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Favorites & Fades

Week 9

By: Nick Caron | HC Green | Eli Mack | John Fessel
Updated: 11/5/23



Sunday Early:

MIA @ KC | LAR @ GB | WAS @ NE | TB @ HOU


Sunday Late:





- Green highlight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)
- Lines and totals updated Sunday morning

Titans @ Steelers - (Green)
Line: PIT -3.5
Total: 36.5

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

No Brainers: RB Derrick Henry, WR DeAndre Hopkins

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: RB Tyjae Spears

Despite logging just 30 total touches over the last four games, Spears is averaging a respectable 56.5 yards per game during that stretch. There’s undeniably something here, and perhaps the time to unleash him is Thursday night with Henry just four days removed from 26 touches against the Falcons. Of course, it’s just as likely the Titans will continue to give him a handful of touches. Still, if you’re looking for a high-upside dart throw from the flex spot, Spears could be your guy.

Fade: QB Will Levis

By any measure, Levis’ first NFL start was a smashing success. The rookie threw for 238 yards and 4 TDs -- in comparison, Ryan Tannehill had two passing touchdowns in six starts -- without an interception. The NFL is a week-to-week league, however, and the Steelers won’t be caught by surprise the way Atlanta was. Pittsburgh is a better defense to begin with, and they’ll have a game’s worth of film to study and draw up a game plan for Levis. While it might be tempting to try and catch lightning in a bottle, it’s better to leave Levis out of your starting lineup.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

No Brainers: WR George Pickens

Favorites: WR Diontae Johnson

In two games since returning from a hamstring injury, Johnson has hauled in 13 passes (on 20 targets) for 164 yards. His touchdown drought continues, having not scored since the 2021 season, but if he maintains that level of involvement it’s only a matter of time before he breaks through. The ascension of Pickens should also help, as the second-year wideout demands more attention and is a deep threat that allows the possession-oriented Johnson to work underneath. He’s a solid WR3.

On the Fence: RB Najee Harris

It has not been a good year for Harris. The former first-round pick has only topped 100 yards in a game once, and that came in a blowout loss where the Texans played soft. If there’s one encouraging sign, it’s that the Alabama product finally got more involved in the passing game last week, catching five balls for 42 yards -- he entered play with just eight receptions on the season. It’s a bit of a toss-up these days between Harris and Jaylen Warren, but Harris feels like a better gamble from the flex spot.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Steelers 19, Titans 13 ^ Top

Dolphins @ Chiefs (Germany) - (Fessel)
Line: KC -1.5
Total: 51.5

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

No Brainers: QB Tua Tagovailoa, WR Tyreek Hill

Favorites: WR Jaylen Waddle

The Chiefs have been one of the toughest defenses in the NFL thus far (just 4.7 yards allowed per play) and games played in Europe (this one in Frankfurt) have tended to be lower scoring than the average NFL game. The Dolphins, though, are far from your average offense. Averaging nearly 34 points, they are threatening numerous records. The most frightening part is that Miami has been accomplishing this without Jaylen Waddle having performed up to expectations, thus far.

Last week was finally a real break out for Waddle, capturing a 121-yard performance with a touchdown on 7 receptions and 12 targets. After averaging under 6 targets through his first three games – battling nagging injuries – Waddle was showing signs in the previous three weeks, averaging 8.3 targets and scoring twice in that span. He now has 3 scores in the last four weeks. The Chiefs have been tough on receivers (8th fewest points), and one can expect Andy Reid and company to try and put emphasis on holding old friend Tyreek Hill in check. Tagovailoa has proven many times that he can team up for a big day with Waddle when this happens, and this weekend is likely to be another such occasion.

On the Fence: RB Raheem Mostert

Raheem Mostert currently leads the league in rushing touchdowns, with 10 in eight games. At least until Devon Achane returns from the IR, Mostert should continue to see a lot of red zone opportunities in this offense.

On the other hand, Mostert has a long history of injuries, and has been dealing with an ankle injury that’s been affecting his practice of late. It may also be affecting his share of opportunities – Jeff Wilson recently returned from injury and last week picked up 5 carries compared to 13 for Mostert after seeing none against the Eagles just a week earlier. Mostert’s status is worth monitoring, but he may also be inevitably due for a time share even before Achane returns. Additionally, the Chiefs have given up the 8th fewest points to running backs, and so if a committee ensues, there may not be enough action for Mostert to be more than a flex play this week.

Fade: N/A

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

No Brainers: QB Patrick Mahomes, TE Travis Kelce

Favorites: RB Isiah Pacheco

The Dolphins have been middling against running backs this year, and it’s really been a battle between teams attempting to ground their offense by milking the clock versus the Miami attempting the neuter their opponents run attack by forcing a negative game script. The Dolphins defense has been a bit leaky, though, and their offense too good at their jobs, leading to Miami’s opposing running backs seeing the 10th most carries in the league. This bodes well for Pacheco, whose clear path to top dog status in the Chiefs’ backfield got even clearer with news that Clyde Edwards-Helaire (illness) has already been announced as out for the week.

With few red zone threats in the passing game outside of Travis Kelce, Pacheco also stands a good chance of punching one across the goal line this Sunday in Frankfurt. Pacheco likely sees 15+ touches in this one, and in a game with a projected combined point total over 50, he’s no worse than a borderline RB1.

On the Fence: WR Rashee Rice

Rice continues to show that he is the Chiefs top wide receiver, even if among a relatively weak group. Rice has now seen his highest snap shares each of the last two weeks (59% and 61%), has had at least 56 yards receiving each of the last three weeks, and has had at least 4 receptions each of the last four weeks. He also continues to be the only Chiefs wide receiver with multiple touchdowns, and his 3 touchdowns are as many as all other Chiefs wide outs combined. As such, he’s moved himself into the flex conversation, and may warrant some consideration again this week.

It may appear that Rice warrants more than “consideration” at flex versus a Dolphins team that has surrendered the 4th most points to opposing wide receivers, but keep in mind that Jalen Ramsey was activated last week and opposing receivers now have to deal with him. How much Rice sees Ramsey will likely determine whether he can have a productive day.

Fade: WR Kadarius Toney

Toney has seen his snap rate plummet to just 19% and 20% in the two weeks since Mercole Hardman returned to the offense. Toney wasn’t particularly productive in fantasy football prior to this downturn, but there was at least hope that he was seeing a fair number of targets on some weeks. The last two weeks, he’s seen 1 target in each game. He’s about as safe as they come to fade from your roster, if you haven’t already.

Prediction: Chiefs 27, Dolphins 24 ^ Top

Rams @ Packers - (Green)
Line: GB -3.5
Total: 37.5

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

No Brainers: WR Cooper Kupp, WR Puka Nacua

Favorites: RB Darrell Henderson

Unceremoniously dumped by the Rams in 2022, Henderson returned via the practice squad when injuries thinned their backfield, and he has served as the lead back the past two games, racking up 151 total yards and a touchdown. LA signed him to the 53-man roster this week, and he potentially looks poised for a big game on Sunday. Green Bay is 26th in run defense (132 yards/game), and the Rams will either be starting Brett Rypien or a compromised Matthew Stafford (thumb), so leaning on the ground game seems like a sound approach. As such, Henderson has RB2 potential.

On the Fence: N/A

Fade: TE Tyler Higbee

A popular option early on, Higbee’s role has dried up since Kupp returned from IR, catching just 10 passes in the last four games combined. Half of those came last week, however, and with Rypien likely to start, it seems logical that an underneath target like Higbee could get some work. Don’t bet on it. Both Kupp and Nacua excel in the possession department, and Green Bay will, at best, have one of their projected top-three CBs -- Jaire Alexander (back) is banged up, Eric Stokes (hamstring) is on IR, and they just traded Rasul Douglas. Despite what looks like encouraging circumstances, Higbee shouldn’t be played.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: RB Aaron Jones (hamstring)

Back in Week 1, Jones had 127 yards and two touchdowns before departing with a hamstring injury. In seven weeks since, he has appeared in three games and racked up a combined 117 yards. Word is he’s trending the right direction in terms of his health, and the Packers desperately need his playmaking ability on offense. A no-brainer when the season began, Jones carries plenty of risk now based on injuries and lack of usage. That being said, his ceiling is at an RB1 level, and the Rams are a middling run defense. Plug Jones in as your No. 3 back and cross your fingers that he gets the ball.

On the Fence: WR Romeo Doubs

Green Bay’s passing game has been spotty at best in recent weeks, and that certainly applies to Doubs, who has totaled a measly 52 yards receiving in his last three games. What keeps the second-year wideout relevant is his continued work in the red zone where has scored in back-to-back games and has five of Jordan Love’s 11 passing touchdowns on the year. Doubs offers enough to be slotted in as a WR3.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Packers 20, Rams 15 ^ Top

Commanders @ Patriots - (Caron)
Line: NE -3.0
Total: 40.5

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: WR Terry McLaurin

We haven’t really seen the spike weeks from him, but Terry McLaurin has settled into being a reliable WR2 for fantasy managers this season. He’s managed to produce six double-digit fantasy point days through eight games despite the fact that he’s only reached the end zone twice, so there could even be some positive regression coming for McLaurin.

The Patriots have been roughly a middle-of-the-road fantasy defense against opposing wide receivers, but it is worth noting they have played one of the toughest schedules including games against A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, CeeDee Lamb, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers, Stefon Diggs, and two games against the Miami duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic about McLaurin’s chances to produce another 10-plus fantasy point day, especially given that Curtis Samuel is banged up at the moment which could further consolidate the Commanders’ passing game.

On the Fence: WR Jahan Dotson

Jahan Dotson has been one of the most disappointing “potential breakout” players that we’ve had so far in 2023 and while he finally broke through with a big game this past week, it’s hard to believe that many fantasy managers had him in their lineups for his eight-catch, 108-yard, one touchdown performance against the Eagles. Dotson had previously been held to 43 or fewer receiving yards in every game this season and had only scored one touchdown prior to this big game.

Teammate Curtis Samuel is dealing with a toe injury and was knocked out of the Eagles game, which may have contributed a bit to Dotson’s big performance, but the most optimistic thing that we can point to right now is that the Commanders have been finding themselves in lots of shootouts, which has led to Dotson being targeted seven or more times in four of his eight games thus far, including 18 targets over his past two contests. If Samuel ends up missing this game, then Dotson does become an even more intriguing option for those in tough bye week situations.

Fade: WR Curtis Samuel (toe)

We’ve seen the Curtis Samuel small sample-size traps play out many times throughout his career, so it shouldn’t be surprising that he would score touchdowns in three straight games before dropping back-to-back duds on fantasy managers. Samuel has now been held to eight receptions for just 47 yards and no touchdowns over his past two weeks and to make matters worse, he’s missed practice this week due to a toe injury.

Samuel isn’t a player who wins due to technique, so being banged up is more important for him than it is for most players. With Jahan Dotson seeming to step up in recent weeks, now is not the time to be taking a chance on a banged-up Curtis Samuel.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: WR Demario Douglas

It’s been a frustrating season for Patriots fans overall and now the only pass catcher on the team who’s really been able to do much of anything - Kendrick Bourne - is out for the season. There’s really not much to like about this offense at all, but it’s now likely to be even worse than before.

With that being said, where there are openings in offenses, there are also opportunities. One of those opportunities is presenting itself right now to rookie wide receiver Demario Douglas. Douglas, a sixth-round pick, has seen his playing time increase significantly in recent weeks. He had not run routes on even 50 percent of New England’s passing plays in any game prior to Week 7, but saw his route participation skyrocket to 76 percent in that contest. Perhaps more interestingly, that number jumped yet again this past week when he ran rouges on 84 percent of the Patriots’ snaps, including earning a season-high 22 percent target share in that contest.

It’s entirely possible that the Patriots just end up not having another pass-catcher on the team who can be useful for fantasy purposes now that Bourne is out, but if there’s one player who seems most likely to break out, it has to be Douglas. He’s a deep option this week, but he has a great matchup against a terrible Washington secondary that has given up the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers so far this season.

On the Fence: QB Mac Jones

It seems gross to even have Mac Jones in this article as anything other than a “fade,” but hear me out - this isn’t a case of being smitten by Jones himself, but rather the situation that he’s facing here in Week 9.

Jones will be up against a Commanders defense that has given up the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing QBs. They’ve given up over 275 passing yards along with multiple passing touchdowns in six of their eight games, including five straight. Within this recent stretch were Jalen Hurts (2x), Justin Fields, Desmond Ridder, and Tyrod Taylor. Hurts is an elite producer, but the other three are not known for their ability to pass the ball. Nevertheless, they put up big numbers against this porous Commanders defense that is now without both Montez Sweat and Chase Young.

Don’t get crazy and think that Jones is going to finish as an elite QB this week, but this is one of those games where we could be pleasantly surprised by his output if we need to slide him into our Superflex lineups.

Fade: RB Rhamondre Stevenson

Rhamondre Stevenson slipped back into the fantasy dumpster this past week with his 39-yard rushing day that included just two catches for 11 yards and no touchdowns. Stevenson has now been held to single-digit PPR fantasy points in four of his eight games this season while failing to exceed 15 points in all but one of those contests. He’s been a low-upside, low-floor back who’s still seeing decent work most weeks but we’ve also seen that he could end up conceding significant touches and even goal-line work to Ezekiel Elliott.

The Commanders are a middle-of-the-road fantasy defense against opposing running backs, but what’s been notable is that they’ve been able to keep opposing backs in check in the passing game, which is really where Stevenson has been able to rack up points. The only backs who’ve gone over 30 yards receiving against this defense so far this season were Bijan Robinson and Saquon Barkley, and no back has caught more than five passes in a game against them.

Prediction: Commanders 23, Patriots 20 ^ Top

Buccaneers @ Texans - (Mack)
Line: HOU -3.0
Total: 39.5

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

No Brainers: WR Mike Evans

Favorites: WR Chris Godwin

Chris Godwin is as steady a fantasy receiver as there is in the league. A low-end WR2/high-end WR3, Godwin’s stats match teammate Mike Evans’ in practically every statistical category except TDs. That’s a by-product of the Bucs not having a prolific offense, but don’t misunderstand: Chris Godwin is a plug-and-play fantasy option with a predictable floor. Houston’s five passing TDs allowed places them first in the league for fewest scores surrendered, so don’t expect too many fireworks through the air for the Bucs. Nonetheless, Godwin should give you productivity in Week 9.

On the Fence: RB Rachaad White, QB Baker Mayfield

Rachaad White’s production over the past few games has been primarily through the air. He has 13 targets the last two games and caught each one. His production on the ground, however, leaves a lot to be desired, as his 33 yards rushing per game average over the previous three games would highlight. Baker Mayfield takes his shots downfield, but he can also dink and dunk his way to advancing the football while making White a viable option in fantasy. For those who decide to play White, they can only hope his role in the passing game continues because he’s not going to get you much on the ground.

Baker Mayfield is the choice for those with bye-week decisions, such as those managers with Trevor Lawrence, Jared Goff, or Brock Purdy. Rooting for Mayfield can be hazardous to your sanity at times with his decision-making. But in a pinch, Mayfield can be a serviceable fantasy QB, as he’s been the last few weeks. If he continues that level of play, he should be fine this week, although he’s facing a defense that’s given up more than 20 points only once during the last five games.

Fade: N/A

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: QB C.J. Stroud, WR Nico Collins

Stroud is coming off his worst performance of the season last week, throwing for only 140 yards and no touchdowns. His prize for such a performance? A date against the 6th-ranked defense, although the Bucs have given up more than 300 passing yards in two of the last three games. Stroud will need to rely on Nico Collins to battle through what will prove to be a rough and rugged road game. Collins, though, has been relatively invisible in recent games, finishing with no more than 39 receiving yards in two of the last three contests. It would be nice if he returned to the form that saw him finish Week 4 with 7 catches for 168 yards and two scores. His managers can only hope that some semblance of consistency finds Collins before they pull their hair out from frustration.

Fade: RB Devin Singletary, WR Tank Dell

RB Dameon Pierce didn’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday, which is trending toward him being sidelined this week. Keep tabs on his availability. But assuming he sits this one out, that will catapult Devin Singletary into the primary back role this week. Singletary, however, is not a bell cow type of back. He’s a change-of-pace option who can potentially provide value through the air. I’d stay away this week.

And after wowing the fantasy world through the first three weeks of the season, Dell’s stock has plummeted. His 15 receptions through the season’s first three games dwarfs the 7 catches he has combined the last three. I wouldn’t get rid of Dell, but he needs to be on your bench until further notice.

Prediction: Buccaneers 20, Texans 16 ^ Top

Cardinals @ Browns - (Green)
Line: CLE -12.5
Total: 38.5

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

No Brainers: N/A

Update: Emari Demercado has been ruled out.

Favorites: RB Emari Demercado (toe)

With the Cardinals trading Josh Dobbs and handing the reins, for at least one week, to rookie Clayton Tune, expect a heavy dose of Demercado this weekend if he’s able to go. He’s been absent from practice this week due to a foot issue. He carried the load last Sunday, rushing 20 times for 78 yards, against a similarly stout Ravens defense, so look for a similar approach versus Cleveland, which has a tough defense but is also working with their own shaky quarterback situation. Consider Demercado an RB3.

On the Fence: TE Trey McBride

In his first full game this season with Zach Ertz (quad) out of action, McBride led the team in both receptions (10) and receiving yards (95) while scoring his first touchdown of the year. The second-year tight end figures to be a popular target this week for the inexperienced Tune on short and intermediate routes as well, which could be enough to give him fringe top-10 appeal at the position.

Fade: WR Marquise Brown

The speedy Brown posted a 6-33-1 line last week, and he’s likely to see most of his work near the line of scrimmage in Week 9 as well. Unless he breaks one, or finds the end zone, like he did last Sunday, it’s hard to see where he generates much value. Brown is a fringe WR3 candidate, though his value could increase dramatically if Kyler Murray (knee) is finally ready to return in Week 10.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

No Brainers: WR Amari Cooper

Favorites: RB Jerome Ford

Initially, the belief was that Ford, who suffered an ankle injury in Week 7, would miss a couple of games. Instead, he returned to practice later the same week and was active last Sunday, though the team gave him just 10 touches -- that was fewer than Kareem Hunt (15) or Pierre Strong (11). With another week to recover, look for Ford to be the lead back against the Cardinals. Given that Gus Edwards posted a 19-80-3 line versus Arizona last weekend, Ford should be considered a solid RB2.

On the Fence: TE David Njoku (ankle)

Njoku is dealing with an ankle injury, but the belief is that he’ll be ready to roll come game time. The perpetual tease is at it again, catching nine of 17 targeted passes over the past two weeks for 131 yards and a touchdown. Arizona allowed just one TD through the air in Week 8, but that came from Mark Andrews, so we’ll see if Njoku can find the end zone as well. He has TE1 upside, albeit with some risk.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Browns 23, Cardinals 9 ^ Top

Bears @ Saints - (Mack)
Line: NO -9.5
Total: 41.5

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: WR D.J. Moore, TE Cole Kmet

Predictably, after D.J. Moore’s explosive Week 5 contest against Washington, his numbers have come back down to earth the previous three games. Despite Tyson Bagent’s inexperience at QB, Moore continues to be a starting option as a low-end WR2. A road game against a formidable defense will prove to be one of the toughest challenges so far in 2023, so the possibility of Moore falling short of expectations is a definitely on the table.

Meanwhile, Cole Kmet continues to be an every-week starter in spite of a rookie being under center. Bagent leaned on Kmet heavily last week with a team-leading 10 targets. Kmet may very well be his go-to option again this week, giving you a decided advantage of teams with lesser options at the position.

On the Fence: N/A

Fade: RB D’Onta Foreman

D’Onta Foreman’s production has been all over the map this season, making it nearly impossible to start him with any confidence. If you throw in the fact that the Chicago backfield is now essentially a three-headed RBBC with Roschon Johnson and Darrynton Evans, you know that keeping Foreman on your bench is a wise choice.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

No Brainers: RB Alvin Kamara

Favorites: WR Chris Olave

Chris Olave leads the team in targets, catches, and receiving yards, but it seems he’s left so much production out on the field. He had a strange drop last week for what could have been a long TD catch, as the pass smacked him in the facemask. His chemistry with QB Derek Carr appears off for some reason because it wasn’t just last week. The QB/WR duo has had a few instances where they saw things differently. That said, Olave is still a big play waiting to happen, and hopefully we start seeing more of it moving forward. Continue to start Olave.

On the Fence: WR Rashid Shaheed, WR Michael Thomas, QB Derek Carr

Everyone sees the big plays and the league-leading 20.8 yards per reception and think that Rashid Shaheed is a starting option. I’m not ready to crown him a starter because his efficiency is not sustainable. He hasn’t had more than 4 catches since the opener, and his production is usually found in one long pass play. That’s a slippery slope to rely on big plays for production week after week. While Shaheed is certainly a stash player on your roster, he’s simply too hit or miss for anything other than managers in bigger fantasy leagues.

Michael Thomas has a chance for a good week. The Bears have allowed the second-most TD passes this season with 17, and they just gave up nearly 300 passing yards to the Chargers. For whatever Thomas has lost physically he’s made up for it in savvy play. Thomas could be a sneaky flex play this week.

Derek Carr is in play this week for several reasons. First, he’s playing against a team that’s giving up the third-most passing yards this season. Second, he’s playing against a team that’s won only two of its last 12 road games. And third, Carr has three straight 300-yard passing games. Carr is in this section instead of the Favorite section because I don’t trust him, despite his recent success. Those on bye this week might make deciding to start Carr an easier decision. If you choose to start him, good luck.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Saints 30, Bears 17 ^ Top

Seahawks @ Ravens - (Green)
Line: BAL -6.0
Total: 44.5

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

No Brainers: RB Kenneth Walker, WR DK Metcalf

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

In four games before Seattle’s bye, Smith-Njigba totaled 12 catches, 62 yards, and no TDs. In three games since, JSN has 11 receptions, 147 yards, and two TDs. Those aren’t huge numbers, and he must contend with Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and the surprising Jake Bobo for touches, but the rookie is becoming a factor. If you’re looking for someone to plug into your flex spot that has a decent ceiling, JSN has a shot to deliver.

Fade: QB Geno Smith

Few quarterbacks have as many weapons to work with as Smith. Despite that, the veteran hasn’t consistently posted big numbers -- that includes one TD or fewer in four of seven games, and none with more than two. Don’t expect that to change against the Ravens, which rank third in pass defense (176.6 yards/game) and are one of just three teams to have more INTs (8) than TD passes allowed (6). If you have a passable alternative, Smith is a good candidate for bench duty in Week 9.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

No Brainers: QB Lamar Jackson, TE Mark Andrews

Favorites: RB Gus Edwards (toe)

This may be the final week Edwards (toe) doesn’t appear on the no-brainers list. The veteran back is the clear workhorse ahead of Justice Hill at this point, and over the last two weeks he has racked up 238 yards and four touchdowns. His previous weeks weren’t nearly as productive, but even then, he saw double-digit touches in every game since the opener, which is when J.K. Dobbins got hurt. Seattle has good season-to-date numbers against the run, but the Browns got them for 155 yards and a TD last week, and Baltimore has the same kind of commitment along with a much better QB. View Edwards as an RB2 with top-10 potential.

On the Fence: WR Zay Flowers

Perhaps believing the only way Arizona could compete last Sunday was if they turned the ball over, the Ravens were ultra-conservative in the passing game. To that end, Flowers led the club with five receptions, but for a season-low 19 yards -- Andrews led the way with 40. The rookie was still the most-targeted option, though, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be heavily involved once again. Flowers is a low-end No. 2 wideout or a high-end No. 3.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Ravens 27, Seahawks 17 ^ Top

Vikings @ Falcons - (Mack)
Line: ATL -4.0
Total: 37.5

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: TE T.J. Hockenson

Rookie 5th round draft pick Jaren Hall takes the reins of this offense in Kirk Cousins’ absence, so we should expect a major decline in production across the board. Conventional wisdom is when a young QB plays, he usually locks in on his security blanket, either a nifty RB out of the backfield or a reliable TE navigating the middle of the field. In this case, Hockenson could see his target share remain the same. Those opportunities should translate into Hockenson maintaining his TE1 status in Week 9, although his ceiling may be capped. To be sure, though, this Minnesota offense will look vastly different, so we all need to temper our expectations considerably.

On the Fence: WR Jordan Addison

The 21-year-old rookie has really come on of late, scoring in four straight games (5 TDs total in that stretch). His seven receiving TDs for the year are second only to Tyreek Hill’s eight, so the young fella has been ballin’. But we have no idea if Hall can get Addison the ball downfield in a way that fuels his big play potential. At this stage of the season, benching Addison may be too much of an extreme decision for most, as the rookie has established himself as an every-week starter. But we’ll just have to understand the change at QB to an inexperienced rookie will put training wheels on this offense, which will hinder Addison’s value. Start Addison and keep your fingers crossed.

Fade: RB Alexander Mattison

Alexander Mattison has gotten 73 percent of the RB carries in 2023, and the Vikings are 31st in rushing yards and 31st in rushing TDs. It may not all be on Mattison because the offensive line has had its struggles. But at some point, we may start seeing more of Cam Akers if Minnesota’s struggles on the ground continue. Not that Akers is vastly superior to Mattison but changing things up a bit could be in the cards. It’s just frustrating that Mattison has had the keys to this backfield all season long with no real competition for carries, yet he hasn’t done much with that opportunity. Fantasy season is halfway over. It’s time to start looking elsewhere for backfield production.

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

No Brainers: RB Bijan Robinson

Favorites: N/A

Update: Drake London has been ruled out.

On the Fence: WR Drake London, TE Kyle Pitts

Drake London is iffy this week with the groin injury that cut short his Week 8 performance. A hobbled London with a new QB in Taylor Heinicke triggers too many question marks. Keep tabs on London’s availability, but do exercise caution with deciding to play him. Same with Kyle Pitts. I remain baffled at the degree to which Pitts is utilized in this offense. Experts harped on his unicorn-like prowess, but we haven’t seen much of it throughout his career. For Pitts and London’s sake, they better hope Heinicke proves a better option than Desmond Ridder. Otherwise, their fantasy ceiling will remain a wishful goal.

Fade: RB Tyler Allgeier

Tyler Allgeier has 104 rush attempts this year and averages 3.2 yards per carry. Bijan Robinson has 92 with a 5.1 YPC. Why Allgeier continues to have as big a role in this offense—to the direct detriment of Robinson—remains one of the biggest mysteries so far this season. However, maybe last week’s usage was a sign of things to come. Robinson saw 73 percent of snaps against Tennessee to Allgeier’s 23 percent. Robinson owners can only hope. Either way, keep Allgeier stashed on your bench.

Prediction: Falcons 26, Vikings 16 ^ Top

Colts @ Panthers - (Mack)
Line: IND -2.5
Total: 44.5

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: RB Jonathan Taylor, WR Michael Pittman Jr.

At some point, most fantasy folks believe Jonathan Taylor will take over this backfield. But are we sure? The team continues to split carries evenly between the two, but I just can’t see that continuing for much longer. At his best, Taylor is in the conversation as one of the top backs in the league. Zack Moss is not. Taylor managers will have to maintain patience and hope that Moss’s role starts to decrease a bit. Starting Taylor this week, despite his ceiling being capped because of Moss, is an easy choice. Don’t overthink it.

Indianapolis has given up a league-worst 28.6 points per game, meaning their offense has to play keep-up by throwing the ball all over the yard. Michael Pittman Jr. should benefit from that strategy, despite his 5 yards-per-reception average last week on his 8 catches—a laughable stat if you don’t have Pittman on your squad. Pittman should rebound this week. Start him.

On the Fence: WR Josh Downs

Josh Downs has steady climbed the WR ranks each week, as his play has warranted the added attention. He’s flirting with must-start status and may very well get there before the end of November. With the four-team bye week and the likes of Brandon Aiyuk and Christian Kirk and Amon-Ra St. Brown unavailable, Downs moves up the weekly rankings and becomes an intriguing option. Personally, I’m starting him over George Pickens this week while hoping he continues his hot streak.

Fade: RB Zack Moss

One of these weeks, we’re going to expect Moss to be involved in the gameplan, only to see Taylor rekindle the magic from 2021 when he averaged 20 carries per game, leaving nothing for his backups. That could be this week for Moss, or next week, or sometime later this year. But putting a player in your lineup with that hanging over his head—a player that has a realistic chance of not receiving much playing time—could doom your week. Keep him away from a starting spot, but keep him rostered.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

No Brainers: WR Adam Thielen

Favorites: QB Bryce Young

The Colts have given up the most points and the 4th-most yards this season, so the situation is set up nicely for Bryce Young to have the best game of his rookie campaign. I believe his ceiling is capped because of a lack of weapons outside of Adam Thielen. But Young should still be able to put up numbers for those missing Trevor Lawrence this week. He’s been steady the last two weeks, but nothing spectacular—two TDs total with no interceptions. Playing at home against an inferior pass defense should give him the edge needed to be productive.

On the Fence: N/A

Fade: RB Miles Sanders, RB Chuba Hubbard

Miles Sanders returned last week but played only 12 snaps while Chuba Hubbard played 40 snaps. Hubbard didn’t do much with the additional playing time—as has been the case with him for most of the season, besides a solid game against Miami in Week 6. The Colts have given up the second-most rushing TDs with 15, but they may not be able to capitalize on that weakness. Keep both on the bench until or unless a clear-cut lead back emerges.

Prediction: Colts 31, Panthers 26 ^ Top

Giants @ Raiders - (Fessel)
Line: LV -1.5
Total: 37.5

LV FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
LV FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
LV FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
LV FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

No Brainers: RB Saquon Barkley

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: WR Isaiah Hodgins

With Daniel Jones returning and Darren Waller out, the Giants offensive weapons look fairly similar to last year. When Isaiah Hodgins joined the Giants mid-year in 2022, he proved to be Jones most reliable and consistent target, producing 33 receptions, 351 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns in 8 games. He also picked up 9 receptions 108 yards and another touchdown in two playoff games. As a matter of fact, during his final seven games with the Giants last year, Hodgins picked up 5 touchdowns.

The Raiders have not been particularly kind to opposing receivers, giving up the 6th fewest points to the position. Yet the Giants may get some shots in the red zone, if nothing else than due to the real possibility that the Raiders rookie QB makes costly mistakes deep in his own team’s territory. Hodgins may return to being New York’s top target by default, particularly in the red zone, and that makes him a fringe flex candidate whose potential for production will likely be touchdown reliant.

Fade: QB Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones began the with no worse than borderline Top 12 QB expectations in the fantasy football world. It has not panned out that way, to say the least. Most owners have parted ways with Jones by now, but for those who have held out hope, there may be a bright light at the end of the tunnel – it’s just not likely to shine this week.

Jones’ return does come with some encouraging signs, as promising rookie center John Michael-Schmitz returned from injury last week, and star tackle Andrew Thomas has logged back-to-back limited practices to start this week. Thomas returning would be a major boost for Jones, who faced over an unfathomable pressure rate of over 40% before getting injured. It’s fair to say that Jones never had a chance in such conditions, and the fact the Giants two other quarterbacks combined for negative net passing yardage against the Jets last week, reveals just how dire the situation has been.
The rain upon Jones return parade is that - just as the offensive line appears to be getting healthy - Darren Waller has gone out with a hamstring injury. The Raiders have also been fairly stingy against quarterbacks, giving up the 9th fewest points to the position, and their new head coach is a former linebacker who likely will be defensive-minded.

Jones has a favorable schedule down the stretch and may suddenly return to fantasy relevance before the year is through, but if you’ve kept the faith (or are really desperate at QB) and waited this long, perhaps it’s best to give it a little longer.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

No Brainers: RB Josh Jacobs

Favorites: WR Davante Adams

It’s been a devastating few weeks for fantasy owners holding Davante Adams stock. It hit rock bottom last week when Adams came away with a 1-11-0 line on 7 targets against the Lions. I’ve witnessed Adams owners in numerous leagues bail on him for as little as the price of Kendrick Bourne and D’onta Foreman. If you’ve had the intestinal fortitude to hang on to one of the league’s most dangerous receivers, the payoff you were counting on is likely about to come in.

Josh McDaniels is out as head coach. Jimmy Garoppolo is out at quarterback. While it’s extremely unlikely that rookie Aidan O’Connell will be a better option under center and we don’t know much about interim head coach Antonio Pierce, it’s nearly impossible to imagine that we won’t see a sinking Raiders ship use the star power of Adams as a life raft to try and survive the season. The Raiders presumably also want to keep him from demanding a trade in the off-season, and it’s no secret that the way to a wide receivers heart is through being fed.

Look for heavy, heavy target loads from Adams going forward, beginning this week. The results should follow. The Giants have a respectable secondary, but that hasn’t stopped Terry McLaurin (12.2 pts) and Garrett Wilson (14.1 pts) from having productive days with far less than stellar quarterbacks over the last two weeks.

On the Fence: WR Hunter Renfrow

Two years back, Hunter Renfrow was a 100-catch, 1000-yard receiver with the Raiders. While last year’s injury-plagued year was a huge disappointment, it wasn’t immediately clear that Josh McDaniel’s plan was to relegate Renfrow to the dust bin of history. With McDaniel’s career in Vegas over while Renfrow is still in town, might we see Renfrow re-emerge?

O’Connell does not have a particularly strong arm, and indications from his previous start suggest that he’ll work a lot underneath. In four previous seasons, Renfrow’s has never topped 7.1 intended air yards per target, making him a potential fit for an offense built more to O’Connell’s abilities. This is not so much a recommendation to consider starting Renfrow as it is to consider rostering him if you are short at wideout and/or flex – particularly for those in deeper leagues. There’s a chance he proves to be more than relic of Raiders history.

Fade: QB Aidan O’Connell, WR Jakobi Meyers

Jakobi Meyers fantastic season took a sudden and brutal turn last week when he was targeted just 1 time. For what it’s worth, the Raiders only threw 21 passes in the game, so this isolated event could be dismissed as an anomaly. On the other hand, with a new coach at the helm, it’s hard to know how Meyers role might change. Meyers yardage output had already been in decline after producing over 80 yards in his first two outings, and he’s only averaged 48 yards per game since. Additionally, in Aidan O’Connell’s one start, Meyers was targeted just 4 times out of 39 pass attempts.

Meyers has also leaned on red zone production, having 5 touchdowns on the season – something that will be hard to continue, especially for a Raiders team that may reach the red zone even less often in the weeks ahead.

To top it all off, the Giants defense has allowed just one No.2 receiver to go score double digit points this season (Jaylen Waddle). Tyler Lockett (7.4 pts), Gabriel Davis (3.6 pts), and Michael Wilson (7.1 pts) have been the most notable victims. Meyers likely joins them this week.

At the quarterback position, as much as Jimmy Garoppolo has struggled to find consistency this year (71% On Target Rate versus an expected 75% on 8.2 intended air yards per target), the Raiders alternate options have been worse. Aidan O’Connell, penned to start “the rest of the year”, took 7 sacks in little more than one game’s worth of snaps (compared to 13 sacks against Garoppolo in six starts) and while he has had a slightly higher On Target Rate (73%) than his veteran counterpart, it came largely on dump-offs (just 6.8 intended air yards per target). Garoppolo wasn’t really a fantasy football option except in extremely deep leagues or superflex leagues, and O’Connell may only be a fringe candidate even in such formats.

Prediction: Giants 19, Raiders 17 ^ Top

Cowboys @ Eagles - (Caron)
Line: PHI -3.0
Total: 46.5

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

No Brainers: WR CeeDee Lamb

Favorites: QB Dak Prescott

The Cowboys’ passing game finally seemed to get on track this past week when Dak Prescott threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns in the team’s blowout win over the Rams. Prescott has now turned in quality fantasy performances in back-to-back games after a very rocky start to the season.

Prescott and the Cowboys now face an Eagles defense that has been one of the biggest pass funnels in the league. They’ve given up the seventh-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks thus far despite playing some fairly weak competition including Mac Jones, Baker Mayfield, Sam Howell (x2), and Zach Wilson. Howell, in fact, threw for 687 yards and five touchdowns against this defense in their two matchups.

Yes, Prescott has struggled to get things going at times this season, but this looks like it could be another shootout on the Eagles schedule and when that happens, we want to get the quarterback in lineups. This is a high-upside potential game for Prescott.

On the Fence: RB Tony Pollard, TE Jake Ferguson

Cowboys running back Tony Pollard has now failed to reach double-digit fantasy points in three of his past four games, including this past week’s blowout win over the Rams. There’ve been times throughout the year for the Cowboys where it’s been somewhat understandable why Pollard wasn’t very involved, but the 12-carry, 53-yard, no-touchdown game against the Rams has fantasy managers very discouraged.

To make matters worse, Pollard now faces a Philadelphia defense that has been the stingiest in the league against opposing running backs. They’ve held every back they’ve faced to fewer than 60 rushing yards while only giving up a total of two touchdowns to the position on the year. They’ve also held all but two backs to fewer than 30 receiving yards against them, so there’s not much meat on the bone in the passing game either. It’s tough to bench a player like Pollard who has seen at least 12 touches in every game this season, especially in a game with a reasonably high probability of shooting out, but this is also a terrible on-paper matchup. If you have other decent options who may have a higher ceiling, this might be the week to sit Pollard on your bench and let him clear his head leading into his Week 10 matchup against the Giants who he torched back in Week 1.

While it was CeeDee Lamb who really blew up with the huge game as a receiver, another player who got into the end zone was tight end Jake Ferguson, who made four catches for 47 yards on the day. Ferguson had been held to just four catches for 43 yards and no touchdowns over his previous two contests, so fantasy managers had to be excited to see him finally get back into the “usable fantasy tight end” conversation.

This week Ferguson faces a Philadelphia defense that has been absolutely terrible against opposing passing games. They’ve been roughly middle-of-the-road against tight ends, but they’ve also faced some mediocre competition. They did give up two scores to T.J. Hockenson back in Week 2, along with touchdowns to Logan Thomas and Hunter Henry when they faced them, but the next-best tight end that they faced this season is probably Tyler Higbee. Needless to say, Ferguson will be one of the better tight ends they have faced and with the Cowboys likely needing to pass the ball early and often to stay in this game, look for him to have a solid opportunity to get back into the end zone in this one. Ferguson ran routes on a season-high 85 percent of passing snaps for the Cowboys this past week and should be heavily involved against the Eagles.

Fade: WR Brandin Cooks

Cooks has now scored touchdowns in back-to-back games and we’re beginning to see some fantasy buzz about him after his slow start to the season. However, while Cooks has consistently run the second-most wide receiver routes for Dallas, he’s managed to see exactly four targets in five of his six games. That lack of usage has really limited his fantasy output, even in these past two games where he scored touchdowns. We’ve now seen Cooks in six games for Dallas and he hasn’t yet reached even 50 receiving yards.

The Eagles have given up more fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers than any other team this season, so there’s some reason to have hope here, but he’s either going to have to get into the end zone again or see a significant target boost in order to provide real value for fantasy managers. Both of those things are possible, of course, but we haven’t seen it yet and there sure are a lot of people who are banking on him keeping up this recent warm streak.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

No Brainers: QB Jalen Hurts, WR A.J. Brown

Favorites: RB D’Andre Swift

We haven’t seen a high-end game from D’Andre Swift since back in Week 2 (when most fantasy managers had him benched), but the Philadelphia running back has been consistently delivering solid double-digit fantasy points each week, in large part due to his usage in the passing game. Swift is currently on pace for nearly 60 receptions and he’s still managed to see 14 or more carries in six of his past seven games.

Swift’s consistency and high usage in one of the league’s best offenses make him a player who has to be in lineups even against defenses like Dallas’. The Cowboys have not yet allowed a 100-yard rusher and only one back (James Conner in Week 3) has even reached 70 rushing yards against them. They’ve also been able to hold running backs in check within the passing game, as Austin Ekeler is the only running back who’s even caught more than three passes against them in a single contest.

This is a tough matchup for Swift, but usage can easily trump that. We know that the Eagles are prioritizing getting the ball to Swift each week, and there’s no reason to think that it won’t continue against the Cowboys.

On the Fence: TE Dallas Goedert

Goedert saw a dip in his production this past week when he was able to haul in just four passes for 36 yards against the Commanders, but we have to remain a bit optimistic as Goedert has continued to be a highly-targeted option in the Eagles passing game. The tight end has seen at least seven targets in five of the Eagles’ eight games.

The Cowboys have been solid against opposing tight ends overall, but it’s worth noting that they did get absolutely scorched for three touchdowns by George Kittle back in Week 5. With this being a potential shootout game and the Cowboys’ secondary being very good against opposing wide receivers, Hurts may end up checking it down to Goedert quite a few times this week.

Fade: WR DeVonta Smith

DeVonta Smith had been on a horrible three-game stretch, but he got things back on track in Week 8 when he caught seven passes for 99 yards and a touchdown against the Commanders. Smith has been very volatile this season, with three games of 17 or more fantasy points, but also four games where he’s failed to reach even 10 fantasy points. This has made him an extremely frustrating player to manage normal redraft leagues.

Smith now faces a Cowboys that has given up the second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. No wide receiver has reached even 90 yards in a game against them and the biggest game they’ve given up to an opposing “WR2” came back in Week 3 when they gave up two catches for 86 yards to Arizona’s Michael Wilson. Dallas even held Cooper Kupp to four receptions for 21 yards on 10 targets and Puka Nacua to three receptions for 43 yards on seven targets this past week.

Smith always has the potential to go off for a big game and it’s tough to bench a player who’s coming off of a nice performance, but on paper this has the makings of what could be another down week for the Eagles’ WR2.

Prediction: Eagles 27, Cowboys 24 ^ Top

Bills @ Bengals - (Green)
Line: CIN -2.5
Total: 50.5

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

No Brainers: QB Josh Allen, WR Stefon Diggs

Favorites: TE Dalton Kincaid

After a slow start to the season, Kincaid has come on over the past couple of weeks, catching eight passes for 75 yards in Week 7, and then following that up with a 5-65-1 effort last Thursday night against the Buccaneers. With Dawson Knox (wrist) on IR with a wrist injury, the rookie doesn’t have anyone on his level at the position to compete with for snaps and touches. The Bengals had all kinds of problems when it came to containing George Kittle last weekend, allowing 149 yards on nine catches, which provides Kincaid with loads of upside as a midrange TE1.

On the Fence: RB James Cook

Cook has been solid recently, averaging 82 total yards per game over the last three while scoring once. The Bills got little going against the Bengals the last time these clubs faced off in the AFC Divisional Round, but after watching San Francisco average nearly 5.0 yards per carry on Cincy last Sunday, there are reasons to be bullish. Latavius Murray has also done next to nothing recently after a respectable start, and newcomer Leonard Fournette seems like a longshot to contribute right away. Cook is a borderline RB2/RB3 with some upside this weekend.

Fade: N/A

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

No Brainers: QB Joe Burrow, RB Joe Mixon, WR Ja’Marr Chase

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: WR Tee Higgins

Higgins opened the season as a no-brainer, but early struggles and a rib injury have left him as a week-to-week proposition. Coming out of the bye, the talented wideout looked more like his old self in Week 8, catching five passes for 69 yards in a 14-point win over the 49ers. That’s not enough to regain must-start status, but it’s a step in the right direction. He may line up across from new addition Rasul Douglas as well, which could work to his advantage given Douglas’ unfamiliarity. Higgins is a midrange WR3 that could produce WR2 numbers Sunday night.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Bengals 34, Bills 30 ^ Top

Chargers @ Jets - (Caron)
Line: LAC -3.5
Total: 39.5

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: RB Austin Ekeler

It had been a rough return from injury for Chargers’ running back over the previous two weeks, but Austin Ekeler got things going again this past week when he and the Chargers pummeled the Bears. What’s interesting, though, and perhaps a bit scary is that Ekeler was still highly ineffective on the ground, rushing for just 29 yards on 15 carries against a bad Chicago defense. He did, however, show off his ability to be game script-proof as he caught seven passes for 94 yards and a touchdown. We can’t expect that Ekeler is going to continue to get into the end zone every week if he’s struggling to run the ball, but his high usage makes him a must-start in almost any matchup.

This week he faces a Jets defense that has been excellent against opposing passing games, but that has struggled at times against running backs. Saquon Barkley carried the ball 36 times for 128 yards against them this past week, but perhaps more interesting for Ekeler managers is that they’ve also given up four or more receptions to four different opposing running backs, including a seven-reception game to Tony Pollard and an eight-reception game to D’Andre Swift.

On the Fence: WR Keenan Allen

Normally a must-start, Chargers’ wide receiver Keenan Allen could be in for a tough game this week as he faces a Jets defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. On a positive note, they have given up three 100-yard games to wide receivers Stefon Diggs, CeeDee Lamb, and A.J. Brown. Otherwise, no other wide receiver they’ve faced has exceeded even 50 yards through the air against them. Shockingly, they’ve also only one total touchdown to an opposing wide receiver on the year.

Don’t bench Keenan Allen - just temper your expectations in this difficult matchup.

Fade: QB Justin Herbert

The Jets have faced a murderer’s row of quarterbacks so far this season, including Josh Allen, Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, and Jalen Hurts. Yet, only two of them (Prescott and Hurts) reached even 240 yards passing against this defense and only two (Prescott and Wilson) threw for multiple touchdowns against them. The Jets are coming off of a game in which they allowed seven - yes, seven - total passing yards against the Giants quarterback duo of Tyrod Taylor and Tommy DeVito, who attempted 14 passes.

It’s unlikely that fantasy managers have a stronger option on their bench than Herbert, but understand that this is probably the worst matchup that Herbert will face all season.

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

No Brainers: RB Breece Hall

Favorites: WR Garrett Wilson

Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson has lacked high-ceiling games, but he’s been a fairly consistent producer as a WR2. He’s managed to score 14 or more fantasy points in five of his seven games, including each of his past two games against the Eagles and Giants.

The Chargers, meanwhile, have given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers so far this season. Through seven games, 13 different wide receivers have had double-digit fantasy performances against this defense and there’s a fairly good chance that Wilson ends up becoming the 14th.

On the Fence: QB Zach Wilson

It’s always scary to recommend a player who is objectively not good like Zach Wilson. The guy has been held under 200 passing yards in five of his seven games and there really has only been one game where we thought, “hey, maybe this won’t be so bad.” Otherwise, yuck. But this is purely a matchup play.

The Chargers have given more fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks than any other team so far this season. Every QB they’ve faced has thrown for over 230 yards against them, including the Bears’ Tyson Bagent and the Raiders’ Aidan O’Connell in recent weeks. They’ve also given up three games of three or more touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks. Wilson does have some mobility and the Chargers have struggled against quarterbacks who can run, having already given up four rushing scores to opposing QBs this season.

He’s not someone you’re excited about, but this is probably the best matchup that Wilson will get all season. He’s a “close your eyes and hope it works out” QB2 this week.

Fade: WR Allen Lazard

While we’re hopeful that Wilson can make this game interesting, one thing that fantasy managers should not be doing is looking down the depth chart at the plethora of mediocre options in the Jets’ passing game after Garrett Wilson. The next best option is probably Allen Lazard who has a season-high of just six targets in a game. He hasn’t gone over three receptions in any game and is really just a touchdown-or-bust player.

The Chargers' defense is one that can be exploited, and maybe Lazard gets into the end zone to save fantasy managers, but he is far from a high-upside play while also having a floor of practically nothing.

Prediction: Chargers 24, Jets 17 ^ Top