This week, I decided that a fancy journalism diploma and a big pay check doesn’t qualify you to rant about who are going to be the go-to-guys, must-starts, and diamonds in the rough each and every week, so that’s where I come in. I may not be one of ESPN’s beloved such as Berry, Harris, Karabell, and Kuselias, but from looking at their “choices” the past few weeks, it’s most likely a good thing. I have much respect for these guys, especially for their opinions, because even if they are often wrong, no one can be right all the time. The difference between these four professionals and myself is if you ever look at their projections, you may notice a certain fondness for a few teams. Of course, it is understandable that anyone who spends countless hours watching NFL games and pouring over stats will develop a liking for a few teams and project better for those teams; I follow down this path as well but I, like I’m sure they attempt to do, will take that out.
I live in Nashville, obviously home of the Tennessee Titans, what makes me differ from these gentlemen is I am happy to throw any of the players from “my Titans” under the proverbial bus, and then when I play against Chris Johnson’s owner, a literal bus. I always want the Titans to win, but I am a competitor. I will be all my life. I want to win each and every week, so my rankings are not based on what I hope happens, but what I think will happen. This column is all about what I see happening in Week 9, and the players I like to get us a win. Don’t expect a list of guys who are up there just because someone else likes them.
So, if you are looking for a down to Earth column, then keep reading, and look for players that you have on your team. I wish I had the time to write about every player in the NFL, but unfortunately I don’t, so when looking for players that I haven’t written about, you should easily be able to find it on the forum. There are an abundance of great minds on this forum who are both helpful and intuitive; all you have to do is ask.
These are the Quarterbacks and how I expect them to do this week. I’m writing these as I think of them and they’re not really in any specific order; don’t worry though, I’ll explain enough about them for you to make an informed decision. I will give a “summary” of their stats, injury reports, and most importantly their matchup pros and cons.
- Aaron Rodgers. Maybe you watched their game against the Jets or maybe you didn’t, but Green Bay’s offensive highlights were few and far between. They struggled greatly last weekend but when it all comes down to it, its not all bad, considering they went against a defense who could focus on Rodgers passing the ball often. Green Bay is playing against the recently deceased Dallas Cowboys this week, and if you didn’t see the Dallas defense play, its not surprising, because I wouldn’t call it playing. A QB who has only struggled once the whole season (against a top defense) now faces a subpar defense who let an even worse offense trample them. That equals a GREAT week.
- Phillip Rivers. Remember that first time when you experienced base-running as a metaphor and not as after-practice conditioning? Well if you haven’t, you are about to — her name is Houston Texans. Weird name, and I am holding back a certain horn play on words … but the facts are the same: the Texans are one of the top two worst pass defenses in the NFL. So if you are a Rivers owner, your beautiful vixen has arrived; the choice to play him isn’t the only thing easy here.
- Peyton Manning. Injuries? I would like to be the quarterback on a team that has a injury-plagued receiving core with Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon still playing each week. Manning goes against the Eagles this week, and with Vick supposedly being the QB, cue the air show. The Colts have never been a running style offense, and with Joseph Addai having injury problems, it won’t change any. Look for Manning to do what Manning does best — throw for a lot of yards and touchdowns.
- Drew Brees. He was pretty successful against the Panthers the first go around, and I wouldn’t expect anything less. Carolina has been terrible all year, so I would expect a lot of time for the NO offense to be on the field. Brees was out of sync last time and this last game against Pittsburgh has put him right back in. Look for a good day for Mr. Brees in that high-powered New Orleans offense. I wouldn’t suggest 20 points good, but still good.
- Joe Flacco. The Dolphins have given up double digit fantasy points to QBs in every game this year except for one, that was against a rusty and broken Brett Favre who had even rustier toys to play with, such as Percy Harvin. Flacco has had five straight double-digit fantasy point games and now he is going against a defense that hasn’t held a QB to less than 10 points a game except for poor Favre. So do you play the odds? I would, they’re about 100% in his favor.
- Carson Palmer. Remember that part above that said I wouldn’t play favorites? I hate this guy. My only problem with my hatred for Palmer is he has had some very successful games so far this year, as well as several that weren’t so successful. Lucky for me this week I get to say sit Palmer. Carson is going against the Steelers, who stop everyone from doing everything. Well they may not be great to that extent, but the point is still there. I would still expect him to get into the early double digits because he has some weapons, but don’t look for a big day from him.
- Matt Ryan. This is a guy who has some good weapons, and I would say he’s underrated. This week he is going against a Bucs defense that is actually pretty stout against QBs, but I’m calling an upset. I like Ryan this week directly off the bye, and I think he will have a good game.
- Tom Brady. We haven’t heard much from Brady since Randy Moss left. He gets a couple points here and there but is only averaging 11 points in the last four games. You know those defenses that are good against average QBs and terrible against good QBs? Well, that’s the Browns in a nutshell. This defense gets picked a part by above average QBs — wait, Brady is an above average QB! Lightbulb!
- Ryan Fitzpatrick. As everyone jumped on the Fitz train, I was left in the station scratching my head wondering what the fuss is about. The guy is a good QB, that’s it. Everyone claimed another big game from him last week, but I sided with the very few claiming the KC secondary would eat him alive. Checked the points totals yet? He’s a great bye week fill in, but if he’s more than that I would be worried, especially against the Bears defense who are actually second-best against QBs (who would have guessed?).
- Matt Schaub. I wanted to take Michael Vick or some other top news guy but since I own him myself and who really knows if Vick speculations are true, I went with sir Schaub. Stats aren’t everything, always keep that in mind, but when Schaub is taking on a Chargers defense that is number one against QBs in the entire NFL, you should feel a little worried about starting him. This defense hasn’t given up more than 11 points to any QB so far this season. Take into mind that the only QB they have faced that is a true threat is Brady, but still, that’s a scary statistic for Schaub owners.
- Adrian Peterson. I could sum up this man in three words: IT’S FREAKING AP! But to be honest, I’m tired of sports writers taking that easy way out. Want to know why he is going to have a good game this week? Everyone who owns AP expects big numbers from him; I know I do, and why shouldn’t you? Peterson has only posted a single-digit fantasy week once this year, and I’ll blame it on not being warmed up. Since Week 1 he has scored double digits every week, not to mention that he is the number one running back, and did anyone notice he has been on his bye? So he is going against an Arizona team that has enough problems getting the ball out of the QBs hands; defense wasn’t something they seemed worried about. AP will be himself this week with at least 20 points, you can bank on it.
- LeSean McCoy. Remember the whole base-running metaphor? Well you just hit a walk-off. Enjoy the fast lane to Pleasure Town this week McCoy owners, because this week against the Colts, you are Ron Burgundy, and McCoy is your burrito.
- Matt Forte. If you’re going to be a bear, be a grizzly. This guy is at best a female grizz, and her owners never know when she will strike. This guy ranks right up there with Palmer on my list. He has proven me wrong a few times this year, but from what I’ve seen, he still isn’t all that. All he has going for him this week is he is taking on the second worst run defense in the NFL. Even though this is true, I’m still betting he doesn’t have a breakout day. You have to start him simply because of the matchup, but don’t look for 20 points from this burr. Something smells like garbage, it’s either him, or this prediction.
- Beanie Wells. There are two things that make me feel sick: blood, and the Cardinals offense. I’m starting to think these two go hand-in-hand as I watch Arizona get drug up and down the field each week by lackluster defenses. But in every trash can, there is always something good; you just have to root around to find Wells. He hasn’t been great so far this season, but if you watched BenJarvus Green-Ellis run all over Minnesota, you know Wells can do very well.
- Peyton Hillis. Hillis has run the ball with a lot of authority this year, even though he was undrafted in most leagues. AP ran all over the New England defense last week, and though Hillis is no Peterson, I expect him to do the same. NE gives an average of 18 fantasy points to running backs for a reason. Expect Hillis to reap some benefits.
- LeGarrette Blount. Hmmmmm, 22 points huh? Against the fourth worst run defense, a team that on average gives up 21.2 points? Think he can do it again? Naw, I didn’t think so either. The Falcons are a much more worthy opponent for Blount, and I see bad things in his future. So let me be blunt, he isn’t worth starting.
- LaDainian Tomlinson. Does LT drive a Delorean? I may not be Biff with a stats book from the future, but I’ll bet my next paycheck he has a good game. Maybe it’s because the Lions are most susceptible to the run, or maybe because my dad’s name is Marty, and his best friend is a Dr. Brown.
- Greg Jennings. The Cowboys give up an average of 25 fantasy points to wide receivers this year. Obviously there are more people out there looking to catch the ball than just Jennings, but since he will be open for the most part of the day, he should see a score or two.
- Terrell Owens. I’ve already said how I think Palmer will do poorly, and that reflects on his receivers. But in the case of TO he will still be thrown the ball the majority of the time, and I’m betting he gets a TD. The Steelers give up 18 fantasy points on average, and I’m thinking TO has about 12 of those.
- Brandon Marshall. I think it’s another bad week for Brandon, as he continues to annoy all of his owners (except for maybe one week). He has seen double coverage in every week and he has been the Randy Moss of the Dolphins. Most likely, he will get his points through yardage and just let kicker Dan Carpenter be the team’s top scorer.
- Dwayne Bowe. He was shut down last week for the most part against an average defense, but that’s OK, since he has been great the two games before, right? Well, he should be pretty bad this game as well, as Oakland is the fourth best pass defense in the NFL and fifth from last in stopping the run. I may not be a rocket scientist, but I like my odds on Jamaal Charles or Thomas Jones getting the ball a lot more than any KC receiver this week.
- Brandon Tate. The Browns have been rather susceptible to the pass this season. Brady will take his chances down the field, and Tate is usually open. Teams seem to see a real threat in Deion Branch, so let Tate run around open for your team this week. It’s always nice to win with a guy like this when he scores 15.
- Patrick Crayton. With so many receiver injuries for the Chargers, Crayton and Gates are what remain. There are rumors of Malcom Floyd making an entrance this week, but I highly doubt it. Crayton will be a good starter this week with Gates soaking up double coverage. His being left partially open by the league’s second worse pass defense is as Borat would say, “very nice.”
- Hakeem Nicks. The Seahawks give up a lot of points to any team with a decent QB, at least 20 points to everyone but San Francisco and Arizona. E. Manning is no P. Manning, but he is a lot better than … who are the QBs at SF and Arizona? Anyway, Nicks is his favorite target, and I like his chances against this defense.
- Larry Fitzgerald. Right as you are officially tired of him and ready to trade him (if someone even wants him), he drops 19 points? Come on now Fitz, make up your mind. Are you going to get anything done or not? Now, I realize it’s not mostly your fault, but we need to know what to expect. This is another bad week for #11 as he is going against a pretty good Vikings secondary. That secondary may not be filled with superstars or absolute studs but they should stop a decrepit offense like Arizona’s just fine.
Well to be honest, I’m past 2,500 words and I think I will stop here. If you guys like the article, I will most likely keep it going next week. I hope I picked some players that may make a difference for your team this week. As I look back, I may have picked too popular of people, but I will let all of you decide. If there are specific people you want to see in this article next week, either PM me a list or just paste a list as a comment.
Ben Hendrix is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Ben in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of B3N1ZJAM1N.
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