Week 9 byes have a long list of fantasy football starters on our benches and matchups we love to troll unavailable. Le'Veon Bell (MCL) and Steve Smith, Sr. (Achilles) are out for the season. Matt Forte (MCL?) and maybe Carlos Hyde (foot) are likely out for Week 9. Ryan Fitzpatrick (thumb) may play. but who knows how he will perform and whether we can even start Eric Decker against the Jaguars.
There are lot of weeks where we can wait until waivers clear and fill our voids via free agency on Wednesday morning to save up our priority. This is not one of those weeks. With so many slots to fill, we need to be aggressive, even if only to block our opponents from filling their voids.
This is not the week to hold two DSTs unless you can afford to stash the Seahawks or Cardinals in a 12-team league or deeper. This is not the week you cling to your Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or Cam Newton backup, as they have already had their byes. This is not the Tuesday night you set your alarm for the wee hours of the morning. This is the Tuesday night you go to bed with a long queue and sleep through the night.
Teams on bye for Week 9: Cardinals, Ravens, Lions, Texans, Chiefs, Seahawks
Derek Carr, Raiders
Carr left Week 1 with an injury. In his six games since, he is averaging nearly 289 yards per game and has thrown 15 TDs to only three INTs for over 20.5 fantasy points per game in standard scoring. This is legitimate top-8 level production. He should continue this trend against the Steelers, Vikings, and Lions in the next three weeks.
Carr proved to be matchup-proof with four TD passes against the Jets on Sunday and has did so against the 249/1/1 against the Broncos in Week 5. He is the best QB in the NFL younger than Andrew Luck. Teams starting Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, and even Andy Dalton or Luck should add Carr to stream. We can drop Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford, and the like for Carr. We can even sell high on Manning for anything once we get Carr.
Jay Cutler, Bears
The Chargers are horrendous, so Cutler should feast in Week 9, as he has great bumslayer potential. The Chargers run defense is terrible, so the Bears will give whomever is the starting back quality volume, but the Bears defense sucks, so Cutler should have to throw north of 40 times. With Alshon Jeffery healthy and playing like a top-10 WR, Cutler is a better one-week start than Carr, though Carr is the better long-term add.
Brian Hoyer, Texans
Hoyer is on bye in Week 9, but if you want to look ahead to Week 10 after waivers clear, Hoyer has the Bengals on Monday Night Football in Week 10. There should be elite garbage time volume and no one can cover DeAndre Hopkins, who continues to make Hoyer a top-12 fantasy QB, week after week after week. Hoyer is 6th in the NFL in yards per completion (12.3), 7th in TD% (6.0), and 9th in adjusted yards per attempt (7.93). These are low-end QB1 numbers.
DeAngelo Williams, Steelers
In Williams two starts for Le'Veon Bell to start the season, he ran for 204 yards and three TDs, carrying the ball 21 and 20 times each of those weeks, adding five catches for 20 yards. He is a top-10 RB1, rest of season. This team looks to run, blocks well, and the defense is improving. Even when the defense wets the bed, the passing game has so much for the RB that his volume will be elite.
Ronnie Hillman, Broncos
The Broncos defense performed at all-time great levels against the Packers, as they have all season. We have to trust this team's committment to the run with run-heavy Gary Kubiak as the head coach and Peyton Manning unable to pass when they don't run the ball well. C.J. Anderson is more owned on ESPN and Yahoo! leagues, and is still the passing downs back, but Hillman is running the ball very well and the snap count should rise above 55% more often.
Jeremy Langford, Bears
Matt Forte should miss time with what the Bears think is an MCL injury. Whether it is for two weeks or four weeks or six weeks, Langford should be John Fox's bellcow. Week 9 should be great against the Charger's awful run defense, but where we are 7-1 or 6-2, and don't own Forte and are lucky enough to have RB depth, we are only adding Langford to sell him high to the desperate Forte or Bell owner.
Duke Johnson, Jr, Browns
This is strictly for PPR. Johnson's ownership rate is astounding. He is a top-25 RB in PPR, rest of season. Even in standard leagues, he should be stashed with ownership rates in the 80th percentile or higher. The Browns can't run well, but that doesn't matter. Johnson's snap count has gone down under 40% the last two weeks, but the Browns defense is so bad, they cannot afford to run with the other two bums on the field.
C.J. Spiller, Saints
Khiry Robinson left Sunday's game with what looked like a bad injury. Even if Mark Ingram plays 65% of snaps, Spiller should still get over 30% with Robinson out. In 40 snaps over the last two weeks, Spiller has had 10 targets. We can safely expect at least six targets in any games without Robinson for top-30 PPR value. We are learning the value of handcuffing our RB1s the hard way. All Ingram owners need Spiller.
Antonio Andrews, Titans
Andrews is a really good back with 121 yards in 26 carries in the last two weeks, adding three catches for 18 yards in Week 8. He is the lead back for the Titans. The problem is two-fold, though: (1) the Titans are so awful, they cannot run him 20 times; (2) David Cobb is set to return as early as Week 9. Love the Week 9 matchup against the Saints as a deep league flex. In 12-team leagues, the ceiling is too low.
Free agent adds if you're desperate: David Cobb, Titans; Alfred Blue, Texans; Theo Riddick, Lions (PPR); Chris Thompson, Washington (PPR); Joique Bell, Lions; Chris Polk, Texans
Stefon Diggs, Vikings
How the hell is Diggs only 78% owned on Yahoo! and 69.5% on ESPN? There cannot be this many dead leagues. Diggs is a top-20 WR, rest of season, with top-12 potential, averaging over 100 yards per game not seeing less than nine targets in any game this season.
Michael Floyd, Cardinals
Unsure what Floyd is when John Brown is actually healthy, but we shouldn't care. Floyd is not a volume player, so the volatility is there. The Cardinals have a tough schedule after their Week 9 bye--Seahawks in Week 10--but he should get deep balls against the Bengals in Week 11 and has 20-point upside against the 49ers in Week 12.
Michael Crabtree, Raiders
Carr's production is not only to Amari Cooper and Latavius Murray is not active in the pass game, as his run volume is so high that those are his opportunities to rest. Crabtree is actually leading the Raiders' top-10 passing attack in receptions (40) and has just as many TDs as Cooper (3). In the six games which Carr has played in full, Crabtree has had 80 and/or a TD in four, only having less than five catches in those other two.
He gets the Steelers in Week 9, who have allowed almost 80 yards per game to #2 WRs, according to FootballOutsider.com. His 60% ownership on Y! is very low; and his 38% on ESPN is bad. Crabtree is a legit top-40 WR3 in standard leagues and top-30 in PPR, rest of season.
Malcom Floyd, Chargers
For this week only, Floyd is right after these guys. Keenan Allen will likely Week 9 against the Bears and should be the #1 WR target for Philip Rivers. He is a boom-bust guy, but this week has boom written all over it.
Allen Hurns, Jaguars
Hurns put up almost 70 fantasy points in the five weeks preceding his Week 8 bye. Many dropped him with the hopes of snatching him up again. Where he is available, he must be added through waivers. Ignore the Jaguars schedule. They have to throw a lot every week and it only takes two catches for Hurns to hit 11 points.
Kamar Aiken, Ravens
With Steve Smith, Sr. career done, we should trust the volume for Aiken, rest of season. The Ravens are on pace for 648 pass attempts this year at over 40 per game. He had a 5/77/1 line in the game which SSS broke his back, 4/78/0 the following week with Smith out, and 6/62/0 in Week 8. Aiken is must-add in all formats, especially in PPR. Where we are deep at WR in shallow standard leagues, letting him pass is O.K., but the potential is important to note.
Willie Snead, Saints
Before their Week 11 bye, the Saints host Tennessee and go to Washington. He has had seven or more targets in three of the last four games and four of the last six. He is a volatile WR3 in all formats. Despite his two TD in Week 8, you're lucky to get a score out of him, so we can let him pass in shallow standard leagues, but he is a must-add in PPR.
Nate Washington, Texans
Without Arian Foster, the Texans just have to throw and throw a lot. Without that dependable option out of the backfield, Washington has become the #2 and that has been good for double-digit fantasy points in consecutive weeks, totaling a 13/202/3 slash. In Tennessee, Washington was known for frequently turning into a pumpkin, but he is getting the ball here and we like that.
Marquess Wilson, Bears
Could this finally be Wilson's shot to take Eddie Royal's job. Royal should miss another game due to injury and has performed well in limited play. He had a 12/165/1 in Weeks 4 and 5. Without a run game and the Bears having a bad defense, he should shine in this opportunity.
Tavon Austin, Rams
Austin is like a box of chocolates and the Rams don't throw very much. It is so difficult to know when to start Austin, as he doesn't get to play the 49ers and Browns every week. Not sure he is worth a waiver claim in 12-team leagues. But if you have space for a WR6 or are in a deeper league, he should be owned.
Free agent adds if you're desperate: Ted Ginn, Jr., Panthers; Chris Givens, Ravens
Jordan Reed, Washington
Not going into this any deeper than Reed is a top-5 TE when he is healthy. He was dropped in a lot of leagues for Washington's bye or owners didn't notice he was active the week before. Exploit this.
Benjamin Watson, Saints
23 catches for 333 yards and two TDs in 27 targets from Drew Brees in the last three weeks. A 19/274/2 slash in the Saints' last two home games. Saints host the Titans in Week 9 and Watson is looking like a top-8 TE, rest of season, at worst, with top-3 upside every week. Need I say more?
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Buccaneers
As frustrating as his shoulder injury has been, Seferian-Jenkins will ease the burden on Mike Evans and both can feast on the Giants in Week 9, who have allowed the most yards to TEs this season (684) and are only behind the Raiders for most fantasy points allowed per week to TEs (12.3).
Heath Miller, Steelers
Miller was going to be an "if you're desperate" guy for me, but he has the Raiders in Week 9, who have allowed the most fantasy points per week to TEs, including a league-worst seven TDs. Last week's 13-target, 10-catch volume was a fluke, as Ben Roethlisberger went security blankie to Miller in his first game back from injury. But double digit fantasy points is so likely with this matchup as a one-week fill-in with Jimmy Graham, Travis Kelce, and Eric Ebron on bye.
Free agent adds if you're desperate: Jacob Tamme, Falcons; Crockett Gillmore, Ravens
They get the Browns on Thursday night and the TNF favorite usually performs extremely well as a DST. The Bengals were on bye in Week 7 and were faded for Week 8 in Pittsburgh, keeping them only 33% owned at Y! and under 39% at ESPN.
These sack and turnover machines were stashed in 70% of Y! and 57% of ESPN leagues because of their Week 8 bye. They get Matt Cassel and the Cowboys, so they should feast. Pounce on them where available.
The 49ers are starting Blaine Gabbert on Sunday. 'Nuff said.
Free agent adds if you're desperate: Giants, Saints
Stats via Pro-Football-Reference.com.