Week 9 Preview

All Betting Lines are from Bovada as of Friday (Wednesday for Thursday Night Football)

Teams on BYE this week: Bengals, Colts, Jaguars, Cardinals, Eagles, Giants

(bye-pocalypse # 1)

Raiders @ 49ers (-3) (Thu 5:20 PM PDT):

O/U: 46

Blurb: Both teams have favorable matchups for fantasy purposes as both defenses aren’t that good. As of right now, I’m assuming C.J. Beathard will play, but if he is out with injury this changes (he is currently expected to play). George Kittle is a must start. Matt Breida is a viable RB2 option, but he carries the risk of getting hurt mid game, while Raheem Mostert and Alfred Morris are desperation FLEX plays. Marquise Goodwin is a WR2/FLEX play but he’s more of a risk-reward option. If Beathard does not play, the Raiders defense becomes a viable streaming option, while Breida is downgraded to a FLEX, and Goodwin is downgraded to a low-end FLEX. Kittle gets downgraded a bit but would still be a top-10 TE play. For the Raiders, Derek Carr is a desperation streamer, while Doug Martin and Jalen Richard are both FLEX plays. Martin is a higher end FLEX, while Richard is a low end FLEX, with the opposite being true in PPR formats. Jared Cook is a must start but Jordy Nelson is a low end FLEX, as he didn’t see an increase in his production after Cooper was traded.

Steelers (-3) @ Ravens (Sun 10:00 AM PDT):

O/U: 47.5

Blurb: Last time these two teams played was in Pittsburgh, where the Ravens dominated the Steelers en route to a comfortable victory. I’m concerned about Pittsburgh’s offense in this spot because the Ravens have struggled on the road yet still were able to shut down the Steelers last time they played. Ben Roethlisberger is a low-end starter at QB, and you can probably do better. Vance McDonald is a low-end TE starter. Antonio Brown is a must start, but Juju Smith-Schuster is downgraded to a lower WR2 play. James Conner is someone you probably have to play, but even he is downgraded to a high end RB2 rather than his usual solid RB1 status. The Ravens defense is no joke at home, they are my #5 fantasy defense for the week. On the Ravens side of the ball, they are going against an improved Steelers defense. Joe Flacco is a desperation streamer, while none of the Ravens TEs are recommended. John Brown is a boom/bust WR2/FLEX play, but Michael Crabtree is only a desperation FLEX. In the running game, Alex Collins is a low end RB2 as his lack of yardage/passing game usage is really concerning. He hurts you unless he scores touchdowns. Javorius Allen and Ty Montgomery both kill each other’s value as they basically fulfill the same role. I think this game will be more of a low-scoring, grind it out game, as I have the Steelers as a low-end starter at defense.

Bears (-10) @ Bills (Sun 10:00 AM PDT):

O/U: 37.5

Blurb: Nathan Peterman will start for the Bills this week after Derek Anderson got injured. LeSean McCoy is a FLEX play, and that’s the only player you should start for the Bills. The Bears defense is the #1 defense of the week for not only me, but every fantasy player in the world. On the Bears offense, Mitch Trubisky has been on fire lately, and I have him ranked as a low end starter at QB. He’s a fine play. Trey Burton is a top-10 TE by default, but his lack of targets this year are concerning. As of now, I’m assuming Allen Robinson will not play. That puts Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller in the FLEX category, with Gabriel as a higher end FLEX and Miller as a lower end FLEX. Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard are both top-15 RBs. Cohen is risky because he could hurt your team if he doesn’t break a big play, and the Bears will not need to pass as much this game while leading. Howard is a safer play this week because the Bears will be leading, causing them to continue feeding Howard. The Bills defense is really underrated, they have played well at home. If you are desperate, you could throw them out there.

Buccaneers @ Panthers (-6.5) (Sun 10:00 AM PDT):

O/U: 55

Blurb: Ryan Fitzpatrick is back in as the starter for the Buccaneers. I have him ranked 11th, but be warned that starting him is not for the faint of heart. He could get you anywhere from 0 to 40 points. I think he’ll go out there and have a good week this week against a secondary that can’t hang with the Bucs weapons. O.J. Howard and Mike Evans are must starts, while DeSean Jackson is a boom/bust FLEX option. Chris Godwin continues to see targets, and even though the fantasy points haven’t been copious, he slots in as a FLEX option. Peyton Barber is facing a tough run defense, so he’s simply a volume FLEX option for me, and you can probably do better. The Panthers defense is a top-5 option for me, although it’s a little risky with the potential of Fitzpatrick going nuclear, I think they have a good opportunity for sacks and turnovers at home. On the Panthers side of the ball, they go up against one of the worst defenses in football against the running back and the passing game. Newton and McCaffrey are must starts, while Olsen is a firm starter at TE. With the emergence of D.J. Moore, both Moore and Devin Funchess are FLEX options.

Chiefs (-9) @ Browns (Sun 10:00 AM PDT):

O/U: 52.5

Blurb: It’s tough to predict what the Browns offense will look like after firing Hue Jackson and their offensive coordinator Todd Haley this week, even though they have a good matchup on paper against the Chiefs. I’m actually going to split the difference in this one as the Browns allow a lot of sacks and the Chiefs can get sacks with the best of them. They are my #14 defense on the week. That being said, I think David Njoku, Nick Chubb, and Jarvis Landry are all fine starts this week, as the Browns offense should have success in spurts. Duke Johnson is a desperation FLEX, maybe when the Browns are trailing they will use him in the passing game. I wouldn’t play anyone else on the Browns offense. Like usual, everyone on the Chiefs offense is a FLEX play at worst. Mahomes, Kelce, Hill, and Hunt are must starts. Sammy Watkins has been inconsistent, but he’s as good of a WR3 play as they come, and with Hill nursing a minor groin injury, he is upgraded to a WR2 this week as he’ll probably see a few more targets.

Jets @ Dolphins (-3) (Sun 10:00 AM PDT):

O/U: 43.5

Blurb: This is an Isaiah Crowell game if there ever was one. The Dolphins struggle badly against opposing running backs, and Crowell is going to get a lot of work with Bilal Powell on injured reserve. He is a borderline must start for most people with six teams on BYE. Other than him, I don’t really like anyone on the Jets offense unless you’re desperate. For the Dolphins, Kenyan Drake is a solid RB2, while DeVante Parker is a FLEX option. Danny Amendola is a desperation FLEX. The Jets defense has struggled against WRs. The Dolphins defense is a top-10 option while the Jets are a desperation play.

Lions @ Vikings (-5) (Sun 10:00 AM PDT):

O/U: 49

Blurb: The Vikings have been a really good defense as of late. They are in the top half of the league in fpts allowed to every position. I have to downgrade everyone on the Lions, but if Xavier Rhodes does not play that could change. For now, Stafford is my #19 QB, while Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, and Kerryon Johnson are all FLEX plays. With Theo Riddick expected to play, Kerryon gets a bit of a downgrade. The Vikings said that they will play Dalvin Cook on a limited snap count on Sunday. That downgrades Latavius Murray a bit but Cook is no more than a desperation FLEX for me. Even after they traded for Damon Harrison, the Lions allowed a lot of success on the ground to Seattle. Stefon Diggs will miss this game through injury. There’s no way you’re benching Thielen, and I would give that stamp of approval to Captain Kirk as well. Kyle Rudolph has fallen out of favor in this passing game, but with Diggs out he may see more targets this game. You could certainly do worse at TE than Rudolph.

Falcons @ Redskins (-1.5) (Sun 10:00 AM PDT):

O/U: 48

Blurb: The Redskins have quietly been one of the best defenses when at home this season. In an outdoor, chilly game, I’m actually a little concerned about Matt Ryan. He’s still my #8 QB, but you might have someone better because of where you drafted him. Julio is a must start, but both Sanu and Ridley are FLEX plays for me, with both being touchdown or bust options. Austin Hooper is a low-end TE play, but that’s only because of the BYE weeks. Tevin Coleman is going against a stingy run defense, so he’s only an RB2, while Ito Smith is a desperation FLEX. On the Redskins side of the ball, they go against one of the worst defenses in football. Unfortunately, that really only benefits fantasy owners of Adrian Peterson and Jordan Reed. Alex Smith is a desperation play, but for me he’s my second favorite streamer behind Derek Carr because his team plays a run first style. One thing to watch out for is the Falcons are much more susceptible to pass catching backs, as they only allow 81 yards on the ground on average. Adrian Peterson is still a must start, but this upgrades Kapri Bibbs into FLEX territory with Chris Thompson out.

Texans (0) @ Broncos (0) (Sun 1:05 PM PDT):

O/U: 46

Blurb: The Texans offense has been really good their past two games, but I don’t like them in this spot. DeShaun Watson is outside my top 12 because of Will Fuller’s injury, while Keke Coutee will also most likely miss this game. DeAndre Hopkins is a must start, but I’m not high on Demaryius Thomas or Lamar Miller. Even though Denver is a good matchup for opposing RBs on paper, the last two games they have held RBs to under 3.5 YPC. Houston’s offensive line struggles make me think the Broncos will feast in this game, they are a top 5 defense for me this week. On the Broncos side of the ball, I like Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders against a banged up Texans secondary. I don’t like Philip Lindsay that much against a tough run defense though. The Texans are a top 8 defense for me.

Chargers @ Seahawks (-1) (Sun 1:25 PM PDT):

O/U: 48

Blurb: The Seahawks have changed their identity to a ground and pound team this season. They have had a lot of success this season, and I think Chris Carson will do well once again as the Chargers are only middle of the pack in rushing yards allowed to opposing RBs. Russell Wilson is a decent starting option at QB, but Lockett and Baldwin are merely FLEX plays. The Chargers defense is a fringe starting option for me. For the Chargers offense, the Seahawks are decent to good all across the board. Melvin Gordon is a must start even with the hamstring injury, but this gives Austin Ekeler a bit of an upgrade into FLEX territory. Keenan Allen has struggled this season, but you have to keep starting him unless your wide receivers are stacked. Tyrell Williams and Mike Williams are both big play threats, but can also give you nothing. The Seahawks defense is ranked 10th for me.

Rams @ Saints (-1.5) (Sun 1:25 PM PDT):

O/U: 59

Blurb: You’re basically starting every player in this game. On the Rams side: Goff, Gurley, Woods, Cooks, are all must starts. I’m a little concerned about Cooper Kupp coming off injury (if he plays), but he is virtually a must start as well. On the Saints side: Brees, Thomas, and Kamara are all must starts. I still like Mark Ingram as a play, and with six teams on BYE he becomes almost a must start as well. Tre’Quan Smith is a dart throw play if you’re desperate. The Rams defense is ranked 15th for me, but I recommend you bench them.

Packers @ Patriots (-6) (Sun 5:20 PM PDT):

O/U: 57

Blurb: I expect the Patriots to really air it out if Sony Michel is out again for this game. Against the Bills, they used Cordarrelle Patterson as an emergency RB, but many think that was just a smokescreen to make the Packers’ prep more difficult. As of now, I expect Michel to play. Tom Brady is a fine starter, but I couldn’t justify putting him any higher than my #7 QB. I think the gap between my top 7 ranked QBs and the ones after that is really large, so Brady is the last of the “great” starts this week. Rob Gronkowski is a must start every week even though he’s disappointed you, and James White is now in that category as well, especially with Michel banged up. Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon are both FLEX plays, with Edelman being the safe play, and Gordon the risk/reward one. On the Packers side of the ball, Rodgers and Adams are must starts. I really like Aaron Jones this week. After the Ty Montgomery trade, I think he will burst onto the scene against this Patriots defense that has been inconsistent all year. For the other Packers WRs, it’s basically a 3 man committee between Cobb, Allison, and Valdez-Scantling. With Allison out this game, MVS becomes a solid FLEX consideration.

Titans @ Cowboys (-5.5) (Mon 5:15 PM PDT):

O/U: 40.5

Blurb: This game should be pretty defensive, as I have both defenses ranked inside my top 12 for this week. I think the Cowboys defense feasts on a Titans offense that has allowed a ton of sacks this season. I’d play Corey Davis and Dion Lewis, but I don’t have interest in anyone else on the Titans. Ezekiel Elliott is a must start, but I would prefer to wait a week on Amari Cooper to see how he’s used. The Titans defense isn’t a bad play by any means, especially because of Zack Martin’s injury.