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Start’Em Sit’Em Week 9

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Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 9

This weekly column is normally generated on my trusty laptop in the upper Midwest. However, this particular edition is presented to you from New Orleans, where I had the opportunity to watch the Saints host the Seahawks on Sunday. As always, witnessing an NFL matchup in person is an incredible experience. It remains a testament to the league that so much of our time in any given week is spent consuming the product, and relentlessly pursuing the results. Regardless of whether we are watching from a stadium, an establishment with a multitude of monitors, a television in the friendly confines of where we live, or simply by checking our phones. As the fantasy community remains captivated by the product, amid the reports concerning a television ratings decline.

Of course, bye weeks are creating a temporary reduction in that product, as this is the second consecutive week in which players from six different teams will not be available. As a result, those of you who own any Cardinals, Bears, Bengals, Texans, Patriots or Redskins, cannot utilize them this week. To help all owners remain prepared, you can locate which teams are included in the remaining weeks directly below.

  • Week 9  Byes: Arizona, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, New England, Washington
  • Week 10 Byes: Buffalo, Detroit, Indianapolis, Oakland
  • Week 11 Byes: Atlanta, Denver, New York Jets, San Diego
  • Week 12 Byes: NONE
  • Week 13 Byes: Cleveland, Tennessee

With that in mind, here are my Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em recommendations for Week 9. As always, no space will be devoted to elite players that you should already be planning to deploy. Instead, the focus will remain on the Start and Sit options that are more uncertain. Enjoy the games, and good luck this week.

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Start QB Dak Prescott at Browns

dak-prescott-cowboysWith all deference to Carson Wentz, the belief from here is that Prescott has been the most impressive rookie quarterback in 2016. Even though he has largely failed to break the seal that encompasses QB1 status, his output has been respectable every week. He has passed for at least 227 yards in every contest, while forging a 253 YPG average. Plus, he has supplemented his fantasy point total by amassing four rushing touchdowns. This week he can be started with confidence, as he will benefit from an exceptional matchup. Only three teams have been shredded for more fantasy points by opposing signal-callers than Cleveland this season, as the Browns have surrendered 25 PPG. Tom Brady, Andy Dalton, Marcus Mariota, Joe Flacco, Ryan Tannehill, and Wentz (in his professional debut) all generated at least 275 yards through the air when facing this unit. Plus, seven of eight starting quarterbacks have produced multiple touchdowns against the Browns this season. Allow that fact to marinate, set any concerns regarding Tony Romo’s return aside for another week, and insert Prescott into your lineups.

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Sit QB Eli Manning vs. Eagles

Eli ManningThe prospect of Manning spearheading an ongoing aerial assault with Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Victory Cruz seemed enticing as the regular season commenced. But the presence of this potentially potent arsenal of receiving weapons has not resulted in the fantasy point bonanza that was expected. Instead, Manning has manufactured dreadful overall numbers. He did enter his Week 8 bye eighth among all quarterbacks with 1,984 yards. However, his remarkably unsightly 8:6 touchdown to interception ratio has lagged far behind expectations, making him an undependable starting option.  There are actually more contests in which Manning has failed to generate a touchdown (three) than there are those in which he has delivered multiple scores (two).  While suffering owners can hope that Ben McAdoo concocted a magic formula during the bye, the reality is that significant improvement should be displayed by Manning before he is reinserted into lineups. Especially considering the formidability of next week’s opponent. Despite allowing late game production to Prescott in Week 8, Philadelphia still ranks fifth against the pass, and is yielding the sixth fewest fantasy points to opposing signal callers (18 PPG). The Eagles are also tied for third overall with 22 sacks, and will not allow Manning to attain a comfort zone for an extended period of game time. Prescott was only the second signal caller to throw for more than 260 yards against this unit, and only two have produced multiple touchdowns. This is not the week to entrust Manning in your lineups.

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Start RB Matt Forte at Dolphins
Prior to Week 7, Forte had not rushed for 100 yards or scored a touchdown since Week 2. But he proceeded to generate a season-high 155 total yards and two touchdowns against what had been a formidable Ravens run defense that entered the contest having allowed the second fewest fantasy points to opposing backs. Forte followed up that performance by accruing 82 yards and two scores against a Cleveland run defense that entered the contest ranked 31st. This week, Forte has an excellent opportunity to provide his owners with highly favorable production for a third consecutive week, when he faces a Miami unit that ranks 30th in run defense, and is permitting 135.6 YPG. The Dolphins have yielded rushing touchdowns grudgingly (six), but have allowed rushers to average 4.4 YPC. They have been gashed for over 120 yards by LeGarrette Blount in Week 2, and DeMarco Murray in Week 5, and have surrendered at least 66 yards to an opposing back six times. Forte’s duel threat capabilities should enable him to generate sizable yardage during this encounter.

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Start RB Mark Ingram / Tim Hightower at 49ers

Mark IngramPrior to Ingram’s Week 8 benching as chastisement for fumbling in a second consecutive contest, the mixed bag contained within his 2016 resume had been discussed previously in this column. After he was jettisoned to the bench early in the first quarter last Sunday, the 30-year old Hightower garnered 26 carries, which easily surpassed Ingram’s season high. This included red zone opportunities that have been largely lacking for Ingram, although Hightower failed to capitalize. As this is being written, ambiguity exists regarding Sean Peyton’s plan for both backs this week. But even if the tandem splits touches, their matchup is far too appealing for anyone who owns Ingram or Hightower to disregard. San Francisco’s run defense currently ranks dead last, and has been gashed for an astronomical 185 YPG on the ground. Which is a massive 40+ yards per game more than the 31st ranked run defense. The 49ers are also permitting a whopping 5.1 YPC, are first overall in fantasy points allowed to opposing backs (27 PPG), and have been gashed for 100+ yards by Jacquizz Rodgers, LeSean McCoy, David Johnson, Ezekial Elliott, Christine Michael, and Fozzy Whitaker. San Francisco has also surrendered 10 rushing touchdowns in seven contests, and consistently does not provide enough resistance to curtail opposing rushers from delivering high quality performances. Which makes it critical that all updates regarding their potential allotment of touches for both Ingram and Hightower should be monitored heavily leading up to kickoff.

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Sit RB Jay Ajayi vs. Jets

Jay AjayiThe second-year back soared beyond the constraints of a committee approach to garner 53 carries in Weeks 6-7, and responded by exploding for 204 yards against Pittsburgh, and 214 against Buffalo. In doing so, he became only the fourth player ever to rush for 200+ yards in two consecutive games. Considering that historic production, it is understandable that owners would be eager to deploy him in their lineups. Particularly after being forced to endure his Week 8 bye. However, it is not realistic to expect Ajayi to deliver another high quality performance on Sunday. As he must contend with a Jet run defense that has often stonewalled opposing rushers throughout the season. Gang Green leads the NFL in run defense, while allowing 74 YPG, and has limited runners to only 3.3 YPC. Even though they were gashed by David Johnson for 111 yards in Week 6, only two other runners have attained 60 yards during the team’s other six games. If not for Johnson’s output, the Jets’ resume in run stopping would be even more impressive. Owners who possess reasonable alternatives should use them this week.

 

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Sit RB Frank Gore at Packers

Frank GoreWhile Gore has not been a candidate to deliver a cornucopia of fantasy points in any given week, nor will he present a statistical disaster to those who start him.  Which has enabled owners to anticipate the consistent range of production that he routinely delivers.  He entered Week 8 having rushed for at least 60 yards in five consecutive games, but surpassed 82 yards just once during that span. However, even though he was limited to season lows in rushing yards (37), and carries (nine) against Kansas City, he did salvage his performance with an 18-yard touchdown reception. But his standard RB2 status should undergo a one week hiatus, as a result of his challenging matchup with Green Bay’s outstanding run defense. The Packers’ second ranked unit is yielding just 74.4 YPG, and is permitting the fewest fantasy points to the position (12.4 PPG). Plus, they have just allowed 176+  receiving yards to opposing backs, which is the league’s fourth best total. While Ezekial Elliott did steamroll this unit in Week 6, no other back has exceeded 48 yards on the ground this year. It is advisable that you utilize another option this week. But if bye issues and assorted injuries have stripped you from the liberty of sitting him, prepare yourself for substandard production.

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Start WR Davante Adams vs. Colts

Davante Adams FantasyAdams collected just 15 receptions during Green Bay’s initial six contests, but the third-year year wideout has amassed 15 more in the past two weeks, while providing the Green Bay passing game with a much needed spark. The Packer aerial attack has fallen below recent standards, when the team ranked within the top 10 in total offense nine times from 2005 -2014. As Green Bay ranked just 21st overall heading into Week 8, before Adams garnered 12 catches for 74 yards against Atlanta. He has now generated at least 74 yards in three of his last four games, and could easily replicate that output again this week. Particularly if health issues prohibit Randall Cobb and versatile Ty Montgomery from performing effectively. The Colts rank 31st versus the pass, and this unit continues to display consistent deficiencies, They remain clearly exploitable, even if Adams draws a percentage of coverage from Vontae Davis. He has become a highly targeted weapon for Aaron Rodgers, and is capable of exceeding 80 yards and producing another score. Making him a viable WR3 option.

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Start WR Kenny Britt / Brian Quick vs. Panthers
During a week in which the absence of six teams from the schedule could combine with injuries to create discomforting starting decisions for owners, we will dive into the deeper but viable alternative that this tandem of Ram wideouts provides. As their outstanding matchup should enable them to generate desirable fantasy point totals. Britt has accumulated 75+ yards in four of his last six contests, while averaging five receptions per game during that span. Meanwhile, Quick has averaged 65 YPG in his last five games, while generating over 50 yards in every encounter. They should both exceed their recent numbers this week, when they line up against a Carolina unit that is yielding the second most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers (28 PPG). The Panthers’ ongoing futility in pass defense has sent their overall ranking plummeting to 30th, as they are allowing 287 YPG. They have also been torched for 16 scores through the air. Poor decision making at the management level has resulted in Carolina being forced to compete with a highly exploitable cluster of cornerbacks that possess a complete lack of anything resembling a shutdown presence. This presents an opportunity for anyone to seize Britt or Quick if they are available on league waiver wires, and take advantage of this week’s enticing matchup.

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Sit WR Marvin Jones at Vikings

marvin-jonesJones averaged 136 YPG and scored touchdowns in his first three games as a Lion. Which was propelled by his 205-yard explosion against Green Bay in Week 3. However, his average plunged to 23.5 YPG in Weeks 5-6, which was impacted sizably by the season worst 33 yards that he manufactured last Sunday. Not only is it reasonable to question whether Jones has been supplanted by Golden Tate as the Lions’ WR1, but the return of Theo Riddick and Eric Ebron should also be disconcerting for owners. As a reemergence of insanely productive outings does not appear imminent for Jones. In fact, his output is destined to be highly unsatisfactory this week. As he will be dealing with a stingy Viking pass defense that currently ranked fourth prior to their Week 8 encounter with Chicago, and was yielding the third fewest fantasy points to opposing wide outs. Minnesota is fully capable of placing an uncomfortably low ceiling upon his Week 9 production, and creating another week of consternation for  anyone who starts him.

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Sit WR Jeremy Maclin vs. Jaguars
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Maclin accumulated 2,406 yards in 2014 – 2015, while stockpiling 18 touchdowns during those two seasons. Last season he was 12th among all receivers with 87 receptions, and demonstrated that he could be highly productive with Alex Smith as his quarterback. All of which compelled owners to confidently select him early during their drafts. But he has been a colossal disappointment this season, exceeding 75 yards just once during his first seven contests, and scoring only two touchdowns. He is currently only 51st among all receivers with 376 yards for the season, and has somehow managed to deliver these bewildering results despite a collection of very favorable matchups. That will not be the case this week, regardless of who is under center for the Chiefs. As Maclin appears destined to contend with borderline shutdown corner Jalen Ramsey, who has performed with increasing proficiency as his rookie season has unfolded. Ramsey is fully capable of neutralizing Maclin, who should be safely planted on your benches.

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Start TE Kyle Rudolph vs. Lions

Kyle RudolphTargeting is not an issue for Rudolph this season, as he had procured a team high 54 from Sam Bradford entering Week 8. Production has been reasonably consistent too, as he has either produced 55 yards or a touchdown in five of Minnesota’s seven contests. The exceptions occurred in Week 5 versus a Houston defense that has repeatedly stifled opposing tight ends this season, and again on Monday Night when Rudolph collected five of his six targets for 31 yards against Chicago. This week’s opponent will be unable to provide the same degree of resistance that Rudolph encountered when facing the Texans and Bears. As Detroit has perpetuated last season’s lingering issues in their attempts to contain tight ends, while becoming an ongoing topic in this column. The Lions have allowed the most fantasy points to the position, are allowing 12 PPG, and continue to surrender touchdowns on a routine basis. As they have now been burned for a league-worst eight scores by tight ends, who have now accessed the end zone in seven of Detroit’s eight games. Rudolph should join the conga line this week, and supplement his fantasy point total with 50+ yards.

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Sit TE Julius Thomas at Chiefs

Julius Thomas FantasyAfter he collected nine receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown during the first two games of the year, Thomas has only managed 10 catches, and failed to assemble 30 yards in any of Jacksonville’s next four contests. As a result, his name has appeared on waiver wires, as some owners increasingly chose to terminate what had become weekly installments of disappointment. However even though he has only accrued six receptions for 48 yards in his last two games combined, Thomas has garnered two scores during that span. While that development might create a surge in his usage this week, you should not make that mistake. Kansas City has smothered opposing tight ends this season, allowing the fifth fewest fantasy points to the position (4.8 PPG). While the Chiefs did yield 44 yards to Coby Fleener in Week 7, only one other tight end has eclipsed 35  yards against this unit all season. Plus, they has surrendered just one touchdown. Thomas owners should already secure another option for their rosters, and employ that alternative this week.

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About the author

Phil Clark

Phil is a proud Hoosier, who relocated in Nebraska, and began playing fantasy football nearly 20 years ago. In his first ever draft, he had the third overall pick and selected Barry Sanders. That choice was instantly mocked by several other owners, but Sanders ultimately scored 14 touchdowns and generated 2,358 total yards during an exceptional season. That instantly taught Phil a very important lesson – even though none of us will forecast with 100% accuracy, you should follow your gut instincts whenever you truly believe in a player. Phil began his writing career with RotoWire, later joined Fanball, and has since returned home to the Gridiron Experts. He remains firmly convinced that the key to happiness can be found through a subscription to the Sunday Ticket.

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