Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 9
Many fantasy players are operating with a short hand in Week 9. The roughest group of bye weeks this season sees the Saints, Falcons, Rams, and Bengals out of action, costing gamers across the globe some serious star power.
Also, losing Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Jared Goff, Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Todd Gurley, Devonta Freeman, Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, Cooper Kupp, and Austin Hooper is a bit of a bummer. Consider all of those sidelined stars before wondering why a certain player seems suspiciously high in the Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR), cited below as of Tuesday evening from half-PPR leagues. The line of startability is lower than usual, so let’s dig a bit deeper to determine who should start and sit.
Start: Kirk Cousins (MIN) at KC: QB10 ECR
Recommended as last week’s start, Cousins finished behind Taysom Hill as the QB24. This is the quintessential case of trusting the process. Minnesota’s signal-caller played another great game last Thursday night, going 23-for-26 for 285 yards. Unfortunately, he failed to produce a touchdown for just his second time in 24 games with the Vikings. Nobody liked that. They should, however, like his NFL-leading 9.3 yards per pass attempt paired with a 115.2 passer rating that narrowly trails Russell Wilson in second.
Perhaps last week’s biggest miscalculation was believing Adam Thielen would be ready to go on a shortened week. With 10 days to recover from a hamstring injury, he’s more likely to return this Sunday. That would solidify Cousins as a top-10 option against a team permitting the 10th-most fantasy points per game (19.9) to opposing quarterbacks. Regardless of Patrick Mahomes‘ availability, Cousins will need to do a little more to out-pace a Kansas City offense that held its own last Sunday night behind Matt Moore.
Sit: Daniel Jones (NYG) vs. DAL: QB14 ECR
It’s a bit surprising to see Jones so high in the ECR. Is it an overreaction to a stellar Week 8 showing or simply a byproduct of a short-handed slate? Probably both. After a brilliant debut against a soft Tampa Bay secondary, the rookie offered just one touchdown in each of his next four outings without once exceeding 225 passing yards. He finished all of those contests in the QB17-24 range before topping last week’s leaderboard with 322 passing yards and four touchdowns against the Lions.
Dave Gettleman has had two chances to gloat, but Danny Dimes looked like an overmatched rookie on four other occasions. Another miss seems far more likely against a Dallas defense yielding the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game (12.6) to the position. He has more upside than Philip Rivers or Jimmy Garoppolo, but anyone trusting the erratic newcomer is gambling on a far lower ceiling. Because of their matchups, Derek Carr (vs. DET) and Sam Darnold (at MIA) make better streaming options for everyone scrambling to replace Brees, Ryan, or Goff.
Start: Devin Singletary (BUF) vs. WAS: RB29 ECR
What’s that, you don’t want to start a running back who drew three carries last week and 29 touches all season? Well sure, that doesn’t look good if you’re picky. But consider that Singletary, in his second game back from a hamstring injury, played 42 snaps to Frank Gore‘s 18. He also demonstrated why he should get the ball more via a 28-yard touchdown reception. The rookie has as many 20-yard rushes (three) as Gore in 75 fewer carries.
Following a humbling 31-13 loss to Philadelphia, Buffalo is a heavy favorite to rebound against Washington, which has forfeited the fifth-most rushing yards per game (137.8). While it’s possible Gore — also a viable flex play — could reap the rewards of more running situations, the veteran’s snap count has dipped in each of the last four games. If the Bills truly want to get Singletary the ball more, this matchup represents the perfect chance. Don’t mistake this as a “must start” endorsement, but Singletary makes a solid flex play with upside for managers hurt by injuries or byes.
Sit: David Montgomery (CHI) at PHI: RB24 ECR
On the flip side, some gamers will have little choice but to roll the dice on an encore from Montgomery. With Matt Nagy determined to prove his intelligence, the rookie more than double his previous high with 135 rushing yards on 27 carries in Week 8. If Nagy isn’t an idiot, he’ll realize this isn’t the time to repeat such a heavy running prescription. The Eagles rank eighth against the run but 21st against the pass. Only four teams have granted fewer fantasy points to opposing running backs.
While it’s awfully hard to bench anyone who can ever touch the ball 31 times, let’s not instantly forget the 13.7 touches he averaged beforehand. Pairing 3.7 yards per carry with 95 total receiving yards still makes Montgomery no more than a borderline top-25 option. Those in shallow leagues could have an alternative such as Carlos Hyde or his Chicago predecessor and Week 9 opponent, Jordan Howard.
Start: Mike Williams (LAC) vs. GB: WR27 ECR
D.K. Metcalf‘s numerous end-zone opportunities finally resulted in two touchdowns last week. Let’s see if Williams can follow his lead. He hasn’t turned any of his 10 red-zone targets into six points. In fact, after dropping a potential touchdown last Sunday, he still hasn’t scored at all in 2019 despite depositing 419 receiving yards. Only Robert Woods has more receiving yards (471) with a goose-egg in the touchdown column.
There are nevertheless positive signs to take from recent results. Since missing Week 4 with a back injury, Williams has played 92.1% of the Chargers’ snaps and drawn 35 targets in four games. The 6’4″ wideout, who scored 10 times last season, will eventually reacquaint himself with the end zone. Although Green Bay is hardly a dream matchup, Williams is firmly in the WR3 picture due to the abundance of prominent pass-catchers taking a league-mandated breather.
Sit: Corey Davis (TEN) at CAR: WR35 ECR
Thirty teams could be on a bye, and I still wouldn’t feel comfortable starting Davis. A strong Week 7 (80 yards and a TD) alongside Ryan Tannehill put the perennial breakout candidate back into everyone’s good graces just in time for a golden matchup against the Buccaneers. He turned six targets into nine yards.
In his six games without a touchdown, the 24-year-old has registered 11 catches for 155 yards. He logged a season-low 61.9% snap rate in Week 8 and has garnered one-red target all year. Davis is ranked as a low-end WR3 by default, but Jarvis Landry (if healthy), Jamison Crowder, Demaryius Thomas, DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Danny Amendola, and Chris Conley (if Dede Westbrook is out) are all preferable dart throws.
Start: Darren Fells (HOU) at JAC (London): TE14 ECR
Got any better ideas? Over the last six weeks, only Hooper and Darren Waller have amassed more fantasy points at tight end than Fells, who offered his second two-touchdown display in Week 8’s win over the Raiders. He’s the recipient of seven red-zone targets during that stretch and trails Zach Ertz by one point as the TE8 this season. The weekly consistency isn’t there, but that’s the case for every tight end beyond the obvious weekly locks. Although the 33-year-old could easily settle for two catches and 20 yards, there’s enough reasonable potential after notching a pair of six-catch games in the past three weeks. The Jaguars just coughed up two touchdowns to Ryan Griffin, so Fells is a fine replacement for Hooper or Gerald Everett.
Sit: Eric Ebron (IND) at PIT: TE10 ECR
The pattern suggests Ebron will score a touchdown, as he’s done so every other game throughout the season. Betting against him thus backfired in Week 7. Yet in the following contest, he caught three of four targets for 26 yards. Even more troubling was his season-low 22 snaps. Ebron has participated in just 36.2% of Indianapolis’ plays in the last four games. While the Steelers have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points per game (8.9) to tight ends, they’ve faced steep competition in George Kittle, Mark Andrews, Hunter Henry, and Will Dissly. With a decreasing role and just 16 catches to his name, Ebron is a touchdown-or-bust choice who isn’t any better than Fells, Dallas Goedert, or Jonnu Smith.