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Week 9 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is our weekly look at the best and worst matchups from around the NFL and how they might affect lineup decisions for your Fantasy Football team. We are not in the business of stating the obvious, so you won't be reading here why you need to start Drew Brees, Chris Johnson, Andre Johnson or any other top-tier players.

We never thought Michael Vick would be a Start of the Week candidate in 2010.

Kevin Kolb was expected to be the new starting quarterback for the Eagles in place of the departed Donovan McNabb, and Vick was going to be used in special packages and stand on the sideline.

A lot has changed in Philadelphia.

Vick took over for an injured Kolb in Week 1, and he was a star in two games against Detroit and Jacksonville. He then injured his ribs in Week 4 against Washington, and Kolb was adequate in two games against San Francisco and Atlanta. But Kolb struggled in Week 7 at Tennessee before the bye week, and now Vick is back under center this week against the Colts now that he's healthy.

We expect Vick to perform at a high level in this matchup, and he's worth using as a starting option in all leagues. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson (concussion) and left tackle Jason Peters (knee) are back after missing time with injuries, and LeSean McCoy (ribs) is also at 100 percent. The Colts have a myriad of injuries on defense and are playing on a short week, which also factors into Vick's favor. You should plan on starting Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, and McCoy is a must-start Fantasy running back.

Now, Indianapolis has done a great job against opposing quarterbacks this year. Eli Manning and David Garrard are the only quarterbacks to throw multiple touchdowns against the Colts, and Kyle Orton is the only quarterback to pass for more than 250 yards. But Vick is an elite talent with something to prove, and we're counting on him to make plays.

Full Disclosure from Week 8
Recommended starts that made us look good
Player Fantasy Points (projected) Fantasy Points (actual) Start percentage
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers 10 22 32
Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers 11 16 65
Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals* 13 12 72
Recommended sits that made us look good
Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets 14 8 30
Mike Williams, WR, Seahawks 8 2 52
Owen Daniels, TE, Texans 6 0 30
Recommended starts that made us look bad
Chad Henne, QB, Dolphins 18 6 37
Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys 11 3 65
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks 14 0 77
Recommended sits that made us look bad
Vince Young, QB, Titans 14 22 10
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars 7 21 31
Michael Bush, RB, Raiders 6 16 33
Our favorite sleeper in Week 8 was ... Jacob Tamme, who had 12 Fantasy points. He was started in 24 percent of leagues, but he finished with more Fantasy points than Chris Cooley (four), Dustin Keller (four) and Aaron Hernandez (three).
* - Start of the Week

Quarterbacks

Start 'Em

Matt Ryan (vs. TB): Ryan is quietly having a great season. He is No. 6 in Fantasy points in standard leagues, and he has the Falcons as one of the best teams in the NFC. He's also playing great at home. In three games in Atlanta he's averaging 266 passing yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions, and he has a favorable matchup this week with the Bucs. Tampa Bay has allowed multiple touchdown passes in its past five games against Charlie Batch, Carson Palmer, Drew Brees, Sam Bradford and the combination of Derek Anderson and Max Hall. Ryan should be able to post quality stats since he's playing at home and coming off a bye week. In two games following a bye week in his career he has passed for 606 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions with at least 19 Fantasy points in each outing.
Jay Cutler (at BUF): There's a lot of risk involved in starting Cutler. In his past three games he has one touchdown and five interceptions, and he's taking a beating behind that bad offensive line with 19 sacks over that span. But he should be able to play well this week thanks to several factors working in his favor. In three career games following a bye week he has passed for 855 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions with at least 18 Fantasy points in each outing. The Bills have been miserable in pass defense with multiple touchdown passes allowed to Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Mark Sanchez, Garrard and Joe Flacco. For the season, Buffalo has allowed 15 touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks with only one interception. The Bills also have just 11 sacks, so pass rush shouldn't be a problem here for Cutler. He's not an automatic starting option in the majority of leagues, but this could be one of those games where he comes out with a quality performance.
Joe Flacco (vs. MIA): Flacco is hoping to pick up where he left off prior to the bye week for this matchup with the Dolphins. In his past five games against Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Denver, New England and Buffalo he has 10 total touchdowns and one interception with at least 250 passing yards in four of those outings. The Dolphins have allowed multiple touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks in their past three games against Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer with two 300-yard performances over that span. Miami also could be without standout safety Yeremiah Bell (toe), and Flacco has 18 passing touchdowns and four interceptions in his past 11 home games.
Eli Manning (at SEA): Manning is playing at a high level heading into this game with the Seahawks. In his past three games prior to the bye in Week 8 he had 780 passing yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions against Houston, Detroit and Dallas. Manning also has done well coming off the bye week with 651 passing yards, five touchdowns and one interception the past two years. And he has a good history against the Seahawks with 886 passing yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions in three career games (two in Seattle) with at least 21 Fantasy points in each outing. The Seahawks are No. 29 in pass defense and just got abused by Jason Campbell last week for 310 yards and two touchdowns. We can all agree that Manning is better than Campbell.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. CHI): Fitzpatrick doesn't have the best matchup this week since the Bears should be fresh coming off the bye week and have yet to allow multiple passing touchdowns this year, including matchups against Tony Romo, Rodgers and Manning. But Fitzpatrick will test this secondary since he has 121 pass attempts in his past three games. He struggled for the first time as a starter in Week 8 at Kansas City with 223 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception with 43 rushing yards, but he still managed 16 Fantasy points. He should be able to at least reach that total again if not more, and this game could be high-scoring for the fans in Toronto. Fitzpatrick might not be worth starting in the majority of standard leagues, but he is a good option in 14- and 16-team formats.

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Sleeper alert: Josh Freeman (at ATL): Dunta Robinson (concussion) is expected to return for the Falcons this week after missing his previous game in Week 7, but Freeman should still be able to make plays against this secondary. In his lone visit to Atlanta last year he was 20 of 29 passing for 250 yards and two touchdowns with 14 rushing yards, and Freeman has been consistent this season in his production. He only has two games this season with fewer than 17 Fantasy points, and he hasn't thrown an interception in his past three games against New Orleans, St. Louis and Arizona. The Falcons have allowed 738 passing yards, six touchdowns and one interception in their past two games, and Freeman should have another quality outing this week along with rookie Mike Williams, who is becoming a must-start Fantasy wide receiver. Like Fitzpatrick, Freeman is worth starting in deeper leagues. For more sleeper quarterbacks, including Chad Henne, click here.

Sit 'Em

Mark Sanchez (at DET): As we said last week in this spot with Donovan McNabb, don't overlook the Lions as a patsy on defense anymore. In their past five games against Brett Favre, Rodgers, Sam Bradford, Manning and McNabb, the Lions have allowed an average of 197 passing yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. Bradford had the most passing yards of that group with 215, and Sanchez has struggled in his past three games with an average of 215 passing yards, one touchdown and four interceptions against Minnesota, Denver and Green Bay. This is a game where the Jets should allow LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene to carry the offense and limit Sanchez's mistakes. He has a combined 24 Fantasy points in his past three outings.
Carson Palmer (vs. PIT): Palmer struggled in Week 8 against the Dolphins, completing 17 of 38 passes for 156 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. One of his touchdowns was extremely lucky when Dolphins safety Chris Clemons dropped a sure interception that landed in Terrell Owens' lap just outside the end zone. This week, Palmer has a difficult matchup with the Steelers, who were beat up by Drew Brees last week for 305 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception. But Brees is the first quarterback to pass for multiple touchdowns against the Steelers, and Palmer has not played well against Pittsburgh recently. In two games against the Steelers last year he passed for just 361 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, and that's when Pittsburgh was struggling. The Steelers should be motivated in a division game coming off a loss, and Palmer is not a recommended starting option in the majority of leagues.
Matt Cassel (at OAK): If you haven't noticed already the Chiefs have become a running team, and who can blame them with Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones playing at a high level. Cassel has done well the past three weeks with six touchdowns and no interceptions against Houston, Jacksonville and Buffalo, but he was expected to post quality stats since those are three of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. Oakland has allowed 14 passing touchdowns, but only Philip Rivers has passed for more than 200 yards against the Raiders this year. By comparison, Oakland's run defense has been miserable, so you should count on seeing a lot of Charles and Jones in this matchup, meaning both are excellent starts. Cassel should not be started in the majority of leagues even if Nnamdi Asomugha (ankle) is out. He has yet to attempt 30 passes in a game, and only twice has he topped 200 passing yards.
Jon Kitna (at GB): Kitna's stat line is a little misleading from last week's game against Jacksonville. He had 379 passing yards, one touchdown and four interceptions, but two of the interceptions came off tipped passes from Miles Austin and Felix Jones. Still, that is the kind of game you get from Kitna, and that was in a favorable matchup. He has a tougher opponent this week in the Packers, and Green Bay showed it can overcome injuries as long as Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson are playing at a high level. The Packers shut down Favre and Sanchez in the past two games with one touchdown and five interceptions, and Green Bay is among the league leaders with 12 interceptions and 24 sacks. Kitna might have another 300-yard game, but he also is going to have his share of turnovers.
Brett Favre (vs. ARI): Favre's Fantasy value continues to spiral downward with his injured elbow, ankle and now head after the big hit he took last week in New England, and now he's without Randy Moss and with an injured Percy Harvin (ankle). This game figures to feature a lot of Adrian Peterson with Arizona's run defense No. 29 in the NFL. Favre is still going to throw the ball, but look for him to play more like he did against Dallas in Week 6 when he was 14 of 19 passing for 118 yards and one touchdown. He only has one game with more than 10 Fantasy points, and he's combined for 24 Fantasy points in his past three games. The Cardinals defense doesn't pose much of a threat, but Favre is just too inconsistent to trust in the majority of leagues.

Bust alert: Matthew Stafford (vs. NYJ): Stafford was great in a favorable matchup last week against Washington with 212 passing yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He should have had five touchdowns if not for DeAngelo Hall's interception in the end zone. This week, Stafford has a tough assignment with the Jets, who are definitely motivated following last week's 9-0 loss at home against Green Bay. It wasn't the pass defense that let the Jets down in that game as they held Rodgers to 170 passing yards with no touchdowns. In their past two games, the Jets have shut down Orton (209 passing yards and one touchdown) and Rodgers, and they should frustrate Stafford. He will likely throw at least one touchdown to Calvin Johnson, but asking Stafford to play anywhere close to last week in this matchup is a tall order.

Running backs

Start 'Em

Peyton Hillis (vs. NE): The Patriots don't give up a lot of production to opposing running backs -- only six total touchdowns and no 100-yard rushing games -- but Hillis should find a way to reach double digits in Fantasy points. He has done it all year. He has six touchdowns in seven games, and his worst performance was eight Fantasy points in Week 6 at Pittsburgh. Three running backs have scored in the past two games against the Patriots, and we could see Hillis getting around 60 total yards and a touchdown. He's been a productive Fantasy option all season, and he's worth using as a No. 2 running back again this week.
Brandon Jacobs (at SEA): The Seahawks run defense could be in trouble this week with linemen Red Bryant (knee) and Colin Cole (ankle) out. Ahmad Bradshaw is an obvious starting option in the majority of Fantasy leagues, but it's safe to count on Jacobs as well. He has five touchdowns in his past four games and has reached double digits in Fantasy points in each outing against Chicago, Houston, Detroit and Dallas. Jacobs appears to have embraced his role as the goal-line option for the Giants, and a good comparison for this running game is the Titans of 2008 with Bradshaw playing the role of Chris Johnson and Jacobs as LenDale White.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at CLE): Like Jacobs, all Green-Ellis does is score touchdowns. He has six touchdowns in his past five games and is averaging 11 Fantasy points over that span. He had his best game in Week 8 against Minnesota with 17 carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns and will look to build on that performance this week against the Browns. Cleveland has only allowed one rushing touchdown on the season to Rashard Mendenhall in Week 6, but they have given up at least nine Fantasy points to running backs four times. Green-Ellis is a tremendous threat in the red zone, and we also consider Danny Woodhead a sleeper because both running backs seem to find a way to produce each week.
Ryan Mathews (at HOU): We like all three Chargers running backs this week in Mathews, Mike Tolbert and Darren Sproles. They all scored in Week 8 against Tennessee and have a favorable matchup this week against the Texans. Mathews appears to be fully recovered from the ankle injury that has plagued him all season, and he reached double digits in Fantasy points for the first time since Week 4 with 15 carries for 43 yards and a touchdown against the Titans. Tolbert has a touchdown in each of his past five games and seven touchdowns on the season, and he has the chance to score again. And even Sproles should be considered a sleeper since he has been a standout option in PPR leagues with 147 total yards and a touchdown on 13 catches in his past two games. The Texans have allowed seven touchdowns to opposing running backs with eight reaching at least eight Fantasy points in their past five games.
Shonn Greene (at DET): The Lions weakness on defense this season has been in their run defense, and the Jets should go back to their basic offense this week and pound the ball with LaDainian Tomlinson and Greene. Tomlinson is an obvious starting option in the majority of leagues, but Greene is more of a sleeper based on his disappointing year and recent performances. In his past two games against Denver and Green Bay, Greene has just 15 carries for 65 yards and no touchdowns. But the Lions are second in the NFL with 11 touchdowns allowed to opposing running backs and seven have reached double digits in Fantasy points. Last week, Washington got two touchdowns from Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams, so Tomlinson and Greene have a chance to be successful in this matchup.

Sleeper alert: Brandon Jackson (vs. DAL): You'd like to see what Jackson could do with more touches since he's only averaging 13 carries and three catches over his past four games, but he might see the ball more this week. With Donald Driver (thigh) out, the Packers could rely on their ground game a little more or throw Jackson an extra pass or two out of the backfield. It helps that he has a favorable matchup against Dallas, which has struggled in run defense recently. In the Cowboys past five games against Houston, Tennessee, Minnesota, the Giants and Jacksonville, Arian Foster, Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Bradshaw, Jacobs and Maurice Jones-Drew have each reached double digits in Fantasy points. Jackson has two games with double digits in Fantasy points in his past four outings and has the chance to play well in this matchup. For more sleeper running backs, including Fred Jackson, click here.

Sit 'Em

Beanie Wells (at MIN): Wells was solid as the Start of the Week in Week 8 with 16 carries for 50 yards and a touchdown and one catch for 14 yards against Tampa Bay, but he left the game with a back injury and now his knee is bothering him. He also has a tougher matchup this week at Minnesota. The Vikings have not been great in run defense with four touchdowns allowed in their past two games against the Packers and Patriots and six on the season, but they have yet to allow a rushing touchdown at home. Wells might not be able to make it through a full game with the injuries, and he will lose carries to Tim Hightower and LaRod Stephens-Howling. Wells has some favorable matchups ahead, but this is not a good week to start him in the majority of leagues.
Jahvid Best (vs. NYJ): Best has been a disappointment since his breakout game in Week 2 against Philadelphia because of his toe injury. It's admirable that he's been able to play through it, but he hasn't reached double digits in Fantasy points in his past five games and is averaging just six points over that span. He's still worth using in PPR leagues since he does have 20 catches in his past four games, but he's also losing carries to Kevin Smith. The Jets have only allowed one running back to score a touchdown this year, which was Week 1 against Baltimore with Willis McGahee. Peterson is also the only running back to reach double digits in Fantasy points, so consider benching Best this week.
Ronnie Brown (at BAL): Brown has been one of the bigger flops for Fantasy owners this year. He's healthy and in a contract year, yet he just can't seem to find any quality production. His lone game with double digits in Fantasy points was Week 1 at Buffalo. Since then he has averaged five Fantasy points in his past six games with no touchdowns. Ricky Williams has been more productive, and the Dolphins have a tough matchup this week at Baltimore. The Ravens have allowed one rushing touchdown in their past three games, and Hillis is the only running back to rush for at least 100 yards. Look for the Dolphins to move the ball through the air, which makes Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess quality starting options. As for Brown, what has he done for you lately? Not much, so keep him on your bench.
Felix Jones (at GB): Watching Dallas try to run the ball recently has been painful, and Jones has been miserable in his production. In his past three games against Minnesota, the Giants and Jacksonville, Jones has combined for 31 carries for 89 yards. The Packers are coming off a tremendous performance against the Jets where they held Tomlinson and Greene to 77 rushing yards. Peterson is the only running back to reach 100 rushing yards, and the Packers have only allowed three touchdowns to opposing running backs this year. Marion Barber will continue to steal goal-line carries from Jones, but both Dallas running backs should not be considered starting options in the majority of leagues.
Cedric Benson (vs. PIT): Benson has struggled for the majority of the season with only two rushing touchdowns and two games with double digits in Fantasy points, and he's slowed down tremendously the past two games against Atlanta and Miami with 40 carries for just 139 yards and a lost fumble. Benson scored against the Steelers last year in Cincinnati, but Pittsburgh's run defense has been stout again this season. They are No. 1 in run defense and have shut down top-tier running backs in Michael Turner, Johnson, Ray Rice and Hillis. Benson will likely get his share of carries, but it's hard to count on him for consistent production. You're better off benching Benson this week to use him in his next two games against Indianapolis and Buffalo, which are much better matchups.

Bust alert: Marshawn Lynch (vs. NYG): We still have faith in Lynch to be a quality Fantasy running back down the stretch, but this is not a good week to count on him, especially after his performance last week at Oakland. If he can only manage nine carries for 7 yards against a weak Raiders run defense then he will definitely struggle against the Giants. In their past four games, the Giants have shut down Matt Forte, Arian Foster, Best and Jones, holding them to a combined 13 Fantasy points. They have only allowed one rushing touchdown over that span to Derrick Ward in Week 5. Lynch has one touchdown in three games for the Seahawks, and the Giants are rested coming off a bye week. There are too many factors working against Lynch this week to consider starting him in the majority of leagues.

Wide receivers

Start 'Em

Dez Bryant (at GB): The Cowboys are going to be throwing quite a bit in this game, and that should mean good things for Bryant. He had seven catches for a career-high 84 yards last week against Jacksonville, and he has 12 catches for 169 yards and three touchdowns the past three weeks. Since Kitna has taken over for the injured Tony Romo (collarbone), Bryant has 11 catches for 138 yards in two outings. The Packers have allowed eight wide receivers to reach at least nine Fantasy points with five scoring touchdowns. Bryant has clearly passed Roy Williams as the No. 2 wide receiver for Dallas behind Miles Austin with 16 targets in the past two games compared to six for Williams.
Johnny Knox (at BUF): Knox has continued to play at a high level even with Cutler's struggles in recent weeks. In his past two games against Seattle and Washington, Knox has 11 catches for 206 yards and a touchdown. In the past four complete games for Cutler, Knox has at least eight Fantasy points in each outing. Buffalo has allowed eight touchdowns to opposing wide receivers and six have reached at least nine Fantasy points. Knox should enjoy playing on the indoor surface of the Rogers Centre in Toronto where his speed will be on display. This should be a good game for receivers with Knox, Steve Johnson and Lee Evans leading the way.
Steve Breaston (at MIN): Breaston is a great option as a No. 3 wide receiver in standard leagues and a No. 2 option in deeper formats. He's only played in four games this season, but he has double digits in Fantasy points in three of those outings. Last week against Tampa Bay in his first game since being out for three games with a knee injury he had eight catches for 147 yards and one carry for 14 yards. His knee injury remains a concern, but it appears like he will play through any discomfort. And he has a favorable matchup this week against the Vikings depleted secondary, which has allowed four touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in the past three games and five to reach at least nine Fantasy points over that span. The Cardinals will likely be throwing a lot this week, so look for Larry Fitzgerald and Breaston to both play well.
Mike Williams (at ATL): The Falcons have given up a lot of big games to wide receivers recently, which should allow Williams to stay on his current hot streak. In their past two games against Philadelphia and Cincinnati, Atlanta has allowed six touchdowns to opposing wide receivers and four to reach at least 14 Fantasy points. It helps getting Robinson back from the concussion, but Williams is on an impressive roll. In his past two games against St. Louis and Arizona he has nine catches for 187 yards and a touchdown. He has scored a touchdown in all three road games this year and has five games with at least eight Fantasy points. He is a solid No. 2 wide receiver in all leagues and should continue to excel in this matchup.
Patrick Crayton (at HOU): The Chargers are now without Buster Davis (ribs), who joins Malcom Floyd (hamstring), Legedu Naanee (hamstring) and Vincent Jackson (suspended) on the sidelines. Antonio Gates, as much as we would like to see it, can't catch every pass from Philip Rivers, which makes Crayton an attractive option for another week, especially in PPR leagues. In his past three games he has 17 catches for 245 yards and he has a great matchup this week against the Texans. Houston has allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers, and they have allowed seven to catch at least six passes in a game, with eight going over at least 80 yards. Crayton should see plenty of targets in what might be his last game as a starter, and we also consider Seyi Ajirotutu a deep sleeper for the Chargers due to all the injuries at wide receiver.

Sleeper alert: Mario Manningham (at SEA): There have been some impressive touchdown streaks for wide receivers recently. Steve Johnson has scored in five straight games for the Bills heading into Week 9, and Kenny Britt (five) and Davone Bess (three) had their scoring streaks come to an end last week. Manningham has scored in two straight prior to his matchup with the Seahawks, and he's playing at a high level. He has three touchdowns on the season and five games with at least seven Fantasy points. He's clearly the No. 3 wide receiver for the Giants behind Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith, who are must-start Fantasy options in all leagues, but he's still finding a way to be productive. Seattle is No. 29 in pass defense and will struggle to stop the Giants this week, and Manningham can hopefully keep his touchdown streak alive with another solid performance. For more sleeper wide receivers, including Brandon Tate, Lance Moore and James Jones, click here.

Sit 'Em

Mike Williams (vs. NYG): Williams is dealing with a bruised knee, which is one of several key injuries for the Seahawks on offense, including quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (concussion) and left tackle Russell Okung (ankle). Hasselbeck has already been ruled out for Sunday, so Charlie Whitehurst will be under center. It could be a rough day for Seattle against the Giants, who have knocked out three of the past four quarterbacks they have faced in Cutler, Shaun Hill and Romo. Williams was held to one catch for 27 yards last week at Oakland and should struggle in this matchup since the Giants are No. 2 in pass defense. They have allowed some big games to some premiere wide receivers (Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson and Bryant), but Williams is a risky starting option this week. He should only be started if needed.
Santonio Holmes (at DET): At some point Holmes is going to have a breakout game for the Jets. It's bound to happen, and it might come this week indoors against the Lions. But in three games with the Jets he has just 10 catches for 131 yards and no touchdowns on 20 targets. The Lions have also been impressive against opposing wide receivers with Manningham the only one to score against them in the past three games, and they have only allowed six touchdowns to wide receivers on the season. Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller might be the best receiving options for the Jets this week, but look for New York to do most of its damage running the ball in this matchup.
Roy E. Williams (at GB): Williams has disappeared the past two games with Romo out. In two games against the Giants and Jacksonville he has just one catch for 21 yards. The troubling thing about it is he had just three targets in each game while Austin, Witten and Bryant have been stars. The Packers have struggled with opposing wide receivers, but Williams is too inconsistent to trust. He does have three touchdowns in eight career meetings with Green Bay, but he also has three games with only one Fantasy point. Our advice would be to use caution and keep him reserved.
Deion Branch (at CLE): We love the matchup for the Patriots this week since the Browns have struggled in pass defense, but this should be a game where Wes Welker breaks out of his slump with Tate having another chance to score. Branch has just five catches for 60 yards in his past two games against San Diego and Minnesota, and this nagging hamstring injury could be limiting his production. Now, the Browns have given up plenty of big games to wide receivers this year (Anquan Boldin, Terrell Owens, Roddy White, Mike Wallace and Marques Colston), so keep that in mind if you decide to bench Branch. But again, he's not at 100 percent, and we like Welker and Tate a little better this week.
Nate Burleson (vs. NYJ): Burleson had a season-high in catches in Week 8 against Washington with seven for 47 yards, but he lost a fumble and finished with just two Fantasy points. That was a favorable matchup for him, but he has a tougher task this week against the Jets. You're not going to bench Calvin Johnson even though he'll see a lot of Darrelle Revis, but you should bench Burleson. The Jets have allowed just one passing touchdown the past two games against Denver and Green Bay. Burleson did have two touchdowns in a row prior to the game with the Redskins, and he has the chance to finish the season playing well based on Detroit's potent offense. But this matchup should be tough for Burleson, and we wouldn't start him in the majority of leagues.

Bust alert: Chad Ochocinco (vs. PIT): I'm hesitant to suggest benching Ochocinco in a prime-time game because he has a flair for the dramatic. But he has underperformed this year, and this should be a tough matchup. Ochocinco has just two games with double digits in Fantasy points this year and none at home in three outings. The Steelers have allowed three touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in the past two games against Miami and New Orleans, but they have done a good job containing Ochocinco. In his past five games against Pittsburgh, Ochocinco has averaged five catches for 54 yards with one touchdown over that span. It's clear that Terrell Owens is Batman and Ochocinco is Robin, and you never want to rely on the sidekick if you can keep him in reserve. That's our suggestion with Ochocinco for this week.

Tight ends

Start 'Em

Jacob Tamme (at PHI): As we've said numerous times, Tamme is not Dallas Clark. But he's playing in Clark's spot since he's out with a wrist injury, and he has the chance to post Clark-like stats as we saw last week against Houston, when he had six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown on nine targets. He has a favorable matchup this week against the Eagles, who have allowed at least nine Fantasy points to three of the past four tight ends they have faced in Chris Cooley, Vernon Davis and Tony Gonzalez. You would consider Clark a must-start Fantasy option, so look at Tamme as just a notch below as a quality option in the majority of leagues.
Visanthe Shiancoe (vs. ARI): No Randy Moss and an injured Percy Harvin (foot) should add up to more targets and production for Shiancoe this week against the Cardinals. He has been quiet the past four games with nine catches for 96 yards and no touchdowns, but now is the chance for him to turn things around. In the first two games of the season when Moss was still in New England and Harvin was dealing with a hip injury, Shiancoe had 10 catches for 162 yards and a touchdown, so Favre has proven he can rely on him. And he has a favorable matchup this week since Arizona has allowed four touchdowns to opposing wide receivers this year.
Benjamin Watson (vs. NE): The Browns don't have a lot of talent in their receiving corps, but Watson has proven to be a quality target this year. He has four games with at least five catches, three with at least 60 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He's the No. 12 tight end in standard leagues, and he has a favorable matchup this week against his former team, which should be extra motivation. The Patriots have allowed four touchdowns to opposing tight ends and four have reached double digits in Fantasy points. Watson might not be worth starting in the majority of leagues, but in deeper formats he could be a starting option with Davis, Cooley and Marcedes Lewis on a bye.

Sleeper alert: Greg Olsen (at BUF): I'm well aware of Olsen's recent struggles and Mike Martz's failure to get him the ball. He only has three catches for 43 yards in his past three games. But I just look at Olsen's matchup and see a chance for him to be productive this week. The Bills have allowed seven touchdowns to opposing tight ends -- including two each to Keller, Lewis and Todd Heap in three of the past four games -- and Olsen won't have to spend as much time blocking as he has in recent weeks. Buffalo doesn't have much of a pass rush with only 11 sacks on the season. Look for Olsen to see an increase in targets, and he's worth starting this week if you need a tight end in deeper formats.

Sit 'Em

Jermaine Gresham (vs. PIT): The Steelers have been dominant against opposing tight ends this year. Outside of Week 6 against Cleveland when Watson and Evan Moore combined for 10 catches for 172 yards and a touchdown against Pittsburgh, the Steelers have otherwise shut down Gonzalez, Bo Scaife, Kellen Winslow, Heap and Anthony Fasano for 14 catches for 153 yards and no touchdowns. Gresham hasn't lived up to his potential yet, and this isn't the week to trust him. He has just one game with more than 50 receiving yards and only two touchdowns. He has also yet to reach double digits in Fantasy points and has just seven catches for 43 yards in his past two games against Atlanta and Miami.
Brent Celek (vs. IND): Celek is really the only Eagles regular not worth starting this week because he hasn't played well with Vick and has a difficult matchup. Celek's two touchdowns this season have come from Kolb, but he also has just one game with double digits in Fantasy points, which was Week 5 at San Francisco. He also has five games with fewer than five Fantasy points. The Colts are No. 1 against opposing tight ends with only one touchdown allowed and none reaching double digits in Fantasy points. Tony Moeaki is the only tight end to reach 50 receiving yards, and they have done well against Daniels twice, Lewis and Cooley. It's risky to start Celek until Vick proves he can throw to him on a consistent basis.
Tony Moeaki (at OAK): As we said last week, if he struggled against Buffalo then it's time to give up. Since scoring a touchdown in two of his first three games he has just 12 catches for 158 yards in four games. And in his past three weeks, he has faced some of the worst pass defenses against opposing tight ends in Houston, Jacksonville and the Bills. He has another favorable matchup in Week 9 at Oakland, but all we can tell you is use him at your own risk since he only has 10 Fantasy points in his past three games.

Bust alert: Todd Heap (vs. MIA): Heap is playing at a high level coming into this matchup with the Dolphins. He has three touchdowns in his past two games against New England and Buffalo with six catches for 108 yards over that span. He's playing through injuries and becoming a go-to target for Flacco again. But this is a tough matchup for him. The Dolphins have improved in their coverage of tight ends with Keller the only one to score against them this year. In their past four games against New England, Green Bay, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, tight ends have combined for eight catches for 106 yards. Heap has four games with fewer than five Fantasy points, and this could be another one of those games based on how the Dolphins are playing.

Defense/Special teams

Start 'Em

Saints (at CAR): Jonathan Stewart and Steve Smith are worth starting in deeper leagues this week, but they remain risky Fantasy options based on their recent play. But aside from those two there isn't much talent on Carolina's offense with DeAngelo Williams (foot) expected to be out again. The Saints have played well recently with double digits in Fantasy points in four of their past five games in standard leagues, including getting three sacks against the Panthers in their Week 4 matchup in New Orleans. This should be a good game for the Saints defense to shine prior to their bye in Week 10.

Other DSTs with good matchups: Vikings (vs. ARI), Patriots (at CLE) and Chiefs (at OAK)

Sit 'Em

Eagles (vs. IND): The Eagles defense struggled with the Titans in their last game in Week 7 and finished with just nine Fantasy points. This week, the Colts are coming to town, and Peyton Manning is tough to bring down. Even with all the injuries for the Colts on offense, they are still putting up plenty of production with limited turnovers, and we would recommend staying away from the Eagles DST in this matchup. You likely benched them or cut them for their bye in Week 8, and you should wait a week to add them for their matchup at Washington in Week 10.

Kicker

Start 'Em

Ryan Longwell (vs. ARI): The Cardinals come into this game as the worst team against opposing kickers. They are tied with the Titans for most field goal attempts allowed at 24 and are among the league leaders with 21 made extra points. Longwell has been a disappointment this season with no games with multiple field goals, and he has yet to top six Fantasy points any week. But the Vikings, even without Moss, should be able to move the ball against Arizona and give Longwell some additional attempts. He has yet to miss a field goal at home, and this is a good matchup to trust Longwell as a starting option.

Other kickers with good matchups: Robbie Gould (at BUF), Matt Bryant (vs. TB) and Kris Brown (at HOU)

Sit 'Em

Ryan Succop (at OAK): The Raiders have done a great job against opposing kickers this year. None have reached double digits in Fantasy points, and only Nate Kaeding in Week 5 has made multiple field goals. Succop also has just one game with double digits in Fantasy points this season, and he has only three field goals in his past three games. He has been making plenty of extra points with 11 over that span, so look for that to continue, but don't count on Succop being a dominant Fantasy option in this matchup.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Jamey at @jameyeisenberg . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

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Player News
Chris Harris targeting midway point of preseason
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Broncos cornerback Chris Harris, who's coming back from ACL surgery, told ESPN he expects to be cleared for full participation by the midway point of the preseason. Harris said the exact timetable hinges on his upcoming visit to his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews.

"I’m doing everything, there’s really nothing I can’t do right now," Harris told the network. "I still have to go see Dr. Andrews at the end of the month and get checked up and he’ll pretty much let us know the plan from there."

Harris had 65 tackles and three interceptions last year before getting hurt in the playoffs.


Dimitri Patterson a starter by default
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Unable to land a high-end free agent cornerback, the Jets "were forced to settle for journeyman Dimitri Patterson as a consolation," notes The Star-Ledger. Patterson, who projects to start opposite Dee Milliner, is on his sixth team in 10 seasons and has played all 16 games just once in his career.

If Patterson falters, third-round pick Dexter McDougle could get a shot.


Fred Jackson in danger of losing carries
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Bills running back Fred Jackson might not approach the 207 carries he received last year. According to WGR550.com, Jackson will once again split time with C.J. Spiller but also potentially lose snaps to the team's additions at running back, Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon.

The website said Jackson, 33, who's entering the last year of his deal, will be trying to prove how much he has left.


Teammate: Bitterness won't linger from Jimmy Graham standoff
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Saints tight end Benjamin Watson told ESPN that the the team's arbitration fight with Jimmy Graham over whether he's a receiver or a tight end won't have a longterm detrimental effect. Watson is hopeful the sides will reach a multiyear contract agreement by Tuesday's deadline.

"I’m very confident that it’ll be resolved the right way and guys can move forward," Watson said. "Obviously it’s always tough when you go through litigation with somebody, and it can probably get heated. And I’m sure there are emotions on both sides. But that is the business side of the game. 

"And it’s unfortunate that it came to that and that it was so public. But I really think -- I know, I don’t think -- I know that Jimmy loves New Orleans and I know that he loves our team and the organization and he loves playing here. And we love him, everybody wants him here, coaches included. So when it comes down to contract situations, that’s just a necessary evil ... not even evil, but just a necessary progression of getting a player here."


Dallas Thomas eyes starting job
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Dolphins coach Joe Philbin named Dallas Thomas one of the team's most improved players, and he has a good chance to start at left guard, according to the team's website. A third-round pick in last year's draft, Thomas played only four offensive snaps last season.

Thomas worked with the first team during spring drills and is much further along than he was in 2013. He stayed in South Florida throughout the offseason to get better prepared.

"You’ve got to know your material, you’ve got to know what you’re doing on the field because stuff happens so fast," Thomas said. "You’ve got to be able to just react to it and not even think about what’s happening on the field."


Spencer Nealy hit with four-game ban
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) The NFL suspended Vikings defensive end Spencer Nealy four games for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances. An undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M, the 24-year-old Nealy did not play in a game last season.

Nealy apologized and took responsibility in a statement, saying he took a supplement containing a banned stimulant.


Jarrett Boykin will be 'hard to dislodge'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Jarrett Boykin improved dramatically last season and "will be hard to dislodge" from the Packers' No. 3 receiver job, reports the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Boykin will have to hold off second-round pick Davante Adams, fifth-rounder Jared Abbrederis and seventh-rounder Jeff Janis.

Boykin, 24, caught 49 passes for 681 yards and three touchdowns last season.


Trent Richardson might not get long leash
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Averaging 2.9 yards a carry, like he did last year, will get Trent Richardson benched quickly, reports ESPN.com. Richardson "will have to produce right away because it's unlikely the Colts will wait for him to get going" if running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard are healthy and productive, the website said.

Richardson likely will get the first shot at the starting job. He has a much better grasp of the playbook than he did in 2013 and the belief is he'll be able to run on instinct as opposed to overthinking, the report said.


Bruce Ellington trying to overcome stature
by Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer
(7/11/2014) At 5-foot-9, Bruce Ellington is the shortest receiver on the 49ers' roster. But the fourth-round pick out of South Carolina should not be discounted, his high school coach, Jerry Brown, told the Sacramento Bee.

Brown said Ellington is relentless at finding open space and catching everything thrown his way. "Football's played on a big field and it's hard to track someone like Bruce who's got so much agility," Brown said.

Ellington believes he has lots of room for growth because he only gave up basketball last year. Also a former track competitor, Ellington clocked a 4.45 forty at the combine.

"I'm just going to work hard, give it a hundred (percent) every time I step on the field and keep on chasing the dream," he said.


Colts dump LaVon Brazill, sign Aaron Burks
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) The Colts waived suspended wideout LaVon Brazill and signed receiver Aaron Burks, an undrafted free agent from Boise State. Brazill, 25, is suspended for at least a year for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Burks caught 18 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns for the Broncos last season, averaging 17.2 yards per catch.


 
 
 
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