Start 'Em Sit 'Em Week 9: Breaking Down Stars with Tough Matchups

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistOctober 30, 2013

Oct 20, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) runs after a catch in the second half against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons won 31-23. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

You learn pretty quickly as a kid that, sometimes, bad things happen to good people. And you learn even more quickly as a fantasy football player that, quite often actually, bad matchups happen to good players. 

So do you trust that player's talent and role in his offense, or do you concede that the opposing defense will probably bottle him up and keep his fantasy production low?

It's a question we all wrestle with every week, and one I'll attempt to help you answer with three players all facing difficult assignments this week. Here's my start 'em, sit 'em for this week's fantasy stars with brutal matchups.

 

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

Oct 27, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) makes a pass against the Arizona Cardinals in the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Falcons 27-13. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY

Matchup: Carolina Panthers

Analysis: Ryan has now played two games without Julio Jones and Roddy White. The difference between those two showings couldn't be more different. 

Against Tampa Bay in Week 7, he threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns, good for 23 fantasy points. Against Arizona last week, he managed 301 passing yards and a touchdown but also threw four interceptions and just nine fantasy points. 

Without White and Jones, defenses are basically mugging Matt Ryan's favorite target in the red zone, Tony Gonzalez. And the fact that Steven Jackson looked awful against the Cardinals is not much of a positive sign, either. 

It gets worse for Ryan. The Panthers allow just 222 passing yards per game (tied for ninth in the NFL) and allow just 9.7 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks per week in standard-scoring leagues, second-best in the league.

Even if White returns, Ryan just isn't a very good start this week. Unless you are in a two-quarterback league, chances are you have a better option at quarterback on your bench.

Verdict: Sit

 

Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills

Oct 27, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Thad Lewis (9) passes the ball to Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson (22) against the New Orleans Saints during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans defeated Buffalo 35-1

Matchup: Kansas City Chiefs

Analysis: It is not easy to run on the Chiefs. The team allows just 103.3 rushing yards per game (11th in the NFL), has given up just two rushing touchdowns (tied for second) and allows a paltry 10.9 fantasy points to opposing running backs per week (third). 

None of this bodes well for Fred Jackson, who has been one of fantasy's most consistent performers at its most unpredictable position this year, running back. Even though he's scored double-digit fantasy points in seven of eight games and is ranked No. 9 at the position, this matchup is not very promising. 

Add in the fact that the Chiefs will likely stack the box with little fear that Thad Lewis will beat them through the air and the possibility that C.J. Spiller could return and steal some of his touches, and you have a recipe for a very mediocre week. 

Like the next player to appear on this list, you probably can't afford to sit him, but don't expect much more than flex production this week. Consider him a very low-end RB2.

VerdictStart (unless you have a deep bench and can afford to sit him) and cross your fingers.

 

Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Oct 13, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) scores a touchdown during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks

Analysis: Everything about this matchup is screaming "Danger, Will Robinson!" The Seahawks allow just 184 passing yards per game (third in the NFL) and 14.8 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers per week (fifth) in standard-scoring leagues. 

Plus, the Bucs are rushing for just 93.6 rushing yards per game and will be without key offensive players in Doug Martin and Mike Williams, meaning Seattle can not only shadow Jackson with excellent corner Richard Sherman but can also roll coverage his way if they so choose. 

Jackson still managed to post 7.9 fantasy points last week on 79 receiving yards, but a decent chunk of that came in garbage time. If you start him this week, you are basically rolling the dice that he can produce once the game is already out of hand.

In my opinion, that makes him nothing more than a WR3 and flex consideration this week.  

Verdict: Start (unless you have a deep bench and can afford to sit him) and cross your fingers.

 

Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer your fantasy lineup questions, commiserate with you over underachieving players and muse over how terrible it must be to get stuck in line next to an impatient Dez Bryant at the DMV.

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