If you started the Chargers’ D/ST on Thursday night, you have to be feeling pretty good about your fantasy outlook this week. Just as it’s hard to hit 2 homeruns in a baseball game, it’s certainly no easy task for a defense – even one playing Matt Cassel – to reel off 2 TDs in a game. That makes the crooked fantasy number SD put up last night about as satisfying as it gets for Chargers’ owners since defensive TDs can rarely be counted on.
Of course, for everyone not as fortunate to get the week off to such a great start, you’re likely looking for your own group of players that are set to step up. This week’s Featured Pros are here to help with their picks of who has a good shot to exceed expectations. Check out a summary of the experts’ picks along with their commentary below.
Summary Picks: Players to Step Up (Week 9)
|Expert||Site||Running Back||Wide Receiver||Quarterback|
|Nick Raducanu||The Fantasy Fix||J. Forsett (HOU)||D. Heyward-Bey (OAK)||C. Newton (CAR)|
|Ryan Forbes||2MugsFF||J. Forsett (HOU)||S. Johnson (BUF)||M. Vick (PHI)|
|Jeff Boggis||Fantasy Sports Empires||A. Brown (NYG)||T. Smith (BAL)||M. Vick (PHI)|
|C.D. Carter||NFL Jerks||D. Thomas (MIA)||J. Gordon (CLE)||C. Newton (CAR)|
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Q1: Give us a RB outside of our top 25 consensus that is most likely to step up as a RB2-caliber player (or better) this week and tell us why.
“I’ll preface this with saying that you should only start him if you’re desperate, but Justin Forsett has as good a chance as any lower-tier RB to make a difference this week. Ben Tate is out with a hamstring injury and Forsett should get a good amount of carries as the Texans likely run up the score on a sieve-like Bills defense. The Bills allow an average of 25.6 pts per game to opposing running backs (including two 200+ yard games to the Patriots and 49ers) so Forsett makes for a good option if you’re swinging for the fences.” – Nick Raducanu (The Fantasy Fix)
“While this may seem like a stretch, I’m a big fan of Justin Forsett this week. Ben Tate is out, so Forsett will be the change of pace back behind Foster. The Bills are giving up an unprecedented 6.0 ypc to opposing running backs. Meanwhile, Arian Foster is on pace for a whopping 384 carries. I expect this game to get out of hand in the Texans favor in a hurry, and the Texans to be smart about Foster’s touches. Expect Forsett to see 12+ touches with a good chance at a score.” – Ryan Forbes (2MugsFF)
“I like Brown to step up against a tough Pittsburgh defense. He’s vultured a touchdown in both of the last two weeks and Pittsburgh has given up the 24th most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season with an average of 12.4 fantasy points per game. It would not surprise me to see Eli Manning throw a long completion down inside the 3 yard line and Brown comes in to vulture the touchdown. With Ahmad Bradshaw always an injury risk, Brown could step in and have a big game against Pittsburgh this week. Brown is currently owned in 55% of fantasy football leagues.” – Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Sports Empires)
“Turns out it’s hard to type while holding your nose, but alas, I’m plugging my nostrils and going with Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas, who out-carried Reggie Bush last week against the Jets, albeit for a measly 42 yards and a hideous, plunging goal line touchdown. Thomas will never be the foundation back Miami hoped he’d be, but the offensive staff has carved out a clear role for the second year runner. He’s now taking almost all short yardage and goal line carries, shattering the hearts of Bush owners everywhere. Thomas has a touchdown in three of his past four games.
The Dolphins play the Colts, who have been bulldozed by a few running attacks this season. Indy gave up 178 rushing yards to the Jaguars in Week 3, and 246 yards to the Jets three weeks later. The Colts are the sixth worst defense against fantasy running backs. Expect Bush to reap the benefits of the Colts’ lackluster (read: occasionally nonexistent) run defense, but with double-digit carries, there’s no reason Thomas can’t put up 50 yards and a score this Sunday.” – C.D. Carter (NFL Jerks)
Q2: What WR outside of our top 25 consensus has the best shot of putting up WR2 numbers (or better) this week. Why?
“Matchups are one of the best indicators of success for lower-tier wide receivers, and DHB has a juicy one this week against a Tampa Bay secondary that is just plain old bad (especially with Aqib Talib suspended and now gone). Heyward-Bey looks to be fully healthy after suffering that nasty injury and has put up eight and nine points in each of the last two weeks, respectively. He only had one catch last week, but it went for a long touchdown and I wouldn’t be surprised to see another one coming his way this week.” – Nick Raducanu (The Fantasy Fix)
“I love Stevie Johnson this week. As I mentioned in the first question, expect the Texans to mount a big lead early, leaving Johnson to be the garbage time hero. Texans’ top CB Jonathan Joseph has been playing through a lingering groin injury all season and has struggled in coverage. Expect an 8 rec/120 yd/1 TD day in this one.” – Ryan Forbes (2MugsFF)
“Smith has a great matchup against cornerback Joe Haden of Cleveland this week. Back in week 4, Smith had 6 receptions for 96 yards and 1 touchdown. The Cleveland defense has given up the 5th most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season with an average of 25.9 points. Joe Flacco’s top target is still Torrey Smith over Anquan Boldin.” – Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Sports Empires)
“The late, great Ravens’ defense has been gouged by wide receivers to the tune of 286 yards in their past two contests. That, plus Brandon Weeden’s growing confidence, makes Browns’ receiver Josh Gordon a viable WR2 this week. Baltimore’s secondary was downright cushy even before the team lost Ledarius Webb to a season-ending knee injury in Week 6. The Ravens went on to allow 45 fantasy points to wide receivers in Weeks 6 and 7. Weeden, buoyed by garbage time glory, threw for 320 yards in his first meeting with the Ravens. Since then, he’s developed a nice little rapport with the Browns’ budding rookie pass catcher, who has led the team in targets for the past two weeks.
If Gordon hadn’t lost a deep ball in the sun against the Colts in Week 7, we’d already have the rookie as an every-week top-25 guy. Gordon, whose route tree is still limited, will likely need that deep bomb home run shot to achieve WR2 status this week. The kid will get his chances though, and I don’t think the Ravens can stifle him for 60 mins.” – C.D. Carter (NFL Jerks)
Q3: Several big name QBs have struggled for fantasy owners this season. Of the options below, which player will come through with the best performance in week 9?
Cam Newton (@ WAS)
Michael Vick (@ NO)
Tony Romo (@ ATL)
Matt Schaub (vs. BUF)
Joe Flacco (@ CLE)
“(insert QB name here) vs. the New Orleans Saints is who I would start every week. Vick is my #2 ranked QB this week, and for good reason. The Saints have given up on average 26.3 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks (worst in the league), and have only 3 interceptions compared to 15 touchdowns in 7 games. Basically, do whatever you can to get Vick/Maclin/DJax in your lineup this week.” – Ryan Forbes (2MugsFF)
“This week is going to make or break Michael Vick for both the Philadelphia Eagles organization and for fantasy football owners. There was talk earlier in the week that Vick may be benched for rookie Nick Foles, but Andy Reid has named Vick the starter. The New Orleans defense has given up the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season with an average of 21.4 points. Look for Vick to bounce back and have a strong fantasy showing on Monday Night Football in prime time.” – Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Sports Empires)
“I was very tempted to go with Michael Vick against the Saints here, but Cam Newton has just as good of a matchup against a weak Redskins defense. People like to talk about Cam struggling, but he’s still put up double-digit points in five of seven games this year and still posted seven points in his worst week. The Redskins have given up a league-high 18 passing touchdowns and I’m looking for Cam to get back on track through the air (and maybe even add a score or two on the ground).” – Nick Raducanu (The Fantasy Fix)
“I’m not sure Cam Newton would have made this unfortunate list if not for three red zone throws to Steve Smith last week that would’ve given both guys huge fantasy days. Newton’s mechanics still look hurried — frazzled, as I heard one analyst say this week — but against a Washington secondary that made Christian Ponder look like Fran Tarkenton a few weeks ago, I don’t think that’ll matter.
The Redskins are giving up 18.8 fantasy points per game to signal callers — fourth worst in the league. They’ve allowed 18 passing touchdowns, three more than the Saints’ historically awful defense. Quarterbacks have eclipsed the 330-yard mark in five of Washintgton’s eight games. Just watch the Skins’ secondary: They lack communication, they take nightmarish angles that lead to huge gains, and they let receivers off the line without putting a hand on them. A secondary like Washington’s doesn’t correct itself in one week. Newton, I think, has one of the highest fantasy floors this week. I’d encourage everyone to play him. Don’t get cute.” – C.D. Carter (NFL Jerks)
Thanks to this week’s Featured Pros for sharing their insight with us. If you’d like to read more of the experts’ advice, please be sure to check out their sites and follow them on Twitter.
Also, if you’re looking for a fun way to win some cash, don’t forget to enter our $10,000 FantasyPros FanDuel Championship. In addition to this week’s cash prizes, the top 5 finishers will also earn a ticket to our Week 13 tournament that has a $5,000 prize pool (with only 25 total contestants). Good luck to everyone this weekend!