Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 9: Curious Matchups of on-the-Fence Players
Ah, the start 'em, sit 'em enigma that impacts fantasy football can drive anyone up a wall.
And consider the circumstances entering Week 9: We're in November and the fantasy postseason is coming up fast. So, making the most conscientious roster moves is key to maintaining your lead, remaining in the mix, or getting back into the picture.
Ahead, we look at some players that face tough matchups, such as Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys. Bryant and Co. play the perfect Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night and the Dirty Birds present one solid pass defense.
Not to mention Bryant's minor durability concerns entering the weekend as well. According to Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas:
Wide receiver depth could be an issue for the Cowboys Sunday at Atlanta with Dez Bryant, Kevin Ogletree and Dwayne Harris banged up.
Bryant and Ogletree did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday because of hip and hamstring injuries but they were on the field Friday for the portion of practice that was open to the media.
With that, let's move onward and see what to make of Week 9 in fantasy football.
Donald Brown: RB, Colts (vs. Dolphins)
Upon returning last week against the Tennessee Titans, Donald Brown had a solid day with 80 rushing yards on 14 carries for the Indianapolis Colts.
Sitting out were rookie tight end Coby Fleener (shoulder), cornerback Vontae Davis (knee), Mathis (knee) and running back Donald Brown (knee). Mathis and Brown are expected to play.
Brown's play is crucial to the Colts offense—Mainly because the Miami Dolphins field one of the best rush defenses and pass rushes around. The Dolphins allow just 82 rushing yards per game, as well as an average of only 3.5 per carry.
In addition, Miami has recorded 22 sacks entering this contest. Therefore, if Indy does not get the passing game rolling early, Brown won't enjoy much success on the ground. The Dolphins play well-disciplined football and are quite aggressive within the front seven.
And since Miami controls the line of scrimmage so well, Brown's impact will be more evident for play-action fakes and extra pass protection, as opposed to stats. Factor in the potential of rookie back Vick Ballard and that also takes away from Brown's snaps and carries.
Sit Donald Brown
Cam Newton: QB, Panthers (at Redskins)
Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers take on Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins in our nation's capital this week.
And Newton can reasonably be an expected fantasy start, because the Redskins rank dead last in pass defense. Still, Newton has not gotten out of his sophomoric funk this season, with only five touchdown passes to eight picks.
He's obviously nowhere near his impact from 2011 and has been sacked 17 times as well.
Include fumbling seven times and a 57.1 completion percentage, and Newton is a concern. Washington may allow lots of yards, but London Fletcher and this defense have recorded 10 picks and forced five fumbles.
Still, Washington can be a little overaggressive at times, which has cost it against the pass; see Giants game. The Cats have also been on the brink during the last four games, as all have been lost by a combined 12 points. If there's a game where Newton turns it around, the Redskins are that game.
Start Cam Newton
Baltimore Ravens Defense (at Cleveland Browns)
It's certainly easy right now to write off the Baltimore Ravens defense.
Heading into Week 9, Baltimore has allowed an average of 400 total yards per game. Ed Reed and the coverage rank No. 24 against the pass and have managed just seven picks this season.
And the front hasn't helped much either. With only 12 sacks and ranking No. 30 against the run, the Ravens allow four yards per rush, and it's no surprise this defense gives up 23 points per game. Facing the Cleveland Browns this week, Baltimore got torched by Brandon Weeden for 320 yards in their first meeting.
The Browns are much more balanced now as well, and are feeling confident in being 2-1 over the past three games. Nevertheless, Cleveland remains non-explosive by averaging a mere 19.3 points per game.
Regardless of who wins and how many yards Cleveland totals, the Browns aren't lighting up the scoreboard on Sunday. Reed is still a ball hawk and the Ravens are also coming off a bye, which will factor into the game plan.
Start the Baltimore Ravens Defense
Dez Bryant: WR, Cowboys (at Falcons)
Along with Dez Bryant's pass-catching inconsistencies, he and the Dallas Cowboys face one tough challenge this week in the Atlanta Falcons.
The concern with Bryant, though, isn't so much him dropping passes as it has been Tony Romo's decision-making and the Falcons presenting excellent coverage. Defenders such as Thomas DeCoud, Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson are capable of totally blanking the Dallas passing offense.
Thus far the Dirty Birds have collected 10 picks and 19 sacks, so Romo won't have much time to survey when dropping back, either. And even if Big D does find success through the air, it will come from Romo's connection to Jason Witten.
Because of Bryant's deep-threat ability along with a similar presence from Miles Austin, Atlanta must take away any big-play opportunities from Dallas. Romo then could hit Witten underneath more often and the Cowboys' rushing attack would benefit as a result.
No matter the outcome, the Falcons defense has to minimize Bryant and pressure Romo to increase the odds for victory.
Sit Dez Bryant
Andy Dalton: QB, Bengals (vs. Broncos)
All the Cincinnati Bengals really have to currently rely on is the passing offense. And that's courtesy of receiver A.J. Green and Andy Dalton's ability to dial his number quite often.
To that end, Dalton does have 13 touchdowns in 2012 with a 64.2 completion percentage. Unfortunately, Cincy is riding a three-game losing streak and Dalton has also tossed 10 interceptions—six coming from the losing streak.
In hosting the Denver Broncos this week, the Bengals see a defense that just held Drew Brees to 213 yards passing and a 52.4 completion percentage. And no, the New Orleans Saints don't present a receiving threat on Green's level.
Then again, the Broncos are well-versed enough against the pass to lock down in man coverage and zone over the top of Green. Count the pass rush of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, and Denver can goose-egg the Cincinnati offense.
Sit Andy Dalton
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