The ninth weekend of the fantasy football season is here, and the Rotoworld crew has everything you need to lock up a win. Patrick Daugherty answers your lineup questions with his Week 9 Rankings, Nick Mensio tells you who to start and who to fade in Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em, and Evan Silva breaks down every matchup in his award-winning Matchups Column.
As for me, I am here to shed light on the most important injury situations facing fantasy owners heading into the weekend. The sister resource to this column is the Rotoworld News Page, which will have every inactive and all the late-breaking news up to kickoff and beyond. I also occasionally tweet about football @RMSummerlin.
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Steelers @ Ravens
*Ben Roethlisberger (knee) is officially listed as questionable, but there is not much doubt about his availability. It is not a great matchup and Ben has not been good following injury layoffs, but he is still a solid QB1 in a week with six teams on bye. It does not sound like Roethlisberger will have the services of Ladarius Green, who remains on the PUP with an ankle injury. Green could still be activated on Saturday. DeAngelo Williams (knee) and CB William Gay (foot) are questionable while C Cody Wallace (knee) is out.
*Steve Smith Sr. (ankle) is listed as questionable, but he is set to return after getting in a full practice Friday. His presence should send Kamar Aiken back to the bench and put a large dent in Dennis Pitta’s targets. ILB C.J. Mosley (thigh), LT Ronnie Stanley (foot), OLB Terrell Suggs (biceps), CB Lardarius Webb (thigh), RG Marshal Yanda (shoulder), and CB Tavon Young (concussion) are also questionable. ILB Kamalei Correa (thigh), OLB Elvis Dumervil (foot), and TE Crockett Gillmore (thigh) are out while CB Shareece Wright (thigh) is doubtful.
Jaguars @ Chiefs
*Julius Thomas (ankle) was not listed on the final injury report after practicing in full Thursday and Friday, but he is at best a back-end TE1 with Blake Bortles imploding. CB Aaron Colvin (calf) is questionable while DE Jared Odrick (foot, ankle) is out.
*The Chiefs face big injury concerns on offense with Alex Smith (head, ear) and Spencer Ware (concussion) out and Jeremy Maclin (groin) questionable. Nick Foles is not a compelling fantasy option as the replacement for Smith, but Charcandrick West is a locked-in RB1 with Ware out and Jamaal Charles on injured reserve. Maclin should play, but he cannot be considered anything more than a WR3. OG Parker Ehinger (knee) and CB D.J. White (hand) are out while DE Jaye Howard (hip) is questionable.
Lions @ Vikings
*Theo Riddick (ankle) is officially questionable, but he should be able to play after getting in a full week of practice. The Vikings are a daunting matchup for any offensive player, but they have given up fantasy points through the air to running backs this season. Riddick is a solid RB2 in a down week. Ezekiel Ansah (ankle), Darius Slay (hamstring), LT Taylor Decker (ribs), DT Haloti Ngata (shoulder), RT Riley Reiff (illness), and CB Adairius Barnes (hamstring) are also questionable. Slay has a decent shot to play after getting in limited work all week, but Reiff sat out every practice with an illness. WLB DeAndre Levy (knee, quad) remains out.
*Jerick McKinnon (ankle) is expected to play despite a questionable tag. Even in a great matchup, McKinnon is only a FLEX play coming off an injury behind a suspect offensive line. Speaking of, the offensive line could be even worse this week with LG Alex Boone (concussion, shoulder, knee injuries) set to sit while the defense will be without MLB Eric Kendricks. Jeremiah Sirles will replace Boone at left guard, and veteran Chad Greenway could see more snaps with Kendricks out. DT Sharrif Floyd (knee) and OG Zac Kerin (hand) are also out. S Andrew Sendejo (ankle) and DT Tom Johnson (concussion) round out the questionable group.
Eagles @ Giants
*With LG Allen Barbre (hamstring) out, the Eagles will give the starting nod to veteran C/G Stefen Wisniewski. It is another downgrade for a struggling offensive line. DTs Bennie Logan (groin) and Taylor Hart (ankle) are questionable.
*Odell Beckham was limited all week with a hip injury, but he is not listed on the final report. Bobby Rainey (calf), FS Nat Berhe (concussion), QB Ryan Nassib (right elbow), and RT Marshall Newhouse (calf) are questionable. Rainey should play, but the Giants’ backfield is a fantasy wasteland. FS Darian Thompson (foot) and DE Kerry Wynn (concussion) are out. Thompson suffered a setback with his Lisfranc injury Wednesday and could miss the rest of the season.
Jets @ Dolphins
*The Jets have questions on both lines with Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle), LT Ryan Clady (shoulder), RT Breno Giacomini (shoulder), and T Brandon Shell (shoulder) all questionable and C Nick Mangold and OT Brent Qvale (neck) doubtful. Wilkerson only managed one limited session this week, and Clady was not able to practice at all. LB Bruce Carter (quad), TE Kellen Davis (elbow), and LB Darron Lee (ankle) are out.
*Dolphins OC Clyde Christensen said this week DeVante Parker (hamstring) has not been healthy all season, and the team confirmed by listing him as questionable despite a full week of practice. Parker should play, but he is not a great fantasy option in a suddenly run-first offense. Laremy Tunsil (abdomen), S Isa Abdul-Quddus (ankle), and OL Jermon Bushrod (shoulder) are also questionable. TE Jordan Cameron (concussion), CB Xavien Howard (knee), and TE Dion Sims (concussion) are out.
Cowboys @ Browns
*Dez Bryant (knee, back), DT Maliek Collins (knee), RB Lance Dunbar (knee), MLB Anthony Hitchens (knee), DE Demarcus Lawrence (back, shoulder), and LT Tyron Smith (back) look likely to play through questionable tags, but the Cowboys have serious injury concerns in the secondary. Both S Barry Church (forearm) and CB Morris Claiborne (groin) are going to miss several weeks due to injuries suffered last Sunday night. While the pass defense has held up remarkably well this season, the Browns could find some success through the air. Tony Romo (back), DE Ryan Davis (hamstring), and OT Chaz Green (foot) are out. There is no timetable for Romo’s return.
*Cody Kessler has been cleared from his concussion and will start this week against Dallas. It is a bit of a downgrade for the passing game, but that should be mitigated by the return of Corey Coleman (hand) and the health of Terrelle Pryor (hamstring), both of who were left off the final injury report. LB Tank Carder (concussion), C Cameron Erving (shoulder), WR Ricardo Louis (hamstring), and CB Jamar Taylor (groin) are questionable.
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Saints @ 49ers
*In a confusing saga, Michael Thomas missed part of Friday’s practice with either a stomach bug or an ankle injury. Ultimately, he was not listed on the final injury report and looks like he is good to go. Also good to go are CB Delvin Breaux (fibula, questionable) and DT Sheldon Rankins, who spent the first eight weeks on injured reserve with a broken leg. LB Stephone Anthony (hamstring), LT Terron Armstead (knee), WR Jake Lampman (knee), and CB Sterling Moore (abdomen) are questionable while LB Dannell Ellerbe (quad), RB Daniel Lasco (hamstring), and LB James Laurinaitis (quad) are out.
*Carlos Hyde (shoulder, questionable) was originally expected to play coming out of the bye week, but three limited practices and some less than confident words from both the player and his coach have put Hyde’s status in doubt. With Hyde playing in an afternoon game, his owners should make contingency plans which could include backup DuJuan Harris, who appears to have leaped into the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. OLB Aaron Lynch (ankle) and CB Rashard Robinson (knee) are out.
Panthers @ Rams
*Jonathan Stewart missed two practices early in the week for non-injury reasons, but he got in a full session Friday and is not listed on the final report. Luke Kuechly (groin) is listed as questionable despite sitting out the final two days of practice. Coach Ron Rivera has sounded confident his star linebacker will play, but Kuechly’s status cannot be taken for granted. DE Mario Addison (groin), C Ryan Kalil (shoulder), and CB Daryl Worley (elbow) are also questionable. DT Vernon Butler (ankle), LT Michael Oher (concussion), and LB Shaq Thompson (knee) are out.
*CB Trumaine Johnson (ankle) is listed as questionable, but he is fully expected to return this week. DT Michael Brockers (groin), G Jamon Brown (hand), and DE William Hayes (ankle) are also questionable. WR Nelson Spruce (calf) is out.
Colts @ Packers
*T.Y. Hilton sat out Wednesday’s practice with a hamstring injury he picked up last week, but he got in full sessions the final two practices of the week and is not listed on the final report. The Colts do have plenty of names on the report, with Dwayne Allen (ankle), DT Henry Anderson (knee), CB Vontae Davis (concussion), G Denzelle Good (knee), and LB Curt Maggitt (ankle) all listed as questionable. All six should play after getting in full practices Friday, although Davis still needs to be cleared by an independent neurologist. Allen’s return bumps Jack Doyle back down to the TE2 tier. FS Mike Adams (groin), LB Chris Carter (hamstring), DE Kendall Langford (knee), LG Jack Mewhort (triceps), and RT Joe Reitz (concussion) are out.
*After sitting out last week, Ty Montgomery (illness) looks set to play after not being listed on the final report. He should return to a high-volume role as an RB/WR hybrid. Randall Cobb (hamstring, questionable) is not so certain to return after being limited all week. It sounds like the Packers could take the safe route with Cobb, which would open up even more targets for Montgomery and Davante Adams. CB Demetri Goodson (concussion), OLB Clay Matthews (hamstring), and CB Quinten Rollins (groin) are also questionable. James Starks (knee), Jared Cook (ankle), CB Damarious Randall (groin), and C J.C. Tretter (knee) are out. Starks and Cook look likely to return Week 10. They also sound like a great buddy cop show from the 70s.
Titans @ Chargers
*DeMarco Murray (toe) is not even listed on the final report after getting in full practices Thursday and Friday, but the news is not so great for Delanie Walker (questionable), who was not able to go Friday after pulling his groin on the practice field Thursday. Mid-week additions are never good, and it is especially concerning Walker was not able to practice the day after the injury. Walker is likely on the doubtful side of questionable, meaning his owners should start making contingency plans. Lance Kendricks is a solid floor option in the afternoon slate, but Dwayne Allen has a better touchdown shot even in a timeshare. S Rashad Johnson (neck) and LB Aaron Wallace (shoulder) are also questionable while LG Quinton Spain (knee) is out.
*Philip Rivers will have his full complement of receivers after Tyrell Williams (knee, questionable) and Travis Benjamin (knee, questionable) practiced in full Friday. He will be missing Hunter Henry (knee), however, and the news is even worse on defense, with S Jahleel Addae (collarbone), OLB Jeremiah Attaochu (ankle), and ILB Denzel Perryman (hamstring) doubtful and ILB Jatavis Brown (knee) and CB Craig Mager (concussion) out. The Chargers usually have a solid run defense, but they will be missing several key members against one of the best rushing offenses in the league.
Broncos @ Raiders
*Devontae Booker (shoulder) was limited in a couple practices early in the week, but he returned to a full practice Friday and was not listed on the final report. He is a solid RB1 as the clear lead back in a great matchup. The news is not as good on CB Aqib Talib, who has already been ruled out for Week 9 and could be looking at an extended absence after flying to California to get a second opinion on his back injury. The Broncos have good depth in the secondary, but losing Talib would be a massive blow. ILB Brandon Marshall (hamstring), C Matt Paradis (hip), and CB Kayvon Webster (hamstring) are questionable.
*Amari Cooper was limited all week with a back injury, but beat reporters have said he looked good on the practice field. He should play through a questionable tag. Also listed as questionable are C Rodney Hudson (knee), RB Taiwan Jones (knee), RB Jamize Olawale (ankle), G Kelechi Osemele (knee), CB Sean Smith (shoulder), T Menelik Watson (calf), and G/T Vadal Alexander (ankle). DT Stacy McGee (ankle) is out.
Bills @ Seahawks
*LeSean McCoy (hamstring) is expected to return after starting the week with two limited practices. Coach Rex Ryan has already said he will have a full workload if active, so McCoy is shaping up as a back-end RB1 even in a tough matchup. Sack-leader OLB Lorenzo Alexander (hamstring) was able to get in a limited session Friday.
*Jimmy Graham (knee) was limited in Friday’s practice, but the Seahawks are just managing his reps. He will be a high-end TE1 against the Bills. Russell Wilson (knee, pec) is clearly not 100 percent, but he continues to practice in full and play. Coach Pete Carroll said SS Kam Chancellor (groin) had a good shot to play, but he sat out the first two practices of the week. For all Thomas Rawls (fibula) stashers out there, let this be a lesson on how much Carroll’s word can be trusted when it comes to injuries.