Sit and start is relative and league dependent, so consider some of these suggestions more “fliers” and “fades” (note that some are targeted for DFS).
Good luck with your Week 9 lineups.
Seattle Seahawks @ Buffalo Bills
Start: DeeJay Dallas, John Brown
Dallas recorded the seventh-highest snap share among backs last week, scoring twice against a 49ers defense that’s allowed the fewest fantasy points to RBs this season. He should be looking at a solid workload once again Sunday with Seattle’s backfield still banged up, and it’s a nice situation with the Seahawks favorites in a game with this week’s highest total.
Brown has been a disappointment, but he ran the same number of routes as Stefon Diggs last week and should be closer to full health now. He gets a Seattle D that’s defended the run well this season yet has allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers by a significant margin.
Denver Broncos @ Atlanta Falcons
Start: Drew Lock, Hayden Hurst
Lock’s receivers are getting healthier, and he gets a game indoors against an Atlanta funnel defense that ranks No. 29 versus the pass and No. 8 against the run in DVOA and has been gashed for the most fantasy points by quarterbacks this season. Lock’s average intended air yards (9.9) are the highest in the NFL; he’s a sleeper QB in Week 9.
Hurst has surpassed 50 receiving yards in three straight games (a positively heroic feat by tight end standards this season), and he could see extra targets this week with Calvin Ridley battling a foot sprain in a matchup with sneaky high-scoring potential.
Chicago Bears @ Tennessee Titans
Start: Darnell Mooney, Titans D/ST
Mooney is seemingly open deep every game and finally connected with Nick Foles last week, and he could be looking at increased volume with Anthony Miller and Jimmy Graham banged up and Allen Robinson shadowed by Malcolm Butler. The Titans have ceded the most fantasy points to wide receivers over the last month, and Chicago should be playing catch up, so Mooney is a sleeper.
The Titans’ defense has underperformed this season, even releasing Vic Beasley this week (Jadeveon Clowney has gone 10 regular-season games without a sack), but they still enter this week with a big advantage at the line of scrimmage, and Nick Foles playing from behind on the road is a recipe for fantasy success.
Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings
Start: Marvin Hall, Kirk Cousins
Hall is a good athlete, showed up an improved player this season, and is looking at an extended opportunity with Kenny Golladay out (Hall had the 10th-most air yards last week after replacing Kenny G). He’s a sleeper this week against a beatable Minnesota defense (Marvin Jones should also see increased targets, but he’s looked a step slow all season and ranks #96 in yards per route run). Of course, all bets are off if Chase Daniel has to start instead of Matthew Stafford.
The Vikings are favorites in a matchup with one of this week’s highest totals, and Cousins has gotten a whopping 9.7 YPA with eight TD strikes over three games at home this season. One week after Dalvin Cook scored all the touchdowns, expect Cousins to make Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson happy, making him a top-12 fantasy QB.
Baltimore Ravens @ Indianapolis Colts
Start: Marquise Brown, Philip Rivers
I’m buying the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” narrative with Brown, who recently complained about his usage and should benefit from Baltimore likely having to throw more than usual against a top-five run defense in DVOA. Brown has no doubt been a disappointment, but he ranks 10th in air yards this season, and Sunday is a good time to start cashing them in.
The Ravens have a strong defense, but them being so tough against the run (#1 in DVOA) should result in Rivers having to throw more than usual (Baltimore has allowed more fantasy points per game to QBs this year than teams like the Lions and Bengals), and he’s gotten a whopping 8.9 YPA at home this season. With Marlon Humphrey also out, Rivers is a sleeper this week (if someone who’s thrown six TDs over the last two games can qualify as such).
Carolina Panthers @ Kansas City Chiefs
Sit: Teddy Bridgewater
Start in DFS: Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($27)
It feels like Kansas City should be a good matchup for opposing quarterbacks, with garbage time stats seemingly a fallback option, but they have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to QBs this season (even Pittsburgh has given up more), in part because they are much easier to run on (and the Panthers get Christian McCaffrey back). Bridgewater has gotten an impressive 8.7 YPA on the road this year and isn’t a terrible start, but he’s not a top-15 QB on my board this week against DVOA’s #7 pass defense in KC.
CEH likely won’t be heavily rostered in DFS coming off a quiet game (six carries) and with Le’Veon Bell now in town, but last week’s touch distribution was misleading, and after having five TD passes last week, KC could return its focus to the ground versus a Carolina defense that’s allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs. Edwards-Helaire is a sneaky DFS play this week.
Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Start: Randall Cobb
Start in DFS: Jake Luton ($20)
Cobb saw 10 targets in Houston’s last game and gets a Jacksonville defense that’s yielded the fourth-most fantasy points to the slot this season, so he’s a PPR sleeper in deep leagues.
If you want to get crazy and punt QB this week (or need help in Superflex formats), Luton is a fine gamble at the minimum price during his first career start. Coming off the bye, the rookie gets a soft Houston defense that’s allowed the third-most yards per play on the road this season, and a healthy trio of DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, and Keelan Cole (with James Robinson) is a decent set of weapons. Might as well jump on the Luton train before the bandwagoning starts.
New York Giants @ Washington Football Team
Sit: Evan Engram
Start: Football Team D/ST
Engram ranks #129 among all receivers in yards per route run this season, which is so bad it’s even worse than N’Keal Harry. The Giants’ offense figures to struggle Sunday against the league’s #2 ranked pass defense in DVOA.
Washington is coming off its bye, while the Giants are traveling during a short week after just playing Monday. Over four road games this season, Daniel Jones has produced just two touchdowns, committed six turnovers, and taken 14 sacks. WFT has an argument to be the #1 fantasy D/ST this week.
Las Vegas Raiders @ Los Angeles Chargers
Start: Derek Carr, Mike Williams
Carr is coming off a quiet game thanks to the weather in Cleveland, but he should bounce back Sunday against a Chargers defense that’s allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. The normally slow-paced Raiders may also be forced to speed up and produce more plays against Justin Herbert and company.
Williams is more big-play reliant than Keenan Allen, but he was fifth in air yards last week, and Los Angeles has gone much more pass-heavy with a budding superstar at QB. Herbert gives Williams big weekly upside.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Dallas Cowboys
Start: Diontae Johnson
Johnson has been one of the most frustrating players this season, but he racks up targets in the games he doesn’t leave injured, and he has a favorable matchup versus a Dallas secondary that’s ceded the sixth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season. While Chase Claypool may have the higher ceiling and JuJu Smith-Schuster the higher floor, Johnson is the Steelers’ most valuable fantasy WR when healthy.
Dallas probably didn’t see itself being 14-point home underdogs at this point of the season, but they enter with major problems at offensive line and with a huge question mark at quarterback. Ezekiel Elliott’s expectations need to be held in check while dealing with a hamstring injury and in this brutal matchup, and while the Steelers have actually been welcoming to fantasy wide receivers, it’s a guessing game how Dallas’ targets will be divvied.
Miami Dolphins @ Arizona Cardinals
Start: Cardinals D/ST
Miami’s backfield will likely be a committee featuring Jordan Howard, Patrick Laird, and Salvon Ahmed, while the passing attack will likely be hampered by an overwhelmed Tua Tagovailoa against a rested and underrated Arizona defense.
The Cardinals are at home, coming off a bye and facing a Dolphins team that won last week despite getting out-gained by more yards in a game than any team in 2020. Arizona’s defense quietly ranks top-10 in DVOA, and their rushing offense should provide a nice lead. Tagovailoa appears entirely unready (and Miami is down multiple running backs), so it’s a recipe for Arizona to finish as the #1 fantasy D/ST in Week 9.
New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Start: Drew Brees, Antonio Brown
Brees is outdoors against a Tampa Bay defense that enters ranked #1 in DVOA, but this game should be high scoring, and he could be getting Emmanuel Sanders and Michael Thomas back. Brees is a different QB these days but is still getting it done (8.1 YPA on the road) and can be started Sunday night despite the difficult matchup.
Obviously, Brown is a total mystery, but he reportedly showed up in Tampa in terrific shape, and the bet here is that his best buddy (and roommate) Tom Brady makes sure to get him immediately involved. The difference between New England’s skill position players and Tampa Bay’s is comical.
New England Patriots @ New York Jets
Sit: Cam Newton, Adam Gase
Newton has a nice floor thanks to his rushing, and it’s tempting to like him in a matchup against the league’s doormat, but he hasn’t recorded a passing TD since Week 3. Newton’s poor supporting cast does him no favors, and the Jets’ defense isn’t the worst, so he’s not a top-15 QB on my board this week.
Sam Darnold, Jamison Crowder, and Breshad Perriman all enter banged up against a Bill Belichick team that’s lost four straight. The Jets are on pace to finish with the worst point differential in NFL history, and if Trevor Lawrence turns out to be as good as expected, Gase (who continued to give carries to 37-year-old Frank Gore last week while down big in the middle of a winless season) will go down as New York’s MVP in 2020.