Thursday, November 5, 2009
Week 9 Starters & Benchwarmers
You don’t need me advising you to start Peyton Manning and Maurice Jones-Drew, or to bench Derek Anderson and Earnest Graham. So I’ll leave the obvious recommendations to the network bozos and focus instead on players typically on the bubble of most fantasy lineups. Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 9.
Watch ‘em roll
Kurt Warner, QB, Cardinals at Bears. Everybody’s down on the aging gunslinger following last week’s five-interception implosion. An owner in one of my leagues even went so far as to waive him! But Warner is a threat to top 300 yards and post multiple TDs – even without Anquan Boldin (ankle) in the lineup – against the same secondary that Carson Palmer torched for five scores two weeks ago.
Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints vs. Panthers. Sure, he shares carries with both Mike Bell and Reggie Bush. But now that he is fully healthy again, Thomas is the most dazzling option in the Saints’ backfield. New Orleans will rack up points a-plenty in this lop-sided contest, and Thomas is bound to get an ample share.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs at Jaguars. While Larry Johnson nurses the head that was recently extricated from his rear end, Charles is in charge against the defense that just surrendered 228 yards and 2 TDs to Chris Johnson. Granted, Charles is no Johnson, but we’ll be happy with half that production.
Nate Burleson, WR, Seahawks vs. Lions. Targeted by Matt Hasselbeck more frequently than prized free-agent T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Burleson has, not coincidentally, been the more productive wideout as well. In this tasty matchup, the unsung receiver is a primo play.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars vs. Chiefs. Though his quarterback is as unpredictable as they get, Sims-Walker had been money prior to last week’s debacle. He’ll rebound nicely at home against one of the league’s most generous secondaries.
More thumbs up: QBs Matt Hasselbeck, Donovan McNabb, Matt Cassel; RBs Brandon Jacobs, Brian Westbrook, Ryan Grant, Joseph Addai; WRs Steve Breaston, Dwayne Bowe, Calvin Johnson.
Roll ‘em back
Eli Manning, QB, Giants vs. Chargers. He’s thrown half as many TDs (three) as interceptions (six) over the last three games, likely due as much to the solid opposition as to his gimpy foot. San Diego’s secondary is yielding just 178 passing yards per game, so don’t expect Manning to burst out of his slump this week.
Kevin Smith, RB, Lions at Seahawks. He has been limited in practice by a shoulder injury incurred in last week’s game, and Maurice Morris is encroaching on his once-undisputed workhorse role. Seattle boasts a top-ten rush defense that has been improving of late and should have little trouble limiting Detroit’s stable.
Ricky Williams, RB, Dolphins at Patriots. One of the prime beneficiaries of the Wildcat offense, Williams still plays second-fiddle to every-week-starter Ronnie Brown. New England has allowed just one rushing score all season and has had an extra week to prepare for this showdown.
Kevin Walter, WR, Texans at Colts. Though Owen Daniels’ loss could be Walter’s long-term gain, his short-term prospects are limited. Indy has allowed only three passing TDs all season, so only Andre Johnson holds promise this week.
Santonio Holmes, WR, Steelers at Broncos. Despite last week’s let-down, Denver’s defense remains one of the league’s stingiest. Holmes’ production has been up-and-down all year, and he hasn’t scored since Week 1. Reserve him on the road, if you can, in what should be a low-scoring affair.
More thumbs down: QBs Kyle Orton, Matt Ryan; RBs Knowshon Moreno, LeSean McCoy, Cadillac Williams, Laurence Maroney; WRs Lance Moore, Antonio Bryant, Roy Williams, Nate Washington.
TAKING A FLIER
Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers vs. Titans. He has acclimated to his offense much more quickly than expected – with 11 receptions for 137 yards in his first two games – and the 49ers are giving him ample opportunities to produce. Facing a Tennessee secondary that has allowed a league-high 19 passing TDs, look for the rookie to make the first of many trips to the end zone as a pro.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…benches Aaron Rodgers over worries about his sprained toe and foot. Unlike the bloodied Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Rodgers should pillage the Bucs’ defenseless secondary despite a few flesh wounds.