Many owners are beginning their descent into the darkest corners of the fantasy season. Weeks 9 and 10 are absolutely brutal for owners due to bye weeks. But in some ways, with fewer choices, it makes week-to-week start-or-sit decisions a little easier by subtraction.
Let’s take a look at several running backs and wide receivers owners should think about starting, others to consider sitting, and a few sleepers for the rest of Week 9.
RBs To Start/Sit
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
McCoy’s on pace for another 1,000-yard rushing season, but he’s not the same guy that also hauled in 52 catches for 539 yards and two scores on top of his nine rushing TDs last season. Truth is, we didn’t factor in how much Darren Sproles would eat into McCoy’s production and thought he could handle the extra defensive pressure. Sproles has taken away a lot of McCoy’s targets, and he reportedly plans to return from a knee injury this week against Houston’s No. 12 ranked rushing defense.
McCoy’s reached a point where he’s going to be started every week, but he shouldn’t be relied on as your No. 1 back until the Eagles find a way to get both he and Sproles going at the same time.
Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
Miller’s been a sneaky productive RB2 all season, especially in PPR leagues. He’s averaging nearly three catches per game and rushing for nearly five yards per carry for the Dolphins No. 6 ranked rushing attack. Against a San Diego D that’s 14 th versus the run, Miller’s an excellent complement to owners who also possess McCoy, Sproles or even K.C.’s Jamaal Charles, and could breakout his second 100-yard game of the season.
Shane Vereen, New England Patriots
Vereen stepped up as the No. 1 back after Stevan Ridley went down following Week 6, and over the last two games he’s been especially deadly as a pass catcher. He’s racked up eight receptions for 94 yards and two scores. Yet in that same span he’s totaled 65 yards off 16 carries. Now he goes against a Broncos D that’s No. 1 against the run this season, but has had trouble against pass-catching backs, e.g. Arizona’s Andre Ellington in Week 5 and Ahmad Bradshaw in Week 1. Vereen is a good start this week over say Cincy’s Gio Bernard or Minnesota’s Jerick McKinnon, both facing emerging defenses in Jacksonville and Washington, respectively.
WRs To Start/Sit
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
In three games this season, Green’s racked up 17 catches for 314 yards and two touchdowns. Then he went down with a toe injury that was severe enough to keep him out of the last three games. The possibility that he could see action in Week 9 against Jacksonville is enough to make owners salivate, but even if Green’s status is updated from questionable to probable over the next few days he’s a gamble this week. Green relies so much on his quickness and speed to make plays downfield, and we really won’t know how well he’s recovered until Week 10. Also, even if he plays at 50 to 80 percent, the Jags have greatly improved on the defensive end and could cause Green problems all game.
Brandin Cooks, New Orleans
That true breakout game we’ve all been waiting for from Cooks finally happened in Week 8 against the Packers. He totaled six receptions for 94 yards and one TD, flashing that incredible speed that made him a major sleeper pick before the season started. Throw in Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston’s inconsistent play, along with running back Mark Ingram giving the Saints a serious boost in the backfield, and Cooks will have plenty of opportunities and a dangerous rushing threat to keep defenses honest. On Thursday he matches up against a Carolina defense that’s giving up the seventh most fantasy points to receivers this season.
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
He’s coming off his worst game of the season, one reception for 14 yards in a 51-23 blowout victory. Patriot fans are delighted that Tom Brady’s found some rhythm with receivers not named Edelman, but not fantasy owners. Still with Brady finding new weapons and looking more fluid on the field the last few weeks, Edelman should find some space against a Broncos D that’s going to have to cover him, along with Brandon LaFell and Rob Gronkowski. In PPR league’s Edelman is a must start.
Week 9 Sleepers
Jonas Gray, RB, New England Patriots
Gray led the Pats with 17 carries for 86 yards last week, and he’ll be the one to hit Denver’s defensive line with Vereen working the outside. He could be the biggest difference between a New England win or a loss, as they try to keep Peyton Manning off the field with long drives. Gray is best a RB3 or a second option at your flex, but could bust out against in Week 9.
Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers The start of Hyde’s NFL career has been less than stellar, with 161 yards and two TDs off 48 touches. But as the 49ers enter the second half of their season he could take on a more prominent role as they try to preserve Frank Gore. Add the fact that Week 9 opponent St. Louis is the second worst team in the league against the run, and Hyde might surprise a lot of owners.