Week 9 is here, and a snooze-fest NFL trade deadline is in the rearview mirror.
The Bengals, Browns, Rams and Eagles are all on bye this week. Don’t forget to remove Joe Burrow, Kareem Hunt, Cooper Kupp, et al. from your lineups.
Fantasy football offers a sanctuary from the frenzy of current events. Don’t forget to have fun, set your lineups for Week 9 and check out some good plays at each position below, as well as some other players you should consider avoiding.
If you need a streaming option or bye fill-in, check out Week 9 waiver wire pickups here.
Who to Start in Week 9
Justin Herbert (QB), Los Angeles Chargers vs. Las Vegas Raiders
This will likely be the last reminder you’ll need to plug Herbert into your lineups. The rookie completed 29 of 43 for 278 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions last week in Denver and is quickly becoming a matchup-proof starter. He has finished as QB7, QB4, QB1 and QB4 over the past four games and has a decent matchup this week against the Raiders.
JaMycal Hasty (RB), San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers
Hasty led the 49ers in rushing last week with 12 attempts for 29 yards and a touchdown. Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. are still on IR and Tevin Coleman will miss at least one game after re-injuring his knee, which leaves Hasty and Jerick McKinnon to man the backfield Thursday against the Packers. Hasty is a solid RB2 in this matchup with McKinnon still limited.
Damien Harris (RB), New England Patriots at New York Jets
Starting any Patriots running back comes with some risk, but it looks like Harris is the guy, at least for now. He is getting almost all of the early-down work with Sony Michel on IR and saw 16 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown in Week 8 against Buffalo. He is set to face a much easier matchup against the winless Jets, who have relinquished the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs this year, and is a solid RB2 this week.
Brandin Cooks (WR), Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars
Cooks has quietly racked up 24 catches on 30 targets for 289 yards and two touchdowns over the Texans’ last three games. He will be well-rested coming off of the team’s Week 8 bye for a plush road matchup against the Jaguars, who are allowing the second-most points per game (31.4) in the NFL. Cooks falls safely into the WR2 range this week.
Chase Claypool (WR), Pittsburgh Steelers at Dallas Cowboys
Claypool came back down to earth after scoring five touchdowns in two games with one catch on one target for -2 yards in Week 7. However, Claypool and all the Pittsburgh pass-catchers should have a field day this week against the Cowboys’ defense, which is allowing a league-worst 33.2 points per game. He should fall into WR2 territory with sky-high upside.
Hayden Hurst (TE), Atlanta Falcons vs. Denver Broncos
Hurst has seen 14 targets over the past two weeks and has finished as a top-13 tight end in each of the past three games. He could become the No. 2 option in the Falcons’ offense if star wideout Calvin Ridley were to miss time with a mid-foot sprain he suffered last week against the Panthers. Hurst is a solid start this week against the Broncos either way.
Who to Sit in Week 9
Ryan Tannehill (QB), Tennessee Titans vs. Chicago Bears
Tannehill struggled in an easy road matchup against Cincinnati and completed 18 of 30 for 233 yards, two touchdowns, one interception. He had two rushes for 20 yards. This week begins a brutal four-game stretch for the Titans when they face the Bears and Colts at home, then the Ravens and Colts on the road. It may be tempting to start Tannehill after his early-season success, but he’s not a good play in these weeks to come.
Jonathan Taylor (RB), Indianapolis Colts vs. Baltimore Ravens
Taylor was poised to take over the Colts’ backfield after Week 1 when Marlon Mack tore his Achilles. He has failed to deliver consistent production, however, and is now in a head-scratching timeshare splitting work with Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines. Taylor had 11 carries for 22 yards and two catches on three targets for 9 yards last week, while Wilkins saw 20 carries for 89 yards and a touchdown and Hines saw five carries for 8 yards and three catches for 54 yards and two touchdowns. He remains the preferred back in Indianapolis, but it’s difficult to say what his workload might be like week-to-week. He falls outside of RB2 consideration against Baltimore’s tough line.
D’Andre Swift (RB), Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Swift is another underperforming rookie in a confusing three-man committee alongside 35-year-old Adrian Peterson and pass-catching RB Kerryon Johnson. Last week, the Georgia product saw six carries for 1 yard and caught three of four targets for 22 yards, while Peterson had five carries for 7 yards and caught a pass for 5 yards and Johnson caught two of two targets for 15 yards and a touchdown. Swift remains the upside play of the three, but he’s far from a locked-in start this week against Minnesota’s middle-of-the-road run defense.
Amari Cooper (WR), Dallas Cowboys vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
For a moment, it seemed like Cooper could be the lone pass-catcher to weather the subpar quarterback play from Andy Dalton and Ben DiNucci with Dak Prescott out for the year. That sentiment lasted for one week and Cooper’s stock has fallen significantly after the Cowboys’ pathetic showing against the Eagles in primetime. He reeled in one of five targets for 5 yards and finished as WR96. He faces a much tougher opponent this week against Pittsburgh’s lights-out secondary and could be catching passes from Dallas’ fourth-string QB Cooper Rush. He is a low-end WR2 this week with serious bust potential.
Marquise Brown (WR), Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts
Browns’ dwindling target share is concerning, as he caught one of two passes for t3 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers on Sunday. It is worth noting that the workload is more of a reflection of Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ run-heavy offense, and less so of Brown’s receiving prowess. He gets another tough matchup on the road this week against the stingy Colts defense and should stay out of lineups except out of desperation.
Mike Gesicki (TE), Miami Dolphins at Arizona Cardinals
Gesicki has one catch on four targets for 8 yards over the past two games (one of which was against the hapless Jets). Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s usage of tight ends throughout his career has been underwhelming to say the least. Gesicki is droppable in anything deeper than a 12-team league at this point.
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