18 players to start or sit in fantasy football for Week 9

Last week was our most successful start/sit column to date.

Using top-30 finishes, respectively, for running backs and wide receivers and top-12 finishes for quarterbacks and tight ends, we correctly picked 13 of 18 players to play or leave on your bench.

We'll try to keep it rolling in Week 9, the beginning of the second half of the NFL regular season. As always, we try to pick less obvious choices — players fantasy owners might be on the cusp of starting or sitting.

Check out our start 'em, sit 'ems for Week 9 below.

START: Garnder Minshew, QB

Gardner Minshew.
Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Team: Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 9 opponent: vs. Houston Texans

Why you should start him: Minshew Mania continues to roll along. Over his last four games, Minshew is averaging 267 passing yards per game and has 6 touchdowns and 1 interception. He's QB7 in fantasy over that time. The Jaguars are home and face a Texans defense that has allowed top-12 finishes to Jacoby Brissett and Derek Carr the last two weeks.

SIT: Jacoby Brissett, QB

Jacoby Brissett.
Doug McSchooler/AP

Team: Indianapolis Colts

Week 9 opponent: at Pittsburgh Steelers

Why you should sit him: Brissett has been a solid fantasy quarterback, but he's far more productive at home than on the road. The Steelers defense remains solid (9th in DVOA), and we've seen games where the Colts lean on the rush more than the pass (though the Steelers run defense isn't one to target, so it may not be the case here). Brissett isn't a bad start, but don't expect a spectacular line.

START: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB

Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Don Wright/AP

Team: Miami Dolphins

Week 9 opponent: vs. New York Jets

Why you should start him: If you're desperate at QB this week, Fitzpatrick should be serviceable. Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins are back home this week, and they get a Jets team that appears to be falling apart. Fitzpatrick has five touchdowns over the past three weeks (and three interceptions) and could be productive against a Jets defense that was just lit up by the Jaguars. Don't forget: there is a revenge element involved, too, as Fitzpatrick's best season came with the Jets. He finished as QB7 in Week 7 when he played the Bills, another former team.

SIT: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB

Jimmy Garoppolo.
David Zalubowski/AP

Team: San Francisco 49ers

Week 9 opponent: at Arizona Cardinals

Why you should sit him: Some see Garoppolo as a starter this week because the red-hot 49ers are taking on the weak Cardinals defense. We don't see it that way. On the season, Garoppolo is just QB22. Players like Daniel Jones, Andy Dalton, and Derek Carr have been better fantasy options. Garoppolo hasn't thrown for over 250 yards in his last four games, and he has an interception in all but one game this year. Perhaps he puts up passable numbers, but we're not expecting him to finish as a top-10 QB this week.

START: Le'Veon Bell, RB

Le'Veon Bell.
Steve Luciano/AP

Team: New York Jets

Week 9 opponent: at Miami Dolphins

Why you should start him: Bell may be the most disappointing running back taken in the first two or three rounds of fantasy drafts this year, but we think big weeks are ahead. The Dolphins are the worst defense in the league and just bled 145 rushing yards and a touchdown to James Conner in Week 8. For those concerned with Bell's usage after he got just 12 touches last week, Adam Gase, on Wednesday, blamed himself for Bell's usage and said he would use Bell more in the coming games.

SIT: Kenyan Drake, RB

Kenyan Drake.
Ron Schwane/AP

Team: Arizona Cardinals

Week 9 opponent: vs. San Francisco 49ers

Why you should sit him: Drake is now with the Cardinals after being traded from the Dolphins. He gets a start just in time to play … the best defense in the NFC. Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Drake would share touches with the other remaining running backs, as David Johnson and Chase Edmunds remain injured. A time-share against the 49ers defense is about as poor of a script as there can be.

START: Jordan Howard, RB

Jordan Howard.
Adrian Kraus/AP

Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Week 9 opponent: at Chicago Bears

Why you should start him: The Bears aren't really a run defense to fear this season. They rank 13th in rush DVOA and have allowed either a rushing touchdown or over 100 rushing yards in their last four games (Latavius Murray and Josh Jacobs accomplished both against the Bears in that time). With Miles Sanders banged up and either out or limited this week, Howard should get the bulk of the carries at home and may have an opportunity to score.

SIT: Marlon Mack, RB

Marlon Mack.
Michael Conroy/AP

Team: Indianapolis Colts

Week 9 opponent: at Pittsburgh Steelers

Why you should sit him: It's risky to sit a running back as reliable as Mack, but this matchup looks iffy. As mentioned, the Steelers are solid against the run, and they haven't allowed big performances in recent weeks — they shut down the Chargers backfield, allowed 44 yards and a touchdown to Mark Ingram, and 61 yards to Joe Mixon. Mack's fantasy output has been pedestrian when he hasn't scored a touchdown.

START: Melvin Gordon, RB

Melvin Gordon.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty

Team: Los Angeles Chargers

Week 9 opponent: vs. Green Bay Packers

Why you should start him: Many fantasy owners are down on Gordon's lack of production since ending his holdout — this week could be a chance for him to turn it around. Gordon's fantasy point totals have climbed each week in standard scoring. The Packers are allowing almost five yards per carry and have allowed eight rushing touchdowns, second-most in the league. It's unknown what effect the Chargers firing of offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt will have, but we're betting Gordon breaks through this week.

SIT: Lions RBs

Ty Johnson.
Rick Osentoski/AP

Team: Detroit Lions

Week 9 opponent: at Oakland Raiders

Why you should sit him: Fantasy owners rushed to add Ty Johnson after Kerryon Johnson went to the IR, only to have Tra Carson out-gain him last week, with 12 carries for 34 yards to Johnson's seven carries for 25 yards. It's unclear how this back-field will shape up, and this week isn't the time to guess, as the Raiders' rush defense ranks ninth in the league.

START: D.J. Chark, WR

D.J. Chark.
Mike McCarn/AP

Team: Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 9 opponent: vs. Houston Texans

Why you should start him: Most people don't need prompting to start Chark, the WR5 on the season, but here's a reminder anyway. The Texans have been allowing huge fantasy weeks to wide receivers — Tyrell Williams, 3-91-1; Zach Pascal, 6-106-2; TY Hilton, 6-74-1; Tyreek Hill, 5-80-2; Calvin Ridley, 5-88-1. Chark has a great opportunity to put up similar numbers to those players this week.

SIT: Christian Kirk, WR

Christian Kirk.
Jim Mone/AP

Team: Arizona Cardinals

Week 9 opponent: vs. San Francisco 49ers

Why you should sit him: Kirk has 48 targets in five games, an average of over nine per game. If he had played all eight of the Cardinals games this year, he'd be seventh among receivers in targets. He has a great opportunity every week to post big numbers, but we don't think this is the week to play him. The 49ers have been erasing opposing receivers this year. Kyler Murray figures to be under pressure a lot, too, meaning it may be hard to find Kirk.

START: Marvin Jones, WR

Marvin Jones.
Rick Osentoski/AP

Team: Detroit Lions

Week 9 opponent: at Oakland Raiders

Why you should start him: The Raiders rank 29th against the pass this year. While Kenny Golladay is in a position to put up huge fantasy numbers, don't be surprised if Jones finds the end zone or breaks out a big play in this one.

SIT: Kenny Stills, WR

Kenny Stills.
David J. Phillip/AP

Team: Houston Texans

Week 9 opponent: at Jacksonville Jaguars

Why you should sit him: Stills' role in the Texans offense has been a bit tricky to figure out. In Week 7, he had four catches on five targets for 105 yards, an average of 26 yards per catch. The next week, he had three catches on five targets for 22 yards, an average of 4.4 yards per catch. Stills is a risky play against the Jags' seventh-ranked pass defense.

START: Michael Gallup, WR

Michael Gallup.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Team: Dallas Cowboys

Week 9 opponent: at New York Giants

Why you should start him: When the Cowboys faced the Giants in Week 1, Gallup went off for seven catches and 158 yards. Not much has improved for the Giants since, as they rank 28th against the pass. Gallup is also now several weeks removed from knee surgery and should have Amari Cooper in the lineup to help spread the field.

SIT: Alshon Jeffery, WR

Alshon Jeffery.
Matt Rourke/AP

Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Week 9 opponent: vs. Chicago Bears

Why you should sit him: There are two ways to look at Jeffery this year: some could say he's been remarkably consistent, generally producing passable numbers, even in tough matchups. Or you could say that without touchdowns, he's been a letdown, as he's topped 70 receiving yards just once this season. As we said, the Bears aren't a defense to avoid at all costs in fantasy this year, but their pass defense does remain a bit better than their run defense. Without a touchdown, Jeffery has a low ceiling.

START: Jonnu Smith, TE

Jonnu Smith
Ron Schwane/AP

Team: Tennessee Titans

Week 9 opponent: at Carolina Panthers

Why you should start him: Tight end remains very difficult to predict this year, but Smith has a positive outlook this week. Over the last four weeks, Smith has produced 207 yards and 1 score, making him TE9 over the span. According to FantasyPros' Mike Tagliere, the Panthers have allowed four top-12 finishes at tight end this year, making Smith a worthwhile start at a shallow position in fantasy.

SIT: Cameron Brate, TE

Cameron Brate.
Mark LoMoglio/AP

Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 9 opponent: at Seattle Seahawks

Why you should sit him: Even if O.J. Howard is out, Brate offers a low ceiling. He has topped 40 receiving yards just once this season and hasn't had more than three catches in a game. In fact, in his career, Brate only has ten games with 50 or more receiving yards and none since 2017. He's a touchdown-or-bust option.

Now, see where each NFL team falls in our power rankings…

Ben Margot/AP

NFL POWER RANKINGS: Where every team stands heading into Week 9 >

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