Your most wonderful Houston Texans are enjoying their bye week, along with Washington, New England, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Arizona. Fantasy owners will struggle to find plug-in options this week as they deal with rampant injuries and committee backfields.
Week Nine is a nightmare for many fantasy owners (I have David Johnson, Lamar Miller, and Jordan Reed all on bye in one league). We are also without the services of Tom Brady and Company, A.J. Green, Larry Fitzgerald and a handful of other key starters. Let’s evaluate who should start and who should stay on your bench, and break down some of the biggest matchups for the week.
If you need help from the waiver wire, you can find recommendations here.
Dak Prescott (QB - DAL) vs Browns: The rookie QB has been exceptional in place of injured Tony Romo, and this week he faces off against the struggling Browns’ defense. Prescott has been reliable this season, with six straight games of at least 17.5 points. He should continue that streak this weekend and is a great option for fantasy owners.
Devontae Booker (RB - DEN) vs Raiders: Those with a high waiver priority the week C.J. Anderson went down may have hit the motherload with Booker, who takes over a hefty workload for the Broncos. This week, he heads to Oakland to take on the 28th-ranked Raiders’ run defense, a dream match-up for the young back. He is a must-start this week, particularly with so many teams on bye and the running back group so thin.
Carlos Hyde (RB - SF) vs Saints: Hyde has a great match-up this week against a Saints' defense that has allowed opposing backs to run all over them this season. Fresh off a bye week, Hyde should be ready to go after an injury sidelined him in Week Seven. He's a solid play at RB and should be starting in most lineups.
Michael Thomas / Brandin Cooks / Willie Snead (WRs - NO) vs 49ers: The Saints' trio of wideouts are poised to have a big day against the poor 49ers' defense this week. All three are viable starters and are recommended in the order listed here.
Delanie Walker (TE - TEN) vs Chargers: Tight end is another thin position that takes a big hit with this round of byes. Walker has a nice match-up this weekend against San Diego. He also has 159 yards and a TD over his last two games, so he’s a solid bet for Week Nine.
Kyle Rudolph (TE - MIN) vs Lions: Rudolph has struggled lately to find the end zone, but has the best possible match-up in Week Nine as he goes up against a Lions’ defense that is ranked dead last covering tight ends. He’s a must-start for most teams.
Matthew Stafford (QB - DET) vs Vikings: Stafford has been a reliable fantasy asset this season, but he struggled last week against the stout Texans’ pass defense. This week, he faces another daunting defensive challenge with a road game against the Vikings. Stafford will likely produce another low-scoring fantasy game this weekend, so bench him if you can.
I honestly can’t advise sitting any running backs this week. Odds are, you’re piecing together your lineup in the wake of all these byes anyway, so any back with a decent number of carries has value. There are a handful of running backs with bad match-ups (Latavius Murray vs. the Broncos, Theo Riddick vs. the Vikings) but benching them will still be difficult to compensate for. The running back position is especially thin this week, so go with your best options.
Sterling Shepard (WR - NYG) vs Eagles: It’s no secret that I’ve been a fan of the rookie wideout since before the draft, but after starting the season with a few explosive games, things have calmed down for Shepard. I’m hopeful that he can regain the momentum he seemed to have in his first three games, but until he increases his impact he should stay on your bench, especially in a less-than favorable match-up with Philadelphia.
Marvin Jones (WR - DET) vs Vikings: I told a friend to sit Jones last week, and I’m giving the same advice this week. Jones was shut down by the impressive Houston defense and faces an equally difficult opponent this week in Minnesota. Jones will have more favorable match-ups down the stretch, but he should stay on your bench this week if you have other options.
Zach Ertz (TE - PHI) vs Giants: Many fantasy owners had high hopes for Ertz this season, but he has yet to score a touchdown or make much of an impact. Perhaps Ertz will get the ball rolling down the stretch, but for now you’re better off with him on your bench.
What are your thoughts, fantasy owners? How do you plan to survive this round of byes? Is there anyone you’re starting or sitting that you think should have made the list? Use the comments sections to discuss and debate all things fantasy football.