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.