Were nine weeks into the 2011 season, the fog is settling, the sunshine is glowing, and things are starting to appear more clear in Fantasy Land. Overall, pretty sound recommendations in Week 8 with the advisement of starting Jackie Battle, Heath Miller, and Antonio Brown while suggesting to sit the extremely disappointing Chris Johnson. There is no doubt that more thunderstorms are ahead, we can never be perfect, but we continue to press forward through this vast season and use the knowledge gained throughout the year to build as much momentum as possible going into each new week.
Disclaimer: Kickers and Defenses are left out each week, also I try to leave the most obvious selections out. Start Tom Brady!!
QB’s Start Em’
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys vs Seattle
I wanna start out discussing Tony Romo, who has left owners slightly disappointed thus far. In his last two games, Romo has thrown just 2 TD’s and is only averaging around 180 passing yards. Romo does have four 300-yard passing games this season, but at the same time he’s been inconsistent with three games where he’s failed to throw for more than one TD. Owners were simply expecting more high-class performances from Romo when they drafted him. As much as I hate to make excuses for Romo, the guy played through a pretty bad rib injury, had both of his starting wideouts suffer through injuries, while working under a pretty poor offensive line. The point is, things are looking up for Romo. His schedule eases up bigtime, his wideouts are healthy and they have found new success in the running game with DeMarco Murray. Romo’s uptick will begin this week against Seattle. Seattle isn’t terrible against the pass ranked 18th and having allowed just 8 Passing TD’s, but this is a matchup that Romo and his counterparts Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten can exploit. Dallas will be focused and ready for this game following the brutal loss against Philly, and with plenty of possessions for the offense created by the Dallas defense, look for Romo to approach the 300-yard mark and finish with at least 2 TD’s.
Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs vs Miami
I don’t think I’ve recommended Cassel all year, but he and his AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs are starting to play good football. Props goes toTodd Haley, after starting 0-3 with reports of him being on the hot seat, he got it turned around without Stars Jamal Charles and Eric Berry as the Chiefs have reeled off four straight wins to take the division lead. Cassel hasn’t been lights out but he does have a respectable five TD’s in his last 3 games while throwing for over 250 yards in three out of his last four games. In Week 5 against against the winless Indianapolis Colts, Cassel threw for four TD’s and 257 yards. Cassel may not throw four TD’s, but I expect his numbers to be very solid against the only other winless team in the NFL, the Miami Dolphins. Look for around 250 yards passing with at least 2 TD’s, making Cassel a respectable start in Week 9.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons @ Indianapolis
We’ve pointed out Ryan’s brutal numbers in past editions, but so far this year Ryan has only thrown for more than one TD, one time. The fourth-year QB has looked inaccurate, and the arm strength has been lacking more than ever it seems. However, Ryan has two things working for him, first the bye week came at an ideal time and second, coming off that bye he gets an easy matchup against the Colts, who have allowed the most passing TD’s (15). If Ryan doesn’t get it going this week then I don’t know when he will. Julio Jones is returning, he got two weeks to clear his head and re-focus and now they face the lowly Colts. Ryan could throw three TD’s in this matchup.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears @ Philadelphia
Just stay away from this one if you are contemplating Cuter at all. Philly’s talented secondary is finally playing to their potential and these Chicago wideouts simply cannot cause any problems for them. The Bears will focus on running the football and winning this game on defense.
Matt Schaub, Houston Texans @ Cleveland
The Cleveland secondary led by Joe Haden is for real ranking 2nd against the pass and 3rd in points allowed to QB’s. With Andre Johnson’sstatus in question once again, Schaub needs to be benched.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets
Fitzy started out hot, has cooled down some but still has been very serviceable this season with 14 TD’s and 1700 yards through seven games. But this is a week to sit him against the Jets. New York has allowed just four passing TD’s as they are ranked #1 when it comes to defending Fantasy QB’s. Revis will slow Johnson, Cromartie can handle David Nelson and Bills TE Scott Chandler doesn’t really pose a threat to Nickelback Kyle Wilson or Safety Jim Leohnard.
RB’s Start Em’
Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis, New England Patriots vs New York Giants
The Law Firm is frustrating, one week he is excellent and the next he could throw up a complete dud like last week. It was crazy to see 35 year-oldKevin Faulk step into this offense after more than a year and a half off and play more snaps than Green-Ellis. BJGE was solid the three weeks prior to last, so I think he gets back to it in Week 9 against the Giants who are allowing the 25th most points to Fantasy RB’s. I expect him to find the endzone in this game and finish with around 60 yards rushing.
Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams @ Arizona
Jackson has been running surprisingly well of late, last week tearing up the Saints defense for 159 yards and two TD’s. This week he gets another good matchup against the Cardinals who have allowed a league-high 11 rushing TD’s. But after this game I would look to trade Jackson, I think the he starts to wear out down the stretch as he faces a very tough playoff schedule against the Seahawks, Bengals and Steelers. Start Jackson this week and then sell high.
Jackie Battle, Kansas City Chiefs @ Miami Dolphins
Battle made the list in Week 8 and didn’t disappoint finishing exactly with what we predicted with 70 yards rushing and a score. So we ride with Battle again in solid matchup against the Dolphins. The Chiefs should move the ball and Battle will be the benefactor around the goal line. Look for similar numbers to last week.
DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys vs Seattle Seahawks
This is hard for me, because I love the way Murray has been running and and also because of the fact that I own Murray in a couple of leagues, but I am trying to avoid the obvious choices. Murray does have a very tough matchup against Seattle’s run defense that is allowing a league low 3.2 Yardsper carry. They have also only allowed five rushing TD’s which is tied for 11th best. Again, this is a tough choice here, but if you have better options then Murray this week, stick with that. I think there is a chance Murray could find the endzone but I don’t think he finishes with over 60 yards rushing.
Ryan Torain, Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers
Ok, this one is easy. The Redskins are playing horrible football right now, Torain who is the #1 back now that Tim Hightower is out for the year isn’t producing, although he hasn’t had a chance to produce. But the 49ers have been absolutely stout against the run allowing just 74 yards per game and one rushing TD all year. I think Torain still has some value this year and will have some nice games, but this is most definitely a matchup you want to avoid at all costs.
Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens
Mendenhall has been a fantasy bust this year with just one 100-yard game all season. The Steelers will not be able to run the ball against the Ravens and their third ranked run defense. Like Torain, this is another matchup to avoid however you can.
WR’s Start Em’
Miles Austin & Dez Byrant, Dallas Cowboys vs Seattle Seahawks
Both Austin and Byrant were shut down and held under 30 yards receiving last week. Austin hasn’t done anything of significance since breaking out for three TD’s in Week 2. But this week the Cowboys pass game will start getting back on track and I believe both Austin and Bryant will have fairly solid games. Look for both to finish with over 75 yards receiving and at least one if not both of them to score. Austin is a good trade target right now, as owners could be down on him, now is the time to buy, same with Bryant although he will be higher priced.
Jon Baldwin, Kansas City Chiefs vs Miami Dolphins
The talented 6’4 230-pound rookie returned from injury in week 8 and finished with 82 yards and a score. Baldwin showed his big play ability and also showed fairly solid route-running on Monday night against San Diego. I believe Baldwin is going to have some nice games to finish this season and this week he could prove to be a very nice play against the Dolphins and their 27th ranked pass defense.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers vs Pittsburgh
Last week I talked about Brown and how his rapport with Big Ben would continue to grow throughout the season. Brown now has 16 catches in his last two games for 169 yards and a score. With Hines Ward still banged up and questionable, Brown will find open room against Baltimore as they focus on Mike Wallace. Brown is a nice trade target, he could really finish this season strong.
Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets
You guys should know by now that I love Stevie Johnson, but again it’s two words, Darrelle Revis.
Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans, vs Cincinnati
Washington finished with two TD’s last week one catching and one running, but this week he must be benched against the Bengals and their 9th ranked pass defense. Washington will produce little, keep him reserved.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders vs Denver
Bey coming off the bye, two weeks to build rapport with Carson Palmer, looks like a decent start right? Not really, Palmer stinks until proven otherwise and Heyward Bey will draw Champ Bailey for most of the game. Bey is most effective on deep routes and is not really a great route runner, so Champ who will have his eyes on Palmer while watching Bey and will prevent Bey from doing much. Champ might pick off a pass that is attempted to Bey deep, remember that I wrote this.
TE’s Start Em’
Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles vs Chicago Bears
The Eagles are finally starting to utilize the talents of Celek, probably because they realize they need to get him the ball if defenses are trying to take away Maclin and Jackson. As most of us know when Vick was in Atlanta he loved his TE Alge Crumpler, so this could possibly be an emergence by Celek here. The last two weeks Celek has 11 catches for 136 yards and two scores. Stick with Celek as he has the hot hand right now and is also facing the Bears Defense who are letting up the 2nd most points to Tight Ends this season.
Fred Davis, Washington Redskins vs San Francisco
I pointed out last week that Davis was an every week starter regardless of matchup. He is the Skins number one target and will be as long as Santana Moss continues to be sidelined. The 49ers defense as we know has been great this year, but they are allowing the 6th most points to Fantasy Tight Ends. Davis has to be in your lineup.
Dustin Keller, New York Jets @ Buffalo
I have selected Keller a few times and he’s let me down, but I like this spot here. Coming off the bye I think the Jets will make it a point to get Keller more involved. Buffalo also hasn’t been great at defending the Tight End, ranked 24th.
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens
Miller is really the only Tight End I could see benching this week, the rest were so obvious It’s not even worth stating their names. Guys like Scott Chandler, Zach Miller, Kevin Boss, womp womp. I really love the way Miller has been playing the last two weeks, he has been running great routes and Ben has been targeting him a bunch, but Baltimore is #1 in defending Tight Ends, allowing just 6 points a week on average. I wouldn’t totally avoid Miller, but if you have better options stick with them based on Baltimore’s great defense of the Tight End position.
IDP’s Start Em’
Tamba Hali, LB, Kansas City Chiefs vs Miami Dolphins
The young, talented Hali had two sacks and 3 tackles last week against the Chargers on Monday Night and it gets even better this week against Miami and Matt Moore who was sacked six times last week by the Giants. Look for Hali to finish with at least two sacks in this game and put constant pressure on Moore.
Aldon Smith, LB,DE, San Francisco 49ers @ Washington
Smith was recently named NFC Defensive Rookie of the month for October. He has seven sacks so far and has been very impressive for a rookie. He should be able to get to John Beck and enjoy a nice game as he and the 49ers defense wreak havoc on the Skins.
Quentin Mikell, S, St. Louis Rams @ Arizona
Kevin Kolb is questionable for the Cardinals and that means two things. First, John Skelton might start and second a lot of running with Beanie Wells. Mikell could pick off a pass from the brutal Skelton and will have a chance to rack up plenty of tackles defending against the run.
Eric Weddle, S, San Diego Chargers vs Green Bay
Weddle picked off two Matt Cassel throws last week, but this week he goes against the hottest QB in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers. He won’t be picking off any passes this week and the Pack really don’t run the ball all that much so Weddle’s tackles will be limited as well.
Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills
I am betting the Harvard grad Fitzpatrick won’t be as careless as Matt Moore and challenge Revis like Moore did. Revis has 3 Int’s in his last 2 games, but I don’t think he gets one here as Fitz plays it very safe against him.