With many leagues beginning their playoffs in Week 14, there are only five more weeks for fantasy owners to make their push to make the playoffs or solidify their playoff positioning.
Other than adding someone from the waiver wire, such as Jackie Battle, there is nothing you can do if you lose a key player on your fantasy squad, such as Kansas City's Jamaal Charles, to a season-ending injury.
Perhaps more tormenting than losing your stud player to a season-ending injury is when one of them consistently underperforms as you patiently await a breakout.
For example, the slow start by Tennessee's Chris Johnson has turned into a general ineffectiveness. If you own "Every Coach's Dream," do you bench him?
I ranked Johnson as my No. 20 running back this week and Javon Ringer, his "backup," as my No. 25 running back for the week. Based on talent and speed, I wouldn't be surprised if Johnson went off this week or in any week. At the same time, I wouldn't be surprised by another 18-yard performance either.
Johnson has 107 rush attempts with only 302 yards (or a pathetic 2.8 yards per carry) and only one touchdown in seven games. While he has one 100-yard game, Johnson has rushed for 53 yards or less in all six of his other games.
Last week, Ringer was more effective (than Johnson) in his first game with a significant workload as he finished with 102 yards from scrimmage (60 rushing yards and 42 receiving yards).
The Titans have a reasonably tough matchup against the Bengals this week, but this week might give us some insight into whether either one of these two backs will be able to exploit their Week 10 matchup against the Panthers, who have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.
Here are some players to consider starting in Week 9:
QB - Eli Manning, Giants (at NE): Although Eli Manning is likely to be without the team's top receiver in Hakeem Nicks, who is doubtful for Sunday's game, Manning has thrown for 345.5 yards per game and has a 7:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio over his past four games. This week, the Giants head to Foxboro to take on the Patriots, who have allowed a league-high 323.1 passing yards per game.
RB - BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots (vs. NYG): Green-Ellis had only five carries for nine yards against the Steelers last week, but assuming that the Law Firm gets a much larger workload this week, he has a very favorable matchup. Over the past five weeks, the Giants have allowed four 100-yard rushers in addition to 98 rushing yards to Seattle's Marshawn Lynch.
RB - Willis McGahee, Broncos (at OAK): After missing last week's game with a broken hand, McGahee, who is listed as probable on the injury report, is expected to return this week. Before suffering the hand injury against the Dolphins in Week 7, McGahee had three 100-yard games in four weeks. The Raiders have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.
WR - Brandon Lloyd, Rams (at ARI): Lloyd, who has been reunited with former coach Josh McDaniels, is the clear-cut No. 1 receiver in St. Louis and he has been targeted a total of 25 times in his first two games with the Rams. Lloyd has 12 receptions for 127 yards and a score in those two games, but he should be even more effective if Sam Bradford returns from his high-ankle sprain against the Cardinals, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.
WR - Julio Jones, Falcons (at IND): Jones has not played since he suffered his hamstring injury against the Packers on Sunday Night Football in Week 5. Before suffering the injury, Jones had back-to-back 100-yard games and he returns in time for a favorable matchup against the Colts. Indianapolis has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing receivers.
WR - Victor Cruz, Giants (at NE): With Nicks (likely) out as noted above, Manning will look for Cruz and teammate Mario Manningham to pick up the slack. Cruz has 98-plus yards in four of his past five games and has a total of four receiving touchdowns during that span.
TE - Fred Davis, Redskins (vs. SF): Provided Davis plays on Sunday despite a bad ankle, he should be in your starting lineup, especially considering how tough San Francisco is against the run. Davis has been the lone bright spot in the Redskins offense lately as he has three straight games with six-plus receptions and 80-plus yards. Davis has 80-plus yards in five games this season.
Here are some players to consider sitting in Week 9:
QB - Joe Flacco, Ravens (at PIT): Flacco has been consistent in regard to his inconsistency. In his past six games, he has alternated between bad performances (197 passing yards or less) and strong performances (305 passing yards or more). After throwing for 336 yards last week, Flacco faces the league's top-ranked pass defense. That said, Flacco threw for 224 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions against Pittsburgh in Week 1.
RB - Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks (at DAL): Lynch, who is my 26th-ranked running back this week, is a possible flex option if you start two running backs and have a flex option. That said, Lynch has had more than 33 rushing yards in only two of six games against relatively bad run defenses in Arizona and New York (Giants). Before last week, the Cowboys ranked first in the NFL in run defense and still rank fourth in the NFL.
RB - Ryan Torain, Redskins (vs. SF): In his past three games against favorable matchups (Philadelphia, Carolina and Buffalo), Torain has a total of 20 carries for 31 yards and one reception for six yards and no touchdowns. It's hard to get excited about Torain this week as the 'Skins take on the league's top-ranked run defense in San Francisco.
WR - Eric Decker, Broncos (at OAK): In two games with Tebow as a starting quarterback, Decker has had one good game (six receptions for 72 yards and a score) and one bad game (two receptions for 21 yards). In those games, quarterback Tim Tebow completed only 13 and 18 passes, respectively. With Tebow's inconsistency as a passer, it's difficult to count on production from Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Eddie Royal, etc.
WR - Plaxico Burress, Jets (at BUF): Burress is coming off a three-touchdown performance although he had only four receptions for 25 yards. In the three games before that, Burress had a total of only seven receptions for 91 yards and no touchdowns. Burress is questionable due to his back and is outside of my top 30 receivers for the week at No. 38.
WR - Lance Moore, Saints (vs. TB): Moore is coming off a strong performance against the Rams as he hauled in seven receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown. In his previous five games, however, Moore had 50 yards (or less) and no touchdowns including his Week 6 matchup against the Bucs when he had only two receptions.
TE - Dustin Keller, Jets (at BUF): Keller is just outside of my top 12 fantasy tight ends this week, which means there is a good chance that he should be on your bench. Keller has 50-plus receiving yards in each of his past two games, but he has four straight games with five or less fantasy points in standard-scoring leagues.
For our positional and flex rankings for standard scoring and point-per-reception (PPR) scoring, visit our fantasy section at TheTipDrill.com, which we will update up to the first kickoff on Sunday.
Good luck in Week 9!
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