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START/BENCH: Week 9

It’s a pivotal week in the 2018 NFL season — both in the league itself and in fantasy football.

With Wednesday’s trade deadline, we saw a number of fantasy-relevant players change teams. Golden Tate will now be catching passes from Carson Wentz in Philadelphia. Demaryius Thomas was acquired by Houston — ostensibly as a replacement for the injured Will Fuller. And after his return gaffe last week against the Los Angeles Rams, Ty Montgomery now finds himself in Baltimore as a member.

Oops.

While we’re on the subject of “oops” and the Houston Texans, a certain half-witted fantasy analyst recommended sitting Deshaun Watson last week in an unfavorable matchup with Miami.

Watson proceeded to throw five touchdown passes in a 42-23 win.

You win some, you lose some. I blew it. Bigly. Like Ty Montgomery blew it. Tony Holm was going to trade me, but the best offer was a box of Shredded Wheat. They wouldn’t even throw in the frosted kind.

Who in God’s name can eat that garbage without frosting?

Anyway, here I am again, wiping the egg off my face and attempting to redeem myself in a pivotal Week 9. Not only are many fantasy owners trying desperately to keep their floundering seasons from imploding completely, but with six teams (Arizona, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New York and Philadelphia) on a bye, there are that many more holes in fantasy lineups.

That includes Tate — for a second bye week this season.

So, all I have to do is attempt to redeem myself during the most difficult week of the season while rosters across the NFL are being remade on the fly.

Maybe Tony should have taken the cereal.

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

SPOT-START OF THE WEEK

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland (vs. Kansas City)

Per Andrew Gribble of the team’s website, Cleveland general manager John Dorsey doesn’t expect the coaching shake-up in Cleveland to negatively impact Mayfield’s development as a quarterback.

“The whole scheme is the same. The quarterbacks coach (Ken Zampese) is the same. I think he has a great familiarity with Freddie (Kitchens) there,” Dorsey said. “I think it is a personal relationship that he made have had with Todd (Haley), but I think the everyday relationship that he has with his quarterback coach is really big in the development of it, and he and Gregg (Williams) have a fairly good relationship, too.”

The way I see it, one of two things is going to happen Sunday when Kansas City visits Cleveland. Either the shake-up is going to light a fire under a struggling Cleveland offense, or the wheels are going to come completely off the bus. I have enough confidence in Mayfield’s mental toughness to lean toward the latter —especially against a Kansas City defense allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. But if Mayfield falters in Week 9, you won’t be seeing his name in this space again this season.

ROLL THEM OUT

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay (at Carolina)

Carolina is only a middle-of-the-pack fantasy matchup (15th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks) but Fitzpatrick is back under center — in every game the 35-year-old has started and finished this season he’s thrown for at least 400 yards and three touchdowns.

Jared Goff, L.A. Rams (at New Orleans)

An argument can be made that Goff’s earned a spot on the “Studs” list, and after this week I may have to boot someone else to clear a spot for him — Sunday’s huge NFC showdown with New Orleans has shootout written all over it.

Alex Smith, Washington (vs. Atlanta)

Smith’s not exactly lighting it up for 5-2 Washington — he ranks outside the Top 20 fantasy quarterbacks for the season. However, this week he may have to throw more than usual to keep up with Atlanta’s high-octane offense, and the Atlanta defense is essentially non-existent.

SIT THEM DOWN

Philip Rivers, L.A. Chargers (at Seattle)

The Chargers are winning, but it’s been without huge numbers from Rivers, who is 14th among quarterbacks in fantasy points per game. This week’s matchup in Seattle is tough — no team has allowed fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2018.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (at Baltimore)

Roethlisberger fractured a finger in last week’s win over Cleveland, but he’s expected to play Sunday in Baltimore. The bigger concern is a Week 9 matchup with a Baltimore defense that’s 31st in fantasy points given up to signal-callers that held Roethlisberger in check back in Week 4.

Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago (at Buffalo)

At first glance, Trubisky might appear a good spot-start against a bad Buffalo team Sunday. But Buffalo’s defense isn’t the problem — the defense ranks 29th in fantasy points allowed to the position and just held Tom Brady out of the end zone a week ago.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is a seven-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who was named the organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year for 2017. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.