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Fantasy Football Volatility Index: Risky & Safe Starts for Week 9

Justin Fields is a confident QB1 this week vs Miami. Using NECC consistency rating to identify the riskiest and safest starts for Week 9 fantasy football.

There’s always risk in fantasy football. You’re never certain in the performance you’re going to get from a certain player when you start them. In order to help you make the best start/sit decisions for your fantasy team this week, I’ve used our NECC consistency rating to chart the safest and riskiest starts for Week 9.

What Is NECC Rating?

NECC stands for NerdBall Efficiency and Consistency Coefficient. It is a glorious stat, developed by our stats man Paddi Cooper, to help gage both a player’s consistency and efficiency with each touch in fantasy football. Here’s a full breakdown of what goes into the calculation.

The rating is a great way to help make determinations when it comes to weekly starts and sits as you have a clearer image of how volatile a player’s fantasy production has been this season. A player with a high NECC rating who’s in a bad matchup isn’t likely to be a great start. The reverse is likely to be a great start.

I’ve charted every position’s NECC rating over their .5PPR points per game to help visualize who are safe and risky starts this week. The chart is hard to read but never fear, I’ve highlighted a few high-risk, mid-risk, and low-risk starts for Week 9. Feel free to do your own digging with the stat and use it when making your own start sit decisions.

Let’s get it!

High-Risk Starts

Raheem Mostert (RB36 in NECC rating)

The Dolphins’ backfield has been an unpredictable mess this season. To start the year, Mostert and Chase Edmonds yo-yo’d between being startable fantasy backs and nothing more than RB4s. While Mostert slowly emerged as the most reliable back, that isn’t ultimately saying much. Over the last four weeks, Mostert has bounced between RB1 production and Flex production, with last week being the latter, posting 64 yards on 14 carries vs the Lions.

The Bears would be a matchup to take advantage of. Over those same four weeks, Chicago’s defense has given up the sixth-most points per game to RBs (28.7) and the most rushing touchdowns (7). This could be a RB1 swing for Mostert, but now the backfield has gotten even more muddled. The Dolphins traded away Edmonds but then traded for Jeff Wilson Jr. In San Francisco, Wilson made a habit of stealing goalline touches before out-right winning the 49ers’ starting gig. As a Mostert manager myself, I’m benching him this week until we see how this backfield shakes out.

Hunter Henry (TE24)

I hope you’re not in a position to be relying on Henry in fantasy this year. If you are, my heart goes out to you. After finishing a TE1 his first year in New England, Henry has been more or less an afterthought in the Patriots new offense. Outside of one big game vs the Browns, Henry has failed to go over 25 yards receiving in all but one game. You can see his dot on the chart. He’s literally the worst TE up there.

This isn’t the week he magically puts together a game either. While the Colts rank above league average in TE PPG allowed on the season (12.8), they’re a top-5 unit over the last four weeks, allowing just 7.8 PPG. Given that Henry already is a risky start on his own merit, a tough matchup makes him an even greater avoid.

Romeo Doubs (WR50)

Doubs is coming off his second-best game this season vs the Bills. With Allen Lazard sidelined, Doubs caught 4-of-7 targets for 62 yards and a touchdown. Doubs clearly has the talent to be a plug-and-play WR2 in fantasy, but he’s also shown real lows his rookie year. Like zero catches on four targets for zero yards and zero touchdowns totaling to zero points lows.

Week 9 does bring a favorable matchup for Doubs and the Packers receivers. The Lions are giving up 39.2 PPG to wide receiver, 5th-most this year. That bodes well for Doubs to build upon his strong Week 8 outing. However, monitor Lazard’s injury. If he’s out again, Doubs has WR2 upside. If the veteran receiver is back on the field, Doubs is a risky start.

Mid-Risk Starts

Miles Sanders (RB21)

Sanders has firmly cemented himself as the RB1 in Philadelphia, ranking ninth among RBs in opportunity share (68.3%). He’s taken this workload and turned it into solid RB2 production, averaging 13.7 .5PPR PPG. Only once this season has he rushed for under 55 yards and after not scoring a touchdown all last year, has managed to find the end zone in all but three games this season.

This is a matchup Sanders managers should be salivating over as the Texans are woeful against the run. Their run defense ranks 29th per NEFF rating and they’re giving up league-leading 33.9 PPG. They just got ran all over by Derrick Henry to the tune of 219 yards and 2 touchdowns. There’s mild risk in Sanders, but given this matchup, he’s a top-10 fantasy back this week.

Related: Week 9 Fantasy Football Must Starts + NFL Trade Deadline Winners & Losers

Devin Duvernay (WR27)

Duvernay has been one of the more surprising yet frustrating players in fantasy this season. He can give you a hyper efficient 50+ yard and a touchdown on 3 catches. He can also give you 10 yards on 5 targets. And he ping pongs between the two at a nauseating rate. Still, the Raven’s wide receiver has ranked inside the top-10 in PER rating all season, currently averaging 1.92 points per target. And with Rashod Bateman dealing with injury, more targets are likely coming Duvernay’s way.

The Saints secondary has not been good in recent weeks vs opposing wide receivers. Over the last four weeks, they’ve given up the second-most touchdowns (6), fifth-most yards (679) and seventh-most PPG (37.9). Duvernay’s efficiency plus likely increase in target share, heading into a plus-matchup, should spell a good week for the volatile wide receiver.

Kyle Pitts (TE14)

Oh Kyle Pitts. What to do with Kyle Pitts. I of course benched him last week and so did not get to enjoy his mini-breakout. Week 8 was easily Pitts best game of the season, catching 5-of-9 targets for 80 yards and a touchdown. This marks the second touchdown he’s caught in the last three weeks. Could this be a sign that things are starting to turn around for the young tight end? Yes?

Here’s to hoping the mini-breakout continues into Week 9. And it could. The Chargers defense ranks 25th in TE PPG allowed over the last four weeks. They’ve given up a league-average 16 receptions during that time but the 6th-most yards (235). This should translate well to the big play ability of Pitts. He’ll be back in my starting lineup this week, even with the risk of yet another flop.

Low-Risk Starts

Terry McLaurin (WR5)

Scary Terry is coming off one of the more impressive two-game performances no one’s talking about. With a backup QB and facing two of the best cover corners in the league in back-to-back games, McLaurin has 11 catches for 186 yards and a score over the last two weeks. He’s been a rock-solid WR2 this season and one of the most trustworthy wideouts as evident by his elite NECC rating.

Unlike the Packers and Colts (McLaurin’s last two opponents), the Vikings are not good limiting opposing WRs. Minnesota ranks 26th on the year in WR PPG allowed (38.0)—29th in the last four weeks (42.2)—and their pass defense is bottom 6 per NEFF. After a gauntlet of cornerbacks, Scary Terry should have a field day against the Vikings. He’s a high-end WR2 with WR1 upside this week.

Justin Fields (QB7)

Since Week 5, Fields has been the QB2 in fantasy football. You read that right. Only Joe Burrow has scored more total points than Fields over the last four weeks. The Bears seem to have finally realized that Fields is exceptional running the football as he’s averaging almost 77 yards rushing over the last three games. He ranks top 3 in non-passing PPG, averaging 7.3 just with his legs.

Miami’s defense has been one of the worst at limiting opposing QBs this season. On the year they’re allowing 19.7 PPG, good for 26th in the league. They’ve also given up the fifth-most rushing yards to QBs (192) and third-most rushing touchdowns (2). You can trust Fields to continue his QB1 run this week.

Jamaal Williams (RB11)

Here’s a wild fact for you: Jamaal Williams has scored two touchdowns in a game more than he has scored no touchdowns. He’s found the end zone twice in a game four times this year and currently is behind just Nick Chubb in rushing touchdowns this season. This obviously has led to not only a top NECC rating, but also a top-10 PER rating. Williams is the RB9 in PER, averaging 0.92 points per touch this season. He’s been wildly efficient with his touches and those touches have been plentiful with D’Andre Swift dealing with injury.

The Packers are giving up 28.8 PPG to opposing backs over the last four weeks, ranking them in the bottom 5. On the year they’ve given up the second-most rushing yards and rank 30th in run defense NEFF rating. With Dan Campbell voicing skepticism in Swift’s readiness to play, Williams is a reliable fringe RB1 this week.

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