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Fantasy Football start 'em sit 'em Week 9
3:24 | Fantasy
Fantasy Football start 'em sit 'em Week 9
Saturday November 7th, 2015

All things considered, this is about the least painful a six-team bye week could be for the fantasy community. Look at the teams taking a rest this week. There really aren’t that many consistent fantasy starters among the Chiefs, Ravens, Texans, Seahawks, Cardinals and Lions. You’ve got one quarterback, Carson Palmer, who starts every week, no matter what. Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett and Chris Johnson are the only regular starters at running back we’re missing, and perhaps Charcandrick West has put his name in that category, as well. DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson are stars, but the three other teams aren’t contributing meaningful receiver production this season (sorry, Jeremy Maclin). Travis Kelce and Jimmy Graham start every week, but they’ve both been fantasy disappointments this season. This may be the heaviest bye week in terms of teams sitting, but it’s nowhere near as damaging to the fantasy landscape as Week 7, when the Bengals, Bears, Broncos and Packers were unavailable.

That’s no solace, however, if you own, say, Hopkins, Palmer and Fitzgerald. An owner in that position might be scrambling. We can help with all the last-minute advice you need in the Week 9 Cheat Sheet.

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Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Dolphins

26th

21st

20th

19th

Bills

19th

17th

22nd

16th

Vegas lines

Bills -3

Over/under 44

Bills o/u 23.5

Dolphins o/u 20.5

Back in Week 3, the Bills went into Miami and dropped a 41-14 hurting on the Dolphins that hastened the firing of Joe Philbin. This week, they welcome a Dolphins team that has played much better since the coaching change. Three points and a total of 44 feels fair.

Player who could surprise: Tyrod Taylor

Taylor’s set to make his return from a knee injury that has had him out since Week 5. He also should have Sammy Watkins back at his disposal after the receiver dealt with calf and ankle injuries over the last few weeks. Taylor always has a high floor thanks to his rushing production—he has had at least four points via his legs in three of five games—and now he gets a Dolphins team that has allowed the seventh-most points per game to quarterbacks.

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Player who could disappoint: LeSean McCoy

The Bills may have torched the Dolphins in their first meeting, but McCoy had little to do with it. He had just 16 yards on 11 carries in that game before leaving with an ankle injury. Taylor’s return should help create more running lanes, but McCoy just hasn’t been very efficient this season. Plus, with Karlos Williams returning, you can bet on him giving up somewhere between six and 10 carries.

Matchup to watch: Sammy Watkins vs. Brent Grimes

Grimes isn’t playing at the level he did a few seasons ago, but he’s still 28th in the league in pass coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. He’ll likely spend most of the afternoon covering Watkins, giving the Clemson product a very tough test in his return from injury.

Injury report

Jordan Cameron (hamstring): Questionable

Sammy Watkins (ankle): Questionable

Karlos Williams (concussion): Probable

Green Bay Packers at Carolina Panthers

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Packers

7th

20th

9th

23rd

Panthers

4th

19th

6th

13th

Vegas lines

Packers -3

Over/under 46.5

Packers o/u 25

Panthers o/u 22

For the second straight week, the Packers are road favorites against an undefeated team. It didn’t work out too well against the Broncos, but this is a new week against a defense that, as good as it is, isn’t quite as good as the one that shut the down last week.

Player who could surprise: Davante Adams

Adams is the forgotten man in Green Bay, but he played 96.3% of the snaps last week, getting more run than James Jones. On top of that, Jones is likely to draw Josh Norman, especially with Randall Cobb doing most of his work out of the slot. That means Adams will be matched up with Charles Tillman, who is having a good year, but isn’t the corner he once was. The Packers need someone who can stretch the field, and Adams is the most likely candidate.

Player who could disappoint: Cam Newton

I’m loath to put Newton here because he has played so well this season and, just like we discussed with Tyrod Taylor, his rushing production gives him a safe floor. Still, the Packers have been very stingy with quarterbacks this season, and Newton doesn’t have a pass catcher he can trust, other than Greg Olsen. The Packers have the dogs to take Olsen away and force Newton to beat them with the likes of Ted Ginn and Corey Brown. That could get ugly.

Matchup to watch: Greg Olsen vs. HaHa Clinton-Dix

The Packers play mostly zone coverage out of their 3-4 base, but Clinton-Dix figures to be the primary man in coverage on Olsen. The Panthers win on the strength of their defense and run game, but they need Olsen to pop a few big plays every week. It’ll be up to Clinton-Dix to keep that from happening.

Injury report

Sam Shields (shoulder): Doubtful

St. Louis Rams at Minnesota Vikings

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Rams

2nd

11th

4th

8th

Vikings

8th

9th

8th

25th

Vegas lines

Vikings -2

Over/under 40

Rams o/u 19

Vikings o/u 21

Todd Gurley, Adrian Peterson, and two fearsome defenses, with a crucial playoff tiebreaker hanging in the balance. This game may not have looked all that exciting back when the schedule was first released, but Rams-Vikings should be one of the better games of Week 9. Expect a low-scoring affair with the running backs dominating the action.

Player who could surprise: Tavon Austin

Unless you want to buy in on Jared Cook, Mike Wallace or Charles Johnson, it’s hard to find someone who might surprise in this game. Austin is pushed into a lot of starting lineups because of all the byes this week, and at least you know he’ll have the ball in his hands at least five or six times. That’s all he needs to break a big play or two, as we’ve seen in a few games this season. He’s not a traditional receiver, so he may not take advantage of Minnesota’s corners the way others have this year, but it’s worth stating that Xavier Rhodes and Terence Newman don’t scare anyone.

MORE: Rest-of-season rankings: Bulk up your rosters for a playoff run

Player who could disappoint: Stefon Diggs

Diggs has turned into a star in four short weeks, catching 25 passes for 419 yards and two touchdowns, good for an average of 13.7 points per game in standard-scoring leagues. The Rams, however, have made life miserable for opposing receivers and quarterbacks this season. If this is indeed a game dominated by Peterson, Gurley and the defenses, Diggs’ numbers could suffer.

Matchup to watch: Vikings offensive line vs. Rams defensive line

The Rams rate first in run defense and fourth in pass rush, according to Pro Football Focus. In other words, their front four is the best in the league. Peterson may still be a top-three back, but he’s going to need his offensive line to do work in its biggest challenge of the season to date. In that regard, Gurley is in a much better situation. Neither has a great matchup, but Gurley has the benefit of not going up against an absolutely dominant front four.

Injury report

Robert Quinn (knee): Questionable

Stefon Diggs (hamstring): Probable

Washington Redskins at New England Patriots

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Redskins

15th

14th

21st

6th

Patriots

20th

7th

25th

7th

Vegas lines

Patriots -14

Over/under 52

Redskins o/u 19

Patriots o/u 33

It’s a little surprising that this line is only 14 points. Short of a backdoor cover, how is Washington going to keep this game within two scores? You’re starting all your Patriots, and doing it with confidence. On the other side, Washington’s passing game could get going in garbage time, especially with DeSean Jackson back from a hamstring injury.

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Player who could surprise: LeGarrette Blount

There’s no question that Blount is game-flow dependent. When that flow is in his favor, however, he typically shines. Blount has been active for six games this year, four of which the Patriots have won comfortably. In those four games, Blount has averaged 13.93 fantasy points per game. You can bet on seeing a ton of Blount in the second half of what should be another Patriots blowout. This is also a great matchup for Blount, with Washington’s run defense checking in at 26th in run defense, according to Pro Football Focus.

Player who could disappoint: Dion Lewis

Lewis hasn’t had nearly the share of the work in New England’s backfield since Blount got up to speed in Week 3. We know he’s going to have a big role in the offense in the first half, but there’s no guarantee he gets in on the fun with all mouths to feed in New England.

Matchup to watch: Washington offensive line vs. New England pass rush

There’s no question about what the Patriots will do in this game. There’s reason for Jackson’s and Jordan Reed’s owners to be excited, simply because Kirk Cousins is probably going to attempt 40 passes. The only way they come through, however, is if Washington’s below average line can hold up in the second half.

Injury report

DeSean Jackson (hamstring): Questionable

DeAngelo Hall (toe): Questionable

Chris Culliver (knee): Questionable

Bashaud Breeland (hamstring): Questionable

Julian Edelman (knee): Probable

Dion Lewis (abdomen): Probable

Tennessee Titans at New Orleans Saints

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Titans

10th

5th

14th

21st

Saints

32nd

26th

28th

27th

Vegas lines

Saints -9

Over/under 48.5

Titans o/u 19.5

Saints o/u 28.5

The Titans aren’t quite as willing a defensive patsy as the Giants, but Drew Brees and the Saints’ passing game was already clicking before he threw for seven touchdowns and more than 500 yards last week. Marcus Mariota returns to the lineup after missing two games with a knee injury and could really take advantage of this New Orleans defense.

Player who could surprise: Marcus Mariota

The Saints have allowed the most points per game to quarterbacks, and it wasn’t that’s not just Eli Manning’s 350-yard, six-touchdown effort inflating the numbers. Three other quarterbacks—Carson Palmer, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck—scored at least 25 points against the Saints and they’ve held just one passer below 19.6 points. That was Brandon Weeden, and even he threw for 246 yards and a touchdown. Even without Kendall Wright (knee), he should play well in his return to the field.

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Player who could disappoint: Ben Watson

Watson has turned into a real weapon for Brees, scoring three touchdowns in his last four games, and going north of 120 yards in two of those contests. Still, Brees doesn’t really key in on any one pass catcher, and with Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead also commanding his attention, there’s always a chance one gets lost in the shuffle. Even that ignores the fact that Mark Ingram has been one of the most effective running backs this season, and can steal looks in the passing game, as well.

Matchup to watch: Ingram and the Saints offensive line vs. Titans rush defense

Ingram is second in overall points among running backs and eighth in points per game. A lot of that is thanks to the Saints line, which ranks fourth in run blocking according to Pro Football Focus. The Titans have allowed the fifth-fewest points per game to running backs this year, surrendering 4.1 yards per carry to the position.

Injury report

Kendall Wright (knee): Out

Marcus Mariota (knee): Probable

Harry Dougals (ribs): Probable

Willie Snead (knee): Probable

Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Jaguars

22nd

25th

15th

18th

Jets

14th

1st

17th

10th

Vegas lines

Jets -7

Over/under 41

Jaguars o/u 18

Jets o/u 25

The Jets enter this game as comfortable favorites, but they also have a lot of injuries on offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick has torn ligaments in his thumb on his non-throwing hand, while both Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Eric Decker (knee) are not quite 100%. All three will play, but this could be a game where the Jets lean on the run game and their defense.

Player who could surprise: Chris Ivory

We seem to have one running back every single week who’s a mid-tier RB1 that could feasibly be the top-scoring player at the position. Ivory is that guy, given the injury questions related to the Jets passing game, as well as Jacksonville’s friendliness to backs from a fantasy standpoint. At the same time, the Jaguars have allowed the fewest yards per carry this season and are fourth in rush defense DVOA. This could be a very low scoring game.

MORE: Week 9: Complete player rankings for every position

Player who could disappoint: T.J. Yeldon

Latavius Murray and Ryan Mathews both ran for more than 100 yards against the Jets, but they have been the exception this year. It’s worth mentioning that Mathews got there on the back of one big run. Yeldon had the best game of his rookie season in Jacksonville’s Week 7 win over Buffalo, but this is going to be a completely different beast on Sunday. You should still play him, but understand that he’s more a low-end RB2.

Matchup to watch: Allen Robinson vs. Darelle Revis

Robinson has had three huge games in a row, totaling 19 catches, 256 yards and four touchdowns. Of course, Revis wasn’t on the other side of the line of scrimmage in any of those games. He has allowed just a 41.8 quarterback rating and a 50% catch rate this year. Revis also has three interceptions against just one touchdown allowed.

Injury report

Allen Hurns (ankle): Probable

Julius Thomas (abdomen): Probable

Eric Decker (knee): Probable

Brandon Marshall (ankle): Questionable

Chris Ivory (hamstring): Probable

Ryan Fitzpatrick (thumb): Probable

Willie Colon (knee): Questionable

Oakland Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Raiders

25th

13th

12th

32nd

Steelers

12th

3rd

16th

30th

Vegas lines

Steelers -4.5

Over/under 48

Raiders o/u 22

Steelers o/u 26.5

This is the third-highest total of the week, behind Washington-New England and Chicago-San Diego. The Raiders and Steelers bring strong passing games into this game, and neither brings that good of a passing defense. Oakland is basically league average in pass rush and coverage, while Pittsburgh is next-to-last in covering the pass. Get ready for some fireworks from Derek Carr and Ben Roethlisberger.

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Player who could surprise: Martavis Bryant

The Steelers are 10th in pass offense DVOA, and that’s with Roethlisberger active for just half of the season to date. He’s going to get after this Raiders defense, and it won’t be just Antonio Brown on the receiving end. Brandon Marshall (nine catches, 108 yards) and Eric Decker (six catches, 60 yards, one touchdown) both burned the Raiders last week. Brown and Bryant can attack this defense in the same way.

Player who could disappoint: Latavius Murray

The Steelers have surrendered the third-fewest points per game to running backs, allowing just one touchdown and 3.85 yards per carry to the position. The Raiders best chance for pulling off the upset is riding Carr’s right arm. On top of that, they may not have a choice if Roethlisberer and the passing game performs as expected. Murray would be the main casualty if that happened.

Matchup to watch: Raiders offensive line vs. Steelers pass rush

Carr has received a ton of attention this season, but he likely wouldn’t have taken this leap without the Oakland line ranking third in pass blocking, according to Pro Football Focus. The Steelers’ pass rush, meanwhile, sits at ninth in the rankings. No matter if you’re invested in the Raiders or Steelers, you want the offense to win this battle.

Injury report

Martavis Bryant (illness): Probable

Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Falcons

5th

29th

3rd

28th

49ers

17th

28th

29th

14th

Vegas lines

Falcons -7

Over/under 44.5

Falcons o/u 26

49ers o/u 19

The last thing the 49ers need is a visit from a 6-2 Falcons team that brings Devonta Freeman, Julio Jones and a must-win mentality after dropping a home game against the Buccaneers in which they turned the ball over four times. There’s still room for the 49ers to fall before hitting rock bottom. They’ll explore those depths on Sunday.

Player who could surprise: Falcons defense

Rarely is the Atlanta defense on the fantasy radar, but Blaine Gabbert’s presence changes things. While much of the attention is focused on Gabbert, take a look at who he has around him in this offense. Carlos Hyde (foot) is out and Anquan Boldin (hamstring) will likely join him. Reggie Bush (knee) is on IR. Garrett Celek is the starting tight end. Gabbert had as much firepower available in his Missouri days as he will against the Falcons. This is the best streaming defense remaining in Week 9.

Player who could disappoint: Matt Ryan

Don’t misconstrue what is being said here. Ryan is a strong play in all formats this week, and you should be starting him with confidence. Having said that, there’s a better than average chance that this game gets out of hand. If it does, the Falcons will ride Freeman and the run game hard in the second half. In that scenario, Ryan better get at least two of the touchdowns that the Falcons rack up before halftime. Otherwise, it could be a letdown game for his owners.

Matchup to watch: Falcons offensive line vs. 49ers front seven

Freeman has turned into one of the best fantasy backs in the league this year, but the line has more than done its job. According to Pro Football Focus, the Falcons have the best run blocking in the league. This isn’t so much a matchup to watch as a clinic at which you can marvel on Sunday. Freeman should be running through gaping holes in the defense.

Injury report

Leonard Hankerson (hamstring): Out

Vic Beasley (foot): Questionable

Carlos Hyde (foot): Out

Anquan Boldin (hamstring): Doubtful

Garrett Celek (concussion): Questionable

New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Giants

28th

22nd

23rd

31st

Buccaneers

30th

15th

30th

20th

Vegas lines

Giants -2.5

Over/under 49

Giants o/u 25.5

Buccaneers o/u 23

Fresh off a masterpiece of quarterbacking, Eli Manning gets a Buccaneers team that has allowed the third-most points per game to the position. He and Odell Beckham should thrive once again. The Buccaneers will be shorthanded, playing without Vincent Jackson (knee) and likely missing Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder), as well. Expect a heavy dose of Doug Martin

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Player who could surprise: Dwayne Harris

Sterling Moore or Alterraun Verner will likely draw Harris, the Giants’ slot receiver. No matter who it is, Harris should have the advantage. Moore has allowed a 109.6 QB rating while covering slot receivers, while Verner’s QB rating allowed in the slot sits at a cool 130.

Player who could disappoint: Mike Evans

All the external factors point toward Evans getting DeAndre Hopkins-like attention from Jameis Winston on Sunday. Manning should be able to throw all over the Buccaneers defense, forcing Winston to try to do the same. Jackson and Seferian-Jenkins will likely be on the sidelines, making Evans the only reliable target in the offense. Having said that, Evans is dealing with groin and oblique injuries, and the Giants can roll coverage to him all game long if they so desire. Betting on him to be a WR1 may be a risky proposition.

Matchup to watch: Mike Evans vs. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Oh yeah, Evans will also have to deal with the corner that Pro Football Focus grades as the seventh-best in coverage thus far this season. We don’t have nearly the receiver-corner matchups we did a week ago, but this should be every bit as good as those were.

Injury report

Orleans Darkwa (back): Probable

Rueben Randle (hamstring): Questionable

Larry Donnell (neck): Out

Vincent Jackson (knee): Out

Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder): Questionable

Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Broncos

1st

16th

2nd

11th

Colts

21st

27th

24th

24th

Vegas lines

Broncos -6.5

Over/under 45

Broncos o/u 26

Colts o/u 20

Who would’ve thought back in the preseason we’d be talking about a pair of struggling quarterbacks when this game rolled around in Week 9? At least Peyton Manning brings an elite defense with him from Denver. He may also finally bring a run game, and that has to have the Colts concerned.

Player who could surprise: C.J. Anderson

Ronnie Hillman remains the starter for the Broncos, but Anderson picked up 101 yards on 14 carries in Denver’s win over Green Bay last week. The Broncos can win this game with their defense and run game, along with a helping of Manning-to-Demaryius Thomas, and that formula would call for a whole lot of Anderson in the second half. He’s a palatable flex play in a 13-game slate.

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Player who could disappoint: Andrew Luck

Who else? The Broncos have allowed the fewest points per game to quarterbacks, and just held the great Aaron Rodgers to 77 yards a week ago. Luck has struggled fro the word “go” this season, and is likely to be without T.Y. Hilton because of a foot injury. You may be forced to go with him because of your roster, but if you have another viable option, you’ll may want to bench Luck.

Matchup to watch: Demaryius Thomas vs. Vontae Davis

Davis hasn’t been his usual lockdown self this year, but he’s still allowing a QB rating of just 74 on the dot. Thomas, meanwhile, hasn’t been finding the end zone with his typical regularity, but he is on pace for 128 catches and 1,588 yards. In other words, both are still having phenomenal seasons. Their battle on Sunday could be the highlight of this game.

Injury report

Emmanuel Snaders (shoulder): Probable

Ronnie Hillman (thigh): Questionable

T.Y. Hilton (foot): Questionable

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Eagles

13th

4th

27th

5th

Cowboys

6th

23rd

5th

9th

Vegas lines

Eagles -3

Over/under 44.5

Eagles o/u 24

Cowboys o/u 21

I’m going to be honest. I couldn’t possibly be less excited for this game. The Monday night game may feature two teams going nowhere, but at least they both bring decent offenses to the table. If you like plodding run games and punts, Eagles-Cowboys is for you. The under looks awfully nice in this one. These teams might need eight quarters to combine for 45 points.

Player who could surprise: Dez Bryant

Bryant isn’t the sort of player we think of being a surprise, but have you watched Matt Cassel play quarterback the last two weeks? It’ll be a miracle for any receiver to catch four or five passes in this game. Of course, that might be all a player like Bryant needs to show up for his fantasy owners. He clearly wasn’t at 100% last week, but the good news is he came through the loss to the Seahawks none worse for wear. His foot should be one more week closer to full strength.

Player who could disappoint: Darren McFadden

The good news for McFadden owners is there’s no doubt that he’s the man in the Dallas backfield. The bad news is that, one week after a terrible matchup with the Seahawks, he gets another with the Eagles. The discussion for best front seven in the NFL includes the Rams, Eagles and no one else. The Cowboys will ride McFadden, but that didn’t help last week when he got just 62 yards on 20 carries. His stat line could resemble that this week.

Matchup to watch: Cowboys offensive line vs. Eagles front seven

The jokes about punting still apply, but if you love line play this will actually be a really fun matchup. The Cowboys trail only the Falcons in run-blocking efficiency, while the Eagles rank sixth in run defense, according to Pro Football Focus. Bennie Logan, Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton form the backbone of one of the league’s best run-stuffing units.

Injury report

Ryan Mathews (groin): Questionable

DeMeco Ryans (hamstring): Questionable

Dez Bryant (foot): Probable

Chicago Bears at San Diego Chargers

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Bears

27th

10th

26th

4th

Chargers

16th

31st

7th

22nd

Vegas lines

Chargers -4

Over/under 49

Bears o/u 23

Chargers o/u 26.5

These teams may have just four wins between them, but they can both score and that’ll make for a fun Monday night game, at least from a fantasy perspective. Even without Matt Forte (knee) and Keenan Allen (kidney), this game has the second-highest total of Week 9, trailing only Washington-New England.

Player who could surprise: Jay Cutler

Cutler will post a QB1 game this week. You can take that to the bank. He has had at least 18.2 points in all four games since returning from a hamstring injury and gets a San Diego defense that has been terrible against the pass in its last two games. We always talk about receivers who can help carry their quarterbacks to big games, but Alshon Jeffery gets left out of that discussion all too often. He has 18 catches for 263 yards and two scores since getting back on the field after his own hamstring injury, and could realistically be a top-five fantasy receiver for the rest of the year. Cutler does lose a bit of easy yardage with Forte out, but this is too good a matchup for him to be on your bench.

Player who could disappoint: Philip Rivers

Don’t get this twisted. I think Rivers should start across the board in all formats, and I’d rather play him in a season-long league than Cutler. Still, the loss of Allen cannot be overstated. He’s responsible for 27.6% of Rivers’ completions, 26.3% of his yards, and 22.2% of his touchdowns. Allen is a true No. 1 receiver. Neither Stevie Johnson nor Malcom Floyd fit that bill, though Rivers will have to lean on both for the rest of the season. Additionally, the Bears have held four of the seven quarterbacks they’ve played this year below their season average for fantasy points per game. Rivers is still a QB1, but he’s of the low-end variety.

Matchup to watch: Martellus Bennett vs. Melvin Ingram and Eric Weddle

The responsibility for covering Bennett, Cutler’s No. 2 weapon, will largely fall to Ingram and Weddle. Ingram has seen the most snaps in coverage among San Diego’s linebackers, and has allowed five receptions on seven targets for 83 yards. Weddle is expected to return from a groin injury this week, though he still may be at less than full health. Bennett’s stats have slipped this season, but he’s still one of the best all-around tight ends in the league. With Forte and Eddie Royal (knee) out, Bennett could very well see 10-plus targets on Monday night.

Injury report

The official injury report for Monday night is not available until Sunday, but we know Forte and Royal are out with knee injuries. Gates (knee) and Weddle (groin) are expected to return, but Ladarius Green (foot) didn’t practice all week. He’ll almost certainly be inactive.

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