Week 9 of the NFL season means we are past the halfway point and many trade deadlines have come and gone. By this time there is a good chance you are either in or out of the playoff hunt, but many of you still remain on the outside looking in, but within shouting distance of the playoff race. Even if you are out of the race in your mind, you should continue to play until the final whistle blows because you never know what can happen with injuries and waiver wire pick-ups.
A hot topic this week is going to be how the Titans have effectively killed any fantasy value that Chris Johnson had by saying that carries will go to the "hot hand" when speaking about CJ2K and Javon Ringer. The most telling thing about last week's game was how Ringer played 33 snaps to CJ2K's 30. Ringer also took over as the feature back in the fourth quarter. Ringer is someone to add in most formats, but as nothing more than a flier pick at this point. Johnson should be traded if you can get value for him.
Tashard Choice was finally let go by the Cowboys, but he was picked up by a division rival, the Washington Redskins. Choice will have no more value with the Redskins than he did with the Cowboys as the 'Skins have Ryan Torain and Roy Helu in the backfield already. Let someone else waste the roster spot on Choice.
Byes: Panthers, Lions, Jaguars, Vikings
Tony Romo: Romo is what he is, an above average QB who seems to crumble under pressure. However, playing the Seahawks can make an average QB look like a Pro Bowl candidate. That means Romo should end the day having Cowboys fans thinking they just went back in time and watched Troy Aikman play pitch-n-catch with Michael Irvin, Alvin Harper and Jay Novacek. Matt Ryan:Matty Ice is currently ranking as the #15 fantasy QB, but that should all change after he plays the struggling Colts this weekend. Julio Jones should start this week, which is good news for not only Ryan, but Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez as well. I'd expect low-end QB1 numbers from Ryan this week.
Beanie Wells: Last week Wells sat on many fantasy benches, but he finished the game with 83 rushing yards and a TD. This week he faces a Rams defense that is allowing the second-most fantasy points to RBs at 25.0. Kevin Kolb has proven he won't win the Cardinals many games, so the load should fall on Wells.
Shonn Greene: Last week Greene finally had a 100-yard game and I am thinking he can carry that momentum over this week against the Bills. The Jets need offense in the worst way, and Greene could be their workhorse. There is always the fear factor when it comes to the Jets offense, but they seem to be committed to the run and that is a good thing for fantasy owners.
Dwayne Bowe: Bowe went through a stretch this season in which he was catching TDs and was putting up 100-yard games on a regular basis. However, he hasn't scored in the last two games and some owners are starting to get worried. Well, worry no more because the Chiefs play the Dolphins this week and that scoreless streak is sure to come to an end against a weak secondary.
Jeremy Maclin: Maclin doesn't get all the publicity he should because he is overshadowed by DeSean Jackson, but that hasn't stopped fantasy owners from taking him seriously. Maclin is actually a top-10 fantasy WR heading into week 9, and I see him as a possible WR1 this week against the Bears secondary. Play him with confidence until you hear otherwise.
Fred Davis: This is a bit of a risky call, but I think Davis can still put up numbers against the 49ers' stout defense this weekend. The 'Niners are allowing the 13th-most fantasy points to TEs this season (8.4) and the defense isn't pitching shutouts, so he should be the lone wolf for the Redskins in this one.
Houston Texans defense: The Texans defense isn't one that gets many people excited, but they play the Browns and they have more problems on offense than the Texans have on defense. The Browns are currently ranked 27th in the NFL for total YPG with 305.7 and the Texans are actually ranked 3rd in YPG allowed with just 286.8.
Tim Tebow: The world went crazy with Tim Tebow and the new "Tebowing," but his hype is underserved. He is sporting a woeful 47.1 completion percentage while throwing for just 166.5 YPG. While that doesn't matter in fantasy terms, it is indicative of his ability to produce stats and stats are the lifeblood of fantasy football. Tebow is the poster child for the difference in perception and reality.
Joe Flacco: Flacco and the Ravens match up with the Steelers this week, and they are allowing just 14.7 fantasy PPG to QBs this season. Over the past four weeks Flacco has thrown for 778 yards, but just a lone TD to go with his three INTs. This should be a defensive game, which means offense will suffer.
Chris Johnson: That is right, CJ2K has finally made it to the sit 'em list and he could finish the season there. As I laid out earlier, the Titans are going to give Ringer a share of Johnson's carries which makes you wonder why they paid CJ2K all that money. We are watching one of the NFL's most explosive players rot at the docks.
Washington Redskins backfield: Yes, the entire backfield should not be played. Beyond the fact that Torain has managed just 31 yards on 20 carries (1.55 YPC) since week 4, the Redskins play the 49ers and their top-ranked defense this weekend. I have cut all ties with Torain and I suggest you do, too.
Reggie Wayne: I've gotten a few Facebook and Twitter messages asking if Reggie Wayne will ever come around this season. The short answer is no. Curtis Painter is no Peyton Manning, so the chances of him having any fantasy value are about as much as Elvis rising from the grave and knocking on your door. If there is a WR in your league that is producing and on the wire, cut Wayne and let someone else deal with the headache.
Andre Johnson: There really isn't any word on whether or not Johnson will play this weekend, but there is a chance. Given the chance, I feel the need to tell you to sit him if he does start since the Browns are allowing the fewest fantasy points to WRs this season at just 13.5 PPG. Since this might be his first week back, you have to wonder at what percentage of health he is to start with. He could have a big game, but the smart money says he won't.
Ben Watson: Yahoo has Watson projected as the #12 TE this week, which means he is projecting out as a low-end TE1. He hasn't racked up more than 64 yards receiving in a game this season and his two touchdowns were back in weeks 1 and 4. Watson isn't worth owning, let alone starting.
San Diego Chargers defense: The Chargers defense is owned in about half the fantasy leagues out there, but this week they draw the Packers and their Super Bowl-caliber offense. Truth be told, I wouldn't want to put a single defense in the NFL up against the Packers right now as they are playing absolutely out of their minds. Stay far away from the Chargers defense this weekend.
Question of the week
Q: My brain hurts: I need to pick 5 of the below guys to start in a PPR league that gives bonus points for 100+ yards (I can pick any five):
- Ahmad Bradshaw
- Hakeem Nicks
- Victor Cruz
- Roddy White
- Julio Jones
- Jackie Battle
- Jordy Nelson
- Vincent Jackson
A. I am thinking of benching Battle because he seems too unproven of a commodity, shares carries, and, though he did good last week, it all came in the last quarter of play. That said, he is the guy there.
B. I sort of have a strategically issue with playing all three Giants at the same time; that situation may solve itself once some injury reports come out. Then again, it could be a shootout game with NE.
C. I'm not sure how Julio will play coming off of injury; I still think White gets more red zone looks, but Julio has had some big yardage games.
D. Jackson has been struggling but has that big game potential.
I am almost inclined to start all WRs; Nicks, Cruz, White, Jackson, and Nelson. But Bradshaw has been pretty solid in this league where you have PPR. Maybe the only issue here is my issue with benching Vincent Jackson along with Julio and Battle. I know that the second I bench him, he'll go bananas, but he hasn't been producing of late. Really he is stopping me from playing Bradshaw, Nicks, Cruz, White, and Nelson. Even though that has the all three Giants issue. See, my brain hurts! (Brian M. Schenker)
A: Nicks, White, Jackson and Cruz are my WR picks, and Bradshaw would be the lone RB.
I don't like Battle at all given his offense and gameplan. Julio Jones needs to prove a little consistency before I jump on board with him. You can't bench V-Jax... too much talent to ride the pine.