Fantasy Sunday Rundown Week Nine: Start/Sit/Sleeper

Fantasy predictions, breakdowns and player analysis from this week’s upcoming NFL games.

Miami Dolphins running back Damien Williams stiff arms linebacker Preston Brown during Miamis 22-9 win versus the Buffalo Bills last year. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Miami Dolphins running back Damien Williams stiff arms linebacker Preston Brown during Miami’s 22-9 win versus the Buffalo Bills last year. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Jacob Kleinberg, Contributing Writer

This week is tough for fantasy owners as there are six teams on a bye. Still, there are many must-start options and several sleepers that could have good games off the fantasy bench. Let’s look at my must starts, must sits, and some sleeper options at each position in this week’s Sunday Rundown.



Derek Carr (OAK)

Carr will travel to Pittsburgh in what looks to be a pretty good matchup between two teams who were once hated rivals in the 1970s. History aside, Carr and the Oakland offense has heated up and should continue to thrive against a Steelers defense which has allowed 270 yards and more than one touchdown per game.

Eli Manning (NYG)

Manning and the Giants’ offense lit up in New Orleans last week. Don’t expect another six touchdowns from him, but I do think they’ll stay hot on the road against a Buccaneers defense that’s been inconsistent to say the least.

Philip Rivers (SD)

Rivers draws a Chicago defense, which has allowed more than two touchdowns through the air per game so far this season. He has been a yardage monster, but has also been prone to some mistakes. Wide receiver Keenan Allen is out for the year, but I trust the rest of the pass catchers to help Rivers to a big day at home.


Sam Bradford (PHI)

Bradford will go to Dallas with his Philadelphia Eagles this week. Despite their offensive woes, the Cowboys’ defense is playing very well. In the last two weeks, they’ve only allowed one touchdown to an opposing offense in each game.


Jameis Winston (TB)

The Giants are absolutely horrible in pass defense. They let up 511 yards and seven passing touchdowns last week in New Orleans. Winston won’t do that, but it’s a great matchup for them at home. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul may play in this one, which could help the Giants’ pass defense improve dramatically. I’m not sure if that will be enough to help them get off the field.

Ryan Fitzpatrick (NYJ)

It looks like Fitzpatrick will in fact start against the Jaguars. The Jets’ offense has been quietly and surprisingly efficient. They’ve got two great wide-outs in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker and a stud “workhorse” running back in Chris Ivory. Jacksonville has been allowing the best quarterback rating to opposing quarterbacks in team history this season, so Fitzpatrick should fair well.

Running Backs


Chris Ivory (NYJ)

Ivory has played through some hamstring and quad injuries in the last two weeks while having a few rough outings along the way. He’ll turn it around against a Jacksonville defense that lets up 103.6 yards per game to opposing running backs.

Dion Lewis (NE)

Lewis was targeted nine times at home against Miami last week, and converted those targets into six receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. He’s turned into a real dangerous piece of New England’s stellar offense.

Mark Ingram (NO)

Last week, Ingram had 16 attempts for 80 yards on the ground and had four receptions in the passing game in a game where the run game took a back seat to quarterback Drew Brees’ career game. I think he’ll get more than 20 carries against a Titans defense that’s better defending the pass than the run.


Frank Gore (IND)

The Colts’ offense could turn it around with new offensive coordinator Kyle Chudzinski at the helm, but it won’t happen this week with Broncos’ defense is coming to town. Last week they allowed 77 yards to Aaron Rodgers and only 90 more on the ground, not favorable conditions for Gore to succeed.

T.J. Yeldon (JAX)

Yeldon is a great young player, but I’d have a hard time starting even the best running backs against the Jets’ stout defensive line at home.


C.J. Anderson (DEN)

Anderson had a great game against the Packers and will get more opportunities again this week against a soft Indianapolis defensive front.

Antonio Andrews (TEN)

Andrews has been told he’ll be the workhorse for the Titans, which doesn’t actually mean much considering their lack of talent at the running back position. What it does mean is that he’ll have more opportunity to get in the end zone. Limit your expectations and Andrews can be a viable flex option this week.

Wide Receivers


Mike Evans (TB)

Evans has had a really up and down year. He’s had one or two explosive weeks, a few mediocre ones and a few where he didn’t play at all because of injury. This week he’ll have a Giants team that through eight weeks is the worst at defending the pass in the league. They might be a bit improved if Prince Amukamura and Pierre Paul can play. I’d still expect big numbers from Evans.

Alshon Jeffery (CHI)

Jeffery has been amazing since he came back from injury, scoring over 50 fantasy points in his last two matchups. This week he’ll get the San Diego’s bottom of the barrel defense. I like Jeffery as a top 10 wideout for the rest of the season.

Amari Cooper (OAK)

Through seven games, Cooper is on pace for 87 catches for 1288 yards and seven touchdowns. Those are high-end WR2 numbers. This week he’ll match up against the Steelers and I like his chances to have more than five catches and 90 yards in this game.


T.Y. Hilton (IND)

He’s got an injured foot and even if he plays, he draws the same Broncos’ defense that shut down Aaron Rodgers last week. I’m personally benching him in all of my leagues.

Dez Bryant (DAL)

While Bryant’s matchup improves this week (last week the Cowboys played Seattle, this week Philly), his quarterback doesn’t. Matt Cassel looked out of his depth last week and the Eagles won’t be much easier. Bryant will return to his every-week-stud status when Tony Romo returns.

Allen Robinson (JAX)

Robinson is going to be on Revis Island in the meadowlands. If you have to start him, temper your expectations.


Dorial Green-Beckham (TEN)

Titans’ No. 1 wide receiver Kendall Wright is out with an injury, and interim head coach Mike Mularkey says he wants Beckham-Green to be more involved. The Saints’ defense let up six touchdowns through the air to the Giants, so the opportunity is there for the rookie wide receiver.

Dwayne Harris (NYG)

Harris has averaged 15.54 points per game in PPR scoring through his last five games, but for some reason is still only owned in 15 percent of leagues. He’s a red- zone target in an offense which is coming together nicely and should be fantasy-relevant until teammate Victor Cruz returns.

Tight Ends


Jordan Reed (WSH)

Reed’s matchup isn’t great (the Patriots in New England) but in every game he’s been healthy because he’s scored more than 14 fantasy points. Before last week’s bye, he scored over 30 fantasy points and was Kirk Cousins’ go-to-receiving option. I expect that trend to continue.

Greg Olsen (CAR)

Olsen has played 100 percent of the offensive snaps at the tight end position in Carolina’s offense this season. That is insane. Anyone who’s on the field all the time is going to get plenty of opportunity, and Olsen has been capitalizing on those chances this season. He’ll continue to thrive at home against the Packers.


Jason Witten (DAL)

The Cowboys get the Eagles at home this week. The Eagles have allowed the fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season. Witten hasn’t been able to get much done without Romo.

Julius Thomas (JAX)

Thomas had a rough outing against Buffalo, with only four fantasy points. In his three games back he’s had two duds and one 20-point game against Houston. The Jets are top-ten in the league defending tight ends. I think this is another tough week for him.


Coby Fleener (IND)

This is more of a long term pick-up type sleeper because the Colts get Denver’s brutal defense this week and I don’t expect much from quarterback Andrew Luck. Indianapolis hired Kyle Chudzinski to be their new offensive coordinator after getting rid of Pep Hamilton. Chudzinski has been called the “tight end whisperer” in the past, so we may see Fleener (and even Dwayne Allen) get more involved in the offense.

Delanie Walker (TEN)

Walker has been quietly consistent in Tennessee this year and this week he’ll get a favorable matchup against a weak Saints defense.