Heading into Week 9, here are the best picks for another packed weekend of NFL action (in PPR leagues, unless otherwise noted).
Boom: DeVante Parker
Parker against the Texans is one of the safer plays of this week, in my opinion. He has a decent floor, with at least four catches in every game this year, and he’s had consecutive solid weeks in fantasy. Despite sharing a 1-7 record with the Texans, the Dolphins still feel like a better team, and I think that will show this week, with Parker being a prime beneficiary.
Bust: Adrian Peterson
With the injury of Derrick Henry, the Titans have signed Peterson, and he’s expected to make his debut in Tennessee in Week 9. AP is one of the greatest running backs of all time. With Henry out, he’s an interesting play for the rest of the season who could very well become a big red-zone touchdown scorer for the Titans. However, it’s his first week, and they’re playing the Los Angeles Rams, who just added Von Miller. I wouldn’t count on AP’s career as a Titan getting off to a huge start in those conditions.
Boom: Michael Pittman Jr.
Pittman Jr. delivered in a big way in Week 8, and I think for the rest of the season he’ll continue to be one of the top options in fantasy. He brought in two touchdowns against Tennessee, and I think Carson Wentz will continue to take deep shots at Pittman, giving him a handful of 50-50 balls each game. With his size and stature, I have confidence in Pittman to turn those into 75-25 balls and reel some in.
Bust: James Robinson
Robinson suffered an injury last week that kept him sidelined for the rest of the game. While he’s expected to be back this week, it’s a tough situation for him. Coming back from an injury, I would expect him to split carries with Carlos Hyde. They’re also facing one of the league’s top run defenses in the Buffalo Bills. JRob could still have a good week, particularly if he returns to his pre-injury form, where he had four consecutive games with touchdowns. But relying on a touchdown for fantasy value is a risky move, and not one I love in this matchup.
Boom: Van Jefferson
Jefferson has emerged as a viable fantasy candidate on the Los Angeles Rams. While it’s hard to carve out a role on a team with Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods at wide receiver, Jefferson has emerged as a deep-threat guy on the team. His unexpected development most likely played a role in their decision to part ways with DeSean Jackson this week. If the Rams are trying to tell Jefferson that he is their go-to deep guy moving forward, I’d expect them to test that out against a weak Titan secondary in Week 9. It’s a risky play, more suited for larger leagues, but if you have a spot you need to fill this week, he might be your guy.
Best value bets
(Using FOX Sports odds at time of writing. Disclaimer: Picks are merely the opinion of the author. Gambling involves financial risk. The author is not responsible for losses incurred from gambling.)
Arizona Cardinals: Win/cover spread (Spread: -1)
- The Cardinals had a tough loss last week to the depleted Packers, but they are still a 7-1 team with some of the best playmakers in the NFL. The 49ers have not really found their groove yet, and have yet to beat a winning team, with wins against the Bears, Eagles and Lions. They have the talent to keep it competitive and limit Arizona’s offense — just like they did in Week 5 — but Arizona should take home the ‘W.’
Chicago Bears @ Pittsburgh Steelers: Under 40 points
- It’s always a risky choice to bet the under on low lines like this one, but it’s the lowest line of the week for a reason. The Bears and Steelers have two of the lowest-scoring offenses this season, averaging 15.4 and 18.9 points per game, respectively. The Bears have failed to eclipse 20 points in 75% of their games this year, and neither team has broken the 30-point mark once. They also have solid defenses, and in the Steelers’ case, one of the most elite defenses in the NFL. These are gritty teams, and they’ll play a gritty, low-scoring game.
New England Patriots @ Carolina Panthers: Under 41 points*
- For the first time, I’m including an asterisk on a prediction. Christian McCaffrey’s status for Week 9 is still up in the air. If he plays, this is a completely different team, and it completely changes the expected score. However, past experience indicates that if CMC is a question mark the week of, they’re going to choose to leave him out for an extra week. If he’s out, the Panthers’ offense is stagnant, and I’d slam the under.