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START/BENCH: Week 9

We’re in the thick of it now.

We haven’t quite reached the fantasy playoff stretch run yet. But we’re past midway. While some teams are already concerning themselves with playoff positioning and earning a week off to start the postseason, there are plenty of fantasy owners sitting at 5-3, 4-4 or even 3-5 who are fighting for their postseason lives.

And as is the case every season, problems just keep piling up. Maybe you invested an early pick in Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes, only to see him dislocate his kneecap in Week 7. Or you rostered Detroit tailback Kerryon Johnson only to see a knee injury end his 2019 season. Or your wide receiver corps was anchored by New England’s Josh Gordon and Denver’s Courtland Sutton. One’s done for the year, the other just lost his quarterback.

Or maybe you just happen to have a bunch of players on bye just in time to face a 7-1 team that has a full complement of players at their disposal, because of course they do.

Life just ain’t fair sometimes. In fact, it can be a real nightmare.

Whatever the reason, you need to milk your starting lineup for every point possible. You can’t afford to have any guys fall flat in Week 9. You need players who are going to show up and ball out.

You need help. And that’s why I’m here.

Of course, plenty of people say that I need help, too. But I reckon that’s a problem for another day.

Week 9 brings with it a four-team bye week — Atlanta, Cincinnati, the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans are all off. No Julio Jones, Tyler Boyd, Cooper Kupp or Michael Thomas this week — and that’s just at wide receiver.

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (vs. Minnesota) (INJURED)

Deshaun Watson, Houston (vs. Jacksonville – London)

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (vs. New England)

Russell Wilson, Seattle (vs. Tampa Bay)

Matt Ryan, Atlanta (Bye Week) (INJURED)

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (at Los Angeles Chargers)

SPOT-START OF THE WEEK

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco (at Arizona)

San Francisco is the NFC’s last undefeated team, but that’s had a lot more to do with the team’s defense and ground game than anything quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has done — he hasn’t thrown for more than 250 yards since Week 3 and has less than 200 passing yards in three of his last four games. But as Nick Wagoner reported for ESPN, that’s just fine with the 27-year-old.

“I want to win,” Garoppolo said. “At the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to. Just whatever it takes. There are different ways to win in this league. Every game’s going to be different depending on what the defense does, what their offense does even and how it affects us. At the end of the day, it’s did you win or did you lose? That’s all I care about.”

On Thursday night, San Francisco faces an Arizona team that San Francisco hasn’t beaten since the 2014 season. That streak’s likely about to end. So might Garoppolo’s statistical dry spell — no team in the NFL has allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks this year in Sharks League scoring than Arizona.

ROLL THEM OUT

Derek Carr, Oakland (vs. Detroit)

With Drew Brees, Jared Goff and Matt Ryan on a bye this week, plenty of folks need a spot-starter at quarterback. Carr gets a matchup with the NFL’s worst pass defense and a Detroit team that has given up the eighth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville (vs. Houston – London)

Might as well keep rolling out the spot-starter recommendations. Minshew’s coming off one of the better starts of his admittedly brief NFL career against the New York Jets and draws a Houston team whose secondary is a mess.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit (at Oakland)

It’s happened rather quietly, but Stafford is eighth among quarterbacks in fantasy points per game this year. Kerryon Johnson’s out, Oakland is last in the AFC in pass defense and first in fantasy points surrendered to signal-callers. What’s not to like?

SIT THEM DOWN

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland (at Denver)

Remember when Cleveland was going to the playoffs, Mayfield was going to be a surefire breakout superstar in 2019 and fantasy owners drafted him inside the Top 5 at his position? Yeah, that all worked out just like we predicted.

Kyler Murray, Arizona (vs. San Francisco)

Just in case you haven’t noticed, here’s a news flash — San Francisco has a good defense. Really good. Really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really good.

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia (vs. Chicago)

Philadelphia got back on track last week in Buffalo, but rode its run game to a win in that one. Wentz barely ranks inside the Top 15 in fantasy points among quarterbacks this year and faces a Chicago team Sunday that ranks outside the Top 25 in fantasy points allowed to the position.

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 an nine-time FSWA Award finalist and three-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award each of the last four years. He won the honor in 2017 and 2019. 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.