawks' last three outings. However, Smith continues to lead the league in completion rate while also being top-10 in passer rating, yards per attempt, and touchdown rate. He's also not turning the ball over, with a sparkling 13:3 TD:INT mark and just one lost fumble. Smith has multiple touchdown passes in 6-of-8 games. He faced these same Cardinals back in Week 6. That one resulted in a disappointing 19-9 final score, and Smith threw for just 197 scoreless yards, but the two offenses combined for 23 possessions and 139 offensive plays. Several drives stalled out in or near the red zone. That game had real shootout potential under the surface. This game's 49.5-point total is the second-highest of the week. Arizona is 23rd in pass-defense DVOA, 27th in adjusted sack rate, 31st in Pro Football Focus' coverage grades, 28th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 24th in completion percentage allowed, and has surrendered the fourth-most passing touchdowns. Also, the Seahawks are sixth in yards per play, while the Cardinals are 25th in opponent yards per play. Smith is a justifiable QB1.


Tua Tagovailoa at Bears – The overall QB7 in fantasy points per game, Tagovailoa is coming off a 382-yard, three-touchdown evisceration of the Lions last week, completing a season-best 81% of his passes, finishing as Week 8's QB1. Chicago doesn't field nearly as bad of a defense as the Lions, but the Bears are 18th in pass-defense DVOA, 22nd in adjusted sack rate, 16th in Pro Football Focus' coverage grades, 22nd in opponent yards per play, and they just dealt away EDGE Robert Quinn and stud LB Roquan Smith at the trade deadline. Dak Prescott ate up this defense in Week 8, completing 78% of his throws at 9.26 YPA and three total touchdowns as the week's QB4. Chicago doesn't have any answers for Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. The only worry here would be the Dolphins running over the Bears via the rushing attack, but there's still enough meat on the bone here for Tagovailoa to get there, especially with six teams on bye. Miami's implied team total of 25.75 points is the sixth-most of the weekend.

Aaron Rodgers at Lions – It's been a disastrous season for back-to-back MVP winner Rodgers, as he enters this one as fantasy's overall QB28 in points per game. Rodgers has tossed multiple touchdowns in 6-of-8 games, but he's yet to throw three in a week. His completion rate is down 2.5% from last year, his touchdown rate has dipped from 7% to 4.7%, and he's 24th in yards per attempt. This is purely a matchup play, as Rodgers gets his first of two dates with the lowly Lions. Detroit is dead last in pass-defense DVOA, 26th in adjusted sack rate, 32nd in Pro Football Focus' coverage grades, 30th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 32nd in completion rate against, 32nd in yards per attempt allowed, 24th in opponent plays per game, and 32nd in yards per play against. Tua Tagovailoa just posted the QB1 week against the Lions last week, throwing for 382 yards and three touchdowns. And Ford Field has proven to be a fantasy feasting ground in 2022. Opponents have scored 38, 27, 48, and 31 points against the Lions in Detroit. This game sports a Week 9-high 50-point total. Rodgers is a streaming option.

Marcus Mariota vs. Chargers – The Panthers pushed the Falcons into a shootout last week, and Mariota's 28 pass attempts were his most since Week 1 while his 253 yards and three scores marked new season-bests. Mariota has gone three straight weeks with a passer rating over 100, and he's sixth in the league in yards per attempt. When Mariota is throwing the ball, he's pushing it down the field. Like Carolina in Week 8, the Chargers definitely have the ability to drag the Falcons into a more pass-happy, up-pace environment. Thanks to his 55/280/3 line as a rusher, Mariota is fantasy's overall QB14 in points per game. The Chargers are still without top EDGE Joey Bosa (groin) and lost big-ticket CB J.C. Jackson to a season-ending knee injury in Week 8. Los Angeles is a middling 18th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 29th in opponent yards per play. Mariota is unlikely to fire off 30 passes, but his big-play and rushing ability coupled with this game's 49.5-point total put Mariota very much on the streaming map. Personally, I added Mariota in a one-QB league and am starting him over Tom Brady this week.


Derek Carr at Jaguars – After opening the season with three straight multi-touchdown passing games while averaging 283.3 yards per contest, Carr has just three touchdowns in four games while averaging a pitiful 192.75 yards. He's coming off a horrific 101-yard, zero-TD Week 8 shutout loss to the Saints and is fantasy's QB30 since Week 4. He's holding this team back and might be playing for his 2023 job in the second half of the season. The Jaguars don't present an overly challenging matchup, coming in at 21st in pass-defense DVOA, 31st in adjusted sack rate, 22nd in Pro Football Focus' coverage grades, and 21st in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, but Carr has been incredibly bad of late, and the Raiders are traveling cross-country for a 1 PM ET start. Jacksonville is fresh off losing to the Broncos in London. Both teams could be sluggish. Carr is a low-end QB2 with no ceiling and a basement-level floor.

Matthew Stafford at Bucs – Stafford is averaging a 10-year-low 6.8 yards per attempt and has just one multi-touchdown passing game this season. He's coming off a season-low 187 yards last week against the 49ers, and Stafford's touchdown rate is a career-worst 2.7%, way down from his 6.8% mark last season. And now Cooper Kupp is dealing with a sprained ankle, even if he's expected to play through it. The Rams' inability to pass block and Kupp playing at less than 100 percent have Stafford off the streaming radar. Los Angeles didn't do anything at the trade deadline to help Stafford, and Odell Beckham seems more likely to sign elsewhere at this point. The Bucs lost EDGE Shaq Barrett to a torn Achilles last week, but Tampa Bay is sixth in pass-defense DVOA, second in adjusted sack rate, fourth in Pro Football Focus' coverage grades, fourth in yards per attempt against, and seventh in opponent yards per play. The Rams are 31st in yards per play, only better than the last-placed Steelers. L.A.'s implied team total of 19.75 points is the fifth-lowest of the weekend. Stafford can't be trusted in fantasy lineups.

Sam Ehlinger at Patriots – Making his first NFL start last week, Ehlinger completed 74% of his throws at over 8.7 yards per attempt, but that was against the Commanders' awful pass defense. Also, the Colts devolved into a run-heavy offense after being a pass-happy unit with Matt Ryan under center. Ehlinger rushed for just 15 yards on six carries and lost a fumble and fired off just 23 passes. That's not enough to get Ehlinger into the streaming mix for fantasy. He now catches a New England defense that is fifth in pass-defense DVOA, 10th in adjusted sack rate, 13th in Pro Football Focus' coverage grades, first in completion rate against, and 15th in opponent yards per play. With an implied team total of 17.25 points, Ehlinger is merely a QB2/3.


Notable RBs on bye: Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, Najee Harris, Melvin Gordon

Start of the Week: D'Onta Foreman at Bengals – From Week 12 onward last season, Foreman was fantasy's overall RB21 in place of an injured Derrick Henry. Signed by the Panthers in the offseason as Christian McCaffrey insurance, Foreman has taken over starting duties since the pre-Week 7 trade of CMC to the Niners. Over the last two weeks, Foreman is fantasy's RB4 in half-PPR points per game and has posted back-to-back 100-yard rushing days. Foreman is fresh off a 26/118/3 pounding of the Falcons where he saw a whopping nine red-zone carries and punched in both of his goal-line looks for scores. Once an exciting prospect coming out of Texas as a 2017 third-rounder of the Texans, Foreman tore his Achilles early in his career but grinded his way back to relevance and runs like someone who has seen some dark places at rock bottom. Looking better than ever and with fresh legs for the second half of the year, Foreman deserves RB1 treatment for Week 9 with Chuba Hubbard (ankle) again out. Foreman handled 26-of-34 backfield carries for the Panthers last week and played 68% of the snaps. The Bengals are a middling 15th in run-defense DVOA but come in at 25th in Pro Football Focus' run-stopping grades. Cincinnati remains without NT D.J. Reader (knee) up front and just got gashed for 23/101/2 by Nick Chubb last Monday night. Foreman and D.J. Moore are the lone playable Panthers with Carolina implied to score just 17.5 points.


Raheem Mostert at Bears – One of the bigger disappointments of Week 8, Mostert produced a 14/64/0 rushing day against the Lions last Sunday, though he averaged over 4.5 yards per carry. Two days later, the Dolphins traded for ex-49ers RB Jeff Wilson to pair with Mostert in the backfield. Wilson already knows the offense after playing for coach Mike McDaniel in San Francisco for several seasons. The transition should be smooth, but we should expect Mostert to keep his 1A job for at least another week. Both backs will be involved going forward, but the Dolphins simply want Wilson to do more to help Mostert than Chase Edmonds did before he was flipped to the Broncos this week. Mostert is averaging 15.4 carries over his last five games and now draws a Bears defense that is 28th in run-defense DVOA, 31st in Pro Football Focus' run-stopping grades, 27th in opponent yards per carry, and 28th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. Installed as 5.5-point favorites, game script projects to be in Mostert's favor.

Jamaal Williams vs. Packers – It's evident D'Andre Swift (ankle, shoulder) isn't anywhere close to 100 percent, and the Lions admitted as much this week, saying he may never get back there this season. After Swift played 55% of the snaps last week against the Dolphins, he barely practiced this week, and coach Dan Campbell hinted at a possible setback, suggesting his snaps and touches could be scaled back against Green Bay. Williams has seen double-digit carries in all seven games this season and has four two-touchdown rushing efforts. Williams is unlikely to run for big yardage with Swift in the lineup, but he's seeing all the money looks at the goal line, out-carrying Swift 19-2 in the red zone and 10-0 inside the five-yard line. Williams has punched in five of those 10 looks for touchdowns, showing a real nose for the end zone. The Packers haven't been able to stop a nosebleed on the ground this season, checking in at 31st in run-defense DVOA, 22nd in Pro Football Focus' run-defense grades, 25th in opponent yards per carry, and 20th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. This is a #RevengeGame for Williams after spending the 2017-20 seasons in Green Bay. He's a TD-dependent RB2 play.

Deon Jackson at PatriotsJonathan Taylor aggravated his preexisting ankle injury in Week 8, missed practice all week, and was ruled out for Week 9 on Friday. And now Nyheim Hines is gone after being traded to the Bills. Coach Frank Reich said Jackson will be “the guy” against the Patriots with trade pickup Zack Moss not ready to contribute. Not that Moss should be viewed as anything more than depth anyway. Look for Phillip Lindsay and Jordan Wilkins to get called up from the practice squad as Jackson's backups. The matchup against the Patriots is a tough one, but the Colts morphed into an extremely run-heavy offense with Sam Ehlinger under center last week, so Jackson should be the focal point. Even if the efficiency lacks some, Jackson has 20-plus touches upside and has already shown in the past that he can function in the pass game after catching all 10 targets for 79 yards back in Week 6 when filling in for Taylor. Jackson added 12/41/1 on the ground that day against the Jaguars and finished as fantasy's RB1. In a likely slow-paced game with an ugly 40.5-point total, Jackson is more of an RB2.


Clyde Edwards-Helaire vs. Titans – With six touchdowns in seven games, Edwards-Helaire has gotten by solely on his ability to find the end zone in the Chiefs' high-octane offense. Otherwise, he's averaging a career-low 41.1 rushing yards per game with back-to-back zero-catch outings prior to the Week 8 bye. Isiah Pacheco is nipping at CEH's heels for early-down work, and Jerick McKinnon is the preferred pass-game back. With three running backs splitting snaps and touches in an offense that prefers to throw the ball, it's hard to have any sort of excitement for these guys. The Titans are No. 1 in run-defense DVOA, third in Pro Football Focus' run-defense grades, second in fantasy points allowed to running backs, and seventh in opponent yards per carry. Edwards-Helaire looks like a TD-or-bust proposition.

Brian Robinson vs. Vikings – Like Clyde Edwards-Helaire above, Robinson is stuck in a three-way RBBC as purely an early-down, between-the-tackles guy with no pass-game involvement. In a game the Commanders won last week against the Colts, Antonio Gibson out-snapped Robinson 22-15, and Robinson held the narrow edge in carries 8-7. But Gibson caught seven balls to Robinson's zero. Both backs got a boost with J.D. McKissic (neck) getting ruled out for Week 9, but Gibson looks like the big winner here thanks to his dual-threat ability. The coaches may be coming back around on him being the team's best back. Averaging 3.2 YPC on his first 54 carries and just two catches through four games makes Robinson a desperation FLEX play. Washington is implied to score just 20 points.

Darrell Henderson at Bucs – Desperate for playmakers, “Ronnie Rivers” got the start out of the Rams' backfield last week and out-carried Henderson 8-4 against the 49ers. Henderson narrowly out-snapped Rivers 24-21, but Malcolm Brown mixed in for 13 snaps and saw five carries as coach Sean McVay's preferred red-zone back. Now, Cam Akers is back in the fold after he sat out the last three weeks with the Rams looking to trade the former second-rounder. It's clear McVay isn't loving any of these guys and could roll four different backs out there against the Bucs. Tampa Bay has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to running backs, and the Los Angeles line can't block at all. The Rams are implied to score just 19.75 points.

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Notable WRs on bye: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Amari Cooper, Wan'Dale Robinson, Darius Slayton, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy

Start of the Week: Josh Palmer at Falcons – Mike Williams suffered a high-ankle sprain last time out, and Keenan Allen re-injured his hamstring during the bye, leaving Palmer to assume WR1 duties for Justin Herbert. Palmer has legitimate double-digit target upside with only DeAndre Carter, Michael Bandy, and Jason Moore behind him on the depth chart. The Falcons are a lowly 30th in pass-defense DVOA, 26th in Pro Football Focus' coverage grades, and dead last in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. Palmer has been extremely inefficient this season, checking in at 78th of 95 qualified wideouts in yards per route, but the potential target volume overshadows that. The Falcons surrendered a 6/152/1 line to D.J. Moore last week.


Christian Kirk vs. Raiders – After seeing nine targets per game in Weeks 1-4, Kirk's volume has dipped to 6.25 targets per contest in the last four weeks. He's fantasy's WR54 in half-PPR points per game since Week 5, way down from his WR8 numbers from the season's opening month. Kirk had had some tough individual matchups in recent weeks but now catches a Raiders unit that is 31st in pass-defense DVOA, 26th in Pro Football Focus' pass-coverage grades, and 17th in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. Kirk is still dominating the targets in Jacksonville as Trevor Lawrence's top pass-game threat. This isn't an exciting game to target for fantasy purposes, but Kirk warrants WR2/3 treatment against a Vegas secondary that recently lost starting CB Nate Hobbs to injured reserve.

Allen Lazard at Lions – Lazard has topped 55 yards and/or scored a touchdown in all six games he's played this season. Easily the Packers' best wideout, Lazard just needs to get and stay healthy. After missing last week with a shoulder issue, Lazard returned to practice this week and looks to be on the right side of the questionable tag for Sunday. We're going to want a piece of this Green Bay passing offense against a horrendous Detroit secondary that is dead last in pass-defense DVOA, dead last in Pro Football Focus' coverage grades, and 28th in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. If Lazard is active, he immediately gains WR3 steam in a game with the week's highest total at 50 points. Lazard is averaging 6.8 targets per game.

Jakobi Meyers vs. Colts – Scoring three touchdowns in his last four games, Meyers has already set a new single-season career-high in touchdowns. He's easily Mac Jones' favorite target and gets an even bigger boost with DeVante Parker (knee) sidelined. The Colts are great at limiting big plays on the outside and tend to funnel passes to the inside, which also benefits slot man Meyers. Quietly fantasy's overall WR14 in half-PPR points per game this season, Meyers deserves WR2 treatment despite this game's overall lack of fantasy appeal.


Devin Duvernay at Saints – A popular pickup with Rashod Bateman (foot) now done for the rest of the season, Duvernay went 5/54/0 and 1/14/0 on 12 total targets in Weeks 5-6 earlier this year with Bateman sidelined. Demarcus Robinson, of all people, actually out-snapped Duvernay 94-87 in those games, though neither wideout did anything of note in the box score. If Mark Andrews (knee, shoulder) can't play Monday night, Duvernay might get a slight boost, but rookie TE Isaiah Likely would look like the top bet to pace the Ravens in target volume.

DeAndre Carter at Falcons – Carter is expected to fill slot duties for the Chargers with Keenan Allen (hamstring) still out, but Carter is probably no higher than fourth on the target totem pole, behind Josh Palmer, Austin Ekeler, and Gerald Everett. Carter has failed to make much of an impact in the box score all season with Allen out. He's yet to catch more than three passes in a game and doesn't have a touchdown since Week 1. Carter has been held to 37 yards or fewer in five straight games. He's a low-floor, low-ceiling desperation WR4 option.

Isaiah McKenzie at Jets – McKenzie has four touchdowns in six games and rushed for a score last week against the Packers, but he's been held to single-digit yards in two straight contests. He's barely fending off rookie WR Khalil Shakir for slot duties, out-snapping him 31-17 while Shakir saw two targets to McKenzie's one. The Jets are eighth in fantasy points allowed to wideouts, and Shakir appears to be nipping at McKenzie's heels for playing time inside.


Notable TEs on bye: George Kittle, Greg Dulcich, David Njoku, Dalton Schultz, Pat Freiermuth

Start of the Week: Zach Ertz at Seahawks – Ertz's targets have taken a hit with DeAndre Hopkins back from suspension, but he's still playing virtually every snap and leads all tight ends in routes run by a significant margin. Ertz is second among all players with 14 red-zone targets. While Ertz is more of a catch-and-fall tight end who isn't going to spring big plays, his role and Arizona's No. 1 ranking in plays per game positions him as an easy TE1 in a game with a 49.5-point total. Seattle is dead last in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Ertz went 7/70 against the Seahawks in Week 6, though it's worth noting that was without Hopkins playing.


Gerald Everett at Falcons – All three of Mike Williams (ankle), Keenan Allen (hamstring), and Donald Parham (hamstring) are out for Week 9, leaving Josh Palmer, Austin Ekeler, and Everett to soak up most of the targets from Justin Herbert. Already top-nine at the position in routes, Everett's floor looks a little safer against a Falcons defense that has allowed the second-most catches, third-most yards, and seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends.

Robert Tonyan at Lions – Tonyan's snaps have steadily been on the rise, culminating with a 74% share last week against the Bills. Despite the tough matchup with Buffalo, Tonyan was still able to reel in five passes on six targets. We want pieces of this Packers offense this week against the Lions' league-worst defense, and Tonyan has been one of the lone constants for Aaron Rodgers. Detroit is 28th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, and this game's 50-point total is the highest of Week 9. Tonyan is a comfortable TE1 start.

Evan Engram vs. Raiders – Engram played a season-high 93% of the snaps last week against the Broncos and has at least four catches for 40 yards in four straight games. Coming off the overall TE4 week, Engram has been fantasy's TE8 since Week 5 and has drawn at least six targets in all four of those games. He now catches a Raiders defense that is 30th in fantasy points allowed to the position. Engram has run the fifth-most routes among tight ends this year.