• Salute to Captain Kirk: Kirk Cousins suffered an unfortunate Achilles tear Sunday amid one of the best seasons of his career.
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Week 9 means we are officially at the halfway point of the 2023 NFL season and one step closer to the fantasy playoffs. This past weekend saw two major injuries for fantasy purposes with Kirk Cousins suffering a torn Achilles and Patriots WR Kendrick Bourne tearing his ACL that will cost them the rest of the 2023 season. On the returning side, names like De’Von Achane, Justin Jefferson, James Conner among others are nearing their returns from short-term injured reserve, providing a sliver of hope for those rostering these players and hanging on the playoff bubble while the Cardinals moved Joshua Dobbs at the trade deadline, all but ensuring Kyler Murray’s return sooner than later. A bit shorter of a list this week as we return to the standard 4 team bye weeks, but a number of pivotal players remain questionable ahead of the weekend. Without further ado let’s take a look at who’s trending to play and who’s trending to miss the week 9 slate.
Week 9 Byes
QB Kirk Cousins (Achilles), Minnesota Vikings (IR)
Sunday’s win over Green Bay was more bitter than sweet for the Vikings after Captain Kirk tore his Achilles early in the fourth quarter, ending his season. Cousins is a free agent this offseason, but with the Vikings squarely in the playoff hunt, they opted to trade for Joshua Dobbs, and he is projected to start next week against the New Orleans Saints while rookie Jaren Hall will reportedly get the nod this weekend in Atlanta. Hall is not super appealing for any of the Vikings pass catchers, but Dobbs should be competent enough to allow T.J. Hockenson, Jordan Addison, and Justin Jefferson (when healthy) to remain relevant.
QB Matthew Stafford (thumb), Los Angeles Rams
Stafford could not keep his hand out of the way in Sunday’s loss, forcing him to be sidelined for Brett Rypien in mop-up duty as he reportedly suffered a sprained UCL. Injured reserve was supposedly an option for the Rams, but they opted to keep Stafford active with a Week 10 bye on the horizon. Stafford did not practice Wednesday, so his status for Sunday is unknown. If Rypien is forced into the starting lineup, it does not bode well for Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua even given Rasul Douglas’ departure.
QB Josh Allen (shoulder), Buffalo Bills
Allen did not practice Wednesday as he rehabs a shoulder injury that he visibly struggled with last Thursday against Tampa Bay but did return on Thursday. It is his throwing shoulder that he is nursing, so this is certainly a situation to keep an eye on ahead of Buffalo’s Sunday night matchup. It is fair to anticipate that he will play but be ready to pivot Sunday morning if reports are not positive heading into the weekend.
QB Justin Fields (thumb), Chicago Bears
Fields continues to be held out of practice due to the thumb injury that has sidelined him for the last two games. Because he will likely miss this weekend, the Bears will once again roll with Tyson Bagent again. Bagent has an admirable story and has not been a complete dumpster fire, leaving DJ Moore and Cole Kmet as solid matchup-dependent plays. However, they draw a tough matchup against the Saints this weekend, who allow the second-lowest yards per passing attempt and force more contested targets than anyone in the league outside of Washington.
WR Puka Nacua (knee), Los Angeles Rams
Limited in practice Wednesday, it doesn’t sound like the knee is too much of a bother as Nacua has played dinged up essentially since week 1. Not a major concern yet, but one to monitor heading into the weekend nonetheless. If he were unable to go against Green Bay, Cooper Kupp would draw a hefty target share while Tutu Atwell and Tyler Higbee would receive small bumps as well, however, the success of any of these players is tied heavily to the status of Matthew Stafford.
RB Raheem Mostert (ankle), Miami Dolphins
Mostert did not participate Wednesday but said Thursday after a limited practice that he will be good to go for the Dolphins' Sunday morning matchup in Germany. Mostert has been a regular on this list thus far this season, yet his production has largely been unaffected. Keep Mostert locked into your lineup but keep an eye out Saturday for any negative reports.
QB Deshaun Watson (shoulder), Cleveland Browns
The Watson shoulder saga continues as he returned to practice this week with seemingly little limitations, providing optimism he can play against Arizona. Uncertainty remains, making this a situation to monitor heading into Sunday. While P.J. Walker has not lit the world on fire, he has shown to be able to support multiple pass catchers given a positive matchup and game script, making Amari Cooper and David Njoku safe-ish plays this weekend regardless.
WR Kendrick Bourne (knee), New England Patriots (IR)
For all the Patriots' offensive struggles this season, Kendrick Bourne has been a solid surprise sitting at WR30 heading into week 9. Sadly, Bourne tore his ACL against the Dolphins, forcing him out for the rest of the season. Look for rookie Demario Douglas to make more of an impact moving forward, while Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki could figure to benefit as well, especially in the red zone.
QB Tyrod Taylor (ribs), New York Giants
Taylor was knocked out of the Giants overtime loss and taken to the hospital. He will not play this week. Taylor has performed respectably in relief of Daniel Jones, but Jones has reportedly shed the non-contact jersey in practice and will presumably suit up this weekend. The Giants offense was largely disastrous with Jones before he went down with his neck injury, but a matchup with the Raiders defense could help Jones ease back into action.
RB Joe Mixon (chest), Cincinnati Bengals
Mixon popped up on the injury report this week due to a chest issue, limiting him in practice Wednesday and Thursday. This is certainly a situation to watch, but it’s hard to anticipate the Bengals keeping him sidelined for a huge matchup Sunday night with Buffalo. Rostering a pivot in the case he late-scratches is not a bad idea, Leonard Fournette return anyone?
WR Drake London (groin), Atlanta Falcons
London was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday due to a groin injury, introducing some serious doubt about his status for this week’s game. London has not exactly lived up to his draft status this season, and a QB change in Atlanta introduces more question marks than anything. Keep an eye on his status heading into Sunday, but it’s probably best to look elsewhere for receiver or FLEX help this week.
RB Dameon Pierce (ankle), Houston Texans
Pierce has struggled with inefficiency this season and an ankle injury doesn’t help his case. After not practicing Wednesday and Thursday, there is a good chance he is unable to go, making him a tough endorsement either way, especially with Devin Singletary’s usage increasing over the previous two weeks. Monitor Pierce’s status heading into the weekend if you are relying on him in a deeper league, but better RB3/FLEX plays are surely out there in the majority of leagues.
WR Tyler Lockett (hamstring), Seattle Seahawks
Lockett played through a hamstring ailment this past weekend after mixed practice participation last week, surprising with eight catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. Skepticism for week 9 is fair given the injury and impending matchup with a Baltimore Ravens secondary that continues to lead the league in passing yards per attempt and explosive pass play rate allowed. Keep an eye on his status come Sunday morning and have a pivot in mind if you’re relying on Lockett in a deeper league given his DNP Wednesday.
TE Darren Waller (hamstring), New York Giants
Waller has been ruled out for Week 9 and is reportedly a candidate for injured reserve following his hamstring injury this past weekend. His absence should open the door for Daniel Bellinger to receive additional work but likely not enough to merit fantasy considerations at the moment.
Others to monitor
RB Emari Demercado (toe), Arizona Cardinals
Demercado missed practice Wednesday and Thursday due to a toe injury, generating some questions about who will lead the Cardinals backfield this weekend. Demercado has been a solid FLEX play the past few weeks, but given the matchup, he likely won’t crack fantasy lineups this weekend regardless of health outside of deeper leagues.
RB Gus Edwards (toe), Baltimore Ravens
The Gus Bus missed practice Wednesday and put in a limited practice Thursday, but it does not sound like the toe is a concern moving forward. It is fair to expect a reduction in usage against the Cardinals if the issue lingers, which would relegate Edwards to a TD-dependent FLEX play. Continue to keep an eye on his status moving into the weekend but look for Justice Hill to receive additional work should Edwards be limited on Sunday.
RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), New York Giants
Barkley's ankle injury lingers, as he was limited Wednesday and Thursday following a hefty 39-touch game. This feels more like a load management issue for Barkley, but skepticism is fair given his history. Continue to monitor his status Friday and Saturday, but a plus matchup with a Raiders run defense that ranks near the bottom of the league in every metric makes it impossible to keep him on the bench if he’s active.
TE Logan Thomas (heel), Washington Commanders
Limited with a heel injury on Wednesday, Thomas may be on a reduced workload if the injury is severe enough, but he doesn’t appear to be in danger of missing the Commanders game Sunday in New England.
RB Jerome Ford (ankle), Cleveland Browns
Ford played through an ankle injury this past weekend that continues to limit him in practice. Ford saw a season-low in snaps and rushing attempts against Seattle, but another week removed from the initial injury should bode well for his usage moving forward. Keep an eye on his status Sunday morning, but expect to have him in your lineup against Arizona.
RB Aaron Jones (hamstring), Green Bay Packers
Jones continues to struggle with a hamstring issue that has plagued him essentially all season, putting in limited practices Wednesday and Thursday. There is no indication that the injury has worsened, so Jones should be good to go come Sunday, but he is still worth monitoring either way.