Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire
Welcome to Week Nine, dear reader, I am Brennen Gorman and I am in charge of our On the Bubble column. These articles will focus on bubble and bench players that could make an impact this week, even if they might not make an impact every week, and on bubble and bench players that might not make an impact this week.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay Buccaneers [ESPN Own: 48% / Start: 6%]: Ryan Fitzpatrick is back after Jameis Winston blew up in Week Eight. Fitzpatrick nearly brought Tampa Bay back from the brink in the fourth quarter and has been astounding nearly every week this season. Fitzpatrick is a strong play in Week Nine in Tampa Bay’s high volume offense.
Mitch Trubisky, Chicago Bears [ESPN Own: 73% / Start: 45%]: Mitch Trubisky has hit a groove and been productive since Week Four. Buffalo has a solid pass defense, but Trubisky should be throwing it for most of the day – the volume should give Trubisky value, even if Allen Robinson is still injured.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks [ESPN Own: 85% / Start: 35%]: Los Angeles, with the exception of the Rams and Chiefs, completely stopped opposing quarterbacks this season. Seattle is a run-first offense and Wilson is likely only good for about 150 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns. Even if a BYE filled week, there are better options to roll with.
Start: Running Backs
Doug Martin, Oakland Raiders [ESPN Own: 53% / Start: 28%]: In the absence of Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin rose back to relevance. Martin will be a streaming back and in Week Nine against San Francisco is a viable flex play. Jalen Richard should only take passes with Martin carrying the workload.
Matt Brieda, San Francisco 49ers [ESPN Own: 78% / Start: 28%]: On the flip side, a healthy Matt Brieda is well worth the start against a poor Oakland run defense. San Francisco is without an identity on offense and Brieda is as close to a star player as the team has this year.
Sit: Running Backs
LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills [ESPN Own: 93% / Start: 50%]: LeSean McCoy has only eclipsed 40 yards rushing twice this season and has battled injuries most weeks. Buffalo is playing an unstoppable Chicago defense and in standard leagues is unlikely to merit a flex play in Week Nine.
Start: Wide Receivers
Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers [ESPN Own: 85% / Start: 50%]: Devin Funchess saw season-low targets (3) in Week Eight, against a porous Tampa Bay secondary that should change in Week Nine. The emergence of D.J. Moore is of some concern for Funchess owners moving forward, but there should be more than enough targets to go around this week.
Taylor Gabriel, Chicago Bears [ESPN Own: 58% / Start: 26%]: Taylor Gabriel is still averaging slightly over six targets per game and if Allen Robinson misses this week Gabriel could be in line for more starts against a big game in Buffalo.
Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos [ESPN Own: 40% / Start: 6%]: The trade of Demaryius Thomas opened the door for Courtland Sutton to take the reigns in Denver. Sutton was averaging four targets per game – that should rise to at least seven per game moving forward – driving Sutton’s floor up.
Sit: Wide Receivers
Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks [ESPN Own: 84% / Start: 40%]: As with Russell Wilson, this is a poor matchup for Doug Baldwin who has yet to put together a fantasy relevant week this season – a far cry from the top-15 season a year prior. While Baldwin’s previous injury could still be lingering, he is not worthy of a start in Week Nine.
Start: Tight Ends
O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers [ESPN Own: 75% / Start: 46%]: O.J. Howard has been back and forth, week-to-week in this column – for the first time yet, his upside is not just what he makes of his small target share. Week Nine against a Carolina defense that has let up the most fantasy points to tight ends sets up a great matchup for Howard.
Sit: Tight Ends
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins [ESPN Ownership: 91% / Start: 62%]: Jordan Reed has been ineffectively used this year and although he had season-high targets in Week Eight, has yet to string together enough of those games to be starter worthy. Even in Week Eight with seven receptions, Reed produced only 38 yards and no touchdowns.
Dallas Cowboys D/ST [ESPN Own: 44% / Start: 10%]: As with most defenses – their streams are matchup dependent. Tennessee, despite its great defense, has put together a low scoring offense that has the second-fewest total offensive yards.
Carolina Panthers D/ST [ESPN Own: 60% / Start: 38%]: Tampa Bay, for all of its defensive woes, has averaged 32 points a game and the third-highest total offensive yards of any team. Carolina has a decent defense, but is unlikely to weather the Tampa Bay storm.