Friday Five, Week 9

We’re just about the mid-point of the season, heading into Week 9 of 18 in the regular season. We’re also facing one of our most challenging weeks. In addition to injuries and lineup shuffles, the NFL has six teams on a bye this week—the Broncos, Cowboys, 49ers, Browns, Giants and Steelers. That’s a lot of fantasy options, and a lot of teams on a bye. That leaves just 11 games on Sunday, but below are the five games that have caught my eye.

Sunday Early Games:

Los Angeles Chargers (4-3) at Atlanta Falcons (4-4)
The Chargers are fresh off a bye, having lost in Week 7 to the Seahawks. The Chargers began the season with lofty aspirations but struggling with injuries that have had them playing around .500. The team will likely be without Mike Williams, but Keenan Allen should return, which would be a boon to Justin Herbert. The Falcons, meanwhile, are atop the AFC South. The team figured to struggle this season but instead they’re in the playoff hunt. In fact, they’re the only team in their division at .500 or better. That gives this matchup a little juice as both teams need a to help their playoff chances.

Buffalo Bills (6-1) at New York Jets (5-3)
: This will be the second tough divisional matchup in a row for the Jets, who are 5-3 on the season but only 1-3 at home. And this doesn’t figure to improve those numbers as the Bills have looked like the best team in football. Josh Allen is cooking, while the Bills have playmakers all over the offense and defense. It could well be another tough game for second-year quarterback Zach Wilson as the Jets try to get a home divisional win and remain in the thick of the playoff race in the AFC.

Sunday Late Games:

Seattle Seahawks (5-3) at Arizona Cardinals (3-5)
: We’re at the mid-point in the season and the Seahawks are in first place in the AFC West. Better yet, Geno Smith has been a great option in fantasy and for the team. The Cardinals, meanwhile, were a playoff team in 2021 that hasn’t looked like it so far in 2022. The team is 3-5 and while DeAndre Hopkins’ return from suspension gave the pass offense a lift, the team still isn’t where it should be. Add to that the fact that since taking over Kliff Kingsbury’s Cardinals teams have faded in the second half, and this becomes a crucial matchup for both teams. The 49ers are surging and the Seahawks have a tenuous lead, while the Cardinals are on the cusp of slipping out of the race entirely.

Los Angeles Rams (3-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)
In 2021, these were two of the best teams in the NFC, if not football. In 2022, both teams are struggling with injuries—particularly on the offensive line—that have them below .500. This might well be the desperation bowl. The Buccaneers trail the Falcons in the NFC South, with the Rams are starring up at the Seahawks and 49ers in the West. Both teams have talented playmakers and veteran quarterbacks that haven’t clicked yet in 2022. There are only two late window games, but both are compelling and I could see this one being quite a battle.

Sunday Night Game:

Tennessee Titans (5-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)
The Titans are all about the run. The Chiefs are all about the pass. Both teams have a lead in their division and both are chasing the Bills in the AFC. This is a crucial matchup that should be one of the better battles in Week 9. The Titans are hoping to have Ryan Tannehill back after managing a win without him in Week 8. They’ll also be leaning heavily on Derrick Henry. The Chiefs are fresh off a bye, but before that they dismantled the 49ers as both Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Juju Smith-Schuster seemed to come to life. This has the makings of a fun battle of styles for two teams that have lofty post-season aspirations.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.

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