Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 9
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 9
Here we are, halfway through the season, and, like every year prior, fantasy football remains as unpredictable as ever. On the season, I’m batting a bit over .500 with my predictions. Great for baseball, not so much for fantasy football. Yet, with all the injuries, upsets, busts, and breakouts, I’ll take being right over half the time. Speaking of injuries, in week 8 we lost Kirk Cousins to a season-ending Achilles injury, so those who waited on quarterback and felt like they got a steal when they landed Cousins will now be looking to less-than-promising options to fill that void. With the Lions, Broncos, 49ers, and Jaguars on bye in week 9, managers may not have a lot of great options, but be that as it may, here are my recommendations.
Week 9 Starts
Dak Prescott (QB)
Dallas Cowboys vs. PHI (53% Start)
Through the first six weeks of the 2023 season, before their bye in week 7, Prescott was having, by all accounts, an underwhelming season. What a difference a bye makes. In week 8, Prescott exploded through the air, throwing for 304 yards and four scores, and just one interception. While this may not mean he is firmly back in the weekly QB1 conversation, his success should continue in week 9 when he faces a Philadelphia defense allowing the sixth most fantasy points to quarterbacks. This is the same Philadelphia defense that allowed the Commanders’ Sam Howell to throw for 397 yards and four scores. With injuries to weekly starters like Kirk Cousins and Justin Fields, you may find yourself in need of a steaming option in week 9. If that’s the case, or if you have found yourself relying on less-than-consistent options, taking a chance on someone who is coming off a 36+ point effort, and finds themselves in another favorable matchup, might not be the worst idea.
Derek Carr (QB)
New Orleans Saints vs. CHI (19% Start)
Taking the risk of inserting someone into your lineup that is only being started in 18% of leagues takes a lot of courage, and I’m not recommending you start Carr if you have a solid starting option at quarterback that has been working out for you. If, however, you find yourself in a situation like a lot of managers and lack any sort of consistency at the position, or your regular starter is out due to injury, Carr could be a good option for you this week. Carr is coming off his best fantasy output of the season after putting up over 22 points against the Indianapolis Colts in week 8. In that game, Carr threw for 310 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. The Colts are middle-of-the-pack against quarterbacks, and now, in week 9, Carr will face a Bears defense that is bottom three in points allowed to opposing signal callers. Chicago continues to look like a team that is lost, especially on the defensive side of the ball. With elite talent at his disposal, Carr should be able to find success against a secondary that will have trouble keeping pace with the likes of Alvin Kamara, Chris Olave, Michael Thomas, and Rashid Shaheed. Carr is a solid streaming option this week.
Rachaad White (RB)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. HOU (63% Start)
Looking at the raw numbers, it may seem crazy to recommend White as a starting caliber running back. Yet, with his 63% starting percentage, it’s obvious I’m not the only one who sees White as a viable option. To be clear, White as a runner leaves a lot to be desired. White has been held to under 40 yards on the ground in three straight games and has failed to top 80 yards rushing in any single game. Yet, he has returned value because he has received a larger share of the passing game than many anticipated. This usage has provided a safe floor, especially in half and full-PPR formats. White has caught all 13 of his targets over the last two games for 135 yards. Much of this can be attributed to negative game scripts, but that is something that could once again be the case in week 9, with Stroud and Co. playing winning football for the majority of the season. Houston doesn’t allow many points to the running back position, but with White doing most of his damage through the air and not on the ground, I’m not sure how relevant Houston’s success against running backs is. White should be a solid RB2 in week 9.
Gus Edwards (RB)
Baltimore Ravens vs. SEA (36% Start)
Over the last several weeks Edwards has developed into a true bell cow for the Baltimore Ravens. Edwards has seen at least 15 touches in each of the last three games and has four touchdowns over the last two weeks, with three coming in a week 8 contest against the Arizona Cardinals. The Ravens offense is designed to maximize the success of the running back. Opposing defenses have to account for Lamar Jackson’s running ability, which opens up lanes in the run game, and with Edwards getting the bulk of that work, he has been the main beneficiary. Seattle has been solid against opposing running backs this season, but the Ravens are a different type of run game and should be able to succeed where others have failed. With Lamar Jackson playing some of his best football, a new and improved passing game, and the same commitment to the run game we’ve seen from them in the past, Edwards should, once again, see 15-20 touches, and make the most of those touches. Consider Edwards an RB2 in week 9.
DeAndre Hopkins (WR)
Tennessee Titans vs. PIT (54% Start)
This one comes with a bit of a caveat. Very few managers are excited about the prospect of rookie quarterback Will Levis being the one throwing passes to Hopkins in week 9. While Levis looked very good in week 8, throwing for 238 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions, en route to a QB6 finish, he is still a rookie with whom there are bound to be ups and downs. On top of that, Hopkins is currently dealing with a toe injury, the severity of which is not yet known, although he is not expected to miss time. Yet, I would recommend starting Hopkins until further notice. There is a real possibility that the rookie helps the fantasy output of Hopkins, who has looked very good this year but has been underutilized. The Titans will remain a low-passing volume team, but if Hopkins still demands a large share of those targets, and the quality of those targets increases, Hopkins could be in for a great second half of the season. Tennessee will be on a short week since they face the Steelers on Thursday night, but Pittsburgh is a very fantasy-friendly matchup for receivers, and one that Hopkins should be able to exploit. Fire him up as a WR2 with upside.
Nico Collins (WR)
Houston Texans vs. TB (55% Start)
In week 8, against the Carolina Panthers, C.J. Stroud and the entire Houston offense had a down week. Stroud only managed 140 yards through the air in what should’ve been a favorable matchup, resulting in none of the receivers having good weeks and the Texans losing the game. That was likely the exception and not the rule. We have seen Stroud play at such a high level for most of the season that I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt as he approaches a week 9 bout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Stroud should be able to get back on track and as Stroud goes, so go his receiving weapons, and as his favorite target, Collins should put up good numbers. Collins has seen at least six targets in all but two games, and while he only has three touchdowns on the season, against a Buccaneers defense allowing the ninth most fantasy points to the position, he could get his fourth. I expect the Texans to come out firing in this one. Look for Stroud to look Collins’ way early and often. Collins is a decent WR2 this week and an excellent flex play.
Dalton Kincaid (TE)
Buffalo Bills vs. CIN (37% Start)
Over the last two weeks, Kincaid has begun to get more involved in the Bills offense, demanding 15 targets over that span. Both weeks he finished as the TE7 on the week with double-digit points in each contest. The difference between week 7 and week 8 was snap share. In week 7, with a healthy Dawson Knox, Kincaid saw 61% of snaps. Once Knox was placed on IR, Kincaid saw his snap share rise to 84%. That should continue with Knox out at least three more weeks with a wrist injury, and in week 9 the matchup couldn’t be much better. The Bengals are allowing the second most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season, and in week 8 Kincaid was the only Bills tight end to receive a target, finishing with five receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown. Look for the Bills to increase Kincaid’s usage as he develops into their tight end of the future. That could start as early as this week in what could be a shootout. Kincaid is a TE1 for as long as Knox is out, and even once Knox returns, Kincaid may have won the starting job outright.
Taysom Hill (TE)
New Orleans Saints vs. CHI (12% Start)
First, let me say that even I consider this a form of cheating. I don’t know why Taysom Hill is still listed as a QB/TE when he does the majority of his damage on the ground. Still, as long as you can put him in your tight end spot you should do so. Over the last three weeks, Hill has had at least eight touches in every single game and has finished as the TE9, TE5, and TE1. All he does is produce. Even if he was listed as a running back his last two performances of 14.8 and 21.98 fantasy points would be impressive, but as a tight end, it’s elite. In week 8, Hill led the Saints in rushing for the second time this season. This is made even more impressive by the fact that in week 8, Alvin Kamara, Jamaal Williams, and Kendre Miller were all available and received carries. We can’t expect two rushing touchdowns every week, but Hill’s involvement in the offense has increased in the last two weeks. Now he faces a Bears defense that, whether against tight ends or running backs, is a favorable matchup. Hill is an enticing play for anyone impacted by injuries or bye weeks.
Week 9 Sits
Jordan Love (QB)
Green Bay Packers vs. LAR (31% Start)
Jordan Love began the 2023 season in encouraging fashion with three straight games of over 25 fantasy points. Then the limitations and imperfections began to show, and in recent weeks the Green Bay Packers offense has begun to cool off, largely due to the inconsistent play (ok, struggles) of Jordan Love. While Love’s fantasy lines have been serviceable in some of these games, the offense has shown a concerning inability to put up points in the early portion of their games. This has led to a lot of garbage time, playing from behind, with Love forced to air it out to play catchup, inflating his numbers a bit. But in favorable matchups against the Raiders, Broncos, and Vikings, Love failed to truly capitalize, giving me very little confidence when it comes to week 9. The Rams aren’t an intimidating matchup, allowing the 11th most points to opposing quarterbacks, but until Love regains his early season success and proves he’s able to consistently produce, I would prefer to seek out other options.
Aaron Jones (RB)
Green Bay Packers vs. LAR (70% Start)
In week 8, Aaron Jones went up against a tough run defense and only managed 29 yards on seven carries, while also gaining just 17 yards on four receptions. This placed him out of the top-30 at the position. If it were just this one week, I may be able to forgive the performance as an outlier, but as it stands, it may be time for those who invested an early-round pick on Jones to panic. Since week 1, which saw Jones finish as the RB1 overall, Jones has only mustered 117 yards on 28 total touches. Yes, Jones was injured during part of that time and missed three games, but even when he’s been active he has failed to see over eight carries in a single game. He’s simply not getting the usage to recommend as an automatic start, nor is he producing with the touches he does get. I don’t expect things to get much easier in week 9 when he faces a Rams run defense that ranks higher than the one he just faced. With injuries and byes, it may be impossible to sit Jones, but if you have other options, I would use them.
Alexander Mattison (RB)
Minnesota Vikings vs. ATL (49% Start)
To be honest, I was going to recommend sitting Tony Pollard here, but with a starting percentage of 92%, no one is sitting him in a week that has some elite RB1-type running backs on bye. Still, don’t expect a lot from Pollard in week 9. But for the sake of this article, I am highlighting the utter disappointment that has been Alexander Mattison. To be fair, Mattison was drafted as a low-end RB2, and that’s exactly how he has finished five out of eight games. Although, even that could be a lot to ask for moving forward. Kirk Cousins is done for the season with an Achilles injury, and Cam Akers continues to be more involved in the offense, so I don’t anticipate many more weeks where Mattison is a useful fantasy running back. With very little passing game to speak of as the Vikings turn to either rookie Jaren Hall or a veteran they acquire before today’s trade deadline, the volume should still be there for Mattison. The problem is that teams will now be able to focus on stopping the run game and that, combined with Mattison’s inefficiency, does not bode well. To make matters worse, Mattison is facing the third-best defense against running backs in the league. Keep him on your bench.
Jordan Addison (WR)
Minnesota Vikings vs. ATL (78% Start)
Sticking with the Vikings, there is no one not named Hockenson, that I would want to start in week 9, and this includes the emerging Jordan Addison. This suggestion has absolutely nothing to do with Addison’s talent as a player. What Addison has done, especially as a rookie, has been incredible. He is currently the WR9 on the season and is just two weeks removed from a WR1 finish. His success has been due to a combination of talent and usage. The talent will still be there, but the usage may not. Addison just lost his quarterback for the remainder of the season, and will likely be catching passes from rookie Jaren Hall in week 9. There’s the possibility of the Vikings trading for a quarterback, but even if that happens, it’s optimistic to expect that they would get up to speed in less than a week. If Addison’s recent production, injuries, and teams on bye make it impossible for you to sit him, that is completely understandable. However, Addison’s range of outcomes just got much wider. Addison is facing a top-12 defense against receivers this week. Add to that the fact that the Vikings should lean more run-heavy than at any point this season, and I’d be sitting Addison if at all possible.
Christian Watson (WR)
Green Bay Packers vs. LAR (45% Start)
I promise I’m not just picking on Green Bay Packers players this week, but I have not been encouraged by what I have seen from them in recent weeks, and it is impacting my outlook for all their skill players. Still, out of all the Packers players I’ve recommended you sit this week, none brings me less joy than Christian Watson. Coming into the season there were such high hopes for Watson, a 2nd-year wideout who seemed destined to be heading toward a breakout in 2023. Unfortunately, that has not been the way things have played out. Watson didn’t even take the field until week four, and since being active Watson has failed to finish better than WR24, and it can’t be blamed on a lack of opportunities. Over the last three weeks, Watson has seen an average of nearly seven targets, but those targets have yet to lead to fantasy production. He has not caught more than three passes in a game all season and has failed to find the end zone in three straight. He’s also topped 35 yards receiving just once, and that mostly came on one big play due to a busted coverage. Most of this is not Watson’s fault, but with a struggling quarterback on an offense that has yet to find any sort of identity, I would rather take a prove-it mentality with Watson before inserting him into my lineup.
Cole Kmet (TE)
Chicago Bears vs. NO (28% Start)
With a 28% start percentage, there aren’t a lot of managers taking a chance on Cole Kmet, but with tight ends like George Kittle, Sam LaPorta, and Evan Engram on bye in week 9, managers may be looking for players to fill in. Don’t make Kmet that player. Kmet is currently the TE6 on the season, but the majority of that production came in three games, and with coach Matt Eberflus already announcing that rookie Tyson Bagent will get another start in week 9, I don’t have a lot of confidence in the passing game for the Bears. The positive side of things is that with Bagent under center in week 8, Kmet did see 10 targets, totaling 79 receiving yards and finishing as the TE9 on the week. However, the Bears got down big against the Chargers forcing Bagent to air it out 37 times, leading to more volume for all the pass-catchers. The Bears should be able to keep things closer against the Saints, and as such should return to relying on the run game and limiting the usage of Bagent’s arm. The Saints are also top-5 against tight ends this season, so even if Bagent does have to throw more than expected, those passes likely won’t go Kmet’s way. If you don’t have to play Kmet I would sit him until Justin Fields is once again under center for the Bears.
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A die hard Bears fan and fantasy sports fantastic, T.J. Besler earned his journalism (and theatre) degree from The University of Iowa. When he isn’t busy writing parodies for his YouTube channel Parodies for Charities he can be found either on stage performing or doing all things fantasy football related. Besler has traveled to nearly all 50 states either for work or leisure, and is grateful to everyone who has helped him along the way, especially his lovely wife Elsa, without whom much of this would not be possible. BEAR DOWN!