With six teams on a bye and many running backs out or questionable, the position gets slim fast this weekend. However, we start with the Dallas Cowboys, who will travel to 0-8 Cleveland where Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas) should be in store for a huge game against a Browns defense allowing the second-most rushing yards per game (143.8).
Cleveland has also been very fantasy-friendly to opposing quarterbacks (allowing the third-most fantasy points to quarterback per game) making Dak Prescott (Dallas) a strong play. Likewise, Dez Bryant is a good bet to score again as well – it’s a crazy statistic, but Bryant has scored a touchdown in 14 straight games against AFC opponents.
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▪ Jarvis Landry (Miami) is a good bet for a big week against the Jets, who allow the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Landry accounts for 33 percent of the Dolphins’ receptions (the highest rate in the league). Kenny Stills and/or DaVante Parker could hit for a long score also.
▪ Many of his receivers are injured, but Philip Rivers (San Diego) just finds a way to keep putting up big stats regardless. Rivers gets the Tennessee defense at home this week – the Titans have allowed the third-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks over their past three games.
▪ On the other side in the Chargers/Titans game, Marcus Mariota (Tennessee) is turning into an every-week fantasy starter. He has multiple touchdowns in six games, tied with Matt Ryan for the NFL lead.
Players to avoid
▪ Isaiah Crowell (Cleveland) was second in the NFL after four weeks in rushing yards, but in the four games since he is just 34th-best among running backs at 32.5 rushing yards per game. Dallas has allowed just three rushing TDs all season.
▪ Matthew Stafford (Detroit) is a sit this weekend against a Vikings defense off a loss and back at home – the Vikings have allowed just six passing TDs all season and no team allows fewer points per game (14.9).
▪ Similarly, Marvin Jones (Detroit) is a sit as well. He was the No. 1 wide receiver over the first three weeks in terms of receiving yards, but has been just the 32nd-ranked receiver since then. Minnesota allows the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.
▪ It will be hard to bench Derek Carr (Oakland) and the Raiders’ receivers after a 500-plus yard passing day last weekend, but it’s a different game against the Denver defense allowing an NFL-low 183.9 passing yards per game.
Week 9 sleepers
▪ There could be work for Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower (New Orleans). The 49ers allow the most rushing yards per game at 185.1 (and 244.7 over the past three games). Expect Hightower to be the better play, but Ingram should get worked back in after his benching last weekend after another big fumble.
▪ DeMarco Murray (toe) should be good to go, but Derrick Henry (Tennessee) is worth starting as a No. 2 fantasy back as well. Murray’s 320-carry season pace is not sustainable, and it doesn’t make a ton of sense given the super-talented Henry is there to share some of the workload.
▪ With Jamaal Charles on injured reserve, Charcandrick West (Kansas City) will be more involved and could start if Spencer Ware (concussion) is unable to go – Jacksonville is the only team to allow a rushing touchdown in every game this season.
▪ Mike Wallace (Baltimore) gets a bump in this week’s rankings in a revenge match-up against his former team the Steelers.
▪ With Travis Benjamin perhaps out (sprained knee) plus Hunter Henry questionable, Tyrell Williams (San Diego) should be a good candidate for heavy volume and likely a strong game this weekend.
▪ No team allows more fantasy points per game to tight ends than Detroit; Kyle Rudolph (Minnesota) has a chance to be the top fantasy tight end this weekend.
▪ Perhaps this is the weekend that Gary Barnidge (Cleveland) finally scores his first touchdown of the year – Dallas does allow the sixth-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.
▪ Lance Kendricks (Los Angeles) could be a cheap sleeper at home against Carolina, who allows the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
Alan Satterlee is a co-owner and senior writer for DynastyFootballWarehouse.com, a comprehensive fantasy football strategy site.