Fantasy Football Week 9: Featured Start ‘Em List
Week 9 fantasy football is in full swing as the San Diego Chargers put a beat down on the Kansas City Chiefs Thursday night, 31-13. I applaud those who started the Chargers D/ST last night as they were in beast mode, forcing 2 fumbles, 1 interception, and scoring two touchdowns. As usual, RB Ryan Matthews disappointed his owners, failing to score a touchdown, and tallied 67 rushing yards on 13 carries. Sure, the defense played lights out which cut into his production, but the "experts" over at ESPN had this guy recording two touchdowns and 100 yards rushing against a porous Chiefs defense. They couldn't have been farther off on that prediction.
With the halfway mark of the season officially here, this is crunch time for fantasy football. This is the time when you will find out what your team and yourself are made of, and if your team is playoff worthy. The dreaded bye weeks are almost over, and the waiver wire is still filled with valuable fantasy prospects. Be patient, be active, and be aware of your team's needs.
For those looking for a bump in confidence from some of their fantasy players that have been struggling, be sure to check out my Fantasy Football 2012: 10 Players Who Will Breakout in the Second Half piece. It's hard when an "elite" player struggles to live up to expectations, or gets injured, but you have to stick to your guns sometimes and fight through it. After all, the main goal in fantasy football is making the playoffs and eventually winning the championship, so don't panic too early.
Ok, no more rambling from me, without further ado, here is my fantasy football week 9 featured start 'em list. Best of luck to everyone in week 9, and may the fantasy gods be with you.
QB Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton has one touchdown in his last three games. ONE. In that same span, he has turned the ball over five times, and the Panthers have lost five consecutive games.
To be fair, in terms of Cam's production, he has played some stout defense in the past three weeks, going up against the Seattle Seahawks, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Chicago Bears. That's no cakewalk and it's certainly showing in the win column for the Panthers, but all that can be forgotten in week 9.
The Panthers and especially Cam Newton have a chance to turn things around against one of the leagues poorest defenses in the Washington Redskins. Giving up an NFL high, 18 passing touchdowns this season, the Redskins are also giving up the fourth-most fantasy points to the quarterback position. Look for Cam to turn things around against this secondary and gain back the trust of his owners. Week 9 should be very fruitful for all parties involved.
QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
All hope is not lost after all, folks. Matthew Stafford finally had the game most thought he would be having quite often in 2012. In week 8, against a tough Seattle Seahawks defense, Stafford threw for 352 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Hard to believe, but that was the first time this season Matthew Stafford has thrown multiple touchdowns in a game. Now, if Stafford can put up numbers like that against a tough Seahawks secondary, he should have no problems slicing up a Jacksonville Jaguars secondary.
The Jaguars have been smoked for 9 touchdowns the last five weeks, and have surrendered 96 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in the past five games. Stafford should be able to keep it rolling this week, so go ahead and keep him inserted in your lineups.
RB Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins
All I keep hearing and reading about is how RB Daniel Thomas is going to cut into Reggie's workload, but I'm not buying it. Even if he does, I still think Reggie is in for a big day.
Bush's production has tapered off after scoring two touchdowns in week 2 against the Oakland Raiders, as he has only recorded one touchdown since then. To be realistic though, Bush should breakout here in the second half as his slate of opponents are nowhere near the quality defenses he faced in the first half.
And that all starts with the Indianapolis Colts in week 9, who have given up the 7th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Colts run defense ranks 28th overall in the league, and they should have problems containing Bush in both the running game and out the backfield. Bush will always hold more value in PPR formats, but he's good enough to be a sure start in week 9, and moving forward.
RB Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns
Everyone that owned Richardson were on edge last week, as he was dealing with a rib injury, but he gave it a go anyway. Thanks to Trent's courage, it was a productive day for all involved, as he ran for 122 yards and scored the games only touchdown. The Browns beat the San Diego Chargers 7-6 in what was easily the most boring game of the week.
Richardson now faces the Baltimore Ravens, who he faced in week 4, and was held in check for the most part. He carried the ball 14 times for 47 yards, but did record a touchdown. He was also valuable that day in PPR formats, with four catches for 57 yards. The big difference in this game obviously, is the fact that number 52, Ray Lewis won't be waiting for the rookie on the other side of the ball on Sunday as he's out for the season, and it's starting to take a toll on the Ravens fierce defense.
The Ravens rush defense has been sliced and diced these past three weeks, surrendering 604 rushing yards, and three touchdowns. Teams have obviously got the memo on how to beat the Ravens, and that's by running the ball, which teams have done an astonishing 124 times total in the past three weeks. Look for Trent to get fed like it's Easter Sunday so get him in those lineups.
WR Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
Despite a week 6 touchdown reception for Smith, he has been relatively quiet these past three weeks. He has a total of 9 receptions and 103 receiving yards in that span.
Look for Smith to get back on track versus the Cleveland Browns in week 9, as he has had success in the past against them. In week 4 against the Browns, Smith had 6 receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown.
The Browns pass defense ranks 29th in the league, and they have given up the 4th-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year. Only 40% of leagues are starting Smith, but I think that number should be a tad higher, so if you own Smith, get him in that lineup.
WR Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles
This one is all about the match up against the 31st ranked defense in the New Orleans Saints. Mike Vick has clearly struggled this season, and there has even been talks about him being benched, but I think all that talk gets hushed after Sunday night's game against the Saints.
Jeremy Maclin should be in for a huge night, as the Saints have given up the most fantasy points to the wide receiver position this season. In the past five games, the Saints on average, have given up 37.5 fantasy points to wide receivers, and have surrendered 11 touchdowns. Maclin is only being started by roughly 55% of his owners, but there should be more faith in him this week so get him in those lineups.
WR Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars
Apparently, Cecil Shorts is the only wide receiver on the Jaguars. The only one that's fantasy worthy, anyway. Shorts has seen an astonishing 33 targets from QB Blaine Gabbert in the past two weeks.
Shorts has hauled in 12 of those targets in that span, totaling 195 receiving yards and a touchdown. With the loss of RB Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars will be looking for some offense from someone, and that figures to be Shorts. In the past three weeks, the Detroit Lions have allowed 525 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers.
If the Jaguars fall behind in this one, which I suspect they will, whatever run game they have will be abandoned, and Cecil will see plenty of looks to make his owners proud. It looks like only 7.6% have the balls to start Shorts this week, but I bet those 7.6% will be grinning after Sunday's game is complete.
TE Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
Should be no surprise, since the Washington Redskins secondary is horrible, but they have given up the 2nd-most fantasy points to the tight end position this season. Olsen has been awfully quiet these past three weeks, hauling in 9 receptions for a measly 91 receiving yards, so he's due to have a productive day.
Another factor that favors Olsen this week, is the fact that the Redskins have given up three touchdowns on four targets inside the 5-yard line the past four games. QB Cam Newton should have a big day against the Redskins, and Olsen should be one of the main beneficiaries, especially with WR Brandon LaFell doubtful for Sunday's game with post-concussion symptoms. If you need tight end help, or ran into a bye week, Olsen is a great sleeper option against the woeful Redskins defense.
TE Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals
Jermaine Gresham is one of the tight ends you have to keep an eye on this week. He has one of the best match ups for a tight end in week 9, going up against the Denver Broncos.
Denver has given up the 3rd-most fantasy points to the tight end position this season, and have allowed six touchdowns to opposing tight ends, three alone in the last two weeks. The Bengals staff has gained more confidence in QB Andy Dalton in his sophomore campaign, and he's been throwing the ball at a higher rate this season.
If this game plays out like it should, Dalton will see around 35-40 attempts against this defense, and that should work out well for Gresham. Other than WR A.J. Green, Gresham really is Dalton's second favorite target, as he has looked Gresham's way at least five times in each of their seven games. Probability of a touchdown for Gresham in this one is very high, start him with confidence.
Follow Michael on twitter: @windycityiggy
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