How many starting quarterbacks are out in Week 9?
Well, let's start with the guys on bye: Russell Wilson, Jared Goff, Brock Purdy, and Trevor Lawrence. Okay, those are some pretty big names, that's not great to start with. And, of course, we had Kirk Cousins go down with a season-ending injury last week, so he's out of the picture, and he'll be joined on the sidelines by Ryan Tannehill and Justin Fields. Additionally, at least as of Wednesday, Deshaun Watson and Matthew Stafford look like they could be out, too.
And let's not forget about Week 1 starters Aaron Rodgers and Anthony Richardson, who already suffered season-ending injuries earlier on. Oh, and then we had Desmond Ridder and Jimmy Garoppolo benched this week, while the Cardinals traded Joshua Dobbs to the Vikings so we'll count him, too. By my count, that's 14 Week 1 starters out of the pool for Week 9, and it's only the halfway point of the season.
But hey, at least Daniel Jones is expected back this week!
Yeah, the QB position isn't in great shape right now, and that's dragging an awful lot of NFL offenses down with it. And, for Fantasy players in Week 9, it's going to lead to a lot of tough decisions, both for your QB spots and everywhere else.
Today's newsletter is all about helping with those decisions. Let's get to it.
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- Week 9 Position Previews: | | |
- Jamey, Dave, Heath's Rankings
- My Week 9 Rankings: | | |
🔍Week 9 Game Previews
There's something to watch in every game on the NFL schedule every week, even if you have to squint to see it sometimes. Here's a look ahead at every Week 9 game, with some notes on what Vegas is expecting to see, the latest injuries, and the toughest lineup decisions:
- Thursday, 8:20 p.m.
- Line: Steelers -2.5; 36.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Steelers 19.5, Titans 17
Alright, well, I guess Vegas isn't buying into Will Levis' impressive first start. That makes sense -- he had the three long touchdowns, plus a catch-and-run score that was mostly just DeAndre Hopkins being the best player on the field, and he didn't do much besides that. Of course ... take away three big throws from any QB and they'll look worse. I think Levis looked good enough to have more confidence in this offense moving forward.
- Toughest lineup decision: George Pickens -- Start. Pickens' usage in Week 8 was alarming, as he reverted back to last season's low-volume, deep-route oriented usage, with 63% of his routes classified as either go, corners, or posts. It's hard to draw consistent targets with that kind of usage, and the hope was that, even with Diontae Johnson back, the Steelers would still use Pickens in more varied ways to take advantage of how good he's been. We didn't see that Sunday, and it makes it tough to know whether we're going to see it moving forward. Still, this is a good matchup, and I'll give Pickens the benefit of the doubt for now. But he'll be worth watching very closely this week.
Injuries to watch: Levis is starting in place of Ryan Tannehill (ankle), who has been ruled out for a second game in a row. That's the only significant injury on offense for either team, though Minkah Fitzpatrick's (hamstring) absence should make life a little easier for Levis. Kenny Pickett is not on the injury report despite leaving last week's game with a rib injury. He's a tough kid.
- Sunday, 9:30 a.m.
- Line: Chiefs -2; 50.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Chiefs 26.25, Dolphins 24.25
Just a friendly reminder that Week 9 represents the start of the NFL's two-week series in Frankfurt, Germany, so we'll have to get our lineups set. The good news is, you probably don't have many decisions to make in this game: You're starting the guys you usually start.
- Toughest lineup decision: Rashee Rice -- Sit. I mean, it's fine if you want to start Rice. He's got a consistent role in the Chiefs offense and has a decent chance at a touchdown in any given week. But it's important to keep things in perspective because I still see a lot of talk about Rice becoming a must-start Fantasy option. And while that may come to fruition, he's not there yet. He's still a part-time player in this offense (61% snap share in Week 8 was a career-high) and he still hasn't earned more than seven targets in any game, with just one game with more than five targets in his past five. He's a decent starting option, but if you don't have at least three better ones, you're probably not in great shape.
- Injuries to watch: Raheem Mostert (ankle) didn't practice Wednesday, which is becoming a trend -- he sat out last Wednesday's session before playing Sunday, so I'm not too concerned here. Both of these teams look like they'll be close to full strength, at least when it comes to the skill position spots.
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Falcons -5; 37 O/U
- Implied totals: Vikings 21.5, Packers 21.5
The line here reflects two things: How much of a loss Vegas thinks Kirk Cousins is for the Vikings offense, and; how little drop-off is expected from Desmond Ridder to Taylor Heinicke. For the record, I agree with both.
- Toughest lineup decision: Jordan Addison - Sit. Like with Rice, there's not anything necessarily wrong with starting Addison, who should still have a strong target share with Jaren Hall starting at QB. However, he's likely to be the No. 2 option in what might be a very bad passing game, against an opponent that is happy to shorten every game by limiting possessions. Addison is hard to get away from because he's such a talented player, the kind who has proven he can turn 50-50 balls into catch-and-run touchdowns. Maybe Hall will surprise us, but I'd rather be pleasantly surprised with Addison on my bench than disappointed with him in my lineup.
- Injuries to watch: The big one to watch here is Drake London (groin), who didn't practice Wednesday after leaving last week's game. The Falcons haven't ruled him out, but I'd feel a lot better about his chances if he was at least limited Thursday.
Cardinals at Browns
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Browns -8; 37.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Browns 22.75, Cardinals 14.75
It's hard to say too much about this game as of Wednesday afternoon when we really have no idea who is going to start at quarterback for either team. The easiest answer might be to just sit everyone, but with injuries and four teams on bye, obviously, that isn't a viable answer for everyone. I will say, my preference is to sit my Cardinals except for Trey McBride, given the tough matchup -- even if Kyler Murray plays.
- Toughest lineup decision: Amari Cooper -- Start. This is a genuinely tough one, and I really don't have Cooper ranked much higher than either Rice or Addison. But I would start him over both. The target expectation is similar with him and Addison, though I do give Cooper and edge in my projections, while there probably isn't much difference in the quality of targets they're likely to get -- and, if Deshaun Watson plays, there is at least some chance he'll get better targets. That's no guarantee, though, and Watson might be the lower-floor option relative to P.J. Walker at this point -- when we saw Watson trying to play through his shoulder injury in Week 7, he looked absolutely miserable. Basically, Cooper is a bet on volume and a good matchup overcoming poor QB play. But if you can afford to sit him, it's not a bad idea.
- Injuries to watch: The Cardinals haven't announced a starting QB for this week's game, with Kyler Murray a candidate along with rookie Clayton Tune. Murray has been practicing without limitations since last week, but I wouldn't blame the Cardinals if they opted to give him another week -- and a chance to make his debut against the Falcons rather than the Browns. Deshaun Watson (shoulder) was also limited in Wednesday's practice, so he might have a chance to make his return. The other injury to keep an eye on here is Emari Demercado's (toe), as he has been the team's lead back the past few weeks. James Conner is eligible to return from IR next week and has a chance to return, but we could be looking at a Keaontay Ingram lead role in Week 9 if Demercado is out. He'd be just a fringe RB2/3 if Demercado is out.
Rams at Packers
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Packers -3; 39 O/U
- Implied totals: Packers 21, Rams 18
You've gotta imagine this line will swing at least a few points, if not all the way back, toward the Rams if Matthew Stafford is cleared to play. That seems, at this point, like an unlikely if, but hardly impossible.
- Toughest lineup decision: Puka Nacua -- Start. I don't want to make it seem like I'm not worried about Stafford possibly being out, because I am -- I've been higher on Stafford than most this season and think he's playing at a much higher level than his Fantasy production suggests, at least. And if he's ruled out, Nacua and Kupp become much tougher to trust, obviously. But I'd still probably start both, just because I do think the Rams are going to make a point of dialing up as many easy throws to those two as possible. There probably won't be much happening down the field if Brett Rypien has to start for the Rams, but I think I would still start both Kupp and Nacua ahead of Jordan Addison and Marquise Brown dealing with their own backup QB issues.
- Injuries to watch: The Rams haven't ruled Stafford out yet, but he didn't practice Wednesday and honestly feels like a long shot to play at this point.
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Patriots -3.5; 40.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Patriots 22, Commanders 18.5
I'm actually pretty surprised to see the Commanders as 3.5-point dogs in this one after they gave the Eagles such a hard time last week. On the other hand, they lost to the Tyrod Taylor-led Giants the previous week, and last week was really the first time they've managed to keep Sam Howell clean all season. If that was sustainable, this team might be about to go on a run.
- Toughest lineup decision: Jahan Dotson -- Sit. Dotson finally looked like the guy we were hoping to see in Week 8, and his 18 targets over the past two games are by far the most in a two-game stretch for him this season. But I'm not ready to trust Dotson just yet. Last week was his first game with more than 43 yards all season, and his only game with more than 12 PPR points. I still like the talent, but it's worth remembering, it came in a game where the Commanders dropped back to pass 55 times and Howell was only sacked once -- circumstances you can't count on every week. Dotson should be stashed, but I'd rather start the QB question guys already discussed ahead of him.
- Injuries to watch: One thing that could help Dotson's chances is Curtis Samuel's (toe) potential absence, as Samuel didn't practice Wednesday. On the Packers side, DeVante Parker (concussion) didn't practice Wednesday and seems likely to miss this week. Demario Douglas is the name to watch for the Patriots with Parker likely out and Kendrick Bourne (knee) on IR, though JuJu Smith-Schuster could also be in line for a bigger role if his knee is healthy enough to handle it.
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Saints -8.5; 41.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Saints 24.25, Bears 16.75
This one is a nightmare for survivor pools. The Saints are the biggest favorites of the week right now. But, if you've watched how this team does in the red zone this season, can you really feel confident in them, even against the Bears?
- Toughest lineup decision: D'Onta Foreman -- Sit. If I could, I would try to stay away from Foreman, who has only had one good game and is stuck in what is now a three-way split. The problem is, he seems especially game script dependent, with the Foreman falling to a 32% snap share last week, just behind Roschon Johnson and just ahead of Darrynton Evans. You're just hoping for a touchdown here from Foreman, but with the likes of Rhamondre Stevenson, Dameon Pierce, Najee Harris, and more stuck in similarly frustrating situations, it might be hard to get away from Foreman. He's squarely in that same range of touchdown-or-bust RB3s.
- Injuries to watch: Justin Fields (thumb) remains "week to week," with Tyson Bagent expected to start yet again in Week 9. This would be the third game Fields has missed, and Bears coach Matt Eberflus told reporters Monday he does hope Fields can return next week.
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Ravens -5.5; 43 O/U
- Implied totals: Ravens 24.25, Seahawks 18.75
The Ravens have generally looked like one of the best teams in the league this season, and then they've also lost to the Colts and Steelers and had close-ish calls against the Bengals (before they got good again, maybe) and Cardinals. Playing down to their opponents has been an issue for this team over the past few years, and the Seahawks are not to be taken lightly.
- Toughest lineup decision: Zay Flowers -- Start. Flowers hasn't quite blossomed the way we hoped, and he feels more like a high-floor play than one with a ton of upside. The volume is fine, but there tends to be an inverse relationship between how often the Ravens throw to him and how far down the field his targets tend to come -- last week, his average depth of target was just 3.4 yards past the line of scrimmage. On the whole, I think you can safely trust Flowers, especially in PPR scoring, and there just aren't a lot of guys you can feel that way about right now.
- Injuries to watch: Gus Edwards (toe) didn't practice Wednesday, so this is one to keep an eye on. On the Seahawks side, Tyler Lockett (hamstring) didn't practice Wednesday, but that hasn't kept him out the past few weeks. The biggest news might be that Kenneth Walker wasn't listed on the practice report after a calf injury limited him last week. Zach Charbonnet took on a bigger role in Week 8, but we'll see if that was just because Walker was less than 100%. I'm not starting Charbonnet this week if I can avoid it, but if he plays close to half the snaps again, he could be in the flex conversation, while obviously holding Walker back.
Buccaneers at Texans
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Texans -3; 40 O/U
- Implied totals: Texans 21.5, Buccaneers 18.5
The Texans played surprisingly conservatively last week, and it ended up costing them against a team they should have beat. That's frustrating to see given how good C.J. Stroud has been, and I hope it doesn't become a trend.
- Toughest lineup decision: Dameon Pierce -- Sit. Pierce missed practice Wednesday with an ankle injury, but even if he does end up playing, I'm at the point where I just can't bring myself to trust him. The Texans are using three running backs pretty extensively most weeks, and Pierce hasn't been convincingly better than either Devin Singletary in the running game nor Mike Boone in the passing game so far. Singletary is just a touchdown-or-bust RB2 at this point.
- Injuries to watch: In addition to Pierce, Robert Woods (foot) didn't practice Wednesday and looks like he'll miss another game. That didn't lead to the big game for Tank Dell or Nico Collins last week, and I think Noah Brown is going to continue to have a bigger role here than we might wish, though Collins is still a high-upside WR2 for this one.
Colts at Panthers
- Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
- Line: Colts -2.5; 44 O/U
- Implied totals: Colts 23.25, Panthers 20.75
Bryce Young had his best game so far in Week 8, and he got his first win to show for it. And now he's got a pretty good matchup to build on it.
- Toughest lineup decision: Gardner Minshew -- Start. I'm higher on Minshew than my colleagues, and he's a top-12 QB by the consensus rankings. , and I really don't have much concern about whether he's going to play well -- the Panthers have allowed the fifth-highest touchdown rate and 11th-highest yards per attempt to opposing quarterbacks this season. The only concern here is that the Colts might be able to win easily enough that they just don't have to throw much. Minshew has thrown at least 40 passes in three of his four starts, but the one exception was in Week 7 against the Browns, when they had 40 runs to 23 passes. They're happy to do that with their two good running backs if they don't need to pass, so if you're starting Minshew, you're hoping for a good Young game, too.
- Injuries to watch: DJ Chark's (elbow) potential absence from this one doesn't have a huge impact for Fantasy directly, but it could lead to more opportunities for Jonathan Mingo coming off his best game. Keep that one in mind for DFS purposes more than anything.
Giants at Raiders
- Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
- Line: Raiders -2; 37.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Raiders 19.75, Giants 17.75
The Raiders just fired their head coach, GM, and offensive coordinator. Their new head coach has no head coaching experience above the high-school level, and their new offensive coordinator has no play-calling experience at the NFL level. And they just benched their quarterback for a fourth-round rookie. And the Giants are two-point underdogs with their starting quarterback coming back. Woof.
- Toughest lineup decision: Davante Adams -- Start. I understand being skeptical. The Raiders might just be a total mess moving forward, and I'm skeptical of O'Connell's chances of fixing what's been wrong with this offense. And O'Connell's first start didn't exactly go great -- he completed 24 of 39 passes for 238 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception against a pretty middling Chargers defense. But O'Connell did throw 13 of his 39 passes to Adams, completing eight of them for 75 yards. I'm going to assume he'll keep leaning heavily on Adams, and I'm going to start Adams as a WR2. The bigger question is whether you should start Jakobi Meyers, who caught just two of four passes from O'Connell in that Chargers game. Meyers is a much fringier option.
- Injuries to watch: Daniel Jones (neck) was cleared for contact and should be good to go for Week 9. Unfortunately, it sounds like he's going to be without one of his top weapons, as Darren Waller (hamstring) didn't practice and told reports he might "potentially" miss several games with the injury. Given Waller's recent history, this was always a risk, and it'll be a big loss for the Giants offense.
Cowboys at Eagles
- Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
- Line: Eagles -3; 46 O/U
- Implied totals: Eagles 24.5, Cowboys 21.5
- Toughest lineup decision: Dak Prescott -- Start. This has been a weird season for the Cowboys, who have only played one game decided by fewer than 12 points so far. They've had some truly bizarre game scripts, which has made it tough to know exactly what this offense wants to be doing in games that matter. Prescott's Fantasy value has been held back by those strange game scripts, as well as playcalling that has largely been less aggressive than you'd hope from a team with Prescott at QB. The Eagles secondary has been a bit underwhelming so far this season, and we should see a more competitive matchup overall, which should put Prescott in line for the chance at another big game. I'd start Minshew ahead of him, to name one, but Prescott is a top-12 QB for me still.
- Injuries to watch: Neither team has any Fantasy-relevant injuries to track as of Wednesday, though we'll be watching Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith's (neck) status against this fearsome defensive front of the Eagles.
Bills at Bengals
- Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
- Line: Bengals -2; 48.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Bengals 25.25, Bills 23.25
Another absolutely huge matchup in Week 9, and it's one with a surprisingly large amount of uncertainty since both teams looked very different on offense in Week 8 than they have pretty much all season. I have more confidence in Joe Burrow's apparent resurgence last week being real than the Bills game-plan changes.
- Toughest lineup decision: Gabe Davis -- Start. Typically, when I talk about Gabe Davis, I use a coin-flip metaphor, which is my way of saying that his typical, downfield-heavy usage makes him prone to wild swings in productivity with little warning. But something changed last week, as the Bills started using Davis a lot more on short-area looks; his target per route run was up from 15% for the season to 27% last week, while his Average Depth of Target dropped from 15.1 yards to 6.7. At times, the Bills almost seemed to be making up for Dawson Knox's absence with Davis, using him in tight formations and on routes in the flat, something they almost never do. This was a pretty drastic shift for Davis -- his 6.7 yard ADoT was his lowest in a game since 2021 -- and I just don't have any idea whether it's going to stick. But the way I'm viewing him is like this: He's got that typical coin-flip chance of hitting if they use him like they normally do, with the potential of his Week 8 usage giving him a higher floor than usual, too.
- Injuries to watch: Josh Allen (shoulder) didn't practice Wednesday, but there doesn't seem to be any concern here, as his absence was apparently just rest related. The Bills have downplayed the impact of the injury, but I do wonder if it might have played a role in the less aggressive approach we saw last week. Joe Mixon (chest) is the only other Fantasy-relevant name on the practice report for either team, and he was limited Wednesday, so there doesn't seem to be much reason to be concerned.
Chargers at Jets
- Monday, 8:15 p.m.
- Line: Chargers -3; 41.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Chargers 22.25, Jets 19.25
We're starting to see some NFL media members toy with a, "Hey, maybe Zach Wilson isn't so bad!" narrative. I would just like to formally register my skepticism here.
- Toughest lineup decision: Josh Palmer -- Sit. Palmer deserves some credit for gutting it out with his knee injury last week, but he clearly wasn't healthy. He didn't run a full share of routes, and his Average Depth of Target dropped from a season average of 12.5 to 3.5. It wasn't the same role, and it's hard to get excited about Palmer until we see that role back. It might have to wait until he's fully healthy.
- Injuries to watch: Neither team will practice until Thursday, with Palmer's status and Gerald Everett, who missed Week 8 with a hip injury, the biggest things to watch in the coming days.