Brown is still a WR1, but he has a tough matchup on the road against Baltimore
Somehow, it’s November and Week 9 of the fantasy football season. Six teams are on bye this week, and fantasy owners are going to struggle to fill all spots in their lineups. The waiver wire may be your friend, but even that may be picked over a bit by this point. Trading is always an option if the waiver wire is barren.
Fantasy owners need wins. The playoffs are just around the corner and many teams are in the middle of the pack for their league. Wins and points seem more important now than earlier in the season. Obviously fantasy owners try to put their best lineups out there, but every now and then, it may be worth it to take a dart throw on someone and hope for the best.
Please note 5 Up/5 Down is a guide on players that should exceed or fall below their rank this week. This is based on past performance, injury status and matchup. This is not a start/sit column, but rather a guide. You also can see how my Week 8 calls turned out at the bottom.
Teams on bye: Arizona, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Philadelphia
Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
When Mayfield took over the starting job for Cleveland, it looked like he would be fantasy relevant. That hasn’t quite happened just yet. However, the offense is starting to come together somewhat. The matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs is a great one for him. They’ve allowed at least one touchdown in the past four games. Mayfield is ranked No. 13, but he has potential to be a QB1.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, New York Jets
After Bilal Powell went on injured reserve, it seemed there would be more work for Crowell. However, in Week 8, he only had 13 carries for 25 yards. The Jets fell behind and started throwing the ball. Crowell isn’t really involved in the passing game. The good news is Trenton Cannon didn’t step up to earn much more playing time. The Jets face Miami, who allow the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Crowell is ranked No. 24 but could be a high-end RB2 in Week 9.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
Fantasy owners have been waiting for weeks for a good Jones performance. He’s ranked No. 22 for Week 9, but he should exceed that. Ty Montgomery is no longer on the team, which should mean a little bit more work for Jones. He saw a season-high carries (12) and turned those into a season high in yards (86). He also scored a touchdown, and all of this should hopefully pave the way for more touches. The matchup against the New England Patriots is a decent one, and plenty of points should be scored.
DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
Moore had six targets in Week 8 and he caught five of them for 90 yards. He also added 39 rushing yards. His emergence has come with Torrey Smith being sidelined, and it seems he will be out again for Week 9. The Panthers face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which is a great matchup. Cam Newton is the No. 1-ranked quarterback. Moore is ranked No. 27, but he should finish as a WR2. He’s someone to look for on the waiver wire if fantasy owners need a fill-in.
Chris Herndon, TE, New York Jets
Herndon has a touchdown in each of the past three games. It seems a little fluky as his targets and receptions are low. He had two targets in Week 8 and only caught one of those for a touchdown. He did have seven targets in Week 7, but he only caught four of those (although, yes, one was for a touchdown). Sam Darnold does seem to want to throw to him, especially in the red zone. He’s ranked No. 15 but if he can catch another touchdown, he’ll exceed that ranking.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
In the past four weeks, Cleveland has only allowed four touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks. While Mahomes has been hot, the Cleveland defense has been pretty good in its own right. They Browns are giving up the ninth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Mahomes has thrown for four touchdowns in each of the past three games. He is a QB1, but he may not reach his No. 2 ranking.
Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Collins is ranked No. 21, but may finish lower than that. He’s didn't practice on Thursday because of a foot injury so keep any eye on that. Even if he is active on Sunday, the matchup is not in his favor. The Pittsburgh Steelers give up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. They’ve only allowed three to score a rushing touchdown. It’s going to be a tough day for Collins.
Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
It’s always hard to place one of the best receivers in the game on the “5 Down” list. He’s ranked No. 4 this week, but likely won’t finish that high. The Baltimore Ravens allow the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. They have yet to allow a 100-yard game to one. In addition, this game is in Baltimore, and it’s well documented that Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t play nearly as well on the road. Obviously fantasy owners are starting Brown, but just temper expectations.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Diggs is dealing with a rib injury, but he plans to play in Week 9. He had a huge game in Week 8, with 10 receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown. After Adam Thielen fumbled the ball, Diggs was the primary target for Kirk Cousins. The Detroit Lions give up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, but they have allowed two touchdowns to the position in the past three games. Diggs is ranked No. 11, but should finish below that.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
The Rob Gronkowski of 2018 is not living up to his ADP. He has one touchdown on the season (Week 1) and he only has one 100-yard game (Week 1). He’s only had six or more receptions twice so far. Gronkowski has been dealing with ankle and back injuries. He’s missed practice time this past week, although he is fully expected to play on Sunday night. Green Bay has yet to allow a touchdown to an opposing tight end. Gronk is ranked No. 2, but will likely finish lower than that.
Full Disclosure from Week 8
5 Up (3/5 correct)
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears (Ranked: 12, Actual: 9)
Latavius Murray, RB, Minnesota Vikings (Ranked: 20, Actual: 13)
Isaiah Crowell, RB, New York Jets (Ranked: 23, Actual: 38)
Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (Ranked: 17, Actual: 4)
Vance McDonald, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers (Ranked: 13, Actual: 19)
5 Down (4/5 correct)
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots (Ranked: 6, Actual: 20)
David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals (Ranked: 7, Actual: 25)
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants (Ranked: 8, Actual: 12)
Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings (Ranked: 13, Actual: 6)
Eric Ebron, TE, Indianapolis Colts (Ranked: 4, Actual: 8)
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.