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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 9: Cooling on Matty Ice and Other QB/TE/DST Fantasy Advice

Start 'em, Sit 'em Week 1: Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan is coming off of a rough outing and could be in store for another one inside the Superdome against the Saints

Don't look now, but we are well past the halfway point of the regular season for fantasy football. For those of you in alternatives to redraft leagues, your rival owners will start pushing in for this year or playing for next year. You might need those extra couple points, which brings us to the Week 9 start/sit advice for quarterbacks, tight ends, and defense/special teams (DSTs).

Related: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 9 RB/WR Fantasy Advice

As a reminder, I will not be recommending any starts for options that are generally in the top dozen for QB, TE, or DST. Nor will I be recommending any "sits" for those beyond the top two dozen.

Week 9 Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

So don't be a dummy. Use this as a guide when you are deciding between two marginal options. Below are some of the start options I like better than most and sit options I liked less than others.

Teams on bye: Detroit, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Washington


Mac Jones, New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers

Let's start with the matchup. Some might see that Carolina has given up the ninth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and run away. But that is buoyed by last week's poor performance from Matt Ryan (more on that soon) and a run-heavy game plan when the Saints came to town. The Panthers got absolutely scorched by both Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins.

Jones is not at the level of Prescott or even Cousins yet. And the Patriots were content to let the running game put the Chargers away last week. But Jones has improved his decision-making and hasn't thrown a pick since Week 6 against Dallas. It's part of the reason he's been fantasy football's QB14 since Week 4. He has multiple touchdown passes in three of his last four games.

Jones is even starting to run a little more. And the Panthers have allowed the fifth-most rushing TDs per game to quarterbacks this season as well. Jones is not going to be a top-five option this week, but he could certainly crack the top dozen.

Related: Fantasy Football 5 Up, 5 Down for Week 9


Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

At least until Calvin Ridley comes back, I'm jumping off the Ryan train. I like Kyle Pitts, but the rookie cannot carry the Falcons' passing game by himself. Look no further than last week for evidence. Ryan threw two picks with just one touchdown and didn't even throw for 150 yards (146). Obviously, he's not exactly coming in hot.

He's also not exactly having a Pro Bowl-caliber season either. He's managed more than just two TD passes only once this season, four weeks ago against the Washington Football Team. That seems like a distant memory.

And the matchup is not exactly prime this week. The Saints have given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to QBs this season. It's not like Ryan has enjoyed recent success against this division rival. In two games last year, he completed half of his passes for 505 yards and a touchdown.

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I do appreciate that Ryan kept playing last week after having his hand cleated...

But toughness and grit aside, I'm definitely cooling on Matty Ice this week.


Evan Engram, New York Giants vs. Las Vegas Raiders

Engram makes a return appearance here as a TE2 that I would gladly start. He finally got off the shneid last week and scored his first touchdown.

The Raiders are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to TEs this year. Opposing TEs are seeing 10.3 targets per game and hauling in more than seven catches for just under 75 yards. Don't be surprised if Engram also repeats with a touchdown this week.


Dan Arnold, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Buffalo Bills

I could just say don't start any Jags this week, but that would be a little simplistic. Buffalo's defense is absolutely shutting teams down. The Bills have allowed the fewest points, the fifth-fewest rushing yards per game, and more importantly, the fewest passing yards per game.

Their dominance extends to tight ends, against whom they've allowed the third-fewest targets per game and the fifth-fewest receptions. I could add that Arnold last saw 70 yards in a game back in 2019, but this matchup should be enough to keep Arnold out of the top-20 fantasy TE options for Week 9.

START This Defense/Special Teams (DST)

Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers (MNF)

The Steelers' offense seems to be on track. But the fact is that they have scored fewer than 20 points in five of their seven games does not leave me fearing this attack either. Furthermore, Chicago is sixth in the league in sacks, which does not bode well for the cement-footed Ben Roethlisberger.

For Week 9, the Bears are showing up in the same area of the rankings as the Chargers and three AFC North teams. And I like the Bears better than all four of them. Speaking of AFC North defenses...

SIT This Defense/Special Teams (DST)

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

The Browns started the season with a Cover-3 zone, but have moved away from that as the season has progressed. And as they played more man, they have had greater success. But here's the problem  Joe Burrow has eaten man defenses alive. 

According to PFF, Burrow is the third-best quarterback vs. single coverage among 33 qualified signal-callers. Against man defenses, Burrow has notched a dozen touchdown passes and just three picks. He's averaging 11.1 yards per attempt, No. 1 in the league. The Browns' pass defense could be in for a long day.

While Cleveland's run defense has been pretty stingy this year, Joe Mixon has held his own against the Browns over his career, averaging 93 rushing yards per game. Mixon is currently fourth in the league in rushing and tied for fifth in touchdowns on the ground. Not quite dominant, but still pretty gosh darn good.

On the plus side, the Cleveland DST has provided some value due to a high sack total (22, 3rd in NFL). However, the Browns have generated a total of five takeaways this season. This DST is typically ranked just a few spots outside of the top dozen options for Week 9. Leave the Browns there.

— 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.