Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings: Forecasting Top Performers at Each Position

Andrew GouldFeatured Columnist IVNovember 1, 2016

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 17: Eddie Lacy #27 of the Green Bay Packers during a preseason game at the Edward Jones Dome on August 17, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

This is not going to be an easy week for many fantasy football owners.

Bye weeks are ravaging Week 9 lineups, forcing former fringe options to take the mold of stars. Six teams are taking Sunday off, and that includes the Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions. 

Maybe this is just coming from a bitter writer who must replace his two star running backs and three wide receivers, but this weekend stinks.

The top rankings at each position won't look nearly as loaded as usual. That means owners can't be as picky. If you have plenty of names sprinkled across these lists, you're in golden shape for the weekend. 

If not, join the rest of us forced to sweat out Donald Brown and Golden Tate for the weekend.

 

Quarterback

Week 9 Quarterback Rankings
RankPlayerMatchup
1Drew BreesNew York Jets
2Aaron RodgersChicago Bears
3Tony RomoMinnesota Vikings
4Cam NewtonAtlanta Falcons
5Philip RiversWashington Redskins
6Russell WilsonTampa Bay Buccaneers
7Robert Griffin IIISan Diego Chargers
8Andrew LuckHouston Texans
9Terrelle PryorPhiladelphia Eagles
10Matt RyanCarolina Panthers
Andrew Gould's Rankings

No Peyton Manning. No Matthew Stafford. No Colin Kaepernick. Let's hope you haven't depended on Eli Manning or Carson Palmer this season, but they're on a bye as well.

If you're upset that you can't start Chad Henne this week in a league with one starting quarterback, it might be time to shift your focus to fantasy basketball or hockey.

But from what we're working with, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers you're automatically starting with confidence regardless of the matchup. Move on to the running backs portion if you own either of those two.

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 24:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers looks on during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on October 24, 2013 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

After that, where did all of the top quarterbacks go? Although Tony Romo has not posted huge numbers outside of his monster performance against Denver, he's a strong play against Minnesota's No. 29-ranked passing defense. Cam Newton has compiled eight touchdowns (six passing, two rushing) through his past three games without firing a single interception, so play him against Atlanta's tumbling defense.

Matt Ryan, Tom Brady and Andrew Luck all face rough matchups against premier defenses, but it's hard to imagine owners having a better alternative on hand. But Jake Locker, who gained 326 passing yards and two touchdowns in his return last weekend, is an interesting Plan B who fell just shy of the top 10.

 

Running Back

Week 9 Running Back Rankings
RankPlayerMatchup
1Jamaal CharlesBuffalo Bills
2Adrian PetersonDallas Cowboys
3LeSean McCoyOakland Raiders
4Matt ForteGreen Bay Packers
5Eddie LacyChicago Bears
6Marshawn LynchTampa Bay Buccaneers
7Chris JohnsonSt. Louis Rams
8Alfred MorrisSan Diego Chargers
9Ryan MathewsWashington Redskins
10Le'Veon BellNew England Patriots
Gould's rankings

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 20:   Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers runs for yardage during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on October 20, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

So running back really stinks this year.

Knowshon Moreno, Frank Gore, Reggie Bush, Maurice Jones-Drew and Week 8 breakout Andre Ellington will all take a seat this weekend, creating more uncertainty at an already shallow position.

That makes Eddie Lacy a must-start after receiving at least 20 carries in his last four games, including his 94-yard, one-touchdown effort against the Vikings last Sunday night on a career-high 29 rushes. The opportunities will keep coming as the Packers look to insert the run to mask their depleted receiving core.

New England has allowed 130.2 rushing yards per game, which is worse than every team other than the Jaguars. Le'Veon Bell has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry through four games, but Pittsburgh wants to run, especially in the red zone. If you have Bell, start him.

Washington possesses the NFC's worst defense, while Ryan Mathews has quietly orchestrated two straight 100-yard games. After years of falling short, Mathews is delivering as a post-hype sleeper for San Diego.

If Arian Foster can't suit up and Ben Tate can, Tate vaults up to top-10 consideration. Should Foster be available, he should be played despite his struggles.

 

Wide Receiver

Week 9 Wide Receiver Rankings
RankPlayerMatchup
1Dez BryantMinnesota Vikings
2Jordy NelsonChicago Bears
3Josh GordonBaltimore Ravens
4Brandon MarshallGreen Bay Packers
5Pierre GarconSan Diego Chargers
6Antonio BrownNew England Patriots
7DeSean JacksonOakland Raiders
8Andre JohnsonIndianapolis Colts
9Keenan AllenWashington Redskins
10Steve SmithAtlanta Falcons
Gould's rankings

Calvin Johnson's absence gives another top wideout one week to battle for the No. 1 spot.

This isn't exactly what Dez Bryant had in mind, but he gets the temporary nod as this week's top fantasy wide receiver going against a Minnesota defense that was torn apart by Jordy Nelson last week. Speaking of Nelson, he is now Rodgers' undisputed top target and should continue to flourish against Chicago's No. 27 pass defense.

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 27:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys scores on a five yard touchdown pass from Tony Romo #9 during the second quarter ofd the game at Ford Field on October 27, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Jay Cutler's absence robs Alshon Jeffery of top-10 consideration, but Brandon Marshall is too good to significantly drop down the table. Besides, Josh McCown looked serviceable in mop-up duty against Washington.

This top 10 looks much shakier than usual without Johnson, Victor Cruz, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Denver's trio of star wideouts and A.J. Green (who already played on Thursday). That gives Keenan Allen and Pierre Garcon clearance up the ranks in what should be a shootout with two leaky defenses.

Antonio Brown has caught eight passes per game, putting him on pace to finish the season with 128 receptions. He's a point-per-reception stud whose stability is nice to have during a week like this one.

 

Tight End

Week 9 Tight End Rankings
RankPlayerMatchup
1Jimmy GrahamNew York Jets
2Antonio GatesWashington Redskins
3Rob GronkowskiPittsburgh Steelers
4Jason WittenMinnesota Vikings
5Jordan ReedSan Diego Chargers
6Jordan CameronBaltimore Ravens
7Greg OlsenAtlanta Falcons
8Martellus BennettGreen Bay Packers
9Tony GonzalezCarolina Panthers
10Kyle RudolphDallas Cowboys
Gould's rankings

The NFL's top-two tight ends are both listed as questionable, so that's fun.

Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) was limited in Thursday's practice, according to ESPN.com's Field Yates. Jimmy Graham, who caught two touchdowns in limited action last Sunday, is still suffering from a partially torn plantar fascia. Ask anyone who sat Graham last week; these guys stay in your lineup until they're officially ruled out.

Antonio Gates and Jordan Reed will benefit from the Redskins-Chargers matchup that is poised to become Sunday's biggest shootout. 

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 29:  Tight end Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers is pursued by middle linebacker Sean Lee #50 of the Dallas Cowboys at Qualcomm Stadium on September 29, 2013 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Green Bay and Dallas reside near the bottom of fantasy points allowed to tight ends (via ESPN), so Martellus Bennett and Kyle Rudolph can fill the void left by Vernon Davis and Julius Thomas.

Coby Fleener and Tim Wright could potentially be top-10 tight ends during the second half, but neither Fleener against Houston nor Wright at Seattle is a promising play this weekend.

 

Defense

Week 9 Defense Rankings
RankTeamMatchup
1Seattle SeahawksTampa Bay Buccaneers
2Kansas City ChiefsBuffalo Bills
3New Orleans SaintsNew York Jets
4Carolina PanthersAtlanta Falcons
5Tennessee TitansSt. Louis Rams
6Green Bay PackersChicago Bears
7Indianapolis ColtsHouston Texans
8New England PatriotsPittsburgh Steelers
9Dallas CowboysMinnesota Vikings
10Baltimore RavensCleveland Browns
Gould's rankings

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 15:  Alterraun Verner #20 of the Tennessee Titans celebrates with his teammates after a touchdown in the second half against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on September 15, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/G
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Anyone who has played the "Who is Jacksonville facing?" game must develop another plan for Week 9.

After Kansas City and Seattle, there are few defenses owners can ride with confidence this weekend. No longer a pushover on defense, Rob Ryan's Saints are worth a look against his brother's Jets. New Orleans has collected 15 takeaways, while Geno Smith has already surrendered 13 interceptions.

Tennessee, whose defense ranks 13th with 337 total yards per game, goes up against Kellen Clemens, so that could be something. 

It's weird to perceive New England vs. Pittsburgh as a fantasy-friendly matchup for defenses, but each offense is struggling, making a low-scoring affair a very feasible outcome.

 

Kicker

Week 9 Kicker Rankings
RankPlayerMatchup
1Dan BaileyMinnesota Vikings
2Garrett HartleyNew York Jets
3Stephen GostkowskiPittsburgh Steelers
4Steven HauschkaTampa Bay Buccaneers
5Nick NovakWashington Redskins
6Mason CrosbyChicago Bears
7Adam VinatieriHouston Texans
8Kai ForbathSan Diego Chargers
9Justin TuckerCleveland Browns
10Robbie GouldGreen Bay Packers
Gould's rankings

Does anyone have a hat handy?

Since kickers are so dependent on their teammates, projecting their fantasy outputs is a near impossible chore. You're just hoping to get lucky with someone fortunate enough to receive a bunch of field-goal opportunities.

Dan Bailey, who has kicked eight field goals of 40 yards or more, seems like a solid bet against Minnesota. Nick Novak, Mason Crosby and Garrett Hartley are also playing for top offenses.

Seattle could hit the fantasy sweet spot against Tampa Bay, moving the ball well but not dominating enough to finish with multiple touchdowns. Steven Hauschka could kick a healthy portion of field goals in a low-scoring win.