All hail Week 9.
In this brave, (relatively) new NFL universe, this is the week that marks the end of the first half of the season. It also marks the first of two six-team bye weeks. The first thing is kinda fun. The second thing is not. There are plenty of good fantasy options who have the week off. Fortunately, there are also plenty of good matchups that we can exploit with some lesser-known or lesser-started players.
Of course, dear reader, that is why you are here. Without further ado, here are some names.
Through eight weeks, Lawrence is a top-10 fantasy quarterback. That statement is more of an indictment of the fantasy quarterback position this year than it is praise for the Jaguars’ second-year signal-caller. Lawrence has shown signs of improvement over a rocky rookie season but there’s still a lot left to be desired. In the last four weeks, Lawrence has more rushing touchdowns (three) than passing scores (two). While his 25-point ceiling feels nice, he’s just as likely to leave you sitting on his five-point floor.
This week offers hope that, like Lionel Richie, we might be dancing on the ceiling. That hope is the Raiders defense. It's allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. In Week 8, Andy Dalton’s 17-point outing was the LOWEST score a quarterback has posted against the Silver and Black this season. Lawrence might not get it done in a traditional way, but if you’re streaming him in a pinch, you’re not going to care.
This is where we are with Rodgers. Once upon a time, he was the king of fantasy quarterbacks. If you drafted him, the only way he wasn’t in your starting lineup was because he was on a bye. Those days are no more. Now, Rodgers is barely hanging on to a spot in the top 20 and hasn’t touched 17 points in a fantasy contest all season.
Thankfully -- at least for Packers fans -- here come the Lions. With just 11 sacks registered (only the Raiders have fewer) and two interceptions (only the Giants have fewer), quarterbacks have been able to get comfortable against Detroit’s defense. In his career, Rodgers has made mincemeat of the Motor City Kitties. Over his last four games versus Detroit, ARod has thrown for 11 touchdowns without an interception. Don’t look for old school Aaron Rodgers numbers this week but it should be better than it’s been so far.
Using Huntley in a lineup is a limited time offer with Cordarrelle Patterson eligible to return within the next three weeks. It also only really applies in deeper leagues. It’s been well-established that Arthur Smith wants to run the football. Or have you somehow missed the weekly weeping over Kyle Pitts’ fantasy demise? That’s worked out well for Huntley and Tyler Allgeier, who combined for 30 rushing attempts last week against the Panthers.
That’s a trend that could continue in Week 9 with the Chargers coming to town. After a good start to the season, the ugly Bolts run defense has reared its head. Los Angeles has allowed more than 130 rushing yards in four of its last five games -- including 213 to the Seahawks in Week 7. Allgeier should lead the way in Atlanta’s backfield, but Huntley should see ample opportunity with a good matchup.
There’s the obvious concern about Dillon right now. The Packers offense has been bad for most of the year and Dillon himself has been a huge fantasy disappointment. It feels at times like he’s been little more than window dressing, but a deeper look shows that it hasn’t been quite that bad. He’s maintained a steady snap share and had double-digit touches in two of his last three games.
That could be important this week against the Lions. Detroit remains one of the worst defenses in the league, especially against the run. The Lions have allowed more than 150 rushing yards per game with 13 touchdowns -- only the Bears have allowed more. With a passing game that has sputtered this year, Green Bay could lean on the run game. That means Dillon could provide a solid complement to Aaron Jones in Week 9.
Yes, we all love D’Andre Swift. For good reason. He’s been a focal point of the Detroit offense all season long. But let’s not overlook the season-long contributions of Williams. He’s rushed for 50 or more yards in six straight games with eight rushing touchdowns. Only Nick Chubb has more.
This week, he gets a shot at the Packers team that employed him for four seasons. It’s a defense that has been mediocre overall and less than mediocre against the run. In the last four weeks, Green Bay has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to running backs. In a game that figures to remain close throughout, game script shouldn’t be an issue. That means Williams should still see plenty of touches.
Halloween might be over, but there are still names rising from the fantasy grave. Last season, Marshall had big sleeper vibes. The hope was that he could carve out enough of a role in a Panthers offense looking for more receiving help to be a viable option. What we got was 17 catches for 138 yards and no touchdowns. Womp womp. But in the wake of Robbie (Robby?) Anderson’s trade to Arizona, Marshall has been given another chance and seems to be making the most of it. Over Carolina’s past two games, Marshall has played 90% of the snaps and run routes on 95% of the dropbacks. In that time, he’s already surpassed last year’s meager yardage total.
There’s a chance for him to add to those numbers this week against the Bengals. Cincinnati on paper looks like a tough matchup, but this Bengals defense is dealing with injuries to its secondary. The big blow came last week with Chidobe Awuzie suffering a torn ACL, which will keep him out for the remainder of the season. D.J. Moore’s recent resurgence could mean he gains more attention, opening up opportunities for Marshall.
Palmer was an early-season deep league darling, in part because we wanted so many pieces of the Chargers passing game. The early-season returns were predictably volatile. In part because it’s the nature of wide receivers not named Cooper Kupp. And also, because it’s the nature of being an ancillary option in a passing game. Because of a concussion, he wasn’t able to build off a nine-catch effort against the Broncos in Week 7. Now he’s back -- just in time for the Chargers, who will be missing Mike Williams and possibly Keenan Allen.
It's also just in time for a great matchup against the Falcons. No team has allowed more yards to receivers than the Dirty Birds. Atlanta has also given up 12 touchdowns receptions, second only to the Steelers. If the Chargers are indeed going to be without their top two targets, there should be plenty of chances for Palmer to make plays against a shaky secondary.
Sorta like predicting the end of the world, if we keep saying Toney is going to do a thing, we’re going to eventually be right. Right? Maybe not. But it feels like the arrow is pointing in the right direction. What happened between Toney and the Giants remains a mystery, despite the cryptic tweets and veiled messages. Regardless, he finds himself in a better offense with a better quarterback and a head coach who knows how to put players in position to succeed.
This is a perfect week to take the offense’s new wheels for a spin. The Chiefs are coming off a bye -- a time when Andy Reid is usually at his best. And they face a Titans defense that has been victimized by opposing receivers this season. Toney is a deep sleeper at best and might have more appeal in a GPP contest, but it could be fun to watch.
It hasn’t been a secret that Rodgers is less than thrilled with his cast of pass-catchers lately. That means he’s more likely to lean on the players that he trusts. Enter Tonyan. He hasn’t been a spectacular option, but he has been reliable. It’s been said plenty of times … when it comes to fantasy tight ends, you’re aiming more for the floor than the ceiling. In Tonyan’s case, that floor has been around nine points.
He could find the floor against the Lions this week, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends. Allen Lazard is expected to return for Green Bay this week, but that doesn’t completely solve their pass-catching issues. That means Tonyan could be left to pick up the slack.
Fant has never lived up to the expectations set for him when he was drafted, though he isn’t fully to blame for his underproduction. Things haven’t gotten much better since his trade to Seattle. Though he did find some success a few weeks ago in the Seahawks’ first meeting with the Cardinals.
Those two teams connect again this week. This might be a little bit of point chasing. But it’s also banking on a player who is playing the most snaps and running the most routes from the tight end position. This week’s matchup figures to be a bit higher scoring than the last time they met. That should mean more opportunities for anyone streaming Fant.
Marcas Grant is a fantasy analyst for NFL.com and a man who should probably mix in a salad. Send him your best-laid dietary plansor fantasy football questions on Twitter @MarcasG or TikTok at marcasgrant.