Fantasy News & Analysis

NFL Week 9 fantasy football start ’em, sit ’em

Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd (83) celebrates a touchdown in the third quarter during an NFL Week 8 game against the Cleveland Browns, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: Albert Cesare-USA TODAY Sports

• Start Geno Smith: The Seahawks quarterback has been a top-three player at the position since Week 3 and has a matchup that could push him even higher.

• Sit Darrell Henderson: Henderson was part of a three-man committee last week, with two more running backs potentially joining the competition this week.

• Start D.J. Moore: Moore has been unstoppable the past two weeks and is facing a Bengals secondary with several injuries.

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Deciding who to start or sit can be as easy as looking at the PFF rankings and starting the player ranked higher. This start’em, sit’em column digs a step deeper, looking into why someone you might typically start might not have a good week, or why someone overlooked might have a good week. In many cases, it’s the usual starters who should star, but we want to explore the borderline players, too.


QUARTERBACKS

START

Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks
  • Smith had a slow start to the season, but he’s scored the third-most fantasy points since Week 3.
  • His 78.8% adjusted completion percentage is the sixth-highest on the season, while his 6.8% big-time throw rate is second-best.
  • The Seahawks have the fourth-best matchup for quarterbacks, according to PFF’s strength of schedule tool.
  • They face the Cardinals, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this season.
  • Part of Smith’s success is the team’s offensive line, which has continued to improve.
  • Arizona as a team has a below-average pass-rush grade (66.6). Smith shouldn’t face much pressure in this game.
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
  • Cousins has scored the 10th-most fantasy points per game this season, at 18.0.
  • His 65.8% accuracy percentage is the third-highest for quarterbacks this season.
  • He is benefiting from some of the best offensive line play of his career.
  • Cousins has a 32-to-2 touchdown to interception ratio against man defenses over the past three seasons, compared to 24-to-19 against zone.
  • The Commanders employ man defense at the seventh-highest rate.
  • This is a revenge game — not that it matters.

SIT

Jared Goff, Detroit Lions
  • Goff has finished in the bottom half of the league in fantasy points for quarterbacks in each of his past three starts.
  • His 4.8% turnover-worthy throw rate is fifth-worst among quarterbacks this season.
  • The Lions have the worst matchup for quarterbacks, according to PFF’s strength of schedule tool.
  • They face the Packers, who have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.
Andy Dalton, New Orleans Saints
  • Dalton has finished outside of the top 16 fantasy quarterbacks in four of his five games this season.
  • He faces a Ravens defense that has allowed five passing touchdowns in the past six games, despite facing Josh Allen, Joe Burrow and Tom Brady during that stretch.
  • Both Allen and Brady were held under a 60% completion percentage.
  • Baltimore has struggled against the run, which could lead to more carries by Alvin Kamara rather than passes by Dalton.

RUNNING BACKS

START

Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins
  • Mostert has scored the 17th-most fantasy points for a running back over the past four weeks.
  • The Dolphins have the third-best matchup for running backs, according to PFF’s strength of schedule tool.
  • The Dolphins' offensive line has the third-highest advantage over the Bears' defensive line, according to PFF’s offensive line/defensive line matchup chart.
  • Chicago has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs per game this season.
  • Miami traded for Jeff Wilson Jr. at the trade deadline, but it’s likely he will be eased into action rather than instantly take any of Mostert’s playing time.
  • The Dolphins are clear favorites, which should keep them in situations where they can run the ball.

D’Onta Foreman, Carolina Panthers
  • Foreman has scored the fifth-most fantasy points for a running back in the past two weeks.
  • The Panthers have the sixth-best matchup for running backs, according to PFF’s strength of schedule tool.
  • The Bengals have allowed a running back to reach 90 or more yards in two of their past three games and have allowed running backs to gain at least 70 rushing yards in each of the past seven games.
  • There is a chance Chuba Hubbard returns to the Panthers’ lineup this week. Hubbard would likely take most of the pass-down snaps, but Foreman should still see at least double-digit carries after his strong performances so far.

SIT

Brian Robinson Jr., Washington Commanders
  • Robinson has scored only the 37th-most fantasy points for a running back since his Week 5 return.
  • His 3.3 yards per carry ranks fifth-worst for running backs.
  • The Commanders' offensive line has the fifth-worst advantage over the Vikings’ defensive line, according to PFF’s offensive line/defensive line matchup chart. This is largely because the Commanders have one of the worst offensive lines in the league.
  • The Vikings have held their past three opponents to an average of 38 rushing yards from their running backs per game.
  • Antonio Gibson started last week after Robinson started the previous two. He took the majority of snaps on early downs, which greatly limits Robinson’s upside.

Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams
  • Henderson has spent only one week as a top-20 fantasy running back this season.
  • His 0.21 fantasy points per snap is the lowest figure for a halfback this season.
  • He’s averaged a forced missed tackle on him once every 12.5 carries, the third-worst rate among running backs.
  • The Rams' offensive line has been a constant problem for anyone in the Los Angeles backfield.
  • The Rams face the Buccaneers, who have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs.
  • Henderson’s role was greatly limited last week, in part due to an illness. The Rams could have both Kyren Williams and Cam Akers back, which could further complicate the backfield.
  • He isn’t a great option because of the matchup, but it becomes even riskier considering the competition in the backfield.


WIDE RECEIVERS

START

Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals
  • Boyd has scored the 17th-most fantasy points for a wide receiver this season.
  • He is one of 13 wide receivers with three or more catches for 40 or more yards this season.
  • The Bengals have the seventh-best matchup for wide receivers, according to PFF’s strength of schedule tool.
  • Panthers slot cornerback Myles Hartsfield has allowed 23 receptions from the slot since Week 3, the fourth-most from that alignment.
  • His playing time is noticeably greater when one of the other two receivers on the Bengals is out. Ja’Marr Chase is expected to miss this week.

D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers
  • Moore has scored the second-most fantasy points among wide receivers over the past two weeks.
  • He is one of 11 wide receivers this season to catch three or more passes in the end zone.
  • His 14 catches of 15 or more yards rank eighth-most among wide receivers.
  • The Panthers face the Bengals, who had Chidobe Awuzie, Tre Flowers and Mike Hilton all not practicing to start the week, while Eli Apple missed last week and was limited to start the week. Moore will either get to consistently face inexperienced cornerbacks or injured ones.
  • Moore has a 30.0% targets per route run and 2.23 yards per route run against man defenses this season, compared to 20.6% and 1.46 against zone.
  • The Bengals have employed man coverage at the sixth-highest rate among teams this season.

SIT

Drake London, Atlanta Falcons
  • London has averaged 2.8 receptions for 26.4 yards and no touchdowns over the past five weeks.
  • The Falcons remain one of the most run-heavy teams this season, and that could become even more true with the potential return of Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson returned to practice this week.
  • Their matchup against the Chargers is expected to be relatively close, as several of the Chargers' key players will be out with injuries.
  • London has 2.24 yards per route run against zone defenses compared to 1.03 against man, but the Chargers play man at the eighth-highest rate.
Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts
  • Campbell had his two excellent games with double-digit targets, but he’s seen four or fewer targets in every other game this season, including just two targets last week.
  • His two targets came from new starting quarterback Sam Ehlinger. It would be good to see the second-year signal-caller prioritize Campbell before fantasy managers start him.
  • The Colts also fired offensive coordinator Marcus Brady earlier in the week. This makes the offensive situation even more uncertain this week.
  • Campbell has a below-average matchup, according to PFF’s wide receiver/cornerback matchup chart.


TIGHT ENDS

START

Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
  • Pitts started the season slow, and there have been more bumps along the way, but he’s still scored the 10th-most fantasy points per game since Week 3.
  • His 25.2% targets per route run ranks second-best among tight ends this season.
  • Pitts has four targets in the end zone over the past three weeks, compared to one during the first five.
  • The Chargers-Falcons game is expected to be the highest-scoring contest of the week, making the odds even higher that Pitts scores a touchdown. 
  • Pitts’ threat rate jumps up to 30.4% when facing a man defense, and both of his touchdowns have come against man.
  • The Chargers play man defense at the eighth-highest rate.
Hayden Hurst, Cincinnati Bengals
  • Hurst has scored the 11th-most fantasy points this season.
  • His 261 routes run are the second-most for a tight end this season, giving him a high floor.
  • The Bengals have the seventh-best matchup for tight ends, according to PFF’s strength of schedule tool.
  • The Panthers have given up 179 receiving yards to tight ends over the past two weeks on 12 catches.

SIT

Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins
  • Gesicki has three games as a top-eight fantasy tight end but another five games outside of the top 20.
  • Two of those strong performances came in weeks where Durham Smythe either completely missed or missed most of practice leading up to the game.
  • Smythe was limited to start practice this week, which was better than his start last week. His high playing time already limited Gesicki’s snaps last week.
  • Gesicki has played 54.5% of snaps this season while the Dolphins are playing from behind, compared to 48.7% when they have a lead.
  • Miami is a clear favorite against Chicago, so the team should be spending most of the game with a lead.

Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills
  • Knox has missed some games this season, but even accounting for that, he’s 18th in fantasy points per game among tight ends this season.
  • His 12.4% targets per route run ranks third-lowest among tight ends with 150 or more routes run. His 0.85 yards per route run is tied for the lowest.
  • The Bills are double-digit point favorites against the Jets. This could very well leave the Bills playing backups in the fourth quarter, as they have in other blowouts.
  • New York has yet to allow a tight end to score a touchdown this season.

KICKERS

START

Jake Elliott, Philadelphia Eagles
Dustin Hopkins, Los Angeles Chargers

SIT

Greg Joseph, Minnesota Vikings
Matt Gay, Los Angeles Rams

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

START

Minnesota Vikings
Cincinnati Bengals

SIT

New Orleans Saints
New York Jets
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