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Tough week for a lot of fantasy teams. There are some really good fantasy players on a bye this week as the following teams are on a bye: Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals, and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

As the waiver wire transactions have come and gone, you can rely on this article to help you with some decisions on who should go into your starting lineup. Without much anticipation, let’s see who you should start and who needs to remain on the bench.

Fantasy Football Week 9 Start Em Sit Em

Quarterbacks

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Deshaun Watson vs. Denver Broncos

Watson came to play against the Dolphins on Thursday night. He dropped 31 fantasy points in standard PPR formats and looked like he is ready to take this offense to the next level. Now one can argue that the Dolphins defense looked bad more than Watson looked good. This showing demonstrated more that Watson is becoming an every week starter. Throw in the fact that the Texans just acquired Demaryius Thomas to partner up with DeAndre Hopkins, and Watson’s fantasy stock just skyrocketed.

His game against the Denver Broncos this week will be a great look into how this Texans team can really turn some heads now with Thomas and Hopkins dominating through the air. Watson may not be 100% healthy, but that won’t affect his level of play. Start him and get ready for some real fireworks.

*Sleeper Play*

Dak Prescott vs. Tennessee Titans

The Titans defense is not looking as formidable as they were looking at the beginning of the year. The defense had surrendered 309 total yards per game in their three-straight losses. Now that is in part because of the lackluster performance of the offense week in and week out. So this a great opportunity for Prescott and the Cowboys to come in and take advantage of the Titans on a slide.

Prescott has had back to back games with 20 fantasy points as well as two straight weeks with rushing touchdowns. We may finally be getting the Prescott a lot of fantasy owners have been hoping for as he is taking more chances in the offense. Dallas is also coming off a bye week which they used to acquire, Amari Cooper, into the offense. Prescott may finally be taking the step this season to make him more fantasy relevant for the rest of the year.

Others for consideration:

Russell Wilson vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Mitchell Trubisky vs. Buffalo Bills

Matthew Stafford vs. Minnesota Vikings

Sit Em

Marcus Mariota vs. Dallas Cowboys

Mariota is hoping he can rebound after the bye week. His total touchdown passes for the season is at three currently…THREE! Trubisky threw for six touchdowns in one game and Mariota has only thrown three in the span of seven games. This offense is clearly a run-first offense and even at that, they are still trying to score on a consistent basis averaging only 15.1 points per game. Even against a middle-of-the-road Cowboys defense and coming off an extra week of preparation, this is not a good start. With a lot of teams on a bye this week, you may be tempted to take a risk with Mariota. You should not go against the grain; roll with another streaming option this week.

Alex Smith vs. Atlanta Falcons

As bad as the Falcons defense has been, Smith is not a fantasy quarterback worth starting this week. Through the first half of the season, he is only averaging 14.9 fantasy points per game. This is completely different than his 21.3 fantasy points per game he averaged through the first half of the season in 2017. The Redskins have been able to rely on the resurgence of Adrian Peterson to move the ball down the field and the defense has been making timely stops to give this team five wins through eight weeks. So Smith has never really needed to put this team on his back and win games. Keep Smith on the waiver wire or drop him from your roster at this point and pick someone else up that can bring more value.

Others for consideration:

Case Keenum vs. Houston Texans

Baker Mayfield vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Joe Flacco vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Running Backs

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James White vs. Green Bay Packers

What do Adam Thielen, A.J. Green, and DeAndre Hopkins all have in common with White? They are all currently tied with six receiving touchdowns for fourth in the league. That is insane to realize that he is a running back, but has the same number of receiving touchdowns as these elite level wide receivers. White is a focal point of the passing offense in New England and is not going to see his involvement diminish anytime soon. Playing against the Packers on Sunday night, White should be a serious threat that needs to be addressed by the Green Bay defense. It may just end up being a situation where, nothing will make a difference anyways. White is a must-start this week and has really cleared up a once cloudy Patriots backfield for fantasy owners.

*Sleeper Start*

Alex Collins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Competition breeds excellence. Spoken by former Army staff sergeant, Mark Mercer, this can not ring truer for the Ravens backfield. Collins has not lived up to the hype that people were buying into as the 2018 season began. He closed out 2017 by averaging 16.6 fantasy points per game and seemed to have a stranglehold on the Baltimore rushing duties.

That has not been the case and that made the Raven front office trade for Green Bay Packer running back, Ty Montgomery. Montgomery and Javorius Allen are now part of the rushing attack with Collins. This could lead to a true running-back-by-committee situation or this could bring more out of Collins. Since John Harbaugh mentioned that they would go to a more RBBC approach, Collins has looked more dynamic and he could end up being the running back we all hoped for when 2018 began. Trust him this week as a solid flex play against the Steelers.

Others for consideration:

Jordan Howard vs. Buffalo Bills

Kenyan Drake vs. New York Jets

Nick Chubb vs. Kansas City Chiefs

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LeSean McCoy vs. Chicago Bears

McCoy had his best game of the season against the Patriots on Monday night. Throw that out the window because this week’s game against the Bears is a terrible start. Chicago is the only team in the league to not allow a rushing touchdown and one of four teams to allow less than 90 rushing yards per game. Even though McCoy got most of his points through the passing attack, with Nathan Peterman starting for the Bills, McCoy will be relied upon more to make this offensive machine operate. This will be the main focal point for the Bears defense to game plan for and they will not have issues stopping McCoy on a consistent basis. Keep McCoy far far away from your starting lineup.

Tevin Coleman vs. Washington Redskins

Washington is currently at the top of their division by having a very stout defense. Their defense is stout because they are not allowing teams to run the ball on them. The Redskins defense has only allowed 561 rushing yard so far this season. With the Falcons losing Devonta Freeman for the rest of the year, Coleman has stepped into the starting role and has not exactly flourished. While playing well, Coleman has not been able to replicate the sort of punishing rush attack that Freeman displayed. This match-up is not good for the Atlanta running game this week and you are better off starting someone else this week in the place of Coleman.

Others for consideration: Derrick Henry vs. Dallas Cowboys, James Conner vs. Baltimore Ravens, Peyton Barber vs. Carolina Panthers

Wide Receivers

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Kenny Golladay vs. Minnesota Vikings

Golden Tate has moved on to Philadelphia and his target shares are now up for grabs in the Detroit passing offense. Golladay has become a great option in the passing attack for the Lions and I like him to become more reliable than his teammate, Marvin Jones Jr. The Vikings have surrendered 566 passing yards in their past three games.

In a divisional match-up, the Lions will look to move up in the division with a win and they will rely on Matthew Stafford to do that. He will not be looking at Golladay to move the ball down the field and Jones to hit the home run in the air attack. Look for Golladay to have a serious breakout the rest of the season and his first stop in his breakout tour: Minneapolis, Minnesota.

*Sleeper Start*

Marquez Valdes-Scantling vs. New England Patriots

The health of the Green Bay receivers room is what makes Valdes-Scantling’s stock rise in this game against New England. This also means that if Randall Cobb or Geronimo Allison are healthy enough to play, Valdes-Scantling’s stock severely drops. In this particular game though, he will be targeted a good number of times as they will look to air it out against the Patriots defense.

New England is currently tied for fifth worst in the league in passing touchdowns allowed. This mean that Packer’s quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, will look to take advantage of that susceptible Patriots passing defense. This means that even if Cobb or Allison plays this week, Valdes-Scantling will be involved as well and could be a great streaming option in the flex position.

Others for consideration:

D.J. Moore vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chris Hogan vs. Green Bay Packers

Demaryius Thomas vs. Denver Broncos

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Calvin Ridley vs. Washington Redskins

In the past couple weeks, Ridley has been third on the team in targets. He has had to work behind tight end Austin Hooper and fellow receivers Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. After becoming a rookie sensation by catching three scores against the Saints and six total receiving touchdowns in the span of weeks two through four, Ridley has not looked like the same guy lately. This game against the Redskins will not make things any better and fantasy owners may be better off keeping him on the bench. Ridley has the ability to turn it back on for sure, but this is not the week to test that theory.

Kelvin Benjamin vs. Chicago Bears

Let’s not draw out the reasoning for why he is in the sit section of this column. With Peterman starting this week, everyone in the Buffalo offense takes a serious downgrade. Not to mention the fact that they are facing a very formidable defense in the Chicago Bears defense. If you decide to start Benjamin this week, you must be a Bills fan plain and simple. You are better off starting no one in the wide receiver slot than starting Benjamin this week. Don’t start any Bills player and you will be way better off.

Others for consideration:

Courtland Sutton vs. Houston Texans

Chris Godwin vs. Carolina Panthers

Michael Crabtree vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Tight Ends

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Trey Burton vs. Buffalo Bills

The Bills have only surrendered three touchdowns to opposing tight ends this entire year. Burton has been on the receiving end of three receiving touchdowns in three of the past four games. Which of these statistics will be more valuable to fantasy owners? Let’s look at the fact that Burton also has had a total of 23 targets in the past four games. This means that the Bears are getting Burton more involved in the offense and this spells trouble for the Buffalo Bills. Burton was a preseason darling and he is getting more targets as the season has gone on and he has good chance to be a second half monster. Start him with confidence against the Bills and you will be rewarded.

*Sleeper Start*

Chris Herndon vs. Miami Dolphins

Herndon has a total of 17 targets over the entire 2018 season. While that may be troubling, he also has had a receiving touchdown in three straight games. Couple that with the fact that of those 17 targets, 10 came over the last three weeks and Herndon is becoming a sneaky start every week. Now is he a guy worth keeping on your roster? Yes, but he is not an every week starter because he is too touchdown dependent. Playing against the Dolphins though, Herndon has a solid chance to find the end zone. Tight ends have scored five touchdowns against the Dolphins defense in these past three weeks. Pick up Herndon if you are in need of a replacement for Zach Ertz, Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, or Evan Engram. This will be a streaming option that you will not regret making.

Others for consideration:

O.J. Howard vs. Carolina Panthers

Greg Olsen vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

David Njoku vs. Kansas City Chiefs

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Jimmy Graham vs. New England Patriots

Graham has been one of the many fantasy disappointments of the 2018 campaign. Everyone was thinking that pairing Graham with future hall of fame quarterback Rodgers in the Packers offense will make him be the offensive dynamo he was back in New Orleans playing with Drew Brees. Clearly, he is not living up to those high expectations. Graham has not been as effective in the Green Bay passing attack and he is becoming irrelevant on your starting rosters as every week rolls on. This game against the Patriots may be his last chance to hang onto the final thread of your roster in general, but it doesn’t seem likely that Graham will prove to anyone he is worth rostering anymore.

Cameron Brate vs. Carolina Panthers

Jameis Winston is taking a seat in the Buccaneers offense. This means we will see the return of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fitzmagic hysteria begins again. While this may be great for the Buccaneers fan base and the offense in general, this is not a good sign for Brate. Howard has started to separate himself as the best tight end in the passing attack in Tampa Bay and Brate becomes the odd man out. Fitzpatrick has done a good job of spreading the ball around but he has not done a great job of getting Brate involved. So as long as Fitzpatrick is the starting QB, Brate is not worth putting in the starting lineup of your fantasy team.

Others for consideration:

Vance McDonald vs. Baltimore Ravens

Jordan Reed vs. Atlanta Falcons

Austin Hooper vs. Washington Redskins

Defense/Special Teams

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Houston Texans vs. Denver Broncos

Losing Thomas from their passing offense is going to hurt the Broncos in the long run and in this case, this coming week. In the past three weeks, the Texans defense is averaging 13 fantasy points per game and this could be trouble for an under-performing Keenum and the rest of the Denver offense. While the rushing attack in Denver has been getting the Broncos points, keep in mind that the Texans have only surrendered two rushing touchdowns all year. So points will come at a premium in this battle against the Texans and this is something you can take advantage of. Start the Texans defense as they will be able to keep the score low and possibly force some turnovers through the air if they pull ahead and force the Broncos to lean on Keenum too much.

*Sleeper Start*

Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Seattle’s fantasy defense has scored double-digit points in back-to-back games. When everyone was counting this defense out after losing so many players, they have kept their faith and are playing just as well as their Legion of Boom of days. This game against the Chargers is going to be tough, but allowing the third least amount of passing yards though is something that will contain the Chargers dynamic aerial attack. Philip Rivers is such a great quarterback, but this defense is looking tougher every week. Expect a tough game but they should be able to generate pressure on Rivers and force him into making some poor decisions which will lead to some turnovers. Risky play, but it should be worth it this week and could pay off big for you.

Others for consideration:

Washington Redskins vs. Atlanta Falcons

New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins

Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sit Em

Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints

This game is going to be a shoot-out. While the Rams defense has been one the best in the league after eight weeks, they have looked shaky at best when playing elite level quarterbacks. Against Rodgers and the Packers last week, the Rams gave up 27 points and 359 total yards. Playing against a very-well balanced attack in the New Orleans offense will mean that we should be looking for other options for our starting defense this week. Don’t try to buck this trend of sitting the best scoring defense in fantasy right now. Sit them and find someone else to start, you’ll be glad you did.

New England Patriots vs. Green Bay Packers

Let’s keep this short and sweet. The Patriots are playing Aaron Rodgers.

Others for consideration:

Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets

Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Tennessee Titans vs. Dallas Cowboys

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Amar Desai

Author Amar Desai

Have been a sports fan my whole life and football has been my sport of choice. Growing up in the Bay Area (San Jose), I have been a San Francisco 49ers since day one. Avid fantasy football player and just love learning, reading, and talking about football.

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Sports Al Dente 2018