Welcome fantasy football faithful to the midway point of the season. It is bittersweet to be halfway through the best time of each and every year.
This is a great point during the season in which we should take an assessment of our teams, identify the strengths, weaknesses, and cut some dead weight.
This also happens to be one of the two six-team bye weeks this season. The following teams are on bye, and managers should adjust accordingly: Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles.
This weekly article does not focus on the every week studs, instead, we are going to identify key matchups this week.
Fantasy Football Week Nine: Starts and Sits Featuring Courtland Sutton
Alex Smith vs. Atlanta Falcons
Alex Smith is a long way from his MVP-caliber season last year. However, some things never change. Efficiency has been the stalwart of Smith’s career, and this season does not deviate from that. Through the first seven games of this season, Smith only has eight passing touchdowns. Sure, that’s only two shy of how many Patrick Mahomes threw against the Steelers in Week two. But, Smith also only has two interceptions on the season, which is two less than Jameis Winston threw last week.
The Atlanta Falcons defense has been decimated by injury and therefore eviscerated by every opposing quarterback they’ve faced. The Falcons have allowed five quarterbacks over 300 yards through seven weeks. With so many teams on bye this week, Smith becomes the number one streaming option in most formats.
Derek Carr vs. San Francisco 49ers
Derek Carr has come a long way from being a whispered MVP candidate a couple of years ago. Carr has now seemingly been reduced to a meme of what appears to be him whimpering while trying to stand during a game this season. Despite the loss of Amari Cooper and the negative press regarding his toughness, he came out and had one of his best fantasy games of the season last week.
This week, Carr and company travel to San Francisco to face the defense that is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. No one is expecting a shoot-out, but Carr should no problem keeping his team in the lead in this one. He’s another solid streaming option this week with so many quarterbacks on bye.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Baltimore Ravens
The home and road splits for Ben Roethlisberger are their own tale. While Big Ben has been okay for fantasy this season, his play on the field doesn’t always mirror his final stat-line. Historically, he’s struggled against the Baltimore Ravens and their defense is allowing the fourth fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks.
Starts: Running Backs
Lamar Miller vs. Denver Broncos
In the last two games, Lamar Miller has looked rejuvenated. He has back-to-back 100 yards games with a rushing touchdown. The Houston Texans have put more emphasis on the run while Deshaun Watson has been less mobile. The Denver Broncos defense has a solid pass rush but is allowing the 11th-most fantasy points to running backs. They’ve also allowed two opposing running backs to rush for over 200 yards this season. No one expects that from Miller, but he’s a great plug-and-play volume running back this week.
Latavius Murray vs. Detroit Lions
With the lingering soft-tissue injury plaguing Minnesota Vikings Dalvin Cook, Latavius Murray has filled in admirably over the last several weeks. Murray is averaging 5.4 yards-per-carry and has four scores over the last three games. The Detroit Lions are allowing the sixth-most points to running backs this season. Murray should be considered a low-end RB2 with touchdown upside in a plus matchup.
Sits: Running Back
Tevin Coleman vs. Washington Redskins
Normally, Tevin Coleman was a set-it-and-forget-it if Devonta Freeman was out. This has not been the case this season, as Coleman has struggled as a rusher. He’s had one game of over 100 yards rushing and only two rushing scores this season. Coleman is not a one-dimensional back and has done well with his passing work in the past. But this season has seen a decline in that as well.
This week Coleman faces off against a Washington Redskins defense that has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this season. With the amount of player on a bye, some owners may not be able to sit Coleman, but if owners have the flexibility this week may be a good time to bench Coleman.
Starts: Wide Receivers
Robert Woods vs. New Orleans Saints
Robert Woods trots into Week nine with only one game of less than 70 receiving yards this season. The New Orleans Saints are allowing the most points to wide receivers. Even with Cooper Kupp expected to return to the lineup this week, Woods is still a high-floor WR2 and should be started in all formats.
Courtland Sutton vs. Houston Texans
Demaryius Thomas was traded on Wednesday from the Broncos to the Houston Texans, who happen to be Denver’s opponent in Week nine. While this squarely puts Thomas as a scary-start, it does alter the pecking order for the Broncos. Courtland Sutton was one of the more polished wide receivers in this year’s draft and has shown flashes even as the third option. Now, with Thomas out of the way, Sutton should step in as a primary perimeter option for Case Keenum.
The matchup is not exactly juicy, as the Texans are allowing the tenth fewest fantasy points to receivers. However, the focus the Texans will be putting on Phillip Lindsay and Emmanuel Sanders should free up Sutton to succeed in a tough home matchup.
Sits: Wide Receiver
Corey Davis vs. Dallas Cowboys
Corey Davis has shown flashes as a great wide receiver. However, those flashes been few and far between for the second-year wideout. Listed as the number one receiver, he’s struggled despite seeing a healthy target share. In fantasy football volume is king, but this matchup looks rough for a Tennessee Titans offense that has struggled as a whole. Marcus Mariota has been mostly inefficient when healthy. The Dallas Cowboys defense is allowing the second-fewest points to receivers and may shut down Davis in this matchup.