QB- Matt Hasselbeck (Seahawks): The last time I advised readers to start Hasselbeck, he posted this fantasy beauty: 10-29 for 112 passing yards, 1 INT, 1 fumble, 0 TDs. Ummm…sorry. But that bad day was more due to the injuries of Hasselbeck’s offensive line as he had no time to throw. Now his offensive line is still shaky, but he gets to face the Detroit Lions this week and they don’t exactly have a premiere pass rush. Detroit also ranks 27th in the NFL in pass defense and they have allowed the second most passing TDs to opposing QB’s this season (18). So feel comfortable rolling with the Seattle QB this week as a 300 yard, 3 TD day seems very much in reach.
RB- Marion Barber (Cowboys): Marion “The Barbarian” was running wild in the first two games of the year before a hamstring injury slowed him down. Barber looked nothing like his usual self and it was clear that he lacked the ability to cut strong off his bad leg and he lacked the necessary burst. Last week we saw a little more of the Barber of old as he pounded his way to 53 yards and a TD. The Eagles will oppose Barber this week, and while their run defense is solid, it isn’t spectacular. The last time the Cowboys played in Philly they were destroyed 44-6 and turnovers killed Dallas. It would seem to be a situation where the Cowboys try to run the ball to control the pace of the game on the road in a hostile environment.
RB- Brian Westbrook (Eagles): Westbrook is expected to return to action this week against the Cowboys, a team that he has thrived against in recent years. The Dallas D has been much better of late, but Westbrook is such a weapon not only in the running game but in the passing game as well. When he’s healthy he is a very difficult matchup and the Cowboys have struggled to find an answer for him, especially as a receiver. Look for 100 yards of total offense and a TD from Westbrook in his return to the Eagles lineup.
WR- Santana Moss (Redskins): Washington’s top wideout has been very quiet this year, but he has a chance to explode against the Falcons this week. The Atlanta secondary is banged up and has allowed the second most passing yards per game along with 28 passing plays of 20+ yards, which means Moss has a good chance to hook up on a couple of deep balls from QB Jason Campbell. Moss may not be that valuable the rest of the season, but he has a chance to be great this week.
WR- Greg Jennings (Packers): Jennings fantasy owners were thrilled to see the WR post numbers last week that they thought they were going to consistently get when they invested a high draft pick in the young Green Bay wideout. In the three games prior to last Sunday’s 88 yard 1 TD performance, Jennings had just 147 receiving yards and 0 TDs combined. However his opponent this week will be an awful Tampa Bay defense that have allowed three WR’s to eclipse 100 yards in a game and have also given up double digit fantasy points to seven receivers in seven games. Look for a big day from Jennings Sunday.
TE- Jeremy Shockey (Saints): In the past three games Shockey has looked like the Pro-Bowl TE that he was back in New York. He has become more a part of the New Orleans offense and he and QB Drew Brees have clearly become more connected and have a better understanding of how each other play. Shockey has become must-start material in all leagues regardless of matchup.
K-Olindo Mare (Seahawks): The Seattle offense should thrive against the lowly Lions, meaning Mare should get almost infinite chances to knock in PATs and FGs.
DEF- Green Bay Packers: Despite a terrible game against the Vikings last week in which they gave up 38 points and got most fantasy players zero points, the Packers D still ranks fourth in fantasy points on the season. With this week’s opponent being the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers and with those Bucs giving their rookie QB the first start of his career, Green Bay has a great chance to rebound from last weeks bad showing.
QB-Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers): The Pittsburgh QB has played phenomenally this season, but in Week 9 he will go up against a Broncos defense that ranks first in the league in total yards allowed and eighth against the pass. This Broncos defense has made Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Phillip Rivers, Carson Palmer, and Joe Flacco all have quiet games against them, so look for Big Ben to be less then stellar this week.
QB: Matt Ryan (Falcons): The Atlanta QB’s nickname is “Matty Ice” and unfortunately for Falcons fans the second year QB has been ice cold the past three weeks (5 TDs to 7 INTs, two games under 200 yards passing, three games with a QB Rating under 70). Things won’t get any easier for Ryan this week as he will face a Washington defense that ranks second in the league against the pass and has allowed just six passing TDs all season. Don’t let Ryan anywhere near your starting lineup this week.
RB- Kevin Smith (Lions): Smith has a very good matchup this week against a questionable Seattle defense, but he isn’t healthy right now as he nurses a bum shoulder and his status for Sunday’s game is in doubt. Even if he ends up playing he is not a reliable start, as the RB many expected to break out this year has struggled all season long. He has had a tough schedule, but 3.1 YPC is putrid anyway you look at it, so find yourself a better option this week.
RB- Steve Slaton (Texans): I have been a Slaton hater all year long and it seems that Texans head coach Gary Kubiak has joined my side on the Slaton debate. The Texans third round pick from 2008 was stellar in his rookie season, but this year he has been pathetic on the ground, averaging just 3.1 YPC and has only 2 rushing TDs compared to 7 fumbles (5 lost). He seems to lack the burst that helped him be so successful a year ago and he has had numerous dreadful rushing games this year but was bailed out for fantasy purposes due to his good receiving numbers. Kubiak said that Houston will give all three backs carries this week, but it is unclear how they will be divided up and Slaton certainly isn’t in his coach’s good graces as of now.
WR- Brandon Marshall (Broncos): Marshall has had two sub-par efforts in a row and the prospects for his return to fantasy stardom this week seem slim with a staunch Steelers pass defense opposing him. QB Kyle Orton was under immense pressure last week from the Baltimore Ravens and he responded terribly with his worst outing of the year. Pittsburgh loves to blitz so look for Orton to be under duress once again as well as constant bracketed coverage on Marshall by the Steelers D.
WR- Roy Williams (Cowboys): Since Week 4, Williams has just 6 catches for 70 yards and 1 TD. OUCH! He is still technically listed as America’s Team’s No. 1 WR, but the truth of the matter is that he is the third option in the passing game at best, behind TE Jason Witten and up-and-coming WR Miles Austin. Williams has a pretty tough matchup against a good Eagles defense that’s coming fresh off a beat down of the New York Giants, so that doesn’t bode well for him either. Look for another quiet day for one of the most overpaid and overrated receivers in the game today.
TE- Todd Heap (Ravens): Heap got a ton of catches (seven) in his first meeting with the Bengals this year, but all those catches only amounted for 41 yards. Cincinnati’s defense is so much better then what it has been in recent years and Heap is an overrated fantasy player anyway, so dump him if you can and find someone with a better matchup.
K- Robbie Gould (Bears): Gould was fantastic last week, but the Bears offense hasn’t shown that they’re capable of scoring against anything but a porous defense. So while Gould is still a good kicker, the Chicago offense won’t give him the chances he needs this week to be successful.
DEF- Indianapolis Colts: The Colts defense has been a surprise this year as they are currently the seventh best fantasy defense. However, this week they will face the high powered offense of the Houston Texans, led by QB Matt Schaub and WR Andre Johnson. This game has shootout written all over it and the Colts have very little upside this week, so keep them on your bench.
QB- David Garrard (Jaguars) or Matt Cassel (Chiefs): These two QB’s will face each other this week and both will have solid matchups against bad pass defenses. Neither of them are stellar fantasy options, thus why both are available in many leagues, but if your QB has a bye week and you don’t trust your backup then they are worth a look. Both of these guys should be able to post over 200 passing yards and 2 TDs against the dreadful pass defenses that will oppose them.
RB- Jamal Charles (Chiefs): With starting RB Larry Johnson suspended for this weeks game, Charles is expected to get the start and the majority of the carries against a Jaguars defense that has allowed over 128 rushing yards per game this season. Charles may have even greater value if Kansas City cuts the troubled Johnson and decides to move on without him, as Charles would slide into the starter’s role for the rest of the season.
RB- Ryan Moats (Texans): Moats took over early in Houston’s Week 8 game after RB Steve Slaton was benched following an early fumble. Moats looked fantastic in his extended role, rushing for 126 yards and 3 TDs. It is unclear how the carries will be divvied up from here on out, but Slaton owners should grab up Moats just to be safe.
WR- Steve Breaston (Cardinals): Breaston isn’t available in deeper leagues, but in about a third of fantasy leagues he can still be had. With WR Anquan Boldin being limited the past few games due to an ankle injury, there is talk that he may sit out and try and completely heal up to better help the team during the stretch run for the playoffs. That would be a big boost for Breaston as he would move into a starting role on a pass heavy team. This week against the Bears isn’t the best matchup, but it’s not a terrifying one either and if Boldin’s injury causes him to miss more then a week, Breaston could really be a factor the following week against the Seahawks.
K-Josh Scobee (Jaguars): He is a solid kicker who gets to face the terrible Kansas City Chiefs this week. He should get plenty of chances on Sunday.
DEF- San Francisco 49ers: Even though the 49ers defense has been the sixth ranked fantasy defense this year, they are still available in many leagues. The Titans come to town this week and it will be game two in the second coming of the Vince Young era. Besides stud RB Chris Johnson, Tennessee has very few offensive weapons that scare opposing defenses. San Francisco is coming off a solid effort in which they limited Peyton Manning and the Colts explosive offense to just 18 points, and I look for low numbers on the Titans side and at least two turnovers from Young.
Last Week’s Results: 6-10
Just terrible. After last weeks performance, I’m going to pull a Tim Tebow.
“You will never see another sports columnist in the entire country work harder to give his readers good fantasy advice. And you will never see a sports columnist push himself harder then what I will push myself in the coming weeks to do the best I can.”
Hmmm, maybe Mary Washington will give be a plaque if I come through and hit all my picks the rest of the season…
Overall Record: 62-57
NFL Games of the Week:
Houston Texans (5-3) vs. Indianapolis Colts (7-0) (Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS)
Dallas Cowboys (5-3) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (5-3) (Sunday at 8:15 p.m. on NBC)
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) vs. Denver Broncos (6-1) (Monday at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN)