These Five Players Carry Big Risk Heading Into Week 9
It’s getting close to crunch time as we head into Week 9 and managers are facing a whopping six teams on a bye. The Browns, Cowboys, Broncos, Giants, Steelers, and 49ers all have the week off which makes start/sit decisions for a pivotal win difficult.
Remember, these are players you should fade, not players you must sit in your lineups. If you are forced to start any of them, surround your lineup with high-upside pieces as well as safe-floor options.
Jakobi Meyers - WR New England Patriots
Jakobi Meyers has been one of those serviceable players you can put in your flex or WR3 spot and know that you’ll get at least some points on the day. He hasn’t been overly exciting (except in Week 5), nor has he goosed you. As with all of the players on this list, you will likely have to plug him into your lineup, but his matchup is not ideal for a boom game.
The Patriots host the Indianapolis Colts who are ranked third-best this season against the wide receiver position. They have allowed just 933 receiving yards on 120 targets and 77 receptions. That breaks down to roughly ten or fewer receptions per game which have translated to only four receiving touchdowns total for the year.
The upside to Meyers is that he is Mac Jones’ favorite target in the offense, but it’s not a guarantee that Jones will be the quarterback for all four quarters. If Meyers can find the end zone, he will save the fantasy day, but that will be a tall task against the Colts who are trying to salvage something from a losing season.
Brandin Cooks - WR Houston Texans
Despite swirling rumors that the Texans were shopping Brandin Cooks, the deadline came and went and Cooks is still with the Texans. Like Meyers, Cooks has been serviceable but has been a letdown from seasons past as a PPR monster. This year started nicely with 12 and 10 targets in Weeks 1 and 2, but that has tapered off to seven or fewer in the remaining weeks. Cooks has also found the end zone just once back in Week 4 against the porous Chargers.
This week, the Texans host the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles who are flying high heading into Thursday Night Football. Not only have the Eagles been explosive on offense but their defense has been stout. They have allowed just five touchdowns to wide receivers and only 81 receptions on 152 attempts for 854 yards, the fewest in the league. They have at least one interception in every game, save Week 3 against Washington where they sacked Carson Wentz nine times instead.
If Davis Mills can stay upright (and that’s a big “if”), he will have to throw against the Eagles’ secondary which could be disastrous for the Texans’ receivers. The Eagles have a slight weakness against the run, so this game could turn into the Dameon Pierce show with Brandin Cooks there as a warm body on the field.
The only bright side is that Nico Collins may not suit up for this matchup. If that is the case, there is some hope for Cooks, but the light is very, very dim.
Garrett Wilson - WR New York Jets
I never thought I would wish for the days of Joe Flacco quarterbacking for the Jets to make Garrett Wilson relevant, but here we are. After three weeks of five or fewer targets and 27 or fewer yards, Wilson and Zach Wilson showed some signs of life. Wilson posted 115 yards on six receptions and finished with 11.5 fantasy points.
While that is a good stat line, it’s not a great one and half of those yards came on a single pass for 54 yards. Wilsons’ 16.4 yards per target was the longest of the season, suggesting he is Z. Wilsons’ downfield threat.
We fell in love with Wilson after he posted two touchdowns in Week 2 for 22 fantasy points but has been quiet until last week. The Jets’ QB is still young and improving, but that doesn’t translate well into fantasy points for managers.
The Jets face the Buffalo Bills at home and with the way Josh Allen is playing, this could turn into a bloodbath, even with the explosive Jets’ defense. That could be good news for Wilson since the other Wilson will likely have to air it out nearly every play, but that will likely be more interceptions and incompletions than yards and touchdowns to the receiver.
Jerick McKinnon - RB Kansas City Chiefs
On a normal, non-crazy-bye-week, this fade would be obvious. However, with six teams unavailable, the next two running backs may be your only options.
Let’s start first with Jerick McKinnon who has been a thorn in the sides of Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Isaiah Pacheco managers. If there is any hope that McKinnon can get double-digit points, it will have to come off the back of a decent run and receiving game with a touchdown. He has gotten close with 7.2 and 7.6 in Weeks 5 and 2 but has been practically non-existent outside of that time.
The Chiefs are hosting the Tennessee Titans who are the 5th-best run defense in the league. They have allowed only one rushing touchdown and one receiving touchdown to running backs despite good numbers in the red zone.
If McKinnon was facing an uphill battle on a good day, this matchup is big-time avoid if you can. Even if the Titans allow a touchdown to a running back, it will be Edwards-Helaire on the back of Pacheco. Other than that, this will be Patrick Mahomes passing all over the place to Travis Kelce and the plethora of wide receivers at his disposal.
J.D. McKissic - RB Washington Commanders
The other “McKi” pass-catching running back to fade is J.D. McKissic. Again, on a normal week, this would be obvious, but desperate times call for desperate measures and you may not have a choice.
Since the return of Brian Robinson, McKissic went from mediocre to abysmal despite seeing work in the passing game. He has yet to score a touchdown or post more than 54 yards either rushing or receiving.
The Commanders are taking on the Minnesota Vikings who are ninth-best on the season against the position and have yet to allow a receiving touchdown to running backs.
If you are hanging on to either of these backs, do yourself a favor and head over to free agency. Look for Tyler Allgeier (50% rostered), Rachaad White (30% rostered), Latavius Murray (40%), or Kenyan Drake (30%) to help fill in the gap this week.