Friday, October 31, 2014

Week 9 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Tom Brady and Jamaal Charles, or to bench Derek Carr and Toby Gerhart? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 9 of the 2014 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Nick Foles, QB, Eagles at Texans. Foles has been finding his groove over the past three weeks, though he is still tossing as many interceptions as TDs. Houston’s defense excels against the run, while its secondary poses few problems to opposing passers. Foles should find great success Sunday, likely posting his second three-TD outing of the season.

Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos at Patriots. Everyone is expecting an aerial showcase in this game, and we’ll certainly get that. But Hillman has proven to be a worthy change-of-pace in the Broncos’ high-powered offense. If you can stomach the prospect of more goal-line vulturing from Juwan Thompson, Hillman is your guy against the weak Patriots run defense.

Denard Robinson, RB, Jaguars at Bengals. Counting on a Jaguar player is always a dicey proposition, but Robinson has found a way to make chicken salad out of chicken scratch. He has posted 100-plus yards in consecutive weeks and will face a Bengals run defense that has surrendered 278 yards and 3 TDs on the ground over the last two games.

Andrew Hawkins, WR, Browns vs. Buccaneers. Last week against the lowly Raiders, Brian Hoyer got back on track and Hawkins scored his first TD of the season. With Cameron Jordan (concussion) almost certainly out, the duo will now face an arguably worse pass defense that seems to have already thrown in the towel.

Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys vs. Cardinals. Regardless which QB is at the controls this week, Dallas should have no trouble moving the ball through the air against Arizona’s soft secondary. The Cardinals’ pass rush is nothing like the Redskins’, so Tony Romo or Brandon Weeden will have plenty of time to locate their talented receivers.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Carson Palmer, Alex Smith, Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill; RBs Andre Ellington, Ahmad Bradshaw, Lamar Miller, Ben Tate, Branden Oliver, Alfred Morris; WRs T.Y. Hilton, Jeremy Maclin, Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Mike Wallace, Brandon LaFell, Emmanuel Sanders, Steve Smith, Vincent Jackson, Doug Baldwin, Odell Beckham, Jr.

Roll ‘em back

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens at Steelers. Remember way back in Week 6 when Flacco was the toast of Fantasyland? Yeah, well, he’s regressed since then (as is his custom), tossing twice as many picks (four) as TD passes (two). Seemingly out of rhythm with his receivers, Flacco can’t be trusted on the road in this traditionally low-scoring matchup.

Tre Mason, RB, Rams at 49ers. The Rams’ backfield is a hot mess and they just lost their best offensive lineman. The quest to identify a weekly “hot hand” has led to a democratic distribution of touches among three backs. Though Mason looked like he seized the lead role two weeks ago, he isn’t getting enough opportunities to excel. The 49ers run defense didn’t give up much against this trio two weeks ago either.

Chris Ivory, RB, Jets at Chiefs. The inevitable transition at QB has finally taken place, but Michael Vick is not the feared passer he once was. Expect the Chiefs to sell out to stop the run, both by Vick and his backfield mates. Ivory has been effective in recent weeks, but I don’t like his chances in the unfriendly confines of Arrowhead.

Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers at Dolphins. Philip Rivers is too hot to bench, even in a bad matchup; but Allen is a different story. Though he finally found the end zone in Week 8, Allen is no longer Rivers’ go-to target. Miami boasts one of the league’s stingiest pass defenses and San Diego must travel cross-country to face them.

Wes Welker, WR, Broncos at Patriots. Aside from the home crowd, and people who hate Old Spice, who wouldn’t love to see Welker come up big against his former team? It’s a delicious story line, and Peyton Manning will surely give him his chances. But Welker has become a bit player in this offense, and Manning has too many hungry mouths to feed. Play with your head, not your heart.

More thumbs down: QBs Michael Vick, Robert Griffin III, Austin Davis; RBs Jerick McKinnon, Jonas Gray, Darren Sproles, Andre Williams, Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew; WRs Julian Edelman, Percy Harvin, Eric Decker, Andre Holmes, Cordarrelle Patterson, Cecil Shorts, Torrey Smith.


Bobby Rainey, RB, Buccaneers at Browns. Just when it looked like the Bucs were finally ready to move past the overrated and oft-injured Doug Martin (ankle) and hand the ball to the patient yet fumble-prone Rainey, Charles Sims is on the verge of returning from his preseason ankle surgery. The rookie is an excellent receiver and he should get plenty of chances to vie for a starting job once he is activated. Assuming Martin sits out, Rainey now appears most likely to carry the load against the Browns’ soft run defense. But keep an eye out for Sims. If he’s not ready Sunday, Week 10 could be his moment in the spotlight.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…fails to plan ahead for yet another six-team bye in Week 10. Several fantasy studs will be idle next weekend, so scouring the waiver wire early could yield some unexpected treats. With owners scrambling to fill out their rosters this week, you might be surprised by some of the talented players that were reluctantly released in hopes that they escape your attention.

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