Fantasy Football Week 9 Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em: Aaron Jones now leader of the Pack, and our start of the week – CBSSports.com

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What a week. What a wacky, wonderful and news-filled week. And we haven’t even played a game yet in Week 9.

We had Ezekiel Elliott‘s six-game suspension upheld. There were trades — lots of them, shockingly — including Jay Ajayi (Miami to Philadelphia), Kelvin Benjamin (Carolina to Buffalo) and Jimmy Garoppolo (New England to San Francisco) changing locations. And there was an almost trade with the Browns and Bengals involving A.J. McCarron.

Huh? We’ll leave the McCarron trade to another column. We’re here to sort out all your lineup decisions.

There are once again six teams on a bye (New England, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Cleveland, Chicago and the Chargers), which leaves us missing several stars. And we have our usual injuries to monitor, including Emmanuel Sanders (ankle), DeVante Parker (ankle), Delanie Walker (ankle) and Jordan Reed (hamstring).

The nice thing is there are plenty of replacement options, including Josh McCown and Jacoby Brissett at quarterback, Alfred Morris and Kenyan Drake at running back, Paul Richardson and Robby Anderson at receiver and Jack Doyle at tight end, among many others.

You’ll be fine in Week 9, and now it’s time to make your Fantasy playoff push. Good luck.

Editor’s Note: Projections are provided by CBS Sports and not Jamey Eisenberg.

Start of the Week

The last time we saw the Packers play it was their first game without an injured Aaron Rodgers (broken collarbone) in Week 7 against the Saints. And there were plenty of questions about how Green Bay’s offense would look with Brett Hundley as the new quarterback.

Well, the passing game was awful, which hurt Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Martellus Bennett. That group combined for four Fantasy points in a standard league.

And Ty Montgomery was awful as well with 15 total yards on just five touches. But Montgomery might not have been a byproduct of poor quarterback play or even the matchup with an improved Saints defense. It had to do with Aaron Jones.

Jones was exceptional against New Orleans with 17 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown and three catches for 7 yards, and it looks like he’s going to carry the offense with Rodgers out. That should continue this week against the Lions.

The Packers should have their entire offensive line — David Bakhtiari at left tackle, Lane Taylor at left guard, Corey Linsley at center, Jahri Evans at right guard and Bryan Bulaga at right tackle — healthy, which is clearly important. And Jones has 20 total touches in two of his past three games and no fewer than 14 touches since becoming a regular part of the offense in Week 5.

Detroit comes into this game having allowed the seventh-most Fantasy points to opposing running backs, and nine running backs have either scored or gained 80 total yards against the Lions. In the past five games, Devonta Freeman, Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, Mark Ingram and Le’Veon Bell have all scored at least nine Fantasy points in a standard league against Detroit.

Jones should keep that streak going this week. He’s the main offensive weapon in Green Bay now that Rodgers is out, and leaning on him should be the Packers’ best chance of winning.

He should also help plenty of Fantasy owners win this week as well.

I’m starting Jones over: Devonta Freeman (at CAR), DeMarco Murray (vs. BAL), Doug Martin (at NO), Carlos Hyde (vs. ARI) and Joe Mixon (at JAC)

Quarterbacks

18.6 projected points
Stafford narrowly missed a big game in Week 8 against the Steelers when he passed for 423 yards, but he didn’t score a touchdown. He still managed 17 Fantasy points, and he’s scored at least 17 points in three games in a row. This week, he should have the chance for one of his best games of the season at Green Bay. He has a great track record against the Packers with an average of 282.2 passing yards in his past five meetings, with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions over that span. In his past three games at Lambeau Field, Stafford is averaging 281.3 passing yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions. Stafford could be a top-five quarterback this week.
21.2 projected points
The Cowboys come into this game against the Chiefs having held their past two opposing quarterbacks in C.J. Beathard and Kirk Cousins to just 26 combined Fantasy points, so they appear to be playing well. Prior to that, however, the previous four opposing quarterbacks — Trevor Siemian, Carson Palmer, Jared Goff and Aaron Rodgers — each scored at least 22 Fantasy points, and that’s the range for Smith this week. His best games this season have come on the road, with an average of 29.5 Fantasy points in four away outings, and he should have another big performance this week. Smith is a top-10 quarterback in all leagues.
16.8 projected points
Carr has been a disappointment this season, but he’s worth trusting this week, even with this being the second consecutive game for the Raiders on the East Coast, this time at Miami. They stayed on the East Coast after losing in Buffalo in Week 8, and Carr will likely be throwing a lot again in this game. He’s attempted 101 passes in the past two weeks against Kansas City and Buffalo, and he’s passed for 730 yards over that span, with four touchdowns and two interceptions. The difference was he had 35 Fantasy points against the Chiefs and 14 points against the Bills. I expect him to score above 20 Fantasy points for the fourth time this season, and he’s a top-10 quarterback in all leagues this week.
17.7 projected points
Taylor hasn’t scored more than 14 Fantasy points on the road, but that should change this week. He has a great matchup at the Jets on Thursday night. New York has allowed multiple passing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks in four games in a row, and Taylor scored 21 Fantasy points against the Jets in Week 1 in Buffalo with 224 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception and eight carries for 38 yards. He’s scored at least 18 Fantasy points in each of his past three starts against the Jets, and Taylor is trending toward a must-start quarterback each week. We’re not expecting Benjamin to play in this game because of the short week, but if he does then that’s just an added boost for Taylor’s value.
19.4 projected points
I’m sticking with Newton here even though the Panthers just got rid of Benjamin because I expect Cam to carry the offense this week. His rushing yards have been solid the past three games with an average of 55 yards per game, and he has three rushing touchdowns in his past six outings. The Falcons have allowed multiple passing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks in three games in a row, and Tom Brady and Josh McCown each scored 21 Fantasy points against Atlanta in the past two weeks. Newton should be in that range in Week 9 at home, and he should still be considered a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback this week.

Sleepers

  • Josh McCown (vs. BUF): It’s a tough matchup for McCown, but he’s scored at least 17 Fantasy points in four games in a row, including 22-plus points in three consecutive outings. And the Bills have allowed three quarterbacks in a row to pass for at least 313 yards. McCown is worth starting as a low-end No. 1 quarterback on Thursday night.
  • Jacoby Brissett (at HOU): The Texans were lit up by Russell Wilson in Week 8 for 43 Fantasy points, and the Houston defense is decimated by injuries. Brissett just scored 19 Fantasy points at Cincinnati and has the chance for a solid encore this week. He’s a good starting option in two-quarterback leagues.
  • Jared Goff (at NYG): Rams coach Sean McVay knows the Giants defense well after facing them last year when he was the Redskins offensive coordinator. He helped Kirk Cousins average 18 Fantasy points in two games against a Giants defense that was better last year than this season, and standout cornerback Janoris Jenkins (suspension) will miss this game. Goff has scored at least 20 Fantasy points in three of his past five games and is a great starting option in two-quarterback leagues this week.
17.8 Projected points
Cousins looked bad last week behind an injured offensive line in the rain against Dallas, and he tied his season low with 12 Fantasy points. The weather is expected to be better this week at Seattle, but we don’t expect the Seahawks defense to play as poorly as last week when Deshaun Watson tore it apart. Washington’s offensive line is still in bad shape, and Cousins has been sacked eight times in the past two weeks. He could surprise us in this matchup and play well on the road, but I view Cousins as just a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback this week.
18.9 projected points
Ryan had arguably his best game of the season in Week 8 at the Jets, but he still managed just 19 Fantasy points. He has yet to score 20 Fantasy points in a game this season, and it could be tough for him this week at Carolina. This is the third road game in a row for Atlanta, and the Panthers are allowing just 14.8 Fantasy points a game to opposing quarterbacks. Ryan also doesn’t have the best track record at Carolina with an average of 266 passing yards in his past five road meetings, with six touchdowns and five interceptions. Ryan is just a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback this week.
14.2 projected points
Dalton played well in Week 8 against the Colts with 22 Fantasy points, and it looks like he’s going to be matchup dependent for the rest of this season. In his past five games, Dalton had at least 20 Fantasy points in good matchups against Green Bay, Cleveland and Indianapolis, but he struggled with 15 points or less against Buffalo and Pittsburgh. This Jacksonville defense has been exceptional all season and has not allowed a quarterback to score more than 14 Fantasy points in any game. Dalton should be avoided in most leagues this week, but you can buy back into him in Week 10 at Tennessee when he has a favorable matchup again.
13.7 projected points
Manning should benefit this week with Sterling Shepard (ankle) able to play for the first time since Week 5, and Evan Engram also gives him a viable weapon. But in the two games Manning has played without Odell Beckham (ankle), Manning combined for just 20 Fantasy points. Granted, that was against Denver and Seattle, but this is also a tough matchup with the Rams. They have limited the past three opposing quarterbacks to a combined 29 Fantasy points, with Wilson being held to 12 points in Week 5. Manning is barely an option in two-quarterback leagues this week.

Bust Alert


The Ravens can say their pass defense has been flawless in America because the only quarterback to score more than 13 Fantasy points against them was Blake Bortles in London in Week 3. For the season, Baltimore is allowing an average of just 10.3 Fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, and Mariota has just one game this season with more than 18 Fantasy points, which was Week 3. He would get a boost if Walker and rookie receiver Corey Davis (hamstring) are able to play, but I’m skeptical of starting Mariota this week in one-quarterback leagues.

Running Backs

8.5 projected points
Peterson surprised us in his first game with the Cardinals in Week 6, when he dominated Tampa Bay for 134 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries. He was a huge letdown the following week in London against the Rams, as he was limited to 11 carries for 21 yards and one catch for 12 yards in the game where Carson Palmer (broken arm) got hurt. One reason for his success against the Buccaneers was having fresh legs since he barely played for the Saints prior to the trade. Coming off a bye in Week 8, he should have fresh legs again. It doesn’t hurt that he’s facing the 49ers, who allow the most Fantasy points to running backs this season. With Palmer out, look for Peterson to carry the Cardinals’ offense this week.
11.9 projected points
Martin has been good, not great, in his past four games since coming off his three-game suspension to open the season. He’s only averaging 3.8 yards per carry and has just five catches for 54 yards, but he has a nice floor of at least seven Fantasy points in each outing. He continues to get plenty of work with at least 19 touches in each of his past two games, and the Buccaneers could lean on him more this week with Jameis Winston (shoulder) at less than 100 percent. Martin is facing a Saints defense this week that has allowed all four running backs with at least 18 touches this season to score at least 12 Fantasy points in a standard league, including two in a row with Jones and Jordan Howard. This is a good week to trust Martin in all formats.
10.6 projected points
With Elliott out, we’ll see how the Cowboys plan to use Morris and Darren McFadden, but Morris is expected to get more of the work in Week 9 against the Chiefs. That doesn’t mean McFadden or even Rod Smith won’t have a role, and McFadden (7.2 projected points) should be considered a sleeper. But Morris should start and has the best chance for 15-plus touches behind a Dallas offensive line that’s rolling right now. And the Chiefs run defense looked bad against the Broncos in Week 8 and has allowed a running back to score in three games in a row. Morris is worth using as a No. 2 Fantasy running back in most formats.
10.7 projected points
We don’t expect Saints coach Sean Payton to punish Mark Ingram for his two fumbles in Week 8 against Chicago. But if Payton does make some example of Ingram in Week 9 against Tampa Bay – it wouldn’t be the first time – then Kamara would benefit in a big way. And Kamara has been great in the past five games anyway, with at least eight Fantasy points in a standard league in each outing. He has at least three catches in every game this year, and he’s coming off four games in a row with at least 75 total yards, including two touchdowns over that span. He should have the chance for a big day in the passing game since Tampa Bay has already allowed five running backs to catch at least five passes in a game this season.
8.6 projected points
McCaffrey should benefit in a big way with Benjamin gone. In Week 3 against New Orleans when Benjamin left early with a knee injury, McCaffrey had his best game as a receiver with nine catches for 101 yards on 11 targets. He already has six games this season with at least five catches, and the Falcons have struggled mightily for the past two years with pass-catching running backs. Five running backs have already caught at least four passes in a game against Atlanta, and Tarik Cohen, Ty Montgomery and James White have scored at least eight Fantasy points in a standard league just on their receiving stats alone. McCaffrey could be headed for a huge game this week, especially in PPR.

Sleepers

  • Marlon Mack (at HOU): Mack has three games this season with at least 10 touches in a game, and he’s scored double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in each one, including Week 8 at Cincinnati. He had a season-best 14 touches in that game, and he has seven catches for 76 yards and a touchdown in the past two weeks. He’s worth using as a No. 2 Fantasy running back this week.
  • Kenyan Drake (vs. OAK): Drake should be the lead running back for the Dolphins this week, but Damien Williams will also play a role and should be considered a sleeper as well. Drake isn’t a must-start running back, but he could be a flex option against a Raiders defense that has allowed a running back to score double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in six games in a row.
  • Matt Forte (vs. BUF): Forte and Bilal Powell will again split touches this week against the Bills, and Powell should also be considered a sleeper. Both are flex options in standard leagues, but Forte is a No. 2 running back in PPR. He has 19 catches for 145 yards on 20 targets in his past three games, and he should be heavily involved in the passing game against the Bills on Thursday night.
  • Marshawn Lynch (at MIA): Lynch has the chance for one of his better games of the season this week against the Dolphins, but he’s just a low-end No. 2 running back/flex option in most leagues. He hasn’t had more than 13 touches in any game since Week 1, but the Raiders should lean on Lynch like the Ravens did with Alex Collins last week as a physical runner to wear down Miami’s defense. And Lynch could get extra work after Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington both fumbled last week. Lynch also should have fresh legs after sitting out last week’s game with a suspension.
  • Orleans Darkwa: He’s worth using as at least a flex option against a Rams defense that has allowed the second-most Fantasy points to opposing running backs. And Darkwa has scored 12 Fantasy points in a standard league in two of his past three games.
8.4 projected points
Gore had one of his best games of the season in Week 8 at Cincinnati with 16 carries for 82 yards and four catches for 19 yards, but we doubt he will have a repeat performance against the Texans. While Houston’s pass defense has been leaky of late, they’ve been stout against the run. The Texans haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown since Week 1, and Leonard Fournette, Kareem Hunt and Charcandrick West are the only running backs with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league against Houston. I like Mack in this game for his big-play potential, especially if the Colts are chasing points. Gore is only worth using as a flex option.
9.7 projected points
Maybe this is the week Abdullah has a breakout performance at Green Bay. Or maybe he continues to struggle, which has been the case for most of the year. It’s not worth the risk of starting him week after week because he continues to let us down. Abdullah has one game this season with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league, which was Week 4 at Minnesota. It’s the only game where he’s scored a touchdown. In his past three games against Carolina, New Orleans and Pittsburgh, Abdullah has combined for 11 Fantasy points in a standard league. He continues to share touches with Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington, and he’s just a flex option at best on the road against the Packers.
6.6 projected points
Anderson played well in Week 8 at Kansas City with 15 carries for 78 yards and one catch for 7 yards, but he also lost work to Jamaal Charles and Devontae Booker. That should continue again this week at Philadelphia. And this was another game for Anderson in single digits in Fantasy points in standard leagues on the road. He’s now averaging just 4.3 Fantasy points in his past 13 road games, and he should have limited production again this week. He’s still worth using as at least a flex option given his expected workload. But the Eagles have been tough to run on this year and haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown to a running back since Week 4.
5.5 projected points
Allen got passed on the depth chart by Alex Collins, who should be considered a No. 2 Fantasy running back this week at Tennessee. While Allen is still worth a look as a flex option, especially in PPR, it would be a surprise if the Ravens went away from Collins after his dominating performance in Week 8 against the Dolphins. Allen got plenty of touches against Miami also with 17 carries for 55 yards and one catch for 2 yards, but he’s not as dangerous with the ball as Collins. Our hope is Allen takes even more of a backseat to Collins this week against the Titans.

Bust Alert


Ajayi was traded to the Eagles this week, but there’s no guarantee how much he will play in Week 9 against Denver. And when he does, he has to share touches with LeGarrette Blount and possibly Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood. Oh, and by the way, the Eagles are facing a Broncos defense that allows the fewest Fantasy points to opposing running backs. Ajayi should be benched in the majority of leagues, and the same goes for Blount. This could end up as a messy situation moving forward until we see the Eagles commit to Ajayi, which might not happen until later in the year.

Wide Receivers

6.9 projected points
After speculation that Hilton would be traded by the Colts, he stayed in Indianapolis past Tuesday’s deadline and will remain the team’s No. 1 receiver, which shouldn’t be a surprise. What also shouldn’t surprise you is coach Chuck Pagano saying Hilton needs more touches, and this is a great week for that to happen. The Texans defense is a mess due to injuries, and Seattle just destroyed them with Paul Richardson, Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin combining for 18 catches, 280 yards and two touchdowns on 25 targets. Hilton has 15 targets in his past two games but only four catches for 42 yards to show for it. Look for Brissett and Hilton to connect this week, and Hilton should have a rebound game in Week 9.
6.5 projected points
I like Jones and Golden Tate (7.1 projected points) a lot this week, and this is a good matchup against Green Bay’s secondary. Tate has the higher ceiling since the Packers have been brutal against slot receivers, but Jones should also do well. And he’s playing great of late with 18 catches for 278 yards and a touchdown on 33 targets in his past three games. We all remember last year when Jones went to Lambeau Field and had six catches for 205 yards and two touchdowns, and he should play well again in his return trip to Green Bay. Both Lions receivers should be started in all leagues.
8.8 projected points
Fitzgerald has made a career out of beating up the 49ers. In 27 career meetings in the regular season, Fitzgerald has 158 catches for 2,099 yards and 17 touchdowns against San Francisco on 265 targets. He has either a touchdown or 100 yards receiving in 17 of those games, including Week 4 this year when he had four catches for 32 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. That game was with Palmer, and Drew Stanton is expected to start this week, which should give you some cause for concern. But Stanton and Fitzgerald faced the 49ers last year in Week 5 at San Francisco, and Fitzgerald had six catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns on seven targets. Fitzgerald should be fine this week with Stanton under center and remains a solid No. 2 Fantasy receiver in all leagues.
8.0 projected points
The roller coaster ride for Cooper and his Fantasy owners continued in Week 8 at Buffalo when he was limited to five catches for 48 yards on 10 targets. This was after he had 11 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns on 19 targets in Week 7 against Kansas City. The Bills game was the third time this season where Cooper had double digits in targets, and if that happens again this week then he should be fine. Michael Crabtree (8.4 projected points) remains a must-start Fantasy option this week, but Cooper should not be benched against the Dolphins, who have allowed three touchdowns to receivers in their past two games against the Jets and Ravens.
6.8 projected points
It’s worth starting Funchess this week in all leagues with the thought that the Panthers and Newton will feed him targets now that Benjamin is gone. He’s been getting a good share of targets anyway with 50 in the past six games since Greg Olsen (foot) got hurt, but he might set a new season high this week. And the Falcons have allowed the opposing No. 1 receiver to score in six games in a row, which is clearly a benefit to Funchess now. Let’s hope Funchess takes advantage of this situation, and he should be considered a No. 2 Fantasy receiver this week.

Sleepers

  • Paul Richardson (vs. WAS): He’s scored three touchdowns in the past two games, and he’s making plenty of splash plays with Wilson. I wouldn’t call Richardson a must-start Fantasy option in this matchup against the Redskins, but he should be considered a No. 3 receiver in most leagues.
  • DeVante Parker (vs. OAK): Parker is expected to return this week after being out the past three games with an ankle injury. He’s worth using as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver, and he scored at least eight Fantasy points in a standard league in two of three games before getting hurt in Week 5. The Raiders have allowed three touchdowns to receivers in their past two games.
  • Robby Anderson (vs. BUF): Anderson comes into this game with at least seven Fantasy points in a standard league in three games in a row. He’s scored in consecutive games against Miami and Atlanta, and he has 23 targets in his past three outings. Buffalo is a tough matchup, but Anderson is playing well enough to trust as at least a No. 3 Fantasy receiver this week.
  • Sterling Shepard (vs. LAR): Shepard is expected to play this week after sitting out the past two games with an ankle injury. And he should be the Giants’ No. 1 receiver for the rest of the season with Beckham out. He’s probably better in PPR leagues than standard formats, and he has three games this year with at least five catches. Look for Manning to lean on Shepard quite a bit, even in this tough matchup with the Rams. 
  • Sammy Watkins (at NYG): With Jenkins out for the Giants, and with the Rams coming off a bye, this should be a week where Watkins is featured in the game plan. It’s hard to trust him given his performance so far this year with only one game with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league, but he’s worth using as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver given the matchup.
5.1 projected points
It’s hard to trust any of the Packers’ receivers after what we saw in Hundley’s first start in Week 7 against the Saints when the entire group, including Bennett, combined for four Fantasy points. But Cobb was struggling even before Rodgers went down, and he has one game this year with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league, which was Week 4. He has also been at 60 yards or less in five games in a row, and he only has one touchdown on the season. He’s not worth trusting this week against the Lions.
5.0 projected points
It appears like Davis is going to return for the Titans, which will make this a crowded receiving corps, and that’s bad for Matthews, as well as Eric Decker. And the matchup against the Ravens is tough for all of them since Baltimore has allowed just three touchdowns to opposing receivers and two to score double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league. Matthews only has one game this season with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league and has been at less than 70 receiving yards in four games in a row. He’s not worth trusting this week against the Ravens.
5.3 projected points
I’m going to continue to recommend stashing Doctson in all leagues, but this isn’t the week to trust him as a starter at Seattle. Despite scoring in two of his past three contests, Doctson has yet to catch more than three passes in a game. And his season high in targets is just five. We hope the Redskins start to feature Doctson more in the offense, but the Seahawks secondary should make things tough on Washington’s passing game, especially an outside receiver like Doctson. Just be patient with him because big things could be coming down the road.
6.9 projected points
I’m concerned about Sanders and Demaryius Thomas this week with Brock Osweiler expected to start for the Broncos. Not that Trevor Siemian was any good over the past five games, but it’s hard to trust Osweiler after the way he played for Houston last year. Sanders is coming back from a two-game absence due to an ankle injury, and hopefully he’s 100 percent for this matchup against the Eagles. Sanders only has one game this season with double digits in Fantasy points, and he’s combined for 16 points in his past three games. I’d consider him a No. 3 Fantasy receiver at best this week.

Bust Alert


Jeffery broke out of his five-game slump last week against San Francisco with two catches for 62 yards and a touchdown on eight targets. But now he goes back to being someone you want to sit given the matchup with the Broncos. While Denver’s defense hasn’t been the same as in year’s past, the secondary has still been dominant. Only one receiver has scored against the Broncos in the past three games, and no receiver has gained more than 65 yards against them this season. Jeffery is just a No. 3 Fantasy receiver at best this week.  

Tight Ends

6.1 projected points
Doyle has been a solid Fantasy option of late, and he should continue to play well this week against the Texans. In his past three games, Doyle has 32 targets for 25 catches, 215 yards and two touchdowns. He has a solid matchup in Week 9 at Houston, and the Texans have allowed three touchdowns to tight ends in the past two games. I like Doyle as a top-five tight end this week.
8.4 projected points
We’ll see how Engram does now that Shepard is back from his ankle injury, but Engram has been great in the past two games since Beckham went down. He has 11 catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns on 19 targets over that span against Denver and Seattle, and he’s worth trusting this week despite a tough matchup with the Rams. They have allowed just three touchdowns to tight ends this year, but Engram plays more like a slot receiver. Given his expected targets, Engram should be a solid starter coming off his bye.
6.3 projected points
Brate has gone two games without scoring, but don’t fret. He’s had at least four catches for at least 60 yards in five games in a row, and he should be able to find the end zone soon, possibly in Week 9 against the Saints. New Orleans has allowed three touchdowns to tight ends this year, and Brate scored against New Orleans in Week 16 last season. Keep an eye on Winston and his shoulder injury, but Brate would be worth starting even if Ryan Fitzpatrick was under center for the Buccaneers this week.

Sleepers

  • Vernon Davis (at SEA): Reed is expected to be out again, which means Davis has the chance to be a No. 1 Fantasy tight end. The last time Reed was out this season was Week 3 against Oakland, and Davis had five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown on five targets. He’s been fairly consistent even with Reed on the field with at least 60 receiving yards or a touchdown in four of his past five games. It’s a tough matchup against Seattle, but Davis is a No. 1 tight end if Reed is out.
  • Jared Cook (at MIA): Cook only has two big games this season, which were Week 3 at Washington and Week 7 against Kansas City, and he scored 10 Fantasy points in a standard league in both of those outings. But he has at least five targets in 7-of-8 games, and he has five games with at least four catches. He has a good matchup in Week 9 at Miami, and the Dolphins have allowed a tight end to score in each of the past two games. Cook should be considered a top-10 tight end this week.
  • Tyler Higbee (at NYG): This is all about the matchup with the Giants, and Higbee is worth starting in deeper leagues, as well as using in daily formats. The Giants have allowed the most Fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season, and a tight end has scored against the Giants in every game this year. Higbee has yet to score this year, but the track record against the Giants is worth buying into.
3.7 projected points
Bennett’s farewell tour starts now since he said during Green Bay’s bye in Week 8 that he plans to retire after this season. We’ll see if that helps his production to end the year because he’s been miserable so far with the Packers. He has yet to score a touchdown, and his best game was five Fantasy points in a standard league in Week 5 at Dallas. He had two catches for 17 yards on three targets in his first game with Hundley starting in Week 7 against the Saints, and he’s not worth trusting as a starting Fantasy option this week against Detroit.
3.5 projected points
Joe Flacco is expected to start this week after leaving Week 8 against Miami with a concussion, and that could be bad news for Watson. He has two touchdowns on the season, and both have come from Ryan Mallett. Now, Flacco can certainly get Watson in the end zone, but this is a tough matchup against the Titans. Tennessee has allowed just two touchdowns to tight ends this year, and Watson has been at six Fantasy points or less in five games in a row.
5.7 Projected points
Hooper played great in Week 8 at the Jets with four catches for 47 yards and a touchdown on six targets, and he’s done a nice job this year when he’s had targets, especially in PPR. He has three games this season with at least six targets, and he has at least 10 Fantasy points in PPR in each of those outings. But this is a tough matchup against the Panthers in Week 9. Carolina has allowed three tight ends to score at least eight Fantasy points in a standard league, but that was Rob Gronkowski, Darren Fells and Zack Ertz. Gronkowski was held out of the end zone, and Ertz had two touchdowns but just two catches for 18 yards. Hooper is worth a look in deeper leagues with the hope he gets targets, but when he doesn’t get at least six, the production is minimal. He’s a risky Fantasy option this week.

There’s a chance Walker might not play with an ankle injury that has lingered through Tennessee’s bye in Week 8, and he wasn’t able to practice as of Wednesday. He’s hoping to get on the field Sunday against the Ravens, but even if he plays it’s a tough matchup. Baltimore has allowed six touchdowns to opposing tight ends, but the Ravens have limited Cook and Kyle Rudolph in recent weeks to four Fantasy points or less in those matchups. Walker has yet to catch a touchdown this season, and he’s not worth trusting if he plays at less than 100 percent because of the ankle.

Defenses/Special Teams

Start ‘Em

Cardinals (at SF) – 12.2 Projected points 

The 49ers have already allowed some big games to opposing DSTs this year, and this week should be a solid outing for the Cardinals DST. In the past two games for quarterback C.J. Beathard, the Cowboys DST and the Eagles DST have scored at least 19 Fantasy points with a combined nine sacks, two interceptions, three fumble recoveries and one touchdown. The Cardinals DST is due for a big game after scoring double digits in Fantasy points just once this season. It should get its second such game this week. 

Sleepers 

  • Saints (vs. TB): The Saints DST has scored at least 10 Fantasy points in four of the past five games, and New Orleans has an interception streak going of five games in a row. Winston is expected to play this week, but he’s not at 100 percent with his shoulder. And the Buccaneers have allowed 28 Fantasy points to the Bills DST and Panthers DST in the past two games. 
  • Rams (at NYG): The Giants have allowed 22 Fantasy points to the Broncos and Seahawks DSTs since Beckham got hurt, and Manning has four sacks over that span. The Giants have also scored just 30 points in those two games. The Rams DST is coming off a bye and has been impressive of late with at least 15 Fantasy points in the past three games. This should be another solid outing against the Giants. 
  • Lions (at GB): With Hundley under center in the past two games for Green Bay, the Vikings and Saints DSTs have scored 29 Fantasy points with four interceptions and five sacks, and the Packers have scored just 27 total points. I expect Aaron Jones to play well this week, but Hundley could help the Lions DST have a solid outing. It already has five games this year with at least 14 Fantasy points and has scored five touchdowns. 

Sit ‘Em 

Chiefs (at DAL) – 8.0 Projected points 

Even though Elliott is not going to play for the Cowboys, don’t shortchange this Dallas offense with Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and the combination of Morris and McFadden in the backfield. Opposing DSTs are averaging just 5.3 Fantasy points against the Cowboys, and the Chiefs DST scored a combined seven Fantasy points in the two games before facing Siemian and the Broncos in Week 8. This should be another poor performance for the Chiefs DST, and they should not be started in the majority of leagues in Week 9. 

Kickers

Start ‘Em

Fairbairn only has three games this season where he’s made multiple field goals, and he’s combined for just 15 Fantasy points in a standard league in his past three outings. But he has a good matchup this week at home against the Colts, who have allowed the most Fantasy points to opposing kickers. And the Texans offense should score plenty of points this week. Five kickers have made multiple field goals against Indianapolis and five have scored at least nine Fantasy points.

Sleepers

  • Ryan Succop (vs. BAL): There have been four kickers to make multiple field goals against the Ravens this year, and three have scored at least nine Fantasy points. Succop has five games this season with at least 12 Fantasy points.
  • Blair Walsh (vs. WAS): Walsh has done a nice job of late with at least eight Fantasy points in three of his past four games, and he scored 11 points in Week 8 against Houston. The Redskins have allowed three of the past four opposing kickers to score at least 10 Fantasy points.
  • Phil Dawson (at SF): You have to love kicker revenge games, and Dawson already had one earlier this year against the 49ers. His best game of the season was Week 4 against the 49ers with four field goals, and he scored 14 Fantasy points. Let’s see if he can do it again in his return to San Francisco, where he spent four seasons before going to Arizona.

Sit ‘Em

McManus continues to struggle, and he’s not worth starting in the majority of leagues. He has combined for just 11 Fantasy points in his past three games, and the Eagles have only allowed one kicker this year to score double digits in Fantasy points. It’s doubtful that Osweiler will turn around the Denver offense, especially on the road, so McManus should have another game with minimal Fantasy production.

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