Welcome to Week 9 of Start/Bench and Happy Halloween! Can you believe that we're already more than halfway through the fantasy season/playoffs!? With all the little ones in full Halloween mode today please remember to drive carefully and be on the lookout for all the little revelers. Now, onto some serious business.
Tom Brady *Bye*
Robert Griffin III
Michael Vick, Philadelphia at New Orleans: Vick couldn't have picked a better defense to face with his job on the line than New Orleans. The Saints are the most generous defense in fantasy when it comes to giving up points to opposing quarterbacks as they've allowed 2,219 passing yards and 15 touchdown passes while only picking off three passes. If Vick can't get the job done versus this defense then he really should cede the starting job to rookie Nick Foles.
Matt Schaub, Houston vs. Buffalo: The Bills defense is terrible no matter which way you slice it. It's run defense is the most generous in fantasy to opposing running backs and its passing defense is the second most generous in fantasy to opposing quarterbacks. The Bills are giving up a league worst 32.4 points per game so there is plenty of fantasy goodness to go around.
Cam Newton, Carolina at Washington: This may be the matchup that Newton needs to get back on track. Not only are the Redskins one of the most generous teams versus opposing quarterbacks but when Newton looks across the field he will get a chance to relive his magical rookie season when he sees 2012 rookie phenom Robert Griffin III. At this time last year Newton was the hottest thing in fantasy football, now he's a mid-QB2.
Christian Ponder, Minnesota at Seattle: Ponder will be facing a Seahawks defense that has allowed only eight touchdown passes while picking off seven in eight games. After not throwing an interception in his first four games this season Ponder has seven picks in his last four games combined. On the road against a tough Seattle defense look for Ponder to extend his streak of games with an interception to five.
Brandon Weeden, Cleveland vs. Baltimore: The last time Weeden faced the Ravens back in Week 4 he threw for 320 yards and zero touchdowns with one interception. Expect more of the same except less passing yards this time around as the Ravens are the fifth toughest defense versus opposing quarterbacks having allowed only six touchdown passes on the season.
Tony Romo, Dallas at Atlanta: Romo will be facing a Falcons defense that has allowed multiple passing touchdowns only once this season (two back in Week 4 to Carolina). While the Falcons are a Top 10 fantasy defense versus quarterbacks, their defense is one of the 10 worst versus the run, so expect the Cowboys to try and establish the run especially if DeMarco Murray is healthy enough to play this week.
Frank Gore *Bye*
Matt Forte, Chicago at Tennessee: While Forte has only rushed for 100 yards in a game only once this year, he will be facing a Titans defense that has allowed six out of eight opponents to rush for over 100 yards while giving up at least one rushing touchdown in six out of eight games. Michael Bush has been less of a threat to Forte in recent weeks as he's only had 13 carries over the Bears last three games. The Titans are the third most generous team in fantasy versus opposing running backs.
Mikel Leshoure, Detroit at Jacksonville: Over his last three games, Leshoure has rushed the ball 37 times for 179 yards, an average of 4.8 yards per carry. He has also hauled in 12 passes during this time. This week he'll get a very favorable matchup versus Jacksonville. At some point the Lions will need to establish a running game in order to take some of the pressure off of wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Now is as good a time as any to get started.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego vs. Kansas City: Mathews has only scored once this year and he fumbled yet again last week. So you might assume that he'd be back in coach Norv Turner's doghouse, well you'd be wrong. The Chargers realize that they need Mathews to get on track in order to take some of the pressure off of quarterback Philip Rivers. Their receiving corps has performed well below expectations while Rivers continues to struggle, so expect a heavy dose of Mathews versus a Chiefs defense that is the sixth most generous defense in fantasy versus opposing running backs.
Chris Johnson, Tennessee vs. Chicago: 'Every Coaches Dream' is about to have a nightmare versus the No. 1 defense in fantasy versus running backs. The Bears have not allowed more than 84 yards rushing to any team this year, strangely, it was Green Bay that rushed for 84 yards versus the Bears back in Week 2. The Bears have allowed one touchdown to an opposing running back and that was back in Week 1 versus the Colts. A strong performance against the Bears this week will go a long way towards redemption for Johnson.
C.J. Spiller / Fred Jackson, Buffalo at Houston: The Texans have only allowed one team to rush for over 100 yards in a game versus them this year, and strangely, it was the Titans. With the Bills' backfield in full timeshare mode and a matchup against one of the leagues' best defenses on tap, look for a quiet day from this duo. Although, the Texans have given up one touchdown via the air to an opposing running back so Spiller might be able to make some noise in the passing game.
Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh at New York Giants: Since Week 1, the only two teams to rush for over 100 yards versus the Giants have been the Eagles and the Redskins, two teams with mobile quarterbacks. Conversely, five out of seven teams since Week 1 have rushed for less than 100 yards versus the Giants. While Dwyer has run for over 100 yards in each of the last two weeks, he's been very painful to watch as he's been caught from behind on a couple of runs in which a lesser(thinner) man would have scored. This would be tolerable if he could bull his way into the end zone in goal line situations, but alas, he's failed in that area also. So, unless you have a better option, you have to start him, just don't expect too much.
Wes Welker *Bye*
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia at New Orleans: This is just a hunch based on the situation in Philly and the Saints' porous defense. But with Vick's job on the line he needs to come up big, and for that to happen he's going to need his old buddy, DeSean Jackson, to come up big, also. Although, the Saints are the most generous team in the league when it comes to opposing wide receivers. So it's not like I'm going out on a limb here. Or, am I?
Denarius Moore, Oakland vs. Tampa Bay: Moore has scored a touchdown in four out of the last five games and looks to be quarterback Carson Palmer's favorite receiver. Over the last two games the Buccaneers have allowed opposing wide receivers 33 receptions, 522 yards and three touchdowns. So if you can't get excited about Moore's potential this week, he's probably on your opponents' roster.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh at New York Giants: While the Giants have been stout versus the run, they have been less-than stout versus the pass. As they've allowed double-digit receptions to opposing wide receivers in six out of eight games this season. A case could have been made for Mike Wallace here, but after watching him drop some easy passes last week, I get the feeling that Big Ben will favor the much more reliable Brown this week.
Julio Jones, Atlanta vs. Dallas: Am I really going to sit Jones this week, no, I'm not. But, I feel it my duty to continue to inform the masses of Jones' one week on/one week off pattern. Jones has scored double-digit fantasy points every other game starting with Week 1. And given that he scored in double-digits last week, history tells us that he will not be a double-digit scorer this week. I will continue to move Jones back-and-forth between 'Start' and 'Bench' every week until he breaks the pattern. Here's hoping that he does, as I'm highly invested in Jones this year.
Josh Gordon, Cleveland vs. Baltimore: In Week 4 at Baltimore, Gordon was held to one reception for 16 yards. Since that game he's gone off and has become the Browns' top receiver. But with a rookie under center for the Browns and the Ravens Terrell Suggs back in action, I'm not feeling real good about Gordon this week.
Andrew Hawkins, Cincinnati vs. Denver: Since Week 3, the Broncos have allowed only one touchdown in four games to an opposing wide receiver. Hawkins has only scored two touchdowns this season and has failed to reach double-digit fantasy points in the five games in which he's been kept out of the end zone. Hopefully you have another option, as it looks like Hawkins could be in for a long day.
Vernon Davis *Bye*
Rob Gronkowski *Bye*
Aaron Hernandez *Bye*
Greg Olsen, Carolina vs. Washington: The Redskins have allowed opposing tight ends to score in six out of eight games this season. Olsen hasn't really done anything to get excited about over the last three games but this is a tasty matchup that Newton really should exploit as he looks to regain his rookie-year form. There's also a pretty good chance that Olsen is available in your league, so if you're a Gronk owner and are looking for a bye-week fill-in, Olsen is your man. Or, maybe the next guy on our list is...
Hmmm, Demaryius Thomas isn't on the studs list, yet Jordy Nelson is. What's up with that?