Wednesday, November 25, 2015

2015 Week 12 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 11? The fantasy season is beginning to wind down fast, so time is of the essence to pad your lead or play catch up. Thanksgiving can often be the beginning of playoff season, but this season it's a bit slower to generate. Doesn't change the importance though.

Who to Start:

QB Eli Manning (NYG) vs. WSH: He's always due a turnover or two, but this matchup in Washington bodes well for him. He's thrown 10 TD passes in his last three games against DC and they were just torched by Cam Newton and Carolina one week ago (other starts: Carson Palmer, Brian Hoyer, Carson Palmer).

RB DeMarco Murray (PHI) vs. DET THU: He's burned many a fantasy owner expecting big things out of him (see, me), but this Thanksgiving matchup against the Lions is a tasty one. The Lions run defense has been gashed repeatedly this season, and with a short week and the Eagles possibly not having Ryan Mathews, Murray could have a nice day (other starts: Chris Ivory, Jonathan Stewart (THU), Doug Martin)

WR Calvin Johnson (DET) vs. PHI THU: Usually I shouldn't have to tell you to start Calvin Johnson, but this season starting him hasn't been quite as obvious a play. He hasn't been putting up points lately, but the Eagles secondary has been carved up better than your turkey tomorrow. He's worth starting again, at least this week.

WR Randall Cobb (GB) vs. CHI THU: He's been a sit recently, and for good reason not only because of the teams he's gone up against. But Chicago isn't Denver, Carolina or Minnesota. Cobb and the Packers offense seemed to find their groove against last week, so against the Bears normalcy should return (other starts: Jarvis Landry, Eric Decker, Travis Benjamin (MON))

TE Antonio Gates (SD) vs. JAX: He and the Chargers are really dinged up, but the matchup in Jacksonville on Sunday is very favorable. The Jags have never been able to defend Tight Ends well, and with limited options, Philip Rivers is going to have to throw the ball to someone (Other starts: Delanie Walker, Jimmy Graham, Crockett Gilmore (MON))

DEF Arizona vs. SF: The Blaine train is pulling into the station! This is very good news for Arizona! (Other starts: NYJ, KC, GB (THU))

Who to Sit:

QB Andy Dalton (CIN) vs. STL: He did bounce back against the Cardinals last Sunday, but that is seemingly an outlier to his recent performances which have been anything but inspiring. The Rams defense, despite what happened to them against the Bears two weeks ago, is still pretty stout against the pass, so Dalton is a risky play on Sunday (other sits: Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, Alex Smith)

RB Latavius Murray (OAK) vs. TEN: I keep waiting for him to break out and become a bonafide fantasy #1, and I'm still waiting. The matchup against the Titans is surprisingly not favorable, as their defense has been pretty stout against the run all season (other sits: Frank Gore, C.J Anderson, Lamar Miller)

WR Dez Bryant (DAL) vs. CAR THU: "You can't sit Dez", would be a comment that I'd get if people actually read this column. But remember who he is going to be matched up against on this Thanksgiving: Josh Norman. Only one number one had any sort of success against him this season, and that was DeAndre Hopkins after he was targeted it felt like 20 times. This is a tough play despite the name and relationship with Tony Romo.

WR Stefon Diggs (MIN) vs. ATL: I hate putting a Terp here, because I love all of them especially Stef, but his recent performances have been slipping of late, and the Falcons secondary has been pretty good this season. This is a tough matchup (other sits: Jordan Matthews, Jeremy Maclin, Anquan Boldin).

TE Jordan Cameron (MIA) vs. NYJ: He scored a TD last week! It felt like a miracle! The Jets have been really stout against Tight Ends this season, so expecting a repeat performance isn't really worth the energy (other sits: Ben Watson, Charles Clay, Jason Witten).

DEF Indianapolis vs. TB: The Bucs offense looked really good last Sunday (against a far worse defense) while the Colts defense feasted on some terrible play from Matt Ryan. The trend might continue for the Bucs offense, while switching for the Colts defense (other sits: DAL, BUF, NYG).

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Brian Hoyer (HOU) vs. NO: *Checks who Houston is playing* Start Brian Hoyer immediately if you have him.

RB Chris Johnson (ARZ) vs. SF: The former CJ2K has been up and down this season, but he probably will be up this week against the 49ers defense, which is a shell of its former self and was gashed by Thomas Rawls last Sunday.

WR Martavis Bryant (PIT) vs. SEA: The Steelers pass offense is dynamite, and the Seahawks Legion of Boom is not what it used to be. Bryant can feast on big plays, and his fantasy owners might well do the same on Sunday.

Buyer Beware:

QB Tony Romo (DAL) vs. CAR THU: He looked perfectly fine against Miami on Sunday, even with a little rust. The question is can he put together a great performance against the incredibly stout Panthers defense on Thursday? They've shut down almost everyone they've faced this season, so this matchup is sketchy even though the temptation is there.

Good Luck in Week 12 and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Perspective on Putting Sports in Perspective

   As I have written here in many different forms before, and will no doubt do more of in the future, I loathe the phrase, "puts sports into perspective". This phrase was in noxious overuse this weekend because of the tragedy in Paris. Despite what horrors all of us witnessed that Friday night wherever we witnessed them, tragedy doesn't beget life, which as cruel as it sounds does go on whatever grief we are stricken with.

  Sports is not only a fantastic coping mechanism, but a great way of reminding ourselves that life will go on no matter what may have changed because of tragedies along the way. France's secretary of sport said to the AP recently that this weekends Ligue 1 games will be played (albeit without traveling fans) because, "life must go on" and that calling the games off is "exactly what these barbarians want". Without mincing words, Thierry Braillard nails the sentiment that I'm surprised more people haven't championed: sports are evidence of normal life, and often times can be the indicator that life will move on after tragedy.

   On September 21, 2001, the Mets hosted the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium. This was the first professional sports game to be played in New York City since 9/11, and no matter what impact on the standings there was for the game, it was a sign to New York and the world that even after the deepest and most horrible tragedies, and despite the fact that the world and our lives would forever be different and changed, life is going to go on whether we want to be scared or not. It took quite a bit of gumption for New Yorkers to try to stop grieving, even for three hours and remember why living in New York and being a New Yorker is so special, and the Mets playing at Shea Stadium did just that.

   So yesterday at Wembley with France playing England, despite the remembrances, moments of silence, wreaths laying on the pitch and attempts at 90,000 trying to sing La Marseillaise, soccer was an attempt at reminding the world that life will go on. Even with the Belgium/Spain and Germany/Netherlands friendlies being called off for security reasons, watching France and England, enemies in history and the butt of each others jokes on most other days, so many of us could be reminded how powerful sports are as a coping mechanism and a reminder that life will go on whether we're grieving heavily or not.

  Each of you reading this probably has your own story about how sports helped you cope with tragedy in your personal lives, because even when sports do stop to pause and grieve with everyone, at some point they will pick up again as a sign that life moves on, and that we should all do the same too. On that day, even if the phrase "putting sports in perspective" means something to you, for one brief moment you will believe that sports was the first sign to you that it's time to move on. It has been for me on many an occasion, and that feeling isn't unique to just me.

  I've written this column in many different forms in the past, and as I mentioned off the top I'll probably do it again someday after another tragedy that shakes the world to its core. But remember that whatever sports means in a macro sense to the world, on a micro level they will go on, and remind all of us that life moves on too even after as something as tragic as the events in Paris last Friday night.

  "The show must go on" and the show will go on, but in this case the game will go on, and help us remember why we all can't live life in fear.

2015 Week 11 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 10? Fantasy football this season continues to confound the greatest thinkers in the land, and makes many of them look like the village idiot in the town square with a dunce cap on. But, unlike those village idiots, we keep trying to prove ourselves as smart people, and at least this week we have another chance to attempt to prove ourselves.


Who to Start:

QB Derek Carr (OAK) vs. DET: Don't let what the Lions did last week fool you, their defense is still pretty bad and has been ravaged by injuries, especially in the secondary. Carr has been playing lights out even against good defenses, so this matchup against the comparatively poor Lions defense should have fantasy owners salivating (other starts: Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford)

RB Lamar Miller (MIA) vs. DAL: Despite the Cowboys relative success at containing the pass, the same can't be said against the run. Miller has been inconsistent all season and at times has been quite hard to trust, but against this Cowboys defense that probably won't be the case at all (other starts: Charcandrick West, Chris Ivory, Darren McFadden)

WR Mike Evans (TB) vs. PHI: He has certainly had troubles with the drops this season (watching that Giants game is tough viewing), but if his hands aren't slicked with oil, he has a great chance at putting up a big stat line against the Eagles secondary, which has been torched consistently this season.

WR Sammy Watkins (BUF) vs. NE MON: The Patriots defense hasn't been as strong this season as one might have expected, and Eli Manning's Giants certainly were able to find some soft spots in that defense and took advantage of it. Watkins did not have a good game against the Jets last Thursday, but he should be able to rebound on Monday night (other starts: Brandon LaFell, Amari Cooper, Steve Johnson)

TE Delanie Walker (TEN) vs. JAX THU: He has been inconsistent all season on the stat sheets, but this matchup against the Jaguars is quite favorable. The Jags have struggled to defend Tight Ends this entire season and were dinged by the Ravens TE's quite a lot last Sunday, and Marcus Mariota will probably look their way quite a bit on Thursday night (other starts: Jordan Reed, Eric Ebron, Travis Kelce)

DEF Seattle vs. SF: They're angry, and playing Blaine Gabbert. Sign. Me. Up. (other starts: NYJ, ATL, OAK)

Who to Sit:

QB Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. DEN: He has been dynamite the last two weeks, even last week against a supposedly stiff Rams defense. The Broncos defense is going to be an even more formidable opponent, especially as Aqib Talib is back from his one game suspension, and Smoking Jay Cutler has to return at some point, right? (other sits: Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco, Kirk Cousins)

RB Justin Forsett (BAL) vs. STL: It's hard to sit him with the bye weeks and injuries around the league at the position, but he has struggled of late and the Rams defense has been stout against the run, only giving up 90.1 yards per game on the ground (other sits: Doug Martin, Melvin Gordon, Eddie Lacy (though he may now be a permanent sit)).

WR Randall Cobb (GB) vs. MIN: As the Packers offense has seemingly fallen off a cliff, so has the production of Cobb. The Vikings defense has been quietly stout this season, and has held Cobb to only 39.4 yards a game against them in five career games against the Vikings. It's hard to sit him, but his owners may have to bite the bullet here.

WR T.Y Hilton (IND) vs. ATL: Not only is Matt Hasslebeck tossing him the rock and not Andrew Luck, but the Falcons defense despite their issues has been pretty stout against the pass this season, so Hilton is a risky play even with the bye weeks and injuries that abound (other sits: Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews, Kamar Aiken)

TE Vernon Davis (DEN) vs. CHI: So many thought his fantasy prospects would be revived with his move from San Francisco to Denver, and in fact nothing has changed at all. He's not only going up against a Bears defense that has been stingy against Tight Ends, but it's not Peyton Manning throwing him the ball on Sunday (other sits: Crockett Gilmore, Jordan Cameron, Charles Clay)

DEF Buffalo vs. NE MON: Even though Tom Terrific is now down Julian Edelman and Dion Lewis, he's going to find someone else to give the ball to and make a superstar. The matchup even then for the Bills defense isn't great on paper nor for fantasy owners alike (other starts: MIN, CIN, WSH).

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Carson Palmer (ARZ) vs. CIN: The matchup on paper isn't especially enticing, but Palmer has been a fantastic fantasy QB at home this season, and there's that little "the Bengals drafted me #1 overall in 2003 and I haven't played them since 2012 and I lost that game 34-10".

RB Frank Gore (IND) vs. ATL: Without Andrew Luck, it would not be a surprise if the Colts ran the ball more than usual. Atlanta's rush defense has been anything but stout this season, so Gore could have an uncharacteristically good game (this season, at least).

WR Tavon Austin (STL) vs. BAL: He's a sleeper because of the QB tossing him the magic bean and because the Ravens defense was actually really good against a far better offense last Sunday. But it doesn't figure to last and Austin could see his share of short passes to rack up some easy numbers.

Buyer Beware:

QB Andy Dalton (CIN) vs. ARZ: It's hard to bench him at this point in the season, but consider this: The Cardinals defense has been incredibly opportunistic this season, and Andy Dalton in primetime, as Monday night showed, is not a mix that really works together.

Good Luck in Week 11!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Dab to Touchdown Dances

    When Cam Newton scores a touchdown, he usually will give the ball to a Panthers fan in the crowd. Even after former Panther Julius Peppers tried to prevent Newton from doing so against the Packers, he found another ball to give to a young fan anyway. Before he gives a ball to someone who will then have a memory that will last a lifetime, Cam Newton likes to dance. Those dances may never top the Ickey Shuffle, but it's not the dances that have seemingly angered a few people. It's the fact that Cam is dancing, period.

   A Tennessee mother took her nine year old daughter to her first Titans game on Sunday. She and her impressionable daughter bore witness to the horror of Cam's dance moves in person that put the game against the Titans out of reach. She sent a note directed at Newton after the game through the Charlotte Observer, and what is contained within is nothing short of amazing:

    "Because of where we sat, we had a close up view of your conduct in the fourth quarter. The chest puffs. The pelvic thrusts. The arrogant and the 'in your face' taunting of both the Titans' players and fans. We saw it all."

   She sounds like a Vietnam POW with "we saw it all". How could the FOX cameras even begin to capture the terror of a man celebrating his own accomplishments and translate it to the home viewer who isn't at the game? You don't know man, you weren't there. Of all of the possible bad things for a nine year old to view at a football game, Cam Newton's dancing is maybe tenth on the list, including being behind watching the Tennessee Titans play football. I wouldn't take a nine year old to see that in person; even on TV it's terrifying. And if Cam's "pelvic thrusts" offend you, here's another pelvic thrust that is far more terror-inducing:

   That should bring night terrors to all sensible human beings. But, wait, there's more to this letter!

   "I refuse to believe you don't realize you're a role model. You are paid millions of dollars every week to play hard a be a leader... With everything the NFL has gone through in recent years, I'm confident they have advised you that you are, by virtue of your position and career choice, a role model." 

   Whatever your life decisions are, I'm going to try not to follow in the footsteps of a man who ended up in a yogurt commercial. That's not an indictment of Cam in any way, or anything less than saying I wasn't gifted with the athletic abilities he has, but that's not my ultimate goal in life nor should it be for you Ms. Rosemary Plorin or your daughter, unless you have already posed for the fill-in pictures found in Hallmark picture frames when you buy them. And as for being a leader, Cam Newton lead Auburn to a national championship and the Panthers to two consecutive NFC South titles while also wanting to play the Sunday after he had a massive car accident. Leading a church potluck isn't really analogous, but also not on the same level of leadership, either.

   "Some of the Panthers fans in our section began taunting the hometown fans." OH NO! Someone wants to celebrate their team doing well and did so by making fun of someone? That feels like it might be... entirely common! (On another note Ms. Plorin, I recommend not taking your daughter to any Jaguars-Titans games in Nashville. You thought Panthers fans had an edge...) "Many Titans fans booed you, a few offering instructive, but not necessarily family friendly, suggestions as to how you might change your behavior." And Cam's dabbing offends you more than those "not necessarily family friendly suggestions"? Apparently you want your daughter to take after those people instead of following Cam Newton's lead by dabbing (which in fairness isn't a terrible idea considering white girls shouldn't dab... ever, especially nine year olds).

  "My daughter sensed the change immediately- and started asking questions." The first question should be "why did you take me to a Titans game instead of a Predators game you sadist?" "Won't he get in trouble for doing that? Is he trying to make people mad? Do you think he knows he looks like a spoiled brat?" I'll answer these questions, Ms. Rosemary Plorin's daughter: 1. It's the NFL, and surprisingly dabbing is one of the few touchdown celebrations you don't get flagged for, so no. 2. Yes, that's the point. You're perceptive for a nine year old. 3. If I was the QB of a team that had won 12 straight regular season games, I'd look pretty spoiled too.

   "I don't know about your family life, Mr. Newton..." It's called Google. Use it. "but I think I'm safe in saying thousands of kids watch you every week." Yep. And they all started dabbing in Charlotte area classrooms on Monday, and everyone loved it! "You have amazing talent and an incredible platform to be a role model for them. Unfortunately, what you modeled for them today was egotism, arrogance and poor sportsmanship." What would Ms. Plorin have thought of the Ickey Shuffle, the Dirty Bird, or what the Miami Hurricanes used to pride themselves on doing after they scored touchdowns? Those might well have been acts of war. And this letter ends with one helluva closer:

   "Is that what your coaches and mentors modeled for you, Mr. Newton?" Since Marcus Mariota will probably be fined by his new coach for celebrating after a touchdown, maybe he should be coached by Mike Mularkey, and none of this would have happened! Although, he probably would be nowhere near the QB he is right now. And, for the record, here is the current Panthers coach:


   And this is the Titans current coach:

    Hmm... tough call.

    After all of the jokes are through though, why can't athletes celebrate on the field? Is there something inherent about the game that should force them to hold back raw emotions? We don't hear the trash talking and the like that goes on during games, and if we could no child would be allowed with 500 yards of a sporting venue... ever. Celebrating by dancing, giving a ball to a fan, jumping into the crowd, pretending like you're pregnant with a soccer ball, etc. is part of sports, and the way leagues have tried to scrub the personality out of the games and athletes themselves is flat out disturbing and wrong. Sports are fun, so let the people playing them have as much fun as those watching them. Let the athletes show their personalities for once. They are as human as those watching in the stands, so let them act like human beings and not like robots.

   Watching Cam Newton is the epitome of football joy; the smile on his face when he plays is contagious and and infectious. But not to Ms. Plorin and her nine year old daughter I guess. Join in with Alabama fans in that corner.

  But I do have one question for Ms. Plorin: What do you think of J.J Watt's comments after the Texans beat the Bengals? Anything? Bueller?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

2015 Week 10 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 9? We're past the halfway point of the fantasy season, and the fun is beginning in earnest now. This fantasy season has been incredibly weird, and this is probably going to continue this week too. Since many teams are mediocre, that means fantasy players have a multitude of options to choose from as the season gets ever more important.

Byes: ATL, IND, SF, SD

Who to Start:

QB Andy Dalton (CIN) vs. HOU MON: Andy Dalton has been a great fantasy QB this season, and that form should continue Monday night against the Texans, whose porous pass defense has been notable this season against basically everyone. (Other starts: Joe Flacco, Blake Bortles, Cam Newton)

RB DeAngelo Williams (PIT) vs. CLE: Cleveland has been poor against opposing running backs this season, although they've been better recently. With Williams now the feature back in Pittsburgh, and with their QB issues already well documented, he could have another massive day at the office. (Other starts: DeMarco Murray, Doug Martin, Matt Jones)

WR Jarvis Landry (MIA) vs. PHI: In regular and PPR leagues, he's a good start this Sunday against the Eagles. Their pass defense has not been very good this season, and had notable issues last Sunday against Matt Cassel and the Cowboys.

WR Stefon Diggs (MIN) vs. OAK: The Raiders defense is not the Rams defense to be sure. When Ben Roethlisberger was in the game last Sunday, the Raiders secondary was battered from pillar to post. Diggs will thrive on all types of routes on Sunday in the Black Hole. (Other starts: Brandin Cooks, DeSean Jackson, Amari Cooper)

TE Jordan Reed (WSH) vs. NO: If he's healthy, he's a must start every single week. He's a favored target of Kirk Cousins, and if last week is any indication, the Saints pass defense is one of the worst in football. (Other starts: Eric Ebron, Gary Barnidge, Richard Rogers)

DEF Carolina vs. TEN: This start has a multi-faceted opposition, but hear me out. Yes, the Panthers defense is not good when they're up by a bagillion, as we saw in the last two games against Indianapolis and Green Bay. And yes, Tennessee's offense was dynamite against New Orleans last Sunday. But the Panthers are not the Saints, and Marcus Mariota isn't Aaron Rodgers, or even half-baked Andrew Luck. (Other starts: STL, BAL, TB)

Who to Sit:

QB Russell Wilson (SEA) vs. ARZ: He's had a tough season from a fantasy perspective, and that probably continues this week against the opportunistic Cardinals defense. Wilson hasn't been great in his career against Arizona, and that will probably continue Sunday night. (Other sits: Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota, Carson Palmer)

RB Chris Johnson (ARZ) vs. SEA: The former CJ2K has had a desert rebirth, which is one of the quieter cool stories of the season. Though this Sunday night in Seattle, Johnson has a tough matchup against the Seahawks, who have been stingy to opposing RB's at home this season. (Other sits: T.J Yeldon, Rashad Jennings, Darren McFadden)

WR Jeremy Maclin (KC) vs. DEN: Outside of last week, the Denver Broncos pass defense has been on absolute lockdown. Maclin has been struggling recently too, so this matchup is one to definitely avoid.

WR Mike Evans (TB) vs. DAL: His performance last week was one of the most bizarre I've ever seen. He had 152 yards on eight catches, but was targeted 18 times and had some head-scratching drops. The Cowboys secondary may be weak, but it has played well for most of the season. (Other sits: Larry Fitzgerald, Kendall Wright, Nate Washington (MON))

TE Jordan Cameron (MIA) vs. PHI: He's been one of the biggest fantasy busts of the season in all positions, and it is hard to imagine him seeing an uptick in performance on Sunday in Philadelphia, who has only given up one TD to opposing Tight Ends this season. (Other sits: Heath Miller, Julius Thomas, Jimmy Graham)

DEF Minnesota vs. OAK: Based on the way the Raiders offense is humming along, it's hard to start anyone against them on the defensive side of the ball anymore. So Vikings, you're up next. (Other sits: DET, MIA, HOU)

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Kirk Cousins (WSH) vs, NO: If the Saints can be torched by a rookie QB coached by someone whose idea of discipline is making sure their helmets are lined up perfectly in a row, Kirk Cousins should have no trouble doing the same on Sunday. Yes, he's been up and down all season, but this is the Saints.

RB LeGarrette Blount (NE) vs. NYG: The Patriots backfield carousel is always a tough riddle to solve for fantasy owners, but with the sad injury to Dion Lewis, it looks like Blount is the man for the Patriots. The Giants defense isn't the best matchup, but with a clear #1 in New England, it's time to start him.

TE Delanie Walker (TEN) vs. CAR: He was fantastic last week against New Orleans, and while the Panthers defense is far better, it has struggled to stop Tight Ends this season.

Buyer Beware:

QB Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. STL: He has been better this season to be sure, especially of late, but the Rams defense has been very consistent and very good this season, so this is a risk. And there's always a chance that Jay Cutler reverts to being Jay Cutler again.

Good Luck in Week 10!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

2015 Week 9 Fantasy Advice

Did you have a good Week 8? It might not feel like November outside, but the calendar says we're in November, which means chances to make hay in fantasy are dwindling fast. This year has been brutal for fantasy owners mainly thanks to crippling injuries, expected stars not living up to the hype and everyone thinking daily fantasy and weekly fantasy are similar (when they're not, since I can't be prosecuted for playing weekly fantasy). This week will be even tougher because of six teams on a bye and the injuries just starting to wreak havoc on rosters.


Who to Start:

QB Philip Rivers (SD) vs. CHI MON: His team is 2-5, just lost its best receiver in Keenan Allen, but Rivers is still a fantasy must play this week despite all of that. The Bears defense has struggled to contain any QB this season, so despite an insanely short deck, Rivers' performance will likely stay the same. (Other starts: Jay Cutler, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning)

RB Chris Ivory (NYJ) vs. JAX: Not only is the matchup favorable on paper, the Jets QB situation makes Ivory almost a must start anyway. If Geno Smith is playing, do you really think the Jets will trust him to make the same decisions against a defense that just forced four turnovers against E.J Manuel and Buffalo? (Other starts: Jeremy Hill, DeAngelo Williams, Jeremy Langford)

WR Amari Cooper (OAK) vs. PIT I said "sit him" last week (whoops) against Darrelle Revis and the Jets, but this week against Pittsburgh's porous pass defense, he's squarely in the other side of the column. We're almost reaching a point where Cooper should be starting despite the matchup, which this week isn't an issue.

WR Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) vs. IND: The Colts defense has been Swiss cheese practically all season, and you know Peyton Manning will be extra motivated to play against the Colts in Indianapolis again, Last week was his best performance of the season against a far better Packers defense, so all of his receivers stand to benefit on Sunday. (Other starts: Julian Edelman, Stevie Johnson, Malcolm Floyd)

TE Heath Miller (PIT) vs. OAK: The Raiders have been impressive in so many ways this season, although one area in which they haven't been is against Tight Ends. Miller had a huge game last week against the Bengals, and with some good Tight Ends on the shelf due to bye weeks this week, Miller is a great option. (Other starts: Jordan Reed, Ben Watson, Greg Olsen)

DEF Cincinnati vs. CLE THU: Johnny Manziel is back under center for the Browns, whose offense is being drained week after week. Their last two performances against St. Louis and Arizona haven't elicited any confidence, and the Bengals defense is rolling right now. (Also a must start but I deemed it too obvious: Atlanta against Blaine Gabbert).

Who to Sit:

QB Andrew Luck (IND) vs. DEN: Bye weeks stink. Changing offensive coordinators mid-week before a major game also stinks. Rib and shoulder injuries aren't fun too. But looking like you have regressed beyond salvation is the worst. Oh, and the Broncos defense held Aaron Rodgers under 100 yards passing last Sunday night. I'd dumpster dive in the waiver wire before starting Luck on Sunday. (Other sits: Ryan Tannehill, Blake Bortles, Sam Bradford)

RB Darren McFadden (DAL) vs. PHI: The Cowboy backfield is his now that Joseph Randle has been handed his pink slip. The Eagles have been poor in more than a few facets of their game, but their rush defense has not been one of them. This is a tricky matchup despite McFadden's increased role. (Other sits: T.J Yeldon, Latavius Murray and Rashad Jennings)

WR Randall Cobb (GB) vs. CAR: Josh. Norman. Is. Amazing. 

WR Allen Robinson (JAX) vs. NYJ: Allen and Allen (attorneys at law) have been fantasy superstars this season for the Jaguars and their newly found passing game. Even though the Jets were torched a bit by Derek Carr and the Raiders last Sunday, it's hard to trust any opposing wideouts against the Jets defense, especially going up against Darrelle Revis. (Other sits: T.Y Hilton, Mike Wallace, Travis Benjamin).

TE Jordan Cameron (MIA) vs. BUF: The matchup isn't awful, but Cameron hasn't consistently produced this season, especially in the first meeting with the Bills when he put up less than two points. It's hard to start him even with the bye week options that are lost. (Other sits: Julius Thomas, Kyle Rudolph, Vernon Davis).

DEF Carolina vs. GB: Bend but don't break is the motto for the Panthers, but it's hard to imagine the Packers offense having the same sort of performance they did against Denver last Sunday even against the Panthers stout defense. (Other sits: Green Bay, Indianapolis, Dallas)

Three Super Sleepers:

QB Derek Carr (OAK) vs. PIT: Is it time to take Carr seriously not just on the field but in fantasy too? He has been outstanding outside of only a few moments this season, and the Steelers defense is nowhere near what it was or has been. Old Raiders-Steelers matchups were slugfests, but this one could be a shootout, which favors Carr.

RB Ronnie Hillman and C.J Anderson (DEN) vs. IND: Either one of them are sleepers in their own right because it's hard to predict which one will get the bulk of the carries, but both go up against the same putrid Colts rush defense, which means either could have a massive day.

WR Dez Bryant (DAL) vs. PHI: Normally, he's a must start because he's Dez Bryant. But with Matt Cassel, questions are asked. Despite that, this week he could be back to his old self against the Eagles secondary which has been torched by practically everyone this season.

Buyer Beware:

WR Jordan Matthews (PHI) vs. DAL: Raise your hand if you expected him to have a monster season /slowly raises hand in hopes no one can see him. His drops have been a problem, let alone everything else that has gone wrong for the Eagles this season. The Cowboys defense has been stout-ish (even putting the first Eagles game aside), so Matthews is a risky play.

Good Luck in Week 9!