By Jaime Eisner
It’s Sunday morning! Time to finalize your lineups in season-long and DFS formats. With so much news flying around all week, are you finding it difficult to keep up with it all? Well, you’re in luck.
Every Sunday morning here on Sports Illustrated we’ll condense all the major news and notes into this last-minute advice column to get you fully up to speed before the 1 p.m. EST games kick off. It will include everything you need to know from injuries, to surprise inactives, to crucial weather information and more. We won’t just tell you what’s happening, we’ll give you analysis you can use to help you win. Don’t set your lineups before checking Sports Illustrated on Sunday mornings.
WR Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings (Probable)
Thielen will test his injured hamstring on Sunday morning during warm-ups to see if he can go. He didn’t miss a practice this week and he told reporters on Friday that he was optimistic he would play. Thielen is a must-play if he’s active, but if he’s not, Stefon Diggs becomes a true WR1 (he’s a high-end WR2 if Thielen plays) and Bisi Johnson would make his way into the fringe flex conversation.
WR T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts (OUT)
We learned on Friday that Hilton will not just miss Week 9, but perhaps up to a month of action. There are no safe pass-catching options on the Colts, but WR Zach Pascal becomes the de-facto No. 1 WR and Chester Rogers should see the biggest bump in snaps. The former is only a couple weeks removed from a six-reception, 106-yard and two-touchdown performance. The latter put up double-digit fantasy points and led all Colt receivers in snaps when Hilton was out in Week 4. Rookie Parris Campbell should also take on a larger role, but can’t be trusted for fantasy purposes just yet. The Steelers are fairly strong against WR1s, so it may be best to sit this situation out.
QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs (OUT)
Mahomes will work out before the game, but the sense is it’ll be one more week before the reigning MVP returns to game action. The Chiefs activated Chad Henne off IR on Saturday and he’ll back up Matt Moore.
For fantasy purposes Moore is only a play in 2QB leagues, while Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce remain must-plays regardless. Mecole Hardman, who caught a TD last week but had just two receptions, is a boom-or-bust flex option. The same can be said for Sammy Watkins, who returned to the field and caught five of his eight targets. Both are low-end WR4s this week.
WR Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers (Probable)
There wasn’t much doubt Samuel would play despite his shoulder injury. However, he doesn’t have the greatest matchup this week. The Titans are one of the 10 stingiest defenses against opposing wideouts. Samuel only has one double-digit point performance in his last four games, so he’s nothing more than a speculative flex option in Week 9.
TE Chris Herndon IV, New York Jets (Doubtful)
It looks like Herndon’s 2019 debut has been postponed at least one more week. If you were counting on Herndon’s return, look to his teammate Ryan Griffin as a comparable replacement. Griffin has three touchdowns over the last three weeks and out-snapped every Jets' pass-catcher in Week 8. He’s a low-end TE1 this week.
TE Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans (OUT)
Walker is out again this week, which is good news for Jonnu Smith owners. Smith has developed some chemistry with quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Since Tannehill took over two games ago, Smith is only behind Darren Waller and Austin Hooper as the No. 3 overall TE with 14.6 PPR points per game. Smith is a Top 10 TE play this week.
RB Chris Thompson, Washington Redskins (OUT)
Thompson is out again this week. That shouldn’t be a surprise, so hopefully you’ve made other plans. The Bills have struggled a bit against opposing RBs this year, allowing rushing TDs in four consecutive games and seven rushing TDs total over the last six weeks. You can probably ignore Thompson’s replacement in Wendell Smallwood, but Adrian Peterson is a sneaky flex play this weekend.
WR DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles (Probable)
Jackson had a huge performance in Week 1 (8/154/2), but hasn’t taken the field since. He’s expected to suit up today and should fill in as a low-end WR3 or flex option in a tough matchup at best. He always has the potential to go off like he did in Week 1, so he’s a more attractive play if you’re a heavy underdog in your matchup.
RB James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers (OUT)
While running out the clock with about two minutes left in the game, James Conner fell hard on his shoulder and immediately headed to the sidelines for trainers to evaluate him . Conner had a questionable tag all week, but many expected Conner to miss some time after being evaluated with an AC Joint Injury.
RB Jaylen Samuels, Pittsburgh Steelers (Active)
The Colts are fairly stingy when it comes to allowing fantasy points to running backs, but Jaylen Samuels is in line to get almost all of the touches in Pittsburgh's backfield. No Connor means Samuels is an intriguing RB2 with Trey Edmunds and Tony Brooks-James as the only other running backs available for Pittsburgh in Week 9. Samuels had 18 touches and 23.54 fantasy points in PPR scoring back in Week 4 against the Bengals. It’s reasonable to expect similar numbers this week, even without the timeshare.
WR Josh Gordon, Seattle Seahawks (OUT)
Josh Gordon is not playing today, but his waiver addition by Seattle is certainly intriguing going forward. Start Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf with the utmost confidence today.
TE O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (OUT)
Howard’s hamstring will keep him sidelined yet again this week. Howard has been one of the biggest busts of 2019. Many had him ranked among the top five tight ends heading into the season.
TE Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Active)
Cameron Brate, who was dealing with an injury to his ribs all week, is set to fill in as Jameis Winston’s top tight end. Brate may have set season highs in targets (6) and snaps (55) last week with Howard out, but he’ll need to catch a touchdown to be fantasy relevant. The Seahawks have allowed a touchdown to opposing tight ends in two of the last three weeks and rank in the bottom five when it comes to keeping TEs at bay. So if you’re looking for a dart throw, Brate is your guy.
RB Tra Carson, Detroit Lions (OUT)
Carson was placed on IR on Saturday, opening the door for the big Ty Johnson game fantasy owners were hoping for last week. Good luck figuring out Detroit’s exact backfield plans, but Johnson should get the first crack at carries. He is a solid flex play against a Raider defensive unit that ranks in the middle of the pack against opposing RBs this season. J.D. McKissic should continue to see work in the passing game, but is an RB4 at best. Practice squad call-up Paul Perkins could get a few touches as well, but isn’t fantasy relevant.
WR Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers (Questionable)
There’s a lot of optimism that Adams will play this afternoon, but we might not know more until closer to kick off. His pre-game workout will determine whether or not he’ll be active for Week 9. If he’s active you have to put him in your lineup, but temper expectations with his health not quite at 100%. He also faces a Chargers' defense that has held fantasy WRs in check so far this season. If Adams does not play, there’s a very good chance Allen Lazard leads all Packer WRs in snaps like he has the last two weeks. Even in that case, all Green Bay receivers would be in the WR4 category.
RB James White, New England Patriots (Questionable)
White popped up suddenly on the injury report late in the week with a toe injury. Ian Rapoport described the injury as “very minor,” and White did travel with the team to Baltimore. Because it’s the night game, we may not get a clear picture of his status before the early games kick off, so have a back-up plan in the event that White does not suit up. Rex Burkhead, who is also questionable for this game but played in Week 8 and practiced in a limited role all week, is an emergency option if White can’t go. If White plays, he’s a solid flex option in all formats.
WR Julien Edelman, New England Patriots (Probable)
Edelman has been on the injury report all week, but he hasn’t missed a practice and should be a full go for Sunday Night Football. He’s a borderline WR1 this week so he is a must-start.
WR N’Keal Harry, New England Patriots (Probable)
Harry was activated off IR on Saturday and should find himself on the field for the first time in his NFL career. The issue is he’s the fourth option behind Edelman, Phillip Dorsett and Mohamed Sanu. Harry is not worth playing in Week 9, but scout him as a potential waiver wire add.
WR Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens (Questionable)
Brown is expected to be on the field for Sunday Night Football, but how much he’ll be used is still to be determined. The rookie is dealing with a litany of injuries (foot, ankle, thigh) and hasn’t been on the field since Week 5. He also hasn’t had a double-digit fantasy-point performance since Week 2. He’s a mid-level WR3 or flex play this week with a ton of risk.
WR Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (Active)
We haven’t seen Shepard since Week 5 but he’s back and ready to roll this week. However, you may not want to immediately throw him into your lineup. Shepard has never performed quite as well when playing on the outside as opposed to the slot. With Golden Tate occupying the slot, and a tough matchup with the Cowboys on tap, you might want to leave him on your bench.
In the year of the backup quarterback, there will be two more changes at the most important position in the NFL in Week 9.
- The Washington Redskins will roll out rookie Dwayne Haskins as the 'Skins take on a stout Buffalo Bills' defense.
- Joe Flacco is out for the rest of the season. This sets the stage for third-year quarterback Brandon Allen. Allen will take his first NFL snaps in the first start of his career on Sunday against the Browns.
Neither signal caller is an advisable fantasy option in Week 9.
Not much to worry about when looking at the weather forecast.
One matchup to keep an eye on is the Redskins-Bills game. Winds are expected to be between 15-20 MPH, but should subside as the game moves on. The only impact here would be on the two kickers, Josh Allen, and John Brown. However, Allen remains a QB1 and Brown a WR2 despite the conditions. Neither kicker is a recommended play.
There’s a decent chance of rain in Miami for the Jets-Dolphins game, but nothing that affects any fantasy values.