Week 9 is already off to quite an interesting start, with the most active trade deadline in recent memory. We have already seen two quarterback changes; one due to performance (Denver) and one due to injury (DeShaun Watson). The injury bug hasn't stopped with Watson as Pierre Garcon was just placed on IR, as I was writing this article. This will change the complexion of this week, which is already thin in the player pool with six teams on bye and Ezekiel Elliott now likely going to be suspended.
Before I give the picks, I was fortunate to join Lou Blasi on the National Fantasy Pregame Show this week. Click here to view the three videos we recorded on Wednesday night (before we knew about Watson and Garcon). It should help you in both DFS and on DRAFT.
H2H or 3-Person Contests
Quarterbacks: Without Watson, who was at the top of the list prior to the injury, there are still three quarterbacks I would consider here. Russell Wilson has 3+ touchdowns in four of his past five games. Washington is average in giving up points against QB, but I am not convinced their defense is good. For me, Wilson is the top play. Behind him, Drew Brees at home is always a solid option, even though he hasn't put up a huge game yet this year. Tampa may be the cure, as they give up the fourth most points to fantasy QBs in the past eight games. Dak Prescott would be my third option, as he has been really good in games not played in tough weather. Without Elliott, it's time for Prescott to pass more and a matchup against the Chiefs is not as scary as it has been in the past.
Running Backs: Simply said, if Ezekiel Elliot is able to get another stay on his suspension, he is a Top 5 running back this week. Regardless, Todd Gurley is my number one choice. The Giants give up over 100 yards a game on the ground and Gurley has been active in the passing game as well. While I may not like him at his price in DFS, Kareem Hunt is still a top choice on DRAFT. He's still putting up 13-14 points a week, and that's without any touchdowns since week 3. Leonard Fournette will always be a nice choice here, considering Jacksonville has no desire to pass. The Bengals are a tough matchup, but Fournette's volume alone will make him a good play here. I'm fine with either Saints RB, but I may be a tad cautious with Mark Ingram, after two fumbles last week. I prefer Alvin Kamara this week since I know what his role will be. Lamar Miller was a good play before the Watson injury, but could be a slightly better play now since you would expect Houston to hide Tom Savage, and the Colts are 5th worst against the run.
Wide Receivers: I'm fine with any of the top 5 WR/TE options. DeAndre Hopkins looked to be a in a prime spot before the Watson injury. The matchup is still good as the Colts struggle against WR. But, Tom Savage deeply decreases the values of Hopkins. Julio Jones still only has one touchdown this season and only had three catches last week. It's hard for me to trust him right now. Travis Kelce draws a tough matchup, as Dallas is 4th toughest against tight ends. Mike Evans should be in a shootout. The concern is the tough matchup against Lattimore and how strong is Winston's arm. A.J. Green is a fade for me against that tough Jaguar secondary.
For me, my favorite two receivers are ranked #6 and #7 on DRAFT. Michael Thomas is due for a breakout game, and the Buccaneers allow 27 fantasy points a game to receivers, third worst. The other play for me is Dez Bryant. He will be called upon more with no Elliott, and draws a Chiefs secondary giving up 28 points per game and 13 touchdowns in the last 8 games to fantasy receivers. I don't mind taking both RBs and QB in first three rounds in H2H and waiting on WR until the end.
6 and 10 Person Games
Quarterbacks: Even if against the Denver secondary, I think Carson Wentz will be fine, due to his favorite target being TE Zach Ertz and Denver struggling against tight ends. Cam Newton returning home still carries massive upside, and if you want to take a chance on that upside, I get it. Opposite Dak in Dallas this week is Alex Smith, who keeps producing more than we all thought, and Dallas does give up 20.5 points a week to Fantasy Quarterbacks. Derek Carr gets a Dolphins defense that gives up a passer rating of 103, second worst over the past eight games. I also don't mind Matthew Stafford against the Packers weak secondary, Kirk Cousins against a suddenly vulnerable Seattle defense, or Jameis Winston if his shoulder injury turns out to not be as serious as we think.
Running Backs: Some big names appear in this range. Devonta Freeman's highest point total the past three weeks is 10.5, so be cautious in a tough matchup in Carolina. Adrian Peterson is the weekly winner of who gets to face the 49ers run defense, who are giving up over 29 points a game to running backs the past eight weeks. Detroit looked good against Le'Veon Bell, but still give up nearly 20 points a game, making Aaron Jones a good play. The Ravens do give up production to running backs, so looking at DeMarco Murray, coming off a bye, would be a decent option. No more Kelvin Benjamin should get Christian McCaffrey more targets. Carlos Hyde had a decent game earlier this season against Arizona and is a good RB2 option. Other running backs to look at are Chris Thompson against a Seattle defense that is better in name than on the field, Joe Mixon against a Jaguars defense that struggles against the run, and Alex Collins, who should see 15-20 carries against Tennessee.
Wide Receivers: I like some of the options in this range. Tyreek Hill is a high ceiling option and Dallas does allow over 23 points a game to fantasy receivers. I mentioned that Denver does struggle against the TE, so expect a big game coming for Zach Ertz. Doug Baldwin will probably see a lot of Josh Norman, but I also expect Seattle to move him around a bit. Jarvis Landry, Michael Crabtree, and Amari Cooper would be good options in a Sunday Night game that features a couple of bad pass defenses. Larry Fitzgerald has had a great history against the 49ers, so if you think Drew Stanton can get him the ball, the matchup is good. Jordy Nelson is a great option in this range, as I expect Brett Hundley to improve coming off the bye week. Devin Funchess should be the lead receiver in Carolina now, and Atlanta does allow 19 points to receivers.
As usual, expect running backs to go off the board quickly. If you're not a big fan of the wide receivers up top, like me, feel free to go quarterback early. If you do like Hopkins or Jones more though, take them where you normally would. Trust your gut as it is usually right. Finally, remember that Fantistics has listener league contests going on all the way up until Sunday. To see these contest, follow FantisticsRadio and you will see the $3, 10-man games appear in the lobby. I will jump in a couple of them throughout the week (skeeter1114). Good luck with all of your week four NFL contests.