In Fantasy Football, this is where we separate the men from the boys (and women from the girls?). In Week 9, owners are faced with many a conundrum when it comes to roster management. Why, you ask? Well, we are faced with the dreaded ‘six teams on a bye’ week. Buckle up, though, as Week 10 poses the same problem. This week the Falcons, Bills, Bears, Lions, Packers, and Titans are all off. On the downside, many studs will be on the bench, but the positive is that a ton of players will get healthy, most notably Calvin Johnson. It’s not a week in football without a new Jets storyline. Following the annual carnage caused by the Bills (thanks Michael Florio), Gang Green has turned the ball over to Michael Vick. A move like this should have been made weeks ago if the team wanted to compete, and unfortunately, it leaves the fan base in shambles, as usual. If you’re not affected by the bye weeks (lucky you!) you can still feel free to use these suggestions below if you’re in need.
With Gio Bernard also banged up for the Bengals now, they could turn to Andy Dalton to put the Jaguars out of their misery early on Sunday. Even if A.J. Green can’t play, Dalton has a matchup he can exploit using his other receivers. The Jags’ secondary has allowed 13 touchdowns to just three interceptions this season, so they obviously aren’t going to stop much. Dalton is averaging just about 16 Fantasy points per game in home games this season, and I look for him to continue that trend. If Green does play, it makes this matchup even more enticing. Dalton can cause some damage on the ground, as we’ve seen at times this season; he even vultured two goal line touchdowns last week. Given the byes and the bad matchups that other quarterbacks have this week, you have to trust Dalton in Week 9.
Start Dalton over: Ryan Tannehill, Joe Flacco, Alex Smith, Michael Vick, Teddy Bridgewater
Looking Deeper: Desperate times call for desperate measures so it’s time to trust in the beard. True journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick will be faced with the task of matching the high-octane offense of the Eagles this week. My guess is the Texans will try to keep the Eagles offense off the field as much as possible by eating the clock with Arian Foster, but this game could very quickly turn into a shootout. ‘Fitzmagic’ has made some plays this season but he needs to take care of the ball, a near-impossible task for him. The fact that the Eagles are allowing the third-most Fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks is what makes this an upside play.
Too bad the Falcons are on bye this week, otherwise, I would just suggest whichever running back they were playing against. Instead, let’s go down a little different route. There is a ‘play it by ear’ approach right now that I am referring to with the Buccaneers’ running backs. I would be surprised if Doug Martin plays this week, and even if he does he won’t get much work. That leaves the door wide open for the upside of Bobby Rainey and the returning Charles Sims. Remember Sims? He was the guy listed on the depth chart right behind Martin going into the season, and then he suffered an ankle injury. The organization really likes this kid, and at 1-6, they likely want to see what they have for the future. Sims will get his chance at some point, but we’re not sure he will get a big workload in his first game back. Insert Rainey, who has been productive at times this year and has a favorable matchup against the Browns this week. The Browns are allowing just over 21 Fantasy points per game to opposing running backs in standard leagues and most of that could go to Rainey in Week 9.
Start Rainey over: Darren McFadden, Jeremy Hill, Panthers running backs, Rams running backs
Looking deeper: If there has been one hole in the Patriots’ defense this season, it has come up front against the run. In a matchup for the ages, the Pats will host the Broncos for what should be a high-scoring affair. Denver is loaded with great football minds and they are going to plan around the weaknesses of their opposition. That is where Ronnie Hillman and Juwan Thompson will come in. Obviously, Hillman is owned already but chances are, Thompson is not. But Frank, how can you start a running back that hasn’t had more than nine touches in a single game this season? Six teams on a bye, that’s how. The Patriots are allowing the fourth-most Fantasy points to opposing running backs this year, and Thompson has been stealing goal line touches. With the Broncos likely entering the red zone often in this game, owners just need to hope for Thompson to punch it in.
Once upon a time, he had 72 receptions, 1,162 receiving yards, and 15 touchdowns in a season. Can you even believe that was once the seasonal stat line for the likes of Dwayne Bowe? It seems like just yesterday Bowe was considered one of the top wide receivers in the game, but good god, how the mighty have fallen . . . Well, now that I am done ragging on Bowe, I’m going to suggest starting him this week. But Frank, how can you suggest a player with zero touchdowns and no more than seven targets in any game this season? Well, simply put, he is playing the Jets in Week 9. As you can see, players tend to get WIDE OPEN against the Jets’ secondary, more so than against any other team in the NFL. The ONLY thing the Jets might have going for them is they are effective in stopping the run. That’s it. It’s that exact reason why Bowe will get into the end zone this week, maybe even more than once. The J-E-T-S are allowing an average of just over 25 Fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year, and Bowe will help contribute to that average.
Start Bowe over: Raiders wide receivers, Malcom Floyd, Greg Jennings, John Brown
Looking Deeper: Did you know Steve Johnson has more receiving touchdowns (3) this year than the likes of Vincent Jackson, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and T.Y. Hilton? If there is one part of the field the 49ers are using him in, it’s the red zone, which bodes well for a week like this. Although it is hard to project how San Fran will spread the ball out on any given week, I think Johnson is a decent gamble in this matchup against the Rams. The last time the 49ers faced the Rams, Kaepernick was able to torch them for 343 yards and three touchdowns. St. Louis is prone to giving up the big play, and that trend should continue in Week 9.
No, Frank, don’t do it. Don’t tell me you’re going to suggest a (gulp) New York Jet. Unfortunately, I am, but for good reason. The insertion of Michael Vick into the starting lineup actually bodes well for tight end Jace Amaro. In one of Vick’s finest passing years with the Eagles in 2011, he targeted his tight end quite frequently. Brent Celek enjoyed one of his best years in 2011, with Vick at the helm, posting 811 yards and five touchdowns. That kind of production on a weekly basis could be seen here with Amaro. Add in that the Chiefs are allowing nearly 10 Fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends in standard leagues and, voila!
Start Amaro over: Tim Wright, Luke Willson, Coby Fleener, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins
I actually think the Redskins could be a sneaky play here following their exceptional showing last week against the Cowboys. They were able to convert on exotic blitzes, picking up multiple sacks and they actually played well in the secondary. While I know owners don’t want to live too much in the past, it was a promising performance. Traveling to Minnesota to take on rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater creates the potential for a similar performance.
Start Redkins D/ST over: Dolphins, Chargers, Cowboys, Broncos, Patriots
So, why is this column called Bye, Bye, Bye? Find out here.
Yes, I was a 90’s kid, and who doesn’t love a good old fashioned boy band?