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NFL Draft

Fantasy Football Week 9 Start/Sit Advice

  • The Draft Network
  • November 4, 2020
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Welcome to Week 9’s start/sit column. Each week throughout the regular season, I will go over a few players at each major position and tell you whether you should make room in your lineup for them or pull them out of a starting spot. Players labeled “starts” are non-obvious options that either have a good matchup or are trending in the right direction, ranking higher for me than consensus this week. Players labeled “sits” are ones I have concerns about leading into the week but are in a significant amount starting lineups. This article is most helpful for those in full- or half-point PPR leagues. 

As always, you should make the final call on all of your lineup decisions. This column is intended to be a piece of your research puzzle and/or a resource to highlight some specific names that may have been overlooked in my weekly rankings. Remember, the Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Washington Football Team are on bye this week. 

Without further ado, here is Start/Sit for Week 9:

QUARTERBACK

START: Matt Ryan (QB - ATL)

I’m starting to buy back in on Ryan a little bit, but with a catch: He’s just a matchup-based start in single-QB leagues. Although Ryan only has three games this season with 18 or more fantasy points, playing the Broncos at home is a matchup he can take advantage of, even without Calvin Ridley. Denver is allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and Ryan always gets plenty of passing volume. He’s averaging 39.5 attempts per game and hasn’t thrown fewer than 37 passes in a home game this season. While certainly possible, I’m not expecting another four-touchdown performance (like in Weeks 2 and 6), but you don’t need that for Ryan to finish as a low-end QB1. He’s a solid fill-in option this week if you’ve been playing Joe Burrow, Carson Wentz (I’m sorry), or Jared Goff (I’m really sorry) this season.

START: Ben Roethlisberger (QB - PIT)

It didn’t work last week with Wentz and Dallas’ defense is way more beneficial for quarterbacks in real life than it has been in fantasy thus far, but I think that trend breaks this week. The Steelers are riding high at 7-0 and travel to Dallas looking to extend their undefeated streak. While this could very easily turn into the James Conner game, I expect Roethlisberger to get plenty of red zone opportunities to throw the ball and for the Cowboys to have little to no answers on how to stop it. I’m expecting a modest passing yards total of around 250, but throwing three touchdowns is certainly a possibility. Roethlisberger comes in as the QB22 in average fantasy points per game this season, but I expect him to be around QB12 this week. 

SIT: Drew Brees (QB - NO)

After their multi-sack, multi-turnover performance on Monday Night Football against the New York Giants, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense is now the No. 1 defense against fantasy quarterbacks this season. Through eight games, the Buccaneers are allowing just 15.1 average fantasy points per game to the position. Brees put up just 14.4 fantasy points against this defense in Week 1 at home and now faces them on the road in primetime. Brees is averaging just 16.54 fantasy points per game on the road this season. The circumstances of this matchup simply don’t favor Brees.

RUNNING BACK

START: Justin Jackson (RB - LAC)

Jackson, not rookie Joshua Kelley, has emerged as the Chargers running back you want to play while Austin Ekeler is out. Jackson has double-digit touches in three straight games, averaging 16.7 per game with two 20-touch outings since Week 5. He’s being utilized fairly frequently in the passing game and is averaging more than 14 fantasy points per game over the last three weeks, never scoring fewer than 10.5 points. He’s got a juicy matchup on tap against a Raiders team allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs this season—included in that is an average of 6.4 catches and 56 receiving yards per game to the position. Because of his usage in the passing game, Jackson is fairly game script-proof, so he ranks as a mid-level RB2 this week. 

START: Damien Harris (RB - NE)

Ranking Harris among my top-20 running backs for Week 9 was a little scary, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t feast against the Jets this week. New York is allowing the 10th-most points to fantasy running backs this season and Harris clearly looks like the lead back (at least for now) in New England. Harris has two 100-yard games in his last four outings and is averaging nearly 13 touches per game in that time frame. I can see New England leaning heavily on Harris in the second half and him having his third double-digit fantasy point outing of the season and second in a row. If he gets in the end zone—it feels like there’s a fairly decent chance he can do that—he’ll be a top-15 fantasy back. 

SIT: J.K. Dobbins (RB - BAL)

There is a lot of hype around Dobbins following his career day against the Steelers, but unless I’m forced into it because of injuries/byes/COVID, I don’t want to start a Ravens running back this week—even if Mark Ingram remains out. Both Dobbins and Gus Edwards had success in a bad matchup last week, but I don’t want to test the waters again here. The Colts are allowing the second-fewest rushing yards per game this season (79.9), and no back has more than 72 rushing yards against them this season (Kareem Hunt, Week 5)—and keep in mind, they’ve played Dalvin Cook, James Robinson, and Joe Mixon. Given that the backfield work is going to be split pretty evenly anyway, Dobbins’ upside feels too limited in this matchup to warrant an RB2 spot. 

WIDE RECEIVER

START: Brandin Cooks (WR - HOU)

I’m now fully onboard the Cooks bounce-back season. If you take away his goose egg against Baltimore when he was playing injured, Cooks is averaging 14.8 fantasy points per game this season, good enough to rank as the WR25. Since Week 5, only four wide receivers (Davante Adams, Julio Jones, D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett) have outscored Cooks (21.6) on a per-game basis. Cooks has a solid matchup this week against a Jaguars team ranked in the bottom half of the NFL against fantasy wide receivers. He also just lit this team up a month ago with an 8/161/1 stat line on 12 targets. Sign me up for Cooks as a low-end WR2 this week. 

START: Cole Beasley (WR - BUF)

Last week sucked—let’s just throw it out and move on. Beasley has a glorious matchup against the Seahawks in Week 9, a team allowing a league-high 58.0 fantasy points per game to wide receivers this season. That’s nearly a dozen points per game more than the second-worst team in the NFL (Minnesota). Beasley was averaging 14 fantasy points per game from Weeks 1-7, ranking as the WR28 on a per-game basis in that stretch. He only had one game in that timeframe where he failed to score at least 11 fantasy points and that was in Week 1 (9.8). Don’t let a bad game last week cost you points this week. Insert Beasley right back into your starting lineups. 

SIT: DeVante Parker (WR - MIA)

Parker caught a touchdown so his Week 8 wasn’t a complete disaster, but I want no part of anyone on the Miami offense right now. Parker had all of two targets in Tua Tagovailoa’s first start, and his only catch was that three-yard score. Based on his limited usage and success last week at home coming off a bye week, I don’t have high expectations for Tagovailoa in his first road start. Play a Dolphins pass-catcher at your own peril. 

TIGHT END

START: Eric Ebron (TE - PIT)

I’m pretty excited about Ebron’s recent usage despite all of the wide receiver options at Roethlisberger’s disposal. Ebron is averaging 5.8 targets and 4.2 receptions per game since Week 2 and is coming off two of his better games this season. As mentioned in the Roethlisberger section above, I think the Steelers have their way with this Dallas defense—I’m predicting around three passing touchdowns. One of those can easily go Ebron’s way when they get into the red zone. Assuming they don’t take their opponent lightly, the Steelers’ offensive weapons should feast in this game. 

SIT: Hunter Henry (TE - LAC)

I wanted to go a little bold here, so I chose Henry over a player like Mike Gesicki. Why? Because Henry is currently the fifth-most-started tight end and he’s done nothing to deserve it. The immense success of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert hasn’t carried over to Henry, who’s averaging just 3.3 catches and 7.7 fantasy points per game over his last four. This section is meant to be more of a wake-up call that Henry isn’t a must-start, even at such a thin position, anymore. He’s outside of my top 12 this week.

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