July 24, 2014

Fantasy Football: Week 9 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

It is starting to get down to crunch time as we enter Week 9. If you want to make the playoffs, it’s time to make your push now.  I’m getting this up a bit earlier and may have an update for your Sunday morning. I’ll tweet out the update and post it on DSP’s Facebook page if I do.

Let’s take a look at who to start and sit this week. I’ve got one big addition to the Survivor options this week. Take a look – no one is on this team yet.

Remember, I usually like to use Rotoworld’s rankings as a quick guide and then see where I can take advantage of lower or higher rankings. Follow along, as I read aloud. If you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.

Bye week: New England Patriots, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams

Quarterback      

Up: Matt Schaub and the Texans come off a bye to face a Buffalo Bills team. I can see Schaub in the top 10 this week. The Texans should be able to do whatever they want against the Bills 9who also are off a bye). I think they may try to get the WRs involved a bit more (especially Andre Johnson) and look to take some of the load off of Arian Foster as he’s on pace for a staggering number of carries.

Brandon Weeden seems to be here every week, but I generally feel he’s undervalued most weeks. The Ravens defense has struggled to get an effective pass rush with only 12 sacks in eight games so far this season. It’s a solid matchup for Weeden and he should sneak into the top 12.

Carson Palmer faces a Tampa Bay pass defense which has been uneven all year long. The Raiders do not seem to be able to run the ball so the offense will again look to Carson Palmer to throw them down the field. Expect a top 10 day from Carson this week against the Bucs.

Down: Jay Cutler has a great matchup, but it oesn’t matter. The Bears do not throw the ball enough for Cutler to be anything more than a low end bye week replacement. Also, there was news this week from Chicago that they want to get Matt Forte more involved which can only mean fewer opportunities for Cutler.

Ben Roethlisberger looks like he has a great matchup against the Giatns, but looking deeper Big Ben would be better served changing his last name to Romo if he wanted to succeed against the Giants secondary. Looking deeper into the Giants numbers, they have really been burned by Romo – he’s thrown for 844 yards in his two matchups with the Giants. Working for Big Ben is it looks like he may not have much of a running game with only Isaac Redman healthy enough. Lastly, the Steelers will be traveling the day of the game and the Giants should get a huge emotional lift from the crowd in the wake of Sandy. I see Big Ben around 250 yards and 2 TDs for the day so tread with caution.

Cam Newton also has a great matchup, but it’s unclear who he might throw the ball to this week. Steve Smith is healthy, but Brandon LaFell likely won’t play and the Panthers don’t have a ton of depth at WR. I can see the Redskins trying to double Steve Smith and force Newton to take underneath stuff to Greg Olsen. Moreover, the Redskins have begun to struggle recently against the run and I think the Panthers will want to establish Jonathan Stewart early. Newton will be between 15 and 20 on the QB list this week.

Running back

Up: Matt Forte is a top 3 option this week. The Titans give up a ton of rushing yards and also give up over 6.5 receptions per game to RBs. Make sure Forte is in your lineup.

Michael Turner looks like a poor matchup play this week, but digging deeper, we see a Dallas defense without starting ILB Sean Lee again this week. In their first game without him, they gave up over 100 yards to Giants RBs. I like Turner as a top 15 option this week – a solid RB2.

Daniel Thomas is a great flex play this week as the Dolphins faceoff against a porous Colts run defense. I can see the Dolphins continuing to give carries to Thomas to spell Reggie Bush and to mix it up on offense. Ryan Tannehill is injured and will likely play, but I assume the Dolphins will try to take the load off Tannehill’s shoulders.

Travaris Cadet was mentioned in my early season column as a deep sleeper who could play the Darren Sproles role in the offense should Sproles get hurt. Sproles broke his hand this week and could be out for as much as eight weeks. Cadet should be owned in all return yardage leagues right now as he takes over Sproles’ role immediately. I can also see him getting into the lineup as the replacement for Sproles as I don’t see another back on their roster who profiles like Sproles.

Down: Mikel LeShoure mysteriously missed the fourth quarter last week for Detroit. There was no injury reported (even though it seemed evident from the TV that he was being worked on). LeShoure has a solid matchup, but I think he’s too risky to start as it’s in unclear what hs role will be or how long he might get to play into that role this week. The Lions seem to be moving back to their ‘throw on every down’ offense. LeShoure is nothing more than a desperation flex play for me this week.

Doug Martin needs to stay in your lineup this week, but monitor this game to see how Martin is affected by the season ending injury to starting guard Carl Nicks. I still think Martin will be OK, but he is a rookie who could start tiring with the long season in addition to the loss of Nicks.

Adrian Peterson also stays in your lineup this week, but the Seahawks do have the capability of slowing him down and moving him down to RB2 territory. If you have AP in your lineup, you may want to take an upside risk elsewhere in your lineup.

Darren McFadden – yea, whatever. He’s a flex option at best for the rest of the season unless he shows something (anything!) in the coming weeks.

Isaac Redman looks like he’s the starter this week for Pittsburgh, but I don’t see any more than a top 40 RB this week. He’s got some value in PPR leagues, but he’s just not made to run in the NFL.

Wide Receiver

Up: As I noted with Matt Schuab, I believe the Texans will try to throw to Andre Johnson more this week and the Bills don’t have the defense to stop them. I see Johnson as a strong WR1 this week and I would start in all leagues without hesitation.

Cecil Shorts has another great matchup and I could see another 100 yard game out of him. At a minimum, I’d expect 6 catches and 80 yards and he’s a good shot for a score as well. He’s a WR2 in my books this week and should swing between WR2 and WR3 for the rest of the season as he has usurped big free agent signing Laurent Robinson.

In deep leagues (especially PPR), I like Golden Tate to pick up another 6+ catches this week. The Vikings struggle against WR2s and I think they will focus their coverage on Sidney Rice leaving Tate available to take advantage.

After seeing what Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon did to the injury-riddled Packers secondary last week I’m inclined to recommend Andre Roberts as a solid flex play this week (or perhaps more in a  PPR). The Packers are still trying to figure out how to manage without Charles Woodson and the rest of his injured band mates.

In the Captain Obvious call of the week make sure DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are in your lineups. They both should have solid games, though do not expect a breakout from Maclin this week. He should be slightly above his averages as the Saints.

Down:  Julio Jones was the focus of a Yahoo! piece this week on his struggles at home. I’m a sucker for those types of statistics (especially over a long period of time like Jones). That said, the Cowboys also have a good secondary which could harass Jones as well. I see Jones in the low end WR2/high-end flex territory this week.

Steve Smith faces Washington who can’t seem to stop anyone through the air. However, the Panthers don’t have another viable WR in the lineup to draw any coverage. If Washington doesn’t roll as much coverage as possible to Smith I won’t understand the reasoning. I see Smith in the WR2 category this week.

Torrey Smith has what appears to be a juicy matchup. However, the Browns poor ranking against WRs comes mostly from the time when Joe Haden was out. Haden will likely follow Smith all around the field and should be able to hold Smith to under 70 yards and no TDS.

Tight End

Up: Sadly, the Tennessee Titans are no longer the worst team against TEs in all league formats. The Washington Redskins have snuck ahead in some leagues. This change dovetails well with my recommendations to the Carolina Panthers’ that they target Greg Olsen.

Dwayne Allen is the starting TE for the Colts for the next couple of weeks as Coby Fleener is out with a shoulder injury. The matchup isn’t great, but Allen should see all TE targets and should end up in the top 12 this week.

Logan Paulsen is the number one TE in Washington and he has a solid matchup against the Panthers. I can see him sneaking in for a TD this week and 50 yards.

Down: Brent Celek doesn’t actually have a great matchup even though he faces the Saints. The Saints defense is awful in general, but they’ve done a good job against TEs all year. Perhaps it comes from facing Jimmy Graham in practice. I see Celek outside of the top 12 this week as the Eagles attempt to simplify the offensive package and exploit a poor Saints run defense and weak DBs.

Jacob Tamme looks like he’s slowly being phased out of the offense as his number of offensive snaps has dropped from 43 to 36 to 25 the past three games. He’s not a viable option in any league in my opinion and can be safely dropped. He shares time with Joel Dreesen and the emerging Virgil Green.

Oh, cut Jermichael Finley. Just another reminder. I don’t care that Jordy Nelson is out again (potentially) this week.

Kicker

Up: Kai Forbath has taken the Redskins kicking game and run with it. As I mentioned in earlier columns, the Redskins offense had a good number of field goal attempts, the problem was Billy Cundiff. With Cundiff gone, Forbath makes a great pickup for the stretch run and a top 5 option this week against a Panthers’ defense which gives up the second most points to kickers.

Down: Justin Tucker was a fantasy find early in the season. However, he’s heading up against a tough Browns defense this week. I’d go to the waiver wire and grab Kai Forbath for him this week.

Defense

Up: I see the Cleveland Browns as a top 12 option this week. The Ravens are coming off a bye, but they are doing so on the road where Joe Flacco has struggled his entire career. The last Ravens road game they scored nine points. Against the Chiefs! The Browns have the tools to stop Flacco and the Ravens. Start the Browns with confidence.

If you want to look deeper, the Jacksonville Jaguars could be a top 15 option against the Lions. The Lions have looked better the last couple of weeks, but surprisingly the Jags have as well. The Jags are missing their top two CBs this week, but they were last week as a well when they kept Aaron Rodgers in check. The Lions are the Packers-lite as they can’t run the ball well and like to throw the ball all over the field.

Down: The Minnesota Vikings are heading on the road against the Seattle Seahawks. Russell Wilson has been quite solid at home and looked good last week on the road against the Detroit Lions. I believe Seattle will win the game outright and should score 24+ points in the win.

IDP

A quick IDP note as D’Qwell Jackson was added to the injury report late in the week. You may need to look elsewhere on game day for help at LB.

Well, one more note. Eagles Nate Allen also looks like he might not be 100% this week

Survivor

Week eight saw only one big team go down as the Vikings fell at home on Thursday (taking 8% of the Office Football Pools entries out) to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. My top four teams advanced, but the Eagles and Vikings lost out. This may be the week to take a risk (and some of us may not have a choice as the teams are getting thinner).

Bye week: New England Patriots, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams

Survivor Pool – Week 9 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of mid-Saturday afternoon:

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1

San Diego Chargers (W)

34.80%

1

Houston Texans

34.07%

2

Houston Texans

30.10%

2

San Diego Chargers (W)

30.73%

3

Green Bay Packers

10.50%

3

Detroit Lions

6.82%

4

Seattle Seahawks

6.80%

4

Green Bay Packers

6.04%

5

Detroit Lions

4.00%

5

Baltimore Ravens

5.04%

6

Denver Broncos

3.70%

6

Denver Broncos

4.83%

7

Baltimore Ravens

2.90%

7

Seattle Seahawks

3.69%

8

Washington Redskins

2.80%

8

Washington Redskins

3.18%

9

Chicago Bears

1.80%

9

Chicago Bears

2.50%

10

Atlanta Falcons

0.90%

10

Atlanta Falcons

1.10%

The Green Bay Packers are this week’s only double digit favorite for the second week in a row. The Packers look to be firing on all cylinders. If you didn’t use them last week, the Packers likely offer a great payoff this week. The big question looming is do we trust Norv Turner and the San Diego Chargers against a team that hasn’t led in regulation at any time this season?

My final picks for this week are below:

  1. Green Bay Packers – If you have the Packers left, use them this week. It is rare that you can find a double-digit favorite as a value play, but the Packers are for most pools. The Packers are a one-dimensional team, but that dimension is superior. The Cardinals have some dangerous WRs, but the Packers have enough of a pass rush to disrupt John Skelton and the passing game. I give the Packers a 79% chance of winning.
  2. Houston Texans – The Texans are a close second to the Packers this week. The Bills are putrid on defense and coming off a bye week, the Texans will likely ride the legs of Arian Foster. I cannot see the Bills putting up more than 14 points against this defense. I give the Texans a 78% chance of winning.
  3. Seattle Seahawks – You could almost flip a coin between my #3, 4 and 5 choices which means one of them is likely to lose. The Seahawks head home where they have defeated Dallas, Green Bay and New England. They have probably the biggest home field advantage in the league. The Seahawks do not have the most dynamic offense, but their defense is stout. They face a Vikings team that has had ten days to think about their loss to the Bucs so they should be well rested.  I give the Seahawks a 71% chance to win.
  4. San Diego Chargers – Ok, I don’t trust Norv Turner or Philip Rivers that much. However, it seems that the Kansas City Chiefs are led by a coach who doesn’t know what is going on with his offense. Matt Cassel turns up at QB again for a short week. I assume he’ll turn the ball over at least three times and the Chargers should be able to take advantage of it. I give the Chargers a 70% chance of winning.
  5. New York Giants – I would have moved the Giants ahead of the Chargers had the Chargers not already played. I’ve moved onto the Giants bandwagon as the week has progressed. Part of the change is the due to the effects of Sandy and the rest is football-related. First, the football reasons – the Steelers have struggled on the road all season (losing to the Raiders and the Titans). They have Isaac Redman as their only healthy tailback and he’s not a legitimate NFL RB. The Steelers have to travel on game day to New York to play. I also believe there will be a strong emotional lift for the Giants from the disaster that Sandy has brought to the area – the Giants offer a short respite for many in the area. I know the Giants aren’t a great team at home this year either, but I think this game is different. I give the Giants a 71% chance of winning.
  6. Chicago Bears – My only trepidation is that the Bears are on the road this week. They have a fantastic defense, but we’ve see Chris Johnson be the CJ2K of old. However, I think the Bears have too many playmakers on defense to lose to a Titans team even on the road. I give the Bears a 67% chance of winning.

Other teams I like this week: None

As for the avoid list, I’d lean away from the Baltimore Ravens on the road against the Browns. The Browns picked up an ugly win last week and the Ravens are coming off a bye. The Browns lost by a TD earlier this season and were driving for the tying score late in the fourth quarter. If Trent Richardson is healthy, he can run all day against this aging and depleted Ravens defense.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Oakland Raiders. The Bucs have looked good lately and I think they can outscore a Raiders team which is turning to one-dimensional without Darren McFadden able to get going.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.


Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at 
@chrisgarosi

 

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