Week 9 of the NFL season will be one of the toughest for fantasy football players. With six teams including the likes of Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots and the Cincinnati Bengals on their bye, there are some tough decisions to be made. Let’s get “Inside the Numbers” to help you find the matchups to exploit and get a win in Week 9.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Atlanta is allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and allowed Jameis Winston to throw for four scores earlier this season, but they have been much better of late. They have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in just one of their last four games and are allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the position over the last three weeks.
In standard scoring leagues, Tampa Bay has allowed at least 15 fantasy points to running backs in each of their games this season and 20-plus in five of seven. Making Devonta Freeman a decent play this week especially if Tevin Coleman sits out again this Thursday.
In Week 1 against Tampa Bay, Tevin Coleman caught five passes for 95 yards. The Buccaneers have allowed the seventh-most receiving yards to running backs this season, so if the running back does play this week he too could be a solid option in Week 9.
The Buccaneers are likely to go to a running back by committee approach for this Thursday night matchup. If you get a beat on which will get the most playing time (likely Antone Smith), the ball carrier is in a good situation. Over the last three weeks, the Falcons have allowed six touchdowns to running backs.
Despite his poor performance in Week 8, Julio Jones continues to be a must-start on a weekly basis. Earlier this season, the wide receiver caught four passes for 66 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay.
Mohamed Sanu’s fantasy prospects for Week 9 are on the up and up. The wide receiver has scored a touchdown in two of his last three games. He also caught a touchdown pass against the Buccaneers last time they played. Also, Tampa is allowing 60 yards per game to No. 2 wide receivers, which is 16 yards more than the league average.
Mike Evans has caught a touchdown in three of his last four games against the Falcons, including their Week 1 showdown.
Adam Humphries led the Buccaneers in receiving in Week 8 but remains unusable in fantasy formats. He has not seen more than four targets in any game over the last month.
On 12 targets this season, Austin Hooper has 195 yards. For perspective, Jacob Tamme has 210 yards on 30 passes thrown his way. But despite the better production, the rookie tight end doesn’t draw a great matchup this week. Tampa has allowed just one touchdown to the tight end position this week.
Cameron Brate has caught more than three passes in just two games this season. And despite facing a Falcons’ defense that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season, he likely won’t perform well again this week. After allowing five touchdowns to tight ends in the first four weeks, Atlanta has allowed just 13 catches for 152 yards and zero touchdowns to the position since.
Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings
Matthew Stafford has not thrown for multiple touchdowns in a game over his last two starts. He will have a tough go getting to that number this week. Minnesota has held quarterbacks to less than two touchdowns in six of their seven games this season.
Speaking of a lack of touchdown passes, Sam Bradford has gone 16 straight games without throwing for more than two touchdowns.
Theo Riddick finds himself in a dent matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. Not only are they allowing 4.1 yards per carry this season, the Vikings have also allowed the ninth-most receiving yards to running backs.
The Lions have been very vulnerable against the pass in 2016 so they haven’t allowed a ton of fantasy points to running backs this season. Detroit is allowing the 10th-fewest fantasy points per game to the position. With Jerick McKinnon back this week, him or Matt Asiata don’t make real strong fantasy candidates especially with the Lions allowing just one rushing touchdown to a running back this season
Golden Tate has at least six catches in each of his last three contests. He will have a tough time duplicating that number this week as the Vikings are allowing an average of less than 11 receptions to wide receivers per game.
In his last four games, Marvin Jones has not eclipsed the four reception mark.
On Monday night, Stefon Diggs snagged a touchdown. He will look to carry some momentum into Week 9 against the Lions. The last time he played Detroit he finished with six receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown.
The Minnesota Vikings brought out the best in Eric Ebron last season. In two games against them, the tight end caught 10 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns. The Vikings have allowed six-plus receptions to tight ends in four of their last six games.
The Detroit Lions have allowed eight touchdowns in eight games to tight ends. Kyle Rudolph should keep the scoring going and find the end zone this week. The tight end had two touchdown receptions against Detroit last season.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants
You will want to look elsewhere for your starting quarterback than Carson Wentz this week. The rookie has just two passing touchdowns in his last three starts, while New York has allowed just three passing touchdowns over that same span.
Just once in his last six games has Eli Manning threw for multiple touchdowns.
Whether you like it or not, Darren Sproles is the lead dog in the Eagles’ backfield. Sproles has out snapped him in every game this season. But don’t look for this designation to carry over the fantasy production this week. New York is allowing the 11th-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season.
The last time that Rashad Jennings faced the Eagles, he gouged them for 170 yards and a touchdown. Over the last three weeks, Philadelphia has allowed the third most rushing yards to running backs so Jennings could have another big outing against the Eagles.
The Giants have been really good against No. 1 wide receivers this season holding them to 59 yards per game. In two games against New York last season, Jordan Matthews was limited to 54 and 59 yards respectively.
The Eagles did a nice job against Odell Beckham last season. In two contests against them, the wide receiver combined for 12 receptions, 115 yards and a touchdown. Philadelphia is allowing the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game this season to wide receivers so the Giants’ pass catcher could be limited again this week.
Sterling Shepard has had at least seven targets in six straight games. The opportunity has failed to result in fantasy production and more of the same is likely this week. The Eagles are allowing just 46 yards per game to No. 2 wide receivers.
New York has allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season which won’t help Zach Ertz break out of his season-long slump. The tight end hasn’t caught more than four passes in a game since Week 1.
Philadelphia has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season so no need to look for a Giants’ tight end to be a part of a fantasy lineup this week.
New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins
Ryan Fitzpatrick has not thrown for more than a single touchdown in a game since Week 1. With the Dolphins having not allowed multiple touchdown passes in five of their last six, it is not likely that this is the week the Jets’ quarterback goes off.
Ryan Tannehill has just one passing touchdown in his last three games as the Dolphins have leaned heavily on the run in recent weeks. The Jets have allowed just three passing touchdowns in their last three contests.
Miami has allowed less than 90 rushing yards in three of their last four contests and has been particularly stout over the last two. In those contests, they have allowed a total of just 95 rushing yards. This does not bode well for Matt Forte’s chances to get it going on the ground. His chances of producing in the air aren’t much better. The Dolphins have allowed a league-low 176 receiving yards to running backs in 2016.
In his last two games this season, Jay Ajayi has more rushing yards then Todd Gurley has in all of 2016. The Dolphins’ ball carrier has rushed for 418 yards and three touchdowns in his last two contests. Ajayi figures to have a tougher time finding running room this week, however. The Jets are allowing just 3.7 yards per rush on the year.
On 18 less targets this season, Enunwa has two more receptions and one more touchdown than Brandon Marshall. Miami has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to the position so Enunwa could be heavily involved again this week.
Marshall does have the highest red zone target share among wide receivers over the last six weeks. The wide receiver should be busy this week then with the Dolphins having allowed five touchdowns to wide receivers overs the last three weeks. As well as the fact that Marshall went for 9/131/2 last time these two teams played one another.
In these two teams’ last matchup, Jarvis Landry finished with 165 yards and two touchdowns. He figures to be plenty productive again on Sunday. The Jets’ slot wide receiver allowed two touchdowns to Andrew Hawkins last week.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City has allowed 11 touchdowns in their last four games, so Blake Bortles could pick up some more garbage points again this week.
In relief last week, Nick Foles tossed 223 yards and two touchdowns. In a full game this Sunday, the Chiefs’ backup should be in good shape.
Despite allowing just the 16th-most fantasy points to running backs this season, Kansas City is allowing 4.7 yards per carry. Unfortunately, the T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory duo aren’t likely to take advantage of the soft rush defense of the Chiefs as they combined for just 26 rushing yards in Week 8.
He likely is out this week, but Spencer Ware is one of only three players to accumulate 250 rushing yards and 250 receiving yards in 2016.
Last Sunday, Charcandrick West finished the game for Ware and ended up with 52 rushing yards on 14 attempts. If Ware is out for Sunday, West is a real strong play. The Jaguars have allowed four rushing touchdowns to running backs in the last two weeks.
Allen Robinson’s single-game high this season is 72 yards. The wide receiver shouldn’t do much better than that this week. The Chiefs are allowing 71 yards per game to No. 1 wide receivers.
Marqise Lee has caught at least four passes in five of his last six.
Last week was Allen Hurns’ best game of the season. He finished with seven receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown.
In Week 8, Jeremy Maclin saw 10 targets in the passing game and was on the receiving end of a touchdown pass from Nick Foles.
Julius Thomas has caught a touchdown in each of his last two games but had just three catches in each of those contests. Kansas City has allowed just one touchdown to a tight end this season and no more than four receptions in a game to the position.
Jacksonville has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends in 2016, so lower your expectations for Travis Kelce in Week 9.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Cleveland BrownsCleveland has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in all eight games this season and in 16 of their last 17 dating back to the 2015 season. Dak Prescott has thrown for at least two touchdowns in three of his last four and has a great chance at that total again in Week 9.
In his first action in five weeks, Josh McCown returned last week and threw for 341 yards and two touchdowns. The quarterback will have a tough time matching those numbers this Sunday as the Cowboys have allowed less than two passing touchdowns in three of his last four.
In the last five weeks, Cleveland has allowed eight rushing touchdowns and the second-most fantasy points to running backs. There is no reason that Ezekiel Elliott won’t reach 100 rushing yards for the fourth time in five weeks.
Isaiah Crowell has found pay dirt in each of his last two games. Look for that streak to end this week. Dallas has allowed just one rushing touchdown to running backs in their last three games and just three all season long.
Cleveland has the second-worst DVOA against No. 1 wide receivers so start Dez Bryant with confidence this week.
Cole Beasley has had at least 53 yards receiving in every game this season. Cleveland is allowing 65 yards per game to No. 2 wide receivers in 2016, so Beasley should reach 50-plus again in Week 9.
Terrelle Pryor should get his again this week. Dallas has allowed 46 receptions to wide receivers over the last two weeks.
Jason Witten had his first touchdown of the season but still scored just 7.6 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues. Cleveland has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends so maybe Week 9 is Witten’s first double-digit fantasy performance of 2016.
Gary Barnidge’s fantasy ceiling is pretty low this week. The tight end has recorded at least 42 yards in each of his last seven games but has a high of just 76 in those same games. And Dallas has allowed just 44 yards to tight ends in the last two games.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens
With Ben Roethlisberger set to return in Week 9, he falls into a nice matchup. The Ravens have allowed 10 passing touchdowns in their last four games this season. They have surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to the position over the last three weeks.
Joe Flacco has not thrown a touchdown since Week 5. The Steelers have allowed just three passing touchdowns in the last three weeks, so things won’t be any easier for Flacco this week.
In his last game against the Ravens, Le’Veon Bell rushed for 129 and a touchdown on 22 carries.
Over their last two games, the Steelers have allowed six touchdowns to running backs. This high touchdown rate allowed makes Terrance West a sneaky play in Week 9.
In 13 games versus the Ravens, Antonio Brown has just one touchdown. And in two games in 2015, the wide receiver had a total of 12 receptions for 103 yards in two games against Baltimore.
The Ravens are allowing the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season so if Big Ben is under center in Week 9, fire up Sammie Coates. With Roethlisberger as his starting quarterback, the wide receiver has accumulated at least 50 yards.
Mike Wallace has racked up 217 yards in his last two games. Look for him to have a tough time maintaining that pace this Sunday. Pittsburgh has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
In his last two games, Dennis Pitta has been heavily involved in the offense with at least 10 targets in both contests. Unfortunately, he has produced a total of just 76 yards in those contests. In their last two games, the Steelers have allowed a combined 10 receptions for 199 yards and one touchdown to the tight end position so maybe this is the week that Pitta’s heavy involvement translates to fantasy points.
Baltimore has not yet allowed a touchdown to the tight end position and the second-fewest fantasy points to the position so don’t consider a Steelers’ tight end this weekend.
New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers
Pencil Drew Brees in for at least two passing touchdowns this week. The 49ers have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in each of their last six contests.
The Saints held Russell Wilson to just 253 yards and no touchdowns last week so no reason to consider Colin Kaepernick this week. The San Francisco quarterback has thrown for just one touchdown in each of his last two starts,
In their last two games, San Francisco has allowed 562 yards rushing. Fire up Tim Hightower as Mark Ingram rots in the doghouse for fumbling last week.
New Orleans has allowed 12 rushing touchdowns this season so if Carlos Hyde suits up, he has to get consideration this week.
Michael Thomas has at least five catches and 63 yards in each of his last three games this season. San Francisco has allowed at least two touchdowns to wide receivers in each of their last four games so the rookie is set up for success this week.
Brandin Cooks has scored a touchdown in three straight contests.
Willie Snead has 15 receptions in his last two games.
Jeremy Kerley has just four catches since Colin Kaepernick has taken over as the starting quarterback.
Torrey Smith has not recorded more than three catches in a game yet this season.
The Coby Fleener experiment is all but dead. His snap rate has declined from 77 percent to 34 percent over the last five weeks. And this past Sunday, Josh Hill played 80 percent of the Saints’ offensive plays.
Over the last three weeks, New Orleans has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to tight ends, so if in a pinch Vance McDonald could be your guy.
Carolina Panthers vs. Los Angeles Rams
Cam Newton has just three passing touchdowns in his last four games.
Since Week 3, the Panthers are allowing 0.60 fantasy points per pass attempt. The only team allowing more points per attempt is the Browns. But that still shouldn’t be enough to convince you to start Case Keenum. The Rams’ quarterback has scored single-digit fantasy points in two of his last three.
Jonathan Stewart has scored two touchdowns in each of his last two games. He will have a tough time maintaining that pace. In their last six games, the Rams have allowed just three rushing touchdowns.
Todd Gurley has failed to reach 100 yards rushing in nine consecutive games. This week doesn’t look much better. In the Panthers last six games, they have allowed more than 76 rushing yards just once.
Kelvin Benjamin has recorded at least 70 receiving yards in each of his last three games. He will have to step up his game if he wants to make it four straight. The Rams are allowing an average of 51 yards per game to No. 1 wide receivers.
In each of his last two games, Ted Ginn has recorded five catches and at least 50 yards. The Rams have struggled to contain No. 2 wide receivers this season so he could put up similar numbers this week. Los Angeles is allowing 75.5 yards per game to the position.
The Panthers are allowing 111 yards per game to No. 1 wide receivers making Kenny Britt an intriguing fantasy option in Week 9.
Carolina has allowed five touchdowns to wide receivers over the last two weeks putting Tavon Austin into the conversation this week.
Over their last four games, the Rams have given up just 12 catches for 110 yards to the tight end.
Lance Kendricks has 12 receptions over his last two games and now faces a Panthers’ defense that has struggled with the tight end. Carolina has allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to the position.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Green Bay Packers
The Packers have allowed three passing touchdowns in two of their last three contests setting Andrew Luck up for a big fantasy day this Sunday.
The old Aaron Rodgers appears to be back. In his last two games, he has thrown for 572 yards and has scored eight touchdowns. Indianapolis is allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks so nothing should stop him this week.
Green Bay is allowing just 3.4 yards per rush so don’t expect much from Frank Gore this week via the ground game.
Indianapolis is allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs this season.
The Packers are allowing 96 yards per game to No. 1 wide receivers so look for T.Y. Hilton to get back on track this week.
In his return last week, Donte Moncrief played in 59 of 66 of the Colts’ snaps and was targeted a team-high nine times. Green Bay has allowed five touchdowns to wide receivers over the last three games so the heavy involvement should pay off this week.
The Colts have allowed just five touchdowns to wide receivers all season long which downgrades Jordy Nelson’s fantasy value this week. He has only one 100-yard game this season and has been reliant on the touchdown this season.
Devante Adams has become Aaron Rodgers favorite target of late. He has seen 30 targets in the last two games and has 25 receptions for 206 yards and a touchdown to show for it.
Randall Cobb has a touchdown in each of his last two starts.
After catching 13 passes in his previous two starts, Jack Doyle finished with just two receptions last week. The Packers have allowed at least 40 yards to tight ends in each of their last five contests.
The Colts have allowed 27 receptions for 324 yards and three scores to tight ends over the last three weeks. Unfortunately, the Packers don’t have anyone to exploit the matchup. Richard Rodgers has just nine catches on the season.
Tennessee Titans vs. San Diego Chargers
Marcus Mariota has tossed two or more touchdowns in four straight games. But the streak could come to an end this week. San Diego has allowed a total of just two passing touchdowns in their last three games.
With just four touchdowns in his last three games, Philip Rivers will welcome the Titans this week. They have allowed at least 330 passing yards in each of the last three games and eight passing touchdowns in that span.
DeMarco Murray has scored a touchdown in three straight. San Diego has allowed three rushing touchdowns in their last two and 10 on the season.
Melvin Gordon has 72 rushing attempts over his last three games. He will need the heavy workload this week to do anything for your fantasy team. The Titans have allowed just 173 rushing yards in their last four contests.
Kendall Wright has at least 84 yards and a touchdown in two of his last three. San Diego is allowing 87 yards per game to No. 1 wide receivers so he could put up similar numbers this week.
Rishard Matthews has a touchdown in three of his last four. However, he will have a tough time finding pay dirt in this one. San Diego has allowed just one touchdown to a wide receiver in their last three games.
Travis Benjamin has caught more than four passes just once in his last six games. The Titans are allowing just 13 catches per game to wide receivers this season so don’t expect much more from Benjamin this week.
In their last three games, the Titans have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers so if Tyrell Williams plays he is a fine option in Week 9.
Delanie Walker does not have an ideal matchup this week. The Chargers have allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points per game to tight ends over the last five weeks.
The Chargers’ tight end duo of Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry find a nice matchup in Week 9. The Titans have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends in the last five weeks.
Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders
Trevor Siemian should not be on your fantasy radar. He has just two passing touchdowns in his last three starts. While Oakland has allowed just three passing scores in that time frame.
After tossing for 513 yards and four touchdowns in Week 8, Derek Carr should see a major drop in production this week. Denver has allowed just six passing touchdowns all season long and the second-fewest fantasy points per game to the position.
Devontae Booker finds himself in a nice position this week. The Raiders are allowing 4.9 yards per rush this season.
Latavius Murray finds himself in a timeshare after playing in less than 40 percent of the Raiders’ plays last Sunday.
Emmanuel Sanders leads the NFL with 14 red zone targets. With just four catches in each of his last three games, Sanders will need to find the endzone this week to be productive. But that isn’t likely as the Raiders have allowed just one touchdown to a wide receiver in three weeks.
Demaryius Thomas has at least five receptions in seven straight games. And in two games against the Raiders last season, he snagged 15 passes.
Over the last month, Amari Cooper is the top-scoring fantasy wide receiver. Unfortunately for him and his fantasy owners he faces a Broncos team that is allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to the position and limited him to four catches in 2015.
Michael Crabtree has 16 catches and 204 yards and a touchdown over his last two. Those numbers will be hard to duplicate this week. The Broncos are allowing just 25 yards per game to No. 2 wide receivers.
Oakland has given up four touchdowns to tight ends in the last four week and is allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game this season to tight ends if you want to gamble on Virgil Green in Week 9.
Buffalo Bills vs. Seattle SeahawksTyrod Taylor has rushed for a score in two straight games. Seattle has allowed two rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks this season.
Since Week 3, Russell Wilson has zero passing touchdowns. And in seven of eight games this season, Buffalo has allowed one or fewer touchdowns to quarterbacks.
Mike Gillislee has scored a touchdown in two of his last three games but will have his handsful in this one. The Seahawks are allowing just 3.4 yards per rush this season and just two touchdowns to running backs.
Christine Michael has three rushing touchdowns in as many weeks. Buffalo has allowed three scored in their last two so the Seahawks’ running back has a decent chance to cross the goalline again in Week 9.
With Sammy Watkins out Robert Woods leads the Bills in targets. But it hasn’t translated into fantasy success as he has just one double-digit fantasy performance this season. Seattle is allowing sixth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season so don’t look for a breakout game in this one.
Doug Baldwin has been held scoreless over his last four games. This could be the week that he breaks the plain though. The Bills have allowed five scores to wide receivers in their last three games.
Seattle is allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends so don’t give much thought to Charles Clay in Week 9.
Jimmy Graham has at least five catches in four of his last five games. The Bills allowed nine receptions for 144 yards and a touchdown to the Patriots’ tight ends last week.