Having trouble with your fantasy football lineup heading into Week 9? With bye weeks and constant injuries, how could you not be? Well, unless you’re undefeated, right?
If you’re not one of the lucky 7-1 or 8-0 teams, you’re probably fighting for your season, or trying to gain that little bit of separation that could mean the difference between a first round bye, and a first round exit in your league’s fantasy playoffs.
But before we can assists you with this week’s Fantasy Versus Decision-Maker column, we need to look back at last week’s successes.
We vouched for Kyle Orton to bounce back and perform better than Donovan McNabb in Week 8, and based off of McNabb’s benching and weak showing, we were right. It also didn’t hurt that Orton tossed a touchdown, along with 369 yards through the air.
We also picked Marion Barber over Tim Hightower in an ugly battle of “Do I have to?” running back options. It’s too true and so sad, but every week a fantasy owner has to make that tough call between two guys that will ultimately fail. It was never more true than in Week 8 with both of these guys—but we got the call right, as Barber somehow mustered better production (if we can call it that).
We lost the battle waged on the fantasy fields between Blair White and Anthony Gonzalez, as White wasn’t even targeted once against the Houston Texans, while Gonzalez looked sharp and picked up over 60 yards receiving.
To end Week 8′s review, Heath Miller beat out Kellen Winslow (who we picked) with two receptions for 29 yards. Yeah, it was that kind of week.
Without further ado, read on for our four fantasy matchup picks for Week 9.
Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati Bengals vs Matt Schaub, QB, Houston Texans
I know what you’re thinking: Who the heck would ever start Palmer over Schaub? And my friend, we’re right there with you. However, Schaub hasn’t been particularly great or consistent in 2010, and he’s been dealing with a struggling receiving corps plagued by injuries and inconsistency. On top of that he has to go up against the league’s top-ranked pass defense in San Diego.
On the other hand, Palmer faces a relatively beatable Pittsburgh pass defense, but will likely have his hands full overall with an aggressive run defense that will make him win the game. It’s because of that that we’d seriously rather throw caution to the wind and see if Schaub can pull off some magic in Week 9.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers vs Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams, RB, Miami Dolphins
Sounds like an easy call at first glance, but I’ll bet many would have said the same thing about this matchup last week. Not so fast, fantasy fans, because Stewart laid an egg last week. As for Baltimore’s tough run defense, just ask Peyton Hillis if they can be had.
So, truly, there’s an argument that can be waged for either side. However, we’re begging Stewart to show up and pretend to be capable of reclaiming the fantasy glory he shared with DeAngelo Williams in 2009. With the Dolphins backs splitting carries against a tough run defense, we’ll give Stewart a mulligan for last week and give him a shot.
Davone Bess, WR, Miami Dolphins vs Patrick Crayton, WR, San Diego Chargers
Bess is a PPR demon and should be getting tons of looks this week when the Baltimore Ravens will be primarily focused on locking down Brandon Marshall. On the other hand, Crayton is facing a horrible Texans pass defense, and with Malcom Floyd and Legadu Naanee out he should be the top guy for Philip Rivers.
Bess has been a pretty reliable receiver in PPR leagues all season—he’s registered under one reception just once. However, even with Baltimore’s defense focusing on Marshall, fantasy owners need to be concerned over whether or not Chad Henne can actually get the ball to his other receivers. And on the flip side, Crayton has had some nice games, but can he handle the spotlight as a number one receiver?
Crayton has 17 catches over the past three games and has the bigger role with the better matchup. Both should make for solid WR3s this week, but Crayton gets the nod.
Brent Celek, TE, Philadelphia Eagles vs Jacob Tamme, TE, Indianapolis Colts
The classic case of the guy who “should” be performing, and the guy who no one truly saw coming. Tamme put up six catches, 64 yards and a score in his first start, while Celek hasn’t had six catches or 60-plus yards in a game all season.
More importantly, Michael Vick is back in the saddle, and when Vick plays Celek is pretty much invisible. We can’t necessarily bank on Tamme repeating his Week 8 success all the time, but with Dallas Clark out for the season, we have to know Tamme will remain involved. This season’s history suggests that going with the guy making his second start is actually the better call. Roll with Tamme.