By Cole Banker and Chris Blake
As we turn the page to Week 9, here is our list of players to be confident in and be skeptical of. To clarify, when we say we “love” a player, we mean that we expect him to outperform his projections for that week, and the opposite for players we “hate.” We are using PPR scoring when we refer to players’ rankings. Enjoy.
Quarterbacks we love this week
Cole: Matthew Stafford (DET) @ Oakland
Matt Stafford has never been a go-to guy in fantasy, and the fact that he’s been a part of a Lions team that has been nothing more or less than mediocre for the past 10 years keeps him under the radar. The past couple weeks, however, Stafford has come on, tossing seven total touchdowns and more than 700 yards. It figures to be a shootout in Oakland this Sunday afternoon, with the recent uptake in both offense’s production and inefficiencies on the other side of the football. The Raiders have given up the second most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2019, and with a favorable game script, Stafford should post some big numbers in Week 9.
Chris: Kirk Cousins (MIN) @ Kansas City
Cousins has been on fire, earning the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for October. After slinging 10 touchdowns and only allowing one interception over his last four games, Cousins and the Vikings offense now face a weak Kansas City defensive unit in week nine. In addition to averaging over 300 passing yards per game over the past four weeks, Cousins has a 137.1 rating and has only been sacked seven times in that span. With the offense on a roll and Cousins having a chance to get Adam Thielen back this week, expect another week of high production from the Michigan State product.
Quarterbacks we hate this week
Cole: Phillp Rivers (LAC) vs. Green Bay
It figures to be another road-like atmosphere in the StubHub Center when the Packers come to town, and a much-improved Green Bay secondary will add to the Chargers’ frustration Sunday afternoon. Rivers has eclipsed 20 points just twice this season, even in Anthony Lynn’s pass-heavy offense. I don’t expect this game to be very close, with the Packers rolling on both sides of the ball, and likely it’s best to stay away from Phil in Week 9.
Chris: Baker Mayfield (CLE) @ Denver
The 2018 number one overall pick has had a disastrous sophomore campaign. Mayfield has thrown just six passing touchdowns on the year to go along with 12 interceptions (including at least one interception in every game). Mayfield draws a Denver defense that has been stingy through the air, allowing just under 200 passing yards per game, good for fourth-best in the NFL. Whether it is due to the reliance on Nick Chubb, or just the offensive struggles in general, Mayfield is yet to throw for more than one touchdown in a game this year.
Running backs we love this week
Cole: Phillip Lindsay (DEN) vs. Cleveland
After a quiet start, Lindsay has shown signs of returning to last season’s form. The main concern is competition for touches with Royce Freeman and Devontae Booker, but Lindsay is still #1 on the depth chart and should see most of the receiving work as well. With Flacco headed to IR and Drew Locke inactive as well, Denver will rely more on the run than ever with Brandon Allen at QB, who has never taken a competitive snap in the NFL. It doesn’t hurt Lindsay’s case that the Browns are the leagues fourth-worst run defense as well.
Chris: Josh Jacobs (OAK) vs. Detroit
Jacobs has proven himself to be worthy of the first round pick the Raiders spent on him. A true workhorse back, Jacobs is primed for a big game against Detroit in week nine. The Lions have shown that they can be run on, allowing 130.7 rushing yards per game this season. Additionally, Detroit has been the third-most-generous defense to opposing fantasy running backs in 2019. On the other side of the ball, the Raiders have been cooking on offense after a 1-2 start. Over the past four games, Oakland is averaging 25.75 points per game (they faced the Colts, Bears, Packers, and Texans).
Running backs we hate this week
Cole: David Montgomery (CHI) @ Philadelphia
Montgomery finally had his breakout game last week in a losing effort against the Chargers, posting 27 carries for over 130 yards. However, I wouldn’t buy into the hype just yet. This was just Montgomery’s second game with over 20 carries and his first since Week 3, as Chicago has shown a dedication to Tarik Cohen, especially in the passing game. Despite their inefficient in the secondary, the Eagles have been rock-solid against the run, giving opposing running backs an average of just 67 yards a game and 3.4 YPC. Expect a step back from the Iowa State rookie in Week 9 on the road.
Chris: Marlon Mack (IND) @ Pittsburgh
The 23-year-old running back has been putting together a very good season, something that many expected this year, however, the matchup in week nine is not ideal. After a rocky start to the season, the Steelers defense has turned it around. They now rank in the top eight in terms of least fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs this year. While Mack has received a solid workload on the ground, he has only caught 11 passes in seven games this season. Mack does not have a very high ceiling in week nine.
Wide receivers we love this week
Cole: John Brown (BUF) vs. Washington
You had me at Redskins. “Smokey” has quickly become Josh Allen’s favorite receiver and has not received fewer than four receptions all season. He will likely be facing Josh Norman, who has taken a huge step back and has looked silly on numerous occasions this season. Expect the Bills to bounce back from a big loss at home to the Eagles and run it up on the Redskins, who have looked completely out of sorts on both sides of the rock.
Chris: Allen Robinson II (CHI) @ Philadelphia
Allen Robinson is one of my favorite receivers to watch week in and week out, but there is no bias with this pick, it is simply a matter of picking the best receiver playing against the Eagles this week. Philadelphia`s secondary has been a liability for the past two seasons now, and it has directly correlated to fantasy success for opposing wide receivers, as the Eagles have been the most generous defense to opposing fantasy wide receivers in 2019. Additionally, Robinson has seen a 26.1% target share this season, including 23 targets in the two weeks since Chicago`s bye. Robinson has the perfect formula for fantasy success this week.
Wide receivers we hate this week
Cole: Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE) @ Denver
Odell may be the biggest letdown in all of fantasy. What was supposed to be a match made in heaven between him and Baker Mayfield has turned into disarray, with Beckham coming into Week 9 as the 29th ranked receiver. Mayfield’s struggles have capped Odell’s potential, and it has been tough to watch his talent go to waste. Denver’s imposing secondary leads the way in defending the pass, holding opposing receivers to a league low 24 fantasy points per game. Expect another tough day for the talented wideout.
Chris: Terry McLaurin (WSH) @ Buffalo
McLaurin is having a great rookie season, but with rookie Dwayne Haskins getting the start on Sunday, I have limited expectations for week nine. While he has only appeared in two games, Haskins has thrown no touchdowns and four interceptions. Additionally, McLaurin and the Washington offense will have their hands full on the road with another great defense in the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo has been the second-stingiest unit against fantasy wide receivers this season, and is allowing just 194.4 passing yards per game. With the lowest point total of the week and Bill Callahan still at the helm, there likely isn`t much passing – or, for that matter, scoring – in this game.
Tight ends we love this week
Cole: Darren Fells (HOU) @ Jacksonville (London)
If this is the first time you’re hearing of Darren Fells this year, I’m not surprised. The 33-year-old recorded just 117 total yards in 2018, but he’s rebounded to become Houston’s #1 tight end. With already 5 TDs on the year, Fells is Watson’s favorite endzone target and has become a presence in the short passing game. If you’re dealing with bye weeks or injuries at the tight end position, Fells is a healthy Week 9 option against the Jags Sunday morning across the pond.
Chris: Hunter Henry (LAC) vs. Green Bay
In games that Henry has played this year, he is averaging 16.1 fantasy points per game, that would make him the second highest scoring tight end in fantasy this season. Since returning from injury, Keenan Allen is the only Charger that has seen more targets than Henry. Additionally, the Packers have been charitable to opposing tight ends this season. With a point total of 48, there should plenty of scoring opportunities for both teams, providing a good game flow for Henry.
Tight ends we hate this week
Cole: Mark Andrews (BAL) vs. New England
Two weeks ago in Seattle, Andrews did not look great for one of the few times this season. He had some costly drops, including one that would have gone for a 30 yard touchdown. His production has been slowing down since his big start, and he faces the biggest challenge of the season in primetime Sunday night against the undefeated Patriots and their top defense. The Pats are limiting opposing tight ends to under 6 points per game, so lower your expectations for Mark Andrews in Week 9.
Chris: Jason Witten (DAL) @ New York Giants
The veteran tight end has done just about as expected since his return to the field this season. Witten has been a solid piece for the Cowboys, but he has one of the lowest ceilings at the position for fantasy football purposes. Witten has not scored a touchdown since week two, and he has only one game with more than four catches on the season. The Giants have done a good job containing opposing tight ends this year, further limiting Witten’s ceiling. Additionally, a healthy Amari Cooper likely takes more targets away from Witten than in previous weeks.
Defenses to Stream
Cole: Buffalo Bills (vs. WAS)
Chris: New York Jets (@ MIA)
Defenses to Avoid
Cole: Seattle Seahawks (vs. TB)
Chris: Chicago Bears (@ PHI)