Fantasy Football Start/Sit Week 9: Start Michael Carter & Jerry Jeudy, Sit DeVonta Smith & Kenneth Gainwell
Getty Images. Pictured: Jets RB Michael Carter and Eagles WR DeVonta Smith
Setting your fantasy football lineups each week can be hard, especially with four teams on bye.
Make sure to swap out any Lions, Seahawks, Buccaneers or Washington players before lineups lock and replace players such as Aaron Rodgers, A.J. Green, Derrick Henry, Henry Ruggs and Calvin Ridley — all of whom will miss at least this week.
Below are some players at each position you should start for Week 9 of the NFL season, as well as some players you should consider sitting based on matchups, injuries and trends.
Week 9 Start ‘Em
Quarterbacks to Start
Taysom Hill, Saints vs. Falcons
Hill was a popular waiver add this week, jumping from 2% to 28% rostership amid the news that quarterback Jameis Winston would miss the remainder of the season with an ACL/MCL injury. This QB competition was close this offseason with Winston eking out the job over Hill, who is now a potential league-winner. I am confident that head coach Sean Payton can scheme up some interesting plays that only Hill could pull off. His rushing and versatility give him an excellent floor, and he faces the Falcons this week, who have given up the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year. Hill is a borderline top-12 play.
Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins vs. Texans
I am back on the Tua train after a tricky Week 8 matchup against the Bills. Tagovailoa struggled — as expected — against the NFL’s best pass defense and completed 21 of 39 attempts for 205 yards, one touchdown and one interception; all in all, not bad in a lopsided contest. Prior to Week 8, he had looked very solid after returning from injury and finished as QB10 and QB1 in fantasy. I expect him to bounce back in a big way against Houston’s horrendous pass defense, which is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year, making Tagovailoa a fringe top-12 play as well.
Wide Receivers to Start
Brandin Cooks, Texans at Dolphins
Cooks finally found the end zone last week for the first time since Week 2. He caught all six of his passes for 83 yards and finished as a top-20 receiver in half PPR for the fourth time this year. This Texans offense is pretty lackluster, but should get a boost with Tyrod Taylor set to start under center this week over Davis Mills. Houston faces the Dolphins this week, who are second-worst against fantasy wide receivers this year, making Cooks a solid WR2.
Hunter Renfrow, Raiders at Giants
Renfrow is currently WR38 in half PPR and has been mostly unremarkable, save the two games in which he found the end zone. He should get a massive boost and vie for the No. 1 spot with recently-released Henry Ruggs III facing felony DUI charges. He has a positive matchup against the Giants this week, who rank 11th against fantasy wide receivers, and should be considered a WR3/flex play.
Jerry Jeudy, Broncos at Cowboys
Jeudy did little in his first game back returning from a high-ankle sprain which he suffered in Week 1. He caught all four targets for 39 yards in a plus matchup against Washington’s struggling secondary. This week, the Broncos take on the Cowboys defense led by cornerback Trevon Diggs, who has been spectacular at shutting down receivers. However, I expect Diggs to shadow Courtland Sutton — not Jeudy — and the rest of Dallas’ secondary has been exploitable. The team is allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers this year, making Jeudy an intriguing WR3/flex this week.
DeVante Parker, Dolphins vs. Texans
Parker popped off in a brutal matchup against the Bills last week and tallied eight catches on 11 targets for 85 yards — all season highs for the veteran wideout. He and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa should perform well in a plus matchup against the Texans this week. Consider Parker a high-end WR3 with WR2 upside.
Running Backs to Start
Darrel Williams, Chiefs vs. Packers
People are definitely going to fade Williams this week after a curiously strong performance from unknown back Derrick Gore. Williams still led this backfield and saw 13 carries for 49 yards, plus six catches for 61 yards, while Gore saw 11 carries for 48 yards and a touchdown. Gore and Williams may work in tandem in this game, which is certainly frustrating for fantasy purposes, but I still think you can eke out one more start from Williams before Clyde Edwards-Helaire returns from injured reserve. The Packers are middle-of-the-road against the run and with Jordan Love getting the start while Aaron Rodgers is on the COVID-19 list, this game could get out of hand quickly and lend itself to a positive game script. Williams remains a top-24 play for me this week.
AJ Dillon, Packers at Chiefs
Dillon had a solid game last week with both Davante Adams and Allen Lazard out on the COVID-19 list. He saw a season-high 16 carries for 78 yards, though was curiously not involved in the passing game at all. I anticipate the Packers will have no choice but to lean more heavily on the run during this game with Jordan Love under center, which should mean more touches for both Aaron Jones and Dillon. He is an RB3 with upside against Kansas City’s subpar run defense.
Michael Carter, Jets at Colts
Carter and Mike White shredded the Bengals defense in Week 8, which is not a sentence I thought I’d say this season. The rookie back posted season-high stats in every category and saw 15 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown and caught nine of 14 targets for 95 yards. On paper, this is a difficult matchup for running backs as the Colts rank third-best against the position for fantasy. Carter’s involvement in the checkdown passing game and clear connection with White should be enough to overcome this tough contest. He is a high-end RB2 this week with RB1 upside.
Boston Scott, Eagles vs. Chargers
As I’m writing this, I feel like I’m going to instantly regret recommending starting any Philadelphia running back. All signs pointed to Kenny Gainwell taking on the lion’s share of the workload out of the backfield with Miles Sanders on injured reserve. Gainwell saw just one carry in the first three quarters of the game with Scott getting most of the early downs work. Scott and Jordan Howard both found the end zone twice in the blowout win over the Lions. Scott should be a good play this week against the Chargers’ run defense, which has allowed an NFL-high 159.6 rushing yards per game and ranks fifth-worst against fantasy running backs. Scott is an RB2 in a dream matchup.
Tight Ends to Start
George Kittle, 49ers vs. Cardinals
Kittle returned to practice this week and is expected to return from his calf injury after a three-game hiatus. It’s a brutal welcome back against the Cardinals, who are the No. 1 defense against tight ends this year. Kittle is still a must-start when healthy and immediately vaults back into the TE1 conversation, even in light of the matchup.
Mike Gesicki, Dolphins vs. Texans
Gesicki had a relatively quiet Week 8 against Buffalo and caught three of four passes for 48 yards. His eight fantasy points were still good enough to finish as a top-10 tight end in half PPR, which is perhaps more of an indictment against the position this year. The Bills defense is brutal, but he gets a much easier matchup this week against the Texans, whose defense ranks fourth-worst in the NFL against the tight end position. Gesicki is once again a must-start.
Defenses to Start
Miami Dolphins Defense vs. Texans
The Dolphins defense has been nothing to write home about all year and is currently D/ST27. They laid a goose egg last week against the Bills’ high-powered offense, but get a much easier matchup this week versus Houston, which has looked anemic at best this year. Even with Tyrod Taylor getting the start, Miami should be a solid streamer this week.
Cincinnati Bengals Defense vs. Browns
To say the Bengals’ D/ST disappointed last week would be a vast understatement. They still finished top 14, but allowed 34 points against a Mike White-led Jets team. I expect them to bounce back this week against a banged up Baker Mayfield and the Browns, who are averaging under 14 points per game over the last three weeks and were held to 10 points last week.
Week 9 Sit ‘Em
Quarterbacks to Sit
Matt Ryan, Falcons at Saints
This Falcons offense looked like it was finally starting to click with Ryan finishing as QB3, QB12 and QB14 in the three contests prior to Week 8. The team took a step back, however, with Calvin Ridley stepping away from football for mental health reasons. The Flacons scored just 13 points against the flailing Panthers and will face the Saints this week in another NFC South showdown. New Orleans is fifth-best against fantasy quarterbacks this year. I expect Ryan to struggle and fall outside the top 12 for fantasy.
Justin Fields, Bears at Steelers
I love that Fields finally had his breakout game just as fantasy managers had finally given up on him. He popped off for 175 passing yards and a season-high 103 rushing yards, finishing as QB5 (albeit on most people’s benches). It’s going to be tempting to roll him out again after that performance, but I personally need to see more before I can trust him again. He’s just one game removed from a zero-touchdown, three-interception performance against the Buccaneers’ decimated secondary and faces the Steelers this week, who are allowing the ninth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this year.
Wide Receivers to Sit
Courtland Sutton, Broncos at Cowboys
Sutton struggled in what should have been an easy matchup against Washington’s swiss cheese secondary. He caught just two of four passes for 40 yards having to compete once again with Jerry Jeudy for targets. The Cowboys defense has been exploitable against the pass, though all signs point to Sutton getting the Trevon Diggs treatment this week. Diggs leads the NFL with seven picks — that will likely spell a long day for Sutton. He is a WR3 for me in this Broncos’ anemic offense with a near-zero floor.
Jarvis Landry, Browns at Bengals
Landry saw a season-high 10 targets last week, but finished with a lackluster five catches for 65 yards against the Steelers. Odell Beckham Jr., who may be released before Sunday, saw just one target in the game amid off-field drama. Even if Beckham doesn’t play this game, I just do not see a ton of upside for Landry. The Bengals are middle-of-the-road against fantasy wide receivers and Baker Mayfield is clearly not 100%. The Browns offense is averaging under 14 points per game over the last three weeks and were held to 10 points in Week 8. Landry is a low-upside WR3 for me.
Jakobi Meyers, Patriots at Panthers
In spite of getting peppered with targets, the Year 3 slot receiver is still waiting for his first NFL receiving touchdown. He caught four of nine targets for 36 yards last week against the Chargers and has another tough matchup on deck versus the Panthers, who are allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers and second-fewest passing yards per game. Meyers has fallen short of double-digit fantasy points in all but two games this year. He is a low-upside WR3 this week.
DeVonta Smith, Eagles vs. Chargers
Smith has shown flashes of greatness this season, but has definitely struggled of late as a result of a floundering Jalen Hurts. The former Crimson Tide wideout caught just one of three targets for 15 yards against the lowly Lions and faces the Chargers this week, who rank second-best in the NFL against fantasy wide receivers. As the Gen-Z kids say, it’s the matchup and quarterback for me. Smith is a low-end WR3 this week.
Running Backs to Sit
D’Ernest Johnson, Browns at Bengals
Johnson had the better fantasy day than Nick Chubb last week and found the end zone once again. Chubb, who is clearly not 100% as he deals with a calf injury, still out-touched Johnson 17-to-5 and out-snapped him 33-to-18. Johnson is a sit for me this week against the Bengals, who have been fairly stingy against the run: Cincinnati is allowing the seventh-fewest rushing yards per game this year.
Carlos Hyde, Jaguars vs. Bills
Hyde was a popular Week 9 waiver add whose rostership jumped from 6% to 29% day-over-day due to lead running back James Robinson exiting early with a heel injury. Robinson isn’t practicing which would, in theory, be a massive boost for Hyde, who finished with 15 total touches for 72 all-purpose yards last week. The matchup is brutal, however, against the Bills defense that is allowing the fifth-fewest rushing yards and fewest fantasy points to running backs this year. You may also need to monitor Hyde’s status heading into the game as he was also limited in practice on Wednesday. The team brought in Devine Ozigbo this week, who would be next in line to get touches out of the Jaguars’ backfield should Hyde and Robinson sit out.
Latavius Murray, Ravens vs. Vikings
Even before Baltimore’s Week 8 bye and Murray’s injury absence in the week prior, the veteran was splitting work with the Ravens’ menagerie of running backs. Murray is also banged up and has not practiced this week, which means there’s a good chance he doesn’t play at all. Regardless, the production is too inconsistent to trust any of the Ravens’ backs in a game against the Vikings, who have been above average against fantasy running backs this year.
Kenneth Gainwell, Eagles vs. Chargers
The box score from last week’s game suggested Gainwell, Jordan Howard and Boston Scott all split carries, but it really does not tell the whole story. Gainwell saw just one carry before the Eagles’ final two drives and tallied three fantasy points in half PPR in a game in which Philadelphia tacked on 44 points. It’s a mouthwatering matchup against the Chargers this week, but I cannot trust Gainwell for any production moving forward.
Tight Ends to Sit
Dan Arnold, Jaguars vs. Bills
Arnold is going to be a tempting start after reeling in eight catches on 10 targets for 68 yards — all season highs for the Year 4 tight end. That said, I would temper expectations against the Bills, who rank eighth-best against tight ends and have allowed an NFL-low 182.4 passing yards per game this year. Arnold is a fine streamer with four teams on bye, but he has a good chance of falling outside the top 12 this week based on matchup.
Pat Freiermuth, Steelers vs. Bears
Freiermuth posted his best game to date in Week 8 and caught four of seven targets for 44 yards and a touchdown, finishing as TE2 for the week in half PPR. I love his long-term value and advocated for managers to pick him up this week in my waiver wire column. He’s much more than a one-hit wonder in my opinion, but this week’s matchup may be tough. The Steelers face the Bears, who rank second-best in the NFL against tight ends this year. Toss in competition from the other Pittsburgh tight ends, and the rookie is a risky start this week.
Defenses to Sit
Denver Broncos Defense at Cowboys
The Broncos defense shredded Washington in Week 8 and recorded two interceptions, five sacks and allowed just 10 points total. The D/ST finished top two for the week, but have a much more formidable opponent this week. Denver, who will now be without star pass rusher Von Miller, will go on the road to Dallas, who have tallied a NFL-high 454.9 offensive yards per game and rank third in total points per game.
Chicago Bears Defense at Steelers
The Bears defense has seriously stumbled over the last three weeks and has a net zero fantasy points over that span. They have not recorded an interception in three straight games, and have zero sacks in the last two. The team was lit up for 38 points against the Buccaneers and 33 points against the 49ers in Weeks 7 and 8. You cannot trust them in your lineups, even against a below-average Steelers offense.