Week 9 Start 'em, Sit 'em: Predicting Biggest Stars and Disappointments

Alex EspinozaCorrespondent IIINovember 3, 2013

Oct 27, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) celebrates his touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings in the third quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Packers win 44-31. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

By this point of the fantasy football season, you probably hate your league or love it. The playoffs are fast approaching with many leagues beginning the postseason in just over a month, so personnel moves are important than ever.

For all the contenders out there, there are many important decisions to be made with six teams on byes in Week 9 and emerging players available on the waiver wire. For the pretenders, there's nothing wrong with trying to play the role of spoiler and ruining a rival's run for the playoffs.

Let's take a look at some of the players poised to have big days for their teams—real and fantasy—while noting some others who might have some trouble putting up points.


Start 'em: Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers

The big-bodied rookie from Alabama has provided new life for a Packers rushing attack that had been struggling to find a featured back for a few seasons. In four contests since he recovered from a concussion, Lacy has averaged nearly 25 carries and 100 yards per game.

Lacy has shown great speed and burst for a man of his size (5'11", 230 lbs) and has also proven to be a solid goal-line back. He's scored a touchdown in each of the past two contests and could find paydirt against an ailing Chicago Bears defense that is without playmakers like Lance Briggs, who is out several weeks with an injured shoulder.

With Lacy's help, the Packers posted a season-high 44 points in their 13-point victory over the Vikings in Week 8 despite missing top receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones. Lacy should continue to get plenty of carries against a Bears defense that has allowed 117.3 rushing yards per game and eight rushing touchdowns on the season.


Sit 'em: Steven Jackson, RB, Atlanta Falcons

Oct 27, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson (39) looks on during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Hamstring issues aside, it's been tough to watch Jackson in his first season with the Atlanta offense. He was supposed to be the missing piece to an offense that was oh-so-close to reaching the Super Bowl following the 2012 season, but it hasn't materialized.

After sitting out five weeks to rest his hammy, Jackson returned to the field in Week 8 with dismal results. The veteran carried the ball 11 times for just six yards. That performance coupled with his Week 2 outing, when he had three carries for no yards before leaving the game, makes his 11-attempt, 77-yard effort in Week 1 now seem like a distant memory.

Jackson diminished what little fantasy value he had last week, and it's time to keep him on your bench. When you figure that he's facing the Carolina Panthers and their second-ranked rush defense, it's a no-brainer.


Start 'em: Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys

The lasting image from last week's Cowboys meltdown in Detroit was undoubtedly Dez Bryant arguing with Jason Witten on the sideline, but Tony Romo owners can deal with it if he keeps posting his big fantasy numbers.

Romo threw three more touchdowns last week to up his season total to 18, while throwing no interceptions to keep that number at five.

Romo must be licking his chops to face a Minnesota Vikings defense that's struggled mightily all year. Even with notable pass-rushers like Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Everson Griffen, the Vikings rank 29th in passing yards allowed (287.9 per game) and 30th in scoring defense (32.1 points allowed per game).

In Week 8, Aaron Rodgers carved up Minnesota (24-of-29 for 285 yards and two touchdowns), even without injured receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones. Expect Romo, Bryant, Witten and Co. to do the same on Sunday.


Sit 'em: Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans

When healthy, Locker has been a solid fantasy start the past four games with nine total touchdowns (eight passing, one rushing) against just one interception. After returning from a hip injury injury in Week 7, Locker threw for a season-high 326 yards, two scores and a pick in a 31-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

But the Rams defense, whom Locker will face in Week 9, did a great job of containing Russell Wilson, holding him to 10-of-18 passing for just 139 yards and two touchdowns on Monday night. Locker isn't nearly the dual-threat quarterback that Wilson is and has far fewer options on offense to turn to, so look for the Rams to keep him in check on Sunday.

It's certainly been encouraging to see Locker become a viable fantasy starter, but the Titans offense has also been limited by Chris Johnson's career-worst start to a season, as the running back is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry. The Rams defense has appeared to settle since a shaky start to the year, so fantasy owners should stay away from Locker this week.


Start 'em: Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has thrown just one touchdown in each of his past two contests but is poised to have a big day against a porous Washington Redskins pass defense. If that's the case, Allen is in line to receive a major fantasy haul in Week 9.

The rookie became a must-have following his back-to-back, 100-yard, one-touchdown performances in Weeks 5 and 6. Allen has emerged as the team's top big-play receiver, alongside other wideouts like Eddie Royal and Vincent Brown and tight end Antonio Gates.

The Redskins, meanwhile, got shredded apart in the second half of Week 8, giving up 38 unanswered points to the Broncos. Granted, it was Peyton Manning and the Washington secondary did register three interceptions, but the Redskins surrendered 354 yards and four touchdowns in a blowout. Rivers (15 touchdowns, five interceptions) has been solid so far this year and will likely continue to rely on Allen.


Sit 'em: Stevie Johnson, WR, Buffalo Bills

Aug 24, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson (13) talks to wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (88) during the game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Touchdowns have been few and far between for the Bills this season, who have just eight through the air in seven contests. Johnson has been on the receiving end of three of those touchdowns, but Thad Lewis isn't exactly a scoring machine.

Johnson and the Bills are about to face the undefeated Chiefs, who rank fourth in the NFL in pass defense, allowing just 206 yards per game and have surrendered just eight touchdowns all year.

Johnson put together a nice game in Week 8 with seven catches, 72 yards and a touchdown, but he is capable of putting up some absolute duds, too. In Week 4 against the Baltimore Ravens he had one catch for -1 yard and then followed that up in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns with two catches for 19 yards.

Expect something closer to those numbers against this stingy Chiefs defense.