Fantasy Football Week 9 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
In fantasy football, just like in the NFL, sometimes you have to go into a week with your lineup at significantly less than 100 percent. Having six more teams on bye in Week 9 is an example of that.
We all have been dealing with heavy injury questions and byes for weeks now, so quit the woe-is-me attitude. We are stuck in the same pile of poop.
What you can do is reference the starts, sits, analysis and position-by-position rankings contained in this six-part slideshow. It might not change your life, but it can help change your fantasy fortunes before the stretch run begins in earnest.
Quarterbacks: Start Terrelle Pryor over Likes of Tom Brady, Matt Ryan
Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders
If that Pryor run against the Steelers last week didn't get you excited about this guy, you are either hardly alive or a Chiefs fan. Pryor has emerged as a trustworthy fantasy option in most leagues now, particularly as a bye-week replacement. It also helps he is facing the Eagles, who have the second-worst pass defense in football and are the eighth-best team in fantasy against quarterbacks.
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
He has proved to be a solid fantasy option week to week for the undefeated Chiefs, and he draws the Bills this week, which makes him a useful fill-in if you have Peyton Manning on bye. The Bills are the second-worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks to date and bottom 10 against the pass. Smith should be good for 250 yards and a few touchdowns here.
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
With the emergence of rookie receiver Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates being surprisingly healthy, you probably don't need a great reason to start Rivers in a given week. Facing the Redskins—fifth-worst against the pass and fourth-worst against fantasy quarterbacks—makes the resurgent Rivers a home run of a start in all leagues.
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
He has gotten progressively healthier and more productive for fantasy owners thanks mostly to the rise of rookie tight end Jordan Reed. RGIII should be considered a must-start fantasy option in the second half of the season, and the matchup against the Chargers is a favorable way to start that stretch. San Diego is the sixth-worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks and has a bottom-10 pass defense.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Wilson has run a bit hot and cold, but this figures to be another one of his hot weeks. The Bucs opened the year with a dangerous defense, but the unit has been suspect of late, allowing big weeks to Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and even Nick Foles. Wilson is too promising to sit in this matchup, particularly at home. This is going to be a Seahawks bonanza.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
We never thought we would see this day, but Brady is coming off a bad game and is dealing with that hand issue the Patriots just won't fess up to. Also, Brady's receivers have either been in and out of the lineup or are just too raw to trust on a consistent basis. Topping everything off here, the Steelers are the No. 1 team in fantasy against quarterbacks, even amid their own struggles. Sit Brady for any of the five above and the 12 passers we rank ahead of him below.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
OK, so you might not be able to afford to sit him with six teams on bye and even Brady rating as a bad play this week. But, if you have one of the 11 passers below available to you, you will want to put Ryan on the pine no matter the game-time decision on Roddy White (ankle/hamstring).
The Panthers have the No. 2-ranked defense in the NFL and have been third-best in fantasy against quarterbacks. Ryan was terrible at Arizona, and this matchup at Carolina shapes up to be a lot tougher for him and his fantasy owners.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
He was a disappointment at Oakland, so we should expect him to be even worse at New England this Sunday afternoon. The Pats are No. 5 against the pass and No. 6 in fantasy against quarterbacks. Also, the injury to Brady likely means this game will be a defensive struggle, which makes for subpar fantasy passer numbers. Big Ben is a bad bye-week fill-in here.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Here is another Super Bowl-winning quarterback who should sit for the upstarts above who have never sniffed a Super Bowl. Flacco is facing a Browns defense that has a shutdown cornerback in Joe Haden and is No. 6 in the NFL against the pass. Expect the Ravens to play another ground-and-pound game against their division rival and leave Flacco on your fantasy bench in standard, one-quarterback formats.
|1||Drew Brees||NO||at NYJ||1||0|
|2||Aaron Rodgers||GB||vs. Chi||2||0|
|3||Cam Newton||Car||vs. Atl||3||0|
|4||Tony Romo||Dal||vs. Min||4||0|
|5||Philip Rivers||SD||at Was||5||0|
|6||Andrew Luck||Ind||at Hou||8||+2|
|7||Russell Wilson||Sea||vs. TB||7||0|
|8||Andy Dalton||Cin||at Mia||10||+2|
|9||Robert Griffin||Was||vs. SD||6||-3|
|10||Alex Smith||KC||at Buf||13||+3|
|11||Terrelle Pryor||Oak||vs. Phi||9||-2|
|12||Matt Ryan||Atl||at Car||12||0|
|13||Tom Brady||NE||vs. Pit||14||+1|
|14||Jake Locker||Ten||at StL||11||-3|
|15||Nick Foles||Phi||at Oak||15||0|
|16||Josh McCown||Chi||at GB||16||0|
|17||Joe Flacco||Bal||at Cle||19||+2|
|18||Ben Roethlisberger||Pit||at NE||17||-1|
|19||Geno Smith||NYJ||vs. NO||21||+2|
|20||Ryan Tannehill||Mia||vs. Cin||18||-2|
|21||Jason Campbell||Cle||vs. Bal||20||-1|
|22||Case Keenum||Hou||vs. Ind||22||0|
|23||Christian Ponder||Min||at Dal||23||0|
|24||Kellen Clemens||StL||vs. Ten||28||+4|
|25||Mike Glennon||TB||at Sea||24||-1|
|26||Jeff Tuel||Buf||vs. KC||29||+3|
|27||Matt Flynn||Buf||vs. KC||30||+3|
|28||Thaddeus Lewis||Buf||vs. KC||27||-1|
Running Backs: Time to Put Faith in Fantasy Pariahs DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews
DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
He is returning from his MCL sprain just in time to face the Vikings defense, which has allowed the second-most points to running backs to date. Sure, there is some remaining injury risk, but you can bet the Cowboys will monitor him, and all it will take for Murray to perform like a worthy fantasy starter is one touchdown. He will get that against the Vikings, who have 10 of them to backs.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
He has to deal with a timeshare with Danny Woodhead, but what back in fantasy doesn't have someone stealing the points? Mathews went into his bye with back-to-back 100-yard games, and he draws a Redskins defense this week that is fourth-worst against the run and third-worst against fantasy backs. Mathews is a borderline must-start in all leagues here.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
This one is a bit obvious, but there was talk late this week James Starks would get more work coming off his 57 yards and a touchdown last week. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tyler Dunne reports the Packers want to get more work for Starks to lessen the load on Lacy down the stretch.
It makes sense. But sitting Lacy in fantasy won't. The Bears have proved to be soft up front and are fifth-worst in fantasy against backs. Lacy is a must-start option, while Starks is a nice sleeper for Monday night magic.
Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Another year, another disappointing start for Johnson owners. The good news is second-half rebounds have too. The schedule shapes up favorably for CJ2K down the stretch, and it starts this week with the Rams, who have allowed the sixth-most points to fantasy backs. Johnson will also get the benefit of a more lively Jake Locker back under center, pushing the offense into scoring position.
Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams
That was an impressive performance against the Seahawks run defense Monday night, and you shouldn't let his ankle issue keep you from starting him this week. The Rams offense is built around the rookie Stacy now, and the Titans are seventh-worst in fantasy against backs to date. Expect 80 yards and a touchdown even if he needs to give more carries to the slew of Rams backup runners.
Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
It took eight weeks, but the Pats have finally figured out where their bread is buttered. With Tom Brady banged up and struggling with his lack of continuity at wide receiver, Ridley came on last week and owned the day. The Steelers are up next, and they have struggled mightily against the run (eighth-worst in fantasy). Expect the busiest day of the year for Ridley and the Pats running game this week.
Roy Helu, Washington Redskins
Everyone jumped on Helu after his three-touchdown performance, and then he went and posted a mere 25 yards on six touches last time out. Helu is a function of game circumstances, and he needs a fast-paced game and the Redskins' hurry-up offense on the field. Don't count on that happening against the Chargers, who also happen to boast the No. 1 team in fantasy against backs.
Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, Khiry Robinson
This is a mess best avoided right now. Sproles was blanked last week with four catches for zero yards, while Ingram (toe) has practiced fully this week and is no longer on the official NFL injury report. That should affect Thomas at least, and likely Robinson too. Topping all this off, the Jets boast the No. 1 rush defense in the NFL and are top five against fantasy backs.
Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
C.J. Spiller (ankle) is probable against the Chiefs, so we should fully expect the Bills to finally unleash him on the NFL and in fantasy. The problem is, the Chiefs are top 10 against the run and No. 2 in fantasy against backs. You shouldn't sit Spiller—you drafted him in Round 1 to carry you—but you should shy away from Jackson now in this tough matchup.
Willis McGahee and Chris Ogbonnaya, Cleveland Browns
The Browns just are not running the ball with any kind of success, and it could be a function of the banged-up, past-his-prime McGahee just not being good enough. Ogbonnaya has stolen touches in recent weeks too. Neither back is intriguing against a Ravens defense that has allowed just one touchdown to backs and is No. 4 in fantasy against the position.
Mike James and Brian Leonard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Don't expect another surprise rushing game against the Seahawks defense, especially not in a non-division game when it is teeing off on its opponent in Seattle. This shapes up to be a bad, bad week to be trusting the Bucs, especially these two spare-part running backs.
|Rank||Running Backs||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Adrian Peterson||Min||at Dal||2||+1|
|2||Jamaal Charles||KC||at Buf||1||-1|
|3||LeSean McCoy||Phi||at Oak||3||0|
|4||Matt Forte||Chi||at GB||6||+2|
|5||Eddie Lacy||GB||vs. Chi||4||-1|
|6||Marshawn Lynch||Sea||vs. TB||5||-1|
|7||Ray Rice||Bal||at Cle||8||+1|
|8||Chris Johnson||Ten||at StL||13||+5|
|9||DeMarco Murray||Dal||vs. Min||9||0|
|10||Arian Foster||Hou||vs. Ind||10||0|
|11||Stevan Ridley||NE||vs. Pit||14||+3|
|12||Alfred Morris||Was||vs. SD||7||-5|
|13||Darren McFadden||Oak||vs. Phi||11||-2|
|14||Trent Richardson||Ind||at Hou||19||+5|
|15||Le'Veon Bell||Pit||at NE||12||-3|
|16||C.J. Spiller||Buf||vs. KC||31||+15|
|17||Ryan Mathews||SD||at Was||17||0|
|18||Giovani Bernard||Cin||at Mia||20||+2|
|19||Steven Jackson||Atl||at Car||21||+2|
|20||Zac Stacy||StL||vs. Ten||15||-5|
|21||Fred Jackson||Buf||vs. KC||16||-5|
|22||DeAngelo Williams||Car||vs. Atl||23||+1|
|23||Lamar Miller||Mia||vs. Cin||24||+1|
|24||Chris Ivory||NYJ||vs. NO||29||+5|
|25||Darren Sproles||NO||at NYJ||22||-3|
|26||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Cin||at Mia||27||+1|
|27||Danny Woodhead||SD||at Was||18||-9|
|28||James Starks||GB||vs. Chi||40||+12|
|29||Pierre Thomas||NO||at NYJ||25||-4|
|30||Ben Tate||Hou||vs. Ind||35||+5|
|31||Jacquizz Rodgers||Atl||at Car||37||+6|
|32||Mike James||TB||at Sea||26||-6|
|33||Chris Ogbonnaya||Cle||vs. Bal||43||+10|
|34||Brandon Bolden||NE||vs. Pit||30||-4|
|35||Donald Brown||Ind||at Hou||32||-3|
|36||Roy Helu||Was||vs. SD||33||-3|
|37||Bilal Powell||NYJ||vs. NO||28||-9|
|38||Daryl Richardson||StL||vs. Ten||41||+3|
|39||Willis McGahee||Cle||vs. Bal||36||-3|
|40||Daniel Thomas||Mia||vs. Cin||38||-2|
|41||Bryce Brown||Phi||at Oak||49||+8|
|42||Bernard Pierce||Bal||at Cle||42||0|
|43||Mike Tolbert||Car||vs. Atl||34||-9|
|44||Jonathan Stewart||Car||vs. Atl||47||+3|
|45||Knile Davis||KC||at Buf||56||+11|
|46||LeGarrette Blount||NE||vs. Pit||46||0|
|47||Michael Bush||Chi||at GB||65||+18|
|48||Joseph Randle||Dal||vs. Min||45||-3|
|49||Jason Snelling||Atl||at Car||57||+8|
|50||Brian Leonard||TB||at Sea||44||-6|
|51||Shonn Greene||Ten||at StL||39||-12|
|52||Tashard Choice||Buf||vs. KC||48||-4|
|53||Johnathan Franklin||GB||vs. Chi||69||+16|
|54||Robert Turbin||Sea||vs. TB||52||-2|
|55||Khiry Robinson||NO||at NYJ||55||0|
|56||Fozzy Whittaker||Cle||vs. Bal||51||-5|
|57||Jackie Battle||Ten||at StL||68||+11|
|58||Lance Dunbar||Dal||vs. Min||50||-8|
|59||Rashad Jennings||Oak||vs. Phi||64||+5|
|60||Ronnie Brown||SD||at Was||61||+1|
|61||Toby Gerhart||Min||at Dal||59||-2|
|62||Felix Jones||Pit||at NE||63||+1|
Wide Receivers: Dexter McCluster Is Among the Options to Trust This Week
Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs
Some receiver from the Chiefs was going to be the first mention here, and we decided it couldn't be Dwayne Bowe, or even the fast-starting Donnie Avery. See, the Bills are the worst team in fantasy against wide receivers, so there will be some numbers to go around here.
We should expect them to go to the scat back-turned-receiver McCluster. He led the Chiefs in receiving the past two games, so make him a sleeper start this week against the suspect Bills secondary.
Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
Terrelle Pryor looks like he is a solid NFL quarterback to the point where you can now trust Moore at receiver on a regular basis. Against the Eagles—the second-worst team in fantasy against receivers—he should be a must-start. The Eagles have allowed an NFL-high 139 receptions to wide receivers to date. The next-closest teams are some 28 receptions behind.
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
Allen draws the Redskins matchup, the third-best one for a fantasy wideout, and has been drawing huge praise from the Chargers. Despite some questions about his 2012 knee issue and poor running time at the NFL combine, Allen has become Philip Rivers' go-to receiver.
Future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates is thoroughly impressed, telling Michael Gehlken of the Union-Tribune San Diego:
I knew he was good, but I've never seen this. I didn't think it would evolve this fast. He is making plays in the game, and I'm like, 'Wow.' ... You don't really expect it. They talk about his speed and this and that. The boy can play football, and he can get open. All that stuff about speed, if you can play and get open, that's what wins games for you. That's what makes plays for you. You can get a dog to run and jump. You know what I mean? That's what this league has underestimated.
Brandon LaFell, Carolina Panthers
After a big Week 6 against the Vikings, LaFell has posted back-to-back stinkers. The numbers should be better against the young Falcons cornerbacks, though. Atlanta is the fourth-worst team in fantasy against wide receivers, and LaFell should get the benefit of the attention Steve Smith and Greg Olsen draw in coverage. Start all three of Cam Newton's primary weapons. The Panthers and Newton are hot.
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
We did not see a healthy season coming from Garcon this year, nor did we expect him to lose his status as Robert Griffin III's go-man guy. But that is exactly what has happened with the breakthrough of rookie tight end Jordan Reed. We will give Garcon a huge vote of confidence here against a Chargers secondary that has given up the fifth-most points to wideouts.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Indianapolis Colts
Everyone jumped on this name when he caught a touchdown against Denver in Week 7 and Reggie Wayne (knee) went down for the season. We agree DHB is a nice sleeper, but he is a bad play against a Texans secondary that boasts the No. 1 pass defense and has been the stingiest to fantasy receivers. You cannot sit T.Y. Hilton, but you should avoid DHB and LaVon Brazill in this matchup.
Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Austin Pettis and Brian Quick
You have to continue to hate the Rams receivers in fantasy with Kellen Clemens as the quarterback. The Rams are a ground-and-pound team now, and the Titans matchup this week is another unfavorable one. First, Clemens had to face the Seahawks secondary, and now come the Titans, who are quietly No. 7 against the pass and No. 2 against fantasy wideouts.
Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson
Tom Brady's swollen hand is well-publicized even if the Pats have tried to hide it. Brady is coming off a bad week throwing the ball despite a full set of receivers now, and the Steelers have the second-best pass defense in football. They are also No. 5 against receivers. Sit all of your Pats options until Brady proves healthy and productive again.
Stevie Johnson, Buffalo Bills
With Thad Lewis (ribs) doubtful on the NFL Injury Report, the Bills might have to start undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel against arguably the best defense in football, Kansas City. The Chiefs are No. 4 against the pass and have allowed less than a touchdown per game to opposing wideouts. Johnson is a bad play under these conditions in Buffalo.
|Rank||Wide Receivers||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Dez Bryant||Dal||vs. Min||1||0|
|2||A.J. Green||Cin||at Mia||3||+1|
|3||Brandon Marshall||Chi||at GB||4||+1|
|4||Jordy Nelson||GB||vs. Chi||2||-2|
|5||DeSean Jackson||Phi||at Oak||5||0|
|6||Andre Johnson||Hou||vs. Ind||11||+5|
|7||Josh Gordon||Cle||vs. Bal||7||0|
|8||Pierre Garcon||Was||vs. SD||6||-2|
|9||Terrance Williams||Dal||vs. Min||14||+5|
|10||Antonio Brown||Pit||at NE||8||-2|
|11||T.Y. Hilton||Ind||at Hou||15||+4|
|12||Steve Smith||Car||vs. Atl||12||0|
|13||Torrey Smith||Bal||at Cle||17||+4|
|14||Denarius Moore||Oak||vs. Phi||16||+2|
|15||Mike Wallace||Mia||vs. Cin||20||+5|
|16||Jarrett Boykin||GB||vs. Chi||18||+2|
|17||Harry Douglas||Atl||at Car||13||-4|
|18||Marvin Jones||Cin||at Mia||28||+10|
|19||Vincent Jackson||TB||at Sea||10||-9|
|20||Alshon Jeffery||Chi||at GB||19||-1|
|21||James Jones||GB||vs. Chi||30||+9|
|22||Keenan Allen||SD||at Was||9||-13|
|23||Roddy White||Atl||at Car||54||+31|
|24||Danny Amendola||NE||vs. Pit||25||+1|
|25||Golden Tate||Sea||vs. TB||24||-1|
|26||Marques Colston||NO||at NYJ||22||-4|
|27||Kenny Stills||NO||at NYJ||37||+10|
|28||Dexter McCluster||KC||at Buf||52||+24|
|29||Kendall Wright||Ten||at StL||21||-8|
|30||Steve Johnson||Buf||vs. KC||23||-7|
|31||Greg Jennings||Min||at Dal||34||+3|
|32||Donnie Avery||KC||at Buf||55||+23|
|33||Lance Moore||NO||at NYJ||36||+3|
|34||DeAndre Hopkins||Hou||vs. Ind||40||+6|
|35||Nate Washington||Ten||at StL||27||-8|
|36||Brandon LaFell||Car||vs. Atl||35||-1|
|37||Dwayne Bowe||KC||at Buf||29||-8|
|38||Darrius Heyward-Bey||Ind||at Hou||31||-7|
|39||Doug Baldwin||Sea||vs. TB||50||+11|
|40||Brian Hartline||Mia||vs. Cin||26||-14|
|41||Emmanuel Sanders||Pit||at NE||32||-9|
|42||Kenbrell Thompkins||NE||vs. Pit||61||+19|
|43||Eddie Royal||SD||at Was||45||+2|
|44||Jeremy Kerley||NYJ||vs. NO||33||-11|
|45||Vincent Brown||SD||at Was||38||-7|
|46||Stephen Hill||NYJ||vs. NO||43||-3|
|47||Drew Davis||Atl||at Car||48||+1|
|48||Mohamed Sanu||Cin||at Mia||72||+24|
|49||Jason Avant||Phi||at Oak||58||+9|
|50||Riley Cooper||Phi||at Oak||53||+3|
|51||Jermaine Kearse||Sea||vs. TB||65||+14|
|52||Aaron Dobson||NE||vs. Pit||42||-10|
|53||Julian Edelman||NE||vs. Pit||51||-2|
|54||Tiquan Underwood||TB||at Sea||71||+17|
|55||Jacoby Jones||Bal||at Cle||60||+5|
|56||Jerome Simpson||Min||at Dal||49||-7|
|57||Davone Bess||Cle||vs. Bal||74||+17|
|58||Robert Woods||Buf||vs. KC||57||-1|
|59||Rod Streater||Oak||vs. Phi||41||-18|
|60||Chris Givens||StL||vs. Ten||56||-4|
|61||Leonard Hankerson||Was||vs. SD||59||-2|
|62||Austin Pettis||StL||vs. Ten||64||+2|
|63||Marlon Brown||Bal||at Cle||46||-17|
|64||Lavon Brazill||Ind||at Hou||69||+5|
|65||David Nelson||NYJ||vs. NO||44||-21|
|66||Santana Moss||Was||vs. SD||73||+7|
|67||Jerricho Cotchery||Pit||at NE||70||+3|
|68||Cole Beasley||Dal||vs. Min||62||-6|
|69||Tavon Austin||StL||vs. Ten||66||-3|
|70||Earl Bennett||Chi||at GB||87||+17|
|71||Ted Ginn||Car||vs. Atl||39||-32|
|72||Kenny Britt||Ten||at StL||88||+16|
|73||Damian Williams||Ten||at StL||95||+22|
|74||Greg Little||Cle||vs. Bal||75||+1|
|75||Cordarrelle Patterson||Min||at Dal||68||-7|
Tight Ends: Start Kyle Rudolph and Sit Scott Chandler Because of the Matchups
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
He has been a fantasy enigma, but he gets some continuity with the Vikings' decision to start Christian Ponder again. Also, Dallas has the worst pass defense in the NFL and is fifth-worst in fantasy against tight ends. Rudolph is a solid fill-in if you have a Julius Thomas on bye this week.
Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears
You can be a little worried about Josh McCown starting for the Bears, but a limited quarterback's best friend tends to be the play-action pass to the tight end. Bennett should get plenty of targets, catches and yards against a Packers defense that has given up the second-most points to fantasy tight ends to date.
Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
This one is a function of circumstance instead of matchup. The Texans have the top-ranked pass defense in the NFL and have given up the fewest yards to tight ends, but Fleener will take on a larger role in the offense with Reggie Wayne (knee) out for the season.
Fleener has been great at times, and he should be a big part of the Colts' play-action game against the Texans. In fact, you should trust Fleener as your starter in all leagues regardless of the matchups here on out.
Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills
Not only do the Bills have an uncertain quarterback situation with Thad Lewis (ribs) doubtful and undrafted free-agent Jeff Tuel potentially starting, but the Chiefs have been the best team in fantasy against tight ends thus far this season. They have not given up a touchdown to the position, and a random touchdown is the only reason you would consider owning Chandler in a given week. Cut and ignore him here.
Tim Wright, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
He has had some great mojo with fellow rookie Mike Glennon as the starting quarterback, but a road game at Seattle and the No. 3 pass defense in the NFL is a terrible time to hope for a fantasy-worthy week out of the undrafted rookie tight end Wright.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Seeing Walker as the fourth-most added tight end in CBS Sports leagues is rather surprising. Walker just doesn't get a big enough piece of the pie for the Titans, and the matchup this week against the Rams is a bad one. The Rams are the fourth-toughest team in fantasy against the position. Walker is a terrible play. Drop him if you picked him up hoping for a one-yard touchdown.
|Rank||Tight Ends||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Jimmy Graham||NO||at NYJ||2||+1|
|2||Rob Gronkowski||NE||vs. Pit||1||-1|
|3||Antonio Gates||SD||at Was||3||0|
|4||Jason Witten||Dal||vs. Min||6||+2|
|5||Jordan Reed||Was||vs. SD||4||-1|
|6||Jordan Cameron||Cle||vs. Bal||5||-1|
|7||Tony Gonzalez||Atl||at Car||7||0|
|8||Martellus Bennett||Chi||at GB||9||+1|
|9||Coby Fleener||Ind||at Hou||13||+4|
|10||Greg Olsen||Car||vs. Atl||8||-2|
|11||Kyle Rudolph||Min||at Dal||10||-1|
|12||Heath Miller||Pit||at NE||12||0|
|13||Jermaine Gresham||Cin||at Mia||20||+7|
|14||Charles Clay||Mia||vs. Cin||11||-3|
|15||Tyler Eifert||Cin||at Mia||17||+2|
|16||Jared Cook||StL||vs. Ten||18||+2|
|17||Garrett Graham||Hou||vs. Ind||14||-3|
|18||Andrew Quarless||GB||vs. Chi||26||+8|
|19||Scott Chandler||Buf||vs. KC||19||0|
|20||Tim Wright||TB||at Sea||15||-5|
|21||Anthony Fasano||KC||at Buf||27||+6|
|22||Delanie Walker||Ten||at StL||16||-6|
|23||Ben Watson||NO||at NYJ||29||+6|
|24||Brent Celek||Phi||at Oak||24||0|
|25||Lance Kendricks||StL||vs. Ten||30||+5|
|26||Zach Miller||Sea||vs. TB||22||-4|
|27||Dallas Clark||Bal||at Cle||21||-6|
|28||Sean McGrath||KC||at Buf||37||+9|
|29||Zach Ertz||Phi||at Oak||31||+2|
Defense/Special Teams: Houston Texans No Longer a Bad Matchup or a Good Play
The Colts shouldn't rate high defensively in terms of talent, but they have had their moments for fantasy owners this season. You can consider them a streaming option against the Texans, who have been the worst team in fantasy against opposing defense/special teams this season. Sure, the bad numbers were mostly a function of Matt Schaub's pick-six streak, but who's to say Case Keenum won't fall into that same funk?
New Orleans Saints
You have to love what Rob Ryan has done for the once-maligned Saints defense just as much as you have to love the matchup against the Jets. They have been the third-worst team in fantasy against opposing defensive units to date, and the Saints figure to blow this one out and make it a huge day of turnovers and sacks as Geno Smith struggles in garbage time.
We don't quite understand how this once-sketchy defensive unit—which is still last against the pass, mind you—has scored the second-most points among defenses in standard fantasy leagues to date. The good news is, the Vikings struggle to throw the ball, and their shaky quarterback situation makes them a team to feast on for fantasy owners who stream defenses.
Ignore the fact they currently have the No. 1-ranked defense in the NFL. They have been suspect in fantasy terms. They are the fifth-worst fantasy defensive unit right now, and the Colts just happen to be the second-toughest matchup for an opposing defense. The Texans should be cut, not starting in any fantasy lineups this week.
New York Jets
You can like a Rex Ryan team in most weeks but not against Drew Brees. Even if you think this Ryan-Ryan matchup will become a defensive chess match, the Jets are a bottom-10 fantasy defense facing a top-10 team against the position. Don't trust the Jets here.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Darrelle Revis was supposed to turn this defense around, and he did help at first, but the Bucs' offensive woes have made it just too tough for the Bucs to play fantasy-worthy defense. Also, you cannot trust any unit traveling up to Seattle to face the Seahawks and the 12th Man. The Bucs are sunk and can be cut in fantasy.
|Rank||Defenses and Special Teams||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Seattle Seahawks||Sea||vs. TB||2||+1|
|2||Kansas City Chiefs||KC||at Buf||1||-1|
|3||New England Patriots||NE||vs. Pit||5||+2|
|4||Cincinnati Bengals||Cin||at Mia||3||-1|
|5||Carolina Panthers||Car||vs. Atl||6||+1|
|6||Baltimore Ravens||Bal||at Cle||7||+1|
|7||New Orleans Saints||NO||at NYJ||4||-3|
|8||Indianapolis Colts||Ind||at Hou||8||0|
|9||Dallas Cowboys||Dal||vs. Min||9||0|
|10||San Diego Chargers||SD||at Was||23||+13|
|11||Green Bay Packers||GB||vs. Chi||11||0|
|12||St. Louis Rams||StL||vs. Ten||14||+2|
|13||Chicago Bears||Chi||at GB||24||+11|
|14||Tennessee Titans||Ten||at StL||10||-4|
|15||Philadelphia Eagles||Phi||at Oak||15||0|
|16||Cleveland Browns||Cle||vs. Bal||12||-4|
|17||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||TB||at Sea||20||+3|
|18||New York Jets||NYJ||vs. NO||19||+1|
|19||Miami Dolphins||Mia||vs. Cin||17||-2|
|20||Houston Texans||Hou||vs. Ind||16||-4|
Kickers: Follow the Productive Quarterbacks When Choosing at This Position
Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys
He has had some uneven weeks through the middle of the season, but the Vikings defense has been one of the most suspect in the NFL, and the Vikings have given up the seventh-most points to kickers in fantasy to date. Keep Bailey active.
Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks
He wasn't the top of anyone's kicker lists in the preseason—he wasn't even drafted in a lot of leagues—but he has been the fifth-most productive in fantasy this year, and he faces a Bucs team that has been bottom-10 against kickers.
Nick Folk, New York Jets
You can expect the matchup of the Ryan twins to be a defensive struggle, but don't go banking on the Jets kicker against the Saints. They have allowed a league-low nine field-goal attempts and the fewest points in fantasy to kickers.
Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears
You should feel uneasy about the Bears offense with Josh McCown starting, especially against a Packers team that is tied with the Saints for the fewest made field goals against (seven). The Packers are the fourth-toughest matchup for a kicker this season. Look elsewhere for Monday night magic.
Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson just hasn't been able to do the same damage he did a year ago despite equally unimpressive quarterback play. It has affected Walsh for fantasy owners, pushing him out of the top 20 among kickers in standard leagues. Cut this guy until Peterson or the Vikings show anything offensively.
|1||Stephen Gostkowski||NE||vs. Pit||1||0|
|2||Ryan Succop||KC||at Buf||10||+8|
|3||Dan Bailey||Dal||vs. Min||2||-1|
|4||Garrett Hartley||NO||at NYJ||3||-1|
|5||Mason Crosby||GB||vs. Chi||4||-1|
|6||Alex Henery||Phi||at Oak||9||+3|
|7||Steven Hauschka||Sea||vs. TB||7||0|
|8||Justin Tucker||Bal||at Cle||12||+4|
|9||Matt Bryant||Atl||at Car||11||+2|
|10||Caleb Sturgis||Mia||vs. Cin||22||+12|
|11||Adam Vinatieri||Ind||at Hou||6||-5|
|12||Nick Novak||SD||at Was||5||-7|
|13||Mike Nugent||Cin||at Mia||18||+5|
|14||Greg Zuerlein||StL||vs. Ten||20||+6|
|15||Blair Walsh||Min||at Dal||15||0|
|16||Robbie Gould||Chi||at GB||17||+1|
|17||Kai Forbath||Was||vs. SD||8||-9|
|18||Graham Gano||Car||vs. Atl||13||-5|
|19||Sebastian Janikowski||Oak||vs. Phi||16||-3|
|20||Nick Folk||NYJ||vs. NO||21||+1|