With Monday here once again, it is already time to start thinking about Week 9 start/sit decisions for fantasy football leagues. In a week where there are six teams on byes, it’s a tough week to navigate, especially when we mix injuries in as well.
Let’s examine the matchups in Week 9 and highlight some start ’em and sit ’em considerations across the slate.
Week 9 Fantasy Football Start ’ems
Generally, we will try to select players who were started in less than 40% of leagues in the previous week as recommended starts. Similarly, we will mostly look to identify potential options to sit that were found in more than 50% of lineups in ESPN leagues last week.
Additionally, we will try to project where a player might see a big change in value this week and explain why that might be something to consider going against.
Trevor Lawrence, QB | JAX vs. LV
There is no real way of sugarcoating it, it’s been a tough stretch for Trevor Lawrence and his fantasy managers. In the last five weeks, Lawrence has posted scores of below 10.5 fantasy points on three occasions. However, he still averages 15.44 fantasy points per game because of how big the upside can be when things click.
Twice this season, Lawrence has topped 24 fantasy points, and he has been over 18 fantasy points on another two occasions. Lawrence has become an extremely boom-bust, matchup-dependent QB in 2022. It was somewhat obvious he would struggle last week against the best defense in the league against opposing QBs. However, this week, the picture is almost entirely the opposite.
The Las Vegas Raiders are the worst defense against quarterbacks this season, allowing an average of 22.87 fantasy points to the position. While they have been somewhat better against QBs in the last two weeks, they have still allowed an average of over 17.5 fantasy points in those two games. Those games have come against Davis Mills and Andy Dalton, so not exactly the stiffest competition.
Lawrence’s stock is at a huge low after a struggling performance in a standalone game on Sunday morning. Therefore, there is a prime opportunity to go and scoop him up to stream against a Raiders defense that has not allowed fewer than 17 points to the position in a game this year.
This would also be an intriguing week to target Lawrence on Underdog Fantasy. With some recent bad performances, his price for daily fantasy and his Pick’em stat projections should be reasonably low. Therefore, Week 9 could be a good time to use Lawrence in DFS and back him to go higher than his fantasy-point stat projections.
Aaron Rodgers, QB | GB @ DET
It feels very weird to have Aaron Rodgers on this list, but that is where we are. With a start percentage of 35.1% on ESPN in Week 8, Rodgers has now really reached the point of being a matchup-based starting QB in 10, 12, and even 14-team leagues. The good news for him is that the matchup this week is reasonably juicy.
Only the Raiders have allowed more fantasy points to opposing QBs than the Detroit Lions this season. In Week 8, Tua Tagovailoa bounced back from his injury issues to post a 29.18 fantasy-point performance against the Lions. That should be good news for Rodgers’ fantasy value, even if the Lions had appeared a tougher matchup in their previous two games.
What Rodgers has offered this year is a reasonably solid floor. Outside of Week 1 — where he scored 3.7 fantasy points — Rodgers has not scored less than 11.84 fantasy points this year and has consistently sat in the range of 15-16 fantasy points. Over that stretch, he has been one of the most predictable fantasy assets around.
The biggest potential risk to Rodgers’ fantasy value is that the Lions are also really bad against RBs. The Lions’ defense allows an average of 5.1 yards per rushing attempt against them this season, the fifth-worst number in the league. Therefore, we could see the Packers just hand the ball off repeatedly to Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. Still, there is enough upside here to make Rodgers a starting option in 1QB leagues of all sizes.
Caleb Huntley, RB | ATL vs. LAC
Coming off of a 16-carry performance for 91 yards against the Carolina Panthers, Caleb Huntley has the opportunity for another huge performance this week. Prior to their bye week, the Chargers had allowed more than 30 fantasy points to RBs in three of the last four games.
Across the year, the Chargers have allowed 26.44 fantasy points to opposing running backs, the second most of any team. This is a great opportunity for Huntley to have success if he continues to see significant carries after last week’s impressive performance.
Curtis Samuel, WR | WAS vs. MIN
It is somewhat odd that Curtis Samuel is not started in more than just a quarter of ESPN leagues. The Washington Commanders’ WR has averaged 10.08 fantasy points in half-PPR scoring, placing him as the WR36 this season. There have only been two occasions this season where Samuel has not scored nine or more fantasy points, essentially meaning he has been a Flex starting option in 12-team leagues most weeks.
This week, Samuel has a nice matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings have allowed an average of 30.87 fantasy points to opposing WRs on the year. Additionally, in their past two games, they’ve allowed a total of 87.6 fantasy points to receivers. Samuel is averaging 7.75 targets per game and 2.13 rushing attempts for close to 10 opportunities per game. That’s a tough number to turn down for a WR with a nice matchup.
Evan Engram, TE | JAX vs. LVR
Evan Engram heads into Week 9 on the back of his best fantasy performance of the season, catching four of six targets for 55 yards and a touchdown. Engram has been seeing at least six targets per game over the past four weeks and has averaged 9.65 fantasy points per game in that stretch.
This week, he faces the Raiders, who allow the third-most points to opposing tight ends (13.61 fantasy points). Engram has been a huge part of the offense for the Jaguars and is a fantastic streaming option once again for fantasy managers.
Week 9 Fantasy Football Sit ’ems
Tom Brady, QB | TB vs. LAR
It has not been a fun season for Tom Brady in 2022. He is averaging 15.27 fantasy points per game, which places him at QB20. The usually poised QB has looked rattled and distracted this season. In terms of fantasy output, that has resulted in five of his eight performances returning fewer than 15 fantasy points.
Things do not get any easier for Brady as he takes on the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. After giving up 31.48 fantasy points to Josh Allen in Week 1, the Rams have only allowed more than 14 fantasy points once in the next six games. While that one over 15 points did come this past Sunday against Jimmy Garoppolo, it was still only a 17.7-point performance.
Right now, scoring 17.7 points against the Rams feels like a ceiling. Additionally, the strength of this defense is built around inside pressure, which has been Brady’s Achilles heel throughout his career. This could be another ugly game for Brady, and it would be a bold step to start him in 12 or 14-team leagues this week.
Michael Carter, RB | NYJ vs. BUF
With Michael Carter seeing 14 opportunities and 12 touches in Week 8, the temptation might be for fantasy managers to lean on him this week. Additionally, we just saw Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon take chunks out of the Buffalo Bills’ defense. However, fantasy managers should very much proceed with caution this week.
That was just the second time this year that the Bills have allowed more than 20 fantasy points to opposing RBs. Of the other five games, they held opposing backs under 15 fantasy points on four occasions. Buffalo’s 16.33 fantasy points allowed to RBs is the sixth-lowest number this season.
Additionally, we don’t really know how this Jets backfield will shake out. Carter continues to be inefficient when carrying the ball, and James Robinson should mix in more this week than last. Therefore, with a tough matchup and an uncertain workload, fantasy managers should not be too bullish about leaning on Carter this week.
Brandin Cooks, WR | HOU vs. PHI
This could be a moot point by Thursday if Brandin Cooks is traded ahead of the 2022 NFL trade deadline. Nevertheless, if Cooks is still on the Texans’ roster, then he is an incredibly tough player to trust as a starting option this week.
Over the past three games, Cooks is averaging four receptions and 46.33 receiving yards. While not a terrible return, the ceiling has not been there, with Cooks seeing just five to seven targets a game dating back to Week 3.
Additionally, the Eagles have now held opposing WRs to an average of just 17 fantasy points across the past two games. Expect the Eagles’ secondary to pay much attention to Cooks this week if he is on the field.
Even if Cooks is traded, he’s likely a player to consider sitting simply because he may only play a limited number of snaps. However, the long-term payoff of a potential trade should be worth fantasy managers being without Cooks in Week 9.
Isaiah Likely, TE | BAL at NO
This is more of a beware the breakout player than anything. IsaiaihLikely benefitted hugely from the absence of Mark Andrews on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He caught six of his seven targets for 77 yards and a touchdown. With Andrews potentially set to miss time, Likely will be a popular name on the Week 9 waiver wire.
However, the matchup with the New Orleans Saints is really tough. They allow an average of just 4.86 fantasy points per game to the position, the lowest of any team in the league. The highest fantasy return by tight ends against them is 9.5 back in Week 5, with the next highest return being 6.1 fantasy points. If Andrews plays, you of course start him, but if Andrews misses time, relying on Likely as a fill-in could be dangerous.