Nov 4, 2011
More than a few intriguing games on the Week Nine slate and it should make for an interesting week in the world of fantasy football. I am back to help you navigate through the murky fantasy landscape with my thoughts on all 14 games.
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
The Bills aren’t going away, but I have a feeling they’ll be in trouble this week. With Stevie Johnson as the lone receiver the Jets have to worry about, look for Darrelle Revis to be on him with the team focused on stopping, or at least containing Fred Jackson. If the Jets can continue to get pressure, they can force Ryan Fitzpatrick to make mistakes, especially if Johnson is stuck on Revis Island. The Jets have talked about getting Joe McKnight involved more all season long, and with an offense that lacks firepower, it might not be a bad idea, although I wouldn’t expect that to happen right away just because they had a bye week to think about it. The Jets appear to be getting back to the plan that’s helped them win a lot of games over the last two years, and that’s relying on their ground game to carry them while taking calculated shots down the field. They tried to do more through the air earlier in the season, but it’s apparent Mark Sanchez can’t handle that.
Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys
Frustrations with the Cowboy passing game have been heard from the team, media, and most importantly, fantasy owners. With Seattle having one of the best run defenses in the league, it could be a tough day for DeMarco Murray, but that also means the Cowboys will attack through the air against a very beatable Seahawk secondary. If they can’t get it together with this great matchup, we can officially start worrying. The Seahawks can’t run the ball and even if Tarvaris Jackson is an upgrade over Charlie Whitehurst, I have trouble investing too much in this offense. Dallas should be able to give Jackson fits with their pressure, and that’s when he makes mistakes. I know the Cowboy secondary is beatable but be careful if you’re rolling with Sidney Rice or Doug Baldwin.
Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans
The Browns continue to look like a complete mess on offense, and if you’re waiting for Greg Little to produce, I’ve tried to make it clear for most of the season that while he has talent, this offense is nowhere near where it needs to be, and a big part of that is the limitations of Colt McCoy. You shouldn’t be relying on Little for anything right now. He’s nothing more than a player you take a flier on if the matchup looks good and you’re stuck with a final starting spot to fill. You can forget the Brown backfield, as Montario Hardesty is going to miss time with a calf injury and Peyton Hillis injured his hamstring once again on Friday. Will Chris Ogbonnaya be looking for revenge against the team that cut him?! I don’t believe in that stuff, but take a shot with him if you’re desperate since he can do some things as a receiver. With Andre Johnson out again look for a healthy dose of the running game, which should be fine, even if the Browns have good numbers against RBs. On a personal note, Joel Dreessen needs to stop stealing TDs from Owen Daniels.
Atlanta Falcons at Indianapolis Colts
The Falcons win football games when they let Michael Turner carry their offense, which is exactly what should happen against a terrible Colt run defense. Turner is one of the easier guys to predict because the Falcons will feed him as long as they aren’t trailing and he will produce when the matchup is in his favor. He’ll get plenty of touches in this one and should be one of the better starts this week at the RB position. Julio Jones appears to be returning to action this week, and with the Colt secondary struggle, it’ll be interesting to see if he can continue the nice streak of games he had going before going down with a hamstring injury. The Colts haven’t won and probably won’t this week, but from a fantasy perspective, it was encouraging to see Curtis Painter get all of his receivers involved last week. Expectations have obviously been lowered for this team, but anything positive coming from this team is good enough.
Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs
After an atrocious start to the season, the Chiefs have managed to overcomes losses to RB Jamaal Charles and FS Eric Berry and are staring at a very good chance to win their fifth straight game. My distrust for Matt Cassel when it comes to Dwayne Bowe and the Chief receivers hasn’t been hidden, but I have to give him credit for a nice game against the Chargers last Monday. I still need to see him string together consistent performances before I’m ready to buy into this team, but at least Cassel appears to be heading in the right direct. Jonathan Baldwin jumped off the screen when watching the game last week, and while I’m not expecting him to put up big numbers every week, there’s no doubt he adds a very dangerous threat to this offense and a great complement to Bowe. I hope you sold high on Reggie Bush after a rare impressive fantasy performance because it’s not going to continue. Let’s see if Daniel Thomas can stay on the field long enough to contribute because this team needs all the help they can get.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees had an ugly game last week and back when he faced the Bucs in Week Six. With the Saints trailing early in both of those games, it appeared that Brees and the offense were pressing to get back into it, which may not be that surprising since the Saints aren’t a typically a team that needs to play from behind. While it might not be imperative for the Saints to get off to a quick start to win this game, it would certainly help their psyche after the struggles they had against an inferior Ram team last week. With Mark Ingram out, I still feel Pierre Thomas is the guy to benefit the most even if Chris Ivory did see touches in his first game back last week. Josh Freeman has had the bye week to fix his issues, which have included overaggressive play and throwing off his back foot. The Saint defense can be beaten and Freeman is talented enough to make this an interesting game if he doesn’t try to do too much and take what the defense gives him. LeGarrette Blount returns from his knee injury this week and believes he can handle a bigger role with Earnest Graham out. I’ll believe it when I see it.
San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins
Michael Crabtree has been one of the best fantasy receivers in the last few weeks, and we’ve seen him move from fringe fantasy option to low-end #2 WR. Trusting Alex Smith is never a fun thing to do, but he seems to like looking for Crabtree. This offense is still carried by Frank Gore and the running, and I’d expect that to continue. The Redskins looked totally lost against a Bill defense that hasn’t dominated any team like that this season. OC Kyle Shanahan blamed the high sack total on John Beck not getting rid of the ball. It’s not easy when your best two receivers are Fred Davis, who played through an ankle injury, and Jabar Gaffney. Tashard Choice won’t play for the Redskins this week due to a shoulder injury, so the headache that is the Redskin backfield probably won’t get worse until next week.
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders
Carson Palmer spent the bye week with his receivers and both he and Hue Jackson have seen the results of Palmer’s improved grasp of the team’s playbook after he knew very little in his first appearance back in Week Seven. The Raiders signed Palmer’s old security blanket from Cincinnati, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, but I’m not buying into him being anymore than a low-end fantasy option in PPR leagues. I don’t think it was a mistake he’s been out of the league since last season, so I’ll need to see what he can do before buying into this signing. With Darren McFadden still dealing with his foot injury, Michael Bush is in line for the start and while he may not be the guy I wanted carrying the load for a full season, he can certainly do so over a short period with success. I expect him to get a high volume of carries in a beatable matchup, especially since this is Palmer’s first start. We saw Tim Tebow look completely lost, as expected, against a good NFL defense last week. It may only be a matter of time before he’s back on the bench, but for now, he remains the starter. The Raider defense is beatable, but they do generate pressure and that’s trouble for Tebow, especially since he doesn’t have much of a receiving corps. With Willis McGahee looking like he’ll return this week, expect the Broncos to rely on their ground game to take the heat off Tebow.
Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans
Andy Dalton has been a solid player all season, but to name him the top rookie in October over Cam Newton was ridiculous, yet shouldn’t be surprising since his team has won more games. I hate the “winner” label, but to be fair to Dalton, he’s been more than that and has developed a good rapport with the better rookie on his team, A.J. Green. Cedric Benson returns from his suspension this week, but I don’t think Bernard Scott will completely disappear. The Bengals need to run the ball better if they are going to be taken seriously. Chris Johnson couldn’t get it done in a great matchup against the Colts last week, so feel free to do whatever you want with the guy. It’s obvious he’s lost out there and the Titans have a better option right now in Javon Ringer. When it comes to the passing game, the only Titan I’m trusting is Nate Washington. You’re taking a big chance with anyone else.
St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals
Steven Jackson certainly looked fired up last week in one his best performances in recent history. I expect him to keep it going with a great matchup against the Cardinals this week. A.J. Feeley is a solid backup, and with the Rams facing a bad Arizona defense, I don’t see the need to rush Sam Bradford back from his ankle injury. Brandon Lloyd continues to get plenty of targets and just finds way to get open, which should be too hard against the Cardinal secondary, although I should note CB Patrick Peterson has improved as the year as gone along. Many have been quick to jump all over Beanie Wells at the slightest sign of injury, but he had a pretty damn good performance last week playing on a bad knee against a very good Raven defense. This guy deserves credit for continuing to produce despite playing hurt for a bad team. John Skelton looks like the starter for Arizona this week, so let’s just hope the Rams pass rush doesn’t get going like they did last week since Skelton can’t move and won’t have the time to get Larry Fitzgerald the ball.
New York Giants at New England Patriots
Ahmad Bradshaw’s foot injury has been a hot topic of discussion ever since he left and then returned in last week’s win over the Dolphins. He tried to downplay it earlier in the week and then conflicting reports on Thursday ranged everywhere from him getting surgery to him out indefinitely to him actually playing this weekend. He’s officially listed as doubtful, so I wouldn’t expect him to be out there on Sunday, yet ruling him out for any longer than that cannot be done since he’s decided not to have surgery at this time. This isn’t a good matchup at all for Brandon Jacobs, D.J. Ware, and the Giant running game, so if you decide to roll with them, don’t expect great results. The Giants will need Eli Manning to continue his great season, and he should be able to do that against the shaky Patriot secondary. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Giants play more of a ball-control game like the Steelers did last week. The Giants can rush the passer, but they also have a beatable secondary, so I’d expect the quiet game the Patriots had last week to be forgotten quickly after they get back on track this week. If you’re trying to figure out the Patriot backfield, Kevin Faulk got as much playing time as he did last week because the team was trailing, although I do think that officially puts him ahead of Danny Woodhead. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is still this team’s lead back, and he could have a nice game against a Giant run defense that’s been atrocious over the last month or so.
Green Bay Packers at San Diego Chargers
The Packers didn’t need to improve on much after a 7-0 start, but they were able to get healthier and should be primed to continue their dominance in the second half of the season. We know Aaron Rodgers can pick apart any defense, and while the Chargers may look good by the numbers, they don’t have the depth in the secondary to handle to the Packers’ deep receiving corps. Philip Rivers threw for a lot of yards last Monday night, but didn’t have a TD and his fumbled snap cost the Chargers a much-needed win. At times, he looked better, but he still made some throws that looked like wounded ducks. He still isn’t getting any help from Vincent Jackson, who continues to struggle to get open. Mike Tolbert should be carrying the load for the Chargers after sitting out last week’s game that saw Ryan Mathews (groin) and Curtis Brinkley (concussion) both go down. I’m not banking on either of those guys to play.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
Once again, trusting Joe Flacco, even in a great matchup, looked like it was a bad idea after a terrible half against the Cardinals last week. Luckily, he locked on to Anquan Boldin in the 2nd half and kept throwing his way with defenders struggling to provide any resistance. While he might have played better after a terrible start, it didn’t make it an encouraging start for Flacco, especially heading into a tough matchup in Pittsburgh on Sunday night. Boldin may have good numbers against the Steelers, but with no other legitimate possession WR in Baltimore, the Steelers can concentrate their efforts on stopping Boldin. Ben Roethlisberger has quietly put together a very nice season and is now rolling right along with a very nice receiving corps, although Emmanuel Sanders isn’t expected to play after having to attend the funeral of his mother on Saturday. Hines Ward will return, but besides Mike Wallace, the guy I really like is Antonio Brown. He’s become a very reliable option and now leads the team in targets. This isn’t looking like a good game for Rashard Mendenhall, so he can be benched if you have a better option.
Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have lived and died by the big play in recent years, even dating back to when Donovan McNabb was the QB, but we saw something different last week in the blowout win over the Cowboys. Dallas did their best to take away the deep ball, so Michael Vick decided to take what the defense gave him and worked the short and intermediate areas with Jason Avant and Brent Celek. Reading defenses has never been Vick’s strong suit, but if he’s willing to check down, it’s going to make defenses alter the way they handle the Eagles. That in turn, could help open up chances to make those big plays, especially in this matchup against the Bears’ Cover-Two scheme. LeSean McCoy continues to run about as well as any back in the league and the Eagles are finally showing a commitment to their ground game. The Bears have tried to alter their gameplan to give Jay Cutler more protection, but it doesn’t change the fact they don’t have much in their receiving corps, although the return of Earl Bennett certainly helps. The Eagle defense, specifically on the backend, looks better, but I still expect Matt Forte to carve up their LBs.
As always, I can answer your lineup questions if you leave them below or by Tweeting me (@The MattCamp). Thanks for reading and best of luck in Week Nine.