Fantasy football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Last of the large bye weeks
Fantasy football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 9 (cont.)
Fantasy football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 9 (cont.)
After last week, owners either squeaked by with a victory, or fell victim to the six teams on byes. This week will be much of the same. Many excellent fantasy receivers wear the jerseys of this week's inactive teams (49ers, Broncos, Cardinals, Giants, Jaguars, Lions), so owners are going to be without the services of Anquan Boldin, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Larry Fitzgerald, Victor Cruz, Cecil Shorts and Calvin Johnson. And what will we do without Peyton Manning and Matthew Stafford spraying the ball all over the field?
These Week 9 Start 'em, Sit 'em recommendations are based on standard scoring, non-PPR, 12-team leagues that start 1-QB, 2-RB, 2-WR, 1-TE, 1-FLEX, 1-K and 1-DST. I've tried to list most of the possible players at each position, but if you find one missing -- please comment below, and I'll share my recommendation.
• Falcons: Matt Ryan, Harry Douglas, Tony Gonzalez
Remember way back in August when the Falcons looked like a fantasy factory? They had a top-five quarterback, with two top-10 wide receivers, a great pass-catching running back coming over in free agency and a tight end who will go down as one of the top-three fantasy tight ends ever. Now, they're top fantasy player is their former third wide receiver. The Panthers defense is looking good, and Ryan will have his work cut out for him again. He's not going to throw over 60 times each week, but with six QBs on break, he remains someone you start.
• Panthers: Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith, Greg Olsen, Graham Gano, Panthers DST
Since getting shut down against the Cardinals in Week 5, Newton has six passing and two rushing touchdowns. Last season, Newton threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another in each of two games against the Falcons. While Jonathan Stewart (ankle) is expected to play this week, Williams should remain the lead back, and while he's coming off a game in which he had just nine touches, he did score his first touchdown of the season. Wide receivers have scored 11 touchdowns against this Falcons defense, so keep Smith active. Gano is still perfect on the year, with 10 field goals and 20 extra points.
• Falcons: Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Roddy White, Matt Bryant, Falcons DST
Jackson definitely wasn't ready to do damage against the Cardinals, and now he's facing a defense that has allowed just three rushing touchdowns all season. Bryant hasn't scored more than 10 fantasy points since Week 4 -- and he has only done it twice this season.
• Panthers: Mike Tolbert, Jonathan Stewart ,Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr.
Tolbert has 24 total touches in the past two games, but with Stewart returning, his touches should drop a bit. LaFell has had two productive fantasy games this season, and he's a borderline flex play this week against a WR-friendly Falcons defense. Ginn caught a season-high five passes in Week 8, but he hasn't caught a touchdown pass since Week 3.
• Vikings: Adrian Peterson
How do the Vikings end up with back-to-back prime-time events? It's not like they were expected to be great this season. Either way, we get Mr. 2,000 again as the sole fantasy play for the Vikings offense.
• Cowboys: Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Jason Witten, Dan Bailey, Cowboys DST
Romo is coming off another three-touchdown game, and his arsenal remains loaded, especially now that Terrance Williams has become a legitimate weapon. While the Cowboys bring Murray (knee) back from injury, Randle remains someone to hold onto as a handcuff, even though he had a terrible Week 8. The Vikings are one of the worst defenses against fantasy running backs this season.
Bryant has scored two touchdowns in three different games this season, and should do well against a weak Vikings team. Witten has been bad lately, but he's worth banking on still. Bailey hasn't missed a field goal since Week 4. And while the Cowboys defense gave up nearly 500 yards to Matt Stafford and Co., they'll have a much easier time against the Vikings' 29th-ranked offense.
• Vikings: Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman, Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson, Kyle Rudolph, Blair Walsh
Unless Adrian Peterson moves to another position, none of the Vikings quarterbacks or wide receivers are worth starting in fantasy in Week 9. Even though the Cowboys aren't great against tight ends, they have allowed only four touchdowns to the position.
• Cowboys: Joseph Randle, Miles Austin
Even when Austin is ready to return again, the Cowboys like what they've found in Williams, and will continue to develop that. While the duo could share targets, Williams is still the better fantasy play.
• Jets: Bilal Powell
Here's the good news -- you don't have to do a lot of heavy thinking, wondering if you should start any of your Jets players. Then again, with six teams on byes, Powell is worth a look after all. Chris Ivory is dealing with some injuries, and neither are really great options anyway. Pick your green poison.
• Saints: Drew Brees, Pierre Thomas, Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills, Garrett Hartley, Saints DST
Brees has thrown three touchdown passes in three of his past five games -- and if not for Peyton Manning, Brees would be getting a lot more pub. Graham (foot) is healthy (enough), and he has now caught two touchdown passes in three of his past five games. With Colston inactive, Stills becomes a sneaky play. The Saints defense has been reliable, averaging four sacks in their past five games, and only the Patriots have scored more than 18 points against them this year.
• Jets: Geno Smith, Chris Ivory, Jeremy Kerley, Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeff Cumberland, Jets DST
Geno Smith threw two touchdown passes Sunday -- to the other team! Even the tough Jets defense gave up nearly 50 points to Andy Dalton and Friends. Now comes one of the best quarterbacks of the 21st Century. Sit!
• Saints: Darren Sproles, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Ben Watson
Sproles has been a huge disappointment this season, so sit him in non-PPR formats for now. Colston is the disappointing wide receiver version of Sproles.
• Titans: Jake Locker, Chris Johnson, Kendall Wright
The Titans offense reset just before the bye week, with Jake Locker under center, and they had a big game against the 49ers in Week 7. After coming back from a hip and knee injuries, Locker ended up throwing a pair of touchdowns and eclipsing 300 yards for the first time this season. He should do well against a Rams defense that has given up 14 passing touchdowns this season. Wright had his best game of the season, with nine grabs for 98 yards, and wide receivers have done well against the Rams defense this season.
• Rams: Zac Stacy, Greg Zuerlein
After Stacy rushed for 134 yards against a tough Seahawks defense, you should be comfortable starting him against the Titans -- and most other teams -- from now on. A sprained ankle didn't keep him from practicing mid-week, but monitor him up until game time. Zuerlein made three of four field-goal attempts in Week 8, and he barely missed a fourth, which was wide right from 50 yards out. Until the passing game figures it out, Zuerlein could be a good fantasy kicker as the team continues to stall inside the 35-yard line.
• Titans: Nate Washington, Delanie Walker, Titans DST
The Titans defense has recorded four turnovers and six sacks in the team's past three games, but it is a borderline start this week against Kellen Clemens and Co.
• Rams: Kellen Clemens, Daryl Richardson, Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, Tavon Austin, Brian Quick, Jared Cook, Rams DST
Clemens threw a couple interceptions in Monday night's start against Seattle, and the Rams still nearly pulled out the win. Avoid this passing unit for a while, until Clemens makes regular connections with his receivers. They're just not making plays for him right now, and he spread the ball around to seven guys in his first start of the season. Has there been a bigger rookie disappointment than Tavon Austin?
• Chiefs: Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Ryan Succop, Chiefs DST
Charles' hurt his knee in Week 8 against the Browns, but he should be able to play at Buffalo. He's coming off his worst fantasy performance of the season, but he remains the top fantasy player in the game. The Bills defense has actually been very good at limiting opposing running backs, but Charles is a different kind of player. While Bowe is coming off his worst game of the season, being targeted just twice by Alex Smith, the Bills defense is awfully kind to fantasy wide receivers, so we say start him once more before his bye week hits. Only three kickers have more field goal attempts than Succop's 18. The Chiefs DST remains the best in fantasy, but much of that is based on its five touchdowns -- those are tough to predict. Only the Panthers defense has allowed fewer points this season, and the Chiefs' bye hasn't even happened yet.
• Bills: Fred Jackson, Stevie Johnson
If Spiller (ankle) plays, that would put a dent in Jackson's value, but we still recommend the veteran. Jackson scored his sixth touchdown of the season against a tough Saints defense in his first game of the season without Spiller taking snaps away. Despite the Chiefs defense allowing just two rushing touchdowns this season, you have to start Jackson, who the Bills will lean on. Johnson will also be going up against a tough defense that has allowed just five touchdown catches to wide receivers this year. But Johnson is being heavily targeted by quarterback Thad Lewis, with 24 throws his way in two games.
• Chiefs: Alex Smith, Donnie Avery, Dexter McCluster, Anthony Fasano
Smith threw a pair of touchdowns in Week 8, but he's a safe NFL quarterback and a boring fantasy quarterback. He has thrown an interception in just three of eight games this year. Yet, he also has thrown a touchdown pass in just four of eight games. Avery is averaging just four targets over the past few weeks. McCluster had his best day of the year in Week 8, but he was targeted 10 times -- twice his normal number. It's doubtful he repeats that soon.
• Bills: Jeff Tuel, C.J. Spiller, Robert Woods, T.J. Graham, Scott Chandler, Dan Carpenter, Bills DST
If Spiller gets the go-ahead to play, then fantasy owners will have a tough decision to make. If he plays, and you don't have a great alternative, you have to roll him out there and hope for the best. Woods just isn't being thrown to as much with Manuel (knee) still recovering.
• Chargers: Philip Rivers, Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead, Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates, Nick Novak
Before the Week 7 byes, only Peyton Manning, Tony Romo and Matthew Stafford had more fantasy points than Rivers this season. He should destroy this Redskins pass defense after two weeks of preparation, which also bodes well for all of his main targets -- Woodhead, Allen and Gates. While the Chargers offense has had a nice resurrection, it took Mathews a little while longer. But now, in back-to-back weeks, he has rushed for over 100 yards, and Washington has given up nine rushing touchdowns to running backs this season.
• Redskins: Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed
RGIII injured his left knee against the Broncos, but that's not the knee that has been surgically repaired. He's expected to play again in Week 9, but his mobility will likely be slowed. He seems like another one of those players that teams are going to live or die with, since he could post 25 points -- or three points -- in any given week.
Morris, however, is becoming one of the most reliable players in the league, as he rushed for over 90 yards for the second week in a row, along with a touchdown. Unfortunately, he'll face a Chargers team that has allowed just two rushing touchdowns. Even so, RGIII's injury could mean Morris gets the ball a few more times.
There's no nice way of saying it -- Garcon has been a big disappointment over the past three weeks. As someone many considered a top-15 receiver, he has just 18 catches for 173 yards in that span -- with no touchdowns. Reed, meanwhile, has gotten better and better, leading the Redskins in targets last week, and he now has 224 receiving yards and a touchdown in his past two games.
• Chargers: Vincent Brown, Eddie Royal, Chargers DST
The ascension of Allen up the target ranks has been to the detraction of both Brown and Royal. Brown has just four catches for 57 yards in his past two games, and while Royal scored in Week 7, he's not reliable on a week-to-week basis.
• Redskins: Roy Helu, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Kai Forbath, Redskins DST
In Week 8, Hankerson caught his first touchdown pass since the opener, but it was his only catch of the game. As a matter of fact, he has just four catches in his past three games. He'll face a weak Chargers secondary, that has allowed over 1,400 receiving yards to wide receivers in seven games this season. He's actually a sneaky start in weekly leagues if his price is low enough.
• Eagles: LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Eagles DST
Michael Vick tricked everyone into starting him, and then treated them with a popped hamstring. Not nice! It's apparent that a healthy Vick is the only Eagles quarterback worth looking at as a fantasy starter. McCoy went from superstar to borderline first-round pick in recent weeks, and now this entire offense looks like it's coming unhinged under Chip Kelly. Jackson has three touchdowns in his past six games, with just one 100-yard receiving game in that span. He remains a must-start because he can score from anywhere, but he needs someone capable to get him the ball. The Eagles defense has actually been better in recent weeks, so consider them a borderline fantasy starter this week.
• Raiders: Terrelle Pryor, Darren McFadden, Denarius Moore, Raiders DST
In a rare feat, Pryor rushed for more yards than he passed for in Week 8, but he was still able to check in with a solid game. He should do well against an Eagles team that has allowed over 300 passing yards in four games this season. Run DMC is healthy and he's coming off one of his best games in a couple seasons. Keep him active while that hamstring is still intact. Moore is set to have a huge game against an Eagles defense that is the worst in the NFL against wide receivers. This unit has allowed 14 touchdowns and 139 receptions to wideouts, which are 28 more catches allowed to receivers than the second-worst defense. Expect a 100-yard game and a touchdown from Moore. The Raiders DST has eight sacks and three forced turnovers in their past two games, and the Eagles are lost at quarterback.
• Eagles: Nick Foles, Matt Barkley, Michael Vick, Bryce Brown, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, Alex Henery
The Eagles will go with Foles but he's not ready for fantasy prime time. Without Vick, the Eagles spread the ball around too much to make any of the non-Jackson receivers or tight ends fantasy worthy. Henery has just two field goals in his past three games and also can't be trusted in fantasy until the Eagles get their quarterback situation figured out.
• Raiders: Rod Streater, Mychal Rivera, Sebastian Janikowski
Streater is also facing a porous Eagles pass defense, but he just doesn't get the same amount of targets as Moore. Either way, he's not a bad bargain-bin choice in weekly fantasy leagues. While the Eagles defense is bad against wide receivers, they have yet to allow a touchdown catch to a tight end this season.
• Buccaneers: Mike James, Vincent Jackson
It's nice to see that the Seahawks scheduled the Bucs as their homecoming opponent this weekend. James shows flashes of talent, and he usually gets positive yardage, but he's going to have a very tough time against this defense. He's a flex option this week. V-Jax will have CB Richard Sherman making life difficult, but the Buccaneers will probably get down early and have to throw a lot -- again.
• Seahawks: Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Golden Tate, Steve Hauschka, Seahawks DST
Wilson had a surprisingly tough night against the Rams, but that's how divisional games go sometimes. This week, he'll face a Bucs team in disarray that has traveled from the other corner of the country. Lynch also had a quiet week against the Rams, but big backs have given the Buccaneers defense fits since the Tony Dungy era. Tate caught a pair of touchdowns in Week 8, including an 80-yarder. Expect him to catch another long one this week against a secondary that can't figure things out.
• Buccaneers: Mike Glennon, Brian Leonard, Tiquan Underwood, Tim Wright, Rian Lindell, Buccaneers DST
Glennon made 130 pass attempts in his first three NFL starts, which is an NFL record. Then he threw it 51 times against Carolina and really doubled down on the record. While he has thrown over 250 yards in his past three games, this is bound to turn into a disaster sooner than later. The Seahawks defense has emerged as one of the best in the NFL, and their crowd is going to give the rookie QB and his offense fits. Leonard led the Bucs with six catches in Week 8, and he could see more passes this week as the Bucs will likely be forced to come from behind.
• Seahawks: Robert Turbin, Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, Zach Miller
With Sidney Rice (knee) out for the season, Baldwin and Tate will begin to see more touches, until Percy Harvin (hip) is at 100 percent. Miller has been targeted more than four times in a game just once this season.
• Ravens: Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Justin Tucker, Ravens DST
Rice has yet to rush over 75 yards in a game this season, and he has only scored touchdowns in two games. Even so, he's still a target in the passing game, and he gets over 20 touches per game. Smith caught seven passes for 85 yards in Week 2 against the Browns, and despite CB Joe Haden's presence, he should be good for WR2 fantasy stats this week. The Ravens have 12 sacks and just three forced turnovers over the past three weeks, but this Browns offense is one to bet against. The Ravens held the Browns to just six points in Week 2.
• Browns: Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron
Only the Bills (12) have given up more pass plays that have gone over 40 yards this season than the Ravens' 10, and that bodes well for Gordon. The trade deadline came and went without Gordon trading jerseys, and now he'll try to put up his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season. The quarterbacks change, but the production from third-year tight end Cameron stays the same. He has 16 catches for 200 yards and one touchdown over his past three games. With Vernon Davis and Julius Thomas on byes this week, Cameron ranks as one of Week 9's best options at the position.
• Ravens: Joe Flacco, Bernard Pierce, Marlon Brown, Dallas Clark
Flacco was unimpressive in Week 2 against the Browns, after getting 10 days to prepare for them. He has just three touchdown passes in his past three games. Clark has two touchdown catches in his past two games, but Martellus Bennett, Garrett Graham, Coby Fleener and Antonio Gates are coming off byes, too, so Clark is not that valuable.
• Browns: Jason Campbell, Willis McGahee, Chris Ogbonnaya, Greg Little, Billy Cundiff, Browns DST
No doubt, Campbell earned another start for the Browns, after nearly beating the undefeated Chiefs in Week 8. He completed over 60 percent of his passes and threw for a pair of touchdowns. He targeted Gordon, the best weapon on their team, 10 times, which is the receiver's most since his Week 3 season debut. The Ravens defense, uncharacteristically, has just four interceptions this season, which also bodes well for Campbell. Unfortunately, fantasy owners not in deep leagues have better, more reliable, options at quarterback this week.
• Steelers: Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Heath Miller
Bell goes up against the second-worst rushing defense in the NFL this week, as the Patriots are allowing over 130 rushing yards per game. He'll shake off the mediocre game from Week 8, in which he ran for just 24 yards and a touchdown. Calvin Johnson is the only wide receiver with more catches than Brown over the past three weeks, but Brown doesn't have any touchdowns in that span. While the Patriots have given up just two touchdown catches to tight ends this season, they have allowed them to catch 43 passes, which ranks as the sixth-most in the league, and Roethlisberger likes feeding Miller.
• Patriots: Stevan Ridley, Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots DST
While Ridley hasn't hit the century mark in any game this season, he does have four touchdowns in his past four games. The Patriots are going to lean on the running game more and more this season, especially now that Brady's dealing with a minor hand injury. Shane Vereen isn't too far off from returning, also, which could work as a complement for Ridley. Amendola had just three catches on six targets in Week 8, but with so many great wide receivers sitting, you have to hope he connects with Brady a few times this week. Get him in there as a WR3 or flex player. While Gronk's two catches against Miami were disappointing, he did draw a couple penalties in coverage that didn't show up on his stat line.
• Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger, Emmanuel Sanders, Shaun Suisham, Steelers DST
Teams are finding it much easier to run on the Patriots than they are to pass on them. New England ranks fifth against the pass, allowing just 215 passing yards per game and a total of just nine passing touchdowns in eight weeks. Sanders is coming off his best game of the season, but he's a better gamble in daily leagues than he is in your weekly lineup.
• Patriots: Tom Brady, Brandon Bolden, LeGarrette Blount, Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson
Brady has had those problems with his swollen passing hand, and now he's going up against the second-best passing defense in the NFL. Amazingly, he has just two touchdown passes in his past four games. The Steelers have actually been very tough on fantasy quarterbacks, allowing just six passing touchdowns this season. Six! Sit Brady, as the Patriots also begin to start leaning more on the running game, just like the first few years of Brady's career.
• Colts: Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson, T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener, Adam Vinatieri, Colts D/ST
Ready to be confused? Richardson has just two touchdowns this season, with just one game in which he has scored more than 10 fantasy points, and he has totaled fewer yards from one week to the next in his past three weeks. With all of that said, we still suggest starting the former Tide running back against a Texans defense that has given up 97 rushing yards per game and six total rushing touchdowns this season. The Colts will have to start running more with Reggie Wayne done for the season. Luck will have to use Fleener more, as well.
• Texans: Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Andre Johnson, Garrett Graham
Coach Gary Kubiak says Foster and Tate will be end-of-week decisions, so there's that. Foster thinks he'll be able to play, but hamstring injuries are killing fantasy owners this season, with several players playing partial games due to them. Michael Vick is the latest example of a good fantasy player derailed after deciding to start. Even if Foster starts, Tate could receive enough looks to be worth starting in a week with six teams on byes. They're playing in the Sunday night game, so proceed with extreme caution.
• Colts: Donald Brown, Darrius Heyward-Bey
The Texans defense has actually been one of the toughest ones for wide receivers to score fantasy points against. DHB will get more targets in Wayne's absence, and likely be a usable fantasy player in the coming weeks -- just not this week.
• Texans: Case Keenum, DeAndre Hopkins, Randy Bullock, Texans DST
The Colts defense hasn't allowed any quarterback not named Peyton Manning to throw for over 300 yards against it. And in the six games before Manning faced them in Week 7, the Colts allowed just five passing touchdowns.
• Bears: Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett
Forte has scored 10 or more fantasy points in every game this season, and before the Week 8 bye, he scored three touchdowns against Washington. He has become a top-five player this season, in his sixth year in the NFL. With Josh McCown taking over under center now that Jay Cutler (groin) is sidelined a few weeks, the Bears' passing game is a little more unsure. The Bears had joined just a few other teams with two top-20 fantasy wide receivers, but Marshall and Jeffery will take a small step back without Cutler throwing to them. Bennett is in a similar situation, but with six teams on byes, all three are start-worthy.
• Packers: Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin, Mason Crosby, Packers DST
The Bears defense is allowing over 270 passing yards per game, and Rodgers has five touchdown passes in his past two games. Despite missing some of his favorite weapons, like Randall Cobb (knee), James Jones (knee) and Jermichael Finley (spine), Rodgers is still a must-start player every week. Nelson is getting a concentrated flow of passes coming his way, and he has four touchdown catches in the past three weeks. Boykin is proving to be a quality pickup in fantasy leagues, and he'll continue to be useful against a Bears team that's allowing an NFL-high 16.91 yards per catch to wideouts. The Packers defense has 16 sacks in its past four games, and it'll face a Jay Cutler-less offense.
• Bears: Josh McCown, Michael Bush, Robbie Gould, Bears DST
McCown was more than adequate in relief of Cutler against the Redskins, and the Packers aren't much better at stopping the quarterback. This defense has allowed 12 passing touchdowns, although, they did hold Christian Ponder to no TD passes in Week 8. The Bears DST has been inconsistent this season, and this unit has just four sacks in its past four games. Most of its fantasy points have come from defensive/special teams touchdowns, which are tough to rely on from week to week.
• Packers: James Starks, James Jones, Andrew Quarless
If Jones plays, consider him a WR3 this week. While Quarless caught just a pair of passes for 13 yards in his first game as Finley's replacement, he's still someone to consider in fantasy because of Rodgers and this Packers passing game. Don't start him this week, but keep an eye on his targets in the coming weeks.
David Gonos is a fantasy sports veteran of over 20 years and over 100 fantasy football leagues. You can also follow him @davidgonos on Twitter. If you have some good Week 9 Start 'em, Sit 'em opinions, drop them in the comments below.
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