Week 9 has the potential to be a tough one for fantasy owners. Six teams are on bye (deep breaths), and that’s going to leave plenty of gaps in rosters. Fantasy owners should be sure to look at their team needs before heading to the wavier wire.
Week 8 did not (thankfully) feature a lot of injuries, so it really will be the teams on bye that will be tough to work around. Or more specifically the players, such as Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr., A.J. Green, Carson Wentz, Andrew Luck, David Johnson, Joe Mixon, T.Y Hilton, Marlon Mack, Larry Fitzgerald, Tyler Boyd, Jacksonville DST… you get the picture.
Teams on bye: Arizona, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Philadelphia
Alex Smith, Washington Redskins (43 percent owned)
Smith hasn’t been throwing for a lot of yards, but he also hasn’t been turning the ball over. In the past three games, he has four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also hasn’t thrown for more than 200 yards in those games. However, he faces the Atlanta Falcons in Week 9. The Falcons have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Smith is a decent fill-in for quarterbacks on bye.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7 percent owned)
The quarterback carousel in Tampa Bay turns again. In Week 8, after throwing four interceptions, Jameis Winston got benched. Fitzpatrick came in and completed 11 of 15 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns. He nearly gave the Bucs a shot to win the game (their defense let them down), and seemed to ignite the offense. Head coach Dirk Koetter has already announced that Fitzpatrick will be the starter for Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers. The possibility of the team switching back to Winston always exists, but treat Fitzpatrick like a high QB2 for now.
Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (46 percent owned)
With Ronald Jones II sidelined with a hamstring injury, Barber has this backfield to himself. However, that’s how it has been for much of the year. In Week 8, Barber had his first rushing touchdown. He tied his season high with carries (19), and had his most rushing yards on the year (85). Overall, Barber has been a disappointment, but with the Bucs trying to figure out what to do on offense, his role may increase. He’s a RB3, but will be a decent fill-in for Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers.
Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams, Philadelphia Eagles (43 percent and 1 percent owned)
When Jay Ajayi tore his ACL, it seemed that Corey Clement would be the main running back with Smallwood coming in on passing downs. However, in Week 8, the lead rusher was Adams. He had nine carries to Smallwood’s eight and Clement’s four. Adams had 61 yards with those carries as well. In the passing game, Smallwood had two receptions on three targets for 42 yards and a touchdown. In PPR leagues, Smallwood is a RB3 and Adams is a speculative add. The Eagles are on bye this week.
Trenton Cannon and Elijah McGuire, New York Jets (9 percent and 6 percent owned)
Bilal Powell is on injured reserve, and Isaiah Crowell can't carry the load by himself. This past Sunday, Cannon had six carries for 10 yards and three receptions for 12 yards. It certainly wasn’t a performance that will get him the No. 2 job. McGuire, meanwhile, has been on IR with the designation to return. He is eligible this week and he resumed practicing last week. Seeing as Cannon didn’t have a great performance, McGuire may be the second back to own for the Jets. Both are deep league stashes.
Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals (30 percent owned)
While Larry Fitzgerald remains the No. 1 receiver for Arizona, Kirk was second in targets with seven. He caught just three of them but they went for 42 yards and a touchdown. Kirk has been seeing plenty of looks from Josh Rosen and should continue to do so. Note that the Cardinals are on a bye in Week 9, but they face the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 10. Kirk should be a WR2 for that matchup.
Keke Coutee, Houston Texans (20 percent owned)
With Will Fuller (torn ACL) now out for the season, Coutee slides in as the No. 2 wideout in Houston. Fantasy owners will need to be sure that the Texans don’t acquire another receiver (trade deadline is 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday), but if they don’t, Coutee should be owned. He missed Week 8 with a hamstring injury, an issue that caused him to miss the first three games as well. However, he was able to get in limited practices, so he might be available for Week 9 vs. Denver. If active, he’s a WR2.
DJ Moore, Carolina Panthers (16 percent owned)
With Torrey Smith out, Moore stepped up in Week 8. He had five receptions for 90 yards, leading the team in receiving yards. His six targets tied Christian McCaffrey for the most on the team. The Panthers face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 9, who have allowed at least one opposing wide receiver to score a touchdown in every game so far this season. Moore should be added as a WR3.
Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos (14 percent owned)
Sutton’s value will skyrocket if either Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders are traded. If neither leave the Broncos, Sutton will just be a WR4. He had three catches for 78 yards in Week 8, the most on the team. He only had four targets, however. The fact that he’s able to produce with his targets is beneficial, but more consistent usage would be nice. Fantasy owners will know the status of the Denver wide receivers before it’s time to enter waiver claims.
DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins (10 percent owned)
Parker is a player to watch as the trade deadline nears. His future with the Dolphins has been a hot topic and yet he went out put up a 6/134/0 stat line in Week 8. Parker played in Week 3, but then missed time due to injury and being a healthy scratch. It’s a gamble to pick him up as a WR3 if he stays in Miami, as it’s not clear how much he will be used. However, he does seem to have a rapport with Brock Osweiler, and with six teams on bye, Parker will likely be a WR3 against the Jets in Week 9.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers (6 percent owned)
The Packers have plenty of weapons for Aaron Rodgers, but MVS has proven that he still has value, even with Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison back. He had the second-most targets on the team (tied with Cobb) with five, but Allison was the only wide receiver to score a touchdown. There are going to be some weeks when he puts up a 1/14/0 stat line (like he did last week), but the upside of being on a Rodgers-led offense means the rookie should be on fantasy benches.
Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts (26 percent owned)
Doyle may have been forgotten as he hasn’t played since Week 2. But he not only came back, he produced with six catches (on seven targets) for 70 yards and a touchdown. In Week 1, he had seven receptions for 60 yards. Doyle is clearly the preferred tight end, but Eric Ebron isn’t going away. However, Doyle should be more than 26 percent owned. Note that the Colts are on bye in Week 9, so he can’t help fantasy owners in need of a TE replacement. However, he may be available as a free agent and can be picked up after waivers run. The Colts face the Jaguars in Week 10.
Chris Herndon, New York Jets (6 percent owned)
Herndon is a desperation add at tight end. He has touchdowns in the past three games, but his Week 8 score came on the only reception he had in the game. A 1/16/1 stat line isn’t exactly going to send fantasy owners running to the waiver wire. However, with Robby Anderson dealing with injuries (he sat out Week 8), Herndon may continue to be involved in the passing offense.
Defense/Special Teams (DST)
Dallas Cowboys (13 percent owned)
Week 9 is tough for DSTs and trying to find good matchups. The Cowboys play the Tennessee Titans on Monday night, and the Titans have been pretty friendly to opposing DSTs. Aside from the 11-sack game in Week 7, the Titans have surrendered 11 sacks in their six other games. They are coming off a bye, but the Cowboys DST should be able to get some fantasy points against them.
— 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 www.buccaneers.com)