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9 Fantasy Football Smash Starts for Week 9 (2023)

9 Fantasy Football Smash Starts for Week 9 (2023)

I was pleased with how the smash starts went outside of Isiah Pacheco and Dameon Pierce last week. We knew Pierce was a risky recommendation, but it was shocking to see Pacheco struggle along with the rest of the Chiefs. In any case, we were happy with everything else, and it has us ready to keep rolling here!

The premise behind this article is simple. Identifying fantasy football smash plays that are on the fringe of your starting lineup. We rarely recommend a top-20 player at any position, but we want to help you fill those critical flex spots!

Smash Starts for Week 9


Dak Prescott (DAL) at PHI

Dak Prescott was dreadful through the opening month of the season, but he’s rolling right now. The Cowboys quarterback has scored 25 and 29 fantasy points in his two most recent outings. That bump in production is incredible since we had so many signal-callers get injured last week. It will be tough to keep Prescott on your bench going forward.

The matchup with Philly makes that even more challenging because the Eagles rank 26th in passing yards allowed. That was on full display when Prescott dropped 29 fantasy points in his most recent meeting with Philadelphia last season! This could be the shootout of the week, and Prescott would be a phenomenal start if that ends up being the case.

Running Backs

Rachaad White (TB) at HOU

Rachaad White has been the primary back in Tampa all year, and we’re finally seeing him produce. His pass-catching has been his primary asset, recording at least six catches and 65 receiving yards in back-to-back games. That’s substantial since he’s regularly seeing double-digit carries, making White a candidate for a sensational second half of the season. The matchup with the Texans is terrific, too, because Houston has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs since the start of last season.

Gus Edwards (BAL) vs. SEA

With JK Dobbins getting injured in Week 1, Gus Edwards has taken over this Baltimore backfield. Edwards has steadily seen his workload rise over the last month, averaging 15.2 carries over his last five outings. That’s quite the workload in one of the best offenses in the NFL, leading to Edwards scoring 21 and 29 fantasy points in his two most recent outings. That recent bump makes Edwards an excellent flex option against Seattle, ranked 16th in total defense. It’s also a home game for the Ravens, and Edwards could be looking at a handful of goal-line carries in this favorable gamescript.

Emari Demercado (ARI) at CLE

Emari Demercado looked like a bust of a waiver wire add a few weeks ago, but he’s taken over this Arizona backfield the last two weeks. The James Conner injury has allowed Demercado to dominate touches, playing in over 70% of the snaps over the last two weeks. He’s also got 17 and 21 touches in those two games, accumulating at least 75 total yards in both. That’s on par with what we’ve seen from Conner, and it’s clear the Cards will ride with Demercado until Conner is ready to return.

Wide Receivers

Amari Cooper (CLE) vs. ARI

We had Amari Cooper in here last week, and we’re going back to him for all the same reasons. This is the top receiver in this Browns offense right now, and he’s being fed like he should. Cooper had a season-high 11 targets last week and now has at least six targets in every game this season. He’s also scored at least 12 fantasy points in four of his previous six outings, despite one being a game where Cleveland barely threw the ball! His 28% team target share is among the highest in the NFL, making him an exceptional value against Arizona. The Cardinals rank 26th in points allowed and 27th in yardage surrendered.

Garrett Wilson (NYJ) vs. LAC

This passing game has been a nightmare since Zach Wilson took over, but Garrett Wilson still provides value through volume. The target hound is one of the league leaders with a 36% team target share, picking up at least 12 targets in three of his last four outings. He’s also got at least seven targets in every game since the opener, producing at least 11 fantasy points in all but two games this season. That elite target share makes Wilson a fantastic flex option against the Chargers, allowing the most fantasy points to opposing wideouts this season.

Diontae Johnson (PIT) vs. TEN

Many people think Diontae Johnson was a bust last year because he failed to record a touchdown, but this is one of the best pure receivers in the NFL. Over the last three years, “DJ” is averaging 93.7 receptions for 989 receiving yards per year! That makes it hard to believe that he’s sitting on most people’s benches, especially since Johnson has 13 catches for 164 receiving yards in the two games since coming off of IR. It’s scary that he did that in a limited workload because Johnson should see more snaps and targets as the season progresses. Tennessee is a tremendous matchup, allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers.

Tight Ends

Dalton Kincaid (BUF) at CIN

We had Dalton Kincaid in here last week, and he’s genuinely looking like one of the best waiver wire adds of the season. The tight end position is undoubtedly the weakest in fantasy football, but Kincaid has been an excellent add for anyone who needed one. What’s allowed him to take over is the injury to Dawson Knox, pushing Kincaid to play a career-high 84% of the team’s snaps in Week 8. He’s also had his two most productive games since that injury, scoring 12 and 15 fantasy points in his two most recent outings. We also love that this is expected to be a shootout, especially since Cincy is surrendering the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.


New Orleans Saints D/ST (vs. CHI)

I wrote a preseason article about how the Saints were my favorite D/ST to draft, and it was mainly due to their schedule. This team faces bad offenses seemingly every week, and that’s the case again here. The Bears are missing their starting quarterback and running back right now, surrendering the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing D/STs. That’s great for a Saints team that ranks fifth in total defense. New Orleans enters this home matchup as a 6.5-point favorite in a game with a 41-point total. That means the Bears are only projected to score 17 points!

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Joel Bartilotta is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Joel, check out his archive and follow him @Bartilottajoel.

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