We’ve reached the halfway point, and it’s clearer than ever which teams should have you worried and which should have you grinning with excitement.
Quarterback Points Allowed
|1||Philadelphia Eagles||NO||21.4||15||Indianapolis Colts||MIA||15.3|
|2||Chicago Bears||TEN||19.3||16||Washington Redskins||CAR||13.7|
|3||Houston Texans||BUF||19.7||17||New York Giants||PIT||13.0|
|4||Baltimore Ravens||CLE||17.6||18||Pittsburgh Steelers||NYG||15.5|
|5||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||OAK||16.6||19||Cleveland Browns||BAL||12.0|
|6||Miami Dolphins||IND||16.1||20||Arizona Cardinals||GB||15.3|
|7||Carolina Panthers||WAS||18.8||21||Cincinnati Bengals||DEN||14.6|
|8||San Diego Chargers||KC||17.9||22||New Orleans Saints||PHI||14.0|
|9||Kansas City Chiefs||SAD||16.4||23||Dallas Cowboys||ATL||13.0|
|10||Detroit Lions||JAX||15.6||24||Atlanta Falcons||DAL||11.4|
|11||Oakland Raiders||TB||15.7||25||Buffalo Bills||HOU||12.7|
|12||Denver Broncos||CIN||15.7||26||Minnesota Vikings||SEA||12.6|
|13||Seattle Seahawks||MIN||17.9||27||Green Bay Packers||ARI||10.5|
|14||Jacksonville Jaguars||DET||15.0||28||Tennessee Titans||CHI||8.6|
ACES IN THE HOLE
Michael Vick isn’t benched… yet. Andy Reid hasn’t been fired… yet. Whether those facts remains true or some major shake ups happen in Philly likely depends a lot on this week. The Eagles face the Saints, and no one allows more Fantasy Points (FP) across the board. The Saints are the worst versus the QB, third worst versus RBs and worst again against WRs. That might be why Philadelphia is giving Vick one more chance. If he can’t put up QB1 numbers this week, it’s time for the Eagles and Fantasy owners to jump ship.
Tennessee continues to embarrass themselves defensively and now present Jay Cutler with the second best QB matchup of the week. The Titans allow 19.3 FPPG, and only Washington has allowed more passing TDs (18, Titans 17). Cutler is always a risk, but this week, he sneaks up to borderline QB1 status.
Teams coming off byes always seem to do a bit better, and that fact combined with Houston playing Buffalo is great news for Matt Schaub. With Buffalo allowing 19.7 FPPG to QBs, which includes an average of two passing TDs per game, Tom Brady owners couldn’t ask for a better Week 9 substitute.
It’s questionable if Jake Locker will return this season with a crack in his shoulder (non-throwing). It won’t matter if it’s Locker or Matt Hasselbeck this week though, as the Titans face Chicago and a defense that’s dominating games. The Bears are the only team allowing less than 10.5 FPPG to QBs and check in at a measly 8.6 FPPG. In fact, the Bears have allowed just five passing TDs all season. Stay away.
Christian Ponder has proven himself a matchup play at best. This week, the matchup dictates that you should find your starter elsewhere. Seattle has stifled most QBs this season, allowing just 12.6 QB FPPG and just one passing TD per game. Only two QBs have topped 251 yards and one TD passing against them: Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford. On their playing field, Ponder is not (bit of Yoda speak for you).
Another borderline, Fantasy-worthy QB that you should avoid is Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Texans pass defense has given up a few more TDs than the stout teams above, but have also allowed just 219.0 passing yards per game. Fitz has topped 225 passing yards just once this season. Don’t expect his second time to come this week.
Running Back Points Allowed
|1||Houston Texans||BUF||25.6||15||New York Giants||PIT||12.4|
|2||Detroit Lions||JAX||20.7||16||Green Bay Packers||ARI||14.1|
|3||Philadelphia Eagles||NO||25.1||17||Pittsburgh Steelers||NYG||12.4|
|4||Miami Dolphins||IND||20.1||18||Cincinnati Bengals||DEN||15.1|
|5||Chicago Bears||TEN||22.3||19||Kansas City Chiefs||SAD||14.6|
|6||San Diego Chargers||KC||20.3||20||Carolina Panthers||WAS||13.8|
|7||Denver Broncos||CIN||19.3||21||Oakland Raiders||TB||14.6|
|8||Cleveland Browns||BAL||20.6||22||Jacksonville Jaguars||DET||11.9|
|9||Washington Redskins||CAR||19.1||23||New Orleans Saints||PHI||13.3|
|10||Baltimore Ravens||CLE||16.9||24||Buffalo Bills||HOU||10.9|
|11||Dallas Cowboys||ATL||18.3||25||Seattle Seahawks||MIN||13.5|
|12||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||OAK||17.7||26||Indianapolis Colts||MIA||11.9|
|13||Arizona Cardinals||GB||14.8||27||Minnesota Vikings||SEA||9.8|
|14||Atlanta Falcons||DAL||14.0||28||Tennessee Titans||CHI||8.1|
ACES IN THE HOLE
As if it couldn’t get any better for Arian Foster, he gets the most forgiving run defense in the league with Buffalo on tap. Not that you would ever play the matchups with Foster, but deep league owners in desperation mode may be able to plug in Ben Tate.
Mikel Leshoure (and the Lions offense overall) have fought through a rough first-half schedule. The second half gets much easier, and it starts this week with Jacksonville. The Jags allow 20.7 RB FPPG due to a combination of 119.6 rushing and 45.3 receiving YPG allowed to backs. Leshoure is averaging 4.84 rushing YPG since the Minnesota game, so if Detroit simply sticks with him a bit more, a solid RB2 day is in store.
Eagles facing the Saints – we already hit on that being a great thing, but LeSean McCoy is a must-start anyway, so let’s move on.
Reggie Bush has disappointed owners the past few weeks, especially with Daniel Thomas seeing more carries. Both can find value against the Colts though. Bush is still at least a flex play, if not a RB2, and Thomas can find RB3 value. Indy allows 121.9 rushing yards and over a TD per game to running backs, so there is room for both Bush and Thomas to have worth.
It’s that time where I said Chris Johnson needed to be sold high. Facing Chicago is a daunting task, even for RBs that aren’t as inconsistent (or maddening) as CJK. Just 8.1. That is total PPG the Bears allow to opposing RBs. Chicago has given up just one rushing TD and hold teams to 62.4 rushing YPG. CJK is even benchable in the right situation.
Now, Adrian Peterson, he’s a running back where matchups don’t mean squat. Forget the fact that he’s facing Seattle, you simply can’t bench ADP.
As if the situation weren’t frustrating enough with Donald Brown now back, you will want to avoid using him or Vick Ballard wherever possible this week. The Colts face Miami, a team that has ranked in the Top Five for most difficult run defense all season. Whoever gets the start won’t matter, as both with struggle to get anything going.
Like ADP, Marshawn Lynch warrants use in any league, but Fred Jackson and/or C.J. Spiller owners should try to find other solutions this week. Like the Colts backfield, split carries will frustrate, as will a matchup against Houston’s run defense. The Texans are the only team that hasn’t allowed a rushing TD and give up just 76.1 rushing YPG. Spiller and FJax are both flex plays at best.
Wide Receiver Points Allowed
|1||Philadelphia Eagles||NO||30.6||15||Indianapolis Colts||MIA||22.6|
|2||Miami Dolphins||IND||25.1||16||Arizona Cardinals||GB||21.6|
|3||Houston Texans||BUF||26.0||17||Denver Broncos||CIN||16.4|
|4||Baltimore Ravens||CLE||25.9||18||New York Giants||PIT||17.9|
|5||Carolina Panthers||WAS||29.5||19||Atlanta Falcons||DAL||16.6|
|6||Chicago Bears||TEN||20.9||20||Cincinnati Bengals||DEN||17.7|
|7||Oakland Raiders||TB||27.6||21||New Orleans Saints||PHI||20.9|
|8||Kansas City Chiefs||SAD||23.0||22||Washington Redskins||CAR||16.4|
|9||San Diego Chargers||KC||21.4||23||Buffalo Bills||HOU||19.7|
|10||Detroit Lions||JAX||21.0||24||Seattle Seahawks||MIN||16.3|
|11||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||OAK||18.6||25||Green Bay Packers||ARI||19.5|
|12||Pittsburgh Steelers||NYG||24.0||26||Tennessee Titans||CHI||19.3|
|13||Jacksonville Jaguars||DET||20.0||27||Dallas Cowboys||ATL||15.7|
|14||Cleveland Browns||BAL||20.0||28||Minnesota Vikings||SEA||18.0|
ACES IN THE HOLE
So those Saints, yea, they stink on defense. As mentioned earlier, the Eagles have the matchup-of-the-week. The Saints allow a league high 30.6 FPPG and 13 TDs to WRs, while also ranking third highest in receiving YPG (210.1). DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin should have an easy go of it… as long as Vick can take advantage.
Remember Week 4 for Brian Hartline? Well, his hype has long since dissipated. In his other six games, Hartline still hasn’t totaled his FP scored in one game (39 to 41). Nevertheless, those needing a WR to step up in Week 9 can look forward to Hartline’s matchup with Indy. In fact, you could also trade for him on the cheap if needed.
Andre Johnson is another player that’s failed to live up to his draft cost. The problems with Andre Johnson have always been injuries, not performance. While we’ve been disappointed, Johnson should help us feel a bit better this Sunday. The Bills are terrible on defense, especially against the pass and wide receivers. You might want to sell high after Sunday though.
It’s time to give Seattle some respect for that defense. The Seahawks present the toughest matchup for WRs outside of San Francisco. While Percy Harvin never sits, rolling the dice on any other Vikings WR (Jerome Simpson, Michael Jenkins) would be foolish.
The Cowboys passing game has looked much better of late, but now they face the daunting Falcons pass defense. Atlanta just held down Vick, DJax and Maclin last week, and while Tony Romo has been better than Vick, you can’t expect much better performances from Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. Atlanta has allowed just four receiving TDs and a mere 133.7 receiving YPG.
Back to those Titans and their nightmare matchup with Chicago. The Bears check in as the third most difficult matchup, and when you combine that with their QB defensive rating, Nate Washington, Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright are in for a slow week. Start none as anything more than a WR3/4 type.
Tight End Points Allowed
|1||Chicago Bears||TEN||12.8||15||Philadelphia Eagles||NO||5.1|
|2||Denver Broncos||CIN||9.3||16||Atlanta Falcons||DAL||5.7|
|3||Carolina Panthers||WAS||11.6||17||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||OAK||7.3|
|4||Pittsburgh Steelers||NYG||6.9||18||Arizona Cardinals||GB||6.1|
|5||Seattle Seahawks||MIN||7.4||19||Baltimore Ravens||CLE||4.6|
|6||Jacksonville Jaguars||DET||7.6||20||New York Giants||PIT||5.9|
|7||Cleveland Browns||BAL||7.1||21||Miami Dolphins||IND||3.0|
|8||San Diego Chargers||KC||5.9||22||Dallas Cowboys||ATL||6.1|
|9||Oakland Raiders||TB||5.6||23||Kansas City Chiefs||SAD||5.4|
|10||Cincinnati Bengals||DEN||10.4||24||Tennessee Titans||CHI||6.3|
|11||Washington Redskins||CAR||7.1||25||New Orleans Saints||PHI||4.7|
|12||Indianapolis Colts||MIA||6.6||26||Minnesota Vikings||SEA||7.1|
|13||Detroit Lions||JAX||4.0||27||Buffalo Bills||HOU||7.3|
|14||Houston Texans||BUF||5.9||28||Green Bay Packers||ARI||4.4|
ACES IN THE HOLE
On the Chicago side of the ball, the tight end matchup with Tennessee is the best in the league (and has been all year). Unfortunately, that means Kellen Davis is the beneficiary. Why unfortunately? Because Davis hasn’t topped three catches in a game and only once eclipsed 22 yards receiving. If you want the desperation play, you can use Davis, but that’s the only case to do so.
The Broncos tight ends would be much less frustrating if that offense and/or Peyton Manning would just focus on one. Since that’s not the case, Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme have the benefit of a great matchup, but the downside of being a coin-flip in guessing which benefits the most.
Greg Olsen is doing much better in Carolina, but has been inconsistent still. With a matchup against Washington, Olsen finally has a week where he can reach TE1 value. It’s low-end TE1 value, but you can finally start him with confidence (well, some).
Remember last week as Given Up told you that Vernon Davis was a risky play against the Arizona defense? Well, these numbers don’t like and Davis had a poor showing. This week, Jermichael Finley has the joy of facing Arizona, and even if Jordy Nelson sits again, Finley was already way to disappointing even before a matchup like this.
I have attempted to hammer this point home all year, but some still don’t fully grasp it. Scott Chandler’s value is heavily weighted in TDs. Not only does that make him inconsistent and risky, but the Bills also face the Texans, and that’s a matchup to avoid.
(Reminder: You’ll notice the rankings are not in exact order of points allowed. Other metrics are calculated in along with just straight points. It allows for better analysis so one off-week doesn’t skew the opponent difficulty too greatly.)