Unfortunately, our fantasy football guru Chris Cheetam is busy with midterms and is unable to write this week. I hope my attempt to cover the subject turns out to be half as good as the commentary Chris has every week.

Last week was headlined by huge outbursts from a number of players, including the two Aarons from Green Bay: QB Aaron Rodgers (32.5 points) and RB Aaron Jones (37 points). Tampa Bay WR Mike Evans (36.5 points), 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (36.5 points), Texans QB Deshaun Watson (33.5 points), and Rams WR Cooper Kupp (31.5 points) also had spectacular weeks. With a number of favorable matchups for various players, we could see another set of outbursts for this weekend. 

Favorites: 

QB-Matthew Stafford (DET): Stafford has been hot of late with 706 yards and seven touchdowns in the last two weeks. Matt Patricia has moved away from his run first mentality since the injury of promising back Kerryon Johnson. This weekend, the Lions travel to Oakland to take on the Raiders. Oakland allows over 27 ppg to fantasy quarterbacks, which is second-most in the league. The injury-riddled Detroit defense has given up over 420 yards per game, which means the Lions are going to have to outscore the Raiders to win. With a very favorable matchup and a big load of the offense to carry, Stafford is one of the best QB1 options this weekend.   My Projection: 25.6 Points

RB-Dalvin Cook (MIN): Even with the Vikings airing it out more in recent weeks, Cook has managed to total at least 16 carries and one touchdown in every game but one. His pass-catching ability out of the backfield allows him to be involved in the game in any situation. There is no simpler way to put this: Cook is a pure workhorse. The matchup against a Chiefs defense who was just torched by RBs Aaron Jones and Jamal Williams both on the ground and through the air sets up a huge day for Cook.   My Projection: 23.1 Points

WR-Amari Cooper (DAL): Dallas’ passing game runs through Cooper, who has 38 receptions for 628 yards and five touchdowns on the year. The former Crimson Tide standout faces a Giants defense that is only a little behind the Eagles in allowing the most WR points in fantasy. In fact, the Giants have allowed a 100-yard receiver in five of their eight games this season. In his previous matchup with the Giants, Cooper had six receptions for 106 yards and one touchdown. Cooper should be locked into your lineups as a strong WR1 for this weekend.  My Projection: 18 Points

TE-Hunter Henry (LAC): In just three weeks since returning from injury, Henry has been targeted a whopping 23 times, hauling in 18 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns. The Chargers have made it their priority to get the 6’5, 24-year-old, 250lb tight end involved, especially in the red zone. The Packers allow the eighth most fantasy points to tight ends this season, and most recently allowed Travis Kelce to score 14 points. Darren Waller also compiled 27.5 points two weeks ago. Sheer volume and Henry’s redzone presence makes him one of the best starts at the tight end position for Week 9.   My Projection: 13.7 Points 

Least Favorites: 

QB-Baker Mayfield (CLE): The 2017 Heisman Trophy Winner has had a horrid start to the year. If Sam Darnold is seeing ghosts, then what is Baker seeing? Through eight weeks, Mayfield has a disgusting 57.6 completion percentage with 6 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions. In fact, Mayfield is tied with the Jameis Winston for the most interceptions in the NFL. This Sunday, the turnover machine faces the Broncos, who are the fourth best passing defense in the NFL. Avoid starting Mayfield at all costs, if you still have him on your team for any odd reason.   My Projection: 14.8 Points

RB-Chris Carson (SEA): The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense is weird. The Bucs allow the second most passing yards per game, but somehow are the NFL’s best run defense, only allowing 68.6 rushing yards per game. In two meetings against the Bucs, the top running back in fantasy, Christian McCaffrey, was only able to scrape together 69 yards on 38 carries. Despite the amount of carries Carson gets week in and week out, Carson is only worthy of a flex play at most this week.   My Projection: 9.2 Points

WR-Courtland Sutton (DEN): With Emmanuel Sanders off to San Francisco, many hoped that Sutton would only improve on what has already been an impressive sophomore campaign. The injury to starting quarterback Joe Flacco, who Sutton developed a strong rapport with, should scare fantasy owners. The Broncos will be rolling out with Brandon Allen, a former 2016 sixth round pick out of Arkansas who has yet to play in an NFL game. Sutton is also the clear number one with Sanders gone, a role he struggled with towards the end of last year when Sanders was out with an injury. It is best to keep Sutton out of all lineups and might be worth trading at this point. My Projection: 6.4 Points

TE-Zach Ertz (PHI): Ertz has been one of the biggest fantasy disappointments this year. Coming off a career year in which he set an NFL record for catches by a tight end in a season with 116, expectations were high before this season. Through eight weeks, Ertz only has one touchdown and averages a lowly 7.9 ppg. Dallas Goedert has had a mini-breakout in the past two weeks (91 yards and two touchdowns) that should put fear in fantasy owners. The Bears have been generous, giving up a little over 13 ppg to tight ends, but the lack of red zone targets and the emergence of Goedert forces owners to look elsewhere at the tight end position. My Projection: 5.7 Points

Players You Need to Trade Before It’s Too Late:

  1. Chris Carson RB (SEA): Carson has given fantasy owners a great year, ranking eighth at his position. In Seattle’s run-first offense, Carson gets plenty of volume, averaging almost 20 carries a game. However, Carson has some brutal matchups coming up against the Bucs, 49ers, Eagles, and Vikings. All four teams rank top 11 in the league’s best run defenses. Trade Carson while his value is high.
  2. Patriots D/ST: This Patriots defense has been on a historic run, averaging an absurd 24.4 ppg, which makes them more valuable than any position players. While the players do deserve some major credit, part of this result is due to the level of competition New England has faced. The second half of the season will get increasingly tougher for Coach Belicheck’s crew with matchups against the Ravens, Cowboys, Texans, and Chiefs, who all rank in the top five in offense. Although it may be tough to part with a defense this good, production is bound to fall and you could get a massive haul in return.
  3. Austin Ekeler RB (LAC): Since Melvin Gordon has returned, Ekeler’s role has been limited to a pass-catcher only. While Ekeler has great talent receiving out of the backfield  with 51 receptions for 507 yards, he is simply not on the field enough snaps to be used as a starting RB anymore. He could be an intriguing flex play every week, but his past numbers, and number four position rank could be enough to fool anyone into a favorable trade.