Fantasy football sit-and-start advice should always be relative and league-dependent. Note that some players are targeted for DFS. Good luck with your Week 9 lineups!
Start: Joshua Palmer, Marcus Mariota
Palmer gets a big boost this week with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams both likely sidelined (and with Austin Ekeler and Donald Parham also dealing with injuries). Now cleared from concussion protocol, Palmer gets a matchup indoors with one of the week’s highest totals (49.5 points) against a Falcons defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to receivers. Atlanta also ranks last both in pressure rate on the season and in DVOA over the last month.
Mariota is getting 8.0 YPA while averaging 35.0 rushing yards this season, although a high Falcons run rate and lack of volume hurts his fantasy upside. He can be started this week, though, in a fast-paced matchup at home against a middling Chargers defense still missing Joey Bosa.
Start: Raheem Mostert, Justin Fields
The Bears admittedly have played far better defense at home this season, but Chicago recently traded Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn. The Bears rank 28th in run defense DVOA and have the highest run rate against them this season. Newcomer Jeff Wilson is unlikely to steal too many snaps right away, and Mostert is getting 5.1 YPC on the road.
Health is always a major concern, but Mostert should start scoring more touchdowns given his red-zone work and having a quarterback leading the league in YPA.
Fields has officially turned the corner and is starting to figure it out; he’s gotten 7.9 YPA while averaging 65.8 rush yards over the last five games, with four coming on the road. He’s on pace to run for more than 900 yards while finishing with the second-most rush attempts by a QB in NFL history. Fields has been the QB6 over the last month, and his schedule is about to get a lot more favorable.
This week the Bears face a pass-funnel Miami defense allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. With Chase Claypool also added as a new weapon through a trade, Fields should be treated as a top-10 fantasy QB moving forward — and as a top-five option this week.
Moore has a 39.1 percent target share when he’s experienced far more accurate quarterback play and more time out of the slot. He’s been a top-10 fantasy WR during both games without Robbie Anderson and Christian McCaffrey the last two weeks. Moore led the league in air yards last week and also leads the NFL in air yardage share and first-down target rate over the last month. He remains undervalued in DFS this week facing a Bengals secondary dealing with multiple injuries.
Mixon has been one of the least efficient backs this season, but he leads the league in carries inside the 10 and is on pace to beat his previous career high in catches by nearly 30. He’s set to get a ton of work Sunday with Ja’Marr Chase still sidelined and with the Bengals 7.5-point favorites.
Mixon scored 10 touchdowns at home last season and is due to hit paydirt Sunday.
Start in DFS: Aaron Jones ($26), Amon-Ra St. Brown ($26)
Jones had a season-high in carries (20) and rush yards (143) last week, getting 7.2 YPC against a Buffalo run defense that entered allowing just 3.5 YPC and an NFL-low 52.8 rush yards per game. He forced a career-high 13 missed tackles against the No. 1 ranked run defense in DVOA and now leads the NFL in avoided tackle rate.
This week the Packers get a much different Lions defense yielding 5.1 YPC, 13 rushing touchdowns and the third-most fantasy points to running backs this season. Detroit also sports one of the league’s highest run rates against over the last month and has averaged easily the most combined points during games this year. Jones’ DFS salary isn’t among the top-five running backs, but he has a strong argument to be the top-ranked fantasy RB this week given the matchup (and with six teams on bye).
St. Brown was back playing full snaps last week after returning from ankle/concussion issues. He’s now set to see increased targets with T.J. Hockenson traded to Minnesota and D’Andre Swift still reportedly far from full strength. The Lions are averaging 3.3 more touchdowns per game when playing at home this season, and Jared Goff is due for more passing scores with just one over the last three games; comparatively, Jamaal Williams has the second-most rushing touchdowns (eight) without surpassing 20 carries in any game this season.
The Sun God was a fantasy monster down the stretch last year when Detroit was without Hockenson and Swift and was one of the most valuable fantasy players before suffering an ankle injury in Week 3. St. Brown’s DFS salary might not be lower than this for years to come.
Start in DFS: Josh Jacobs ($32), Travis Etienne ($27)
There’s some concern with just how poorly the Raiders’ offense has performed on the road this season, but Jacobs has seen his YPC actually increase to 5.9 away from home. There’s also a real chance Jacksonville is sluggish having just played in London the previous week.
Jacobs is coming off a disastrous fantasy performance thanks to game script but had totaled 523 yards and six touchdowns over the previous three games. The Raiders are (slight) favorites Sunday against a Jaguars defense allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs this season, including the third-most catches and receiving yards per game to the position.
Etienne wasted no time last week taking over Jacksonville’s backfield after the team traded away James Robinson, running for 154 yards against a Broncos defense that ranks No. 1 in DVOA (Josh Jacobs is fittingly the only other RB to top 75 rushing yards versus Denver this season). More targets would be nice, but ETN was among the RB leaders in route involvement last week when he also had the second-most touches in the red zone. His DFS salary will soon be much higher.
Start: Deon Jackson
Start in DFS: Rhamondre Stevenson ($23)
Jackson was the No. 1 PPR back in Week 6 when he secured all 10 targets during the only start of his career. He might get another chance Sunday with Jonathan Taylor aggravating his ankle injury and Nyheim Hines traded to Buffalo, making Jackson a top-15 fantasy RB and hard to pass in Yahoo DFS at the minimum $10. The Colts had a season-low neutral pass rate during Sam Ehlinger’s first start last week, and while the Patriots are hardly a favorable matchup, Jackson could feasibly see a ton of dump-offs Sunday.
Damien Harris has missed practice with an illness this week, but Stevenson has taken over New England’s backfield regardless. He’s secured all 15 targets (mostly from Mac Jones) over the last two weeks, fully embracing New England’s passing-down role. Game script should be favorable with the Patriots 5.5-point home favorites and Bill Belichick facing a rookie quarterback. Stevenson should be treated as a top 5-10 RB moving forward and is way undervalued in DFS this week.
Fade in DFS: Devin Singletary ($16)
Sit: All Jets
Singletary is sure to lose passing-down work after the Bills traded for Nyheim Hines (James Cook can be cut from fantasy rosters), and this week he gets a sneaky tough matchup. The Jets have allowed the fewest yards per play in the NFL over the last three weeks and the third-fewest YPP at home this season. New York’s defense also ranks No. 3 in DVOA since Week 4 and has ceded the second-fewest YPC (3.8) this season, so Singletary is a DFS fade this week.
The Jets have a timeshare backfield, Elijah Moore has gone missing and Zach Wilson is a real problem. Meanwhile, Buffalo’s defense has allowed the fourth-lowest EPA/play and is bottom-five in fantasy points allowed to both quarterbacks and running backs this season. New York has the second-lowest implied team total (17.3 points) among all teams this week.
Start: Kirk Cousins, Terry McLaurin
Cousins is getting just 5.9 YPA with a 4:4 TD:INT ratio over three games on the road this season, but he gets a favorable matchup this week against a pass-funnel defense. Washington ranks 28th against the pass and second versus the run in DVOA. Expect Justin Jefferson to reach the end zone for the first time since Week 1.
McLaurin has seen his target rate jump from 15.9% with Carson Wentz to 25.0% with Taylor Heinicke this season, a connection that dates back to last year. Jahan Dotson likely remains out this week in a matchup against a Vikings secondary that’s been gashed for the most fantasy points to McLaurin’s primary side this season (and over the last month).
Start: Geno Smith
Start in DFS: DeAndre Hopkins ($29)
Smith is getting 8.9 YPA with eight touchdowns over four road games this season. This week he gets an inviting Arizona defense allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in a fast-paced matchup that should produce a bunch of plays.
Hopkins has racked up a 27-22-262-1 line over two games since returning from suspension, leading the league in catches and yards while ranking second in target share (37.5%). He leads the NFL in air yards per game while also benefitting from finally moving around the line of scrimmage and seeing time in the slot.
This week the Cardinals face a fast-improving Seahawks defense that actually ranks first in DVOA since Week 6, but volume should remain; Seattle’s defense ranks top-10 in EPA/rush but nearly bottom-five in EPA/pass allowed this season. D-Hop should continue to be targeted among the highest rates in the league with Marquise Brown out, and his DFS salary isn’t priced as a top-five WR in a matchup with one of the highest totals (49.5 points) of the week.
Los Angeles Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sit: All Rams running backs & Matthew Stafford
Start: Bucs D/ST
LA’s backfield looks like a complete stay-away over the rest of the season as a three-headed committee (that might get Cam Akers back too) with a badly struggling offensive line. The Rams may attempt to run more than usual Sunday with Cooper Kupp battling a swollen ankle, but Tampa Bay has ceded the sixth-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season.
The Bucs’ defense has been struggling of late, but their secondary is getting healthier in a favorable home matchup this week. The defending Super Bowl champs are getting the second-fewest yards per play this season (only the Steelers have been worse), and Matthew Stafford has somehow already been pressured as many times as he did all last season in 10 fewer games. Stafford is getting just 6.8 YPA with more picks than scores while playing through an elbow injury this season, when he’s yet to throw a touchdown on the road. The Bucs are a top-five fantasy D/ST this week.
Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs
Sit: All Titans but Derrick Henry
Start: Chiefs D/ST
Either a hobbled Ryan Tannehill playing through an ankle injury he’s rushing back from or a raw Malik Willis who attempted just one pass in the second half last week will be starting against a Kansas City defense that’s top-10 in pressure rate. The Chiefs are 12.5-point home favorites (Andy Reid off a bye!) in primetime, and things could get ugly if Tennessee gets into an uncomfortable game script. KC should be treated as a top-three D/ST this week.
Baltimore Ravens @ New Orleans Saints
Start: Kenyan Drake, Taysom Hill
It’s a bit of a gamble given the Monday night start, but Drake is the favorite to lead Baltimore’s backfield with Gus Edwards dealing with a hamstring injury. Drake saw 44 snaps last week compared to 16 by both Edwards and Justice Hill. Drake has quietly been a top-15 PPR back in two of the past three weeks, and the Ravens will rely on the run with Rashod Bateman out and Mark Andrews banged up (Isaiah Likely is a sleeper TE start this week). Drake has gotten 4.9 YPC and has scored 20 touchdowns over 30 games on turf during his career (compared to 18 TDs over 65 games on grass).
Hill recorded season-highs in carries (10) and routes run (11) last week, posting his own kind of double-double. He’ll remain part of New Orleans’ offense with Michael Thomas ruled out for the season and with Mark Ingram doubtful to play Monday night. Hill is worth starting at a thin tight end position, especially during a week with six teams on bye.