Fantasy football sit-and-start advice should always be relative and league-dependent. Note that some players are targeted for DFS. Good luck with your Week 9 lineups!
Minnesota Vikings @ Atlanta Falcons
Sit: Alexander Mattison
Start: Kyle Pitts
Mattison returned to leading Minnesota’s backfield last week but got just 1.9 YPC against a bad Green Bay run defense while losing a short score to Cam Akers. Mattison ranks 58th out of 61 qualified backs in rush yards over expectation this season (Akers ranks last). The Falcons have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to running backs and are the only defense yet to cede a rushing score to the position. With fifth-round rookie Jaren Hall making his first career NFL start at QB, the Vikings’ offense (still missing Justin Jefferson) could struggle. Only Arizona and Chicago have lower implied team point totals than Minnesota this week.
Pitts leads all tight ends in air yards this season and should see an upgrade at quarterback with Taylor Heinicke replacing Desmond Ridder. He should also see extra targets this week as Drake London has been ruled out with a groin injury. The Vikings have been a tough matchup for opposing running backs, and the Falcons’ offense performs better at home.
Seattle Seahawks @ Baltimore Ravens
Sit: Tyler Lockett
Start: Gus Edwards
Lockett is averaging his fewest yards per game (52.9) since 2017 while playing through a hamstring injury. Seattle also has more options on offense this year with rookies Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Zach Charbonnet (who’s become a real threat to Kenneth Walker). The Seahawks get a tough matchup against a Ravens defense allowing the fewest fantasy points over expected to wide receivers. Geno Smith has the No. 1 Passer Rating versus zone but ranks 31st against man — a coverage the Ravens use frequently (12th-highest rate in the league).
Edwards isn’t going to be a top-three fantasy back every week like he’s been the last two, but he’s looking at 15+ touches a game in a highly valuable role. The Ravens have the third-highest implied team point total this week at home, where Lamar Jackson is getting 9.1 YPA this season. Seattle has an impressive young secondary, so Baltimore may rely on Edwards in the red zone once again Sunday.
Arizona Cardinals @ Cleveland Browns
Sit: All Cardinals
Start: Amari Cooper
Rookie Clayton Tune will make his first NFL start at quarterback for Arizona. The Cardinals go on the road to play an early game against a Browns defense allowing an NFL-low 3.6 yards per play at home (0.5 yards fewer than the next lowest). Emari Demercado is out, while Trey McBride gets a Cleveland defense yielding the fewest fantasy points to tight ends.
The Browns will try to win with defense and their three running backs, but Cooper remains a fine fantasy start even with the question mark at QB (Deshaun Watson is set to return in Week 9). He ranks fifth in air yards, top 20 in target share this season and gets a beatable Arizona secondary. The Browns have a healthy implied team point total, and Cooper has performed far better at home throughout his career.
Los Angeles Rams @ Green Bay Packers
Start: Darrell Henderson Jr.
Sit: Christian Watson
With Brett Rypien expected to start at quarterback, the Rams will want to go run-heavy Sunday. Los Angeles already had the lowest pass rate over expectation over the last three weeks even with a healthy Matthew Stafford. The Packers’ struggling offense will likely oblige, and their defense is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs. Henderson and even teammate Royce Freeman can be started in fantasy leagues if needed.
Watson is sure to have some spike weeks over the rest of the season, but it’s clear his fantasy value took a big hit going from Aaron Rodgers to Jordan Love. Watson has struggled and seen his target rate drop versus zone this season, a coverage the Rams use at the league’s fifth-highest rate. The Rams’ secondary has exceeded expectations, allowing the third-fewest touchdowns to wide receivers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Houston Texans
Start: Cade Otton, Nico Collins
With the improving Texans defense playing the run much better recently and having allowed just two touchdowns to wide receivers all season, Otton is a deeper fantasy sleeper this week. Houston is yielding the fifth-fewest points to perimeter receivers but has been vulnerable over the middle. The Texans have ceded the eighth-most fantasy points to tight ends when schedule-adjusted this year.
C.J. Stroud should bounce back after a down game and against a Tampa Bay defense that struggles to pressure the passer. Collins has faced a couple of the league’s tougher corners over the last three weeks and is averaging 131.3 receiving yards while scoring all three of his touchdowns at home this season. Tampa Bay is allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs, and Dameon Pierce is out. Fire up Collins in fantasy lineups this week.
Washington Commanders @ New England Patriots
Start: Terry McLaurin, Mac Jones
McLaurin has racked up 32 targets over the last three weeks and should be busy again Sunday. New England is easier to pass against than run, and only the Chiefs have a higher pass rate over expectation than the Commanders this season. With a struggling Washington defense trading away Chase Young and Montez Sweat, this matchup could turn higher scoring than anticipated.
Demario Douglas is a PPR sleeper, while Jones is a sneaky QB start in a week the position’s tier takes a big drop after the top nine. Jones plays better at home, will get LT Trent Brown back and throws to his tight ends and backs enough to offset the loss of Kendrick Bourne. Washington has allowed an NFL-high 18 passing touchdowns and the most fantasy points to quarterbacks by a mile. That remains true when schedule-adjusted and removing QB rushing, and that was before the defense lost Young and Sweat. Jones has a highly favorable matchup this week.
Chicago Bears @ New Orleans Saints
Start: DJ Moore
Start in DFS: Alvin Kamara ($31)
Moore has seen fewer downfield targets since Justin Fields went down, but Bagent Zero’s numbers would’ve looked a lot different last week if not for mistakes by the refs and his wide receiver costing him two long touchdowns. Moore is going to see a lot of shadow coverage from Marshon Lattimore, who’s helped New Orleans allow the fewest fantasy points to DJM’s primary side this season. But Moore leads the NFL by a wide margin in yards per route run versus man — a coverage he’ll see heavily this week. Ultimately, Moore is a fine fantasy start playing indoors — and likely, mostly, from behind.
Kamara has relied on volume over efficiency this season unlike the rest of his career, but fantasy managers aren’t complaining. He leads all RBs in expected fantasy points per game and somehow has seven more receptions than any other running back despite missing the first three games of the season. Kamara gets to play indoors this week against a Bears defense allowing the most receiving yards and the most receiving touchdowns to running backs this year. The Saints are more than touchdown home favorites and have one of the highest implied team totals this week, making Kamara a top DFS option.
Indianapolis Colts @ Carolina Panthers
Start in DFS: Jonathan Taylor ($27), Chuba Hubbard ($16)
Taylor had 94 rushing yards at halftime last week, and then oddly saw just one carry afterward. Shane Steichen explained the lack of usage as a product of game flow, but it’s safe to expect a correction in Week 9. Zack Moss continues to play well and will take touches but expect a heavier workload from Taylor moving forward. He finally has his legs under him after getting a late start to the season, and don’t forget — this is one of the three best running backs in football.
Taylor gets a Panthers defense this week allowing the second-most fantasy points to running backs, the second-most rushing touchdowns and by far the most EPA/rush. Colts’ matchups are averaging the most combined snaps per game, so Taylor is a strong DFS play in Week 9.
Hubbard acted as Carolina’s clear lead back coming out of the team’s bye and with a new play-caller last week. He had 15 carries to just two for Miles Sanders, who returned healthy but saw limited snaps and ran the wrong route on a fourth down. Hubbard has been the better back all season while ranking top 10 in rush yards over expectation and more than doubling Sanders’ broken-tackle rate. Hubbard also led the league with three carries inside the five-yard line last week, when he finished top 10 in RB fantasy usage. Hubbard gets a shaky Colts run defense allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs and an NFL-high 15 rushing touchdowns. He’ll also benefit from a clearly improving Bryce Young moving forward.
Also, for those playing DFS, Adam Thielen has seen his target rate fall from 33.8% against zone down to 21.2% versus man, a coverage the Colts use at the league’s second-highest rate.
New York Giants @ Las Vegas Raiders
Start in DFS: Saquon Barkley ($30), Davante Adams ($21)
Barkley led the NFL in rushing yards (128) last week despite his team finishing with the fewest passing yards (-9) in NFL history. He saw a whopping 41 opportunities and has moved to second among running backs in expected fantasy points per game. New York’s offense should get a boost with the return of (a hopefully healthier) Daniel Jones as well as tackles Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal.
The Giants get a Raiders defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs and the second-most EPA/rush. Barkley is a building block on a DFS slate missing many of the usual top options.
Adams remains one of the league’s best receivers and should benefit from Las Vegas cleaning house. A new coach and play-caller can’t hurt, and the same could be said about Jimmy Garoppolo being benched. Aidan O’Connell was a sack machine during his first start but impressed during the preseason. It's a small sample, but Adams has a 25% target share from AO'C this season compared to 12% for Jakobi Meyers.
The Raiders get a home matchup against a Giants defense that’s been defending the run far better lately. Adams has a whopping 38.0% target rate when facing man, a coverage New York uses at the league’s second-highest rate. Expect 10+ targets for a frustrated Adams, who’s undervalued with a DFS salary falling outside the top-10 wide receivers.
Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
Start in DFS: CeeDee Lamb ($35), A.J. Brown ($34)
The Cowboys came out of their bye using far more motion and finally made Lamb the focal point of their offense. It resulted in their best performance of the season. He led all receivers with a 41% target share and scored twice against a Rams secondary that hadn’t allowed a touchdown to a receiver since Week 1. Considering how well Dallas played, and how disappointing Tony Pollard and Michael Gallup have looked, Lamb figures to continue to be targeted heavily moving forward.
He gets a favorable matchup this week against a pass-funnel Eagles defense that’s the toughest in the league against the run but allows the most fantasy points to wide receivers. Opponents are also averaging the second-most pass attempts versus Philadelphia this season. Lamb is a strong DFS building block in Week 9.
The Cowboys are a tough matchup on paper but one that could dictate a bunch of targets for Brown this week. This game should be very fast-paced and sets up well for Brown. He’s getting the third-most yards per route run versus man, a coverage the Cowboys use at the league’s third-highest rate.
Brown’s target rate also jumps to 39.2% while scoring the most fantasy points per route run against man this season. He’s also getting an absurd 4.29 YPRR (No. 3 out of 146) versus single-high coverage, which Dallas runs 68.6% of the time (second-highest rate). Get your popcorn ready.
Buffalo Bills @ Cincinnati Bengals
Start: Dalton Kincaid, Joe Burrow
Kincaid has finished as a top-10 fantasy tight end each of the last two weeks while taking advantage of a full-time role with Dawson Knox out. Buffalo’s offense has improved using fewer two-TE sets, and it’s going to be hard to keep the rookie off the field when Knox returns. Kincaid gets a Bengals defense this week allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends, so keep him in lineups.
The Bills have limited QB fantasy production this season, but Burrow is back. He looked like a completely different player in Week 8, showing good mobility while ripping apart San Francisco for 8.8 YPA and three scores. Burrow completed a career-high 19 straight passes at one point, finishing with the highest completion percentage ever against San Francisco. The 49ers entered allowing the second-fewest YPA (5.6) in the league.
Burrow took just one fewer snap under center (14) than he did over Weeks 1-6 combined, a sign his calf is feeling much better. It certainly helps having one of the best wide receivers in football and a now-healthy Tee Higgins. The Bengals have one of the league’s highest pass rates over expectation and the second-highest implied team total this week, so start Burrow with confidence.
Los Angeles Chargers @ New York Jets
Sit: Quentin Johnston
Start: Breece Hall
Johnston is more tempting with Joshua Palmer out due to a knee injury, but it's a tough matchup Monday night. The Jets are yielding the fewest yards and fantasy points to perimeter receivers while also allowing an NFL-low one touchdown to wideouts all season. Downgrade Justin Herbert a bit this week as well.
Hall was shut down on the ground last week but remained plenty active as a receiver. His opportunity share has increased each of the last three games, including a season-high last week with the Jets coming off a bye. Hall is ready for a full workload now further removed from knee surgery and with Dalvin Cook no threat to steal touches. Hall has the fourth-most breakaway runs this season despite having just the 29th-most carries. He’s getting 6.0 YPC at home and faces a Chargers defense allowing the second-most receiving yards to running backs this season. Hall could easily finish as this week’s top fantasy back.