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We've reached our second biggest wave of byes in Week 9 with six teams getting a vacation during this scoring period. You won't have players from Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and Tennessee at your disposal, so hopefully you're prepared.
The good news is there aren't a lot of injury concerns this week -- you know Calvin Johnson is out and Jimmy Graham is back to his old self -- and we hope Tony Romo (back), Giovani Bernard (hip) and A.J. Green (toe) are ready to go. We also have the chance for some high-scoring matchups with Arizona at Dallas, Denver at New England and Indianapolis at the Giants, which could bring plenty of Fantasy production.
You also never know what could happen with projected dud games like the Jets at Kansas City and Tampa Bay at Cleveland, and we'll find out what Ben Roethlisberger has for an encore against the Ravens after he had 522 passing yards and six touchdowns against the Colts in Week 8.
We're at the midway point of the NFL season, but we're entering the home stretch of the Fantasy year. We hope most of you are marching toward the playoffs, so let's get another win this week.
He's 34, had nerve damage in his shoulder that kept him out for three games, and, well, he isn't all that sexy of a name to put across a headline. But you can't overlook the production in this offense, and finally I got my wish to put Palmer at the top of the column.
Now, just don't let me down.
He's played in four games and has at least 20 Fantasy points in all of them, including his best outing in Week 8 against Philadelphia with 329 passing yards and two touchdowns for 25 points.
Coach Bruce Arians likes to throw at will, and Palmer has attempted at least 42 passes in two of three games since coming back from the shoulder issue. This week, Palmer better rest his arm because more heavy lifting is ahead against the Cowboys.
Dallas has allowed four quarterbacks to throw for at least two touchdowns this year with Colin Kaepernick, Austin Davis, Drew Brees and Eli Manning. And there have been four quarterbacks to attempt at least 33 passes against the Cowboys, and three of them (Davis, Brees and Manning) scored at least 23 Fantasy points. Only Jake Locker fell short with 11 points in Week 2.
Palmer is clicking with his receiving corps as Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown have all made big plays the past three weeks -- I like all three receivers as starting options in this matchup -- and Dallas just lost outside linebacker Justin Durant (bicep) for the season, which will hurt this defense.
I'm expecting Palmer to stay hot against the Cowboys, and he should finish as a Top 10 Fantasy quarterback this week. If he fails, then you can guarantee he won't be the Start of the Week ever again.
Last week, Alex Smith ended a streak against the Rams which was fun for me to notate each time we mentioned them. Every quarterback prior to Smith had scored at least two touchdowns against St. Louis, and Kaepernick had one of the bigger outings in Week 6 with 343 passing yards and three touchdowns and 37 rushing yards. He just missed a fourth touchdown when Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald collided with each other on a wide open pass in the end zone, but his 34 Fantasy points in that game are a season high. We hope he has a repeat performance in the rematch. He only has one game at home with more than 20 Fantasy points, but this matchup suggests another big day. I like Kaepernick as a Top 5 quarterback this week.
I whiffed on Roethlisberger's big game last week when I called him a sit against the Colts. Only one quarterback had scored 20 Fantasy points against Indianapolis prior to Roethlisberger, which was Peyton Manning in Week 1, and he had a career day. Hats off to him, and hopefully he'll stay hot this week. The Ravens are without top cornerback Jimmy Smith (foot) this week, and Roethlisberger has developed a second target opposite Antonio Brown in rookie Martavis Bryant. Those two will attack at Baltimore defense that has already allowed at least 19 Fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks four times this year, and Roethlisberger has scored at least 20 Fantasy points in three consecutive home games. Now, he had six points at Baltimore in Week 2 and has just one game with multiple touchdowns against the Ravens in his past five meetings. But since he's hot now, playing at home and Baltimore is hurt in the secondary, you should have faith in another solid outing from Big Ben this week.
Marshawn Lynch cost Wilson his sixth game with at least 20 Fantasy points last week at Carolina when Lynch let a touchdown pass go through his hands, which resulted in an interception. That play was a nine-point swing since Wilson finished with just 199 passing yards. He would have gotten the six points for the touchdown, the additional point for 200-plus passing yards and wouldn't have lost the minus-2 points for the interception. Instead, Wilson had 14 Fantasy points, so he's due for a redemption game. Good thing the Raiders are on the docket. Three of the past four quarterbacks to face Oakland have scored at least 20 Fantasy points, and Wilson has at least 21 Fantasy points in two of three home games this year. There's always the chance Seattle gets its struggling ground game going this week, but Wilson is still worth starting given the quarterbacks on the bye and his upside -- as long as his receivers hold onto passes in their hands.
There's a lot to like about Manning this week. He's facing a Colts defense that was just destroyed by Roethlisberger and might be without their top cornerback in Vontae Davis (knee). Manning is playing well with at least 19 Fantasy points in five of his past six starts, including his last one at Dallas in Week 7 with 28 points. Manning can get some tips from his big brother since Peyton played Indianapolis in Week 1 and had 269 passing yards and three touchdowns against this defense. And Manning has a great history off bye weeks with an average of 282 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and two interceptions in his past five games following an off week. Hopefully all these things working in Manning's favor this week leads to another good game.
Foles has been more miss than hit this season with just two games with more than 20 Fantasy points on the year. One of them was last week with 25 points at Arizona, but it took him 62 passes to reach 411 passing yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He has an interception in each of his past four games and nine on the year, but I'm hoping he can limit the mistakes this week at Houston. The Texans have allowed multiple touchdowns to each of their past six opposing quarterbacks, including EJ Manuel and Zach Mettenberger over that span. Four quarterbacks have scored at least 20 Fantasy points, and we're counting on Foles to stay productive this week.
SleepersRyan Tannehill (vs. SD): He will rebound after last week's dud at Jacksonville.
Brian Hoyer (vs. TB): The Bucs have allowed mediocre quarterbacks to shine.
Alex Smith (vs. NYJ): The Jets allow the most Fantasy points to opposing passers.
I wouldn't be surprised if Newton had a good Fantasy outing this week against the Saints. Their defense has not played well with five quarterbacks scoring multiple touchdowns, five scoring at least 19 Fantasy points and it's usually tough for the road team on the short week for Thursday night games. But Newton has not been a good Fantasy quarterback this year with only two games with more than 20 points and just one since Week 2. He has an interception in each of his past four games, and last year he combined for just 27 Fantasy points against the Saints in two games, including 11 points at home in Week 16. His offensive line is a problem, and I'd be hesitant to start Newton even with all the quarterbacks on bye.
Vick gets the starting nod against one of his former coaches in Andy Reid, and he has to prove he's more prepared then the last two times he's touched the field in taking over for Geno Smith. He had some extended playing time in Week 5 at San Diego and was 8-of-19 passing for 47 yards and two carries for 14 yards. Then last week against Buffalo, he was 18-of-36 passing for 153 yards and an interception and eight carries for 69 yards with two fumbles. It won't get any easier this week. The Chiefs gave up 23 Fantasy points to Jake Locker in Week 1 and 27 points to Peyton Manning in Week 2. Since then they have allowed no quarterback to score more than 18 Fantasy points in their past five games, including matchups with Tom Brady, Kaepernick and Philip Rivers. It's unlikely Vick will end that trend on the road.
This isn't a tough matchup for Flacco in terms of the Steelers defense, which is terrible. He had 18 Fantasy points against Pittsburgh at home in Week 2. I just don't trust Flacco on the road, and I expect him to finish outside the Top 12 quarterbacks this week. Flacco had 42 Fantasy points at Tampa Bay in Week 6. In his other three road games at Cleveland, Indianapolis and Cincinnati he has combined for 23 Fantasy points, including single-digit outings at the Colts and Bengals. He has one game with multiple touchdowns at Pittsburgh in his past five meetings there, which was 2009, and he's never scored more than 16 Fantasy points over that span. Four quarterbacks have scored at least 21 Fantasy points against the Steelers this year, so take that into account with Flacco, but I would still sit him this week unless you're stuck because of the byes.
I'm preparing as if Romo won't play this week, and if he does he will be limited with is back, which was injured against Washington in Week 8. And you know, Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will be blitzing Romo all game like the Redskins did if he's out there. It's a shame Romo isn't 100 percent for this game because the Cardinals have allowed five quarterbacks to score at least 19 Fantasy points in their past six games, and Romo came into the matchup with the Redskins with at least 20 Fantasy points in four games in a row before he finished with 14. I hope Romo is OK and plays great in this game, but I'm nervous starting him based on his back -- if he's even on the field.
Did you know that not one quarterback has reached 20 Fantasy points against the Browns this year, including matchups with Roethlisberger twice, Brees and Flacco? Now, the Titans as a team combined for 37 Fantasy points with Locker and Charlie Whitehurst in Week 5, but otherwise this has been a tough secondary to crack. Glennon could be on the verge of losing his job now that Josh McCown is healthy, and we'll see how he does this week. He has scored at least 19 Fantasy points in three of four starts, but he just struggled against the Vikings at home with 11 Fantasy points and has five interceptions in his last three starts. Based on the matchup for Glennon on the road, he's a risky bye-week replacement even in two-quarterback leagues.
There aren't many Fantasy owners who own Rivers and can afford to bench him, especially with all the quarterbacks on a bye. I get that, and I would take my lumps starting Rivers this week if he was the only quarterback on my roster. But don't be surprised if this is his worst game since Week 1 at Arizona when he scored just 14 Fantasy points. The Dolphins defense is playing well, and they should be able to limit Rivers' production. Miami has allowed two quarterbacks to score more than 14 Fantasy points, which were Smith and Aaron Rodgers. Otherwise, the Dolphins have been stout against every other quarterback, including Tom Brady (11 points) and Jay Cutler (nine points). Rivers faced this defense in Miami last year and was 22-of-34 passing for 298 yards, one touchdown and one interception for 15 Fantasy points, and he was sacked three times. The Dolphins have at least three sacks in each of their past three games, and if they can contain Antonio Gates they should have success in slowing down Rivers this week.
I spent time with Ingram this offseason where he was working out with noted NFL trainer Tony Villani in South Florida. He was motivated for a big year, and so far it's paid off (when he's been healthy). He missed three games with a broken hand, but Ingram has three games with double digits in Fantasy points in four tries. Every time he's gotten at least 11 carries he's scored at least 16 Fantasy points, including a high of 23 in Week 8 against Green Bay. He's faced the Panthers in Carolina three times in his career, and he has two touchdowns and one game with 90 total yards, which was last year. The Panthers have allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing running backs, and Ingram should take advantage of this defense on a short week.
We'll probably see Trent Richardson back in action this week after he rested in Week 8 at the Steelers because of an injured hamstring. But whether Richardson plays or not has little impact on Bradshaw, who has been awesome all season and faces his former team for the first time. He has double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in six of eight games and only fewer than eight points just once. He's finally scoring rushing touchdowns on top of receiving ones with two in the past two weeks, and the Giants are weak in their run defense with Jon Beason (toe) out. The Giants have allowed a running back to score on the ground in each of their past four games with six running backs scoring at least nine Fantasy points over that span.
McKinnon has been on the verge of some great games with at least eight Fantasy points in four of his past five outings, including two games with double digits in a standard league. But he has yet to score a touchdown, which is what we're all hoping for. He faces a Redskins defense this week that has been tough against the run with only two touchdowns allowed to opposing running backs and four reaching double digits in Fantasy points. But McKinnon has already taken on two of the better run defenses in the NFL this year in Detroit and Buffalo and done well, and we don't expect that to change this week. He's a solid No. 2 running back in all formats, and he could finish as a Top 10 option if he scores his first touchdown this week.
There might not be a more fun running back to watch than Ivory, who looks like a tornado every time he touches the ball. The definition of a downhill runner, Ivory tries to punish defenders on every carry, yet still has speed to bounce outside. He's been a surprise catching the ball with a career-best 10 receptions, and typically all he needs is minimal touches to be successful. Every time he has at least 10 carries he's finished with at least nine Fantasy points, which has happened six times this season. He has four games with double digits in Fantasy points, and in Week 8 against Buffalo he became the first running back to score against the Bills. That's significant because no running back has scored against the Chiefs this year, and we're counting on Ivory to end that streak. Kansas City has allowed two 100-yard rushing games with Lamar Miller and Frank Gore, and we expect Ivory to have another quality stat line despite this tough matchup on the road.
Morris is back in the good graces of Fantasy owners after his performance at Dallas in Week 8 when he had 18 carries for 73 yards and a touchdown and one catch for 12 yards. That snapped a three-game streak of five Fantasy points or less against Seattle, Arizona and Tennessee. Morris is still having a down year with just four touchdowns and no 100-yard games, but he's definitely still worth using as a No. 2 running back when the matchup is right. Like this week against the Vikings. Minnesota has allowed eight touchdowns to opposing running backs and six to reach double digits in Fantasy points. Morris played at Minnesota last year and had 26 carries for 139 yards, and we'd love to see him replicate that production -- if not more. It will help Morris if Robert Griffin III (ankle) will start as reported this week.
SleepersJonas Gray (vs. DEN): A touchdown is possible amid the fireworks.
Bobby Rainey (at CLE): The Doug Martin era appears over in Tampa Bay.
Lorenzo Taliaferro (at PIT): If Bernard Pierce remains out he could score.
Carlos Hyde (vs. STL): He and Frank Gore could both do well this week.
Jeremy Hill (vs. JAC): Giovani Bernard (hip) is out, which makes Hill appealing.
McFadden was a total letdown in Week 8 at Cleveland with 12 carries for 59 yards and four catches for 26 yards with a lost fumble. His five Fantasy points in a standard league was his worst game since Week 3, and there's no way you can trust him now at Seattle. The Raiders gave more work to Maurice Jones-Drew, who had six carries for 8 yards and one catch for 6 yards against the Browns, and his seven touches were his most since Week 1. I'm not sure what good it does to increase the workload for Jones-Drew over McFadden, but that's not my decision. What I control is my Fantasy roster, and McFadden will remain benched this week. Seattle's defense is clearly flawed as DeMarco Murray, Mason and Stewart have each gained 85 total yards with two touchdowns over the past three games, but McFadden in a timeshare on the road is too risky for my team.
Mason is the name you see here, but sit the entire Rams backfield when it comes to Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham. Sure, one might do well, but can you guarantee who from this trio? The Mason experiment started against the 49ers in Week 6 when he had five carries for 40 yards and one catch for 12 yards. He then dominated Seattle with 18 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown in Week 7. But in Week 8 at Kansas City, we saw all three running backs work with at least five touches for each, and none had more than 37 total yards. Another mess like that could occur this week against the 49ers, who could get Patrick Willis (toe) back after he was hurt against the Rams. I actually like Cunningham the best this week because of his receiving ability, but I would stay away from this backfield altogether if possible.
Like the Rams, we're avoiding the entire Carolina backfield now that DeAngelo Williams is back from his ankle injury. I actually liked Stewart when the week started before Williams' expected return, but now the two will split carries behind a shaky offensive line. Williams will start, and he kills the momentum Stewart might have had after his outing against Seattle last week with 16 carries for 79 yards and three catches for 15 yards. Stewart has just one game this season with double digits in Fantasy points, which was Week 2 against Detroit. Williams has none, but he's played in just two games. New Orleans has allowed seven touchdowns to opposing running backs and six to reach double digits in Fantasy points, but it's hard to trust Stewart or Williams this week. If you have to choose, go with Stewart, but he's just a flex option at best.
Sproles is expected to return from the knee injury that kept him out in Week 8 at Arizona, but I wouldn't start him in the majority of leagues. Let's see how his knee holds up, but he's a risky gamble in standard formats anyway. He has two games with double digits in Fantasy points and three with five points or less, and he went without a catch in his last two games against the Rams and Giants. Hopefully we'll see Sproles back at 100 percent and being a wild card for the Eagles and Fantasy owners, but I wouldn't risk it this week even with all the running backs on bye.
I'd still start Cadet as at least a flex in PPR leagues, but you have to be desperate to use him in standard formats even with Pierre Thomas (shoulder) out. He has one touchdown on the season, but he has yet to top seven Fantasy points in a standard league. Now, in PPR leagues he does have at least 10 Fantasy points in three of his past four games, but he doesn't have more than two carries in any game this year, which limits his upside. Carolina has allowed two running backs to catch at least six passes -- Joique Bell in Week 2 and Matt Forte in Week 5 -- which should help Cadet, especially if the Saints are trailing and in a comeback attack. I like stashing Cadet, who could be great in Week 10 against the 49ers at home, but I don't see the need to start him this week in standard leagues.
Williams wasn't expected to start this week with Rashad Jennings (knee) thought to be returning after the bye, but he's still out, giving Williams another chance. So far he's been better in a secondary role with 10 Fantasy points combined as the starter at Philadelphia and Dallas in the past two games. He's getting plenty of work with 35 carries over that span, but he's rushed for just 110 total yards with no catches. We hope the offensive line performs better this week against the Colts, who have allowed seven touchdowns to opposing running backs and seven to reach double digits in Fantasy points. But it's hard to count on Williams, who should just be considered a flex option at best. We still have high expectations for him this season, but he's got to prove something while he's getting the extended look. Right now, he's been a disappointment in all leagues.
I like all the 49ers receivers in this matchup with the Rams, so consider Boldin and Michael Crabtree as must-start options and Steve Johnson and Brandon Lloyd as sleepers in deeper leagues. In the first meeting with the Rams in Week 6, Boldin had seven catches for 94 yards and a touchdown, Crabtree had three catches for 49 yards and a touchdown, Johnson had five catches for 53 yards and Lloyd had one catch for 80 yards and a touchdown. Boldin and Crabtree are the focal points here for most Fantasy owners, and Boldin has at least nine Fantasy points in three consecutive games with the Rams with two touchdowns over that span. Crabtree has at least 10 Fantasy points in four of his past five meetings with St. Louis with four touchdowns over that span. Look for their success against the Rams to continue and start both with confidence.
If you believe this game has the chance to be a shootout then you have to hope LaFell will have his chances to succeed. He's had a good run of late with at least 17 Fantasy points in a standard league in three of his past five games, including a dominant outing against the Bears in Week 8 with 11 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets. The Broncos have done a good job against No. 1 receivers this year as only Eric Decker and Keenan Allen have scored double digits in Fantasy points, but none of their previous opponents have a player like Rob Gronkowski. With Gronkowski getting so much attention, LaFell should get plenty of one-on-one chances, and we hope he wins those matchups with a healthy amount of targets from Brady. I would risk starting LaFell as a No. 2 receiver this week.
Hopkins has gone four games in a row without scoring a touchdown, but he's still posted quality stats the past two games against the Steelers and Titans with 11 catches for 203 yards and a lost fumble over that span. He's scored in two of three home games this season, and the Eagles come into this game having allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing receivers and seven to reach double digits in Fantasy points. Last week at Arizona, Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown combined for 12 catches for 279 yards and two touchdowns against this secondary, so hopefully Hopkins and Andre Johnson can follow suit. We like Hopkins better, and he's a solid starting option in all formats.
I expect Randle and Odell Beckham to play well here with the Colts likely without Davis in their secondary. Randle continues to see a high volume of targets with at least nine in his past five games, but he has just one touchdown over that span. Hopefully that changes this week, but I like Randle as a No. 2 receiver in all formats. Beckham just scored two touchdowns in Week 7 at Dallas, which was the first game without Victor Cruz (knee). We hope that's a sign of things to come for the rookie moving forward. The Colts defense was awful in Week 8 against the Steelers with five touchdowns allowed to Antonio Brown (two), Martavis Bryant (two) and Markus Wheaton. Randle and Beckham have likely studied that game all week, and they should be able to find similar flaws in that secondary, which is missing its No. 1 cornerback.
Even if A.J. Green (toe) returns this week as expected, we still like Sanu as a No. 2 Fantasy receiver in this matchup. He's been great at home so far this season with double digits in Fantasy points in all four games. The Jaguars secondary is in disarray right now with Alan Ball (biceps) and Will Blackmon (finger) out, so Green and Sanu could be in line for a big day. Dalton has been leaning on Sanu with or without Green in the lineup with at least eight targets in five consecutive games. He's having a breakout year in his third season, and we don't expect him to slow down even with Green's return on the horizon.
SleepersMike Evans (at CLE): He's emerging as the best receiver in Tampa Bay.
Doug Baldwin (vs. OAK): He has 13 catches since the Percy Harvin trade.
Martavis Bryant (vs. BAL): His play is a big reason for Big Ben's success.
John Brown (at DAL): The Cardinals like Brown as a big-play threat.
Andrew Hawkins (vs. TB): He finally scored his first touchdown in Week 8.
You have to go back to Week 7 of the 2012 season to find the last time Colston scored a touchdown outdoors, which is a span of 10 games. Over that span, he's never had more than five catches in a game or 70 receiving yards. At Carolina, Colston has combined for 22 catches, 249 yards and no touchdowns in his past five meetings there. He could always surprise us and play well on Thursday night, but there's a good track record of his performance outdoors. The good news is the Saints are only outdoors twice the rest of the season -- in Week 13 at Pittsburgh and Week 15 at Chicago -- so you know Colston has the chance for a strong finish since most of his remaining games are inside.
Decker used to torture the Chiefs as a member of the Broncos. He had eight catches for 174 yards and four touchdowns in his last trip to Kansas City last year, and he had seven catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns against the Chiefs in one meeting in 2012. He could always use those memories to help him this week, but he can't imagine Vick turning into Peyton Manning and it coming true. Decker did OK with Vick against the Bills in Week 8 with seven catches for 40 yards, but he still hasn't managed more than 65 receiving yards in any game since Week 1 and has no games over 74 yards. He also hasn't scored in two games, and the Chiefs have allowed just one receiver to reach double digits in Fantasy points since Week 2, which was LaFell in Week 4. Decker is an OK starting option in PPR leagues, but I would avoid him in standard formats if possible.
Smith hasn't had much success at Pittsburgh the past two times he's played there with a combined four catches for 68 yards. He did have a nice game there in 2011 with five catches for 71 yards and a touchdown, but that's a distant memory. Smith also has just one touchdown against the Steelers in his past five meetings overall, and we tend to stay away from Smith on the road. He obviously had the big game at Tampa Bay in Week 6 with four catches for 51 yards and two touchdowns, but he's combined for five catches for 63 yards in his three other road outings this year. He also had just one catch for 10 yards against Pittsburgh at home in Week 2. Smith could definitely catch one pass for a long touchdown, which would save his day, but we're betting against that happening for him on the road.
Robinson's recent two-game run of double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league is expected to end this week against the Bengals. He has nine catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns in his past two outings against Cleveland and Miami on 17 targets, but the Bengals have been tough on opposing receivers with only three touchdowns allowed this season and only four reaching double digits in Fantasy points. Robinson is still worth using as a No. 3 receiver in PPR leagues since he has at least five catches in five of his past six games, but he has yet to top 80 receiving yards this year. Without a touchdown, you're likely getting six Fantasy points in a standard league, and the matchup would suggest he's not worth the risk in most standard formats.
Holmes and James Jones are risky Fantasy options this week even in deeper leagues despite the bye because the Seahawks have still been tough on opposing receivers. Only three receivers have reached double digits in Fantasy points with just three touchdowns allowed. Holmes scored in Week 8 at Cleveland with five catches for 69 yards, and he now has four touchdowns in his past four games. Jones had six catches for 62 yards, but he has just one touchdown since Week 2. One of these receivers will struggle in a matchup with Richard Sherman, and both are unlikely to start for most Fantasy owners this week in the majority of leagues. Holmes has been a nice surprise at receiver this year, but he should only be considered a No. 3 Fantasy receiver at best in this matchup.
What a disaster Jackson was last week against the Vikings. He had a season-low one catch for 13 yards on just five targets. Maybe the trade rumors got to him, and he can move on now that the deadline passed Tuesday. Maybe the recent injuries he's been dealing with to his wrist and ribs have caught up to him. Or maybe the Bucs are moving in a different direction with Evans becoming more of a focal point in the passing game. For this week, we'd stay away from Jackson, who will likely draw a matchup with Browns cornerback Joe Haden. It's just a bad combination to consider using Jackson right now, who just appears off this year in general with only one game with double digits in Fantasy points. Hopefully he can turn things around, but until that happens he should remain on your bench.
Kelce has been a letdown the past two games with just eight catches for 78 yards and no touchdowns against San Diego and St. Louis. The good news is he had 10 targets in those outings, but he's not producing at a time when Fantasy owners are unsure if he should remain on their rosters. We hope the matchup with the Jets fixes his problem since they have struggled with tight ends all season. The Jets have allowed nine touchdowns to opposing tight ends, including six in the past four games, and five have scored at least seven Fantasy points. This is a good week to trust Kelce, and we're expecting him to come through at home.
We hope coach Tom Coughlin doesn't punish Donnell for his two fumbles in Week 7 at Dallas and keeps him as a prominent figure in this passing game. In the five games where the Giants have been missing either Cruz or Beckham, Donnell has either a touchdown or 80-plus receiving yards in four of them. We expect Manning to continue to rely on Donnell, and this is a good matchup against Indianapolis. The Colts have allowed at least seven Fantasy points to five of the six tight ends who have had at least six targets against them, with five touchdowns among that group. Donnell has at least six targets in five games this year, so there's a good chance he'll come through in this game.
Wright popped up out of nowhere in Week 8 against the Bears with seven catches for 61 yards and a touchdown on seven targets, which were a season high. We hope it's a sign of things to come because Wright could be a special talent in this offense, and we like his outlook this week. He has three touchdowns in his past four games, and the Broncos have allowed four touchdowns to tight ends this season, including two last week from Antonio Gates. You know Rob Gronkowski will obviously be the focal point of the passing attack, but Wright could also have a big game. We would take a shot on him, and he's a great bye-week replacement for Martellus Bennett or Delanie Walker if you were able to grab him off waivers.
SleepersJace Amaro (at KC): Three tight ends have scored vs. Kansas City in the past two games.
Lance Kendricks (at SF): He's scored a touchdown in three straight games.
Clay Harbor (at KC): Four tight ends have scored vs. Cincinnati since Week 5.
Ertz was a major letdown in Week 8 at Arizona with just five catches for 48 yards on eight targets. It was frustrating because the matchup with the Cardinals was great, Ertz was coming off a good game in Week 6 against the Giants with 10 Fantasy points and Foles attempted 62 passes. Now, after that failure, Ertz has to face a defense that has yet to allow a tight end to score double digits in Fantasy points. The good news is Delanie Walker just had a season-high nine Fantasy points, but Ertz should just be considered a low-end starting option at best in the majority of leagues.
This could be a Fleener week, and he's due for a touchdown after not finding the end zone for the past two games. He has yet to go three games in a row without a touchdown this season, so the timing is right. And the Giants have struggled with tight ends of late as Ertz and James Casey both scored against them in Week 6, and Gavin Escobar scored twice in Week 7. But even when Fleener does score he doesn't always have a big game. Despite three touchdowns this year he has just one game with double digits in Fantasy points, which was Week 3 at Jacksonville. Dwayne Allen is the tight end worth using for the Colts, and Fleener is only a Hail Mary play in deeper leagues.
Clay was a major letdown in Week 8 at Jacksonville with one catch for 1 yard on three targets. Now, Tannehill missed Clay on a wide-open touchdown, but the results are what they are. He now has just one game with double digits in Fantasy points in Week 7, and it's the only game he's scored a touchdown. The Chargers have yet to allow a tight end to score double digits in Fantasy points, including matchups with Julius Thomas and Kelce, and only Jacksonville's Nic Jacobs scored a touchdown in Week 4. San Diego should be able to keep Clay in check, even though he had six catches for 90 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers in 2013. But Clay isn't involved as much as he was last year, and he's not worth using even as a bye-week replacement in most leagues.
Was last week Miller's statement game against the Colts or just another tease? He was awesome against Indianapolis with seven catches for 112 yards and a touchdown on eight targets for 17 Fantasy points. He now has 31 Fantasy points against the Colts and Bucs, who he torched for 14 points in Week 4. But he has combined for just 14 points in his other six outings, and that's the concern about starting Miller this week. He had four catches for 35 yards and a lost fumble against the Ravens in Week 2, and Baltimore has allowed just one tight end to reach double digit in Fantasy points this year, which was Allen in Week 5. Miller is worth adding if you want to see what develops moving forward, but we need more consistency from him before recommending him in the majority of leagues.
Dawson only has two games this season with double digits in Fantasy points, but they were his last two home outings against the Eagles and Chiefs. He had nine Fantasy points against the Rams in Week 6 with four extra points and a 54-yard field goal, and he had 11 Fantasy points against the Rams at home last year with three field goals and two extra points. The Rams have allowed four kickers to reach double digits in Fantasy points this year, and five kickers have made at least two field goals, including two in a row.
SleepersMike Nugent (vs. JAC): Seven kickers have multiple field goals vs. Jacksonville.
Blair Walsh (vs. WAS): He's made five field goals in his past two games.
Cairo Santos (vs. NYJ): He has 23 Fantasy points in his past two games.
The Steelers scored 51 points in Week 8 against the Colts, but kicker Shaun Suisham had just seven Fantasy points because all he did was kick extra points. Kickers just don't seem to have success against the Colts as only Cody Parkey in Week 2 and Justin Tucker in Week 5 made multiple field goals against them. They haven't allowed a field goal in three straight, and Brown hasn't made a field goal in his past two games. He does have three games with at least nine Fantasy points, including double digits in his past two home games against the Texans and Falcons. But based on how the Colts have done against kickers this year, we would look in another direction for your starter this week.
It's been a good thing for DST units facing the Jaguars this season. Every team to face the Jaguars this year has scored at least 10 Fantasy points, and Blake Bortles has an impressive streak of an interception in six games in a row with 12 over that span. The Jaguars have allowed 12 sacks in the past three games, and the Dolphins had two DST touchdowns in Week 8. The Bengals DST has fallen apart since their bye in Week 4 with 20 Fantasy points combined in their past four games against New England, Carolina, Indianapolis and Baltimore. They have only three interceptions and four sacks over that span, but this defense should be fired up to face the Jaguars. We're expecting a strong rebound game in this matchup.
SleepersChiefs (vs. NYJ): Kansas City at home should do well against turnover-prone Vick.
Browns (vs. TB): Cleveland has five interceptions in the past three games.
Vikings (vs. WAS): Griffin could be rusty after missing the past six games.
The Broncos DST has played well of late with at least eight Fantasy points in their past four games, including three games with 11 points or more. They have four interceptions and 15 sacks over that span, and no team has scored more than 21 points, including matchups with the Cardinals, 49ers and Chargers. But the Patriots are a much tougher test, and New England has given up a combined seven Fantasy points to opposing DST units in the past four games. Brady has only four sacks over that span with no interceptions, and the Patriots have scored at least 27 points in each of those outings. If you can, stash the Broncos DST on your roster because after this game they face the Raiders and Rams, but this is not a good week to start them in most formats.
Full Disclosure from Week 8
Ben Roethlisberger will make Week 8 of the 2014 season one I will never forget -- and not for a good reason. That's right, he was on the sit list the week he went off for 522 passing yards and six touchdowns against the Colts. Hey, if you're going to miss, miss big, and Roethlisberger was the No. 1 quarterback with 56 Fantasy points.
We also had a down week from our Start of the Week in Shane Vereen, who failed to convert on two potential touchdowns from inside the 5-yard line against the Bears. Once the Patriots got up big in the game, Vereen wasn't needed, so the missed touchdowns proved costly as he scored just four Fantasy points.
We had many good start suggestions with the No. 1 receiver in Jeremy Maclin, the No. 1 DST with the Dolphins and the No. 9 quarterback in Carson Palmer. Including sleepers, we also recommended the No. 3 quarterback in Kyle Orton, two Top 10 running backs in Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory and the No. 8 receiver in Sammy Watkins.
Some of the bad calls along with Roethlisberger were his tight end in Heath Miller, who was the No. 3 tight end, Alfred Morris as a Top 12 running back and Mohamed Sanu, DeSean Jackson and Keenan Allen as Top 20 receivers.
|Player||Fantasy Pts. (proj.)||Fantasy Pts. (actual)||Pos. rank|
|Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots||14||4||37|
|Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles||14||30||1|
|Dolphins Defense/Special Teams||18||28||1|
|Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals||9||25||24|
|Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons||17||19||15|
|Cam Newton, QB, Panthers||19||4||31|
|Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens||8||0||93|
|Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks||26||14||22|
|Joique Bell, RB, Lions||14||5||33|
|Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers||12||1||78|
|Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers||18||56||1|
|Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins||7||14||12|
|Heath Miller, TE, Steelers||2||17||3|