We’ve officially reached Week 9, which means a lot of you are probably in ‘must-win’ situations. We have you covered with our Studs, Duds and Sleepers.
Stud: Cam Newton – Newton has thrown two or more touchdown passes in six-straight games. He has 17 touchdowns on the season (four rushing) and is going up against a soft Tampa Bay defense. The Buccaneers have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.
Dud: Deshaun Watson – Watson was great last week and threw five touchdown passes. I expect him to take a step back against a formidable defense in Denver and without Will Fuller. Yes, the Texans traded for Demaryius Thomas, but will he have an impact in his first game? Watson is a low-end QB1 for me this week.
Sleeper: Baker Mayfield – The Browns fired their top two offensive minds earlier this week, but that could be good for Mayfield, at least in the short term. The young players on this roster should respond to it, Rashard Higgins is expected to return to the lineup and the Kansas City Chiefs have one of the worst defenses in all of football.
Stud: Kareem Hunt – Hunt has been a fantasy stud for most of the season, but he hasn’t topped 100 rushing yards since Week 4. That should change this week against a Browns’ defense that is allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.
Dud: James Conner – Conner has been great, but fantasy owners should expect him to take a step back this week. He’s going up against the same Baltimore defense that held him to 19 yards on nine attempts in Week 4. Avoid him in daily leagues and expect RB2 numbers from him in season-long leagues.
Sleeper: Latavius Murray – Murray has four touchdowns in his last three games. He’s scorching hot and that could continue on Sunday against the Lions. Detroit is allowing 139 yards rushing per game.
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Stud: Jarvis Landry – The Browns’ offense is far from great, but Landry has the second-most targets in the NFL through eight weeks. That should continue this week against a Kansas City defense that has allowed the third-most receiving yards per game. Landry is a borderline WR1 for Week 9.
Dud: Josh Gordon – It still feels like Gordon is more of a decoy than he is a threat. Yes, he had 100+ yards receiving in Week 7, but he’s far from a sure thing. He’s nothing more than a WR3 against an underrated Packers’ secondary.
Sleeper: Courtland Sutton – Sutton is averaging over 19 yards per reception and will take over as the number two receiver after the Demaryius Thomas trade. He doesn’t have a great matchup against Houston, but is worth adding in all formats and is a sneaky flex option for Week 9.
Stud: Jordan Reed – Reed had a season-high 12 targets last week and finished with seven receptions for 38 yards. If he was going to break out, it would be this week against a struggling Falcons’ defense. Atlanta is allowing 307 passing yards per game. Reed is a TE1.
Dud: Rob Gronkowski – ‘Gronk’ is struggling a bit and hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1. He was targeted eight times last week, but he only had three receptions. It’s hard to bench him, but I’m staying away in daily leagues and I’d even consider shopping him to see if someone will pay a premium price for him.
Sleeper: Vance McDonald – McDonald has been inconsistent all season long, but he has shown his ability. The Steelers will lean on the pass this week against Baltimore. That could mean a big day for McDonald since the Ravens have given up the 11th most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
Stud: Chicago – They’ve been a top fantasy defense all season and will likely play against Nathan Peterman. Yes, the same Nathan Peterman that threw all of those interceptions last year. The Bears’ defense should have a huge day in Buffalo.
Dud: Carolina – Some may pick them up to go against Tampa Bay, but it’s too risky for me. Ryan Fitzpatrick can score points in bunches in this offense, the Buccaneers are at home and looking to rebound from a four turnover performance. Tampa Bay should have a good showing against Carolina this week.
Sleeper: Dallas – They’ve only forced six turnovers this season, but they’re at home, against a below-average offense and they should add to their 19 sacks on the season.