Before we get into my Week 9 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em fantasy suggestions for running backs and wide receivers, let's take a look back on the advice I offered for Week 8.
The Philadelphia Eagles' running game had a huge day, but unfortunately, we found out after the fact that Kenneth Gainwell was in the doghouse. So big miss on that one. But depending on your thresholds I probably hit on the rest of my starting recommendations (D'Andre Swift, Jerry Jeudy, and Justin Jefferson) as well as the sits (Cordarrelle Patterson and Nick Chubb, Jaylen Waddle and Adam Thielen).
However, teams are starting to clinch playoff spots in fantasy leagues, deciding to play for next year, and make dramatic roster changes depending on their team's bye situation.
This makes your start/sit decisions critical. So with all that in mind, let's take a look at some options for this week.
Teams on bye: Detroit, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Washington
START These RBs
AJ Dillon, Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs
We start this week with a player most have ranked in the third dozen who I think can crack the top 25 RBs this week. Kansas City is tied for third in terms of most rushing TDs given up and is seventh in yards on the ground. Dillion is obviously behind Aaron Jones, but with Aaron Rodgers out this week, I would not be surprised to see the Packers run the ball 30-40 times, if given the opportunity.
I know those who have Jones on their team (including me) don't want to hear this, but Dillon looked great last week. Against a decent Arizona defense, he ran 16 times for 78 or about 4.9 yards per carry. Dillon is not going to supplant Jones this year as GreeN Bay's No. 1 back, but he's going to be the Nyheim Hines-lite to Jones' pursuit of being Jonathan Taylor. But as we saw on Thursday night, in a great matchup, two RBs can provide plenty of fantasy points.
Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders vs. New York Giants
Jacobs has a touchdown in three straight games and the Giants are giving up the seventh-most fantasy points to RBs.
If nothing else, I give Jacobs props for his Techno-Bowl awareness and fashion sense:
Even better, I'd bet on Jacobs scoring a TD four weeks in a row.
SIT These RBs
Cordarelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans
Yup, I'm returning to the well as Patterson had a receiving TD to salvage his miserable fantasy day, rushing for just 35 yards or not even four yards per carry on his nine attempts.
But he could be in even tougher sledding this week because New Orleans' defense is better than Carolina's. While the Panthers had the benefit of facing the Jets and Texans early in the season, the Saints have not. Yet New Orleans is still allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to RBs.
It's nice that Patterson has more than 43 percent of the Falcons' TDs this season, which is the highest percentage of any player. He also has some decent value in DFS this week. But he's a top-20 RB this week at best and I wouldn't be surprised if he barely cracks the top 30.
Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers (MNF)
A couple of factors here. One, I think Justin Fields is starting to look really good, especially with his legs at least:
So Herbert might see more and more rushing TDs vultured by Fields. Secondly, the Steelers have been pretty stingy against opposing RBs. They are giving up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the position. It's not so much the yardage, but they are keeping backs out of the end zone. Pittsburgh is allowing the fifth-fewest touchdowns to RBs.
And I'm not sure Herbert will get enough carries, especially when Damien Williams got the start last week. However, Williams got hurt and Herbert might see one more week of starting with David Montgomery reportedly due back next week. The bigger concern is that this game will likely be played at a very slow pace. The books agree, which is why it has an over/under of just 39 points. That's not only the lowest total of the week, but one of the lowest over/unders of the year.
It's just safer to stay away. Give me both of the running backs in the Arizona-San Francisco game (among others) over Herbert.
START These WRs
Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Chicago Bears (MNF)
I know, I just finished telling you about the low over/under. But it is a low over/under, not a TD-less game. And I think Claypool can have sneaky value this week. The Bears are giving up the fourth-most fantasy points to WRs this year. I know Claypool only has one touchdown this season, but I think he catches a ball in the end zone or takes it there on Monday night.
Van Jefferson, Los Angeles Rams vs. Tennessee Titans (SNF)
Last week Jefferson was a deeper league pick, but he's now often being found in the WR3 range. And I like him a lot again this week, especially with DeSean Jackson wanting to take his talents elsewhere.
The Rams/Titans game meanwhile has the highest over/under of the week with the Rams projected to score more than 30 points. I think we can count on the Rams for at least four touchdowns this week and don't be surprised if one of them goes to Jefferson. Even if it doesn't, Jefferson is contributing in other statistical areas. Despite leaving the game with an injury and not coming back until the Rams had the game out of hand, Jefferson still saw six targets which he converted into 88 receiving yards.
Now add in the fact that the Titans are being burned by opposing WRs for a whopping, league-worst nearly 48 PPR points per game, and Jefferson is an easy WR3 choice this week.
SIT These WRs
Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers
I know Carolina is struggling, but the Panthers still have one of the better pass defenses in the league. Despite being the Patriots' target leader, Meyers has yet to score. He does have a couple of two-point conversions to his credit. But in their last three games, New England has a pass/run ratio of just about 50/50 — the second-lowest pass percentage in the league.
No thanks on any New England WR and that includes Meyers.
DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
With regards to Arizona, I believe Al Pacino said it best...
There is something wrong here, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Why has Nuk not yet put up even 90 receiving yards in a game? At this point last year he had five 100-yard games already. How can he have so few yards?
He's still leading the Cardinals in targets, but he only got two last week while missing large chunks of the game. Antoine Wesley (don't be embarrassed if you don't know who that is) saw more targets than Hopkins did last week.
Of course, if you were watching that game it was reported that Hopkins re-aggravated his hamstring injury and re-entered the game late without clearance from the sideline. So this is definitely something to keep an eye on, especially with the word coming out on Friday that Hopkins and Kyler Murray will both be game-time decisions on Sunday after neither practiced at all this week. Given this information, it seems pretty obvious that you need to look at other options (for both) and be prepared to pivot to someone else, especially since this is one of the late-afternoon games.
— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.