Week 9 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Exploit and Avoid These Sunday Matchups

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistNovember 5, 2016

Dez Bryant and other stars have monster Week 9 matchups.
Dez Bryant and other stars have monster Week 9 matchups.Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Even with another six teams on bye in Week 9, fantasy football owners cannot afford to ignore the importance of matchups.

While never fun to sit a big name, a bad matchup can tank a week on its own. Should owners know where to look, the inverse can win a week.

As a brief example, San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers sat in a terrible matchup against the Denver Broncos and totaled 12 points last week. New York Jets running back Matt Forte had an incredible one, though, thanks to an encounter with the Cleveland Browns—he tallied 21.

Here is a look at value comparisons and some of the matchups to know and avoid ahead of the weekend's action.



Derek Carr (vs. DEN) vs. Aaron Rodgers (vs. IND)Aaron Rodgers
Blake Bortles (at KC) vs. Dak Prescott (at CLE)Dak Prescott
Eli Manning (vs. PHI) vs. Drew Brees (at SF)Drew Brees
Andrew Luck (at GB) vs. Matthew Stafford (at MIN)Andrew Luck
Philip Rivers (vs. TEN) vs. Cam Newton (at LA)Cam Newton
Author's opinion

Matchup to Exploit: Ryan Tannehill, MIA (vs. NYJ)

Oct 23, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA;  Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) reacts during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins won 28-25. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Need a quality streaming option in Week 9? Look no further than Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins.

Tannehill hasn't impressed by any means this year, having gone for 18 or more points just twice. It helps explain his 22.9 ownership percentage.

Yet this week looks like a can't-miss affair with Tannehill facing the New York Jets. His AFC East rivals allow the ninth-most points to quarterbacks on average and have coughed up 15 passing scores this season.

Backed by a strong run game thanks to Jay Ajayi, Tannehill should have one of his best games of the year.


Matchup to Avoid: Derek Carr, OAK (vs. DEN)

One of the most difficult things owners must do over the weekend is avoid Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. 

It hurts. It hurts a lot. Carr just put on a show in Week 8, exploding for 35 points via four touchdowns and 513 yards.

But there is a big, big difference between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense Carr embarrassed last week and the Denver unit he has to encounter in Week 9. The Broncos got a mention in the intro for shutting down Rivers, and continue to allow the fewest points to opposing passers on average this year.

The Broncos have given up more than one touchdown through the air in a game once and never allowed more than 20 points.


Running Back

Jonathan Stewart (at LA) vs. Matt Forte (at MIA)Matt Forte
Terrance West (vs. PIT) vs. Melvin Gordon (vs. TEN)Melvin Gordon
Ezekiel Elliott (at CLE) vs. Frank Gore (at GB)Ezekiel Elliott
Isaiah Crowell (vs. DAL) vs. Latavius Murray (vs. DEN)Isaiah Crowell
Theo Riddick (at MIN) vs. Mike Gillislee (at SEA)Mike Gillislee
Author's opinion

Matchup to Exploit: Matt Forte, NYJ (at MIA)

While quietly, Forte sits seventh in scoring at running back so far this year. 

No reason to turn away now. Forte has 21 or more points in his past two outings and next gets the Miami Dolphins.

Miami comes out of a bye week still seeking answers in most areas. A defense featuring names such as Ndamukong Suh isn't the scariest unit around, not with it having already allowed 148 rushing yards or more in three games.

Forte's dual-threat ways will have him post another strong day for owners who trust the veteran to get it done.


Matchup to Avoid: Frank Gore, IND (at GB)

Oct 16, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore (23) warms up prior to the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Gore of the Indianapolis Colts is another veteran quietly getting it done this year, entering Week 9 10th in scoring at the position.

Gore hasn't overly impressed with his outputs, having never gone for more than 14 points, but he's been consistent on a week-to-week basis.

Owners have to know when Gore will hit 14 points or fall to other prior totals such as 10 or worse. Week 9 is one of the latter thanks to a game against the Green Bay Packers and a defense allowing the fewest points to backs on average.

The Packers have allowed just two rushing scores this year and four opposing backfields failed to hit double digits. There's no reason to think Gore can do it on his own.


Wide Receiver

Amari Cooper (vs. DEN) vs. Dez Bryant (at CLE)Dez Bryant
Jordy Nelson (vs. IND) vs. Terrelle Pryor Sr. (vs. DAL)Jordy Nelson
Jordan Matthews (at NYG) vs. Brandin Cooks (at SF)Jordan Matthews
Donte Moncrief (at GB) vs. Demaryius Thomas (at OAK)Demaryius Thomas
Kelvin Benjamin (at LA) vs. Doug Baldwin (vs. BUF)Doug Baldwin
Author's opinion

Matchup to Exploit: Dez Bryant, DAL (at CLE)

It almost sounds silly to suggest owners exploit Dallas Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant.

But look at it this way—Bryant is an unknown with rookie Dak Prescott under center. In four healthy games, he's scored zero, 10 points twice and 17 points. He's caught only 15 of 37 targets over those four games.

Bryant should look more like the guy who has bullied the league for years in Week 9 thanks to a matchup against the Cleveland Browns. As usual, it's as easy as it sounds against the Browns—the unit allows the fifth-most points to receivers this year.

With the Browns having found a way to allow 11 touchdowns to wideouts already, it seems a lock Bryant will score at least once.


Matchup to Avoid: Marvin Jones, DET (at MIN)

Oct 9, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate (15) celebrates with wide receiver Marvin Jones (11) after a catch during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Ford Field. Lions win 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Behind the decision to sit Carr when it comes to this week's tough calls is the one saying Marvin Jones of the Detroit Lions is a no-go against the Minnesota Vikings.

It's an odd situation. Jones sits eighth in scoring at wideout, yet only has two trips to double digits, with one coming in at 32 points. While he has scored seven or more points seven times this year, Jones is coming off a performance in which he only tallied three.

Now Jones could have two miserable outings in a row. The Vikings have allowed a touchdown to wideouts in each of the past three weeks, but just four overall on the season and allow the second-fewest points to wideouts on average.

There's no guarantee Lions receivers score against the unit and also no guarantee it's Jones putting up the points.


Tight End

Travis Kelce (vs. JAC) vs. Antonio Gates (vs. TEN)Travis Kelce
Mychal Rivera (vs. DEN) vs. Julius Thomas (at KC)Mychal Rivera
Kyle Rudolph (vs. DET) vs. Delanie Walker (at SD)Kyle Rudolph
Jason Witten (at CLE) vs. Eric Ebron (at MIN)Jason Witten
Gary Barnidge (vs. DAL) vs. Jimmy Graham (vs. BUF)Jimmy Graham
Author's opinion

Matchup to Exploit: Antonio Gates, SD (vs. TEN)

Oct 23, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons cornerback Robert Alford (23) breaks up a pass intended for San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates (85) in the fourth quarter at the Georgia Dome. The Chargers defeated the Falcons 33-30 in overtime. Man
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Antonio Gates bounce-back game has arrived.

Gates has lost plenty of attention to fellow tight end Hunter Henry this year. But Gates has taken back the starting gig and posted a touchdown with nine points in Week 9.

The only way to go is up with a matchup against the Tennessee Titans on deck. Those Titans allow the eighth-most points to tight ends this year and have allowed a touchdown to the position in back-to-back weeks. 

Gates, as most should understand by now given his amazing career, has the talent to make it a three.


Matchup to Avoid: Delanie Walker, TEN (at SD)

Titans tight end Delanie Walker has been one of the more frustrating fantasy weapons this year.

Walker has scored 12 or more points three times but also has outings of four, zero, three and two points. In a great Week 8 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he only managed seven points.

This makes Walker a no-fly zone against the Chargers, a defense that has only allowed two touchdowns to tight ends this year, with only one set scoring more than nine points.


All scoring info and statistics courtesy of ESPN.com standard leagues, as are points-against info and ownership stats.

Follow Chris Roling (@Chris_Roling) on Twitter.


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