Fins Fantasy: Best & Worst Players to Start in Week Nine
Well, readers of The Deep End, week nine of the NFL season is upon us, and there are a lot of fantasy matchups to catch you up on. From the Dolphins vs. Bills matchup (the one you actually care about) to the Broncos vs. Colts matchup (the one I actually care about), there are a lot of matchups to sift through. And, who better to do just that than the 2nd most attractive fantasy football analyst in the greater Gainesville area?
Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills Matchups Analysis:
This week’s matchup against the Bills is hardly an easy one. While the Bills’ defense isn’t quite the powerhouse it was supposed to be at the beginning of the year, it’s still very capable of neutralizing many of Miami’s offensive players. Ryan Tannehill has struggled against the Bills mightily over the last few years, including an embarrassing performance just a few weeks ago, in what was considered a blowout in front of Miami’s home crowd. Typically the Bills play even better at home, but I suppose this isn’t the same Dolphins team that they crushed earlier in the season. Either way, I’d avoid putting Tannehill in any of my lineups this week, as he’s bound to struggle at some point in the game.
The Bills also have a solid run defense, but I feel that Lamar Miller may still have a good game from a numbers perspective. Coach Campbell will likely look to establish the run early (as he has done in every game) in order to take off a lot of the pressure, so that Tannehill can enjoy the good game that we all know he’s capable of. Campbell’s willingness to establish the run, in addition to Miller’s capabilities as a runner, lead me to believe that Miller has a very good chance to put up solid RB2 numbers this week.
As for the receivers, I honestly don’t expect any one guy to have a big game. The Bills have two shut down corners, one in Stephone Gilmore and the other in Ronald Darby. These guys limit the big plays that receivers can make down field, especially number one options like Jarvis Landry. As always, Landry is a must start in PPR formats, but if you have a plethora of options you shouldn’t start him. This goes for daily leagues as well. There are many better options in Landry’s price range, such as Martavis Bryant, Allen Hurns, Amari Cooper etc. While I think guys like Rishard Matthews and Kenny Stills have the potential to have a big day, I personally wouldn’t bet on it. For this week, I’d recommend avoiding the use of any Dolphins’ wideouts or tight ends, as it just really doesn’t make sense from a matchup perspective.
Defensively, the Dolphins lost their most potent weapon: Cameron Wake. Until we learn exactly how Campbell is going to go about replacing the production of a virtually irreplaceable player, I’m going to have to view the Phins’ Defense as not viable from a fantasy perspective.
When it comes down to it, the Dolphins looked possessed in the two weeks prior to playing the Patriots, and while we can’t forget the poor showing against Tom “I’m going to bitch and moan every time a defender touches me” Brady and the undefeated Patriots, we can forgive it. The Dolphins still have talent all over the offense, and if they start to perform well against non-AFC South teams, then there’s no reason to believe that they don’t have any fantasy value.
Must Start QBs:
Phillip “The Garbage Man” Rivers vs. Chicago Bears- Phillip Rivers has been one of the best QBs in the league this year, which is why it’s a shame that the Chargers are so damn pathetic. Whether the Chargers are winning or losing (the latter MUCH more than the former), Rivers doesn’t have an ounce of quit in him. He’ll either have a fantastic showing where he has 300+ yards and a pair of TDs, or he’ll get buried in a hole and end up with 400+ yards and 3TDs in garbage time. Even though the loss of a resurgent Keenan Allen to a kidney injury is undoubtedly a kick in the nuts, Rivers has enough talent on his own to continue to perform at a pro bowl level. This week’s matchup against a very soft Bears’ defense is definitely favorable (8th worst against QBs), so put your concern for the lack of talent around him aside, and roll with the “Garbage Man” this week.
“Large” Ben Roethlisberger vs. Oakland Raiders- Large Ben was absolutely terrible last week against the Bengals, but I’m going to attribute his poor play to rust and a bad matchup. Look for the perennial pro-bowler to turn things around against an Oakland Raiders’ defense that has allowed the 6th most points to opposing QBs.
Other Good QB Matchups:
Peyton “The Sheriff” Manning vs. Indianapolis Colts
Jameis “The Publix Bandit” Winston vs. New York Giants
QB Matchups I Don’t Like:
“Out of Control Beard” Andrew Luck vs. Denver Broncos- I’m using this reference to the DirecTV commercial because there’s no other way to explain Andrew Luck’s fall to mediocrity. You know, except injuries to his shoulder and ribs (allegedly), a terrible GM that wouldn’t know talent if it hit him with a brick, the most predictable offensive scheme in the NFL, and an owner that has a special pocket in his right cheek where his foot has taken permanent residence. Don’t look for Luck to have his turnaround this week, considering T.Y. Hilton may not play and the fact that the Broncos have the best defense in the league by far. If you have a better bench option available like Jay Cutler or Marcus Mariota, play them over Andrew Luck this week.
Other Bad QB Matchups:
Teddy Bridgewater vs. St. Louis Rams
Kirk Cousins vs. New England Patriots
Must Start RBs:
Chris Ivory vs. Jacksonville Jaguars- Ivory has had two consecutive weeks with less than stellar production, after being one of the best backs in football over the first few weeks of the season. I think it’s about time he corrects course, so look for the talented RB to put up RB1 production this week with a home matchup against the Jags’ below average run defense.
Jeremy Langford vs. San Diego Chargers- If you have no clue who Jerry Langfurt is, don’t worry, I didn’t before this week either. Apparently, Forte’s understudy has performed quite well in his limited snaps, including last week after Forte went down with his injury. Look for Langford to have a lot of value as a flex/RB2, especially in daily leagues where his volume of touches alone make the price you pay a steal.
Other Good RB Matchups:
Jonathan Stewart vs. Green Bay Packers
Demarco Murray vs. Dallas Cowboys
Todd Gurley vs. Literally any team
RB Matchups I Don’t Like:
Darren “Glass Bones, Paper Skin” McFadden vs. Philadelphia Eagles- Darren McFadden has enjoyed his longest streak of good games (2) since he was lost for the year in 2011. Is it possible that McFadden is actually going to continue his resurgent season? Possibly. Should he be considered an every week starter after just two effective games following three and a half years of mediocrity? [Expletive] no. The Eagles have one of the best run defenses in the league, and while I trust the Cowboys’ O-line, I still have no faith in McFadden.
Other Bad RB Matchups:
T.J. Yeldon vs. New York Jets
Melvin Richardson-Gordon vs. Chicago Bears
Any Giants RB vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Any Redskins RB vs. New England Patriots
Must Start WRs:
Emmanuel Sanders vs. Indianapolis Colts- Sanders may not have been good last week against Green Bay (2.2 points), as fellow pro-bowler Demaryius Thomas dominated the looks from Peyton Manning, but this week’s matchup is definitely one that favors Sanders. The Colts will employ Pro Bowl corner Vontae Davis to follow Thomas around, while Greg “Burnt Toast” Toler will follow Sanders around. Trust me, I’ve seen enough film of these two teams to know that this matchup is too good an opportunity to miss out on.
Stevie Johnson/Malcolm Floyd vs. Chicago Bears- Stevie Johnson and Malcolm Floyd were matchup based WR3/flex options before Keenan Allen went down with a freak kidney injury. While none of those guys are anywhere near the talent that Allen is, they do have enough to pick up the slack that Allen has been forced to leave behind. Floyd will likely dominate most of the deep targets, whereas Johnson will likely see a stark increase in short to intermediate targets. Considering the Chargers’ offense has no run game to lean on, and Allen had the 2nd most receptions in the league (before his injury he had the most), there are definitely going to be a lot of targets to go around. I see both of them as solid WR3/Flex options this week against a weak Bears’ secondary, with Johnson being the safer pick, and Floyd being a higher upside pick.
Brandon LaFell vs. Washington Redskins- Brandon LaFell has been mediocre at best in his two games back from the foot injury that led to his placement on the PUP list. However, after an awful game against the Jets, where he suffered a plethora of drops, he appeared to have shaken off much of the rust in his game against the Dolphins. Outside of a crucial drop in the red zone, he looks to be at least somewhat as good as he was last year, as evidenced by his steady flow of snaps and targets. Look for LaFell to have his comeback game against a very weak Redskins’ secondary.
Other Good WR Matchups:
Eric Decker vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Amari Cooper vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Mike Evans vs. New York Giants
WR Matchups I Don’t Like:
Randall Cobb vs. Carolina Panthers- As I said last week, Randall Cobb has been anything but reliable this season. After yet another poor performance, he has totaled under 150 yards in his last four games. This week’s matchup against Josh Norman and the Panthers’ Defense is the 2nd coming of the nightmare that he faced last week against the Broncos’ secondary, as Norman has established himself as a top-3 corner in the league. If you had the choice to start Reggie Wayne or Randall Cobb this week, you should legitimately consider Wayne. At least he won’t get you negative points.
Allen Robinson vs. New York Jets- Allen Robinson has emerged as the great number one receiver for the Jags. However, after shutting down Amari Cooper last week, Darelle Revis clearly still doesn’t give a damn.
Brandin Cooks vs. Tennessee Titans- Brandin Cooks’ owners that finally had the sense to bench him were disappointed last week, as he had the best outing of his career. The problem is, Drew Brees needed to have a historic 7TD game (albeit not nearly as impressive as Manning’s 7TD game) for him to put up big numbers. The Tennessee Titans have one of the most underrated pass defenses in the league, so definitely proceed with caution if you’re thinking about starting Cooks this week.
Other Bad WR Matchups:
T.Y. Hilton/Donte Moncrief vs. Denver Broncos
Stefan Diggs vs. St. Louis Rams
Any Niners’ WR vs. Atlanta Falcons
Must Start TE:
Delanie Walker vs. New Orleans Saints- Delanie Walker hasn’t been great this season, but a matchup against the creampuffs, formerly known as the Saints’ Defense, coupled with Marcus Mariota’s return to the field should be enough to make him a solid TE1 for this week. The absence of Kendall Wright should also lead from more short to more intermediate targets as well. The opportunity is definitely there for the talented TE.
Other Good TE Matchups:
Benjamin Watson vs. Tennessee Titans
Heath Miller vs. Oakland Raiders
TE Matchup I Don’t Like:
Jason Witten vs. Philadelphia Eagles- Witten’s placement here has nothing to do with his skill as a player or his matchup. The issue here is that Matt Cassel is gross to watch (crazy how New England went 11-5 with him, huh?), and until Tony Romo makes his return to the field, no receiver on the Cowboys short of Dez Bryant has considerable fantasy value. Keep Witten on the bench this week.
Other Bad TE Matchups:
Richard Rogers vs. Carolina Panthers
Kyle Rudolph vs. St. Louis Rams
Must Start Defensive Matchup:
Philadelphia Eagles Defense/ST vs. Tennessee Titans- The Eagles’ Defense has been very solid in terms of fantasy, and a matchup against Matt Cassel, Darren McFadden, and a hobbled Dez Bryant, is definitely a favorable one. Consider the Eagles’ Defense as a must start.
Defensive Matchup I Don’t Like:
Vikings Defense/ST vs. St. Louis Rams- The Vikings’ Defense has been one of the most consistent Defenses in the league, and has often found itself in my “Must Start” column. At this point, I’m too high on Todd Gurley as a player to recommend starting the Vikings. Definitely proceed with caution if you’re dead set on playing them this week.