Heading into Week 9, fantasy owners need to pay attention to not only teams on bye and injuries, but players that are being added to the COVID-19 list. Matthew Stafford was added to the list but he may be able to play on Sunday.
Green Bay's running backs and San Francisco's wide receivers are two position groups that have been hammered by COVID protocols and could cause issues for fantasy owners this week. Other teams are still reporting cases, so be sure to pay attention to any more developments as we move towards Sunday. As always, start your studs and hope for the best.
Teams on bye: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia
START These RBs
JaMycal Hasty, San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers (Thurs.)
With all three starting wide receivers (Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne) out for Week 9's game against Green Bay, the 49ers are going to have to look for some offense somewhere. Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert are injured, so the offense is going to rely on Nick Mullens (replacing an injured Jimmy Garoppolo), Hasty, Jerick McKinnon, and... your guess is as good as mine. The Packers have been the most generous defense to opposing running backs this season. Dalvin Cook just gashed them for 163 rushing yards and three touchdowns along with another 63 and a score through the air for good measure. Hasty may be a sneaky start in Week 9.
Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals vs. Miami Dolphins
Kenyan Drake looks to miss this game because of the ankle injury he suffered in Week 7 (prior to the bye week). Fantasy owners may have hoped that Drake would be able to play following the bye, but he didn't practice on Wednesday. The Cardinals face the Dolphins, which is a defense that is favorable to opposing running backs. If Drake is out, Edmonds should be a lot of touches. He had 58 rushing yards and seven receptions for 87 yards in Week 7 and will be a solid RB1 if Drake is out or limited.
SIT These RBs
Wayne Gallman, New York Giants at Washington Football Team
If you have to start a Giants running back, Gallman is the guy. However, the best case is to not start a Giants running back. Dion Lewis will be used in obvious passing situations (and apparently for two-point conversions). It seems likely that this game will either be close or Washington leading, which doesn't bode well for Gallman. He's not used much as a receiver. As a runner, he's not the most efficient: 3.4 and 3.7 yards per carry in the past two games. He has scored touchdowns, which has kept him fantasy relevant, but if possible, the Giants running backs should be on fantasy benches.
Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts vs. Baltimore Ravens
Taylor was expected to have a big game in Week 8. Instead, it was Jordan Wilkins who thrived. At the time it was unclear what happened, but head coach Frank Reich confirmed this week that Taylor is dealing with an ankle injury. That may somewhat explain his 22 rushing yards and two receptions for nine yards in the blowout win over the Lions. The Colts face the Ravens on Sunday, which is a tough matchup (although Baltimore's defense could be depleted by COVID-19), and fantasy owners should be wary about starting Taylor. He and Wilkins are both on the injury report, but both are expected to be active. Wilkins was a hot waiver wire pickup, but the running back to get the most carries in Week 9 is anyone's guess. The safest option is to leave Taylor on the bench.
START These WRs
Marvin Jones Jr., Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons
Hopefully, Matthew Stafford can get cleared and come off of the COVID-19 list prior to kickoff, as this will definitely help Jones' case. Kenny Golladay is injured, and Jones should see more targets as a result. In Week 8, Jones had two touchdowns on three catches. These were both red-zone touchdowns, which bodes well for his fantasy value in the future if Golladay is out and Stafford is active. If Stafford doesn't play, Chase Daniel will likely get the start at quarterback. While clearly not as good as Stafford, Daniel is still capable of getting the ball to Jones against the Vikings' susceptible secondary.
Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills vs. Seattle Seahawks
The Bills face the Seahawks, who allow the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Josh Allen is in need of a bounce-back game, and this could be it. John Brown has been banged up and missed Week 7 as a result. He was ineffective in Week 8 and has already missed practice leading into this game. Seattle has given up big games to opposing No. 1 wide receivers this season, and this could be Diggs' opportunity. He hasn't scored since Week 6, although he did have 92 yards this past Sunday.
SIT These WRs
Darius Slayton, New York Giants at Washington Football Team
On Sunday, the Giants will face Washington for the second time in three weeks. In Week 6, Slayton had two receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown. Sterling Shepard did not play in that game. Now, with Shepard back and commanding targets, Slayton's value drops. Washington is the stingiest in terms of fantasy points allowed to WRs, and the Giants cannot support two solid fantasy starters on a weekly basis. Shepard is the Giant wideout to start this week.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts vs. Baltimore Ravens
Hilton left this past Sunday's game with a groin injury and did not practice on Wednesday. The team appears to be optimistic about his status, but fantasy owners shouldn't. The Colts face the Ravens in Week 9, which is a tough matchup to start. A banged-up Hilton is a tough start for fantasy owners. He has yet to have a 100-yard game or a touchdown this season. Even if he's active, odds are that streak continues into Week 9.
— 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.
(Top photo courtesy of azcardinals.com)