Who do you sit and who do you start in Week 9? Based on the number of teams that are off this weekend, you might not have a choice.
Six NFL squads — including fantasy-rich teams such as the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears — have byes this weekend. This development probably had you scrambling for the waiver wire in search of replacements, but don’t overlook those players stashed away on your bench.
Several less-than-marquee names have put up solid numbers in recent weeks — wide receivers Allen Robinson and Andrew Hawkins are a couple examples — and could act as serviceable fill-ins for your resting starters.
This strategy, of course, always comes with a risk, as these players aren’t exactly reliable (the big names are big names for a reason, after all). So what’s the best way to figure out which player deserves a spot start in your lineup? Play the matchups, of course.
Here’s how some of this weekend’s best and worst matchups will affect your roster.
Colin Kaepernick, Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers: Kaepernick’s best fantasy performance came in the form of a 343-yard, three-touchdown effort in Week 6. His opponent? The St. Louis Rams. Kaepernick gets the Rams again in Week 9, this time at home and coming off a bye. Expect more of the same Sunday.
Jeremy Hill, Running Back, Cincinnati Bengals: Giovani Bernard won’t play Sunday because of a hip injury, meaning Hill could have plenty of carries against the Jacksonville Jaguars, especially if the Bengals establish an early lead. Put Hill in your lineup ASAP.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Running Back, Indianapolis Colts: Fun fact: The New York Giants are allowing the second-most yards per reception to NFL running backs this season. That’s good news for Bradshaw, who plays a huge role in Indy’s passing game. Bradshaw has put up consistently big numbers recently and should be a lock in your starting lineup.
Andrew Hawkins, Wide Receiver, Cleveland Browns: Previously reliable only in PPR leagues, Hawkins is making his case for widespread usage with 200 yards and one touchdown in his last two games. The Browns face a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that has allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers in standard leagues this season, so take a flier on him if you need.
Larry Donnell, Tight End, New York Giants: It’s not time to jump off the Donnell bandwagon just yet. The tight end bounced back with a 90-yard performance against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7, and the Colts consistently have allowed big numbers to opposing tight ends all season. Rolling with Donnell should be a safe bet this week.
Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Washington Redskins: RGIII looks like he’s finally ready to go, but don’t take the bait. Believe it or not, the Minnesota Vikings have given up the second-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks in standard-scoring leagues, and you should see at least one or two solid performances from Griffin before you trust him in your lineup.
Tre Mason, Running Back, St. Louis Rams: Mason quickly went from waiver-wire darling to Week 8 disappointment, and the future doesn’t look much better. St. Louis gets the San Francisco 49ers’ fourth-ranked run defense on the road in Week 9, so it might be best to just avoid any running back on the Rams’ roster.
Jerick McKinnon, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings: Despite his decent game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, McKinnon finds himself on the “sits” list for the second consecutive week, thanks to a rough matchup against the Washington Redskins’ run D. McKinnon has done a lot with limited touches this season, but he could find a lot tougher sledding this weekend.
Julian Edelman, Wide Receiver, New England Patriots: We know, Edelman had a huge game against Denver last year. But “Minitron” isn’t the only receiver in New England anymore, as a healthy Rob Gronkowski and Brandon LaFell have seen a bulk of the targets in recent weeks. With a stingy Broncos secondary coming to town, we’re steering clear of Edelman this week.
Larry Fitzgerald, Wide Receiver, Arizona Cardinals: Fitzgerald went off against the Philadelphia Eagles last weekend, but that seems more like an aberration at this point than an emerging trend. The Cardinals face a Dallas Cowboys defense that has been very good against the pass this season, so we wouldn’t count on another big day from Larry.
Have a fantasy/NFL question for Darren? Send it to him via Twitter at @darren_hartwell
Photo via Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports Images
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