2018 Fantasy Football: Week 9 Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em

John Autey/Pioneer Press

This time of year is when things get serious. With just five weeks left until the fantasy playoffs, it’s time to string wins together and make a run. Week nine is what’s referred to as bye week hell. There are six teams resting which means over 18% of the league is unavailable to you. Thank goodness Roto Street Journal is here to help navigate these treacherous waters.

Last week was another successful round of Start/Sits. I correctly suggested starting players such as Adrian Peterson, Phillip Lindsay, Tyler Boyd and O.J. Howard. Unfortunately, I also recommended sitting Carson Wentz and Marvin Jones. My bad. Nonetheless, I again had far more hits than misses and that’s all I can really hope for.

I make these suggestions based on each player’s weekly matchups, surrounding talent and in-game usage. While predicting the future is anything but easy, using these tools can help us make better choices when determining which players we start or sit from week to week.

Let me remind you that these lists consist of players who aren’t obvious. I shouldn’t have to tell you to start the Antonio Browns, Aaron Rodgers and Todd Gurleys of the world. This article revolves around players who haven’t yet reached “stud” status, and thus require weekly consideration for your lineup.

For more help with your lineup check out The Wolf’s weekly rankings.

Start ‘Em


Jared Goff:

The biggest detriment to Goff’s fantasy outlook is the success of Todd Gurley and the running game. Goff passed for 295 yards and three touchdowns in an effort to outscore the prolific Packers. This week two of the top three scoring teams face off as the Rams travel to New Orleans. Goff should have no problem keeping pace with the Saints as their defense has given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

Alex Smith:

If Eli Manning can have fantasy success against Atlanta so can Alex Smith. Since week two, quarterbacks facing the Falcons have averaged 352 passing yards and 2.8 passing touchdowns per game. Meanwhile, Atlanta is averaging a hefty 27.1 points per game themselves, which should force Washington out of their usual run-heavy game script.

Running Back

Latavius Murray:

While Dalvin Cook rests his hamstring Murray has been going nuts, racking up 336 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns over the past three weeks. This Sunday Minnesota is at home facing a Lions defense that has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing backfields. Detroit is giving up the most rushing yards per game (144.6) and the second-most rushing yards per carry (5.1).

Nick Chubb:

It will be interesting to see how newly appointed offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens divvies up the backfield work. It’s hard to imagine him abandoning Chubb who has averaged over 4 yards per carry since becoming the starter. The Browns are at home this week to play a Chiefs defense that has surrendered the most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing running backs and the most rushing yards per carry (5.4).

Aaron Jones:

Ty Montgomery played 30.8% of the offensive snaps this season before being traded on Tuesday. His absence means more playing time for Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. Jones was already beginning to take control of this backfield before the trade occurred. Since returning from suspension Jones has seen 13 more touches than Williams and averages 2.5 more yards per carry. Jones has a good chance of finding the endzone this week against New England in what’s expected to be a high-scoring affair.

Wide Receiver

Julian Edelman:

To no one’s surprise, Edelman has been Tom Brady’s go-to guy since returning from suspension, averaging 8.5 targets per game. The Patriot play at home for this first time since week six in a Sunday Night showdown with the Packers. There will be no shortage of passing in a game that features two of the best quarterbacks to ever play.

Devin Funchess:

Funchess had his worst performance of the season last week, mustering up just three catches from 27 yards against the Ravens. He should bounce back this Sunday at home versus the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay has given up the second-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing receivers and has surrendered the most passing touchdowns in the league (20).

Cooper Kupp:

Prior to spraining his MCL in week six, Kupp was averaging 8.2 targets per game and has caught five touchdown passes. Sean McVay remains adamant that he expects Kupp to return this week after stating he probably could have played the week before if need be. The Rams face a Saints defense this Sunday that has allowed the most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing wide receivers.

Tight End

Greg Olsen:

Last Sunday Olsen set or matched season-highs in snaps (63), receptions (4) and yards (54) while catching his second touchdown in as many weeks. This week he faces a Buccaneers defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing tight ends. Tampa Bay has given up a touchdown to a tight end in four of their last five games.

George Kittle:

San Francisco’s passing game runs through Kittle. He has 16 more targets than the next closest 49er, including eight targets each of the past two weeks. Tonight, Kittle faces an Oakland defense that surrendered three touchdowns to tight ends last week, and has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing tight ends this season.

Results – 4 Receptions, 108 Yards, 1 Touchdown


Chicago Bears:

The Bears are the third-highest scoring defense in fantasy. The Bills have given up the most fantasy points to opposing defenses and are down to their third-string quarterback. Don’t get cute. Start Chicago.

Kansas City Chiefs:

The keys to a successful fantasy defense are sacks and turnovers. The Chiefs have racked up the second-most sacks (24) in the league, while the Browns have given up the most (33). Cleveland has nine turnovers over their last five games and has averaged 16.7 points per game since week five.

Sit ‘Em


Ben Roethlisberger:

The Steelers travel to Baltimore this week to face a defense that has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. To make matters worse, Roethlisberger’s road struggles have not disappeared in 2018. He averages 2.5 touchdowns and .75 turnovers per game at home compared to 1.6 touchdowns and 2 turnovers per game on the road this season.

Joe Flacco:

Only once in the last four weeks did Flacco throw multiple touchdown passes and that was against the Saints’ porous pass defense. The Steelers’ defense has tightened up as of late, holding their last three opponents to an average of 18.6 points per game. Pittsburgh has also accumulated the second-most sacks (24) in the league, making this a tougher matchup than it looks on the surface.

Running Back

LeSean McCoy:

The 2018 season can’t end soon enough for Bills fans. Injuries to Josh Allen and Derek Anderson have forced Nathan Peterman back into the starting lineup. Buffalo hasn’t scored a touchdown since week six and now faces a Bears defense that has allowed the eighth-fewest points per game (20.6). Chicago has given up the third-fewest fantasy points (PPR) to opposing running backs, the fourth fewest yards per carry (3.7) and is the only team yet to surrender a rushing touchdown.

Derrick Henry:

Henry finally provided some value in his last outing, putting up a season-high 65 yards from scrimmage, two catches and his first touchdown of the year. It’s unlikely he matches that production against a quietly stout Dallas defense. The Cowboys have allowed the second-fewest points per game (17.6), the second-fewest yards per rush (3.6) and the sixth-fewest rushing touchdowns (4).

Peyton Barber:

Barber has now posted at least 82 rushing yards and a touchdown in two of his last three games. Those performances came against the Bengals and Falcons, who surrender the fourth (4.9) and fifth (4.8) most yards per carry, respectively. This week the Bucs travel to Carolina to play a defense that has given up the eighth-fewest rushing yards per game (95.9), the ninth-fewest fantasy points (PPR) to opposing backfields and the 10th-fewest rushing touchdowns (5).

Wide Receiver

Demaryius Thomas:

After being acquired by Houston via trade, Thomas is expected to play Sunday against his former team. However, with just three days to become acclimated to his new club, it’s unclear how much Thomas will play or how quickly he’ll be able to click with his new quarterback. The Texans visit Denver this week to play a defense that has accumulated the second-most sacks (24) and has allowed the eighth-lowest completion percentage (62.3%) and 11th-fewest passing yards per game (237.5).

Corey Davis:

The Titans average the third-fewest points per game (15.1) and passing yards per game (173) this season. The offenses’ incompetence has stifled what was supposed to be Davis’ breakout year. This week Davis will take his gimpy hamstring to Dallas to face a defense that has given up the fewest fantasy points (PPR) to opposing receivers.

Mike Williams:

Williams has recorded just one catch in three of his last four games. He’s averaging just over four targets per contest and is either touchdown or bust from week to week. This Sunday the Chargers face a Seahawks defense that has allowed the fifth-fewest touchdown passes (10) and the fourth-fewest passing yards per game (219). To make matter worse for Williams, Melvin Gordon is on track to return this week, which would inspire L.A. to become more run heavy.

Tight End

Rob Gronkowski:

Someone’s got to say it. Gronkowski doesn’t look right. He missed practice Thursday and was limited Friday. From week two on Gronk has averaged 54 yards per game and hasn’t seen the endzone since week one. If he plays this week he’ll face a Packers defense that has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. With so many other option in the passing game and Sony Michel on track to make his return, Gronkowski is no longer the dominant asset he once was.

Benjamin Watson:

In week seven Watson had his best fantasy performance of the season, racking up six catches for 43 yards and a score. Last week he didn’t see a single target. Drew Brees has averaged 13 less pass attempts per game since Mark Ingram returned from suspension, as the team has shifted back to a run-heavy approach. Watson’s usage is far too inconsistent to trust him in your lineup.


Cleveland Browns:

Though much improved from years past, Cleveland’s defense is still no match for the high-powered Chiefs. Kansas City averages the most points per game (36.2) and the third-most yards per game (425.2). Meanwhile, they’ve given up the second-fewest sacks (10) and have committed the sixth-fewest turnovers (7).

Los Angeles Rams:

After facing the Packers last week, the Rams travel to New Orleans this Sunday to play another one of the league’s best offenses. The Saints average the second-most points per game (33.4) and the eighth-most yards per game (389.9). They’ve also given up the fewest sacks (9) and have committed the sixth-fewest turnovers (7).


  • Fantasy football writer for Roto Street Journal. Freelance writer, Senior Podcast Producer and Production Assistant for FOX59 and CBS4. Indiana University graduate class of 2016. Follow on Twitter @fasttakefantasy


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