Week 9 of the 2020 NFL season is right around the corner. All games are on schedule as it appears as though COVID-19 will not cause any delays *knocks on wood*. Bye weeks are officially up and running, which means that fantasy football owners are once again looking to their benches for the best wide receiver start/sit options. Antonio Brown should be worth the risk in his first game back, while DJ Chark should stay on your bench.
Antonio Brown, DJ Chark Highlight Fantasy Football Week 9 Wide Receiver Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em
Start: Antonio Brown
For the first time in over a year, Antonio Brown is back on the football field. Last we saw Brown, the former New England Patriot was arguably the top option in New England’s passing attack, despite only joining the team for one week. Brown and quarterback Tom Brady are now in Tampa Bay, and early reports state that the two have a solid on-field chemistry.
With Chris Godwin likely sidelined, Brown should immediately be Brady’s second-favorite target in the passing game. Last week, Brady targeted Jaydon Mickens eight times, so there’s clearly a need for another reliable weapon in this offense. Brown probably won’t put up a massive week, but he should have the target share and talent to justify a flex play.
Sit: DJ Chark
DJ Chark has the volume to be a viable fantasy football option, but there is just too much risk surrounding the former second-round pick. Chark is the WR16 (21st overall) in my weighted opportunity model, but the results just haven’t been there. Entering Week 9, Chark is averaging just 12.2 PPR points per game, and his situation is about to get a lot worse.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew will not play in Week 9, which is bad news for Chark. Minshew isn’t the second-coming of Joe Montana by any stretch of the imagination, but he is capable of getting the ball to Chark. With Minshew sidelined, the Jaguars will turn to either Mike Glennon or undrafted free agent Jake Luton. Chark is a great talent, but this is a situation you should try to avoid at all costs.
Start: Michael Thomas
Michael Thomas has not lived up to expectations this year. The New Orleans Saints superstar wide receiver suffered a high ankle sprain late in Week 1 and hasn’t seen the field since. During his absence, multiple reports leaked regarding possible trades and an overall tension within the locker room. All of this could make one hesitant to start Thomas, but you should ignore that instinct.
The risk of re-injury always exists with a player coming off ankle and hamstring injuries, but Thomas should be relatively safe on that front. Thomas came close to playing last week, but the team didn’t want to risk re-injury. If he’s playing, he’s healthy. When healthy, Thomas has one of the highest and most reliable target shares in football. With Drew Brees clearly struggling to push the ball downfield and Alvin Kamara banged up, look for Thomas to earn his usual high workload during his return to action.
Sit: Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb
Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb both looked like two of the best fantasy football options in the league early in the season. Blessed with a terrible defense and a fantastic quarterback, both players had a WR1 finish in their range of outcomes with Dak Prescott throwing the ball. However, with Prescott and Andy Dalton sidelined, the Cowboys will turn to AAF superstar Garrett Gilbert in Week 9. Gilbert played well for the Orlando Apollos, but the NFL is obviously a much higher level of competition. Both players carry way too much risk to trust in Week 9.
Start: Sterling Shepard
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard has been the unquestioned top option in the passing attack. Since returning to the field, Shepard has recorded 14 receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown on 18 targets. While this relatively underwhelming offense puts a cap on his ceiling, the volume alone makes him a solid flex play, regardless of scoring format.
Sit: DeVante Parker
Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker did his best Mike Evans impersonation last week, hauling in one reception for three yards and a touchdown. This low usage is obviously worrisome, and there is every reason to believe another disappointing outing is on the way. Tua Tagovailoa did not play well during his NFL starting debut, and Miami will probably adopt a run-heavy approach in their Week 9 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.