It's sink or swim time in fantasy football leagues, which means the right lineup decisions are more important than ever as the dash for the playoffs begins in earnest in Week 9. The playoffs are only about a month away in most leagues.
Most lineup decisions are easy. The superstars are automatically in while things like defenses and kickers pretty much figure themselves out from week to week. It's the fringe choices that often end up making the difference between a win and a loss.
With that in mind, let's take a look at three players owners are probably debating heading into Week 9 that deserve a spot in the starting lineup.
QB: Carson Palmer
Even though Palmer isn't viewed as a top fantasy quarterback, he's actually been one of the most reliable options in the league during the first half. In seven starts, he's scored at least 14 points six times and has a total of 46 points over the last three weeks.
In terms of scoring average, Palmer is ahead of big names like Eli Manning and Tony Romo, so don't let public perception of the Oakland Raiders' field general prevent you from starting him. He's been getting the job done on a consistent basis.
It's a trend that should continue on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs rank 31st against the pass at 310 yards per game and just traded away cornerback Aqib Talib. Palmer should have one of his best games of the season.
Which player has the most value this week?
RB: Mikel Leshoure
Leshoure has fallen out of favor with a lot of owners in recent weeks. The Detroit Lions running back hasn't cracked the double-digit barrier in his last four games and has lost some playing time to backup Joique Bell, further damaging his fantasy value.
That said, he illustrated his talent in a 19-point outing earlier in the season, which caused owners to pick him up in the first place. Thanks to a matchup with a shaky Jacksonville Jaguars defense, he should be able to return to that level this week.
Even though Bell has taken away some of his PPR upside by stealing snaps on passing downs, Leshoure is still the more talented rusher and should get a bulk of the carries on Sunday. Expect him to put up around 14 fantasy points.
WR: Lance Moore
The best way to describe Moore would be inconsistent. He has alternated double-digit games with single-digit ones through six games, and that would put him on pace to have a strong showing this week. But that's not why you should start him.
Drew Brees likes to spread the ball around, but he will be without one of his favorite targets on Monday night in Darren Sproles. That should open up several extra opportunities for Moore to make plays.
It also helps that he's facing an average Philadelphia Eagles secondary. The Eagles won't be able to cover all of New Orleans' various weapons and Moore is a safe bet to avoid double coverages. He's a high-upside start in Week 9.