As we approach Week 9 of the fantasy football season, bye weeks continue to have an impact on fantasy lineups. Andy Dalton, Tom Brady and Kirk Cousins are all taking the week off, so you may need to look to the waiver wire if you don't have a capable backup QB sitting on your bench.
But before we discuss which QBs (and DSTs) you should start or sit this week, let’s see how my Week 8 advice panned out.
Start Jameis Winston (18.8 FP) – He should have had an even bigger day at home against the Raiders.
Start Andy Dalton (19.46 FP) – Dalton’s rushing touchdown really helped to salvage his day.
Sit Philip Rivers (12.68 FP) – Any QB going up against Denver in Denver needs to be benched.
Start Russell Wilson (9.22 FP) – Wilson can’t run like he used to and hasn’t thrown a TD in his last three games.
Sit Dak Prescott (27.28 FP) – The Cowboys look really good with Prescott running the offense.
Teams on bye: Arizona, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, New England, Washington
START THESE QBS...
Marcus Mariota, TEN (at SD)
After a brutal start to the season, Mariota has quietly been a QB1 over the last month, finishing No. 1, No. 4, No. 11 and No. 10 among quarterbacks (ESPN standard scoring) over the last four weeks, respectively. Up next for the surging second-year player is the San Diego Chargers, who have been defending the pass well recently but also have faced Trevor Siemian twice in the last three weeks. Either way, Mariota is simply playing too well to bench right now, especially in a game with the fourth-highest over/under (48.5) of the week.
Dak Prescott, DAL (at CLE)
For the first time all season, the Browns held an opposing quarterback to fewer than two touchdowns, but that was more Ryan Fitzpatrick holding Ryan Fitzpatrick to fewer than two touchdowns. This is still a defense that you want to target (even after Cleveland shockingly acquired Jamie Collins from New England on Monday), and while Prescott is coming off his second-least efficient game of the season, he has turned in four top-12 QB finishes (ESPN standard scoring) in his last five weeks, and now he has what appears to be a healthy Dez Bryant back at his disposal. Already named the Week 9 starter, he's an easy QB1 against the Browns.
Philip Rivers, SD (vs. TEN)
Rivers has struggled in recent weeks, failing to score 15 fantasy points in each of his last three games. I do like him to rebound this week, however, as the Titans come to town in what could be a barnburner. Over the last two games, Tennessee has allowed 29.7 fantasy points to Blake Bortles and almost 28 to Andrew Luck in Week 7.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Ryan Tannehill, MIA (vs. NYJ)
If you're in need at the quarterback position with six teams on bye, Tannehill is a viable streamer based on a matchup against the Jets. New York's defense has allowed five different quarterbacks to score 17-plus fantasy points, and four of those went for more than 20. That includes Josh McCown just last weekend.
SIT THESE QBs...
Russell Wilson, SEA (vs. BUF, Mon.)
In the last two seasons, Wilson had five total games in which he was held to fewer than 20 rushing yards. This year, he's been under that threshold in all seven games, compiling a mere 44 total yards on the ground. The various injuries have very clearly limited his elite mobility and elusiveness, and it's really crushing his fantasy value, as he has finished as the No. 22 QB or worse (ESPN standard scoring) in five of seven weeks. Fresh off failing to take advantage of a near-perfect spot against the Saints inside the Superdome, Wilson has to go up against a Bills defense that hasn't given up multiple passing touchdowns to any QB not named Tom Brady.
Eli Manning, NYG (vs. PHI)
It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what is ailing Manning after the first seven games of the 2016 season, but it doesn’t take expert analysis to observe that this offense isn’t even close to clicking on all cylinders. This offense is devoid of weapons outside of Odell Beckham Jr., and the Giants' miserable rushing attack hasn’t made teams pay that are sitting back in the secondary to take him away. Coming off three single-digit fantasy games in his last four, Manning won’t be a viable starter this week against an Eagles defense that’s allowed just eight TD passes all season.
Matthew Stafford, DET (at MIN)
Things are heading in the wrong direction for Stafford’s chances at maintaining QB1 status as we head into November. After throwing for three or more touchdowns in four of his first six games, the former No. 1 overall pick has thrown just two over his last two games, and hasn’t topped 270 yards since Week 3. That downward trend isn’t going to fix itself in Week 9 on the road against a Vikings defense that’s allowed multiple passing touchdowns in just one game, and the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs this season.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Derek Carr, OAK (vs. DEN)
I know, I know. Carr put together an historic performance last week, and if you started him, you likely came away with a victory. However, it's worth noting that he has been a bit of a roller coaster this year – three top-5 QB finishes and three weeks outside the top 20 – and could face another dip with this brutal matchup. The Broncos are holding opposing quarterbacks – a list that includes Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers twice – to 183.9 passing yards per game, 5.7 yards per attempt and a 6:8 TD:INT ratio through eight games. In other words, avoid this defense at all costs.
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs...
Kansas City Chiefs (vs. JAC)
The Chiefs DST is on fire, scoring double-digit fantasy points in each of the last three games. I like that trend to continue against turnover-prone quarterback Blake Bortles and the Jaguars, who have been a positive matchup for DSTs. In fact, two of the last three opposing units have scored seven or more fantasy points.
Philadelphia Eagles (at NYG)
The Eagles managed to score just three fantasy points in a loss to the Cowboys. This week’s matchup is much better, though, as Philadelphia travels to New York to face a Giants offense that's had its share of problems. Due in part to Eli Manning's turnover issues, the Eagles are worth a look.
SIT THESE DSTs...
Buffalo Bills (at SEA, Mon.)
The Bills field the fifth-ranked DST based on fantasy points, but this unit has scored a combined seven points in the last three contests. While Russell Wilson has struggled all season long, DSTs have still averaged fewer than six fantasy points when facing Seattle. I'd keep Buffalo on the fantasy sidelines.
Dallas Cowboys (at CLE)
You might think a road game in Cleveland is a good matchup for the Cowboys, but that's not the case this week. Dallas has lost important defensive backs Barry Church and Morris Claiborne to injuries, and the return of Josh McCown makes the Browns' offense a lot more formidable than it was under Cody Kessler. Beware Big D.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.