Another tough fantasy week as six more teams sit with a bye. Some pointers on who to start and who to sit in Week 9…
One of the better games for fantasy points this week should come from Dallas, where the Vikings visit the Cowboys. These teams possess two of the worst passing defenses in the NFL this season. Consider Tony Romo a low-end QB1 with upside in this one. WR Terrance Williams deserves low-end WR2 status here. And even Christian Ponder is worth starting in deeper leagues or as a bye week substitute.
San Diego RB Ryan Mathews has been playing well of late (two straight 100-yard games). This week he faces a Redskins defense that ranks among the worst against the run. There is a lot to like here. Mathews should be started in most leagues this week as an RB1. Also, don’t forget about DeMarco Murray. He is back on the field in Dallas and should be played as a low-end RB1 in Week 9.
A sneaky flex play this week could be Ben Tate. Tate might fill-in for Arian Foster, who is nursing a hamstring injury and is considered a gametime decision. Even if Foster plays, Tate could play a more significant role than usual. Tate has his own issues in the form of 4 cracked ribs, so he does not merit RB2 status (one solid hit in the right spot could send him to the sidelines for the rest of the game). But he’s worth the risk as an RB3 or a Flex.
Fantasy owners should consider Josh Gordon a solid WR1 play this week in his matchup against the Ravens. Wide receivers Jarrett Boykin and Alshon Jeffery are more subtle forms of fantasy points this weekend. Each qualifies as a low-end WR2 with upside this week in their game on Monday night. And then there is Seattle wideout Doug Baldwin. With Sidney Rice out and Percy Harvin still sidelined, Baldwin steps up in his role with the Seahawks at home this week against Tampa Bay. Baldwin may not help you much with receptions, but don’t be surprised if he beats the Bucs secondary for a long catch or two and a touchdown. He is a WR3 with upside this weekend.
Those seeking help at tight end should look to Houston’s Garrett Graham. He will be an outlet for QB Case Keenum, who may not have Arian Foster available to help him. Graham should be used as a low-end TE1 this week. Meanwhile, Seattle TE Zach Miller makes for a solid TE2 option.
Finally, consider starting the Oakland Raiders if you are in a pinch at DST. They host the Philadelphia Eagles, who are struggling on offense. Oakland has been playing the run tough, so QB Nick Foles may have to throw quite a bit. Foles had a tough time against an easy Dallas pass defense at home two weeks ago. Don’t be surprised if he continues to struggle this week and begins making mistakes. If he does, the Raiders DST will cash-in on points.
Onto where you should lower your expectations this week…
Fantasy owners should consider sitting Tom Brady if they have a QB2 or better available. The Pats offense continues to lack production, and this week they face a stiff pass defense from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brady is a low-end QB2 with downside in Week 9. To put this into context, fantasy owners should consider starting Terrelle Pryor ahead of him. Alex Smith would be a toss-up with Brady. But Brady should be started ahead of the likes of Geno Smith and Christian Ponder.
Running back Fred Jackson will be splitting time again with C.J. Spiller in the Buffalo backfield. Jackson makes for a good flex play with upside, but not much more going forward. Fantasy owners should also temper their Week 9 expectations for Ray Rice. As if his numbers weren’t bad enough already, Rice faces a tough Cleveland rushing defense on the road. He is a low-end RB2 at best this week.
Atlanta wide receiver Harry Douglas has been producing some great fantasy numbers filling in for Julio Jones and Roddy White. But his matchup at Carolina this week will likely bring those numbers back down to earth. Douglas fits the profile of a low-end WR2 in Week 9. Also, be careful about inflating Golden Tate’s potential in Sidney Rice’s absence. Tate doesn’t possess that kind of ability, for one. For another, he will be on Revis Island as his team takes on the Buccaneers. While he probably merits low-end WR2 status, don’t be surprised if Tate only produces like a WR3 this week.
RB Arian Foster should be avoided this week, even if he starts. The word out of Houston makes it clear that even if Foster gets the gametime decision to start, Ben Tate will be used to reduce Foster’s load. Add to that the fact that fantasy owners probably won’t know whether Foster will play until late in the second set of Sunday’s games. That spells trouble. Foster should only be used as a flex play this week – and only if you have someone who plays Sunday night or Monday night that can take his place if he sits.
Lastly, consider sitting the New England DST this week. They are struggling to deal with injuries to key players, and they appear to still be minus Aqib Talib as they go into their matchup with Pittsburgh. Don’t be surprised if Antonio Brown burns this secondary a couple of times. The Patriots have been fortunate to hold it together well-enough to win most of their games this season. But their luck could run out this week, and if so, look out…. The Oakland DST may be a better choice in Week 9.