With a season-high six NFL teams on bye in Week 9, finding the right fill-in players for your fantasy football lineups this week is extremely important. An uncomfortable amount of week-to-week starters are unavailable due to the bye in addition to some nagging injuries. Managers have a large lot of fringe guys to consider. Per usual, I’m here to sort out which players you should love and would hate to put your faith in for a win in Week 9.
Sometimes you don’t have many choices as the bench options on your roster become scarce. If you do have options, though, I believe what I have to say about these players that I love and hate will help put you in a position to win your week. My track record, thus far, is pretty spot on as I continue to hold myself accountable, review each list every week on Twitter (@Colin_McT) and improve week-to-week! Let’s take a look at who deserves to start and who you should consider sitting this week.
Players I Love and Hate in Week 9 of the 2022 Season
Love: Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Who doesn’t love a revenge game narrative? For the first time as the Minnesota Vikings’ starting quarterback, Kirk Cousins will travel back to Washington in Week 9 to face the team that drafted him. Cousins has faced Washington once before, since leaving, back in 2019 in Minnesota. He threw for 285 scoreless yards but completed 23 of his 26 pass attempts. The Vikings cruised to a victory behind Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison’s combined 36 rushing attempts for 159 yards and a touchdown.
Ahead of Week 9 this season, though, I expect Cousins to be Minnesota’s key to victory against his former team. Outside of a low-scoring 12-7 win over the Chicago Bears on Thursday night in Week 6, Washington is allowing 24 points per game to opposing teams. Cousins and the Vikings are averaging 24.7 per game with an average of 29.0 in their last three.
The Vikings offense is flat-out too much for the Commanders to handle. Between figuring out how to cover Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and stopping Dalvin Cook, I see no reason why Minnesota won’t move up and down the field. It’s yet to be seen what size role he will have, but the Vikings are adding new trade acquisition, tight end, T.J. Hockenson, into the mix, as well. Cousins’ group of weapons is arguably the best it’s ever been. It will be on full display in Week 9. I love streaming Cousins on the road versus his former team and think he has low-end QB1 potential for the remainder of the season.
Some Extra Love:
Justin Fields should be in the QB1 discussion for the remainder of the 2022 fantasy football season. He is the overall QB2 from Weeks 6 through 8. Fields is averaging 23.2 points in that time. He has a great chance to continue his hot streak, especially in the next three weeks starting with a home game against the Miami Dolphins. They are allowing the fourth-most passing and fifth-most rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks this season. Fields is also getting additional help in the passing game after acquiring wide receiver, Chase Claypool, via trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers. The arrow is pointing upward.
Hate: Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
It’s easy to hate the Raiders team as a whole after dropping a goose egg against the New Orleans Saints in Week 8. Failing to score a single point directly correlates to poor fantasy football performances. Las Vegas’ lack of scoring in Week 8 likely lost a few of you your fantasy matchups. It could be much of the same in Week 9 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars are allowing the 14th-most points (16.7) to quarterbacks this season. Running backs, though, are averaging the seventh-most points against Jacksonville’s defense. Additionally, at home, Jacksonville is allowing the third-least amount of points (12.0) to opposing teams. Their defense is struggling as of late, but I think tightens up back at home after a Week 8 trip to London.
The Raiders will likely lean on Josh Jacobs in this one. With Darren Waller struggling to return to the field from a hamstring injury, the Jags should prioritize Davante Adams as best as they can as far as coverage goes in the passing game. I don’t see Carr picking apart this defense and finishing as a top-12 quarterback in Week 9. He would have to throw at least three touchdowns in order to so. I fully expect Jacobs to notch at least one on the ground for the Raiders limiting Carr’s potential to rack up points of his own.
Love: A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers
The love for A.J. Dillon this week is an exploitation of his matchup. The Detroit Lions are allowing the most points per game (32.1) this season. Additionally, they lead the league in rushing touchdowns allowed (11) to running backs having played only seven games. Given Green Bay’s failed attempts to add wide receiver help at the trade deadline, I especially think they will lean on the run game in Week 9 for a much-needed win.
So far, Dillon’s fantasy production is much lower than expected prior to the season. Week 1 is his only game with a touchdown and double-digit fantasy points. His lack of use in the passing game is a big reason why. That’s where Aaron Jones is stealing touches out of the backfield from Dillon.
In Week 9 though, in a favorable matchup, I think the run game will be on full display. My love for Dillon this week is to emphasize that both Packers running backs are worth starting. Dillon has just 11 total rushing attempts less than Jones on the season. I foresee both backs logging nearly 15 each against the Lions and running away quite literally with a win.
Some Extra Love:
Tyler Allgeier should remain fantasy relevant in Week 9 for the Atlanta Falcons. Cordarelle Patterson is back practicing with the team, but claims to be slightly less than 100% ready to play. Assuming Patterson sits this one out, Allgeier should lead Atlanta running backs in opportunities for the sixth week in a row. The Los Angeles Chargers are allowing the fourth-most rushing yards and second-most points to running backs. Caleb Huntley does have matchup-based flex appeal, as well.
Hate: Deon Jackson, Indianapolis Colts
It’s hard to imagine sitting Deon Jackson, especially if you have him and Jonathan Taylor and Taylor sits due to an ongoing ankle injury. The last time we saw Jackson start in place of Taylor, he finished as THE overall running back in Week 6 with 28.1 points. I don’t completely hate the idea of starting Jackson, but I’m limiting my expectations.
A lot has changed since Week 6 for the Indianapolis Colts. Sam Ehlinger is now the starting quarterback instead of Matt Ryan. Nyheim Hines is now a Buffalo Bill, too, so Jackson will see increased playing time anyway even if Taylor plays. The Colts also fired offensive coordinator, Marcus Brady, after scoring just 16.1 points per game this season.
So, as Jackson prepares to take on the Patriots in New England in Week 9, his role and the offense is certainly not guaranteed to look the same as it did in Week 6. The Patriots allow an average of 5.5 targets per games to running backs. They’re also allowing the second-least points to running backs. I foresee Bill Belichick scheming up a game plan that makes the day miserable for Sam Ehlinger. That said, Jackson’s likelihood of running wild is lower than usual. He could see a fantasy-friendly amount of volume, but it may not result in a ton of points.
Love: Joshua Palmer, Los Angeles Chargers
Fresh off of the Chargers’ bye week, I love Joshua Palmer to bounce back in Week 9 after a short absence due to a concussion. Palmer should be clear of the concussion protocol with a good shot of not only playing, but leading Los Angeles in targets this weekend. Mike Williams remains out with an ankle injury. Meanwhile, Keenan Allen’s availability looks grim after missing practice to open the week.
Even if Allen plays, it’s likely at less than full strength. Missing practice out of the bye is never a good sign and suggests he suffered a setback with his hamstring injury. That clears the way for Josh Palmer who’s averaging just under seven targets per game this season with eight or more in half of his games played. Palmer is second amongst Chargers wide receivers in targets even with a one-game absence this season.
With Mike Williams out, Palmer is the best bet to eat into Williams’ vacated 20% target share. Better yet, the Chargers are heading to Atlanta, with two weeks of preparation, to take on the Falcons, who are allowing the second-most points to wide receivers this season. That’s a result of allowing the most targets, receptions, yards, and second-most touchdowns to the position. Every available Charger gets a boost in this one, but Palmer should see the biggest filling the Mike Williams role in a short-handed offense.
Some Extra Love:
Juju Smith-Schuster remains a must-start in all formats as the Kansas City Chiefs return from their bye week. Juju has exactly eight targets in five of seven games played this season. Only Travis Kelce has more targets than Juju on the Chiefs which shouldn’t surprise anyone. I know Kansas City’s addition of Kadarius Toney via trade from the New York Giants may make some fantasy managers uneasy about Juju, but Toney’s presence is more likely to harm Mecole Hardman and especially rookie Skyy Moore’s roles. Against a Titans team allowing the fourth-most points to wide receivers, Juju is the Chiefs pass catcher you want in Week 9.
Hate: DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles
It’s hard to sit a player like DeVonta Smith considering he’s on one of the most successful offenses in football. I’ll admit, listing Smith in the hate section isn’t my most confident pick of the season. The Eagles should roll on Thursday Night Football as heavy 13.5-point favorites against the Houston Texans. I just think, if you have options you’re considering in place of Smith, it could be wise to go with them on Sunday instead.
The Texans defense is allowing the fifth-least fantasy points to wide receivers with just two touchdowns allowed to the position this season. This is misleading, though. The low scoring from receivers is a direct result of teams running at will against their defense. Houston is the only defense to allow over 1,000 rushing yards (1,114 to be exact) to running backs so far this season and that’s in just seven games.
On a short week, and after watching tape on the Texans, I fully expect Miles Sanders to carry the load in prime time. He is an obvious must-start but should be a popular play in Daily Fantasy Sports lineups, as well. If you play DeVonta Smith, I think you’re hoping for a touchdown to make it worthwhile.
Love: Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars
Evan Engram is becoming more than just your average streaming option. In the last four weeks, he has 29 total targets. That’s the most targets of any Jaguar over that span. He now sits as the TE11 on the season after a TE4 finish in Week 8.
In Week 9, Engram and the Jags will play host to the Las Vegas Raiders. As of now, Jacksonville is a home underdog to the Raiders with an Over/Under of 48.0 points. With both teams looking for their third win of the season, this should be a competitive back-and-forth game.
The Raiders are allowing the third-most points to tight ends this season. Tight ends are averaging 7.57 targets per game against the Las Vegas defense. Again, Engram is averaging 7.25 in his last four games. He should see a heavy dose of targets in Week 9 with the matchup and expanding role in the Jacksonville offense.
Not only do I love Engram this week, but he should be in starting lineups in Week 10, as well, against the Kansas City Chiefs. They’re allowing 7.28 targets per game and the eight-most points to the position. You can lean on Engram until his Week 11 bye.
Some Extra Love:
Robert Tonyan gets a great Week 9 matchup with the Detroit Lions in a must-win game for the Green Bay Packers. In Detroit’s last three games, Hunter Henry, Dalton Schultz, and Mike Gesicki all scored at least 9.4 fantasy points. Each tight end recorded at least 49 receiving yards or a touchdown. While I do think the Packers lean on the run game in this one, Tonyan does have 22 targets in Green Bay’s last three games. He is arguably Aaron Rodgers’ most trustworthy target. Fantasy managers can trust his safe floor this week, too.
Hate: T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings
First of all, it feels extremely weird to follow up Hockenson’s name with “Minnesota Vikings.” Although, after a bit of a surprising trade deadline day move, Hockenson will in fact be playing for his former team, the Detroit Lions, divisional rivals. With just four days in between the trade and the Vikings’ Week 9 bout with the Washington Commanders, I don’t expect Hockenson to have an immediate impact. Sure, he will likely see a handful of snaps, and perhaps a few targets, but this will be the most touchdown-dependent game of his for the season.
On top of a more limited role than usual, Hockenson’s matchup is brutal. Washington has only given up one touchdown to a tight end this season. Additionally, teams are targeting their tight ends at the third-lowest rate against the Commanders, As a result, Washington is tied for the second-lowest number of receptions allowed to tight ends.
Hockenson feels like a must-play, but if possible, it’s worthwhile to look elsewhere for Week 9, especially if you need a win. Adding Evan Engram, who I mentioned above that I love for this week, is worth it, in my opinion. If you have a roster spot you can make available to add another tight end, I would do so. I don’t hate Hockenson, but I hate his ceiling for Week 9. It’s much lower than usual.