Good news coming out of Week 8 of the NFL season, but some bad news heading into Week 9. The good news is we escaped Week 8 without too many offensive injuries. The bad news, this week six teams are on bye – Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and Tennessee – and looking through those teams, there is a bunch of fantasy talent on the sidelines this week. Fewer choices, but lets sift through them and decide who to play in your daily fantasy football lineups for Week 9.
Elite, Expensive: Tom Brady, NE (Week 9 vs Denver)
Since Week 4 when the New England Patriots were embarrassed by the Kansas City Chiefs, Brady has been the hottest quarterback in the league. Behind Brady is Peyton Manning, and they play each other Sunday in Foxboro in the must-watch game of the week. Over the last four weeks, both Brady and Manning are 4-0 with 14 touchdowns, only Brady has the slight edge in quarterback rating with 138.5 as opposed to Manning’s 127.4. Brady gets the nod over Manning for DFS as he is $1,000 cheaper on FanDuel, and $1,400 cheaper on DraftKings.
Middle of the Road: Colin Kaepernick, SF (Week 9 vs St Louis)
Kaepernick is coming off a bye, so he and his teammates had the chance to recover from any lingering injuries. Now it is time for their playoff push. St. Louis is the fourth most generous team allowing fantasy points to quarterbacks. The last time Kaepernick played St. Louis (Week 6), he threw for 343 yards, 3 touchdowns and added 37 yards on the ground running. He is a great play this week.
Cheap, High Upside: Carson Palmer, ARI (Week 9 @ Dallas)
Dallas is banged up on defense with many players hurt in Week 8. Arizona has three straight wins. Arizona sits atop the NFC standings and Dallas is third. This is a battle of powerhouses. Both teams should score early and often. At such a cheap price, Palmer has the opportunity to put up some nice stats.
Elite, Expensive: Arian Foster, HOU (Week 9 vs Philadelphia)
Foster is running like he stole something. He just ran all over the Tennessee defense for 151 yards and two touchdowns. In Week 9, Philadelphia is the next team up to try to stop him. Philadelphia has been pretty good at stopping the run, but with Foster running out of his mind, I expect a good mix between run and play-action pass to keep Philadelphia off balance and holes open for Foster.
Middle of the Road: Ronnie Hillman, DEN (Week 9 @ New England)
New England is allowing the third most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Matt Forte just ran for 114 yards and caught six balls for 54 yards against the Patriots. Hillman has a better quarterback and receiving threats for the Patriots defense to focus on, so he should find many holes and opportunities to gash the Patriots.
Cheap, High Upside: Trent Richardson, IND (Week 9 @ New York Giants)
Richardson was active in Week 8, but did not see the field. That means he has had plenty of time to recover from injury. In Week 9, he and Ahmad Bradshaw face the New York Giants who give up the second most fantasy points to opposing running backs. I see Richardson and the Indianapolis Colts getting back on track this week and crushing the Giants.
Elite, Expensive: Dez Bryant, DAL (Week 9 vs Arizona)
Bryant has had 0-3 catches in a game 15 times since 2011. In the game following those 15 games, he has totaled 88 receptions, 1,170 yards and 6 touchdowns. Arizona allows the second most fantasy points to wide receivers and two of their defensive backs are being tested for concussion protocol this week. Plug Bryant in and reap the benefits.
Middle of the Road: DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (Week 9 vs Philadelphia)
As I mentioned above, I see a lot of play-action passes this week for Houston, especially since Philadelphia allows the fourth most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Hopkins and Andre Johnson are developing into quite the combination for defenders to worry about. Hopkins finished Week 8 with 5 receptions for 95 yards. I expect him to keep on rolling in what could be a very high scoring game.
Cheap, High Upside: Mike Evans, TB (Week 9 @ Cleveland)
Coming into this season, rookie receiver Evans was compared to Vincent Jackson, so isn’t it appropriate he is now producing quality stats playing opposite Jackson. Tampa Bay does not have a great defense, which forces the offense to have to stay pace with opposing teams. Evans led the team in targets in Week 8 and produced a team-leading 78 receiving yards. He should get the same opportunity in Week 9.
Elite, Expensive: Rob Gronkowski, NE (Week 9 vs Denver)
Gronkowski (Gronk) finally broke out as the beast he is in Week 8. He scorched the Chicago Bears for nine receptions, 149 yards and three touchdowns. He now gets to play conference-rival Denver, who allows the seventh most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Denver might focus on shutting down Gronk, but the Patriots are too hot and Gronk has too much talent to be “shut down.”
Middle of the Road: Zach Ertz, PHI (Week 9 @ Houston)
Ertz has been consistently producing for the Eagles so far this season. He closed Week 8 with five receptions for 48 yards on eight targets. In what should be a high-scoring game, Ertz will continue to be a factor in this offense.
Cheap, High Upside: Clay Harbor, JAC (Week 9 @ Cincinnati)
This is solely a matchup play. Cincinnati allows the third most points to opposing tight ends. As they are focused on shutting down the rookies (Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson), Harbor may find some space over the middle and has a high possibility of finding the end zone.
Cleveland Browns (Week 9 vs Tampa Bay)
Cleveland is home against a struggling Tampa Bay team coming off an emotional overtime loss to Minnesota. Cleveland looks to continue to surprise us adding another notch in the win column.
Cincinnati Bengals (Week 9 vs Jacksonville)
Jacksonville is a bad team, Cincinnati is a good team and at home. Cincinnati will look to make a statement in this game as they start their push for the playoffs.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Stating the obvious but if Big Ben’s not here, then you’re done reading, right? Roethlisberger became the first quarterback in the history of the league to throw for over 500 yards twice, completing 40 of 49 attempts for 522 yards and six touchdowns. While the Colts aren’t to be confused with the league’s top pass rushing teams, the Steelers offensive line seems to be coming together at the midpoint of the season and with rookie Martavis Bryant emerging as a weapon outside, Roethlisberger’s fantasy outlook is on the upswing.
Tom Brady, Patriots
Probably a week late on this one. Brady has multiple touchdown passes in four straight games, a stretch in which he is averaging 30.3 PPG (1,268 passing yards and 14 touchdowns). While the Patriots face four straight top 10 pass defenses between Weeks 12 and 15, Brady should nonetheless be considered a top 5-6 fantasy quarterback over the balance of the season.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Let’s take this opportunity to note that with Wilson, you never really know what you are going to get fantasy wise. He put up a dud this week with 199 passing yards and a single touchdown against a less than stellar Panthers defense. That gives him four games this year where he has failed to top 202 passing yards. And that’s pretty sad considering the Seahawks have played from behind much more this year than last. If you think they are ready for a run, that probably means even fewer attempts going forward.
Mark Ingram, Saints
If you watched the Saints-Packers tilt, there basically wasn’t any way you could not conclude that Ingram is running like a top 10 running back. By game’s end, he had amassed career highs in rushing attempts and yards, totalling 172 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. While Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas didn’t play, I don’t think that matters much given how impressive Ingram looked.
Arian Foster, Texans
After his 151 rushing yard, 22 receiving yard and three total touchdown performance this week, Foster has now topped 100 rushing yards in six of his seven games this season. The lone flop was an injury marred performance in Week 4. If Foster had been healthy for the entire season, he would be challenging DeMarco Murray for the league’s rushing title.
Anthony Dixon, Bills
Somewhat surprisingly, it was Dixon who ascended to the top of the depth chart and not Bryce Brown with both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson out of the lineup. Actually, it’s not that surprising since the Bills coaches prefer Jackson’s power to Spiller’s speed and elusiveness. Hey, who wants dynamic playmakers at the running back position? Not the Bills. While Dixon is a plodder (22 carries for 44 yards this week) and the Bills are on a bye this week, it looks like he will remain the starter until Jackson returns.
Jonas Gray, Patriots
Meet New England’s new power back, replacing the injured Stevan Ridley. Given an extended workload this week, Gray looked solid in the Patriots blow out win over the Chicago Bears, totalling 86 yards on 17 carries. With New England’s offense hitting its stride at the midseason point, Gray certainly has appeal as a flex option over the balance of the season (provided he holds onto the football).
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
Let’s roll through the numbers. One game with 100 rushing yards. Three games with over 100 total yards. No rushing touchdowns in four games. Hasn’t topped double digit fantasy points in three straight games. Averaging 65.6 total yards over his last three games. Beast Mode may return but the sad state of the Seahawks offensive line isn’t helping matters.
Bishop Sankey, Titans
Despite topping double digit touches in each of his last three games, Sankey averaged 61.3 total yards in those games and failed to find the end zone. With just one touchdown on the season and a 4.0 yards per carry average, keep Sankey nailed to your bench until after he posts his first solid performance.
Doug Martin and Bobby Rainey, Bucs
Rookie 3rd round pick Charles Sims is close to returning to the lineup and neither Martin nor Bobby Rainey has done much to solidify their spots in the running back rotation.
Bernard Pierce, Ravens
Healthy scratch. Enough said.
Martavis Bryant, Steelers
The rookie 4th round pick hauled in a 35 yard touchdown on his first career reception last week and followed that up with a five reception, 83 yard, two touchdown performance this week against the Colts. He has solid size to go along with outstanding speed and leaping ability. Even if Bryant doesn’t supplant Markus Wheaton in the starting lineup, he should have more fantasy value given his big play ability on deep balls and effectiveness in the red zone.
Brandon LaFell, Patriots
Over the past five games, LaFell is the 11th ranked fantasy wide receiver on a PPG basis. Not a typo, folks. After catching all 11 of his targets this week (again, not a typo) for 124 yards and a touchdown, LaFell is averaging 13.1 PPG during those games (topping 100 yards three times). Looks like the Patriots are set on him as the big wide receiver in their offense. Consider LaFell an upper tier WR3 the rest of the way.
Kenny Britt, Rams
Britt heads to the top of the pecking order in St. Louis with Brian Quick on injured reserve. Keep your expectations in check but Britt probably rates as a solid WR4 with upside at this point.
Donte Moncrief, Colts
After sporadic use over the first seven weeks of the season, Moncrief took advantage of the opportunity that presented itself with Reggie Wayne out of the lineup, hauling in seven of his 12 targets for 113 yards and a score against the Steelers. While the target count was a reflection of the Colts playing from behind, the rookie 3rd round pick displayed obvious playmaking ability and speed, especially on his touchdown reception. He is a solid prospect in dynasty formats and a decent option as a WR3 until Wayne returns.
Julio Jones, Falcons
Pretty much hate to go here but . . . Jones hasn’t scored in five straight and has failed to top 70 yards in three of those games.
Brian Quick, Rams
Out for the year.
Julian Edelman, Patriots
One touchdown on the season. Hasn’t scored since Week 2. Just 13 targets in his last two games. Only 207 receiving yards in his last five games, averaging 4.1 PPG in those games.
Hakeem Nicks, Colts
With Reggie Wayne inactive, Nicks failed to take advantage, catching one of his six targets for 27 yards. Worse yet, rookie Donte Moncrief looked like a future star, further pushing Nicks down the depth chart when Wayne returns.
Jared Cook, Rams
While Cook has just six targets in his last two games, he figures to see plenty more in St. Louis with Brian Quick out for the year. It’s worth noting that he was targeted 30 times during a three game stretch between Weeks 3 and 6. If only the Rams could generate a more consistent passing attack.
Coby Fleener, Colts
Hopefully you’ve given up on Fleener by now. If not, please do so. He is averaging just 4.5 targets per game over the last five games and even with Reggie Wayne out, Fleener was targeted just four times this week against the Steelers when the Colts played from behind for most of the game.
In the NOT CONVINCED JUST YET category, we present:
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals – outstanding this week but can he keep it up?
Theo Riddick, Lions – while Riddick has playmaking ability, especially as a receiver out of the backfield, the Lions are loaded at running back.
We are near the halfway point in the fantasy football season, and hopefully you’ve built up a solid bankroll by now. Teams on Week 8 bye are San Francisco and New York Giants. In Week 7, we saw C.J Spiller go out down for the season due to injury, Fred Jackson is out for a few weeks, Zac Stacy is being phased out in St. Louis, and Denard Robinson ran all over the place for Jacksonville. There are a lot of new names out there this week, but should you put them in your DFS lineups?
Elite, Expensive: Ryan Tannehill, MIA (Week 8 @ Jacksonville)
Tannehill is on fire the past three weeks. He has at least two touchdowns and OVER 35 rushing yards in each of the past three games. He now faces a Jacksonville team that is banged up on defense with their stud linebacker Paul Posluszny out for the season due to injury. Look for Tannehill to continue to roll in Week 8.
Middle of the Road: Tony Romo, DAL (Week 8 vs Washington)
The Dallas Cowboys and Romo are quite a surprise; they are arguably the best team in the league. With their amazing running game, it opens up the passing game for Romo and the wide receivers. Romo is facing the division rival Washington Redskins, who rank in the top five for most fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Romo should get a lot of consideration this week.
Cheap, High Upside: Kyle Orton, BUF (Week 8 vs New York Jets)
This pick is more about the matchup than it is the quarterback. The Jets are allowing the second most fantasy points to quarterbacks so far this year. Buffalo Bills just lost their two starting running backs, so they may be forced to lean more on the arm of Orton. Orton has been fairly production the past three weeks, and he could have a good game against this weak defense.
Elite, Expensive: Marshawn Lynch, SEA (Week 8 @ Carolina)
Seattle is coming off a disappointing road loss, which makes it two losses in a row for the Super Bowl Champions. We know Seattle is a different team at home versus on the road. In Week 8, they take the trip from West to East to play Carolina, who allow the third most points to running backs. Seattle should lean on Lynch to control the clock and keep the ball out of the hands of the dangerous Cam Newton.
Middle of the Road: Lamar Miller, MIA (Week 8 @ Jacksonville)
As part of the “dark horse” Miami Dolphins, Miller seems to be running with a chip on his shoulder. He has four touchdowns over the last three games. As mentioned above, with Jacksonville having to adjust for injuries on their defense, Miller should be able to capitalize.
Cheap, High Upside: Trent Richardson, IND (Week 8 @ Pittsburgh)
Don’t look now but Richardson is starting to produce effectively for fantasy teams. He did have a small injury in Week 7, but is expected to be fine. He will continue to split time with Ahmad Bradshaw, but Richardson is starting to prove he is a good runner. Richardson is averaging just over 3.87 yards per rush attempt the past three weeks. He is also becoming a small threat in the passing game. Arian Foster just ripped through the Pittsburgh defense, so Richardson could be a solid play this week.
Elite, Expensive: Dez Bryant, DAL (Week 8 vs Washington)
In Week 7, Bryant showed once again why he is considered an elite talent finishing with 9 receptions for 151 yards. With Dallas clicking on all cylinders, Bryant should continue to thrive, especially in Week 8 against the Redskins. Stacking Romo-Dez could pay dividends for owners.
Middle of the Road: DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (Week 8 @ Tennessee)
Hopkins is coming off a huge bounce back game in Week 7. He finished the Monday night game with 6 receptions for 108 yards. He continues to provide decent fantasy games for owners. Playing opposite big name receiver Andre Johnson allows Hopkins to have single coverage and run deeper routes for Ryan Fitzpatrick to connect with him. I expect Hopkins to end his three-game touchdown-less slump and find the end zone in Week 8.
Cheap, High Upside: Doug Baldwin, SEA (Week 8 @ Carolina)
Following the Percy Harvin trade, Baldwin slides up the depth chart as the number one wide receiver and he did not disappoint in Week 7 with his new role. He finished with 11 targets, 7 receptions, 123 yards, and one touchdown. He now strolls into Carolina, who ranks in the top five for most points allowed to wide receivers. I expect this to be a close, high scoring game in which Baldwin continues to shine.
Elite, Expensive: Julius Thomas, DEN (Week 8 vs San Diego)
We know Thomas is the best tight end in the league right now. When Thomas does not have a great game he tends to follow it up the next week with an amazing game. I expect Thomas to get back on track Week 8 with a touchdown or two.
Middle of the Road: Owen Daniels, BAL (Week 8 @ Cincinnati)
Daniels is playing Cincinnati who allows the most fantasy points to tight ends. His chances for scoring this week are high. I’d plug him in with confidence.
Cheap, High Upside: Jordan Reed, WAS (Week 8 @ Dallas)
Just like the Daniels matchup, Reed has a great matchup. Dallas allows the second most fantasy points to tight ends. Since coming back from injury, Reed has 17 targets, 13 catches and 146 yards. With the news that Colt McCoy may start if Robert Griffin III cannot play, McCoy might look for a safety valve and Reed will be that check-down man. I expect Reed to get a lot of targets and a score this week.
Miami Dolphins (Week 8 @ Jacksonville)
Miami’s defense is fully healthy and playing at a high level. They nearly shut down Aaron Rodgers two weeks ago and definitely took advantage of Jay Cutler last week. This week they take on Jacksonville coming off their first win of the season. I expect Miami to bring Jacksonville back down to earth.
Dallas Cowboys (Week 8 vs Washington)
Dallas seems to be one of the best defenses in the league (quite a surprise from the pre-season). Week 8 brings in Washington who is a mess at quarterback, likely starting Colt McCoy. Plug in Dallas and reap the benefits.