In seasonal fantasy football, matchups often boil down to which owner makes the right start/sit decisions. You can’t hold allegiances to projections or name recognition, you simply have to play the guys you think will wind up with the most fantasy points.
Here are the fringe options that might / should be in your fantasy lineup in Week 9.
QB Baker Mayfield vs. KC
There is uncertainty with former running backs coach Freddie Kitchens taking over as offensive coordinator and play-caller this week, but you can’t beat the matchup for Baker Mayfield. Kansas City has shown some backbone defensively in home games but is coughing up 352.8 passing YPG and allowing a 98.2 passer rating with just eight sacks over four road games. If Justin Houston (hamstring) remains out, the Chiefs could continue to generate pressure on Mayfield, who has been sacked 19 times over five starts. With a clean pocket, Mayfield should be able to produce in what is likely a comeback effort for the Browns (+9.5).
RB Isaiah Crowell @ MIA
In a battle between injury-plagued, nose-diving teams, the Jets have an advantage in one area. Miami, already missing DE William Hayes (knee) for the rest of the season, lost starting DT Vincent Taylor to a foot injury. The Dolphins rank 21st in DVOA pass defense against opposing RBs and are coughing up the third-most rushing YPG (143.1) with ten rushing TDs allowed this season. Bilal Powell (neck) is likely done for the year, and rookie Trent Cannon didn’t appear ready for the speed of an NFL game in his first real action last week. Crowell is in for a big day if he’s over his nagging foot and ankle issues.
RB Aaron Jones @ NE
Ty Montgomery has been sent to the Ravens for a seventh-round pick, leaving the Packers backfield to Aaron Jones and rumbling plodder Jamaal Williams. Jones played a season-high 61.5% of offensive snaps in a narrow loss at the Rams last week and was efficient once again with 86 yards and a TD on 12 carries. Williams produced just nine yards and a TD on his four carries and remains a threat to take goal-line work, but with the Packers likely playing from behind at New England, Jones should see over half the work again.
WR Amari Cooper vs. TEN
Another new face in a new place, Amari Cooper had the benefit of being traded two weeks ago and getting a full Bye Week to learn the Cowboys offense. He’ll face a horrible secondary on Monday night and a struggling top CB in Malcolm Butler. With Butler allowing five TDs this season, Tennessee ranks 31st in DVOA pass defense against opposing No. 1 receivers. The Titans strong run defense and injuries to a couple of the Cowboys’ elite offensive linemen could lead to a more pass-heavy approach than we’ve seen in recent weeks from Dallas.
WR Doug Baldwin vs. LAC
The Seahawks remain a run-heavy scheme and targets could be hard to come by all season, but the way to attack the visiting Chargers is through the air. The Chargers rank 17th in DVOA pass defense against opposing No. 1 receivers and have been torched at times this year with top CB Jason Verrett (Achilles) on the shelf. Baldwin nearly caught a TD last week to save his line but failed to drag his foot on a floating ball to the corner of the end zone. Before the bye, he was force-fed targets, and he remains atop the pecking order given his chemistry with Russell Wilson and status as a leader in that locker room.
TE Jordan Reed vs. ATL
It’s now or never for Jordan Reed in a home matchup with arguably the worst defense in the NFL. Atlanta’s been gutted by season-ending injuries, most of which occurred to the linebacker and safety position. Because of that, they rank 28th in DVOA pass defense and have coughed up 3 TD on 33 receptions to opposing TEs this season. Reed is dealing with a neck injury this week but has surprisingly been healthy all season. With Jamison Crowder (ankle) likely to miss another game, Reed should see more opportunities in a plum spot.