Editor’s note: The players listed below are NFL stars who were drafted in virtually every Yahoo Fantasy league. That said, this column is not an endorsement to bench them in Week 9. You’re in control of your roster; every league size and shape is different. What we are trying to explain is that expectations should be lowered this week compared to usual for some of the NFL’s biggest stars. Aside from examining this week’s matchups, this can also serve as a reminder not to overreact if one of your high draft picks disappoints in Week 9.
Cooper Kupp @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kupp suffered a completely unnecessary ankle injury during garbage time at the very end of last week’s game, and while he says he dodged a bullet, the star receiver is still dealing with "tissue swelling." It seems like the type of injury that will affect Kupp in the short-term at minimum, making this week’s game’s later start time possibly problematic for fantasy managers setting their lineups. He gets a Tampa Bay defense that’s been stumbling lately but has allowed just 5.8 YPA this season. The broken Rams offense is another worry. Los Angeles is getting the second-fewest yards per play, and Matthew Stafford this season has already been pressured the same number of times as he was all of last year.
Kupp’s main concern is obviously his ankle. You’re not benching him if he's active, but Kupp is an easy DFS fade and expectations need to be lowered far more than usual this week.
Leonard Fournette vs. Los Angeles Rams
Fournette is getting just 2.9 YPC at home this season while the Bucs rank last in the NFL in EPA/rush (-0.27). He’s averaged just 11.0 touches over the last two games as rookie Rachaad White continues to become a bigger part of Tampa Bay’s offense. This week’s matchup features two teams ranking in the bottom six in average combined points in games this year, and the Rams are second-to-last in pace (neutral situations). Los Angeles has allowed the 11th-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season, but that might be misleading since they oddly had to face Christian McCaffrey in back-to-back games. LA hasn’t allowed 15.0 fantasy points (0.5 PPR) to a running back who’s not CMC this season. Fournette ranks toward the bottom of the league in rush yards over expectation and should continue to see fewer targets with Tampa Bay’s receivers finally healthy.
Devin Singletary @ New York Jets
Singletary is sure to lose passing-down work after the Bills traded for Nyheim Hines (James Cook can be cut) and this week he gets a sneaky tough matchup. The Jets have allowed the fewest yards per play in the NFL over the last three weeks and the third-fewest YPP at home this season. New York’s defense also ranks No. 3 in DVOA since Week 4 and has ceded the second-fewest YPC (3.8) this season, so Singletary could abnormally struggle this week.
Jonathan Taylor @ New England Patriots
Taylor hasn’t scored since Week 1, and his status Sunday is unclear after he aggravated his ankle injury. Even if fully healthy, he’d be in a tough spot on the road against a New England defense allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs this year. Nyheim Hines was traded at the deadline but Taylor saw just one target from Sam Ehlinger last week, which is discouraging since he’s Indy’s new starting QB moving forward. The Colts just fired their offensive coordinator, badly miss Nick Sirianni and have the second-lowest implied team total (17.0 points) this week (only the Broncos have averaged fewer combined points during their matchups in 2022). Before this year, Taylor hadn't missed a practice (let alone a game) because of injury dating back to high school. His season is looking increasingly lost. Deon Jackson should be added in all fantasy formats and remains available in more than 65% of Yahoo leagues.