Stevan Ridley was a savior in Week 8 for me and Fantasy owners. Well, mostly me, since he's been doing a solid job of late with four touchdowns in his past three games.
I needed Ridley to come through in a big way against the Dolphins after my recent run of bad luck with the Start of the Week predictions, and he finished as a Top 10 Fantasy running back. The "Eisenberg Jinx" is over, and it's time to move on.
Aside from Ridley, we said to start the No. 2 Fantasy quarterback in Andy Dalton, the No. 2 running back in Darren McFadden and the No. 4 tight end in Jordan Reed, among others. But we missed on several sit calls like Josh Gordon, Zac Stacy and Timothy Wright, who all had big games. From a sleeper perspective, we said to use the No. 5 quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, the No. 1 running back in Andre Ellington and the No. 5 receiver in Golden Tate.
This should be another fun scoring period in Week 9, and I'm excited for the latest Start of the Week. The jinx is gone, and it's time for a win streak.
|Player||Fantasy Pts. (proj.)||Fantasy Pts. (actual)||Start %||Pos. rank|
|Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots||14||13||89||9|
|Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals||21||41||36||2|
|Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders||10||19||79||2|
|Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins||11||9||85||4|
|Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins||9||4||72||44|
|Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders||9||3||70||52|
|Chris Ivory, RB, Jets||7||1||42||59|
|Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins||25||5||82||23|
|Darren Sproles, RB, Saints||12||0||87||60|
|Rueben Randle, WR, Giants||10||0||77||72|
|Josh Gordon, WR, Browns||9||19||74||7|
|Zac Stacy, RB, Rams||7||13||45||10|
|Timothy Wright, TE, Bucs||7||10||6||3|
Start of the Week: Terrelle Pryor, QB, Raiders
This week should be a breeze for Pryor compared to his past two games. He has to be excited to play the Eagles at home after brutal matchups against Kansas City and Pittsburgh.
For the first time in Pryor's career he had consecutive games with fewer than 20 Fantasy points. I'd be surprised if he went three in a row against a Philadelphia defense that has allowed four quarterbacks to score at least 22 Fantasy points this season. Opposing quarterbacks are averaging 316 passing yards against the Eagles and 21.5 Fantasy points a game.
|Andrew Luck||at HOU|
|Jake Locker||at STL|
|Tom Brady||vs. PIT|
|Ben Roethlisberger||at NE|
|Matt Ryan||at CAR|
Now, Pryor isn't likely to throw for 300-plus yards since his career high is 281, and he only has two games in seven career starts with multiple passing touchdowns. But Pryor is averaging 65 rushing yards a game, which certainly inflates his Fantasy production. And his rushing prowess is definitely part of his appeal.
We have Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford and Colin Kaepernick on a bye this week, and Tom Brady and Matt Ryan are struggling, with Michael Vick (hamstring) out. I like Pryor as the top replacement in all leagues, and I would even start him over Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck. Also, if you're comparing Pryor to the other ballyhooed bye-week replacement in Jake Locker, I consider Pryor to have the higher ceiling.
Look for Pryor to return as a 20-point Fantasy scorer in this matchup, which is something he's done four times in seven tries.
Russell Wilson (vs. TB): Wilson struggled in Week 8 at St. Louis with seven sacks, and he completed just 56 percent of his passes. He also had just three carries for 16 yards. Yet he still managed 18 Fantasy points, which shows he can have a good stat line even in a poor performance. He's struggled at home this season with only one game with more than 20 Fantasy points in matchups against San Francisco, Jacksonville and Tennessee, but the last three quarterbacks to face the Buccaneers (Nick Foles, Ryan and Cam Newton) have all scored at least 28 Fantasy points. Wilson does lose Sidney Rice (ACL) for the season, but he could get a huge boost if Percy Harvin (hip) returns this week.
Andy Dalton (at MIA): We hope Dalton keeps up the recent three-week trend of at least one quarterback scoring at least 20 Fantasy points on Thursday night with Jay Cutler, Wilson and Newton, including the latter two doing it on the road. Dalton is ridiculously hot right now with at least 30 Fantasy points in his past three games at Buffalo, at Detroit and vs. the Jets. He's averaging 345 passing yards over that span with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions, but the Dolphins have the chance to slow him down. The past three quarterbacks to face Miami (Joe Flacco, Thad Lewis and Brady) have combined for 24 Fantasy points, and Drew Brees is the lone quarterback to score more than 19 points against the Dolphins, including matchups with Luck and Ryan. We don't expect Dalton to post another 30-point game, but a 20-plus point outing is attainable. He should remain a Top 10 quarterback again this week.
Robert Griffin III (vs. SD): Griffin was bad last week at Denver, and he came away with a potential left knee injury, although he's expected to be fine. As long as he's OK you can expect a rebound performance, especially if he can get back to running the ball. He's been better at home this season than on the road with two of his three 23-point outings in Washington. And the Chargers have allowed three of the four quarterbacks they've faced on the road this season (Vick, Locker and Pryor) to score at least 23 Fantasy points, with the lone exception being Chad Henne. Five quarterbacks overall have scored 22 or more Fantasy points against San Diego, and Griffin should remain a starting Fantasy option this week based on the matchup at home.
Jake Locker (at STL): Locker should be considered a starter this week. He has played well this season when healthy with at least 24 Fantasy points in his past three starts, and he has at least 18 Fantasy points in all but Week 1 at the Steelers. But just be cautious who you start Locker over because the Titans might have success running the ball in this matchup with Chris Johnson. The Rams have also held the last three standout quarterbacks they've faced (Kaepernick, Newton and Wilson) to 18 Fantasy points or less. I consider Locker a Top 12 Fantasy quarterback this week, but the only big-name passers I would start him over are Brady, Ryan and Roethlisberger. If you have the choice between Locker and Pryor, I think Pryor has more upside.
Philip Rivers (at WAS): Rivers got off to a hot start this season, but he's cooled off in his past two games against the Colts and Jaguars with less than 17 Fantasy points in both games. The Chargers have done a better job running the ball in those matchups, and Rivers has suffered. The same could happen here, but we'd gamble on Rivers getting at least 20 Fantasy points. The Redskins have already allowed four quarterbacks to score at least 25 Fantasy points (Vick, Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Peyton Manning), and Rivers has at least 22 points in two of four road games. We consider Rivers a Top 5 Fantasy quarterback this week based on the passers on a bye (Peyton Manning, Stafford and Kaepernick) and the way he's played for most of this year in favorable matchups.
|Josh McCown||(at GB)||Had 17 Fantasy points in relief of Jay Cutler (groin) in Week 7.|
|Case Keenum||(vs. IND)||Two of the past three quarterbacks vs. IND have at least 26 Fantasy points.|
|Alex Smith||(at BUF)||BUF has allowed four quarterbacks to score at least 20 Fantasy points.|
Ben Roethlisberger (at NE): At some point Roethlisberger is going to break through and have a big game, but he's struggling right now. He has just one game with 20 Fantasy points, and he hasn't thrown multiple touchdowns since Week 3. The Steelers are also making him the decoy in the Wildcat package, and he's clearly frustrated with the offense. The Patriots aren't the toughest matchup, especially if standout cornerback Aqib Talib (hip) remains out. Four quarterbacks this season (EJ Manuel, Ryan, Brees and Geno Smith) have already scored at least 20 Fantasy points against New England, but until we see Roethlisberger have that big performance you can't trust him in the majority of leagues.
Nick Foles (at OAK): Foles is the next man up in the injured carousel of Eagles quarterbacks with Vick again sidelined. The last time we saw Foles it wasn't pretty when he had five Fantasy points in Week 7 against Dallas at home, completing 38 percent of his passes and averaging less than 3 yards per pass. Foles was great in Week 6 at Tampa Bay with 35 Fantasy points, but the Raiders will make things difficult for him. Rivers is the only quarterback to score more than 16 Fantasy points in Oakland this season, including matchups with Griffin and Roethlisberger. And since the last impression we have of Foles was his terrible performance against the Cowboys you can't feel confident starting him, even in two-quarterback leagues.
Ryan Tannehill (vs. CIN): It looked like last week would be Tannehill's first game this season with 20 Fantasy points. He had two touchdowns in the first half at New England, and it should have been a guarantee. But he fell apart in the second half and finished with 14 points. He now has five touchdowns in the past two games, but he hasn't thrown for 200 yards in either outing and has four interceptions over that span. The Bengals have allowed four quarterbacks to score at least 20 Fantasy points this season, including Brian Hoyer and Lewis. But based on Tannehill's track record this year he will fall short of the barrier he needs to cross to be a Top 12 quarterback, which is at least 20 points in a standard league.
Matt Ryan (at CAR): I'm rooting for Ryan to prove he can still be successful without Julio Jones (foot) or Roddy White (hamstring), but last week at Arizona was tough to watch. He had a season-high four interceptions and four sacks and completed a season-low 56 percent of his passes. This isn't a good week to expect a rebound performance even if White does return. The Panthers are tied with the Seahawks for the fewest Fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks, and they have more interceptions (nine) than passing touchdowns allowed (six). Granted, the best quarterbacks they've faced are Wilson, Eli Manning and Carson Palmer, but Ryan's lack of weapons hurts his chances for success. If you can afford to bench Ryan this week it's the right move to make.
Geno Smith (vs. NO): Based on the pattern for Smith this season this should be a good week for him. He has at least 22 Fantasy points in each of the past three odd weeks compared to single digits in points on every even week. That held true last week at Cincinnati when he had two Fantasy points. He also has been better at home than on the road, but the trend should end here. This Saints defense is legit, and they held Brady to 15 Fantasy points in their last road game in Week 6. They've allowed eight passing touchdowns with nine interceptions, and they have at least four sacks in four of their past five games. Look for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to come up with something special for Smith as he goes head to head with his brother Rex, and this could be another tough week for the Jets rookie passer.
Bust alert: Tom Brady (vs. PIT): The Steelers have been amazing against opposing quarterbacks all season, especially in America. Only one quarterback has scored more than 18 Fantasy points against the Steelers, which was Matt Cassel in Week 4 in London. Otherwise the Steelers have held Dalton, Cutler, Locker and Pryor in check with none scoring multiple touchdowns. And you know what Brady has done this season with only one game with 20 Fantasy points. He has single digits in points in three of his past four games with just two touchdowns over that span. He's dealing with an apparent hand injury, and the Patriots are running with a lot of success, especially in the red zone (six rushing touchdowns in their past three games). At some point Brady will snap out of his funk, or at least we hope, so bench him with caution. But in a tough matchup with his recent struggles it might be safe to go with someone else like Dalton, Pryor or Locker.
Chris Johnson (at STL): We've been telling you for weeks that Johnson's time was coming after the bye in Week 8, and hopefully you were able to buy low on him heading into this matchup against the Rams. Johnson did have receiving touchdowns in two of his past three games, but he hasn't rushed for more than 40 yards since Week 3. He could still lose goal-line work, and Shonn Greene is expected to take away touches, but St. Louis has allowed eight touchdowns to opposing running backs and five to score double digits in Fantasy points. Three running backs have gotten at least 20 carries against St. Louis this season in DeMarco Murray, Frank Gore and Arian Foster, and all three rushed for at least 140 yards. Johnson had 20 carries the first two weeks of the season, and we can see the Titans going back to him with a heavy workload again in this favorable matchup.
Giovani Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at MIA): The Bengals have the chance to have the same success against the Dolphins like the Patriots did in Week 8 when Brandon Bolden and Ridley both scored touchdowns and finished with at least eight Fantasy points. Miami has allowed a running back to score in each of the past six games with nine touchdowns allowed on the season and six reaching double digits in Fantasy points. Bernard has struggled of late with just six Fantasy points in his past two games and only one game with double digits in Fantasy points since Week 3. Green-Ellis has also disappeared with just 13 Fantasy points in his past three games, but he does have three touchdowns in his past five meetings with the Dolphins overall. Consider both Bengals running backs as at least flex options this week.
Danny Woodhead and Ryan Mathews (at WAS): The Chargers have had a running back finish in the Top 20 of standard leagues every week since Week 4, but twice during that span both Woodhead and Mathews were on that list. We expect it to happen again in Week 9 since the Redskins have struggled with running backs most of the season. Washington has allowed eight running backs to score double digits in Fantasy points, and Dallas (Murray and Joseph Randle) and Denver (Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball) had two running backs in the same game score touchdowns. Woodhead has reached double digits in Fantasy points in three of the past four games, and Mathews has run for at least 100 yards in consecutive outings coming into this matchup.
Ray Rice (at CLE): Rice has been among the more frustrating Fantasy options this season based on his first-round value and diminished production. He has one game this season with more than 50 rushing yards, and he's only scored three touchdowns while dealing with a hip injury. The bye week was apparently good for him since he said he got his "burst back," and he has a great history coming off bye weeks. Since 2009, Rice has averaged 92 rushing yards in four games following a bye, with two touchdowns over that span. He faced the Browns following his bye week last season and he ran for 98 yards and a touchdown in that matchup. Cleveland stuffed Rice in Week 2 with just one Fantasy point, but the Browns have since allowed six running backs to score double digits in Fantasy points, including four in the past four games. Rice also has a touchdown in each of his past two trips to Cleveland.
Mike Tolbert (vs. ATL): Jonathan Stewart (ankle) could return for this matchup, but DeAngelo Williams (quad) is a little banged up. Either way, we still expect Tolbert to get his share of touches with the potential to score. That's what he does best with four touchdowns in his past three games and five touchdowns on the season. He's had at least nine Fantasy points in each of his past three games, and he has at least 11 touches in the past two outings against St. Louis and Tampa Bay. Atlanta has only allowed two touchdowns to opposing running backs this season, but Tolbert has been a significant contributor during Carolina's current three-game winning streak, which is something we expect to continue even with Stewart's potential return. Keep Tolbert active as no worse than a flex option in all scoring formats.
|Chris Ivory||(vs. NO)||Six runners have scored double digits in Fantasy points vs. Ivory's former team.|
|Brandon Bolden||(vs. PIT)||He's scored in consecutive games and is being used in tandem with Stevan Ridley.|
|James Starks||(vs. CHI)||He could have another game with garbage-time points behind Eddie Lacy.|
|Daryl Richardson||(vs. TEN)||He would be a potential starter in all leagues if Zac Stacy (ankle) is out.|
|Pierre Thomas||(at NYJ)||He appears to be the best running back for NO with Darren Sproles struggling.|
Trent Richardson (at HOU): The Colts could lean on Richardson more with Reggie Wayne (ACL) now out for the season, which might mean more opportunities in the passing game. Richardson has just two catches since coming to Indianapolis from Cleveland in Week 3. Anything can help Richardson at this point since he hasn't had more than 60 rushing yards in the past five games and has one game with double digits in Fantasy points all season. He's averaging 3.1 yards per carry, and he's losing playing time to Donald Brown, who has played just four fewer snaps the past two games against the Chargers and Broncos. The Texans have allowed six touchdowns to opposing running backs and five to score double digits in Fantasy points, and the loss of linebacker Brian Cushing (knee) for the rest of the season will hurt. But until Richardson proves himself on a consistent basis he should only be considered a flex option in the majority of leagues.
Lamar Miller (vs. CIN): Miller had his best game of the year in Week 8 at New England with season highs in carries (18), rushing yards (89), catches (three) and receiving yards (23 yards). We hope it's a sign of things to come, but Miller is facing a brutal matchup this week against the Bengals. Johnathan Franklin in Week 3 is the lone running back to gain more than 60 yards against this defense, including matchups with Matt Forte, Fred Jackson and Reggie Bush. Forte and Franklin are the only running backs to score rushing touchdowns, and Chris Ogbonnaya scored a receiving touchdown. Factor in Daniel Thomas' involvement, and that will hinder Miller even more. The Bengals just held the Jets backfield to six combined Fantasy points, and they should be able to clamp down on the Dolphins on Thursday night.
Darren Sproles (at NYJ): You have to assume the Saints will do a better job getting Sproles involved as the season moves on, but until that happens he's worth benching, especially in standard leagues. He has single digits in Fantasy points in five of his past six games, and he hit a new low in Week 8 against Buffalo with four catches for no yards and no carries. Pierre Thomas is playing better than Sproles now, and the Jets have only allowed one running back in Fred Jackson to hurt them as a receiver with four catches for 37 yards in Week 3. I would still gamble on Sproles as a flex option in PPR leagues because of his potential, but right now his lack of playing time (less than 20 snaps in two of the past three games) has completely lowered his value, which is difficult since he plays in such an explosive offense.
Mike James (at SEA): James' first game in place of the injured Doug Martin (shoulder) went as I expected. He had 10 carries for 39 yards against Carolina in Week 8 with four catches for 25 yards. He'll likely be good for about five or six Fantasy points in a difficult matchup, which is what he's facing this week at Seattle. The Seahawks have actually given up quality production to several running backs this season with five touchdowns allowed and three reaching double digits in Fantasy points. But only Maurice Jones-Drew scored in Seattle this season, which happened in garbage time, including matchups with Frank Gore and Chris Johnson. James also shared playing time with Brian Leonard, who had six catches for 32 yards against the Panthers, but this duo should find it tough to succeed in the toughest place to play in the NFL.
Roy Helu (vs. SD): I thought Helu's three-touchdown game in Week 7 against Chicago was fluky since he came into that outing with three career touchdowns, but I thought he would still be decent against the Broncos. He did, after all, have at least seven Fantasy points in three consecutive games. But Helu was miserable at Denver with five carries for 11 yards and one catch for 14 yards, and his receptions have decreased of late with two in the past two weeks. The Chargers are a tough challenge for Helu and Alfred Morris, but no one is benching Morris at this point in the season. San Diego has allowed just one running back to score double digits in Fantasy points, which was LeSean McCoy in Week 2, including matchups with Foster, Chris Johnson, Murray, Richardson and Jones-Drew. Helu should play better than he did against the Broncos, but he's not worth starting in this tough matchup after last week's letdown performance.
Bust alert: Steven Jackson (at CAR): It's tough to sit any starting running back this week given the guys on a bye or the players dealing with injuries, but Jackson might not deliver much in this matchup. Last week, in his first game back after a four-game absence from a hamstring injury, Jackson struggled at Arizona with no Fantasy points on 11 carries for 6 yards and three catches for 7 yards. He will obviously do better this time around (we hope), but the matchup against the Panthers will be tough. Four running backs have scored double digits in Fantasy points against Carolina, but C.J. Spiller in Week 2 is the only one to run for more than 65 yards, including matchups with Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson. Jackson should be closer to 100 percent two games into his comeback, but he's still a risky starting option on the road against a stout defense.
Keenan Allen (at WAS): We hope the bye in Week 8 didn't slow down Allen because he was playing well in his previous four games. Allen has emerged as the go-to receiver for Rivers starting in Week 4, and he combined for 23 catches, 369 yards and two touchdowns over that four-game stretch with at least six targets in each outing. This week he faces a Redskins defense that has allowed nine receivers to score double digits in Fantasy points with eight touchdowns allowed. Allen has the potential to be a Top 15 Fantasy receiver the rest of the season, and we expect him to shine in this matchup on the road.
Denarius Moore (vs. PHI): I expected Moore to struggle in Week 8 against the Steelers based on their ability to shut down opposing receivers, but the Eagles haven't had the same success this season. Already this year 11 receivers have scored double digits in Fantasy points against Philadelphia with 14 touchdowns allowed. Moore is clearly the go-to weapon for Pryor, and he has three games with double digits in Fantasy points in his past five outings. The magic number for Moore is seven because every time he's had at least seven targets he's been successful, so hopefully Pryor will target him enough in this plus matchup to allow him to have another big game.
T.Y. Hilton (at HOU): Hilton's time to shine is now, and we hope he takes advantage of Wayne being out. He hasn't played well on the road this season with nine Fantasy points combined at San Francisco, Jacksonville and San Diego, and he comes into this matchup with just six Fantasy points against the Chargers and Browns the past two games. But he played well in two games against Houston last season with seven catches for 189 yards and two touchdowns, scoring in both games, and he should see an increase in the 7.7 targets he averages this year now that Wayne is gone. The Texans have only allowed two receivers to score double digits in Fantasy points against them with five touchdowns allowed, but they've faced some dreadful receiving corps the past four games with Seattle, San Francisco, St. Louis and Kansas City prior to their bye. Hilton is easily the most talented opponent they've seen since Torrey Smith in Week 3, and we expect him to play big now that Wayne is done for the season.
Kendall Wright and Nate Washington (at STL): Golden Tate in Week 8 continued the trend of No. 1 receivers scoring at least eight Fantasy points against the Rams, with seven scoring touchdowns. The Titans don't have a true No. 1 receiver with Wright and Washington sort of sharing the role. Washington is the best outside receiver, but Wright leads the team in targets as their possession guy. We like both in this matchup, with Wright having more value in PPR formats. He has just one touchdown on the season, but he has at least five catches in every game since Week 1. Washington hasn't scored since Week 4 and has just two touchdowns on the season, but he is the likely candidate to find the end zone against the Rams. There have been two St. Louis opponents to have multiple receivers score at least nine Fantasy points with Arizona in Week 1 (Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts) and Jacksonville in Week 5 (Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts), and we expect Wright and Washington to follow suit.
Marvin Jones (at MIA): Jones has been awesome of late with four touchdowns in Week 8 against the Jets and six overall in his past three games. He could see a boost in playing time and targets this week with Mohamed Sanu (shoulder) banged up. I'm nervous that Jones could suffer a similar fate like Alshon Jeffery in Week 6 when Jeffery was coming off a monster performance in Week 5 with 27 Fantasy points and then posted a dud on Thursday night against the Giants with 3 points, but I'd still gamble on Jones here. Even though the Dolphins have only allowed one touchdown to an opposing receiver this season, Miami will struggle with all of Cincinnati's weapons. And at this point, I'd take my chances with Jones being red hot over big-name guys who are cold like Marques Colston or Danny Amendola or someone with a tough matchup like Torrey Smith vs. Joe Haden.
|Marlon Brown||(at CLE)||He scored vs. CLE in Week 2 and could have similar success this week.|
|Ted Ginn||(vs. ATL)||ATL has already allowed 10 receivers to score double digits in Fantasy points.|
|Dexter McCluster||(at BUF)||He has 11 catches, 137 yards and a touchdown in his past two games on 15 targets.|
|Lance Moore||(at NYJ)||Five No. 2 receivers have scored vs. NYJ this year, which also helps Kenny Stills.|
|Golden Tate||(vs. TB)||Tate's stock is rising with Rice (ACL) gone and Harvin (hip) still out.|
Danny Amendola (vs. PIT): Either Amendola is playing hurt with the groin injury, he's struggling along with Brady or he's just a bad fit for this offense. Whatever it is, he's not producing, and it's time to bench him, which is painful for me to say since I had high expectations for him this season. He had six targets against the Dolphins in Week 8 and played 58 percent of the snaps, but he finished with just three catches for 15 yards. He hasn't had more than four catches or 55 yards since his Week 1 performance against Buffalo, and it's hard to trust him right now. The Steelers also have held every receiver besides the Minnesota duo of Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson to single digits in Fantasy points, including the likes of A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, Torrey Smith and Moore, which makes this a daunting task for Amendola and the entire New England receiving corps.
Marques Colston (at NYJ): It's amazing to think the Saints scored 35 points against Buffalo last week, and Colston had just three catches for 18 yards. It's unreal to think New Orleans has averaged 29 points the past three games, and Colston has just three Fantasy points to show for it. He hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 1, and he's been miserable outdoors this season with seven catches for 89 yards in three games at Tampa Bay, Chicago and New England. The Jets have given up some big games to No. 1 receivers with Vincent Jackson, Steve Johnson, Washington, Julio Jones, Antonio Brown and Green all scoring at least eight Fantasy points, but Colston hasn't scored that many points since Week 4 against the Dolphins. He's just a No. 3 Fantasy receiver this week at best given his recent struggles.
Brian Hartline (vs. CIN): Hartline could see a bump in targets with Brandon Gibson (knee) out for the season, but it's not like Hartline hasn't been involved with at least six targets in all but one game this year. He hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 3 against the Falcons, and he's been at six Fantasy points or less in each of his past four games. The Bengals have only allowed three receivers to score double digits in Fantasy points all season, and two of them were Marshall and Calvin Johnson (the third was Buffalo rookie Marquise Goodwin), which could make things difficult for Mike Wallace also. Hartline faced the Bengals in Cincinnati last season and finished with four catches for 59 yards, and a similar performance could be in the cards this week.
Dwayne Bowe (at BUF): Bowe has a great matchup against the Bills this week, but I can't trust him. Buffalo has allowed 11 receivers to score double digits in Fantasy points with 15 touchdowns allowed, but he's barely in my Top 48 this week for my rankings. I'm actually surprised my colleagues Dave Richard (No. 31) and Nathan Zegura (No. 25) have him ranked as high as they do. The best Chiefs receiver this week should be Dexter McCluster, who has led them in receiving yards each of the past two games against Houston and Cleveland. Bowe hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 4 and hasn't topped 70 receiving yards all season. He had nine targets against the Texans, but it didn't matter as he finished with just five catches for 66 yards. Bowe has the talent to produce at a higher level, but this offense and Alex Smith are holding him back. The good thing is the Chiefs are winning, but Fantasy owners have suffered because of his low stat total. Even with the appealing matchup this week Bowe should remain on your bench.
Steve Johnson (vs. KC): Johnson is again banged up, this time dealing with a hip injury, but he expects to play in Week 9. He was great in Week 8 at New Orleans with seven catches for 72 yards and a touchdown, and he has 24 targets the past two games with 13 catches for 133 yards and the score. But along with the injury he could get a quarterback downgrade with Thad Lewis (ribs) possibly out. We wouldn't feel comfortable starting Johnson if Jeff Tuel or Matt Flynn is the quarterback, especially against the Chiefs. Kansas City has allowed a receiver to score in each of the past three weeks with Moore, DeAndre Hopkins and Josh Gordon, but an injured Johnson with a third-string quarterback makes for a bad combination in any circumstance.
Bust alert: Torrey Smith (at CLE): Only one No. 1 receiver against the Browns this season has scored a touchdown -- which was Jordy Nelson in Week 7 -- and he finished with just 10 Fantasy points, including matchups with Wallace, Green and Calvin Johnson. That's because of Haden, who also kept Smith in check in Week 2 with seven catches for 85 yards. That's actually the most yards Smith has had against Haden, and Smith has struggled in his past two games against Green Bay and Pittsburgh with a combined four catches for 73 yards and no touchdowns. He has just one touchdown on the season, and he might have another down game in this matchup.
Jordan Cameron (vs. BAL): Thank goodness Jason Campbell played like he did in Week 8 at Kansas City because he put every Fantasy owner's mind at ease that Gordon and Cameron will be OK moving forward. Cameron had only four catches for 81 yards on four targets, which matched his season low, but it was a quality stat line. Now, Cameron gets his first rematch of the season after he faced the Ravens once already in Week 2. He had five catches for 95 yards in that game, and Baltimore has since allowed a touchdown or at least 75 receiving yards to three tight ends in the past three games. Cameron should remain a Top 10 Fantasy tight end heading into the week, and we hope he can again have a solid outing against the Ravens.
Martellus Bennett (at GB): There is some concern with Bennett this week with Cutler out and Josh McCown starting, which is understandable. But when McCown replaced Cutler in Week 7 at Washington he threw a late touchdown to Bennett, which should be encouraging. The Packers have allowed a tight end to score in two of their past three games with Cameron and Dallas Clark, and three tight ends have scored double digits in Fantasy points against them. Also, for what it's worth, the Bears did have a tight end score against Green Bay in three of the past four meetings with Kellen Davis catching all three touchdowns.
Greg Olsen (vs. ATL): Olsen's eyes must light up when he faces the Falcons. In his past three meetings with Atlanta, Olsen has at least 50 receiving yards and a touchdown, and we hope his scoring streak reaches four in this matchup. Olsen scored last week for his first touchdown since Week 2, and the Falcons come into this game having allowed three tight ends to score in the past four games. Overall, Atlanta has allowed five touchdowns to opposing tight ends and two to reach double digits in Fantasy points.
|Charles Clay||(vs. CIN)||He should see a bump in targets with Brandon Gibson (knee) out for the year.|
|Tyler Eifert||(at MIA)||MIA has allowed six touchdowns to opposing tight ends in just seven games.|
|Andrew Quarless||(vs. CHI)||Two of the past three tight ends to face CHI have scored at least 13 Fantasy points.|
Coby Fleener (at HOU): Fleener, like Hilton, gets a boost with Wayne out, and he should start to play at a higher level moving forward this season. But I'm concerned about him in this matchup. He hasn't played well on the road this season with only one touchdown in three games, and it was at Jacksonville in Week 4. That was also the last time he had more than 40 receiving yards, and the Texans have done well against opposing tight ends this season. Vernon Davis in Week 5 is the only tight end to score double digits in Fantasy points against Houston, and he's the only tight end to have more than 50 receiving yards, including a Week 1 matchup with Antonio Gates. Fleener is worth adding where available and starting if needed, but I don't consider him a Top 12 option this week on the road.
Jared Cook (vs. TEN): I'm surprised that Cook is being started in 27 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com when Timothy Wright is owned in just 23 percent as of Wednesday. I don't love Wright's matchup in Week 9, but I'd rather have him on my Fantasy team over Cook at this point. Cook gets to face his former team this week, but it's clear the Titans don't miss him. He hasn't topped 50 yards or scored a touchdown since Week 1, and the quarterback downgrade from Sam Bradford (ACL) to Kellen Clemens will clearly hurt the rest of the season. Cook can't complain about opportunities with 13 targets the past two games, but he's just not producing with those chances, making him an easy sit candidate.
Timothy Wright (at SEA): Wright has a great opportunity going forward with Mike Williams (hamstring) out for the season, and he's played well of late with at least nine Fantasy points in two of his past three games. But it's hard to count on him in Week 9 at Seattle since the Seahawks have been stellar against tight ends all season. Garrett Graham is the lone tight end to score and reach double digits in Fantasy points against Seattle, including matchups with Olsen, Davis and Fleener. I love the idea of stashing Wright, especially for his matchup in Week 10 against Miami when Rob Gronkowski and Cameron are on a bye, but I'd bench him this week if you can.
Bust alert: Kyle Rudolph (at DAL): Rudolph had two positive matchups the past two weeks against the Giants and Green Bay, but he failed to take advantage of them, whether it was his own undoing or poor quarterback play. He combined for seven catches for 78 yards in those outings, and we don't expect him to have a great game in another favorable matchup against the Cowboys this week. Even though Dallas has allowed four touchdowns to opposing tight ends and three to score at least 12 Fantasy points, Rudolph has just two touchdowns on the season and is inconsistent. He should only be started as a last-ditch effort because of the bye weeks.
Titans (at STL): The Titans DST comes into this matchup as a Top 10 Fantasy option in standard leagues. They already have three games with at least 16 Fantasy points and have done a nice job with 20 sacks, six interceptions, seven fumble recoveries and three touchdowns while holding their opponents to an average of 21 points per game. This week they face a Rams team that scored just nine points at home in Week 8 against Seattle in the first start for Clemens, who had two interceptions and was sacked three times. Three opposing DSTs have already scored at least 18 Fantasy points against the Rams, and we expect the Titans to finish as at least a Top 10 unit in this matchup.
Bears (at GB): Prior to their bye in Week 8, the Bears DST was being started in 71 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com. Hopefully after the bye Fantasy owners will realize this isn't the same Bears DST we've come to know and love. The injuries to Henry Melton (knee), Lance Briggs (shoulder) and Charles Tillman (knee) have taken away three of their best players, and they have just one game with double digits in Fantasy points in their past four outings – thanks to Eli Manning and his turnovers. Chicago is allowing 33 points on average in the past four games against Detroit, New Orleans, the Giants and Washington, and Rodgers and Eddie Lacy should have a field day against this battered unit. It's safe to drop the Bears DST in the majority of leagues.
|Ryan Succop||at BUF|
|Adam Vinatieri||at HOU|
|Mike Nugent||at MIA|
Graham Gano (vs. ATL): Gano has done a nice job at home this season with double digits in Fantasy points in two of three games. He has yet to miss a field goal in 10 tries, and he was great in his lone meeting against the Falcons last year with three field goals and three extra points at home. Atlanta comes into this game allowing the most Fantasy points to opposing kickers with six of seven opponents having made multiple field goals, including Garrett Hartley, Stephen Gostkowski, Nick Folk and Rian Lindell each connecting for three made attempts. Gano is only owned in 22 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com and would make for a great bye-week replacement in Week 9.
Alex Henery (at OAK): The entire Eagles offense has been miserable the past two weeks, and Henery has even extended that to a three-game slump. In his past three outings against Tampa Bay, Dallas and the Giants, Henery has 11 Fantasy points combined. He has two field goals and five extra points over that span, and he was held to a season-low one point last week at home to New York. The Raiders have only allowed one kicker to make multiple field goals against them, which was Matt Prater in Week 3. And Oakland has been stellar at home on defense, allowing just 17 points per game to Jacksonville, Washington, San Diego and Pittsburgh. There's not a lot to be excited about with Henery in this matchup, and we would replace him with another kicker this week.
Disclaimer ... … Please understand that we are not in the business of stating the obvious and wasting your time (or ours), so you won't be reading here why you need to start Drew Brees, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson or any other top-tier players. We're here to help you with the tough decisions.