Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 9: Last-Minute Advice for Fantasy Football Owners
Week 9 marks the beginning of the second half of the season for some NFL teams, and the beginning of the stretch run last third of the fantasy football regular season. Every point can be the difference between a win and a loss, and every win or loss can be the difference between going to the playoffs or being on the sidelines when your fantasy football championship is on the line.
Let's look at some last-second lineup adjustments that smart owners should make for Week 9.
START: Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia
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The perception of him in the football world is very negative right now, but Vick has actually been a top-10 fantasy football quarterback in leagues that don't heavily penalize turnovers. He has the best matchup for quarterbacks (and any offensive skill player) this week: New Orleans.
The Saints have given up 12 passing touchdowns in their last four games, and they are at or near the bottom the league in almost every defensive statistic.
SIT: Matt Schaub, QB, Houston
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Quarterbacks have had success against Buffalo this year. In fact, Alex Smith and Mark Sanchez had their best games of the season by far against the Bills. The problem with playing Schaub against them this week is that the Bills run defense is the worst in the league, and the Texans love to run the ball.
Perhaps Schaub could score on some downfield strikes off play action, but it is just as likely that the Texans won't need to go away from the run because it will be working so well. He could have 250 yards and three touchdowns, but no one should be surprised if Schaub only throws 15 to 20 passes this week.
START: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina
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Cam Newton has been a fantasy letdown for most of the year, but that trend should reverse against the Redskins.
Going into last week, no quarterback had thrown for less than 299 yards against them. Ben Roethlisberger only failed to reach that level because the Steelers took the foot off of the gas in the second half, but he still threw three touchdowns before the passing game was mothballed for the week. Newton threw for over 300 yards against a very tough Bears defense last week despite completing just over 50 percent of his passes.
He is looking downfield, and he will find open players in Carolina Panthers uniforms this week at Washington.
SIT: Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati
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Andy Dalton was a hot quarterback in fantasy football circles earlier in the season, but he is a passer to stay away from in the matchup against the Denver Broncos. He might have an opportunity to pass a lot playing catchup with Peyton Manning, but the Broncos haven't allowed a 300-yard passing game this year despite facing the likes of Brady, Brees and Ryan.
Dalton had his worst game of the season heading into the bye in Week 7 against the Steelers when they successfully took A.J. Green away. This week, Green will draw fellow former Georgia Bulldog Champ Bailey, as the Broncos will try to mimic what the Steelers did and frustrate Dalton. You don't want to gamble on them failing.
START: Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans
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Now that Darren Sproles is out indefinitely with a broken hand, look for Pierre Thomas to get closer to a feature-back level of snaps in a high-scoring offense. He has always been very productive on a "per touch" basis, but the Saints have employed a committee approach, making Thomas a dicey play in any given week.
This week on Monday night, he should get at least 12 to 15 carries, and he'll also soak up some of the passing targets out of the backfield that would normally go to Sproles. If you've been stashing Thomas on your bench, this is the time to unleash him on your competition.
SIT: Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants
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Ahmad Bradshaw didn't practice on Friday, and he is listed as questionable per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York, but his owners probably shouldn't worry about Bradshaw missing the tilt with the Steelers. Whether they should worry about his production against them is an entirely different question.
Bradshaw has been vultured at the goal line by Andre Brown two weeks in a row, and the Steelers are one of the top 10 run defenses in the league. Bradshaw had over 20 carries last week and his team led for most of the game, and he still couldn't put up double-digit fantasy points.
START: Alfred Morris, RB, Washington
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Alfred Morris let down his fantasy owners last week, but it wasn't him as much as the Redskins receivers that dropped 10 balls that were the culprits behind his meager stat line. Morris still ran for over four yards per carry against a tough run defense, but his offense couldn't sustain drives or stay close enough for him to get his usual solid fantasy day.
This week, he gets a Carolina run defense that has already allowed three 100-yard games this year. The Panthers offense has struggled to put up big points as of late and the Redskins are at home, so the danger of Washington playing from behind for most of the game is not as big this week.
SIT: Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta
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Turner's resurgence earlier this year has come to a close, and the running back is back to being one of the least efficient backs in the league. Last week, he got 24 carries against Philadelphia for a robust total of 58 yards. Carries inside the five are no longer guaranteed touchdowns as they used to be for Turner.
Playing Turner will be a crapshoot for the rest of the season despite his early four-game scoring streak because we know from last year that he will wear down as the season goes on. Jacquizz Rodgers had his first big play of the year versus the Eagles last week, so he could also eat into Turner's touches versus the Cowboys.
START: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia
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Jeremy Maclin (and the rest of the Eagles passing game) was a dud last week, but you should expect him to ride the wave that is the New Orleans defense to big numbers on Monday night.
They have allowed at least 79 yards to a receiver in every game this season, and wide receivers have scored 11 touchdowns against them in the last four weeks. In fact, eight different receivers scored during that span, so DeSean Jackson is a good bet, too.
Maclin is Michael Vick's No. 1 receiver, and he should be treated as one for your fantasy team this week.
SIT: Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore
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Torrey Smith is cold coming into the matchup with the Browns as it is, but since Joe Haden returned from a four-game suspension, Cleveland has turned into a tough passing matchup.
They haven't allowed a wide receiver to score in the two games they've played since Haden was allowed back on the field, and no receiver had over 73 yards in either game. Joe Flacco has also only throw two touchdowns in three road games, and Smith's two biggest games of the season came in Baltimore.
Since this contest happens in Cleveland, let Smith on your fantasy team's bench.
START: Steve Smith, WR, Carolina
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Stevonne Smith still hasn't found the end zone this year, but there's good reason to belief that this is his week.
He is facing the pass defense that has allowed 18 passing touchdowns and more yards through the air than any other NFL team this season: the Washington Redskins. Smith looked terrific last week in a very tough matchup against the Bears defense, save for the one play that he slipped, resulting in an interception and return for touchdown by Tim Jennings.
Ten different wide receivers have scored against the Redskins already this season. Look for Smith to become the 11th.
SIT: Brian Hartline, WR, Miami
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Brian Hartline has eight catches for 100 yards in the three games since his 12-catch, 253-yard outburst in Week 4 against Arizona.
Less than half of his already-meager production over the last three weeks came in the last two games against the shutdown corners of St. Louis (Cortland Finnegan) and the New York Jets (Antonio Cromartie).
This week promised better things with the weak secondary of Indianapolis on the schedule, but both Hartline and his starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, are questionable with leg injuries that could still limit their production if they are active.
START: Denarius Moore, WR, Oakland
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It's time to start thinking about Denarius Moore as a WR1 in fantasy football leagues. He has scored in the last three games, and four out of the last five since he got over hamstring issues that plagued him during the preseason. Moore is riffing with Carson Palmer and he is making noise as both a deep ball receiver and a run-after-catch threat.
This week, Moore and Palmer get a Buccaneers defense that was already without No. 1 corner Aqib Talib because he was traded to New England. Now, their other opening day starter, Eric Wright, is battling an Achilles injury.
It should be another productive day for Moore and his fantasy owners.
SIT: Steve Johnson, WR, Buffalo
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The Bills look like they are totally overmatched this week at Houston. They are likely to fall behind big by the third quarter and go into garbage-time mode against a prevent defense.
Steve Johnson could certainly be set up to score a late, meaningless (except for his fantasy owners) touchdown like he did in Week 1 against the Jets.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has fizzled during the garbage-time section of the Bills last blowout loss to San Francisco, and as a rule, you should never count on production from a player when you don't things to go well for his team.
START: Dwayne Allen, TE, Indianapolis
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All season, rookie quarterback Andrew Luck has had his pair of rookie tight ends, college teammate Coby Fleener and former Clemson Tiger Dwayne Allen, to split up his looks when he targeted the position in the passing game.
Now, Fleener is out for at least two weeks with a shoulder injury, leaving Allen as the clear No. 1 target among the team's tight ends. Allen already has two scores this year and he has caught 17 of his 23 targets. If he can get six or seven targets and a red-zone look or two versus Miami this weekend, he'll be one of the better plays outside of the elite five options at his position.
SIT: Jacob Tamme, TE, Denver
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Jacob Tamme's fantasy owners were starry-eyed about the possibilities of a reunion of Tamme and Peyton Manning, since it produced big results in Indianapolis, and the only other pass-catcher to play with Manning on the Denver roster was 36-year-old Brandon Stokley.
Tamme has had three games with five or more catches, but none in the last two. The team's official website reports that Tamme played only 25 snaps against New Orleans last week, less than Virgil Green (34). This after Tamme was already splitting targets with Joel Dreessen.
Tamme is barely worth rostering right now in typical leagues.