Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 9


Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 9

Social media has changed the way we fantasy (yes, that's a verb).

For example, we find out within minutes that teams and experts fear studs like Jamaal Charles and Le'Veon Bell are out for the season after watching them go down with devastating injuries on Sundays and we can adjust by thinking about possible backup plans almost immediately.

We also get to see some good-humored high-brow trash-talking from team Twitter accounts:

(Side note: Don't play any Niners this week if you can help it.)

Then of course, there's the best photo ever floating around Twitter:

Let's just take another second to enjoy that facial hair combo:

To answer your question - yes, that absolutely needed to be posted twice. It's that glorious.

[MORE: Get all your Fantasy Sports coverage for the week here]

And then there's this underrated troll job within the community of Panthers fans.

Anyways, on to this week's start/sit advice:


Dez Bryant, WR, DAL (vs. PHI) - If any receiver is QB-proof, it's gotta be a healthy Dez, right? He has one week under his belt now and can really let loose against an Eagles secondary that allows the fourth-most fantasy points to WRs. The Cowboys may not have an offensive touchdown the last two games, but that will change this week and you can bet it will be Bryant scoring the tuddie. (Tony Andracki)

Charles Clay, TE, BUF (vs. MIA) - Did I mention that I love revenge games? Clay torched the "old" Dolphins earlier in the year (5 catches, 82 yards, TD) and will likely do it again this week. Clay is no Gronk but the Dolphins still struggle covering teams with quality tight ends. In games against Clay, Gronk, Jordan Reed and Delaine Walker, the Dolphins have given up a touchdown to a tight end in all but one and over 70 yards in all of them. The game is in Buffalo and the Bills are coming off a bye. Taylor will look to Clay throughout the game for big plays. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

Vernon Davis, TE, DEN (@ IND) – Go big or go home. Yes, Davis will have practiced less than a week with his new team and likely will need some time to acclimate. But he’s got Peyton Manning in Indianapolis always looking to put on a show, he faces a Colts defense that has allowed scores to tight ends in two of the last three weeks, and he’s caught 10 passes on 14 targets the last two weeks (after returning from injury). This is ultimate boom or bust, as Davis may not even play much Sunday, but as we get closer in the week to gametime we’ll know more about how much Davis should play. If he’s ready to roll, make sure he’s in your lineup. We’re going big. (Mark Strotman)

Mike Evans, WR, TB (vs. NYG) - He's going up against a pass defense that just let up five TDs and 79 fantasy points (PPR) to receivers alone last week. Jameis Winston has been playing well and Evans has such high upside that you should ignore his ranking in the mid-40s among fantasy WRs and instead start him like he's the Mike Evans of last season. He will reward your faith. (Andracki)

Malcom Floyd, WR, SD (vs. CHI) - It's a primetime spotlight for Floyd to return back to his old ways. With Keenan Allen done for the year, Floyd is now the big play receiver in the Chargers offense. He caught two touchdown passes last week in the loss and figures to become an even larger part of it now. Stevie Johnson may steal some targets (along with the tight end duo of Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green) but the Bears pass defense is atrocious and should make Floyd look like a star on Monday. (Paschall)

Melvin Gordon, RB, SD (vs. CHI) – It’s tough not to like all the Chargers this week as their high-powered offense looks to replace Keenan Allen on the fly. What that could mean for Mike McCoy’s group is relying more on the ground game, as Melvin Gordon saw a career-high 18 carries last week against the Raiders. It could also mean more checkdowns, which we also saw last week with Gordon catching five passes (but only for 7 yards). While Gordon doesn’t yet have a touchdown in eight games, one would think he’s due to find the end zone against a Bears defense allowing nearly 29 points per game. Run him out there this week and hope he gets on the board. (Strotman)

[MORE: Complete Fantasy Football coverage at Rotoworld]

Eddie Lacy, RB, GB (@ CAR) - Lacy looked a lot more like his old self coming out of the bye, scoring a touchdown and receiving 11 carries despite the fact the Packers were playing from behind almost all game. I'm sticking to my guns and believe he will turn this season around and his redemption could continue this week against a Panthers team that has allowed five rushing TDs to RBs and an average of 28.6 points (PPR) per week for the last five games. (Andracki)

Jeremy Langford, RB, CHI (@ SD)Your table is ready, rookie. With Matt Forte listed as "day-to-day" after suffering an MCL injury against the Vikings, Langford will be the Bears starter for the foreseeable future. Drafted to be the heir-apparent to Forte, the explosive rookie out of Michigan State (had the fastest 40-yard dash time among running backs at the NFL Combine) will get his chance a little bit earlier than expected, and what a present he gets in his first career start: the league's worst run defense. Langford is no worse than an RB2 on Monday night so make sure he's in all of your lineups. (Scott Krinch)

Marcus Mariota, QB, TEN (@ NO)New head coach. Good health. Great matchup. For me, Mariota checks all the boxes to be a viable Week 9 fantasy option with plenty of stud quarterbacks on a bye. Before suffering an injury against the Dolphins and missing his last two games, Mariota was a Top 10 fantasy quarterback. Interim head coach Mike Mularkey is going to rely heavily on the right arm and legs of the face of the franchise in Mariota. Heading to the Big Easy against a Saints team which just allowed Eli Manning to toss six touchdown passes makes me giddy to see what Mariota can do. (Krinch)

Jameis Winston, QB, TB (vs. NYG) - Huh...that Mariota buzz seems to have disappeared eh? Not to say the Titans rookie QB is a bust or won't be good, but Winston has quietly gotten better as the season has gone on. In the past three games, Winston has four touchdowns and zero interceptions along with 683 yards. If Austin Seferian-Jenkins is returning this week (certainly a possibility) that will be a big boost to Winston. And, oh, he's going up against a team that just allowed seven passing touchdowns in a single game. If you're wavering at who to start at QB, Winston is your guy. (Paschall)

Robert Woods, WR, BUF (vs. MIA)Woods has been a tough player to project throughout his three years in the league. Blessed with outstanding athleticism dating back to his days as a freshman at Southern California, Woods has never really lived up the high billing coming out of high school. But one thing that can't be questioned is his durability. Woods has missed just two games since his rookie season, which can't be said about a few of his teammates. There's a good chance Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin won't play against the Dolphins, making Woods the de facto No. 1 receiver on the Bills. He will see a healthy dose of targets against a defense that's had a hard time stopping wide receivers all season. Woods is a sneaky flex play if you're looking for a Week 9 streamer. (Krinch)

T.J. Yeldon, RB, JAC (@ NYJ) – It’s time to start taking the Alabama rookie seriously after his stellar 115-yard, one-touchdown performance against a stingy Bills defense in London. Yeldon now has at least 100 yards or a touchdown in his last three games after failing to reach either in his first three games. Normally that would mean he’s a must-start, but against the top-ranked Jets rush defense there’s some question about how he’ll perform. The Jaguars aren’t an offensive juggernaut, but it’s time to start rolling out Yeldon with some pace that his rookie jitters are gone. If he can start contributing more in the passing game, look out. (Strotman)


Anquan Boldin, WR, SF (vs. ATL) - Blaine Gabbert is his quarterback this week. Seriously. If Boldin doesn't play because of a hamstring injury, sit Torrey Smith too. Why? Blaine Gabbert. (Paschall)

Blake Bortles, QB, JAX (@ NYJ)Bortles has been a sneaky good fantasy quarterback this season, mainly because Jacksonville has been down big in most games and he's has been forced to throw more than the other 31 NFL quarterbacks. I'd start Bortles most weeks, but going up against a Jets defense which is desperate to shake off back-to-back stinkers, I see all the makings of a fantasy disaster. Keep Bortles on your roster, but don't make the mistake of playing him against New York this weekend. (Krinch)

Derek Carr, QB, OAK (@ PIT) - Carr is one of the best stories of the season, having a fantastic sophomore campaign. I'm a fan of him in both real life and fantasy...just not this week. After starting the season out slow, allowing six passing TDs the first two weeks, the Steelers defense has shored some things up and have surrendered just six passing tuddies the last six weeks. Carr's recent hot streak will be stifled in Pittsburgh this week. (Andracki)

Stefon Diggs, WR, MIN (vs. STL) - Diggs is on a stretch of two straight games with scores, but you can expect that to change this week. The Rams have allowed just three WR scores all season and none since facing the Packers in Week 5. Diggs will have to wait a week to continue his Odell Beckham Jr.-esque rookie season. (Andracki)

Frank Gore, RB, IND (vs. DEN) - This game could get ugly really fast. We all know how amazing the Broncos defense is. But when their offense starts to pull away, it could get really ugly really fast for Gore. Luck will probably have to pass over 40 times and Gore isn't known for being the passing down back. Ahmad Bradshaw's emergence will likely factor in to Gore's playing time. Stay away from Gore. (Paschall)

T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND (vs. DEN)Andrew Luck is apparently off his death bed, but we can't say the same about T.Y Hilton. The diminutive wideout has been so damn streaky this season with only two games of double-digit fantasy point totals. The Colts are an absolute mess and that won't change even with a new offensive coordinator  — Pep Hamilton being the fall guy was another ridiculous decision by GM Ryan Grigson who somehow still has a job. The Broncos defense will eat the Colts alive this weekend, just like they did Aaron Rodgers and just like they have with every other team they've played this season. Until someone rights the ship in Indianapolis, I'd stay far away from every fantasy player on that team. (Krinch)

Chris Ivory, RB, NYJ (vs. JAX) - Ivory has tallied just 58 rushing yards on 32 carries the last two weeks, good for a 1.8 average. The Jags look like a cushy matchup if you just pay attention to the ranking (they allow the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing RBs), but all those points came in two big games. In those two contest, the Jags have allowed 104 fantasy points (PPR) on 297 rushing yards and six rushing tuddies. As each week goes by, those two performances look more and more like outliers and Ivory is actually facing a pretty good - albiet inconsistent - run defense. (Andracki)

Rashad Jennings, RB, NYG (@ TB) – This Running Back By Committee stuff is rather obnoxious, and it’s taking away almost all of Jennings’ fantasy appeal. On one hand he’s averaging nearly 4.6 yards per carry over his last five games. On the downside, he hasn’t scored a touchdown in that span and has carried it just 48 times, or 9.6 times per game. Given that, it’s tough to keep running him out there when Orleans Darkwa, Andre Williams and Shane Vereen all are looking to get carries and receptions. Until this thing sorts itself out – if it ever does – I’m staying away from Jennings, especially in a tough matchup against the Bucs front seven. (Strotman)

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

James Jones, WR, GB (@ CAR) – Jones has steadily been in the FLEX conversation all year, and he’s still caught touchdowns in five of seven games this year. But his receptions AND yards have decreased in each of the last five games, bottoming out in last week’s one-catch, two-yard performance against the Broncos. Granted, the Broncos defense was out of this world, but consider that Eddie Lacy is finally healthy, Davante Adams has returned and the Packers face a dangerous Carolina secondary this week. Put all that together and it’s time to shelf Jones for Week 8. Don’t fret, you’ll get to use him next week at home against the Lions. (Strotman)

Darren McFadden, RB, DAL (vs. PHI)Okay. I don't understand all of this McFadden love. How is a guy who hasn't had over 3.4 yards per carry since 2011 suddenly being hailed as one of fantasy's elite running backs for the second half of the 2015 season. Because Dallas has an elite offensive line that makes McFadden elite? Ask Joseph Randle how well that worked out for him. I don't think it's a bold prediction, but I'd venture to say that DMC won't be the Cowboys starting running back by Week 11. Find an owner who believes in McFadden and trade him for a King's Ransom. You'll be happy with the results. (Krinch)

Donte Moncrief, WR, IND (vs. DEN) – We saw what Andrew Luck did against one of the league’s best defenses in Carolina, and it resulted in a two-catch, 18-yard performance from Moncrief, who up until that game had scored in every one of Luck’s starts. With absolutely ZERO confidence in the Colts’ passing attack right now, a matchup against the Broncos is worst-case scenario. Wade Phillips’ group just held Aaron Rodgers to 77 yards passing (!!), meaning Luck is in for a long three-and-a-half hours on Sunday. That also means not to expect anything from Moncrief. Put him away this week and hopefully he’ll be usable after the bye. (Strotman)

Latavius Murray, RB, OAK (at PIT) - Murray quietly had a really nice game against a solid Jets run defense. But this game may play out of his hands. I'm predicting this is another big time shootout between Big Ben and Derek Carr and the run games aren't involved a lot. Factor in the fact that the Steelers defense has only allowed one rushing touchdown to a running back this year, and it could be a struggle for Murray this Sunday. (Paschall)

Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack appears in line to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack participated in the Bears’ final practice of the week on Friday, clearing the way for the edge rusher to play Sunday against the New England Patriots. 

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier Friday that the Bears expected Mack, who hasn’t missed a game in his career, to play after suffering an ankle injury early in Week 6’s 31-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Mack is officially questionable for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field. 

Mack had little interest in discussing his ankle with the media on Friday, passing on answering questions about his readiness for New England. Coach Matt Nagy, though, said he thought Mack “looked pretty good” during practice on Friday. 

Mack didn’t record a sack against Miami and was held to just one pressure, per Pro Football Focus. The Dolphins’ gameplan was to commit plenty of resources to stopping Mack, but he wasn’t effective even when he had one-on-one pass rushing opportunities as the game went on. 

“He was (affected),” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “I can't put a percentage on it, but he definitely was.”

Having Mack available — even if he’s not full strength — will be critical for the Bears’ defense to have a chance at keeping Tom Brady from lighting up the scoreboard. The key for the Bears will be to generate pressure on the 41-year-old quarterback without blitzing, which is something Fangio’s defense was successful at prior to Sunday’s wacky loss to the Dolphins. 

Brady’s passer rating is 138.4 when he’s blitzed, per Pro Football Focus, while when under pressure his rating is 87.2. That’s still pretty good, but it’s worth noting that all of the six interceptions he’s thrown this year have come when he hasn’t been blitzed. And only one of the eight sacks he’s taken has come when he’s been blitzed. 

The point being: If the Bears feel like they have to start blitzing to generate pressure, they can expect Brady to pick them apart.  

“You could say all of that but ultimately (Brady’s) a gamer,” Mack said. “He’s going to take those hits, and you gotta be able to deliver them but also have coverage over the top. It’s going to be real important for us.” 

The good news for the Bears, perhaps, is that New England’s tackles have struggled at times this year. Left tackle Trent Brown has allowed 17 pressures in 234 pass blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus (about one in every 14 snaps). And starting right tackle Marcus Cannon is out with a concussion, giving way for backup La’Adrian Waddle, who’s allowed eight pressures in 78 pass blocking snaps (about one in every 10). 

So the opportunities will be there for Mack, Leonard Floyd, Akiem Hicks and the Bears’ pass rush to affect Brady on Sunday.

A bigger injury concern?

While cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring) was a full participant in Friday’s practice and will play Sunday, slot corner Bryce Callahan suffered an ankle injury during Thursday’s practice and did not participate Friday. He’s officially questionable for Sunday. 

Callahan “did his ankle,” Nagy said, toward the end of Thursday’s practice, and he felt worse as the day went on. Nagy characterized Callahan’s absence from Friday’s practice as “precautionary.”

Callahan’s availability may be more of a pressing concern than Mack’s, given how well the Patriots’ offense has played since slot receiver Julian Edelman returned from a four-game suspension to begin the season. While his numbers aren’t eye-popping (11 catches on 16 targets, 111 yards, 1 TD), New England’s offense has scored 38 and 43 points in his two games back. 

“Brady has always had a guy in the slot that he’s comfortable with; whether it be (Wes) Welker, (Danny) Amendola or Edelman,” Fangio said. “It’s a big part of their offense. They haven’t missed a beat, but I really think it’s helped their offense and played a big part in them basically averaging 40 points in the last three weeks. I really appreciate and respect how good of a player he is and has been.”

If Callahan isn’t available, Sherrick McManis could be the next man up at slot corner. 

The Way We Hear It: Khalil Mack will probably play after all

USA Today

The Way We Hear It: Khalil Mack will probably play after all

The Bears are back in Chicago and Tom Brady and the Patriots are in town! With a week of practice wrapping up today, here's what's been happening in the lead up to Sunday's Bears-Pats matchup: