Good morning, Fools. We're officially in the second half of the fantasy season, and that makes me kinda sad. It goes by so fast, and the offseason is so friggin' long.
Oh well, let's enjoy it -- and kick some butt -- while we can. Here's what we need to know as we set our starting lineups for a dominating Week 9:
The following have already been declared out for this weekend: Matt Forte, Vincent Jackson, Eddie Royal, DeVante Parker and Kendall Wright. Le'Veon Bell, Keenan Allen and Percy Harvin have been placed on IR.
Tyrod Taylor will be back under center for the Bills, which is great news for Buffalo fans. Sammy Watkins isn't 100%, but he is expected to play on his balky ankle. But will he much more than a decoy? Charles Clay has flown mostly under the fantasy radar in recent weeks, but his arrow is pointing up again with Taylor at the helm.
There's a lot of consternation about the Packers' passing game facing its second tough test in a row, on the road in Carolina. Given how poorly Aaron Rodgers & Co. played against the Broncos, it's understandable. Personally, I couldn't sit Rodgers for anyone other than another top-notch QB (Rivers, Brees, Brady, Ryan, Big Ben, Cam, Eli), but I am sitting Davante Adams and James Jones on the teams in which I own them. And if I had Randall Cobb, I'd sit him, too.
There's not a single Colt I would start today against Denver. Not a one. (Unless your league starts punters.) And just in case you're considering it, T. Y. Hilton is a game-time call.
Does anybody know who'll run the ball in San Francisco today? Does anybody really care? Well, here's the thing. One of those RBs could -- not will, could -- emerge as the pick of the litter and be a prime waiver-wire pickup this week. So those hurting at RB can spin the wheel early on Kendall Gaskins, Pierre Thomas and Shaun Draughn. Thomas is the only one with a decent NFL pedigree, so if I had to take one (thankfully, I don't), he'd be my choice.
Besides, the 49ers are starting Blaine Gabbert at QB, and Anquan Boldin is not expected to suit up. The Falcons defense has never been so tantalizing.
Ronnie Hillman (thigh) is expected to suit up today, but I like C.J. Anderson better in this one. Given Hillman's situation, it wouldn't be surprising to see Denver give the resurgent Anderson the bulk of the carries against Indy. As long as C.J. plays well, they can rest Hillman. If he fares poorly, or gets nicked up, they'll have a fall-back plan. For that reason, I would be very wary of starting Hillman today.
Everyone in the Jets' surprisingly effective passing attack is nicked up, from Ryan Fitzpatrick (thumb) to Brandon Marshall (ankle, toe) to Eric Decker (knee). But they're all expected to play in a good matchup with the Jags.
DeSean Jackson will get back on the field today, finally. I've been keeping him on my bench all this time, but I'm not starting him just yet. Want to see him test that bum hammy at game speed first.
Ladarius Green is doubtful, so Antonio Gates could have a monster outing. I like Malcom Floyd better than Stevie Johnson too, by the way.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins is not expected to play. Should be a big day for Mike Evans, though we thought that last week as well.
Vernon Davis will make his debut in a Broncos uniform this afternoon. This should be interesting. I could see him revitalize his career in Denver, or flame out as he has done so often when expectations were raised. If you have an extra spot on your bench to invest just in case he comes through, Davis certainly has a high ceiling.
We may get our first look at Dolphins rookie RB Jay Ajayi today. He's not someone worthy of a roster spot yet, but if Lamar Miller goes down, that will change.
Keenan Allen is still rostered in more than 40% of ESPN leagues. Why? Very few of those are keeper leagues. Drop him now, folks, and grab someone who just might emerge this week before you have to fight your competitors for him. Maybe someone on a bye now, like Kamar Aiken or Michael Floyd (available in 40% of leagues), or even Vernon Davis.
Weather report: It's fairly quiet in NFL cities around the country today. Light rain is expected in Tampa Bay (Giants, Buc) and Santa Clara (Falcons, 49ers), but it's not windy there. No reason to downgrade anyone in those games that you would otherwise start.
That's it for now. I'll be tweeting the inactives and other late-breaking news in a bit. Good luck today, Fools!