Seeing someone in your starting lineup that week struggle is perhaps the most annoying thing about fantasy football. Thus, this article’s logic is straightforward: find fantasy football lineup landmines.
Although you’re leaning toward starting these players this week, they could turn out to be a landmine that blows up and ruins your starting lineup, possibly costing you the matchup.
Get under cover and brace yourself. This week, these six players might blow up in your face.
- Fitzmaurice’s Weekly Rankings for Pat
- Rankings for each week by Andrew Erickson
- Rankings for Derek Brown Every Week
Landmines in Week 9 Fantasy Football Lineups:
Geno Smith (QB, SEA)
Smith had a top-five finish in 2022, but this season he has disappointed. The seasoned quarterback, QB23, scores 13.6 fantasy points on average per game. Smith scored less than 14 fantasy points in every game since Week 4, even though he scored two touchdowns in back-to-back games for the first time this season. In addition, he has only scored more than 15.5 fantasy points in one game this season (against Detroit in Week 2). According to Fantasy Points Data, his completion percentage above expectations decreased by 1.6% between 2022 and 2023, but his off-target throw rate increased by 1.7%. More significantly, Smith has a terrible matchup this week.
The Baltimore Ravens easily defeated the Arizona Cardinals last week despite giving up two passing touchdowns and a rushing score to Joshua Dobbs.
Nevertheless, against prevent coverage, both passing touchdowns occurred late in the fourth quarter. More significantly, even with last week’s showing, the Ravens have limited quarterbacks to just 11.3 fantasy points per game—the fewest in the NFL. Over the first seven weeks of the season, they surrendered just four passing touchdowns, and they gave up none in half of their games. Instead of starting Smith, fantasy players should search the waiver wire for Derek Carr.
RB Tony Pollard (DAL)
Pollard must be disappointing to fantasy football players. The former star of Memphis was a favorite pick in the late first or early second round. With an average of 12.2 half-point PPR fantasy points per game, he is only the RB18 for the entire season. Regretfully, the veteran has not been doing well lately.
With an average of just 8.5 fantasy points per game and 3.5 yards per rushing attempt over the last five weeks, Pollard is the RB34. However, because of his intriguing upcoming schedule, I have the star running back on my buy-low list. But first, he faces the NFC East division leaders in a lopsided match on Sunday.
The league’s best run defense is arguably that of the Philadelphia Eagles. They’ve limited running backs to the fewest fantasy points per game in the NFL—just 12 points. This season, against Philadelphia, running backs have only once amassed more than 64 rushing yards. They have given up the sixth-fewest yards after contact per rushing attempt, according to Fantasy Points Data.The passing game is the only way to defeat the Eagles, and opposing teams have come to that realization. So if you have to start Pollard this week, lower your expectations for him.
Dameon Pierce, HOU-RB
Last week, many had great expectations for Piece and the Houston rushing attack. The Texans faced the Carolina Panthers in an ideal matchup, despite their season-long struggles. Prior to last week’s game against Houston, the NFC South bottom-dwellers had conceded at least two rushing touchdowns in all but one of their previous games. They had allowed running backs to gain 134.3 yards, 1.8 touchdowns, and 31.5 half-point PPR fantasy points per game.
Pierce, however, averaged just 3.8 yards per rushing attempt, scored 4.6 fantasy points in the defeat, and had two rushing touchdowns intercepted by teammates.
Regretfully, Pierce is not someone fantasy players should trust going forward. Moreover, following his performance last week, the second-year running back is practically droppable. More significantly, in Week 9, Pierce won’t have a strong rebounding game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the fourth-worst team in the NFL at limiting running backs to 14.6 half-point PPR fantasy points per game. They are now just the second team, along with the Atlanta Falcons, to have allowed no rushing touchdown to running backs this year. Pierce should hopefully fall in the end zone, saving his fantasy football game. Otherwise, this will be the sixth time this year that fantasy players get single-digit fantasy points.
Smith, DeVonta (WR – PHI)
Smith has been a disaster in fantasy football after starting the first two weeks as the WR6, averaging 17.7 half-point PPR fantasy points per game. With an average of 8.4 fantasy points per game over the last six weeks, the former Alabama standout has been the WR42. Moreover, since Week 2, he has scored fewer than seven fantasy points in every game except the two against the Washington Commanders. Smith scored 19.4 fantasy points against Washington last week, which may have convinced many that he had finally hit his stride. Nevertheless, the receiver would have only scored 9.1 fantasy points if not for the wide-open blown coverage 38-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Dallas Cowboys, on the other hand, have only allowed wide receivers to score 21.4 fantasy points per game, which is the second-fewest in the NFL.This season, they have given up less than 21 fantasy points in half of their games. Additionally, against the Cowboys, wide receivers have only scored four receiving touchdowns, which is the third fewest in the league. A.J. Brown has averaged 11.2 targets per game since Week 2, seeing 13 or more in half of the games. In contrast, since Week 2, Smith has averaged seven targets per game. The former Alabama player will have difficulty unless Dallas’ secondary performs as badly as Washington’s did last week.
Brown Marquise (WR – ARI)
Brown had a strong start to the season. With an average of 12.7 half-point PPR fantasy points per game through the first five weeks, he was the WR14. He scored 13.1 or more in all but the Week 1 matchup. But lately, the seasoned wide receiver has had difficulty.Brown has been the WR42, averaging just eight fantasy points per game over the last three weeks, despite averaging nine targets per game. More significantly, according to Fantasy Points Data, his catchable target rate decreased from 71.4% during the first five weeks to 65.4% during the last three.
Although Clayton Tune, a rookie, will start for the first time in his career on Sunday, Kyler Murray should make his season debut shortly. Sadly, it’s up against the world-class Cleveland Browns defense. They have limited wide receivers to the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game in the NFL, 23.3. Moreover, the Browns have allowed five wide receiver receiving touchdowns, which is the seventh-fewest this season. Despite their recent struggles, Cleveland’s defense will get to play a fifth-round rookie who is making hisfirst job launch. This week, don’t start any Cardinals.
TE David Njoku (CLE)
As usual, the tight end position has proven to be quite frustrating this season. Still, a few loose ends are becoming fantasy game-changers. Sadly, Njoku isn’t among those athletes. The former Miami Hurricane put on his best performance of the year last week, accumulating 15.7 half-point PPR fantasy points, 77 receiving yards, and a touchdown on four receptions. With an average of 6.8 fantasy points per game this year, he is still only the TE16. More significantly, Njoku had to score a touchdown on an 18-yard reception and a catch of 41 yards to keep his fantasy point total from falling below five for the fifth time this year.
Fantasy players were thrilled with their performance last week. But the former Miami celebrity has a challenging game against a defense that has shut down tight ends this season—the Arizona Cardinals. They have given up the second-fewest fantasy points per game in the NFL, with just 6.4 given up to the position. Additionally, Arizona has only allowed one receiving touchdown to tight ends this year, which was the score last week for Mark Andrews. For the second straight game, Njoku will not find the end zone and will not score more than five fantasy points.