As November hits, the push for the fantasy playoffs is in full swing so we turn to our fantasy expert, James Morris, for his insight heading into this weekend’s NFL slate.
Week 9 “Start ‘Em & Sit ‘Em” by James Morris
With injuries and the bye weeks in full swing, I get asked over and over about sleeper picks and waiver wire adds. The reality is that unless you are in an 8-team league, the waiver wire is all but useless until someone gets injured. And, even then, you have to be grease lighting to have a shot at getting the replacement player in leagues where the waiver wire isn’t locked until Wednesday.
I will be honest and say that in standard 12-team leagues, with standard roster positions and requirements, you can just about stop looking for a sleeper on the waiver wire. If he is still sleeping, it’s called a coma!
If you truly need depth, you better work the trade phones before your league’s trade deadline passes (if it hasn’t already). But, also remember that 99 percent of owners will only do a trade if they think they are CLEARLY winning in the deal.
Michael Vick – QB Eagles: With his back against the wall, and the room closing in on him, I am looking for Vick to finally have that breakout game we’ve all been waiting for this season. The Saints allow a league worst 26.3 fantasy PPG to QBs this season, so this is a do-or-die game for Vick on so many different levels. I will admit that he is a boom-or-bust pick, but I always say to go big or go home!
Cam Newton – QB Panthers: If you look at Newton’s stats as compared to last season, he is right on par. So, the negative talk is more by those who were expecting a huge jump in production from the second year QB. The reality is that the coaching staff misused the running game and teams were able to just defend the pass and forget about the run all together. That has all changed and the Redskins give up 24.1 PPG to QBs, 3rd worst in the NFL.
Willis McGahee – RB Broncos: I’m not a big fan of any RB lining up behind Peyton Manning, but Whatchu Talk’n Bout Willis has a great shot this week against a Bengals defense that allows 22.0 PPG to RBs in standard scoring formats. I see RB1 stats from him if Manning gets out in front of the Bengals in this one.
Matt Forte – RB Bears: The main problem with Forte this season has been Michael Bush vulturing TDs from him in the redzone. But, the Titans give up a ton of points to RBs (25.3) and the Bears know that Forte is a good 60 percent of their offensive production. If they don’t get him going early, they could see their offense become one-dimensional.
Steve Smith – WR Panthers: Smith has been up and down all season long with production, but I expect big things against the Redskins underwhelming secondary this weekend. Smith is more valuable in PPR leagues than in standard scoring formats, but I think he will get a touchdown or two this weekend, so he will finish as a WR1 if he stays healthy.
Randall Cobb – WR Packers: We all know that the Packers are built around the pass, and with Greg Jennings out, and Jordy Nelson a true game-time decision, Cobb is going to be the go-to guy for Aaron Rodgers. The coaching staff knows they have a special talent in Cobb and they are finding ways to get the ball in his hands.
Greg Olsen – TE Panthers: The Redskins simply can’t cover anyone on the opposing team, so you would be safe in starting anyone who plays them. With that in mind, the Redskins defense allows the 2nd most fantasy points to TEs’ this season at 19.0 PPG. Olsen is certainly someone I would play over say Kyle Rudolph or Jermichael Finley if you own both.
Detroit Lions defense: The Lions defense is owned in 72.7 percent of NFL.com leagues, but they are available in our Miami Dolphins NFL.com league, so go figure. This weekend they play a team I know pretty well, the Jacksonville Jaguars. With Gabbert throwing the ball, and back-up Jennings running the ball, the Lions defense should finish this week as a Def1 and a great start if you own either the Cowboys or Eagles defenses.
Andrew Luck – QB Colts: The last thing I need to do is explain to Dolphins fans why their defense is underrated. But, fans from other teams come here to read this stuff, so allow me to lay it out for you. The Dolphins give up 20.3 PPG to QBs, 19th in the league; they allow just 13.6 PPG to RBs, 8th in the NFL; the Colts have only scored 136 points this season, 27th in the NFL. The Dolphins defense is one of my sleeper picks this week.
Tony Romo – QB Cowboys: Beyond the fact that the Cowboys seem to have an uncanny knack for snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory, Dez Bryant is dealing with a hip injury that is keeping him out of practices. The Falcons are good at defending the TE (13th in NFL with 7.0 PPG) and Miles Austin has been less than impressive this season for the Cowboys. I don’t know if Romo finishes even as a low-end QB1 this week.
Chris Johnson – RB Titans: The Titans play the worst possible team they could play this season, the Chicago Bears. Not because the Bears offense is intimidating, or because they could be a spoiler to the Titans playoff hopes. No, the Titans offensive line looks like five guys practicing to be Matadors’ and have mastered the “O-Lay” move. The Bears D-Lineman have to be licking their chops for this one.
Rashad Jennings – RB Jaguars: Last week’s waiver wire darling, Jennings has quickly become someone you want riding your bench instead of gracing your starting line-up. The Lions give up just 13.6 PPG to RBs (7th worst in NFL), and the Jaguars have real problems on offense with a probable bust QB under center (Blaine Gabbert).
Torrey Smith – WR Ravens: Smith has been solid this season as he is ranked #28 at WR in NFL.com PPR formats with 93.80 points. But, this weekend the Ravens lock up with the Browns and you can be sure Joe Haden is going to be covering Smith all game long. Haden is one of the league’s top corners, so Smith is someone I want resting on my bench this weekend.
Hakeem Nicks – WR Giants: Nicks is still trying to get back into the swing of things following three week absence due to an injury. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough for his owners (me included), this week he faces a Steelers defense that allows just 19.5 PPG to WRs (9th in NFL). I have Nicks slotted as a WR3/flex play this weekend, and he makes the sit list because he was drafted as a WR1.
Jermichael Finley – TE Packers: I hate to even have to say this, but I think it is time to cut bait with Finley all together. Regardless what Rodgers is saying in public, there are chemistry issues between him and Finley. Not to mention that Finley has a bad wing (shoulder) and is averaging just 3.5 catches-per-game for 33.1 yards, and hasn’t caught a touchdown pass since week 1. Cut him and let someone else deal with the lack of points in their starting line-up.
Arizona Cardinals defense: Even though the Cardinals defense is ranked #4 in NFL.com fantasy football leagues, they are owned in just 46.0 percent of the leagues. Regardless, I wouldn’t come within a country mile of them this weekend as they face off with the Packers and their high powered passing attack. The Cardinals can’t come from behind to win; so if the Packers get ahead early, the Cardinals will be forced to throw, and that is going to make things even worse form the defense as they will spend even more time on the field following turnovers.
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The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.