NFL Week 9 features some of the league’s top teams, and therefore fantasy players, on bye weeks, which should make for some interesting moves in leagues this week.
The Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, New England Patriots and Washington will all be out of the action in Week 9, which means fantasy owners are searching for replacements for everyone from tight end Rob Gronkowski to running back David Johnson, quarterback Tom Brady to wide receiver A.J. Green.
Let’s take a look at the projected top players at each position group heading into this week’s matchups as well as some projected sleepers.
Rank Player Team Week 9 Opponent 1 Aaron Rodgers GB vs. IND 2 Drew Brees NO @ SF 3 Andrew Luck IND @ GB 4 Matt Ryan ATL @ TB 5 Dak Prescott DAL @ CLE 6 Ben Roethlisberger PIT @ BAL 7 Cam Newton CAR @ LA 8 Jameis Winston TB vs. ATL 9 Philip Rivers SD vs. TEN 10 Ryan Tannehill MIA vs. NYJ 11 Marcus Mariota TEN @ SD 12 Sam Bradford MIN vs. DET
Top Player: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
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Is Aaron Rodgers back?
After a slow start to the season, the Packers passer shone against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8, passing for 246 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
He also completed 73.7 percent of his passes. Oh, and he did it all without three of his top targets in wide receivers Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery and tight end Jared Cook.
Rodgers hasn’t shown enough consistency this season, but he appears to be on the upswing at the perfect time of the year for fantasy owners. He faces an Indianapolis Colts secondary in Week 9 that is allowing 287.7 passing yards per game, the second-most in the league.
Rank Player Team Week 9 Opponent 1 Ezekiel Elliott DAL @ CLE 2 Le’Veon Bell PIT @ BAL 3 DeMarco Murray TEN @ SD 4 Devonta Freeman ATL @ TB 5 Jay Ajayi MIA vs. NYJ 6 Melvin Gordon SD vs. TEN 7 Carlos Hyde SF vs. NO 8 Devontae Booker DEN @ OAK 9 Christine Michael SEA vs. BUF 10 Spencer Ware KC vs. JAC 11 Matt Forte NYJ @ MIA 12 Todd Gurley LA vs. CAR 13 LeSean McCoy BUF @ SEA 14 Jonathan Stewart CAR @ LA 15 Terrance West BAL vs. PIT 16 Frank Gore IND @ GB 17 Matt Asiata MIN vs. DET 18 Mark Ingram NO @ SF 19 Isaiah Crowell NO @ SF 20 Latavius Murray OAK vs. DEN 21 Rashad Jennings NYG vs. PHI 22 Antone Smith TB vs. ATL 23 Theo Riddick DET @ MIN 24 Derrick Henry TEN @ SD 25 Tim Hightower NO @ SF 26 Bilal Powell NYJ @ MIA 27 Duke Johnson CLE vs. DAL 28 Darren Sproles PHI @ NYG 29 Ryan Mathews PHI @ NYG 30 Mike Gillislee BUF @ SEA 31 Peyton Barber TB vs. ATL 32 Chris Ivory JAC @ KC
Sleeper: Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Who exactly is at running back for Bucs on Thursday? We look at Antone Smith, rookie Peyton Barber and Mike James. https://t.co/2XaQ32DDk3
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) November 1, 2016
Jacquizz Rodgers might miss the Buccaneers’ Thursday night matchup against the Atlanta Falcons with a sprained foot, as ESPN’s Jenna Laine reported.
Rodgers’ fantasy owners have the option of taking advantage of Tampa Bay’s proven production at the position by looking to one of the Bucs’ backup rushers.
The problem is knowing which of Peyton Barber and Antone Smith is going to see more touches. Barber had 84 yards and a touchdown in Week 7 against the San Francisco 49ers, but when Rodgers suffered the foot injury in Week 8 it was Smith who saw most of the action.
Recency bias thus suggests Barber is more of a sleeper in Week 9, but given his previous outings this season he also seems to have a higher upside.
Rank Player Team Week 9 Opponent 1 Antonio Brown PIT @ BAL 2 Julio Jones ATL @ TB 3 Mike Evans TB vs. ATL 4 Odell Beckham Jr. NYG vs. PHI 5 T.Y. Hilton IND @ GB 6 Brandin Cooks NO @ SF 7 Dez Bryant DAL @ CLE 8 Jordy Nelson GB vs. IND 9 Amari Cooper OAK vs. DEN 10 Jarvis Landry MIA vs.NYJ 11 Randall Cobb GB vs. IND 12 Demaryius Thomas DEN @ OAK 13 Kelvin Benjamin CAR @ LA 14 Brandon Marshall NYJ @ MIA 15 Michael Crabtree OAK vs. DEN 16 Emmanuel Sanders DEN @ OAK 17 Ty Montgomery GB vs. IND 18 Terrelle Pryor CLE vs. DAL 19 Stefon Diggs MIN vs. DET 20 Kenny Britt LA vs. CAR 21 Michael Thomas NO @ SF 22 Doug Baldwin SEA vs. BUF 23 Allen Robinson JAC @ KC 24 Jeremy Maclin KC vs. JAC 25 Quincy Enunwa NYJ @ MIA 26 Mike Wallace BAL vs. PIT 27 Donte Moncrief IND @ GB 28 Marvin Jones DET @ MIN 29 Willie Snead NO @ SF 30 Jordan Matthews PHI @ NYG 31 Tyrell Williams SD vs. TEN 32 Kendall Wright TEN @ SD
Sleeper: Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
Packers receiver Ty Montgomery is most likely ranked higher than teammate Davante Adams heading into Week 9 because he also receives a lot of targets out of the backfield, but don’t underestimate Adams’ potential for production.
In fact, he’s caught enough passes over the last two games to make Packers history, as ESPN’s Rob Demovksy points out:
Davante Adams has 25 receptions the last two games – the most receptions in a two-game span in Packers history,… https://t.co/e1up6rrGPS
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) October 30, 2016
Sure, Adams’ targets may see a dip if Randall Cobb and Montgomery both return to the lineup against the Colts. But Aaron Rodgers has proved time and time again that he’ll continue to go to whichever of his weapons is hot and open, meaning that his receivers often end up with lopsided targets and total receptions.
Rank Player Team Week 9 Opponent 1 Greg Olsen CAR @ LA 2 Delanie Walker TEN @ SD 3 Kyle Rudolph MIN vs. DET 4 Travis Kelce KC vs. JAC 5 Jimmy Graham SEA vs. BUF 6 Antonio Gates SD vs. TEN 7 Gary Barnidge CLE vs. DAL 8 Dennis Pitta BAL vs. PIT 9 Coby Fleener NO @ SF 10 Julius Thomas JAC @ KC 11 Cameron Brate TB vs. ATL 12 Jack Doyle IND @ GB
Top Target: Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Tennessee’s Delanie Walker is quickly climbing the list of top-scoring tight ends in fantasy this season.
Heading into Week 9, he’s situated at No. 5 with 58.80 points on the year, helped greatly by his 14.40 points in Week 7.
Walker has also been good for big-play production on a consistent basis in recent weeks. As ESPN’s Field Yates pointed out, Walker has had a catch of at least 20 yards in 10 consecutive games:
Titans TE Delanie Walker now has a catch of 20 yards or more in 10 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 28, 2016
Walker has a favorable matchup in Week 9 with a San Diego Chargers secondary giving up 275.1 passing yards and 26.5 points per game.
Rank Unit Week 9 Opponent 1 Chiefs vs. JAC 2 Vikings vs. DET 3 Broncos @ OAK 4 Seahawks vs. BUF 5 Rams vs. CAR 6 Panthers @ LA 7 Packers vs. IND 8 Eagles @ NYG 9 Chargers vs. TEN 10 Titans @ SD 11 Dolphins vs. NYJ 12 Lions @ MIN
Top Unit: Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs defense has been solid in 2016, ranking sixth in total points with 73. That includes 14 sacks, 11 interceptions, five fumble recoveries and three defensive touchdowns.
They look to be one of the top units in Week 9 with a matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are only averaging 19.9 points per game.
The Jaguars offensive line has also allowed Blake Bortles to take 17 sacks this season.
Rank Player Team Week 9 Opponent 1 Adam Vinatieri IND @ GB 2 Mason Crosby GB vs. IND 3 Stephen Hauschka SEA vs. BUF 4 Matt Bryant ATL @ TB 5 Justin Tucker BAL vs. PIT 6 Cairo Santos KC vs. JAC 7 Dan Bailey DAL @ CLE 8 Brandon McManus DEN @ OAK 9 Josh Lambo SD vs. TEN 10 Caleb Sturgis PHI @ NYG 11 Blair Walsh MIN vs. DET 12 Sebastian Janikowski OAK vs. DEN
Top Player: Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts
As much as a kicker can dominate, Adam Vinatieri continues to do so in 2016. He continues to lead all kickers in field goals of 50 or more yards, with five, and he is also tied for the second-most successful field goals of 40-49 yards, with six.
Vinatieri still leads all fantasy kickers in points, with 84.
The Colts offense is good enough to consistently get into field-goal range but not good enough to consistently reach the end zone and convert scores, which creates a perfect scenario for Vinatieri owners.
Rankings, scoring leaders, average draft position and ownership stats via NFL.com and current as of Wednesday, Nov. 2.