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The wide receiver position suddenly looks a little precarious for Fantasy, and it's not even the wide receiver's fault. The state of QB play around the NFL hasn't been great for much of this season, and things aren't likely to get too much better with five quarterbacks leaving last week's games with injuries. Add in names like Amon-Ra St. Brown, Brandon Aiyuk, Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, Deebo Samuel, and others being out for Week 9 due to their byes, and your WR options might feel less reliable than normal.

Before we get to the Week 9 rankings, let's talk about the fallout from two of those QB injuries, plus two other wide receivers you might be struggling with this week: 

Vikings WRs without Kirk Cousins

Cousins is done for the season after his Achilles rupture, and according to at least one report, they aren't seriously considering any trades before Tuesday's deadline to bolster the position. That obviously could change, but right now, it seems like the Vikings are going to roll with in-house options. 

Right now, that means rookie Jaren Hall, a fifth-round pick out of BYU, or Sean Mannion, who is on the practice squad for the Vikings and seems likely to be elevated to the active roster in light of Cousins' injury. The Vikings will likely work out other veteran quarterbacks in the coming days, but for Week 9, at least, it's likely to be one of Hall or Mannion. Mannion has some NFL experience, but that experience does not engender a ton of confidence; he has completed just 60.9% of his passes for 5.2 yards per attempt, with one touchdown and three interceptions over 110 career attempts, mostly in three starts between 2017 and 2021. Mannion is a known commodity the Vikings might trust more, but he's also known to be pretty bad.

Hall, then, is the wild card here. Hall started two seasons at BYU, with scouts praising his command of the offense, his accuracy, and his decision-making. And, while he's viewed as more of a pocket passer, he did run a 4.62 40-yard dash at his BYU combine, a sign that he's a pretty good athlete. The problem here is one of arm strength, with CBS Sports pre-draft scouting report noting, "His arm strength is good, not great." 

For what it's worth, Hall didn't look great in the preseason, completing 54.2% of his passes for just 5.5 yards per attempt, and was pretty easily beaten out for the backup QB job by Nick Mullens, who was placed on IR a few weeks ago. Which is to say, while Hall has an interesting skill set, I'm not sure the Vikings have much trust in him; he might get the start in Week 9, and might even surprise, but expectations for this passing game should be low.

That's bad news for Jordan Addison, who was truly breaking out in Justin Jefferson's absence. Addison looked like a solid, high-upside No. 2 WR for Fantasy, but he can't be trusted without Cousins. I'm ranking him as a low-end WR4 for Week 9, and while there's obviously potential for big plays there, there's just no guarantee either Hall or Mannion are going to be competent enough to get him the ball multiple times. Again, I hope we get surprised, but with Cousins out of the picture, expectations are, rightly, very low. I wouldn't be able to use either KJ Osborn or Brandon Powell outside of deeper leagues, with T.J. Hockenson the only Vikings offensive player I want to start this week. 

Rams WRs without Stafford

The good news is, Stafford hasn't been ruled out. As Sean McVay announced Monday, Stafford is day to day while dealing with a sprained UCL in his right thumb. That's better news than we were fearing, but it's not great news; Thumbs are, in fact, important for throwing footballs. Stafford played through a similar injury in 2020 and if you're looking for reasons to be optimistic, there are some to be found in his performance: 

  • Before: 63.7% completion, 7.7 yards per attempt, 267 yards per game, 5.5% touchdown rate, 2.3% INT rate
  • After: 64.98% completion, 7.8 yards per attempt, 240 yards per game, 4.1% touchdown rate, 1.4% INT rate

That's better than I remembered, honestly! And the per-game numbers are deflated by the fact that he left a few games early (which is, obviously, its own concern), so the per-attempt numbers hint at only a moderate drop in play. 

Of course, that doesn't mean it'll be the same thing this time around. Both in terms of his chances of playing through the injury and his chances of playing well. But it does give us reason to hope that, as long as Stafford plays, he should be able to keep this offense afloat.

Whether he'll be able to play in Week 9 remains to be seen, obviously, as Stafford is dealing with damage to scar tissue and swelling that makes gripping the ball a concern. But Stafford is famously tough, and will likely push to play if he's anything close to healthy, and I'd rather see Stafford out there at 80% than Brett Rypien at 100%. 

Right now, I'm not projecting Stafford to play, and it knocks both Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua down to the WR2 range of the rankings; if Stafford plays, they'll probably slide up a few spots, but there's more risk with a banged up Stafford than there otherwise would be. But the good news is, I'm not burying Kupp or Nacua in my rankings yet, and I still expect this offense to run through both of them no matter who the QB is. That should be enough to keep them viable, though obviously, neither is as sure a thing as they have been. 

What's wrong with Chris Olave

I understand the frustration with Olave. He hasn't been the guy you hoped you were getting when you drafted him, especially of late – after opening the season with three games of at least six catches and 86 yards, he has just 215 yards over his past five games. And he has just one touchdown all season, while his catch rate and yards per target have both dropped since his rookie season.

And yet, I honestly have basically no concerns about Olave at this point. I'm actively trying to trade for him, and I'm still viewing him as one of the best wide receivers in Fantasy. Why's that? Well, it starts with the volume: Olave is 14th in the NFL in targets per game at 9.8. And those targets are predominantly downfield, as he ranks second in the NFL with 1,050 air yards, just behind A.J. Brown. We're talking about a downfield receiver who consistently earns a lot of targets, and that's a great start. 

Olave also has seven targets inside the end zone, ranking ninth in the NFL, tied with guys like Brown, CeeDee Lamb, Ja'Marr Chase, and … well, you get the picture. Olave's role so far is incredibly valuable, even if he hasn't been yet. Because, while guys like Brown, Lamb, and Chase are turning their valuable targets into even more valuable points, Olave hasn't been so far. And, it's probably not just entirely a fluke; Michael Thomas also has seven end zone targets, and also only has one touchdown to show for them, like Olave. Derek Carr hasn't played well so far, and that's especially been true in the red zone. It's holding Olave back.

But I'll bet on the valuable role eventually turning into valuable points before long. We've already seen it from Olave, in that season-opening stretch, so it's not like he can't thrive in this offense, with this quarterback. Production tends to ebb and flow, especially from wide receivers, who are never as good as they look at their best nor as bad as they look at their worst. And the thing with Olave is, even at his "worst," we're still talking about a guy with 9.6, 12.7, and 16.6 PPR points over the past four games. You shouldn't even be thinking about sitting Olave. 

Can we still trust Nico Collins

It's been a bit of a feast-or-famine season for Collins, in a way that his 82.4 yards per game and 15.5 PPR points per game averages might not make you think. He's had as many games with fewer than 40 yards as with more than 80, and all three on the lower end of the scale have come over his past four games. It's been a bit of a frustrating run for a guy who looked like one of the league's true breakout starts early on.

And I don't think it's a fluke. We go through this regularly with guys like Gabe Davis and George Pickens, and Collins very much fits into that mold. He's a talented player, but he's also mostly running downfield routes, with an average depth of target of 12.1 yards past the line of scrimmage. That's not an inherently bad thing, especially with a receiver who is as good with the ball in his hands as Collins, as the good games from Collins have shown. However, it does mean that targets may come sporadically at times, and there might be times when he doesn't hit as often as you'd like.

The upside is, when Collins does hit, he's going to tend to hit very, very big. We've seen that multiple times already this season, and it's going to make living with the poor performances worth it in the long run. It just means, like with Davis and Pickens, that he's not an every-week, guaranteed star, and is probably better viewed as a high-upside WR3 than the borderline WR1 you might have hoped he was turning into early on. If you leave him in your lineup and ride the ups and downs, you're probably going to end up pretty happy in the long run. 

Here are my full rankings for Week 9 at wide receiver for PPR leagues: 

Week 9 Wide Receiver Rankings

  1. Tyreek Hill @KC
  2. Ja'Marr Chase vs. BUF
  3. Stefon Diggs @CIN
  4. A.J. Brown vs. DAL
  5. Keenan Allen @NYJ
  6. CeeDee Lamb @PHI
  7. Davante Adams vs. NYG
  8. Adam Thielen vs. IND
  9. Chris Olave vs. CHI
  10. Jaylen Waddle @KC
  11. Garrett Wilson vs. LAC
  12. Michael Pittman @CAR
  13. Tee Higgins vs. BUF
  14. Cooper Kupp @GB
  15. Puka Nacua @GB
  16. Mike Evans @HOU
  17. Chris Godwin @HOU
  18. Devonta Smith vs. DAL
  19. Zay Flowers vs. SEA
  20. Terry McLaurin @NE
  21. Nico Collins vs. TB
  22. D.J. Moore @NO
  23. DK Metcalf @BAL
  24. Jakobi Meyers vs. NYG
  25. Tyler Lockett @BAL
  26. Josh Downs @CAR
  27. Gabe Davis @CIN
  28. Amari Cooper vs. ARI
  29. Marquise Brown @CLE
  30. Michael Thomas vs. CHI
  31. Tank Dell vs. TB
  32. Rashee Rice vs. MIA
  33. Jordan Addison @ATL
  34. Wan'Dale Robinson @LV
  35. Tyler Boyd vs. BUF
  36. Romeo Doubs vs. LAR
  37. Christian Watson vs. LAR
  38. Jahan Dotson @NE
  39. Demario Douglas vs. WAS
  40. Elijah Moore vs. ARI
  41. Jaxon Smith-Njigba @BAL
  42. Rashid Shaheed vs. CHI
  43. Jayden Reed vs. LAR
  44. Brandin Cooks @PHI
  45. Quentin Johnston @NYJ
  46. KJ Osborn @ATL
  47. Jonathan Mingo vs. IND
  48. Khalil Shakir @CIN
  49. Rondale Moore @CLE
  50. Noah Brown vs. TB
  51. JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. WAS
  52. D.J. Chark vs. IND
  53. Darius Slayton @LV
  54. Jake Bobo @BAL
  55. Michael Gallup @PHI
  56. Mack Hollins vs. MIN
  57. Mecole Hardman vs. MIA
  58. Skyy Moore vs. MIA
  59. Tutu Atwell @GB
  60. Odell Beckham vs. SEA