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Fantasy football Week 9: Start ‘em, Sit ‘em

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Let Sosa help guide you through this week of your fantasy football season.

New York Jets v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Week 9 of your fantasy football seasons kicks off on Thursday Night Football with two divisional rivals going at it: the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers. The teams on a bye week are: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams, Cincinnati Bengals.

Adjust accordingly, and let’s get into the starts and sits for the week (stats from Football Outsiders and Team Rankings):

Quarterback

Start ‘Em:

New York Jets QB Sam Darnold versus Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are truly terrible. They’re ranked 32nd in both pass defense by DVOA and yards-per-pass-attempt (YPA). They also just lost their best player in CB Xavien Howard as he heads to injured reserve, making their pass defense that much worse. Darnold hasn’t been the greatest since he’s returned from mono, but he’s got a chance to really put together a great performance in Week 9 against the Dolphins.

Detroit Lions QB Matt Stafford versus Oakland Raiders

The Raiders pass defense is ranked 28th in both pass defense DVOA and YPA, and probably just downgraded by trading CB Gareon Conley. Stafford — like usual — is quietly having another very good season, and is riding a two-game streak of 23+ points. I’d put all the chips on Stafford collecting another 23+ point performance in this one.

Other potential starts: Dak Prescott versus New York Giants, Jimmy Garoppolo versus Arizona Cardinals

Sit ‘Em:

Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray versus San Francisco 49ers

Murray has largely been fantastic in his rookie season, but his past two weeks totaled 6.96 and 10.10 points, and it gets no easier in Week 9 as he goes against the 1st-ranked pass defense in DVOA and 2nd-ranked defense in YPA. The matchup occurs tonight, and Murray is an option I’d steer away from.

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson versus New England Patriots

Jackson is likely the most exciting player in football today, and it has completely transferred over to fantasy football success as Jackson is the 3rd-highest scoring QB in the league. Unfortunately for Jackson, he gets the 2nd-ranked pass defense in DVOA and 1st-ranked defense in YPA. And before you tell me Jackson does a majority of his damage with his legs, I know, but I’d bet Head Coach Bill Belicheck has some sort of solution up his sleeve.

Other potential sits: Ryan Tannehill versus Carolina Panthers, Baker Mayfield versus Denver Broncos

Running Back

Start ‘Em:

Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry versus Carolina Panthers

Henry is coming off a weak 7.3-point performance in Week 8 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but his matchup eases up an incredible amount this week as the Panthers are the 32nd-ranked run defense in DVOA and 31st-ranked in yards-par-carry allowed. Henry has a prime opportunity to rebound this week.

New York Jets RB Le’Veon Bell versus Miami Dolphins

You’re probably starting Bell every week regardless of matchup, but I have good news, he gets the terrible Dolphins defense this week. They’re ranked 31st in run defense DVOA and 27th in YPC allowed, presenting Bell with a perfect opportunity to get back to his elite ways. Bell has scored double-digit points one time since Week 6.

Other potential starts: Tevin Coleman versus Arizona Cardinals, Carlos Hyde versus Jacksonville Jaguars

Sit ‘Em:

Chicago Bears RB David Montgomery versus Philadelphia Eagles

Montgomery is coming off his best performance by far as he scored 24.70 points in Week 8 against the Los Angeles Chargers, but he gets an incredibly tough matchup with the Eagles ranked 6th in run defense DVOA and 8th in YPC allowed. Montgomery is an easy bench for me in this one.

Baltimore Ravens RB Mark Ingram versus New England Patriots

Ingram is seemingly touchdown-dependent, and I don’t feel good saying that when he opposes the Patriots. The Patriots’ run defense is ranked 8th in run defense DVOA and 21st in YPC allowed, but they have generally kept offenses out of the endzone, allowing by far the least amount of touchdowns in the league.

Other potential sits: Detroit Lions RB’s versus Oakland Raiders, Jordan Howard versus Chicago Bears

Wide Receiver

Start ‘Em:

New York Jets WR Robby Anderson versus Miami Dolphins

As I mentioned before, the same reason you start Darnold and Bell is why you’re starting Anderson. After a rough Week 7 performance, Anderson had a decent outing in Week 9 with 8.3 points. The Dolphins present the best chance at an explosion. If Darnold can become comfortable and let it rip, Anderson will likely be the main beneficiary.

Chicago Bears WR Allen Robinson versus Philadelphia Eagles

Trusting any skill player who depends on QB Mitchell Trubisky is terrifying, but Robinson has put together three strong performances (sandwiched by a bye week), scoring 28.70, 24.70, and 11.20 points. The Eagles’ secondary is average-at-best, ranking 16th in pass defense DVOA and 18th in YPA allowed.

Other potential starts: Michael Gallup versus New York Giants, Danny Amendola versus Oakland Raiders

Sit ‘Em:

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald versus San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers’ pass defense is amazing — as I stated above when I suggested benching Murray. The same concept applies for Fitz. The past two weeks, Fitz hasn’t even been able to crack three points. The matchup against the 49ers doesn’t allow for much of an improvement.

Washington Redskins WR Terry McLaurin versus Buffalo Bills

The Redskins are an absolute mess from the top-down, with McLaurin being the only bright spot for the team at this point in time. The issue? The Bills’ defense is fantastic as they rank 6th in pass defense DVOA and 3rd in YPA allowed. Not only that, but the Redskins’ QB situation is murky.

Other potential sits: Corey Davis versus Carolina Panthers, Jarvis Landry versus Denver Broncos

Tight End

Start ‘Em:

Carolina Panthers TE Greg Olsen versus Tennessee Titans

The Titans’ pass defense is ranked 20th in pass defense DVOA, and WR Curtis Samuel is currently banged up for the Panthers. Olsen has an opportunity to receive a few more targets in that scenario, and when coupled with an easier matchup and a weak position group (TE), he’s a start.

Tennessee Titans TE Jonnu Smith versus Carolina Panthers

Delanie Walker will miss this contest as he did in Week 8, and Smith is going to be the main beneficiary. Last week, Smith totaled 19.80 points in Walker’s absence. The Panthers’ pass defense is fantastic, but the lack of quality at the position should lead you to start Smith this week.

Other potential starts: Darren Fells versus Jacksonville Jaguars

Sit ‘Em:

Minnesota Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph versus Kansas City Chiefs

Rudolph has had one good week this entire season, and now faces a Chiefs pass defense which is surprisingly strong in pass defense DVOA (4th). I’d avoid even considering playing Rudolph.

Denver Broncos TE Noah Fant versus Cleveland Browns

You may be hurting for options at this point, but I’d stay far and away from every Broncos skill position player (sans RBs). QB Brandon Allen will start his first NFL game at quarterback, and he’s terrible.

Other potential sits: Mark Andrews versus New England Patriots

Defense

Start ‘Em:

New York Jets defense versus Miami Dolphins

As I mentioned above plenty of times, the Dolphins are really bad. The Jets are a start across the board for me, and I do believe they’ll be able to produce defensively.

Buffalo Bills defense versus Washington Redskins

The Redskins are a disaster, and even though the Bills’ defense is ranked 16th in fantasy points, they have the perfect matchup to accumulate a bevy of points in Week 9.

Other potential starts: Dallas Cowboys defense versus New York Giants, Cleveland Browns defense versus Denver Broncos

Sit ‘Em:

Baltimore Ravens versus New England Patriots

The Ravens had a strong Week 7 contest as they scored 18 points, but they’ve got the almighty Patriots this week.... and my suggestion is, look elsewhere. The Ravens aren’t strong defensively, and the Patriots are the kings of exploiting people.

Kansas City Chiefs versus Minnesota Vikings

The Chiefs are the 8th-ranked defense in fantasy scoring, but the Vikings are an offense that has hit it’s stride and are absolutely rolling the past few weeks sans a stinker against the Redskins. This isn’t a contest I’d feel great about.

Other potential sits: Detroit Lions defense versus Oakland Raiders