Fantasy Football Week 9 Rankings: An Early Look Ahead

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistOctober 28, 2013

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 27:   Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints  walks off the field after defeating the Buffalo Bills 35-17 at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 27, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The second of consecutive brutal bye weeks is upon us, with another six teams off this week. Three things generally win these weeks: savvy additions on the waiver wire, a deep bench and consistent studs that can win matchups all on their own.

Last week, players like Calvin Johnson and Drew Brees probably led quite a few teams to victory. Who will be the fantasy heroes this week? And which players will sneak into the top 10 of the fantasy rankings at their position due to tasty matchups?

Let's find out.

Notes: All point totals for standard-scoring leagues. Points against stats via ESPN. The Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars are all on a bye.

 

Quarterbacks

Week 9 Quarterback Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Tony RomoDallas CowboysMinnesota Vikings27
2Philip RiversSan Diego ChargersWashington25
3Drew BreesNew Orleans SaintsNew York Jets24
4Cam NewtonCarolina PanthersAtlanta Falcons23
5Aaron RodgersGreen Bay PackersChicago Bears22
6Andy DaltonCincinnati BengalsMiami Dolphins20
7Russell WilsonSeattle SeahawksTampa Bay Buccaneers19
8Robert Griffin IIIWashingtonSan Diego Chargers19
9Andrew LuckIndianapolis ColtsHouston Texans17
10Jake LockerTennessee TitansSt. Louis Rams16

 

Quarterback Notes

The Minnesota Vikings have allowed less than 15 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks just once this season, and that was against a pretty hapless New York Giants offense a week ago. Tony Romo will scorch this defense, especially because Dez Bryant might kill a man if he isn't targeted at least 25 times.

That's sarcasm. Or is it?

Let's not call the matchup between the San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins a shootout in the making, because we'll probably just jinx it if we do. Nonetheless, with the 26th- (San Diego) and 27th-ranked (Washington) pass defenses in this contest, Philip Rivers and Robert Griffin III should each post big numbers.

Don't fret Aaron Rodgers taking on the Chicago Bears. Chicago is tied with Washington at 27th in pass defense (274 passing yards allowed per game) and gave up 25 fantasy points to RG3 in Week 7. The emergence of Eddie Lacy and the running game has been a big factor in Aaron Rodgers thriving despite losing Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley to injuries in the past few weeks.

Teams have to respect the run, and Rodgers has responded with 525 passing yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in the past two weeks. 

Finally, Jake Locker sneaks into QB1 status this week with Peyton Manning, Matt Stafford and Colin Kaepernick on bye. The Rams are 20th in passing yards allowed per game (247) and 18th in passing touchdowns allowed (12) before factoring in Monday night's game against the Seattle Seahawks.

In his last three starts, Locker has registered 66 fantasy points. He's a sneaky but high-ceiling play this week.

 

Running Backs

Week 9 Running Back Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Jamaal CharlesKansas City ChiefsBuffalo Bills24
2Adrian PetersonMinnesota VikingsDallas Cowboys22
3Marshawn LynchSeattle SeahawksTampa Bay Buccaneers21
4Matt ForteChicago BearsGreen Bay Packers20
5Eddie LacyGreen Bay PackersChicago Bears18
6Darren McFaddenOakland RaidersPhiladelphia Eagles17
7Stevan RidleyNew England PatriotsPittsburgh Steelers15
8Chris JohnsonTennessee TitansSt. Louis Rams15
9LeSean McCoyPhiladelphia EaglesOakland Raiders14
10Ray RiceBaltimore RavensCleveland Browns13

 

Running Back Notes

Oct 27, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (25) on the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. The New York Giants won the game 15-7. Mandatory Credit: John Gelieb

Here's an interesting stat: In the four games that Michael Vick has started and finished, LeSean McCoy has 608 yards from scrimmage and 70 fantasy points. In the four games that Vick hasn't played in or couldn't finish, McCoy has 409 yards from scrimmage and 40 fantasy points. 

And now, Chip Kelly has said he doesn't think Vick will be able to play in Week 9, per Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

McCoy is still a solid fantasy starter, but he went from being one of the elite options at the position to a borderline RB1 with Vick out to injury. 

With Arian Foster and DeMarco Murray battling back from injuries, they're held out of the top 10 for now. Foster would have a pretty tough matchup against the Colts anyhow, though if he plays he remains a solid RB2. Ditto for Murray. Meanwhile, the tough Kansas City defense eliminates Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller (if he's healthy) from RB1 status.

Other than that, start your studs. In a week with players like Knowshon Moreno, Reggie Bush, Frank Gore and Maurice Jones-Drew on bye, what other choice do you have?

 

Wide Receivers

Week 9 Wide Receiver Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Dez BryantDallas CowboysMinnesota Vikings24
2A.J. GreenCincinnati BengalsMiami Dolphins23
3Jordy NelsonGreen Bay PackersChicago Bears22
4Josh GordonCleveland BrownsBaltimore Ravens20
5Brandon MarshallChicago BearsGreen Bay Packers15
6DeSean JacksonPhiladelphia EaglesOakland Raiders15
7Andre JohnsonHouston TexansIndianapolis Colts14
8Denarius MooreOakland RaidersPhiladelphia Eagles14
9Pierre GarconWashingtonSan Diego Chargers13
10Torrey SmithBaltimore RavensCleveland Browns12

 

Wide Receiver Notes

Here are the wide receivers that fantasy owners will be without due to byes: Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Rueben Randle, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts.

Ouch. Factor in injuries and a brutal matchup for Vincent Jackson against the Seattle Seahawks, and you've got yourself a tough week for wide receivers. 

There aren't any surprises in the top four, as Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, Jordy Nelson and Josh Gordon appear to be as safe as it comes at the position this week. Brandon Marshall takes a slight bump due to Jay Cutler's injury, but getting him the ball will still be a priority for Josh McCown. 

Torrey Smith has a tough matchup against Joe Haden, but he registered seven catches for 85 yards against the Cleveland Browns in Week 2, so he remains a safe starter for fantasy owners this week.

 

Tight End

Week 9 Tight End Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Jimmy GrahamNew Orleans SaintsNew York Jets17
2Rob GronkowskiNew England PatriotsPittsburgh Steelers15
3Antonio GatesSan Diego ChargersWashington14
4Jordan CameronCleveland BrownsBaltimore Ravens14
5Jordan ReedWashingtonSan Diego Chargers13
6Jason WittenDallas CowboysMinnesota Vikings12
7Greg OlsenCarolina PanthersAtlanta Falcons11
8Charles ClayMiami DolphinsCincinnati Bengals11
9Martellus BennettChicago BearsGreen Bay Packers10
10Tony GonzalezAtlanta FalconsCarolina Panthers9

 

Tight End Notes

Oct 27, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) makes a catch during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Here's a fun stat for you: In two games without Julio Jones or Roddy White in the lineup, Tony Gonzalez has five receptions for 56 yards and no touchdowns. Without the pair to worry about, defenses are simply double-teaming Gonzo in the red zone and pressing him so he barely can get into his route. 

If White is back this week, Gonzo's ranking will get bumped up, but for now, his ceiling is pretty low. He's basically a TE1 this week due to a dearth of other promising options at the position.

Folks, if Jimmy Graham is on the field, you have to play him, partially torn plantar fascia or not. Despite playing just 18 snaps and finishing with three catches, Graham had two touchdowns and finished with 15 fantasy points against the Buffalo Bills. 

It's remarkable how good he is. 

Beyond that, roll with the guys who have produced thus far this season (or in the past, like Rob Gronkowski). One player that will continue to produce is Jordan Reed, who has come on really strong in the past three weeks (21 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown). 

RG3 doesn't have great receiving options, so he should continue to lean on Reed.

 

Defense/Special Teams

Week 9 Defense/Special Teams Rankings
RankTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Kansas City ChiefsBuffalo Bills20
2Tennessee TitansSt. Louis Rams18
3Seattle SeahawksTampa Bay Buccaneers17
4Carolina PanthersAtlanta Falcons16
5Cincinnati BengalsMiami Dolphins15
6New England PatriotsPittsburgh Steelers14
7Dallas CowboysMinnesota Vikings12
8New Orleans SaintsNew York Jets11
9Indianapolis ColtsHouston Texans10
10Baltimore RavensCleveland Browns10

 

Defense/Special Team Notes

Oct 27, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson (22) is tackled by New Orleans Saints defensive end Akiem Hicks (76) during the second half of a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Bills 35-17.  Mandatory C

Fantasy's top defenses all have really nice matchups this week. If you have one of the top-six defenses in these rankings, you should be quite pleased this week. 

The New Orleans Saints are a great play this week. Geno Smith has thrown 13 interceptions in his rookie campaign, and three of them have been returned for a touchdown in the past two weeks. Add in the fact that the New York Jets don't have many compelling skill-position players, and the Saints are a nice addition this week. 

 

Kickers

Week 9 Kicker Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Steven HauschkaSeattle SeahawksTampa Bay Buccaneers16
2Stephen GostkowskiNew England PatriotsPittsburgh Steelers15
3Mason CrosbyGreen Bay PackersChicago Bears15
4Nick NovakSan Diego ChargersWashington14
5Justin TuckerBaltimore RavensCleveland Browns13
6Robbie GouldChicago BearsGreen Bay Packers13
7Garrett HartleyNew Orleans SaintsNew York Jets13
8Adam VinatieriIndianapolis ColtsHouston Texans12
9Dan BaileyDallas CowboysMinnesota Vikings12
10Ryan SuccopKansas City ChiefsBuffalo Bills11

 

Kicker Notes

Sep 12, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots punter Ryan Allen (6) holds the ball for kicker Stephen Gostkowski (3) in a failed field goal attempt during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

In the first seven weeks, an average of 11.8 kickers per week finished with double-digit points. If you don't have one of them—or a consistent performer who normally is near the top of the rankings—you better not complain when you lose a close matchup with a kicker that only scored four or five points for your team.

 

Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer your fantasy lineup questions, commiserate with you over underachieving players and muse over how terrible it must be to get stuck in line next to an impatient Dez Bryant at the DMV.

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