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Fantasy football start/sit for Week 9: Players you need to play

Who should, and should not, be in your lineup

Detroit Lions v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Bye weeks can be a killer in fantasy football, whether it’s due to a chunk of your roster missing the same week or a bye week just limiting the potential pool of players. I can’t say anything for how the former has hit you personally this week, but it’s definitely one of the latter. Week 9 is one of two six-team byes this season, so it’s possible your start-sit decisions are a little more desperate than usual this week. That’s OK, a lot of us are going to be in the same boat. Here’s this week’s start/sit:

Running back

Start: Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks

Seattle is the most run-heavy team in the league and the only team with a run-rate above 50 percent. Chris Carson is the lead back because he’s the best back and he’ll face a defense that’s 21st in DVOA against the run. Last week he got 25 carries against the Lions that resulted in 105 yards and a touchdown. He’s gone over 100 yards on the ground in three of his past four games.

[Sunday morning update: Carson is a game-time decision in a late afternoon game. I’d still start him if he’s a go, but make sure you have an available alternative if he can’t].

Start: Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears

Howard’s usage hasn’t been ideal this season, but he’ll be the top runner on a team favored by a lot of points against a team starting Nathan Peterman at quarterback. With a lead of 10 or more, Chicago runs 53 percent of the time. They should have a lead of 10 or more quite often. 56 percent of Howard’s carries this season have come when the Bears are leading. This should be a perfect game script for heavy usage from Howard.

Sit: LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills

Take everything said about Howard and make it the opposite. McCoy isn’t likely to run much unless the Bills go full Wildcat in this game. The Bills do stick to the run, relatively, when they’re down by 10 or more but even though they’re the third-most run-heavy team in those situations, it’s still just 36 percent. McCoy does get more involved in the passing game when the Bills are behind, but still, he only has 24 targets when trailing this season.

Sit: Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns

We can all hope Duke Johnson’s usage increases under new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens. Unfortunately, we shouldn’t just assume that’s going to be the case in the first game. Johnson has yet to eclipse 10 touches in any game this season. And while the Chiefs have given up the third-most fantasy points to running backs this season, it’s more likely Nick Chubb will be the back who takes the majority of the snaps and carries.

Wide receiver

Start: Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions

The Golden Tate trade cleared the way for more Kenny Golladay and we should all be happy for more Kenny Golladay. Golladay has three targets combined over the past two games, but with Tate now gone, he’ll get pushed into the No. 2 role. And you should hope Golladay is treated as the No. 2 by the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings have a huge split against No. 1 receivers (no. 1 in DVOA) and No. 2’s (26th in DVOA). That difference is caused by Xavier Rhodes, who shadows the opponent’s top pass catcher. In past games against Detroit, that’s been Marvin Jones and if that’s the case again Golladay could have even more potential in the offense.

Start: Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks

Tyler Lockett has been a touchdown machine this season. He’s scored in six of Seattle’s seven games. Some of those come from where you’d expect. He’s now the team leader in red zone targets (four) with Brandon Marshall (five) released and that’s resulted in two touchdowns. He’s also a big play threat on the receiving end of deep Russell Wilson passes. Now that Seattle has figured out its play-action passing game — they run the third-most play-action and average the second-highest yards per play off it — Lockett could continue to be a consistent threat for the remainder of the season, especially against a Chargers secondary that has struggled this season.

Sit: DeSean Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

If you have Jackson on your roster, he probably won you a few games early in the season. Don’t hold onto that and assume the magic (Fitz or otherwise) will return with the quarterback change. Jackson hasn’t cleared 100 yards receiving since Week 4 and his three-catch, 68-yard effort with a touchdown last week took eight targets to accomplish. He’ll go against a Panthers secondary that has continued to improve and has given up the 10th-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers.

Sit: Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons

Ridley has cooled off since his hot three-week stretch at the start of the season. He’s still second on the team in red zone targets (five) but he’s either the No. 3 or 4 target in the offense behind Julio Jones, Austin Hooper, and occasionally Mohamed Sanu. Atlanta moves all of its receivers around on the field, so everyone gets in the slot, but if Ridley plays there often this week, he’ll have a tough matchup against Fabian Moreau, who has been Washington’s best cornerback this season.

Tight end

Start: Whoever you got.

There are six total teams on a bye this week and tight ends on those rosters include Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle, Zach Ertz, and Evan Engram. If you’re deep enough that you have a tight end decision to make, good for you. Most of us are not.