My condolences to anyone who had Derrick Henry on their fantasy team. Hopefully, you found a somewhat suitable replacement—preferably with the help of my Week 9 wire column. All jokes aside, this has been one of the weirdest seasons I can ever remember. It’s even crazier to look back at the top five running backs atop fantasy draft boards compared with their season production (in PPR):
- Christian McCaffrey - RB42 (played three games)
- Dalvin Cook - RB29 (missed two games)
- Alvin Kamara - RB7
- Derrick Henry - RB1 (will miss 8-10 weeks)
- Ezekiel Elliott - RB10
While the order varied, I’m willing to bet this was generally how they were selected. (Henry and McCaffrey also haven’t had their byes yet.) It just goes to show how much preparation you can put into your team and potential contingency plans… all for injuries to ruin it. Oh well. It’s still a make-believe game. Let’s have fun—starting with players you should consider starting or sitting in Week 9!
Have any more fantasy questions? Hit me up on Twitter @ZachCohenFB.
Start: Joe Burrow vs. CLE
Despite a devastating upset to the Jets, Burrow continued his impressive fantasy season. He’s posted 20+ points in four of the last five games, including in the last three games. Burrow is also the only quarterback to have multiple passing touchdowns in every game this season. I don’t expect that to change against a Browns defense that’s allowing the fifth-most fantasy points (FPA) to quarterbacks. There are probably just seven or eight other passers I’d rather start over Burrow this week. Dare I say that doesn’t include Justin Herbert?
Other Players to Consider: Carson Wentz v. NYJ, Tua Tagovailoa v. HOU
Sit: Ryan Tannehill at LAR
Tannehill hasn’t been the greatest fantasy quarterback this season, but he has averaged 17 points per game. The Rams’ defense has allowed an average of 16.8 points per game, which on the surface, makes Tannehill seems like a fine play. And perhaps he’ll sling the ball a bit more to compensate for the loss of Derrick Henry. However, a few stats that caught my eye from the Los Angeles defense
- No quarterback has thrown more than two touchdowns against them
- Only two quarterbacks threw more than 270 passing yards against them (Tom Brady and *checks notes* Davis Mills)
- Only four quarterbacks surpassed 11 fantasy points against them
- They’ve picked off the quarterback in all but two games
Tannehill has thrown multiple touchdowns just twice, eclipsed 270 passing yards twice and tossed an interception in all but three games. It all adds up to a potentially underwhelming game for Tannehill. You shouldn’t force him in your lineups this week.
Other Players to Consider: Matt Ryan v. NO, Kirk Cousins at BAL
Start: Michael Carter at IND
Is Carter a weekly starter? It’s starting to seem like it. Brushing aside his casual 32-point performance in Week 8, Carter was slowly getting more snaps, and subsequently, more fantasy points. Seeing how well Carter’s played these last few weeks, I’d be shocked if Tevin Coleman takes back his role in the Jets’ backfield—even if Coleman comes back this week from a hamstring injury. At first, I was hesitant to place Carter here because he’s facing the Colts, who have allowed the third-fewest FPA to running backs. But no need to worry, a little detective work uncovered Indianapolis hasn’t always played very good running backs. Case in point: They had a three-week stretch facing the Dolphins, Ravens, and Texans. And the good running backs they faced? Chris Carson (Week 1), Darrell Henderson (Week 2), Derrick Henry (Week 3), and Elijah Mitchell (Week 7) all posted double-digit performances versus Indy. Of course, *good* is a loose term, but even Mark Ingram put up 10.7 points against them in Week 6. My point should be that Carter’s matchup isn’t as bad as it may seem, especially with his heavy workload. Although, I guess the larger point is to dig beyond the stats and see what makes certain numbers the way they are.
Other Players to Consider: Josh Jacobs at NYG, Damien Harris at CAR, Devontae Booker v. LV (if Saquon Barkley is out)
Sit: Khalil Herbert at PIT
Normally in this space, I choose a player I’m the most confident in starting or sitting, then I provide some other players you should also consider for the respective situation. I wanted to switch it up today for my running back sit of the week. While I’m much more confident in benching Melvin Gordon against the Cowboys—splitting carries, not as effective in the passing game, Denver’s offense won’t hang with Dallas’ offense—I think Herbert’s inclusion deserves an explanation. On the surface, he’s been a pleasant surprise replacing David Montgomery and Damien Williams. Despite seeing 18+ carries in the last four games, he’s only seen 10 targets. It didn’t matter too much in Weeks 6 and 7 when he scored on 97 rushing yards, then followed it up with a 100-yard performance, respectively. But the Steelers are the No. 1 defense in FPA to running backs. Aside from surrendering just two rushing touchdowns all season, they’ve allowed an average of four receptions per game for an entire team’s running back unit. Only two running backs have seen more than four catches against the Steelers, and one has eclipsed 50 receiving yards. It’s too tough of a matchup to trust Herbert this week, especially with Justin Fields continuing to steal carries.
Other Players to Consider: Melvin Gordon at DAL, Javonte Williams at DAL, Mike Davis at NO
Start: Jamison Crowder at IND
Before I steal what I wrote about Crowder for my waiver wire column, the Colts are 23rd in most FPA to wide receivers. Even better: They’ve allowed nine receivers to score more than 13 points this season. And Indianapolis has allowed a receiver to score more than 17 points in each of their last five games. Now that we got those numbers out of the way, here’s what I said about Crowder earlier this week:
“Don’t look now, but Crowder is quickly becoming the Jets’ WR1. In the last four weeks, no other receiver on the team has averaged more targets per game than him. His role in the slot proved even more valuable on Sunday with Mike White making his first NFL start. (QB competition in the Big Apple? Kidding.) Crowder played four games this season and had a point range of 7.4-19.1. However, his Week 8 performance didn’t include a touchdown, thus establishing a relatively high floor for the veteran wideout. He’s simply the most reliable receiver in a Jets’ offense that is usually anything but reliable.”
Other Players to Consider: Christian Kirk v. GB, Jamal Agnew v. BUF, DeVante Parker v. HOU
Sit: Jerry Jeudy at DAL
In case you couldn’t tell, I don’t trust Denver‘s offense anymore. In fact, the only Bronco I’d feel somewhat confident starting is Courtland Sutton. Maybe Jeudy changes that against a below-average Dallas passing defense, but we just don’t know how Jeudy will factor into the offense this year. His first game since Week 1 wasn’t overly encouraging. His 71.7% snap share was on par with his 2020 usage, and his 15.4% target share was tied for first with three other players. Perhaps Jeudy sees more targets once the Broncos start throwing the ball more to catch up with the Cowboys. There just isn’t a good enough reason to be excited about slotting him in your lineup in Week 9.
Other Players to Consider: DeVonta Smith v. LAC, Marvin Jones v. BUF, Jakobi Meyers at CAR
Start: Tyler Conklin at BAL
There are six tight ends I consider a lock to start this week: Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, Mark Andrews, Dallas Goedert, Mike Gesicki, and Kyle Pitts. And even some of those last few players don’t instill too much confidence. The truth is: There are few good, reliable tight ends in fantasy right now. Perhaps that’s why this is the toughest time I’ve ever had writing a start/sit column. How tough is it? I’m barely expecting Conklin to crack 12 points. But hey, that would’ve made him TE8 last week! If you start Conklin, you’re hoping he can be the sixth tight end to score against the Ravens. They’re one of the four teams tied for the most scores allowed to tight ends. Conklin’s also seen more than five targets in four of his five previous games, which includes two consecutive performances over ten points. He’s probably one of the 12 best tight ends to start this week. (Again, I apologize for the uncertainty but my goodness tight ends stink.)
Other Players to Consider: Dan Arnold v. BUF, Evan Engram v. LV
Sit: Tyler Higbee v. TEN
Like I just said, it is a rough week to need a tight end. Higbee has become a regular in the Sit section of this column—and for good reason. He’s averaging 4.5 targets and 8.66 points per game, which already includes two double-digit performances within the first three weeks. Since then, Higbee has finished as a TE1 just once when he scored a massive 9.4 points in Week 5. More often than not, he finished as a low-end TE2. If you just need 7-9 points, then Higbee isn’t a bad option, especially in this horrendous week for the position. But at this point, shooting for someone with more upside may be the right move. The Titans have allowed just two tight ends to see more than 10 points: Travis Kelce (13.5 in Week 7) and Dan Arnold (10.4 in Week 5). Admittedly, Tennessee hasn’t exactly played Hall of Fame tight ends. It still doesn’t change the fact that Higbee is a huge dart throw this week. Be cautious with slotting him in your lineups.
Other Players to Consider: Noah Fant at DAL, Jared Cook at PHI