In a salary-cap format, finding players that give you a bang for the buck is key to constructing a profitable lineup.
With that said, here are some of my favorite value plays for Week 9:
QB - Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (vs. CHI), $6,900
Since Week 4, Rivers has thrown for 300-plus yards and multiple touchdowns in five consecutive games. During that five-game span, Rivers has averaged 372.6 passing yards and 2.6 touchdowns per game. In addition, he has finished as a top-nine fantasy quarterback in all five of those games.
The season-ending injury to Keenan Allen hurts Rivers a bit, but he leads the NFL in pass attempts (43.5 per game) this season. So far this season, the Bears currently surrender the sixth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. In a plus matchup for the league's highest-volume passer, Rivers is my second-ranked quarterback for the week yet six other signal-callers have a higher salary for Week 9.
QB - Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. OAK), $6,600
Roethlisberger returned from his knee injury last week, but he threw more interceptions (three) than touchdowns (one) against the Bengals. With a game under his belt to shake off some of the rust, Big Ben should post better numbers against a poor Raiders secondary this week. Oakland allows the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Roethlisberger has the ninth-highest salary this week, but he's my fifth-ranked quarterback for the week.
QB - Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (at PIT), $5,500
Against an elite Jets defense and secondary, Carr shredded them for 333 yards and four touchdowns last week. Carr now has four top-eight weekly performances in his past six games including each of his past two games. Over that six-game stretch, the only time he hasn't thrown multiple touchdowns was against the Broncos, who currently have the league's stingiest defense. (Denver has allowed only five passing touchdowns in seven games and held Aaron Rodgers to 77 passing yards last week.)
There are a few other bargain-priced quarterbacks that I like in Carr's price range (e.g., Tyrod Taylor at $5,300 and Jay Cutler at $5,200) as well.
RB - Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins (at BUF), $5,000
Miller had a disappointing 15 rushing yards on nine carries in their blowout loss to the Patriots, but Miller did score for a third consecutive week. In his past three games since the coaching change, Miller has racked up 303 rushing yards, 10 receptions for 85 yards and four total touchdowns. In fact, he has finished as a top-11 PPR running back in all three of those games after finishing no better than RB28 in his previous four games. The matchup isn't great, but as long as the game is close, Miller should see roughly 18 touches in this game.
RB - Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys (vs. PHI), $4,300
Not only does McFadden have 20-plus carries in back-to-back games, but he has a total of 17 receptions on 20 targets in his past three games. With 57 touches in past two games combined, few players are guaranteed to get the type of workload that McFadden will get.
His Week 9 matchup may not be great as the Eagles have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, but McFadden finished as the RB8 in PPR formats last week against the Seahawks, who have been the stingiest defense to opposing running backs this season.
RB - Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (vs. GB), $4,300
In his past three games, Stewart has a minimum of 20 carries in each game and a total of 68 during that span. No player has more carries during that three-game span than Stewart (68). Of course, Cam Newton is always a threat to vulture goal-line carries from Stewart, but he has three touchdowns during that span as well.
RB - Jeremy Langford, Chicago Bears (at SD), $4,000
With Matt Forte (MCL) ruled out for Week 9, Langford is in position to get a heavy workload in a favorable matchup. The Chargers have allowed four 100-yard rushers and a total of 10 touchdowns to running backs this season. Only the Falcons have allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs so far this season.
WR - Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears (at SD), $6,700
Jeffery has played only three games -- Week 1, Week 6 and Week 8 -- this season, but he has a minimum of 11 targets in every game. Since returning from his injury, Jeffery has eight-plus catches for more than 100 yards and a score finishing as the weekly WR4 in both games. As the WR5 in my Week 9 PPR rankings, Jeffery has a lower salary than 12 other wide receivers this week.
WR - Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders (at PIT), $4,900
In seven games this season, Crabtree has at least eight targets in six games and a minimum of six targets in every game. In fact, he has more targets (68, 9.71/G) than Amari Cooper (59) this season. On the season, Crabtree is averaging 5.71 catches for 69.0 yards per game and has scored in back-to-back games. In addition, he has a minimum of 54 receiving yards in five of his past six games. Considering it's easier to throw than run on the Steelers, Crabtree should once again get eight or more targets in Week 9.
WR - Steve Johnson, San Diego Chargers (vs. CHI), $3,200
In our DFS Roundtable post of Favorite DraftKings Play for Week 9, Johnson was my selection. No player should benefit more than Johnson from the season-ending kidney injury to Keenan Allen, who entered this week with the third-most targets in the NFL behind DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones.
Johnson has not exceeded 50 receiving yards since Week 1 (6/82/1), but I expect him to get eight or more targets in a favorable matchup against the Bears this week. While I have Johnson ranked inside my top-20 fantasy receivers for the week, his salary is only $200 above the position minimum as 59 receivers carry a higher price tag this week.
WR - Brandon LaFell, New England Patriots (vs. WAS), $3,200
Not safe for cash-game lineups, LaFell offers tremendous upside in tournaments at his near-minimum salary. Even though he didn't start last week, LaFell played on 82.0 percent of the team's offensive snaps last week, which second among the team's wide receivers behind Julian Edelman (94.0 percent). The Patriots are projected to score more points (33.0) than any other team this week based on Vegas odds.
TE - Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. OAK), $2,700
Starting tight ends against the Raiders has been a profitable strategy this season. Not only have the Raiders allowed the second-most fantasy points to the position, they have allowed 12 touchdowns to tight ends in seven games this season.
With Roethlisberger back last week, Miller caught 10-of-13 targets for a season-high 105 yards. In fact, Miller has seen double-digit targets in two of the three games that Big Ben has started and finished.
In lineups that I don't start Miller, I'll start Rob Gronkowski. In some lineups, I will use both (as TE and Flex), but nearly 100 percent of my entries thi8s week will feature either Miller and/or Gronk.
- Week 9 DFS DraftKings Cheat Sheet
Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings:
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