This is the Week 9 “Fire or Flop” series, highlighting my favorite and not-so favorite fantasy football plays of the week. I will not mention players who are already in the overall top five of their position in scoring (excluding Def/ST’s). I will list five players from each position group (excluding K) that I feel good about each week, followed by others that I don’t. As always, my thoughts are with PPR in mind.
Drew Brees vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26th | 18.9 FPPG) — You probably don’t need much help being told to start Brees, but he’s not among the top five QB’s this year. A matchup with the leaky Buccaneers Def/ST is a no-brainer this week. With the exception of last week against the Panthers, opposing QB’s are averaging 302.0 yards per game against the Bucs.
Dak Prescott vs. Kansas City Chiefs (24th | 18.1 FPPG) — Prescott has been among the most consistent fantasy QB’s this season, but after last week’s flop (159 total yards) you may be having second thoughts about this week. Don’t worry about Dak — this is a solid matchup. The Chiefs give up 273.1 passing yards and nearly 2 TD’s per game. They’ve also allowed the fifth-most rushing yards (157) to QB’s and Dak is sixth among all QB’s in rushing yards (168).
Matthew Stafford @ Green Bay Packers (14th | 15.2 FPPG) — Stafford is generally a guy that can get you 20.0 fantasy points weekly (20.3 FPPG in 2017) and this week should be no different. He is fresh off of a 400-yard game where he didn’t even throw a TD, so his game could have been huge otherwise. Not much changes for Stafford this week. Unfortunately, WR Kenny Golladay is still week-to-week but this matchup with the Packers is better than last week against the Steelers.
Tyrod Taylor @ New York Jets (22nd | 17.4 FPPG) — For starters, getting a red-zone weapon like Kelvin Benjamin is a big boost for a QB. Taylor hasn’t really had a sizeable WR to throw jump balls to since Justin Hunter last year. The Jets give up 2.1 passing TD’s per game and the fourth-most rushing yards (160) to QB’s. Taylor is fifth among all QB’s in rushing yards (175).
Jared Goff @ New York Giants (27th | 19.1 FPPG) — Over their last four games, the Giants have started to falter against the pass. QB’s have averaged 22.6 FPPG in that span and have thrown 10 TD’s. The Giants secondary can’t seem to stay out of the principal’s office either, as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eli Apple and Janoris Jenkins have all been suspended or reprimanded at some point this year. Jenkins—New York’s CB1—is currently suspended and will likely miss this game against Goff’s Rams. Goff has four 20.0-point fantasy games this year and should have another this week.
Marcus Mariota vs. Baltimore Ravens (2nd | 9.4 FPPG) — Mariota has been very unproductive so far this year and now he faces a tough test in the Ravens. Mariota has only thrown for 300 yards once this year and that was against the Colts, which everyone throws for 300 against. He also has a less-than-desirable 4:4 TD-to-INT ratio this year.
Andy Dalton @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1st | 6.9 FPPG) — Dalton failed to get much going against the 28th-ranked Colts last week and now has his toughest challenge of the season. He has been sacked seventh-most in the league (22), and Jacksonville leads the league in sacks (33). This is bound to not go well.
Eli Manning vs. Los Angeles Rams (8th | 13.3 FPPG) — On the plus side for Manning, he is supposed to get WR Sterling Shepard back this week. However, he still has a shaky offensive line (17 sacks), run game (83.3 YPG), no Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall and faces one of the top Def/ST’s in the league this Sunday.
LeSean McCoy @ New York Jets (22nd | 24.5 FPPG) — After a slow start to the season, Shady has shot up to being the fantasy RB that we know and love. In the last two weeks, he has 295 total yards of offense and 3 TD’s.
Mark Ingram vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (23rd | 24.9 FPPG) — Ingram has been a beast since the Saints traded Adrian Peterson away. Ingram has 359 total yards and 4 TD’s in the last three weeks. Sharing the rock with only Alvin Kamara is going much better for Ingram.
Lamar Miller vs. Indianapolis Colts (30th | 27.3 FPPG) — I usually try and stay away from Miller, but his matchup with the Colts is hard to ignore. Remember his 300 yards and 3 TD’s against them last year? The Colts are allowing most RB’s that they face to put up numbers against them, especially ones like Miller who can also catch.
Doug Martin @ New Orleans Saints (25th | 25.2 FPPG) — I like this game to be a battle of the RB’s — Martin vs. Ingram and Kamara. Martin has only played in four games this year but is averaging 11.65 FPPG. The Saints have allowed opposing backfields to surpass 20.0 fantasy points in five of their seven games.
Adrian Peterson @ San Francisco 49ers (32nd | 31.7 FPPG) — AP has only played in two games for the Cardinals so far and they couldn’t have gone any more different. The first week, he had 134 yards and 2 TD’s. The next one, just 33 total yards. I expect this week to be much closer to first game, as San Francisco is dead last against RB’s. Plus, with QB Carson Palmer out for the year, the Cardinals offense is going to need to rely on Peterson.
DeMarco Murray vs. Baltimore Ravens (17th | 23.8 FPPG) — Murray has only had real value this year in games where he has scored a TD, which is just two. His first one came on a 75-yard TD run against the Seahawks and the other against the Colts. You can’t predict TD’s but there is nothing this week to suggest that he’ll be successful against a tough Ravens defense.
Joe Mixon @ Jacksonville Jaguars (18th | 24.0 FPPG) — While I attribute a good portion of Mixon’s struggles to the offensive line, you can‘t ignore the fact that he is only averaging 3.0 YPC. He’s getting touches, which is great, but his value is coming from the passing game. He’s averaging 14.6 touches for 63.1 YPG and has just 1 TD. This is a bad matchup for the entire Bengals offense this week.
Julio Jones @ Carolina Panthers (8th | 27.9 FPPG) — Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has found a way to neuter Jones’ fantasy value this year, as Jones is currently WR18 and has just 1 TD so far. However, this game has the feel of a breakout to it. This isn’t 2016, but in two games against the Panthers last year, Jones had 16 catches (22 targets) for 360 yards and 1 TD. Jones hasn’t been putting up consistent WR1 numbers this year but you should still be starting him weekly.
Michael Thomas vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (32nd | 41.3 FPPG) — Thomas averages 68.6 YPG and gets a Def/ST that gives up 199.1 YPG to opposing receiving corps. Thomas and Brees have been in-sync during the Saints’ five-game win streak, hooking up on 71.1% of their targets. Start this stack with confidence this week.
Michael Crabtree @ Miami Dolphins (10th | 28.5 FPPG) — While I want to jump back on the Amari Cooper bandwagon, the truth is that Crabtree is and has always been the much safer choice. Derek Carr targets Crabtree 7.3 times per game, and he’s got 6 TD’s this year. Crabtree averages 13.4 FPPG, and while Miami has a decent Def/ST against WR’s, Crabtree is a consistent, high-volume target for Oakland.
Will Fuller vs. Indianapolis Colts (27th | 35.8 FPPG) — With Malik Hooker being out for the season, the Colts no longer have a true center-fielder. They have been vulnerable to the big chunk plays on defense all year to begin with. The deep ball is Fuller’s specialty and without anyone on the Colts able to stop him from doing it, the ingredients are there for a big game.
T.Y. Hilton @ Houston Texans (24th | 34.1 FPPG) — Hilton is in a slump where he’s accumulated just 4 catches (15 targets) for 42 yards and 0 TD’s in the last two games. However, it’s not like Jacoby Brissett at QB makes Hilton useless. He has had two huge games this year already with Brissett. I like Hilton this week for a couple of reasons. First, QB Andrew Luck was just placed on Injured Reserve today. There’s no more mystery — it’s Brissett-to-Hilton for the rest of the year. Time to make things happen. Next, Hilton is crazy-productive in his career in Houston. In five games at NRG Stadium, he averages 5.4 catches (9.0 targets) for 111.8 yards (20.7 avg) and 1.0 TD. It’s not only in Houston either. In 10 career games against the Texans, Hilton averages 5.5 catches (8.9 targets) for 94.2 yards (17.1 avg) and 0.7 TD.
A.J. Green @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1st | 22.9 FPPG) — I don’t care if it’s A.J. Green; WR’s matching-up against the Jaguars is bad news. I already think Dalton is going to have a rough go of it. Plus, Green only had 27 yards last week against the Colts, which was an amazing matchup for him.
Doug Baldwin vs. Washington Redskins (6th | 24.3 FPPG) — Redskins CB Josh Norman is back, which means a much tougher test for Baldwin. Baldwin’s season has been a mixed bag, with two games of 20.0 points and the rest under 10.0. With guys like Jimmy Graham, Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett stepping up, I don’t feel good about Baldwin’s matchup.
Evan Engram vs. Los Angeles Rams (4th | 9.5 FPPG) — With Beckham Jr., Marshall and Shepard out, Engram has easily been Manning’s top target. With Shepard coming back soon, it will take defensive attention off of Engram. He’s got a poor matchup this week but he’s going to see a high volume of targets, and the Rams also haven’t faced many TE’s like Engram this year.
Jimmy Graham vs. Washington Redskins (29th | 16.6 FPPG) — This is a great matchup, and Graham has been on fire lately. He’s got 4 TD’s in the last four weeks and is averaging 6.7 targets on the season.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins vs. Buffalo Bills (24th | 14.6 FPPG) — Seferian-Jenkins finally had a not-so-great fantasy game last week, putting up just 28 yards against Atlanta, although he caught 5-of-5 targets. I expect him to bounce back this week in a good matchup against Buffalo.
Jason Witten vs. Kansas City Chiefs (14th | 11.3 FPPG) — With Ezekiel Elliott suspended and therefore Dallas likely not having as much success on the ground, it makes sense for Prescott to look toward someone like Witten to help move the chains. Kansas City is only middle-of-the-pack against TE’s.
Jack Doyle @ Houston Texans (26th | 14.9 FPPG) — Doyle has been a productive PPR TE the majority of the season, especially the last few weeks. Last week against the Bengals, he caught 12-of-14 targets for 121 yards and 1 TD. Overall, he is targeted 7.9 times per week. I feel comfortable rolling with him almost any week.
Austin Hooper @ Carolina Panthers (9th | 10.5 FPPG) — Hooper’s production is too inconsistent to count on. In four-of-seven games, he has been targeted 2 or less times. This is a bad matchup with Carolina this week, especially with Luke Kuechly back.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cincinnati Bengals (27th | 9.9 FPPG) — The Jaguars lead the league in sacks (33), are second in takeaways (16) and now face a mundane offense. No-brainer.
Los Angeles Rams @ New York Giants (17th | 7.9 FPPG) — The Rams are a playmaking defense, with 23 sacks and 12 takeaways. They should be able to add to that total this weekend.
Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers (23rd | 9.0 FPPG) — Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t coming in to rescue the 49ers offense quite yet. It’s still C.J. Beathard and his 23.5 QBR for the 49ers, which is good news for the Cardinals Def/ST.
Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts (32nd | 13.3 FPPG) — On paper, this looks like a great matchup for the Texans Def/ST. It still is a good matchup since no team allows Def/ST’s to score more than the Colts. However, the Texans Def/ST has taken an obvious hit since losing J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. They destroyed Cleveland like they should’ve in Week 6, but in Weeks 5 (Kansas City) and Week 8 (Seattle), they allowed a combined 929 yards and 83 points (Houston had their bye in Week 7). The smart money is on the Houston Def/ST having a solid game, but don’t be surprised if the Colts make a game of it.
Denver Broncos @ Philadelphia Eagles (8th | 3.6 FPPG) — The Broncos Def/ST is still a great unit on the field, but on the fantasy gridiron, they’re among the bottom units. This week, they take on Carson Wentz, who has a share of the league lead in passing TD’s (19). The Eagles surrender the eighth-fewest FPPG (3.6) to Def/ST’s.
Have any fantasy football questions? Jake puts out a fantasy Q&A video on Facebook Live every week where he answers your questions. Drop him your questions on his Facebook page here.