7 Fantasy Stars to Watch in Week 9
By now, fantasy football owners know who is going to produce for their squads. Players have established themselves as studs or duds eight weeks into the NFL season, and Week 9 is another chance for players to show their stuff.
The Week 9 slate presents positive opportunities for a number of high-end fantasy football producers. Whether they have frustrated you up to this point or not, certain guys are can't-miss starts.
Dazzling performances will come from many directions this weekend, but keep your eye on these seven players as you prepare to do battle in fantasy land.
Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
The Cincinnati Bengals have a middle-of-the-road pass defense, but Peyton Manning is far from a middling quarterback.
Manning has thrown for 300-plus yards in each of his last five games, tossing 14 touchdowns and one interception in the process. He's proven himself to be just as deadly behind center as always, slicing through opposing secondaries as if they aren't even there at times.
The Bengals aren't a terrible defensive team, but they won't fare well if Geno Atkins can't get to Manning. Denver's offensive line has played well as of late and will make sure their star signal-caller is able to stand tall in the pocket.
Sitting Manning at this point isn't an option. He's pitching the ball all over the field, systematically destroying defenses like NFL fans have grown so used to over the years.
This week will be no different.
Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Ray Rice still doesn't get the ball nearly enough in Cam Cameron's offense, but that doesn't mean he won't shred the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Rice will fare very well against the league's 24th-ranked run defense. Baltimore struggled to defeat Cleveland in Week 4, and it will have something to prove. Hammering Rice as much as possible will be key, especially because it keeps the Ravens' ailing defense off the field.
With 524 yards and five touchdowns this season, Rice hasn't necessarily been lights out in the fantasy world, but he's still a must-play ball-carrier every week. Cleveland has allowed 265 rushing yards its last two games and will struggle to stop Rice's powerful north-sound style.
Rice will deliver a big performance against the AFC North rival, making his fantasy owners very happy by the time the game is over.
Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans
Arian Foster has 659 yards and 10 total touchdowns this season. Running against a Bills defense that's dead-last against the run should be a joke, especially once the Texans grab a sizable lead. He will get the ball early and often, and he knows what to do with it.
Buffalo's defense makes its team look worse than it really is, but that won't help the Bills on Sunday. Foster has four rushing touchdowns in his last two games, and this is the kind of matchup where owners watch their star back rack up 150-plus yards and a few scores. Sit back and enjoy it, folks.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton owners are among the most frustrated everywhere, but the upcoming matchup with the Washington Redskins is a can't-miss start for this season's most maligned sophomore.
Newton has eight interceptions and fumbles apiece this year, versus just five passing TDs. He's ran for three scores as well, managing to retain his elite physical tools because of it.
Many of you took Newton as a No. 1 quarterback in your draft (I know I did), and deciding whether or not to start him is a painstaking process at this point. But the Redskins pass defense is dreadful. Last in the league, Washington hasn't stopped anyone through the air.
Believe it or not, Newton's numbers are slightly better away from home. He's struggled as of late, but to be fair, those games were against Dallas, Seattle and Chicago—not an easy task for anyone.
Bite the bullet and start Newton this week. If not now, when?
LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
LeSean McCoy only has two touchdowns this season, but I would play anyone against the New Orleans defense.
Whether finding the end zone or not, McCoy is still one of the league's best backs. In terms of raw ability, he's the most pure running back that you'll find.
Though he tends to frustrate fans with a little too much dancing at the line of scrimmage, his exceptionally quick feet have given McCoy over 500 yards on the ground this season. Don't forget that he catches the ball as well, with 28 receptions thus far.
The struggling Saints defense is allowing around 170 rushing yards per game, and with uncertainty behind center in Philly, expect the Eagles to lean on McCoy even more than usual. He's capable of carrying the load, and the Saints won't be able to stop much of anything.
Playing McCoy has been frustrating this season, but he's still a tremendous talent. Expect him to show that Monday night.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
The Tennessee Titans run defense is like a sieve, and Matt Forte will run all over them this week.
The Bears ball-carrier only has 436 yards and two touchdowns this season, but he's finally starting to look healthy. Of those yards, 273 of them have come in his last three games.
The benefit of owning Forte is his receiving ability. Plus, the Bears never know what they will get from Jay Cutler, which forces them to lean on Forte when times get tough. This could mean added carries or more looks from Cutler out of the backfield.
Tennessee hasn't stopped anyone this season. Because this game should be a rout, look for Chicago to run the ball from start to finish. After Cutler's dreadful performance in Week 8, look for many safe passes to Forte as well.
Forte is one of the best all-around running backs in the league. When healthy, he can play all three downs in any situation. Expect a 20-plus-point fantasy week this time around.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
If Alex Smith can complete 18-of-19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns, it's hard to imagine what Rodgers could do to an Arizona team that is in a complete tailspin.
Rodgers has thrown for 866 yards, 11 touchdowns and no INTs in his last three games. Doing so against St. Louis' above-average pass defense and Houston's elite unit is encouraging as well.
The Packers have won three straight and are looking better and better. The Cardinals are headed in the opposite direction, and this game couldn't come at a worse time.
Watching San Francisco's average pass offense dissect Arizona's secondary showed me all that I needed to see. Rodgers, despite Arizona's previous success this season, will light this squad up on Sunday.