Bye weeks continue to wreak havoc on lineups, forcing fantasy football managers to face even further difficult lineup decisions. Let’s take a look at our Week 9 RB start ’em and sit ’em plays.
Week 9 Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: Running Backs
We are now officially in the back half of the fantasy regular season. The stakes are higher, and every decision feels like it will make or break your season. As always, Pro Football Network will do its best to steer you in the right direction. Let’s get into this week’s start ’em and sit ’em plays at the running back position for Week 9.
Start ‘Em | Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills (@ JAX)
Yes. The rumors are true. We live in a world where I am actually recommending to fantasy managers to start Zack Moss. I know. I can’t believe it either. One of the most important traits for fantasy analysts and anyone playing fantasy football is constantly reacting to new information. I still don’t view Moss as a particularly talented running back. However, for fantasy purposes, that doesn’t always matter.
The Jaguars allow fantasy points to running backs at about the league-average rate. They are neither a favorable nor unfavorable matchup. Working to Moss’ benefit is the Bills being two-touchdown favorites.
Outside of Week 2, which was Moss’ first game of the season, the only game he didn’t exceed 10 touches was in the Bills’ loss to the Titans. Not so coincidentally, that’s the only game where they didn’t have a positive game script.
Moss has also been increasingly used in the passing game. He’s seen 15 targets over his last three games. Using the projected game script, we can anticipate Moss touching the ball at least 14 times and having a decent shot at finding the end zone. He’s a solid RB2 this week.
Start ‘Em | Jeremy McNichols, Tennessee Titans (@ LAR)
In truly devastating news, Derrick Henry will likely miss the remainder of the regular season with a Jones fracture in his foot. Although the Titans signed 87-year-old Adrian Peterson, he is not going to be an every-down back. Even in his prime, Peterson was never a prolific pass catcher.
Peterson will have been with the Titans all of six days when they take the field against the Rams this week. He’s simply not going to get massive usage out of the gate. Additionally, the Titans are road underdogs in Los Angeles. I would not expect a positive game script, and the Titans won’t force-feed carries to their RB even while trailing when that back is not Henry.
As a result, Jeremy McNichols should be in line for pretty significant usage, particularly in the passing game. Expect the Titans to have to throw more than usual to keep up with the Rams’ explosive offense and for McNichols to be on the field to gobble up some receptions. This week, McNichols profiles as a floor-based PPR RB2 and is a solid start as AP still works his way back into game action.
Week 9 Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: Running Backs
One matchup this week looks juicy, but I’d recommend staying away. These running backs should be left on your bench in Week 9.
Sit ‘Em | Mike Davis, Atlanta Falcons (@ NO)
Last week, Mike Davis actually crested 10 PPR fantasy points. He had his most efficient day on the ground (averaging 4.89 yards per carry) and his second-most successful day through the air (5 receptions for 22 yards). This week, Davis should expect to have a bad time.
Even though the Falcons are completely devoid of playmakers outside of Cordarrelle Patterson, the lack of passing-game options is unlikely to help Davis. Despite seeing a healthy 11.5% target share, Davis’ season-high total in receiving yards is just 25. He needs to do something on the ground. Unfortunately, that’s not in the cards against this defense.
The Saints currently sport the league’s best run defense from a fantasy perspective, and it isn’t particularly close. They’ve surrendered 90 or fewer rushing yards in all but one game this season. Last week, Leonard Fournette managed just 26 yards on 8 carries.
Davis hasn’t been particularly effective on the ground, even in favorable matchups. Against an elite run defense in the Saints, the only chance he has at being a fantasy RB2 is to rack up receptions and fall into the end zone. With just 2 touchdowns on the season, that’s not something fantasy managers can rely on. Sit Davis this week.
Sit ‘Em | Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos (@ DAL)
I like Javonte Williams. I think he’s a talented runner and clearly superior to Melvin Gordon. Unfortunately, Vic Fangio’s feelings don’t have time for my facts.
The Broncos continue to feature Gordon ahead of Williams. Last week, Gordon played 57% of the offensive snaps and touched the ball 13 times. Meanwhile, Wiliams played 43% of the snaps and had 11 touches. That seems close, but it was consistently Gordon that got the high-leverage touches. Gordon was in there at the goal line. He’s now scored 3 touchdowns in his last two games.
Typically, Williams and Gordon alternate series. However, watching last week’s game, I couldn’t help but notice that when it was “Williams’ turn,” if the drive went on for too long, Gordon would eventually take over. For Gordon’s drives, he was afforded every snap. Meanwhile, for Williams’ drives, there was always a limit on how many consecutive plays he would be on the field for.
Scoring may be Williams’ only option for fantasy relevance in Week 9
The matchup against the Cowboys is not a bad one. They allow the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs. Unfortunately, that just won’t really matter if Williams isn’t on the field.
The only way I see Williams posting RB2 numbers is if he scores. If that’s good enough for you, then leave Williams in there. I have to do that myself in one league because I don’t have other options due to bye weeks and injuries. However, if you do have a viable alternative, sit Williams until we see his usage increase.