Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 9: Rounding Up Latest Expert Advice on the Web
As is always the case in the NFL, the 2021 season is proving to be an endurance test. Multiple injuries and absences around the league have caused rosters to look a lot different than they did at the start of the season.
On Thursday night, for example, we saw New York Jets quarterback Josh Johnson play the bulk of the game. He came in after an injury to Mike White, who started the past two games in place of rookie second overall pick Zach Wilson (knee).
The same is true in fantasy, where players like Saquon Barkley, Russell Wilson and Christian McCaffrey have missed extended time. New Orleans Saints wideout Michael Thomas recently announced that he won't return in 2021, while former Cleveland Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is waiting to land with a new team.
With the Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Football Team on bye, managers could be faced with some difficult decisions in Week 9. Here we'll turn to the experts to help sort out the scene.
We'll examine the top-50 flex plays from FantasyPros' consensus Week 9 rankings—compiled from a list of 38 experts. We'll provide our own take on the rankings, make some start or sit choices and dive into what other experts around the web are thinking.
All rankings are based on points-per-reception (PPR) scoring. The consensus top-50 list has been amended to exclude players who played Thursday night.
1. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
2. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
3. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
4. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Charger
5. Ja'Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
6. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
7. Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers
8. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills
9. Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
10. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
11. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
12. Travis Kelce, TE, Green Bay Packers
13. A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
14. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
15. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
16. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
17. Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
18. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
19. Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders
20. D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
21. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals
22. Darrell Henderson Jr., RB, Los Angeles Rams
23. Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams
24. Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys
25. Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
26. Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens
27. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
28. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
29. Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans
30. Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers
31. Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
32. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
33. Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
34. Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
35. Cordarrelle Patterson, RB, Atlanta Falcons
36. Khalil Herbert, RB, Chicago Bears
37. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Miami Dolphins
38. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Buffalo Bills
39. Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens
40. Cole Beasley, WR, Buffalo Bills
41. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos
42. Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots
43. Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons
44. Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
45. Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns
46. Hunter Renfrow, WR, Las Vegas Raiders
47. Myles Gaskin, RB, Miami Dolphins
48. Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona Cardinals
49. Zack Moss, RB, Buffalo Bills
50. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
It's hard to argue that any of the consensus top 50 players deserve to be sat in Week 9, but a couple of players do seem to be ranked too high.
Kansas City Chiefs wideout Tyreek Hill, for example feels overrated at No. 2 against a Green Bay Packers defense that has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers. His PPR floor is tremendous, though, as Hill has caught at least six passes in each of his past five games. So while the upside may not be great, Hill is unlikely to bust.
Tennessee Titans wideout A.J. Brown also feels a tad high at No. 13. He's listed as questionable with a knee injury and won't benefit from Derrick Henry's presence. Henry is on injured reserve following foot surgery, and the Titans recently signed Adrian Peterson to the active roster to help replace him.
The Los Angeles Rams will likely dare Tennessee to beat them through the air, which could lead to loads of double coverage for Brown.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones feels a little low at No. 10 given the fact that Aaron Rodgers will sit this one out on the reserve/COVID-19 list. To be fair, though, the Rodgers news broke midweek, likely after many rankings lists were compiled.
Expect the Packers to lean heavily on Jones as second-year quarterback Jordan Love makes his first NFL start.
Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson also feels low at No. 35. Wideout Calvin Ridley has stepped away from the team to focus on his mental health, and the Falcons consequently placed Ridley on the non-football injury list.
Look to start Patterson over backs like Josh Jacobs and Khalil Herbert in Week 9, even with a tough matchup looming.
Start 'Em: Cordarrelle Patterson at New Orleans Saints
Patterson does have a rough matchup against the New Orleans Saints, who have been terrific against the run. The Falcons offense was largely ineffective with Ridley out of the lineup in Week 8, something Chris Towers of CBS Sports recently noted:
"The Falcons offense failed to get much going in their 19-13 loss to the Panthers in Week 8, raising some questions about how effective they'll be with Calvin Ridley away from the team for the time being. He still played 60% of the snaps and had a solid role in the passing game, so I'll still start him, but the matchup against the Saints is an especially tough one."
While the Saints are tough on opposing backs—they have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to the position—stick by Patterson because of his aforementioned role in the passing game.
In PPR leagues, Patterson's floor is too solid to ignore. He's caught at least two passes and tallied at least 60 scrimmage yards in every game this season. He caught at least five passes in each game without Ridley in the lineup.
Look for Atlanta to attack the Saints defense with short passes instead of runs, which could lead to a big PPR performance from Patterson.
Sit 'Em: Kenneth Gainwell vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders (ankle) remains sidelined, and the Los Angeles Chargers have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing backs. Rookie runner Kenneth Gainwell will be a tempting flex play this week, but don't be quick to put him in the starting lineup.
As David A Marcillo of RotoBaller pointed out, Gainwell is not Philadelphia's preferred replacement plan when given options.
"Instead, the Eagles gave a dozen carries each to special teamer Boston Scott and practice squad player Jordan Howard," Marcillo wrote. "Gainwell did end up with 13 touches, but 12 of them came in the fourth quarter of a complete blowout game."
After Gainwell gained 61 scrimmage yards with four receptions and a touchdown in Week 7 relief duty, he looked like a must-grab on the waiver-wire. It's probably too early to cut him, but Scott and Howard are both safer plays heading into Week 9.
Leave Gainwell on the bench unless Philadelphia decides not to make Howard active.
Start 'Em: Myles Gaskin vs. Houston Texans
Miami Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin is the archetypal streamer. He's good enough when the matchup is favorable and downright disappointing the rest of the time. Against the Falcons in Week 7, for example, he had four catches, 77 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. Against the Buffalo Bills last time out, he had three catches but just 55 combined yards.
Gaskin has failed to reach 60 scrimmage yards in four of eight games this season.
This is one of the good weeks for Gaskin, though. He should see a lot of work against the flailing Houston Texans.
"The touches should be there for Gaskin, and he'll likely remain involved in the passing attack as well," Andy Webb of RotoBaller wrote. "Fantasy managers should consider him an RB2 in PPR formats for this excellent Week 9 matchup."
Houston has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. As long as Gaskin gets the workload, he should reward managers with a solid, if unspectacular outing.
Fantasy points against from FantasyPros.