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Week 9 Matchups - Fantasy Football Game Breakdowns (Part 2)

Welcome to the second part of our Week 9 matchups analysis and starts/sits column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every matchup from every Sunday game to help you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. We'll also be updating this as injury reports come in so check back often.

This article will cover the late slate of games, beginning at approximately 4:00 pm EST on Sunday as well as the Sunday night game. Click here to see our early game matchups analysis and our MNF matchups analysis as well.

Check back here each week to get advice for your toughest start/sit decisions and take a look at our consensus rankings each week. Find me on Twitter @Pfunk00 for more insight and help to your start/sit questions.

Editor's Note: For a limited time, RotoBaller readers can get $25 off any FFPC Contest. Just sign up for a new account, join any type of game including Best Ball or Superflex, Dynasty Startup, Victory Points, or FFPC's one-of-a-kind Terminator contest, and the $25 voucher will be applied to your account immediately! Sign Up Now!


4:05 PM ET Games

This week we have six teams on bye, resulting in a shorter early slate. The afternoon is still down the three games, followed by the Packers vs Patriots at night. A heavy dose of fantasy starters are packed into this small group of games, so check out our full rundown of the players involved.


Texans at Broncos

Matchups We Love:

Phillip Lindsay (RB, DEN)
As long as Freeman is out (see below), Lindsay approaches low-end RB1 status. His matchup isn't quite as good as last week's but Houston has faced very few effective running teams this season, leading the run defense to appear better than it really is. Lindsay should be utilized heavily as the team tries to keep the ball out of Keenum's hands if possible. He saw a season-high 18 carries last week and could see 20 if things go as planned. With a 5.7 Y/A average on the year, Lindsay is a recommended start in all but the very toughest of matchups.

Lamar Miller (RB, HOU)
Should we believe in a Miller revival after back-to-back 100-yard games? D'Onta Foreman's impending return could complicate things so for now, let's focus on Week 9. The Broncos have allowed the third-most rushing yards in the league (1,001) and have been gashed on the ground by players like Marshawn Lynch, Alex Collins, and Isaiah Crowell. With the Texans' offensive line looking better recently and the receiving corps suddenly strengthening, Miller is a solid RB2 in a choice matchup.

Courtland Sutton (WR, DEN)
You've scooped him off waivers, so now what? Is he an instant fantasy starter? Sutton has looked good in his first half-season in the NFL but it's not as if he was putting up impressive numbers. Sutton has gone over the 50-yard mark three times this year with a high of 78 receiving yards in Week 8, just before the trade deadline approached. He also hasn't topped three receptions in a game. Those numbers should surely increase but expectations need to be tempered. Sutton can be a viable flex play this week, especially with so many teams on bye. Just don't start him in favor of more reliable players, as he's not an automatic WR3 in 12-team leagues.

Emmanuel Sanders (WR, DEN)
Sanders is a love this week but with a caveat. An increase in targets is all but guaranteed after Thomas' exit but Sanders may face more attention now. He also didn't seem too thrilled be stuck on a 3-5 team after his best friend was traded away. If Sanders is up to the mental challenge of being the top receiver on his team for the first time in his career, he could keep delivering high-end value.

DeAndre Hopkins (WR, HOU)
Look, it was offensive pass interference and didn't register in the box score, so it's not an official catch but it was a great athletic feat, OK? Now, go ahead and start Hopkins this week against a more than vulnerable Pacman Jones. Hopkins has a career-best 68% catch rate and six TD on the year so far, with four in the last three games. The offense is clicking and he will see fewer double teams now that Thomas and Coutee will be on the field with him.

Jordan Thomas (TE, HOU)
The rookie tight end out of Mississippi State came out of nowhere to catch two of Watson's five touchdown passes last week. Starter Ryan Griffin has missed the last two games and Thomas took advantage of his opportunity. It's about time a Houston TE scored, as Griffin ranks seventh in red zone targets among all tight ends (10) yet had zero touchdowns to show for it. If Thomas fills that role effectively, he could see another cheap touchdown. The Broncos are among the worst defending the tight end for the second year in a row.

Matchups We Hate:

Devontae Booker (RB, DEN)
Booker went over 100 scrimmage yards for the third time in his career and first since his rookie season. 78 rushing yards probably won't happen again. In fact, nine rush attempts might not either. He is strictly a third-down back who will catch a couple of passes with the occasional run mixed in.

Keke Coutee (WR, HOU)
Love the player and long-term potential, hate the matchup this week. In his return from a hamstring injury, which may or may not be 100% healed, Coutee faces Denver's best CB, Chris Harris Jr. Had the DT trade not gone down, the promise of high target volume would be alluring but he remains the third receiver still. He can be flexed in deeper leagues but carries risk.

Other Matchups:

Case Keenum (QB, DEN)
He's going to throw an interception, just so we're clear. Keenum has been picked in every game so far which makes Houston's decent a very safe bet this week. The loss of Demaryius Thomas and increased reliance on rookie wideouts can't help Keenum's value. He's put up some big yardage in games where the team was forced to pass more but ever since Week 1 he's got a 7/7 TD/INT ratio in seven games. The Broncos defense could be exposed, leading to a similar stat line with close to 300 yards and a touchdown or two for Keenum but that's not guaranteed.

Deshaun Watson (QB, HOU)
Watson both lost and gained a WR2 in the same week. Will Fuller's torn ACL prompted the team to go out and trade for Demaryius Thomas, who will step into a starting role immediately. It remains to be seen whether he'll have the same rapport with DT as he did with Fuller but the move keeps Watson's value afloat, especially with Keke Coutee returning from injury. The Broncos allow 16.1 fantasy PPG to quarterbacks, which ranks 11th. They've only been exposed by the Chiefs but otherwise, have held their previous three opponents under 200 passing yards. This isn't a great matchup on paper but Watson is a must-start in most leagues based on his high ceiling.

Royce Freeman (RB, DEN)
Freeman is still questionable with a high-ankle sprain suffered two weeks ago. If he plays, he is a risky flex consideration in standard leagues.

UPDATE: Royce Freeman has officially been ruled out for Week 9.

Demaryius Thomas (WR, HOU)
In case you didn't hear the news, that's not a typo; Thomas is a Texan now (although he's a native Georgian). It's hard to know how much he will be used in his first game with the team on a short week of practice. In this case, the fact he is facing his former team will surely incentivize him to play and perform well. We'd expect Thomas to see something just south of his seven-target-per-game average, which is close to what Will Fuller was doing at 6.4 targets per game. He doesn't present the deep threat that Fuller did, nor is he quite what he used to be. Thomas' career-low 11.2 yards per reception highlight a steady annual decline since his age-26 season high of 15.5 Y/R. He should be played for his high floor and scoring potential more than the promise of a big game. Then again, there's always the revenge narrative...

Tim Patrick (WR, DEN)
Maybe Patrick's acrobatic touchdown grab last week convinced the team they could roll with him as a starter and trade away Thomas? Maybe not. Then again, John Elway did say "Tim Patrick played very well last week." If that's not a ringing endorsement, I don't know what is. It was only Patrick's third catch of the year on a total of six targets, though. This undrafted free agent will certainly see more passes in the coming weeks but should only be on the radar of dynasty owners.


Chargers at Seahawks

Matchups We Love:

Russell Wilson (QB, SEA)
Is the old Russ back? Not exactly. He still isn't running the ball, carrying just two times for 15 yards in the first game after the bye week. It's not due to a physical limitation like two years ago, so at this point, it's clearly just a choice. Wilson has thrown three TD in each of the last three games despite an average of 20.3 pass attempts. The Chargers have been an average pass defense statistically but much of that comes from a soft schedule against teams like Tennessee, Cleveland, Oakland, San Francisco, and Buffalo. Wilson is a top-10 QB easily this week.

Chris Carson (RB, SEA)
I've said it before, including last week, and it's now clear that this is Carson's backfield as long as he's healthy. Carson has gone over 100 rushing yards in three of his last four games and has double the rush attempts as backup Mike Davis, owning a 47% market share of carries. With a formidable defense, home field advantage, and a mandate to run the ball first, Carson should be considered a strong RB2 against the Chargers, who are dead in the middle of run defense rankings.

UPDATE: Chris Carson will be a game-time decision for Week 9.

Keenan Allen (WR, LAC)
Here is the best advantage the Chargers have, as Allen faces slot corner Justin Coleman. It won't be a cake walk, but Allen should see his target count elevate as the schedule gets tougher. A few lesser matchups have led the Chargers to rely less on the possession receiver. Allen has been a slight disappointment to fantasy owners given his draft stock but he should be a valuable PPR asset once more.

Matchups We Hate:

Philip Rivers (QB, LAC)
Rivers has been a rock this season, tossing either two or three touchdowns in every single game while averaging 286.9 yards. If there's a week to consider fading or benching him, it's now. He gets the worst matchup possible, facing the toughest defense against QBs, on the road with the 12th man effect no less. Opposing QBs have a 10/10 TD/INT ratio versus the Seahawks, which is remarkable considering they lost their best player in the secondary, Earl Thomas, for the season weeks ago. Rivers will serve fantasy owners well the rest of the year but his upside is very limited in Week 9.

Doug Baldwin (WR, SEA)
There are debates about whether Baldwin has lost a step at age 30 or if his knee injury is still hampering him. Regardless, his matchup this week is enough reason to keep him benched. CB Desmond King is one of PFF's highest-rated corners and recently held Jarvis Landry to two catches for 11 yards. If choosing between Seahawk receivers, he's not the one to prioritize.

Antonio Gates (TE, LAC)
The potential future Hall of Famer has just one TD all year and hasn't broken the 50-yard mark. He's facing a defense that's allowed just one TD and an average of 36 YPG to tight ends. Pass.

Ed Dickson (TE, SEA)
A touchdown and 54 yards in his first game off IR could raise some eyebrows (assuming you're desperate at the tight end position this week). Bear in mind that Dickson has only scored more than two TD in a season once, back in 2011. That year also marked his career-high in yards per game at 33. Don't let a one-game sample create the false impression of hidden value.

Other Matchups:

Melvin Gordon (RB, LAC)
The Hawks aren't quite as tough on run defense but are no slouches either, allowing the 12th-fewest fantasy PPG to running backs. Gordon has been out of action for two weeks, so he is presumably rested and recovered from his hamstring injury. We may not see his best this week, although that simply puts him on the lower end of the RB1 spectrum.

Mike Davis / Rashaad Penny (RB, SEA)
As mentioned already, Carson is lead dog, rendering the other two RBs without fantasy value as anything other than a bench stash. Davis only saw more than a dozen touches once this season, in Week 4 when Carson was out. Penny went without a touch in Week 8, just as he did in Week 5.

UPDATE: If Carson is out in Week 9, then Davis would become a solid RB2/flex play while Rashaad Penny could be a deeper RB3/4 sleeper.

Mike Williams (WR, LAC)
The good news is that the second-year player has become a viable red zone threat. The bad news is that Williams is pretty much just a red zone threat. With Allen working the middle of the field and the other Williams serving as a deep threat, Williams is targeted on third downs and red zone situations. He's collected four touchdowns on the year but has gone for just one reception in three of the last four games with no more than four targets since Week 3. In a non-PPR league, as a flex play to serve as a bye replacement, he could be considered.

Tyrell Williams (WR, LAC)
A couple of 118-yard efforts with three touchdowns in the last two games have put Williams on the map as a streaming option. Prior to that, he was averaging 38.4 yards per game and had gone over 50 yards just once with one TD. The true definition of a boom-or-bust play, Williams could have big-play potential but his floor is considerably lower than most other WRs in his tier.

David Moore / Tyler Lockett (WR, SEA)
Fact: Tyler Lockett has scored a touchdown in all but one game this year. Another fact: David Moore has four TD in the last three games.
Reality: Neither has a 100-yard game or more than five catches in a game this season.
Either can be considered in standard leagues but in PPR they are simply too touchdown-dependent for much value.


Rams at Saints

Matchups We Love:

Jared Goff (QB, LAR)
Goff had been slowing down but seems to do his best in big matchups when the line favors more offense. It's pretty logical to think that this game might have a high score total. The Saints are a bottom-five pass defense again this year, allowing exactly 300 passing yards per game. They will also be without rookie pass rusher Marcus Davenport, who was just starting to come into his own. With little threat of sacks or interceptions, Goff should comfortably finish among the top five fantasy QBs.

Drew Brees (QB, NO)
While Brees has been one of the best quarterbacks statistically this year, he's been up and down on a weekly basis. With just 120 yards and one TD last week, we are reminded that he won't go for 300 and three each week like he used to. The team will likely try to control the ball as much as possible to keep the Rams offense off the field but at some point may also have to cut it loose. This leaves Brees as an obvious QB1 who must be started but shouldn't necessarily be assumed to be a top scorer this week.

Todd Gurley (RB, LAR)
But the Saints have the best run defense in the league! Really? Don't overthink this. In fact, don't even think about this at all. Gurley has scored at least one touchdown in every single game this season. He totaled 128 yards last year against the Saints. He'll be just fine.

Alvin Kamara (RB, NO)
What's not to love? Kamara is not only the lead runner, even with Ingram back, but he also leads the team in red zone targets with 20 and is two below Michael Thomas for the team lead in overall targets. Kamara is splitting red zone carries as well, giving him a solid chance to score each week. Last season, he racked up 188 yards and two TD on just 11 touches against these Rams. It's safe to say he's a high-end RB1 this week, and every week for that matter.

Brandin Cooks / Robert Woods (WR, LAR)
Cooks faced the team that drafted him last year and only managed two catches for 37 yards. This time around, he's got more support. The Saints will have their hands full trying to contain Gurley and have both Woods and Kupp to worry about as well. Woods now has a seven-game streak of at least five receptions and 70 yards. You may also be aware that the Saints have the worst pass defense in the league, allowing an average of 216.5 yards and 1.7 TD per game just to wide receivers. Start them both in hopes of another big game.

Michael Thomas (WR, NO)
Disappointed in Thomas lately? He had nowhere to go but down after a staggering 38 receptions in the first three games. He's been steady the last couple of weeks but fantasy owners want more. They might get it this week, as Thomas should be targeted plenty with Marcus Peters on the other side waiting to be exposed. A shoulder injury could continue to limit him in practice but shouldn't hold him out of action against the Rams.

Matchups We Hate:

Tre'Quan Smith / Cameron Meredith (WR, NO)
These secondary receivers simply might not get enough action to be worth streaming. The allure of a shootout puts them under consideration but Meredith hasn't even been targeted the last two games and Smith has only delivered one fantasy-relevant game out of seven this season. In an important matchup that could be a playoff preview, Sean Payton will want to keep the ball in the hands of his most trusted players.

Other Matchups:

Mark Ingram (RB, NO)
So far, Ingram's usage hasn't been much less than last season; his efficiency has. Ingram is averaging 13.7 carries per game, compared to 14.4 carries last year. He is only averaging 3.6 yards per carry, as opposed to 4.9 Y/A last year. In a game where the Saints may not be able to comfortably establish the interior run game, Ingram is a riskier play than usual. DL monsters Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh won't make things easy either.

Cooper Kupp (WR, LAR)
All signs point to Kupp being active and seeing his usual snap count in Week 9. Kupp has the best matchup of all against a vulnerable Saints secondary, primarily squaring off with P.J. Williams. He should be slotted around the WR20-WR25 range as he usually would.

Ben Watson (TE, NO)
A Watson sighting, especially in the end zone, has been increasingly rare these days. After his first TD as a Saint (again) and six catches in Week 7, he was completely target and catchless in Week 8. He is simply another touchdown-dependent TE streamer that must benefit from game flow.


Sunday Night Football - Packers at Patriots

Matchups We Love:

Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB)
Oddly enough, Rodgers got his full complement of receivers back with the return of Cobb and Allison and then reverted back to mediocre numbers of 286 passing yards and one touchdown. His only two games topping 300 yards (400 actually) came in Week 5 & 6 with a host of rookies in the huddle. We can't be sure what this means but it probably has more to do with the schedule than anything. New England runs one of the faster-paced offenses in the league, ranking fifth in fewest seconds between plays. Teams like the Rams, Bills, and Redskins are all in the bottom half, which limited the number of attempts Rodgers would get in those games. This should be a high-scoring game and Rodgers promises to be one of the top QB scorers of the week.

Tom Brady (QB, NE)
With no running game to lean on, Brady will keep slinging the ball as he has all year to the tune of 37 pass attempts per game. Of course, in this modern NFL that's barely in the top 10 for that category. Still, there will be a high volume of passes, especially when facing a rival Super Bowl-winning QB. Everyone expects this to be a shootout and why not? Brady may not match Rodgers' point totals for fantasy purposes but he is a safe bet in all formats.

Aaron Jones (RB, GB)
He still hasn't seen more than a dozen carries in a game this season. Based on his 6.2 yards per carry, maybe he should. With Ty Montgomery out of the picture, his snap share will go up slightly and so will his workload. In Mike McCarthy's pass-first offense, he doesn't get enough carries to be a high-end fantasy RB and he's not yet involved enough in the passing game to give him the ceiling of a Kareem Hunt or Saquon Barkley. His burst is exceptional and could produce a nice game in this matchup, as long as it's understood that he is an RB2 still.

James White (RB, NE)
The former Super Bowl MVP (not technically but you know he deserved it) is the lead back as long as every other Patriots runner is hurt. White is basically putting up WR1 numbers at the RB position, along with six carries and about 25 rushing yards per game. The Packers' defense doesn't factor strongly either way toward running backs but White isn't a typical back anyway. Other than a Week 4 mercy kill of the Bills, the Pack have allowed 29 points or more in every game since Week 1 when they "held" the Bears to 23. White is a top 10 RB this week.

Davante Adams (WR, GB)
While Adams gets a tough individual assignment being shadowed by Stephon Gilmore, the contextual positives far outweigh that negative. In a game that should feature plentiful passing, Adams should continue to show why he is now one of the top receivers in football.

Julian Edelman (WR, NE)
It's apparent once more that Edelman is Brady's favorite target, having caught nine passes for 104 yards in Week 8 and averaging nine targets per game on the season. He won't be slowed down much by Tramon Williams and should be started with confidence.

Jimmy Graham (TE, GB)
Graham gets to face the defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends so far. Last week's dud may leave a bad taste in the mouths of his owners but he had been working his way back into prominence in this offense before that game. He should be started everywhere he is owned.

Matchups We Hate:

Jamaal Williams (RB, GB)
While he scored his first TD of the season in Week 8, he also finished with season lows of four carries and nine yards. Aaron Jones is far outperforming him and now appears set to play on early downs. Word that Williams will get more time on third downs doesn't mean he will be used as a receiver, it means they are keeping him in for pass protection (read: not touching the ball). Williams is still a player to hold based on the recent trade of Montgomery and the chance Jones gets injured, but he figures to get few touches in this matchup.

Randall Cobb (WR, GB)
Cobb appears fully recovered from his hamstring injury and played 46% of the offensive snaps in Week 8. Big deal. He only caught four passes for 40 yards and was outsnapped by rookie Marquez Valdes-Scantling 31-24. If we take away that highlight-reel 75-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of Week 1, Cobb hasn't put together a single game of value. He is losing his grip on the WR3 role and can't be counted on.

Rob Gronkowski (TE, NE)
It's come to this - Gronk isn't a must-start. Of course, if you spent a second or third round pick on him, you likely have no choice or no better option at this point. He just isn't producing like he used to, scoring one touchdown all season, and no TE has scored on Green Bay this year. Between ankle and back issues, he could be playing through more pain than suspected which limits his effectiveness. He does still have great scoring potential in this offense but it can't be counted on anymore.

UPDATE: Gronk will be a game-time decision for Week 9.

Other Matchups:

Sony Michel (RB, NE)
Not much has changed with Michel's injury status, as he is considered week-to-week with a knee injury. It's possible he suits up but that scenario seems unlikely given his injury history in college and first-round investment by the team.

UPDATE: Michel will be a game-time decision for Week 9.

Geronimo Allison (WR, GB)
Allison caught his only target for 14 yards in Week 8. We'll give him a pass after missing three weeks but he's no longer guaranteed a high target volume with the emergence of other receivers. Consider him a boom-bust flex.

UPDATE: Allison has been officially ruled out for Week 9 which should lead to increased snaps, targets and production for Marquez Valdes-Scantling and also Equanimeous St. Brown to a lesser extent.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR, GB)
He isn't just leading the way among the rookie WRs in Green Bay, he's becoming one of Rodgers' primary targets. He saw more snaps and targets than Allison in Week 8, which must be noted. It's still hard to know which player will break free for a score in this game and the Patriots corners are no joke, so consider MVS a deep streaming candidate with a low floor.

Josh Gordon (WR, NE)
Too talented to bench, too inconsistent to start. No, we're not talking about Amari Cooper. Gordon always has the potential to make a huge play but could also easily disappoint. He's seen at least six targets in three straight games so he can at least be set at WR3 spots with confidence. Emerging rookie CB Jaire Alexander could give him a hard time, so even if this turns into a score-fest, don't assume Gordon will get in on the action. Then again, if players like Marquise Goodwin and Kenny Golladay can torch this secondary, so can Gordon.

More Week 9 Lineup Prep