Not much to talk about in the intro this week. I was hoping there’d be some movement during the trade deadline so I can talk about the impact of Josh Gordon or Hakeem Nicks ending up on different teams, but alas, it’s business as usual. Six more teams are on bye this week, and the injury bug is still creeping, so let’s try and find some sleepers out there!
On to Week 9!
Note: “Comfortables” can be started in all leagues. “Cautions” may be started in 12-team leagues and should definitely be started in 14-team leagues, but might be bench considerations for 10-team leagues or lower. “Casualties” shouldn’t be started in any leagues. “Sleepers” are meant for FLEX spots in 12- and 14-team leagues
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Miami Dolphins
Comfortables: Andy Dalton, Giovani Bernard, Lamar Miller, AJ Green, Marvin Jones, Charles Clay, Cincinnati Defense
Cautions: Ryan Tannehill, BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Daniel Thomas, Mohammad Sanu (if active), Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Miami Defense
Casualties: Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert
Sleeper: Rishard Matthews
Marvin Jones had scored in previous weeks, but nobody expected THAT from him last week against the Jets (snicker snicker). He didn’t play in many snaps, and only plays in three wide receiver sets (Mohammad Sanu still starts across AJ Green in two-WR sets), but you figure that a performance like that would warrant him either sharing more time in two-WR sets, or the Bengals going with 3-WR sets more often than not. And with the news that Sanu might not even be active for Thursday’s game, that makes Jones look even more attractive. I’m targeting him on all waiver wires and starting him if I manage to get him. Anybody with a QB on bye this week should start Andy Dalton, and everybody else should try and roster him. Dude is HOT. I’m also pleased with Lamar Miller’s usage last week, but Daniel Thomas is still a bit of a nuisance. You have to move Mike Wallace down to a caution. Dude hasn’t been worth the money the Dolphins paid him. With Brandon Gibson out for the year, Rishard Matthews moves into the slot, and deep DEEP leaguers could target him.
Prediction: Tannehill turns the ball over again and the Bengals win on the road.
Tennessee Titans vs. St. Louis Rams
Comfortables: Chris Johnson, Zac Stacy, Kendall Wright, Tennessee Defense, St. Louis Defense
Casualties: All Titans Offensive Players Not Named Locker, Johnson, or Wright; All Rams Offensive Players Not Named Stacy
Sleeper: Jake Locker
I really like the Titans in this one, especially their defense. The Rams D did a pretty good job slowing down the Seahawks last Monday night, moving them from a caution to a comfortable, but Kellen Clemens was missing receivers like crazy. No St. Louis receiver should be started in standard leagues. I really like Kendall Wright as a start, especially in PPR leagues. And Jake Locker makes for a great bye-week fill in. I’m plugging him into a big league where I have Matthew Stafford on bye.
Prediction: Titans stifle Kellen Clemens and the Rams for a road win.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Dallas Cowboys
Comfortables: Tony Romo, Adrian Peterson, DeMarco Murray (if active), Joseph Randle (if Murray is inactive), Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Jason Witten, Dallas Defense
Cautions: Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph
Casualties: All Vikings Except Peterson, Jennings and Rudolph (including Defense)
Sleeper: Lance Dunbar
DeMarco Murray almost sniffed the playing field last week, but was held out. Monitor his progress all week. He might play. I said it last week and I’ll say it now…you’re playing Terrance Williams every week until he gives you a good reason not to. Dez Bryant is a beast…how can a guy look so negative yet say such positive stuff? I love it. As for the Vikings, you can only really start AP, and give consideration to Jennings and Rudolph, although the only worthwhile thing Jennings did last week against his old team the Packers was get steamrolled by his own running back on the way to a touchdown.
Prediction: Vikings continue to play like crap, and the Cowboys take out last week’s frustrating loss on Minnesota.
New Orleans Saints vs. New York Jets
Comfortables: Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham (if active), New Orleans Defense
Cautions: Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Bilal Powell, Chris Ivory, Marques Colston, Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, Kenny Stills
Casualties: Geno Smith, Khiry Robinson, Mike Goodson, Robert Meachem, Nick Toon, David Nelson (if active), Benjamin Watson, Zach Sudfeld
Sleeper: Lance Moore
The three-headed monster of Graham, Colston and Sproles has now been relegated just to Graham. If he plays, you can’t sit him. It doesn’t matter if he’s barely on the field. If he’s on, he’s scoring. If the Jets gave up four touchdowns to Marvin Freakin’ Jones, I shudder to think what horrible things Jimmy Graham will do to them. Unfortunately for the rest of the Saints, the offense spreads it around so much that it’s made Brees and Graham the only must-starts. It’s sad what’s happened to Marques Colston over the past season, as he’s been a key contributor on many of my fantasy teams over the years and I feel attached to the guy. But he’s not getting the targets he used to, and he doesn’t capitalize on the targets he does get. You also have to be concerned about the running backs. Sproles hasn’t performed well since his blowout game a couple weeks back (when I was playing against him in two leagues…thanks Darren!), and Thomas has been a grinder but nothing spectacular. I have both listed as cautions this week because the Jets have a fantastic run defense, but it’s conceivable one of them could punch it in from short. It’s such a shame that a high-powered offense such as New Orleans can’t produce sure-fire fantasy starters because of how much they spread it around. For the Jets, it’s possible Chris Ivory will get a lot of reps against his old team, but I don’t like any Jet. Jeff Cumberland is out, but you don’t want to start Zach Sudfeld. I made that mistake once already this year.
Prediction: I don’t know who from New Orleans will score, but many of them will, and they continue to beat down the overrated Jets.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills
Comfortables: Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles, Fred Jackson, Stevie Johnson, Kansas City Defense
Cautions: CJ Spiller (if active), Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Scott Chandler, Buffalo Defense
Casualties: Thad Lewis, Knile Davis, Tashard Choice, Robert Woods, Shaun McGrath, Anthony Fasano
Sleeper: Dexter McCluster
As somebody who traded for Fred Jackson recently, I’m pleased as punch that the Bills are playing it cautious with CJ Spiller. Jackson will get the lion’s share of the carries, and although the matchup isn’t the best against the Chiefs D, it’s beatable. Alex Smith is safe to start in this matchup. Buffalo’s D doesn’t scare me. Stevie Johnson is getting healthier so he’s becoming safe to start as well. Dexter McCluster hit paydirt last week and is certainly involved in the offense, and serves as a nice check-down option for Captain Checkdown Alex Smith, so as far as deep sleepers go, you could do worse.
Prediction: Chiefs go to 9-0 before their schedule really starts getting tough.
San Diego Chargers vs. Washington Redskins
Comfortables: Philip Rivers, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead, Alfred Morris, Keenan Allen, Pierre Garcon, Antonio Gates, Jordan Reed
Cautions: Roy Helu, Eddie Royal, San Diego Defense
Casualties: Ronnie Brown, Vincent Brown, Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson, Washington Defense
I expect offense to rule the day here. Both have high-powered offenses and Washington’s defense is terrible. If you have any piece of the Chargers, with the exception of Vincent Brown and Ronnie Brown, start them. In a league where I have Demariyus Thomas, Larry Fitzgerald and Cecil Shorts all on byes, I am starting BOTH Keenan Allen and Eddie Royal. That’s how little faith I have in Washington’s defense. San Diego’s defense is decent but unspectacular, and I think RG3 will have a bounce-back game against them. Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon, and especially Jordan Reed should benefit.
Prediction: San Diego stifles Washington on the road.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers
Comfortables: Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert, Harry Douglas, Steve Smith, Tony Gonzalez, Carolina Defense
Cautions: Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Roddy White (if active), Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn, Greg Olsen, Atlanta Defense
Casualties: Jason Snelling, Brian Robiskie
Sleeper: Drew Davis
The Falcons are trending down and are on the road, the Panthers are trending up and are at home. Logic dictates that this game is Carolina’s to win, but the NFL has been so topsy-turvy this year that Atlanta will more than likely pull it out. Regardless, I’m all in on the Panthers this week, upgrading Kool Aid Man Tolbert from a sleeper to a comfortable, and promoting LaFell and Ginn to cautions. Tony Gonzalez didn’t end up getting traded, but will still face double teams in the red zone. He’s too talented to sit, but the extra attention he’s receiving is starting to become a concern. I’d love to be able to comfortably start Steven Jackson (I traded Gronk for him in one of my big leagues), but until I see the burst come back and not him slamming into the line on every run, I can’t in good conscience do so. I’m rolling him out there this week, but I’m not happy about it, and a matchup against Seattle looms on the horizon next week.
Prediction: Carolina *should* win, and probably will, but don’t be shocked if Atlanta pulls it out.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Seattle Seahawks
Comfortables: Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Vincent Jackson, Golden Tate, Seattle Defense
Cautions: Mike James, Zach Miller, Tim Wright
Casualties: All Buccaneers not named Jackson, James or Wright; Robert Turbin, Christine Michael, Doug Baldwdin, Kellen Davis
Sleeper: Percy Harvin (if active)
I really hate owning Golden Tate. The guy is such a d-bag. Get in the end zone and then do your dance. He almost didn’t even get the touchdown! I have him in a league where I also have Percy Harvin stashed, and I’d really like for Harvin to be activated so I can bench Golden Tate’s ass. If Harvin plays, I believe he’s going to get the attention from Russell Wilson, especially with Sidney Rice done for the year. The Bucs have shown that the only guy you can start with any real confidence is V-Jax, although I have Tim Wright starting for me this week with Julius Thomas on bye. The Seahawks showed some cracks in the armor last week against the Rams, but they were on the road. It’s a different beast with Seattle at home. I think Beast Mode will be fed this week after going hungry in Week 8. If you are playing against him, beware.
Prediction: Seattle at home. Seattle at home. Seattle at home.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Oakland Raiders
Comfortables: Terrelle Pryor, LeSean McCoy, Darren McFadden, DeSean Jackson, Denarius Moore
Cautions: Rod Streater, Philadelphia Defense
Casualties: All Eagles Offensive Players not named LeSean or DeSean, Marcel Reese, Rashad Jennings, Mychal Rivera
Sleeper: Oakland Defense
No Michael Vick. (Maybe?) No Nick Foles. The reigns of this supposedly high-powered Eagles offense have been handed to rookie Matt Barkley. You have to immediately downgrade the offensive options if Barkley starts. Foles is going to try and give it a go, and he found DeSean Jackson with some regularity. If Barkley starts I really like the Raiders defense. Never underestimate the value of a defense playing an east coast team that has to fly across the country to play on the road. As long as Run DMC can stay healthy, he’s a must start. I like Denarius Moore over Rod Streater if you absolutely have to play a Raiders WR, but Pryor and McFadden will do most of the damage on the ground.
Prediction: Raiders beat their second straight opponent from Pennsylvania at home.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns
Comfortables: Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron, Baltimore Defense
Cautions: Joe Flacco, Jason Campbell, Fozzy Whitaker, Cleveland Defense
Casualties: Bernard Pierce, Chris Ogbannaya, Willis McGahee, Tandon Doss, Greg Little, Davone Bess
Sleeper: Marlon Brown
Baltimore vs. Cleveland games usually never make it into the 20s, so you have to look at this as a defensive struggle. I like Rice and Torrey for Baltimore on offense, and you have to continue rolling with Jordan Cameron and the non-traded Josh Gordon for Cleveland. Keep your eye on Fozzy Whitaker and Marlon Brown in this one as well.
Prediction: Baltimore wins 17-14.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots
Comfortables: Le’Veon Bell, Stevan Ridley, Antonio Brown, Danny Amendola, Heath Miller, Rob Gronkowski
Cautions: Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Brandon Bolden, Emmanuel Sanders, Aaron Dobson, Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins, Pittsburgh Defense, New England Defense
Casualties: Felix Jones, Jonathan Dwyer, LeGarrette Blount
Stevan Ridley owners, enjoy this game while you still can. Sugar Shane Vereen is coming back soon! In addition to Brandon Bolden and LeGarrette Blount remaining in the mix, it’s not looking good for the Riddler going forward. He’s scored in three straight though, so he’s certainly been helpful, and I expect to see him have a big game here. Rob Gronkowski has been seeing double teams, and defenses are forcing Tom Brady to beat them with Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, and a hobbled Danny Amendola. It’s worked in that it has limited Brady’s stats, but the Pats still find a way to win. If you feel compelled to sit Brady this week and have a better option (Terelle Pryor for instance) I won’t blame you. Gronk’s a must start, and with each passing week he gets healthier, so hopefully he can break free from the double teams and become the red zone threat we all know he can be. For the Steelers, I only feel comfortable starting the Bell Cow, Antonio Brown and Heath Miller. Emmanuel Sanders could score again, but I wouldn’t count on it week to week.
Prediction: New England eeks out Pittsburgh with some stellar work from Ridley.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans
Comfortables: Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson, Arian Foster, TY Hilton, Andre Johnson, Coby Fleener, Owen Daniels (if active), Indianapolis Defense
Cautions: Donald Brown, Ben Tate (if active), Darius Heyward-Bey, DeAndre Hopkins, Garrett Graham
Casualties: Case Keenum, LaVon Brazill, Lester Jean, Houston Defense
Sleeper: Ray Graham (if Ben Tate is inactive)
The Texans’ backfield situation is crazy. Foster is hurt and trying to play. Tate is REALLY hurt and trying to play. Houston has re-singed Deji Karim and signed Ray Graham off their practice squad. Between them and Case Keenum at QB, the Texans are in deep trouble. Keenum actually made a pretty going showing during week 7 going into Kansas City and not completely embarrassing himself. But there’s a reason he was third on the depth chart. Start all your starting Colts. Yes, including Trent Richardson. I’ve been watching him run since he joined the Colts. He’s running hard. He’s just not getting the lanes. I think he’s primed to break out. This is his last chance though. I’m not too worried about Reggie Wayne’s departure. That’s just more targets for TY Hilton, DHB, Coby Fleener, and possibly LaVon Brazill? Luck should be fine though.
Prediction: Luck powers the Colts to a division road win.
Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers
Comfortables: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Forte, Eddie Lacy, Brandon Marshall, Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin, Green Bay Defense
Cautions: Alshon Jeffery, James Jones (if active), Martellus Bennett, Andrew Quarless, Chicago Defense
Casualties: Josh McCown, Michael Bush, Jonathan Franklin, James Starks
Sleeper: Myles White
I played against Jordy Nelson in two of my four money leagues last week, and this week I play against him in the OTHER two money leagues, during probably the hottest streak he’ll have this year. It’s just not my year I guess. I actually don’t expect as much offense in this game as previous Packer games this season. Rodgers has historically not put up the best stats against Chicago, even though Green Bay has found ways to win. I expect a lot of Eddie Lacy in this one. If Brandon Jacobs can gash the Chicago front seven, I bet Lacy’s going to have a field day. I do not believe in Josh McCown. He performed admirably in relief in Week 7, but Cutler’s more suited for this offense. That’s a slight downgrade for Brandon Marshall (whose talent will overcome), and a major downgrade for Martellus Bennett, who I’d list as a comfortable if Cutler was starting. You gotta like the Packer D going up against a backup QB too. Maybe they’ll take one to the house?
Prediction: The Pack overwhelms McCown and wins comfortably at home.
Good luck in Week 9!