The NFL regular season is ten weeks in, which means the season is halfway over. Every team in the AFC North is two games above .500. Even so, last season’s conference champs are still the top two teams to beat. The Eagles are the only team with one loss, while the (7-2) Chiefs are tied with the Ravens for the best record in the AFC.
This is the time of year when anything can happen in the fantasy football world. With multiple teams on their bye weeks and many key players injured, fantasy teams are having their depth tested. This is why it is the most important time of the season to stay on top of the waiver wire and optimize your lineups.
If you are ever confused about who to start, the easiest metric to follow is touches per game. Targets and rushes are more easily trusted than hoping someone is super efficient with their few opportunities. There are players like Josh Downs or Jaylen Warren who exceed expectations each week because they continue to be very efficient with their opportunities, but Warren is much harder to trust than Alexander Maddison. Maddison is one of the least efficient runners, but he is getting around 15 touches a game and could see his workload increase with Cam Akers done for the season.
As always, this article will look at some players who are worthy of a flex spot this week and tell you if they should be trusted or kept on the bench.
Week 9 Highlights Worth Noting
The Bengals officially turned their season around with a huge 24-18 win over the
Bills on Sunday night. The Bengals started the year 1-3 and have won their last four games, and they are once again one of the most feared teams in the NFL. Joe Burrow and company are just getting going and a team no one wants to play right now.
Josh Dobbs was the hero in the Vikings' 31-28 victory over the Falcons. Dobbs showed up to the team five days before the game and barely knew his teammates' names, let alone the playbook, but he still had a big day in the win. The Vikings moved to 5-4 and are clearly in the hunt for the playoffs.
In the most anticipated game of the week, the Chiefs took down the Dolphins 21-14 in Germany. The Dolphins are a perfect 6-0 against teams below .500 and are 0-3 against teams with winning records. The Dolphins' offense continually makes bad defenses look terrible and struggles against good defenses. The Chiefs’ offense is not as potent as in years past, but their defense continues to play well and is a big reason the team is 7-2.
Notable Injuries from Week 9
- Falcons WR Mack Hollins injured his ankle in the game on Sunday, and he is questionable this week
- Packers WR Christian Watson (chest/back) was taken to the locker room and evaluated for a concussion. Watson was seen practicing on Wednesday.
- Colts WR Josh Downs was ruled out against the Panthers with a knee injury that could force him to miss this week.
- Vikings RB Cam Akers suffered an Achilles injury in Sunday's game versus the Falcons and is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
- Vikings WR K.J. Osborn did not return on Sunday after suffering a concussion. He is in the league’s concussion protocol.
- Giants QB Daniel Jones suffered a torn ACL in his right knee and is expected to have season-ending surgery this week.
- Eagles TE Dallas Goedert underwent surgery earlier this week to repair a fractured right forearm. He is expected to be placed on the IR.
- Seahawks RB DeeJay Dallas (shoulder) did not return to the game versus the Ravens, but the team is hopeful he will not miss any time.
Play 49ers QB Brock Purdy @ Jacksonville (6th)
Brock Purdy and the 49ers are coming off their bye week, which was greatly needed because the team suffered three straight losses beforehand. Purdy threw for a career-high 365 yards in their Week 8 loss to the Bengals and gets to follow that up with the Jaguars' defense, which has given up the third most yards/game (263.5) through the air this season. Purdy and the 49ers should be focused and ready to rebound this week after their miserable three-game stretch before their bye. Purdy has three games where he has scored over 19 fantasy points this year, and it looks like he will have another this week.
Other QBs to Play
Deshaun Watson performed admirably in his first game back since late September, accounting for over 18 fantasy points. That is a good sign for Browns fans, but as a fantasy manager, I would not get too excited about him and the Browns beating up on a bad Cardinals defense. This Sunday, Watson has to deal with the toughest defense on opposing QBs. The Ravens are allowing a measly 11 points/game to opposing QBs. Watson is going to need to play well and take care of the ball if the Browns want to take down the first-place team in their division. I think Watson keeps his team in the game, but I do not expect him to be an outlier against the Ravens and be a top-12 fantasy QB this week.
Other QBs to Stay Away From
Play Commanders RB Brian Robinson @ Seattle (12th)
Brian Robinson has scored a TD in three of the last four games and gets a subpar Seattle defense on Sunday. Robinson toated the rock 18 times for 63 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s 20-17 win over the Patriots. He is the clear lead back and the goal line back on an offense that is averaging over 23 points/game on the road this year. Robinson is a safe bet for the rest of the season because he has also established a high floor with a high ceiling. The second-year back has only scored less than eight points twice this season and has double-digit points in five contests.
Other RBs to Play
- Chubba Hubbard @ Chicago (7th)
- Rhamondre Stevenson vs. Indianapolis (5th)
- Najee Harris vs. Green Bay (10th)
Stay Away Ravens RB Gus Edwards vs Cleveland (29th)
Gus Edwards has been one of the most efficient backs in the league every year during his five-year career, and on Sunday, he was once again super efficient with his touches. He had five carries for 52 yards and two touchdowns in the Ravens blowout victory over the Seahawks. Edwards only saw one carry in the second half, but it's unclear if it is because the Ravens are going back to a committee backfield with him, Justice Hill, and Keaton Mitchell or if it was game-script due to a big lead. Keaton Mitchell had 138 yards and a TD and seemingly did enough on Sunday to garner more touches the rest of the season. Even if that assumption is wrong, Edwards is a risky play with the Browns' stout rush defense coming to town.
Other RBs to Stay Away From
Play Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley vs. San Fransisco (5th)
Calvin Ridley has been a rollercoaster ride for fantasy managers this year. The veteran WR has four games with double-digit fantasy points and four games with less than six points. I spoke about how offenses like the Jaguars are tough to trust because there are two WR1s, a TE and an RB, that they throw to a lot. So, in some games, Ridley becomes the favorite target; in other games, he is a complimentary piece. The Jaguars are hopefully scripting Ridley more into the offense during their bye and will be throwing a lot of short passes to their WRs. Surprisingly, the 49ers have given up the fifth most fantasy points to WRs this year, so there should be plenty of room for Ridley and Christian Kirk to operate.
Other WRs to Play
Stay Away Ravens Zay Flowers vs Cleveland (31st)
In most cases, I would never tell you to stay away from a good team's true No. 1 WR. The problem is that the Ravens are not like most other teams in the league. The Ravens find ways to win by spreading the ball around and not relying on any player too much. Flowers caught his lone target for an 11-yard gain Sunday against the Seahawks, marking back-to-back weeks in which the rookie has been held under 20 receiving yards. Flowers is going to have a true breakout game this season where he torches some unexpecting defense for over 100 yards and two scores, but I do not think it’s this week. Cleveland’s defense has been great, and they should have a good game plan for their division rivals.
Other WRs to Stay Away From
Play Texans TE Dalton Schultz @ Cincinnati (1st)
Dalton Schultz’s career-best day saw him lead the Texans with 10 receptions and tie with Tank Dell for the team lead in targets (11). On Sunday, Schultz had 130 yards and a touchdown in the Texans’ 39-37 win over the Buccaneers. The veteran TE is one of C.J. Strouds' favorite targets and his safety blanket when the rookie is in trouble. Schultz should have plenty of room to build off of his huge day because the Bengals have given up the most points to TEs this season. I expect Houston to keep up with the Bengals and for Schultz to be a big part of that.
Other TEs to Play
- Kyle Pitts @ Arizona (25th)
- Dalton Kincaid vs. Denver (2nd)
Stay Away Cardinals TE Trey McBride vs. Atlanta (12th)
Trey McBride was a hot waiver wire target last week after his huge day in Week 8, where he scored over 20 fantasy points. He followed that up with three catches for 22 yards on Sunday with Clayton Tune under center for his first start. McBride could rebound this week if Kyler Murray plays, but the Cardinals offense could continue to struggle even with Murray. Murray hasn't played football in almost a year, and it could take a game or two for him to find his rhythm. McBride and the rest of the Cardinals' offense are risky plays until we see how Murray does.