Matthew Stafford, Lions
I never like to root for injuries, but Kerryon Johnson going down might have been the best thing for Matt Stafford’s fantasy statistics. The Lions have changed their offense from a boring ball-control offense to a quick strike, short passing game which takes occasional chances deep downfield. In his last two games with Johnson sidelined, Stafford has thrown for 706 yards and seven TDs. The Raiders are the second-most generous team in the NFL against opposing quarterbacks, so all the signs align for Stafford to have another big game this Sunday.
Sam Darnold, Jets
If there was ever a time for the Jets to get lucky and have an easy week, this was it. The Jets have played putrid football the past two games, getting annihilated by the Patriots and Jaguars. Miami has zero interest in winning and more importantly, I am sure that Jets head coach Adam Gase would love to stick it to his old franchise. Helping Darnold as well is that Dolphins top cover corner Xavien Howard was just placed on season-ending IR. All things are in place for a huge day for Sam Darnold—take a chance on him settling down and getting the job done in Week 9.
Baker Mayfield, Browns
In the first few games this season, the Broncos' defense looked scattered and had a horrible time stopping the run. However, in recent weeks their defense has picked up immensely, culminating with a monster performance last week against Jacoby Brissett and the Colts. The Broncos held Brissett to 202 yards passing with zero TDs. This week the Broncos play Baker Mayfield and the Browns, who have been one of the most error-prone teams in the league. Mayfield has 12 interceptions on the season and the Browns' offensive line has given up a plethora of sacks. Look for Mayfield to be underwhelming again this week and not worthy of being a fantasy starter. Frankie Taddeo even says to just go ahead and drop him.
Jamaal Williams, Packers
The Chargers' run defense has looked like a subway turnstile in the past month. The Steelers ran over them, then the Titans and finally Bears RB David Montgomery rushed for 135 yards against them last week. This week the Packers are going to give the ball to both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams about 30 times, and I can easily see them combining for 150-plus rushing yards. Every fantasy owner knows to start Jones, but the smart ones will realize that Williams is in a great spot, too, and start him as well.
Devin Singletary, Bills
At what point do the Bills just turn to Singletary and give him the ball 20 times a game? I think that could happen as early as Week 9 as they need to get Singletary more involved in both the running and passing attack. As opposed to Frank Gore, who has no second gear to speak of, Singletary is a fast, elusive runner who should remind the Redskins defense of Dalvin Cook. Sometimes fantasy owners need to take a shot on a player to emerge, and this week Singletary feels like that type of player.
David Montgomery, Bears
The Eagles' defense has been exceptional against the run all season long (they are the fifth-best team in the NFL) and they will go all-in on stopping Montgomery and force Mitch Trubisky to beat them with his arm. I expect that Montgomery won’t see much of the field this week, especially if the Bears fall behind and they need to use Tarik Cohen in the passing game. There will be many times for fantasy owners to use Montgomery, but this is clearly not the week.
Chris Conley, Jaguars
This pick is based on two things: 1) The fact that Dede Westbrook’s shoulder is so damaged that he will be ruled out for Week 9, and 2) The Texans' secondary is decimated with injuries to Bradley Roby, Johnathan Joseph and Lonnie Johnson. Conley has looked excellent when given the opportunity, and I think he slides right into the starting role this week and has at least six or seven targets for 80 yards.
Allen Robinson, Bears
As badly as the Bears' offense has been playing, is as well as Robinson has looked this season. He has been a target machine (26.1% of the team’s targets) who has averaged 16.7 fantasy points per game. The way to beat the Eagles is through the air, and it seems more than likely that Trubisky will be feeding the ball to Robinson as much as possible. Look for him to have a great chance at another 100-yard receiving game in a must-win matchup for the Bears.
Terry McLaurin, Redskins
Sometimes in fantasy football, we might like a player, but we don’t like his matchup. That is certainly the case with McLaurin. I love McLaurin and think that one day he will be one of the top young wide receivers in the league. However, in Week 9 I hate his matchup against Bills CB Tre’Davious White, who is one of the top players at his position in the NFL. The Bills also played very poorly on defense last week against the Eagles, so I think they will rebound in a big way and keep Washington from doing much on offense.
Jacob Hollister, Seahawks
Jacob who? Jacob Hollister is the new pass-catching tight end for the Seahawks. He has played in the team’s last two games and has five receptions on eight targets. So why am I touting him as a possible start? Because the Bucs are the second-worst team in the NFL against opposing tight ends and there is a good chance that Hollister finds the end zone. Ask yourself this one question—if Jonnu Smith can have 78 yards receiving and a TD against the Bucs, isn’t it possible that Hollister can have a good game, too?
T. J. Hockenson, Lions
The Raiders have struggled covering opposing tight ends all year long (they are the fourth-worst team in the NFL) and last week they let the Texans' Darren Fells catch six passes and get into the end zone twice. This is looking like a real problem for them defensively, which is something that I am sure Detroit would like to expose. Let’s throw in a smidge of recency bias with Hockenson, and I think you have a terrific start from him this week.
Jason Witten, Cowboys
The Giants don’t do much well at all, but the one thing that they have done consistently this season is cover opposing tight ends (they are the fifth-best team in the league). Witten has had four targets in every game this season but one (when he had seven), but I don’t see him doing much in Week 9. Dallas will dominate on the ground with Ezekiel Elliott and in the air with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. My guess is that they might not need much of Witten at all.
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