My claim to fame is winning my $100 dollar money league fantasy football championship against nine other guys over the age of 45 the semester before I started college. I used my $232 dollars of earnings to buy all my college textbooks that semester.
This is my 13th season playing fantasy, and if you’re like me, you over obsess over who you should start each week. Do I know everything there is to know about the players you should start? Absolutely not. But, I know enough that many people throughout the week come asking me for advice, and follow it.
Now, while I’ll still be reading Jamey Eisenberg’s “Start Em, Sit Em” every week, probably more than once, I was talked into making my own predictions and giving it a shot.
I’ll do my best to keep to just three starts, three sits, one sleeper and one bust alert per position weekly (aside from kickers and defensive units), unless the matchup is just too good. My predictions will be based off of 10 team, No PPR leagues. But let’s be honest, if a receiver has a top-ten matchup, they’re going to be catching balls anyway. Might as well still read whether this is your exact set up or not.
Here are my top three starters by offensive position for week nine:
1) Russell Wilson, Seattle vs Tampa Bay
Wilson’s name comes up a lot in my list, but that’s because he’s proving to be worthy of MVP talk with the way he has played this season. He has fallen off of fantasy-point production in recent weeks as he has hovered around 19 and 22 instead of 36 and 41 like three and four weeks ago, but his matchup with Tampa Bay should be impeccable. Wilson is feeling the effects of losing tight end Will Dissly in the blocking/receiving game, but the Buccs’ 26th ranked pass defense should open the door. Wilson can also use running back Chris Carson in the pass game, where as Tampa Bay struggles using its backs.
2) Dak Prescott, Dallas @ New York Giants
The Giants have been vulnerable surrendering fantasy points in lump fashion in recent weeks this season. Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott should be in for big weeks, and Prescott has scored 21 points or more six times this season and 31 points or more three times. He has also scored two total touchdowns in six of seven games and he now has wide receivers Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Randall Cobb and Tavon Austin all healthy.
3) Kirk Cousins, Minnesota @ Kansas City
Minnesota is the least talked about 6-2 team in the NFL. Should the Vikings have put up more points against the Redskins last week? Probably, but he only had three incompletions and 285 yards, even with RB Dalvin Cook having another monster game. Aside from Washington, Cousins has scored 28, 39 and 41 fantasy points in the three weeks prior to that game and has had extra rest. The Chiefs will be without Patrick Mahomes and its defense gives out yards like they’re candy.
1) Josh Allen, Buffalo vs Washington
This should be another low scoring affair, something the Redskins are probably sick of. However, Washington has allowed fewer than 11 fantasy points to its last three QB opponents and I’m still not sold on the Bills’ receivers. I like the deep-threat ability from John Brown and potentially Cole Beasley, but I don’t like them in the short field to keep drives alive. If Buffalo was smart it should make this a run heavy game with the talents of Frank Gore and Devin Singletary.
2) Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee @ Carolina
At one point last week against against Tampa Bay, Tannehill had four completions for 20 yards and two TDs. He finished with only 198 total yards and added another score. In week six he had a similar stat line of less than 200 yards, but posted no TDs against a stingy Denver defense. The Panthers defense works a little like the Broncos’ and we saw turnovers help the Titans score last week, not its receivers.
3) Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville vs Houston in London
I know, I know, Minshew is fighting to keep the starting job after the Jaguars’ bye week in week 11 when Nick Foles is eligible to return. However, this game is in London and Minshew has never taken a flight outside of the United States. The time adjustment and his banged up receivers will be working against him. No. 1 wideout D.J. Chark (who has the most receiving TDs in the NFL through week eight) is questionable with a nagging quad injury, No. 2 Dede Westbrook is questionable with a neck injury and Marquise Lee just landed on IR. His status improves to a bust option with high upside however, if he gets his No. 1 and No. 2 back. But crazy things always happen in London games…I’m still losing money from my Chicago bet.
Sleeper: Matthew Stafford, Detroit @ Oakland
Stafford is going against the 31st best pass defense in the NFL and this game could be a back-and-forth battle as long as the Raiders’ receiving core is healthy. Stafford teeters between a 33+ guy and a sub-20 guy, but I think he should be a 33+’er this week. With the new uncertainty in the Lions’ backfield (man did Ty Johnson not work out), Detroit is going to need to lean on Stafford even more than it already does.
Bust Alert: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay @ Los Angeles Chargers
Green Bay should win this game, but the Chargers are significantly worse covering opposing teams’ rushing games than passing games. I think Rodgers will be hurt because a bulk of scores will go to RB Aaron Jones, as well as more yards than usual. The Packers’ defense could also create a shorter field off turnovers when it rattles Philip Rivers and a banged up WR core. If Rodgers can pick up a few scores early before the Packers jump ahead, his fantasy day will be saved.
1) Mark Ingram, Baltimore vs New England
If it weren’t for Nick Chubb’s two fumbles last week the media would be carving up the Patriots’ defense about it. But Chubb did run for 131 yards, Frank Gore has also had more than 100 yards (109) and Le’Veon Bell even had 70. Baltimore wins this game if Lamar Jackson and Ingram continue to pound the ball. With two weeks to prepare for New England at home, Ingram’s carries should be bolstered.
2) Jordan Howard, Philadelphia vs Chicago
Chicago’s horrendous offense is keeping its defense on the field too long and it proved it by the Bears allowing its fourth rushing TD in as many weeks in a row. Howard could also be in line for extra touches with committee-mate Miles Sanders banged up, although playing. Chicago also traded Howard in the offseason, so a revenge game could put a little more hop in his step on Sunday. I believe Howard will score in this game, bolstering both his PPR and non-PPR points.
3) Adrian Peterson, Washington @ Buffalo
Peterson is the only reliable offensive player in Washington now that Dwayne Haskins is starting at QB. In the three games under the Redskins’ interim coach, Peterson has at least 81 total yards in each game, with his other stat lines finishing at 136 and 103. The Bills have surprisingly allowed a bulk of yards to Mark Walton and Jordan Howard/Miles Sanders. A low scoring game in Buffalo should be in the works this weekend, but Peterson will be a work-horse again and get his points by pounding the ball.
1) The Detroit Lions backfield, @ Oakland
I don’t even know who the starter for the game is going to be, so that poses a problem. Detroit reported last week that Ty Johnson would handle the carries with J.D. McKissic fluctuated in. Well, Johnson had just seven carries in the game and wasn’t the leading rusher, while McKissic finished with two total yards and negative-one rushing yards. Tra Carson came in out of nowhere and lead the Lions backfield, but had just 34 yards on 12 carries. Carson is also now dealing with a hamstring injury and is a game-time decision. So it should be Johnson like it was supposed to be right? Who knows. Hell, play somebody’s backup before any of these guys.
2) David Montgomery, Chicago @ Philadelphia
Montgomery had his best game of the season last week against the Chargers, and that will remain his best game for the entire season. Philadelphia has limited key backs like Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones, Kerryon Johnson and Le’Veon Bell all under 63 yards. Matt Nagy finally lived up to his post-game press conference about knowing he needs to run the ball. Montgomery benefitted with 27 carries and made the most of them with 135 yards, along with popping in a score. If Montgomery gets half of these yards I’ll be surprised. He needs a TD to be considered fantasy relevant.
3) Damien Williams, Kansas City vs Minnesota
He might be a bigger bust than David Montgomery this season. His best game came in week one at Jacksonville, but his stat line from that game should’ve concerned owners and made them ship him off. He had just two yards per carry in the game and was saved by a TD. The pattern hasn’t changed and he still needs a score to be considered a starter. However, Williams only got his second TD of the season last week and finished with nine points in PPR and non-PPR, as he was not targeted in the air.
Sleeper: Mark Walton, Miami vs New York Jets
The Jets have allowed 98 yards or a TD in every game this season to opposing RBs and that trend should stick this week now that New York shipped off Leonard Williams. Walton is also officially the lead back for the Dolphins who are not as bad as their winless record. They’ve run the ball well two of the last three weeks, one surprisingly coming in Buffalo, and that’s when they still had a committee. The Jets aren’t a good football team on defense, and with its work to do on offense, this is another winnable game for Miami and the run game won’t evaporate with the team falling behind early.
Bust Alert: Derrick Henry, Tennessee @ Carolina
Henry goes on the road to a favorable matchup in Carolina who struggles against the rush, but the Titans’ lack of weapons through the air against a strong pass-defense team will likely cause problems for Henry. Thankfully, every time he hasn’t scored a TD in a previous game this season, he finds the end zone next, so he’s in line to score this week. However, tight end Delanie Walker is still out and QB Ryan Tannehill was once 2-for-4 with 20 yards and two TDs last week. Tennessee was up because of turnovers, not because its offense is good. I expect them to struggle in Carolina and even if Henry gets a lot of carries, his YPC will likely be poor.
1) Tyler Lockett, Seattle vs Tampa Bay
Lockett has just two drops in his last five games (24/26) and Tampa Bay’s defense is prone to give up a lot of yards and big plays to WRs. Lockett’s fantasy day would’ve jumped from 10 to 16 or even 22 in non-PPR had QB Russell Wilson looked for him in the end zone instead of finding D.K. Metcalf twice. While frustrating for Lockett owners, the good news is that every time Lockett doesn’t have a TD grab in the game before, he finds the end zone the following week.
2) Kenny Golloday, Detroit @ Oakland
Golloday is 100-percent healthy and boomed in the first game without RB Kerryon Johnson. He had two scores and 123 yards on six catches. The Raiders have the 30th “best” pass defense in the league to wideouts, and with the Lions not really having a RB at the moment, Golloday should see an uptick in targets and hopefully an uptick in production.
3) Tyrell Williams, Oakland vs Detroit
Williams is the only receiver in the NFL to have a TD in every game played this season. He is a huge red zone threat and is going against the 25th “best” pass defense at home. Aside from TE Darren Waller, there is no other threat in the passing game.
1) Terry McLaurin, Washington @ Buffalo
Let’s see if his college buddy Dwayne Haskins can keep up the repertoire they had at Ohio State. Haskins has looked miserable every time he has been on the field this season, and it’s not all because of the Redskins’ offensive line. McLaurin has been the only solid receiving threat for Washington this season, so Buffalo’s bests will be on his horizon. McLaurin would be the best player on the Redskins if they had a consistent QB, even if it wasn’t a great one, like he has played with all season. However, Haskins isn’t good and he isn’t consistent.
2) Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona vs San Francisco
For the last three weeks Fitzgerald has seen four targets or less in each game. Arizona has chosen to run the ball and spread the ball around through the air, making it hard to trust any pass-catcher. Fitzgerald opened the season with two 100-yard performances and I was ready to believe QB Kyler Murray when he said he had grown up wanting to play with Fitzgerald just so he could be responsible for his scores. But Fitzgerald now has just eight catches in the last three weeks and 20 yards in his last two games combined. The 49ers’ lock-down pass defense won’t help.
3) Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland @ Denver
The Broncos may have an offense in shambles, but their defense is still good. Cornerback Chris Harris should be on OBJ and no one guarded by Harris has more than 54 receiving yards this season. I’d view Jarvis Landry as a much better starter this week for Cleveland, even though his fantasy numbers don’t show it. Even though Denver’s defense will likely be on the field a lot, I don’t see Harris being the one that’s beat or too tired late in the game to make a mistake.
Sleeper: Zach Pascal, Indianapolis @ Pittsburgh
T.Y. Hilton is out for at least three weeks and Pascal slides into the No. 1 role for the Colts. Pittsburgh is below-of-the-pack when it comes to pass defense and a majority of Hilton’s targets will go to Pascal. He erupted for 106 yards and two scores against Houston just two weeks ago and he has had multiple games with TDs and respectable yards. Brissett has been successful moving the ball around, and while I think RB Marlon Mack is in for a big game, Indianapolis will have to throw the ball and he’s the viable option.
Bust Alert: Michael Gallup, Dallas @ New York Giants
Dallas has Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, Tavon Austin, Jason Witten and Gallup healthy for this division matchup. There are only so many balls to go around when driving, and especially in the end zone. I think Gallup is the third best scoring option for the Cowboys this week, but there are too many receiving factors for fantasy owners to think Gallup is due for another monster game with 100-plus yards and scores.
1) Darren Fells, Houston vs Jacksonville in London
I’m always wary of games in London, but Fells’ targets cannot be ignored. Without WR Will Fuller, Fells has 154 yards and two TDs. He now has a career-high five TDs on the season, the most by any receiver in the pass game for the Texans. It’ll be important to watch if OL Laremy Tunsil plays, as QB Deshaun Watson will have a tougher time, but he found Fells for a score last week when he was kicked in the face on the same play, so he should very much still have him on the radar at all times.
2) Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia vs Chicago
Goedert is out-playing starter Zach Ertz, especially in the last two weeks, and Chicago’s defense is way too tired out because of its horribly run offense. Goedert has a TD in each of the last two games and has 139 yards in his last three. Ertz has no TDs in that span and less yards (112). The Bears will try and lock down Ertz, as he is the better TE, leaving Goedert open again to poorer defenders.
3) Darren Waller, Oakland vs Detroit
Waller’s production will take a hit because Tyrell Williams is healthy, but Waller and Williams are the only true passing options in Oakland. Waller has three scores in his last two games, accompanied behind 137 yards, and his target share is steadily around eight looks per game. I expect this game to be a back and forth battle and Waller is due for another big game.
1) Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh vs Indianapolis
McDonald should’ve had a season-high game last week against Miami, but instead he was horrendous again. He had just 19 yards, even with Pittsburgh needing to come from behind. He hasn’t had a good game since week two against Seattle, and that was just because he found the end zone twice. He still only had 38 yards on seven catches. Indianapolis also hasn’t let a TE score in their past three games, including matchups with Travis Kelce and Darren Fells.
2) Dawson Knox, Buffalo vs Washington
Ears perked up after Knox’s big performance against Cincinnati in week three where he had 67 yards and a score. But since then, he has had 9.2 points in non-PPR across four games with no trips to the end zone. Even though the Redskins are bad, they aren’t this bad.
3) Noah Fant, Denver vs Cleveland
Yes, it’s great that Fant was targeted nine times after Emmanuel Sanders left, but he made nothing out of it. He had just 26 yards on five catches and hasn’t had a TD since week four. That TD still didn’t give him double-digit fantasy points that week, so he’s not worth using or rostering. People like Fells and Goedert are likely available in your league.
Sleeper: Jonnu Smith, Tennessee @ Carolina
Smith should be the leading receiver for the Titans this week in what should be a lop-sided contest in favor of the Panthers. TE Delanie Walker is out again, so he will get a chance to build off his nine-of-10 catches for 142 yards and a TD that he has accumulated in the two games with Walker out.
Bust Alert: Eric Ebron, Indianapolis @ Pittsburgh
Indianapolis has moved away from using its three-TE-sets this season and it’s hurting Ebron. But now with Hilton expected to miss more time, the Colts need to shift their game plan. He doesn’t carry an injury designation, but he doesn’t seem to carry the ball anywhere either. His only legit game this season came two weeks ago against Houston where he had 70 yards and a score on four catches. Pittsburgh is 25th to opposing TEs though, so if this is the time to get involved, it’ll be Ebron.