Fantasy Football Rankings: Week 9 Matchups to Consider
Believe it or not, there are only seven weeks remaining in the fantasy regular season! That means just seven weeks to get things straight and tighten your grasp on that coveted playoff spot! Of course, making the most of each remaining matchup starts and ends with making sure you’re getting the most out of your lineup every week, and that all starts with making sure you’ve got the best information! Never fear, I’m here to look through matchups at each position that could be the difference for your lineup this week!
Sam Howell (WASH) at New England
The new-look offense in Washington feels like it’s finally turning a corner behind first-year starter Sam Howell over the last month. After a slow start for fantasy, Howell has been a top-seven QB in three of his last four starts, averaging 250 passing yards in each of those games and throwing at least two TDs per week. The recent moves from the Commanders at the trade deadline could only add to Howell’s necessity to continue his gun-slinging ways after they moved two of their best defensive players. As long as Howell can continue to grow in Eric Bieniemy’s offense, he’s proven he can provide a strong QB streaming option.
Continuing his hot streak of weekly fantasy finishes has a good chance for Howell in Week 9 against the Patriots. While New England’s defense isn’t the same unit that we’re accustomed to seeing, they’ve still been a strong matchup against opposing fantasy QBs this season. Through their eight games so far this season, the Patriots have only allowed two top-12 QB finishes. Granted those two top-12 finishes have come over the last two weeks, but they were also against Josh Allen and Tua Tagovailoa who run two of the highest-powered offenses in the league. For fantasy managers needing a streaming option this week, it may be the time to go away from Howell despite his strong play over the last month.
Kurt would prefer to play: QB13 – Gardner Minshew at Carolina
Bryce Young (CAR) vs Indianapolis
It’s been a slow start to the season for the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and Bryce Young’s slow start hasn’t translated to any fantasy success either. The biggest downfall to Young’s fantasy relevance has been his inability to get into the end zone on a regular basis, only throwing multiple TDs in his lone top-12 QB finish of the year from Week 5. The changes that the Panthers made to their play-caller after their Week 7 bye look to have had some impact though, with Young completing 71% of his passes against the Texans.
If Young is going to start being on the radar for fantasy managers as a streaming option, the next few weeks might be his best opportunity with the Colts and Bears in back-to-back weeks. Indianapolis’ defense has allowed the seventh-most passing yards in the league and has allowed opposing teams to score at least 37 points in three straight games. In those three games though, opposing fantasy QBs have only averaged 12.8 fantasy points against them. Young’s progress on the field might continue to show, but unless he can find ways to consistently get into the end zone, he might not return any fantasy relevance this season.
Kurt would prefer to play: QB16 – Taylor Heinicke
AJ Dillon (GB) vs LA Rams
After back-to-back games inside the top-24 RBs, AJ Dillon fell back to what’s been his fantasy reality last week with the full return of Aaron Jones to the Packers’ backfield. Dillon wasn’t able to dominate while Jones missed time with injury, but he’s still been a usable fantasy asset through that stretch. What’s most encouraging about Dillion’s most recent RB29 finish in Week 8 was his five receptions for 41 yards in the passing game, where Jones usually finds plenty of fantasy value. As long as Dillon can continue to have the Packers backfield split 50-50 with Jones, he should be a consistent flex option for fantasy managers.
Getting back into the top 24 might be tough this week for Dillon taking on a tough Rams run defense. After starting the season allowing a top-24 RB in four of five games, L.A.’s defense didn’t allow a top-24 RB in two of their last three games, including last week against a strong running team in Dallas. The most recent strong fantasy finishes from RBs against the Rams came in Week 7 when both Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren finished in the top 24. Green Bay’s split backfield shares similarities to how Pittsburgh’s functions so there may be a path for Dillon to help fantasy managers again this week.
Kurt would play Dillon over: RB30 – Emari Demercado at Cleveland
Rachaad White (TB) at Houston
It was kind of a shaky start to the season for Rachaad White, but over the last two weeks, we may be getting some consistency from the Buccaneers’ second-year RB. White has turned in back-to-back top-20 RB finishes behind nearly 80% of snaps and more impressively 13 receptions in a struggling Tampa Bay offense. While the running game has left fantasy managers wanting more, White’s involvement in the passing game is elite, currently sitting fourth in receptions by a running back in the league behind only Christian McCaffrey, Travis Etienne, and Josh Jacobs. The most impressive thing about White’s four top-24 RB finishes is that he’s only gotten in the end zone once this year, so he’s not relying on TDs to stay relevant for your roster.
Typically, if there’s a need to fix your running game, a nice matchup against the Texans will do it some good, but Houston’s defense has improved quite a bit on that front this season. The Texans have allowed the 10th fewest rushing yards in the league, but are still allowing plenty of strong fantasy finishes from RBs. Last week was the first time all season that the Texans haven’t allowed a top-24 RB finish against the Panthers. To the seven top-20 RB finishes they’ve given up this season, Houston’s defense is allowing nearly four receptions and 27 yards through the air to those RBs. White should have every opportunity to be a top-20 RB this week with the opportunity to have a big day if he can find the end zone for the first time this season.
Kurt would play White over: RB15 – Gus Edwards vs Seattle
Zack Moss (IND) at Carolina
We’ve all been waiting for the bottom to fall out for Zack Moss since Jonathan Taylor’s return to the Colts lineup, but it hasn’t happened just yet. Since Taylor returned in Week 5, Moss is averaging 14.8 fantasy points per game on just 54% of the team’s snaps, including three top-15 RB finishes. Andy even mentioned Moss as a sneaky trade target in Wednesday’s show. What’s aiding Moss’ continued relevance has been his ability to find the end zone consistently, scoring four of his five TDs since Taylor’s return. As long as Moss is seeing at least half the snaps in the Colts’ backfield, he stands a good chance to be a regular flex play for fantasy managers going forward.
One of the best defenses to target with your RBs this season has been Carolina who allow the fifth-highest yards per carry in the league and have allowed the second-most rushing TDs in the league with 14. Before last week, the Panthers had allowed a top-24 RB finish in every game this season and had given up five top-10 RB finishes already. The Colts offense is sixth in the league in yards per carry and has scored 12 rushing TDs on the year. Moss should have plenty of chances to add to the impressive top-20 total he’s already tallied this season in Week 9.
Kurt would play Moss over: RB16 – Kenneth Walker at Baltimore
Jakobi Meyers (LV) vs NY Giants
All good things must come to an end, and that may be the case with the hot start that fantasy managers got from Jakobi Meyers this season. Meyers thrived in Josh McDaniels’ offense, outpacing even Davante Adams in the attention he received from Jimmy Garoppolo. The Raiders’ firing of McDaniels and benching of Garoppolo could mean a large dip in production from the season’s current WR19. Aidan O’Connell is slated to start at QB for the Raiders this week, and in the one game that we’ve seen him play, Meyers finished with just two receptions for 33 yards. Add in that Las Vegas’ offense will be run by a first-time play-caller, Bo Hardegree (who happens to be from my hometown in Tennessee) and the uncertainty couldn’t be any higher for Meyers this week.
After starting the season allowing at least 24 points in five straight games, the Giants’ defense has looked much better over the last three weeks, only allowing 14, seven, and 13 points. New York’s defense isn’t immune to giving up big receiving performances though. In this three-game stretch, the main WR facing the Giants has averaged seven receptions for 96 yards. The problem is Meyers won’t be the main target for the Raiders’ offense, so there may not be much left for him to bring to the table this week. Unfortunately, I’d be sitting Meyers this week until we see how he’ll function in the new-look Las Vegas offense.
Kurt would prefer to play: WR31 – Josh Downs vs Carolina
Drake London (ATL) vs Minnesota
It finally happened. The Falcons are making the change at QB starting Taylor Heinicke this week which should be an upgrade for Drake London and the receiving options in Atlanta. Heinicke played the second half of the Falcons’ loss to the Titans in Week 8 so we don’t have a huge sample size to base any improvement for London specifically, but he did see two targets that turned into 21 of his 55 yards for the week. With any luck, having a QB who’s willing to drive the ball down the field more like Heinicke will allow London to do more of what got him drafted eighth overall last season.
What was a defense to target in 2022 has turned into a much more solid unit for the Vikings in 2023. A lot of this success I attribute to defensive coordinator, Brian Flores, who has proven himself as a good defense play-caller throughout his career as a coach. Over the last three weeks for fantasy, the Vikings haven’t allowed a top-24 WR finish. While it’s encouraging that the passing game should be getting an upgrade in Atlanta, I wouldn’t be considering London any more than a flex option until we see a full game of what the Heinicke-led offense could be.
Kurt would play London over: WR33 – Tyler Lockett at Baltimore
Demario Douglas (NE) vs Washington
Finding a team’s leading WR option off the waiver wire doesn’t usually happen this late into the season, but fantasy managers might be getting that with Demario Douglas. The Patriots lost Kendrick Bourne for the remainder of the season after tearing his ACL, and it’s expected that Douglas will be called upon to take a bigger role in the offense starting this week. Douglas has seen increased work throughout the year, playing a season-high 77% of snaps last week and seeing seven targets in the process. While Douglas isn’t a huge body at WR, his collegiate numbers show a player who grew into larger roles while at Liberty and even contributed in the running game when called upon.
If Douglas is going to have a fantasy impact, he’s got a great matchup to do so in Week 9 with the Washington defense. The Commanders’ defense has allowed the most passing TDs in the league and the fourth-most passing yards through eight weeks. Washington has allowed a top-24 WR finish in five of their last six games and a total of nine top-24 WR finishes on the season as a whole. Given Douglas’ expected increase in opportunity this week, he could be a sneaky flex play if you need it.
Kurt would play Douglas over: WR34 – Tank Dell vs Tampa Bay
Jake Ferguson (DAL) at Philadelphia
After a few disappointing weeks, Jake Ferguson returned to the good graces of fantasy managers in Week 8 finishing as the TE10. Ferguson’s three top-12 TE finishes this season have all come with either a TD grab or high volume, but the issue is he isn’t seeing either consistently in the Dallas offense. What’s encouraging about Ferguson as a fantasy option at TE is his increase in snaps over the Cowboys’ last two games, playing at least 80% of plays.
The path to attacking the Philadelphia defense has been through the air this season, where the Eagles are allowing the sixth-most yards in the league. For the most part though, Philadelphia has held opposing TEs in check, only allowing more than seven fantasy points to opponents’ TEs just three times this year. Fantasy managers should expect bigger days from the Dallas passing game this week, but Ferguson’s fantasy relevance may be reliant on getting into the end zone in Week 9.
Kurt would prefer to play: TE6 – Kyle Pitts vs Minnesota
Donald Parham Jr (LAC) at NY Jets
You may have to look way down on the weekly rankings for Donald Parham Jr, but he’s been a usable fantasy asset throughout the year so far. Parham has three weeks inside the top-12 TEs thanks to his four TD receptions in those games. It’s no surprise that Parham’s success has come at the expense of fellow Chargers TE, Gerald Everett. With Everett out last week, Parham played a season-high 62% of snaps which turned into four receptions for 43 yards. Everett is still on the Chargers’ injury report, so there’s a chance Parham could be the main TE target for Justin Herbert again this week.
The Jets’ defense has been one of the best in the league pretty much across the board this season, allowing the third-fewest passing yards and 10th-fewest passing TDs on the season. However, teams have pretty consistently had success using their TEs to attack the New York defense. The Jets allowed a top-12 TE in four straight games from Weeks 2 through 5. While they’ve been better in their last two games, I’d be willing to bet on Parham having success Monday night against them, especially if he’s the main TE again.
Kurt would play Parham over: TE16 – Cole Kmet at New Orleans