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NFL Fantasy Football: Start 'Em/Sit 'Em - Week Nine

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Week nine NFL matchups and how they'll affect your fantasy football team.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

A solid 2-1 finish for me in fantasy this past week.  Things are really heating up in most leagues around this time and the playoff picture is taking shape.  Across my three leagues I'm 6-2, 5-3, and 5-3 (16-8 combined).  My victory in the first league (where I'm 6-2) was interesting for a couple of reasons.  For one thing, I won by .04 points.  That's right.  Four hundredths of a point.  Definitely the closest fantasy matchup I've ever seen  Feels very good to end up on the right side of that one because I'd imagine losing by .04 points is brutal.  Another reason the game was interesting is because it came down to DeMarco Murray vs Alfred Morris.  I'm ashamed to say I was the one with Murray.  During the 'Skins game I simply didn't look at my fantasy score or pay any attention to it.  I didn't even think about it.  I was 100% for the 'Skins and wanted to see Murray do poorly and Morris do well.  I'd take the 'Skins win over fantasy every single time.  It was nice to get both.  Murray went off, I barely won fantasy, and the 'Skins got one of their better wins over the past five years or so.  So it was great.  Shout-outs to (besides Murray): Randall Cobb, Matt Stafford, and Sammy Watkins for being the primary reasons for my two wins.  I had great performances in my one defeat from Aaron Rodgers and Le'Veon Bell, but my opponent was just too much with Peyton, Sanu, the Chiefs D (destroyed St. Louis with seven sacks, a TD, and only allowed seven points), and GRONK.  That team was a buzz-saw this week.  My positioning in the three leagues is currently: 1/10, 6/12, and 4/14.

Let's review some of my advice from last week, shall we?

  • I told you to sit Nick Foles and for that I'm sorry.  I was right in my prediction that the Cards would beat the Eagles, but Foles certainly performed better than I thought.  Who would have thought he'd go over 400 yards?
  • I was sitting right up near the front on the Mark Ingram train, though.  I didn't think he'd do that well (172-1), but I knew he'd do well.
  • Also, I said to start Golden Tate for the third week in a row and for the second week in a row he made me look good.  He's a legit WR1 when Johnson doesn't play.  It'll be interesting to see how involved he'll be upon Johnson's return.
  • I was right about Carson Palmer.
  • Hopefully you took my advice about sitting Harvin.  The Jets are really bad and have QB problems.  I saw nothing last week that should make me more confident in him this week.  Maybe Vick will help?
  • I was wrong about Joique Bell.  I didn't see Theo Riddick coming and for some reason, Bell has underperformed in my opinion.
  • I was also wrong on Cam Newton, though I expect him to bounce back this week.  I guess the Seahawks defense is still pretty good.

Here's what I think about week nine:

Quarterbacks

Start 'Em

Tom Brady, NE (vs Denver Broncos) - Always a juicy matchup, Peyton vs. Tom should provide plenty of fantasy points as these two impressive offensive teams go after it.  The Broncos have been especially favorable to opposing QB's this year and I like Brady even more when he's at home.  We already saw that Gronk is doing well last week and this game could well become a shootout.  350 yards and 2+ TD's.

Colin Kaepernick, SF (vs St. Louis Rams) - The Rams are in a pretty bad spot right now and this game is in SF.  Kaep always gives us some good rushing yardage and I like the '9ers more coming off of a bye.  It gave time for Vernon Davis to get healed up and I expect a fresher, dominant team against the poor Rams.  They've been letting QB's throw all over them all year, too.  225+ passing yards, 2 TD's, and 40-50 rushing yards.

Alex Smith, KC (vs New York Jets) - The vultures are circling over the Jets right now.  They're flat out bad.  QB's have had their way with this team all year and the Chiefs looked might impressive in their victory over St. Louis last week.  Jamaal Charles is a threat (obviously), but the Jets are decent against the run, abysmal against the pass, and the Chiefs are coached by pass-happy Andy Reid.  Could be a good day for Smith.  225+ yards, 2 TD's, and 10-20 rushing yards.

Sit 'Em

Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (vs Baltimore Ravens) - This is for all you players that got so pumped about Big Ben after last week and realized he was available in your league and scooped him up ASAP.  Big Ben was outstanding last week.  Still, you have to consider the performances he typically puts up and his opponent.  The Ravens are very good against QB's and battles between these two teams are always hard-hitting, low scoring slugfests.  Don't go chasing a performance that happened last week at the expense of someone else's good performance this week.  275 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.

Michael Vick, NYJ (@ Kansas City Chiefs) - Believe me, the QB hasn't been the only problem with the Jets.  They're a team that likes to run the ball... a lot.  This doesn't help Vick's chances.  Also, we're talking about a QB who's always relied heavily on his athleticism, who is now 34 years old and hasn't played in a while.  This is the old, back-up Vick, not the Vick you remember from Atlanta.  Don't get 'em confused and don't expect Atlanta Vick back for this game.  He'll just be asked to not turn it over like Smith, but he's not going to be the playmaker he once was.  200 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, and 40-50 rushing yards.

Joe Flacco, BAL (@ Pittsburgh Steelers) - Flacco's coming off an abysmal game last week and has now thrown two INT's in two straight games.  It's been a couple weeks of below-average play in a row now for Flacco and the Steelers typically do well against him.  225 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.

Running Backs

Start 'Em

Arian Foster, HOU (vs Philadelphia Eagles) - Foster has been absolutely on fire lately and producing like so many have known he could as long as he's healthy.  Well he's looked very healthy for about a month now and has over 500 rushing yards and 6 TD's over his last four games.  He is the Houston offense.  I'd expect the Texans will want another heavy dose of Foster to keep the Eagle offense off the field and control the clock/crowd in Philly.  130 rushing yards, 1 TD, and 30-40 receiving yards.

Andre Ellington, AZ (@ Dallas Cowboys) - If the Redskins rushing attack can look as good as it has all year against the Cowboys, why not Ellington and the Cardinals?  He's been a huge part of what the Cards do on offense and that team has looked very good this year.  They'll want to keep the Cowboy offense off the field and the Cowboys can be run on.  90 rushing yards, 1 TD, and 30-40 receiving yards.

Ahmad Bradshaw, IND (@ New York Giants) - Basically just because he's going against the Giants.  I think Bradshaw felt extremely slighted by that organization and has looked very good in Indy.  He strikes me as a Steve Smith type to be very competitive and want to make a statement against his former team.  The Giants, meanwhile, will have to focus on Luck if they want any chance.  I expect Bradshaw to do some damage.  70 rushing yards, 1 TD, and 20-30 receiving yards.

Alfred Morris, WAS (@ Minnesota Vikings) - Gruden reaffirmed his commitment to Alfred this week and he seemed to get going some last week.  Also, I think Gruden may have seen how well our team performed when sticking to the run game and I could see that helping Morris to get an extra touch or two.  The Vikings defense has mostly been good, but they're better against the pass than the run.  It also doesn't hurt that our HC practiced against their HC just about everyday the past three years in Cincy.  Oh, and if RGIII comes back, it could do wonders for Morris and the rushing game...  100 yards and 1 TD.

Mark Ingram, NO (@ Carolina Panthers) - Keep going with him as long as he's hot.  No Thomas and possibly no Robinson means a bulk of carries again for Ingram.  And he gets to go against an incredibly favorable Panther defense who have been gashed by opposing RB's this year.  Ingram should expect another heavy workload and you know the Panthers will be focused on Brees.  90 rushing yards, 1 TD, 10-20 receiving yards.

Sit 'Em

Jerick McKinnon, MIN (vs Washington Redskins) - The Redskins are very good against opposing RB's.  That's what this really boils down to.  Aside from Murray getting a little loose last week, the Redskins typically shutdown opposing RB's.  You know the 'Skins will focus (like they always do) on shutting down the run first, but that will be emphasized even more so against the Vikings who will be relying on a rookie QB with very few weapons.  80-90 total yards.

All Ram RB's (@ San Francisco 49ers) - It's very difficult to run on the 49ers and the Rams will ask three different guys to do it, yet some people will still play one of those guys.  It makes no sense.  None of the Rams backs are worth starting just about any week, but especially this week.

Andre Williams, NYG (vs Indianapolis Colts) - The Giants will be passing the ball to make some sort of feeble attempt at keeping up with the Colts.  That means less rushes for Williams.  He's not an explosive runner and doesn't get many big runs.  60 yards.

Wide Receivers

Start 'Em

Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (vs New Orleans Saints) - The Saints could get up in this game if Brees and the passing game are on point and Ingram is running like he has been recently.  That could force Newton to throw more than usual which is a good thing for his only (basically) WR target Benjamin.  Benjamin has been a stud rookie WR this year and his size is very difficult to guard against.  Also, New Orleans isn't the team to figure out how to guard him as they've been allowing huge fantasy points to opposing WR's recently.  Benjamin also has the size to get TD's in the red-zone and the Saints allow many TD's, especially on the road.  70+ yards and 1 TD (maybe 2).

DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson, HOU (vs Philadelphia Eagles) - The Eagles are a great matchup for opposing WR's and I'm expecting the Texans to run and throw all over their weak defense.  They hemorrhage yards and TD's to opposing wideouts at a very good rate.  80-90 yards and a TD each.

Sit 'Em

Greg Jennings and Cordarelle Patterson, MIN (vs Washington Redskins) - You saw Amerson and Breeland last week.  They did that against Dez Bryant and Tony Romo.  You think these guys plus rookie Teddy Bridgewater are going to be a big problem?  Me, neither.  We'll see if Has brings the heat.  70 yards combined.

Percy Harvin, NYJ (@ Kansas City Chiefs) - Same as last week.  There's no reason to start this guy.  An unknown at QB, on the road, against a pretty good defense, on an abysmal team, that he just joined a couple weeks ago.  Just don't do it.  Don't be tempted by his past until he proves he can do something on that team.  50-60 total yards.

Tight Ends

Start 'Em

Larry Donnell, NYG (vs Indianapolis Colts) - First off, the Colts are an excellent matchup for opposing TE's.  One of the best matchups in the league.  Secondly, you know Manning is going to have to throw to keep up with the Colts.  Third, the Giants were doing so well with getting the ball to Donnell earlier in the season and then they just sort of stopped.  He's the same guy and after the bye week I expect them to try to reestablish him.  There's no better opportunity and I won't be surprised to see many targets and possibly a TD.  Don't forget Cruz is gone.  50-60 yards and 1 TD.

Dwayne Allen, IND (@ New York Giants) - He's a TD machine and the Giants allow plenty of receptions and yards to opposing teams.  Plus, he has Andrew Luck throwing him the ball and Luck throws about a billion passes a game.  Allen will probably catch a TD.  40-50 yards and 1 TD (or 2).

Jordan Reed, WAS (@ Minnesota Vikings) - Jordan Reed was an absolute monster against the Cowboys and not because his stats were gaudy, but because he's fundamentally and technically sound as a TE.  He makes incredible catches routinely, is great on the sideline, runs brilliant routes, and is a nightmare after the catch.  He's the complete package as a receiving TE.  For whatever reason, Niles Paul got more snaps than Reed last week, but I don't expect that to continue.  What's more, basically all of Reed's snaps have come on throws.  He's the safety valve and the chain mover on third down and regardless of whether it's McCoy or RGIII, I expect a good number of targets.  60 yards and possibly a TD.

Sit 'Em

Zach Ertz, PHI (@ Houston Texans) - He's one of the more underwhelming and underperforming players in all of fantasy football.  The Texans are great against opposing TE's.  Also, I expect heavy ToP in favor of Foster and the Texans, which means less opportunities for Ertz.  35 yards.

Jason Witten, DAL (vs Arizona Cardinals) - The Cardinals have a good defense and Romo's back is heavily in question.  I don't think Brandon Weeden is very good and the Cowboys run the ball and extreme number of times.  Have fun blocking against all those Bowles blitzes, Jason!  40 yards.

Heath Miller, PIT (vs Baltimore Ravens) - See what I wrote about Roethlisberger further up.  The Ravens have a good defense (especially when it comes to limiting TE's) and there will be lots of running and defense in this game.  Big Ben comes back to Earth and Miller needs to block.  30 yards.

Please leave any fantasy related questions you might have in the comments section and I'll try to answer as many and as quickly as I can.  It's fun to get everyone's perspectives on this week's matchups floating around down there and I'm always interested to see what kind of decisions different fantasy players have to make.  These are just general ideas for standard leagues, but we can all give and receive advice for unique situations as they come up.  Good luck!