For Week 9, we’ve got another six teams on bye, but this time around the teams we’re missing are full of fantasy studs. Missing at least a dozen potential fantasy starters, your options are certainly more limited than in other weeks, but there are still plenty of choices to be made. Here are a few players from those remaining options to consider for your lineups, at every position and in every price range.


NFL: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons


Aaron Rodgers ($7,800)– At this point, Green Bay effectively has no running game. This week it was Davante Adams taking short passes out of the backfield to keep the defense honest, which led to 38 pass attempts and a 73 percent completion percentage – numbers you would only expect to see increase against the leaky Indy defense next week.

Phillip Rivers ($6,500)– Rivers has the Denver defense behind him, and now the schedule lightens up considerably. He has plenty of weapons at his disposal in the receiving game, which makes it hard to trust any of his individual pass-catchers. He now has 19 or more fantasy points in four out of his five games against defenses outside the top 10.


Jameis Winston ($6,100)– Jameis hasn’t been putting up huge yardage totals, but he has been efficiently using his big weapons in the red zone, creating fantasy value from his two-TD per game average through seven. But now with another injury to a running back, you might expect to see him expand past the 30-35 attempts he has been averaging, and against a beatable Atlanta secondary, that could lead to a bigger-than-usual yardage game for him, which could easily make him a top-five QB option for the week.

Running Backs

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys


Ezekiel Elliott ($7,900)– Coming off a huge overtime win and facing one of the worst run defenses in the league, the Cowboys are going to establish dominance early and shorten the game with their ground attack. They should be able to play ball-control and score plenty of points in this one, which also makes Alfred Morris ($4,600) worthy of consideration as well. But Elliott will get opportunities early and often here, and should be able to capitalize with a high YPC and hopefully at least one score.


Charcandrick West ($4,400)– There is no guarantee he’ll be useful, but Spencer Ware is officially in the concussion protocol, and Jamaal Charles is slated to see another knee specialist after being inactive for Sunday’s game. After Ware went down, West got 14 carries suggesting he’ll get the bulk of work again this week. If he’s the lead back against the Jaguars, West should be a very viable option for upside in a bigger tournament.

Tim Hightower ($4,000)– This is obviously a high-risk play for any fantasy owner, but you can make a compelling case that the opportunity is there. Hightower excelled down the stretch last year in replacing Ingram, and yesterday he stepped up and got 28 carries for over 100 yards against the Seahawks. Ingram likely won’t be scrubbed from the gameplan entirely, but Hightower could be a cheap upside play against the 49ers’ last-ranked rushing defense in the league.

Wide Receivers

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers


Mike Evans ($8,500)– He is getting double-digit targets every single week (at least 11 in every game since Week 1) and is big enough to overpower whatever defenses throw at him. Against a Falcons secondary with individual players he can exploit, their schemes and positioning will have to be perfect on every down to keep him from breaking at least one big play on Sunday.


Donte Moncrief ($5,800)– If nothing else, he certainly showed that he remains the second-best receiver on this Colts team. He was giving them lot more than Dorsett was in his absence, which should help everyone on this team perform a little bit better. Andrew Luck has been throwing 30+ times every week and completing more than 60 percent of his passes, and Moncrief’s nine targets in his return demonstrated there will be solid production thrown his way.

Michael Thomas ($5,500)– He caught six of six targets yesterday and has proven to be an integral part of this offense. Now moving from a matchup against Seattle to one against San Francisco, he should find even more room to operate. On the road, Cooks seems to vanish for chunks of time, which could lead to even more targets for the big receiver, who already has 42 catches on the year.

Tight Ends

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears


Kyle Rudolph ($4,000)– With no Gronk or Reed this week, and even newly returned Eifert out on bye, the top-end tight end options are certainly limited. And while the Vikings offense isn’t inspiring any great hopes in most fantasy owners right now, Rudolph remains pretty consistently involved in whatever they’re trying to do. He has two straight games without a score, but with his usage in the red area and the Vikings’ lack of a consistent rushing threat, that’s a trend that should be stopping soon. Detroit has been one of the worst defenses against tight ends all season, so it may be sooner than later.


Antonio Gates ($3,000)– I actually like both Gates and Hunter Henry ($3,400) this week, as both have proven to be effective weapons for Rivers in the middle of the field and in the red zone. But for $400 in savings, I will take the one who had nine targets on Sunday compared to just the four received by Henry. Rivers should see much better days than he did against Denver from an efficiency point of view, and with almost 20 percent of his attempts targeting Gates, the upside potential here is high.

Defense/Special Teams

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers


Carolina Panthers ($3,400)– The Panthers came up with their best overall game of the year on Sunday after their bye, looking more like the Super Bowl team we remember against a Cardinals squad that might not be living up to preseason expectations, but which certainly has some talent on the roster. This week they get the Rams, and while L.A. has actually been showing some signs of life, the Panthers should be able to handle their offensive line and receiving threats easily, limiting what the Rams can accomplish and creating plenty of chances for turnovers.


San Diego Chargers ($3,000)– For all the off-season drama, the addition of Joey Bosa has seemed to add some physicality to this Chargers defense, which has been performing admirably all season long. It just seems like it has taken fantasy owners and experts forever to shake the feeling that they’re terrible, because of all the terrible-ness they’ve displayed over the past few years. But they have only given up more than 400 yards twice all season, and should find opportunities to create fantasy value with pressure and potential turnover chances against this Titans offense.

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theasquad) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.