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Play all of your Broncos this weekend against Kansas City.
-by Braden Gall ( @AthlonBraden on twitter)
NFL Bye Weeks: None
Note: The Bye Week is actually the only thing taking a bye this week in the NFL. There will be plenty of fantasy power sitting on the bench next weekend in the final bye of the season; however, Week 10 will feature full rosters for the first time in nearly two months. This means everyone's studs will be playing, and thus finding sleepers isn't nearly as difficult. Keep this in mind when setting your lineup this weekend. Get your best out there.
Start These Quarterbacks:
Tim Tebow, Denver (at Kansas City)
Say what you want about his efficiency, Tebow scores fantasy points. He has thrown five touchdowns against only one interception in his three starts with 240 yards rushing over that span. And the Chiefs just allowed a near perfect 147.5 QB rating to Matt Moore (244-3-0) last week.
Mark Sanchez, NY Jets (New England)
Stop me if you've heard this before: the Patriots rank last in the NFL in passing defense at 314 yards per game. Sanchez has an efficient seven-to-one touchdown-to-interception ratio over last four games, and Jets have won three straight. Sanchez posted a serviceable 166-2-0 line against the Pats in Week 5.
Matt Cassel, Kansas City (Denver)
Cassel has topped the 250-yard mark in four of his last five games, so if he can add a couple of scores to his yardage totals, he will be a solid fantasy starter. Who better to help with reaching paydirt than the Broncos? Denver is allowing a 31st-rated 28.0 points per game and has allowed the second-most passing touchdowns (17) in the league thus far. Cassel has a good chance this weekend.
Christian Ponder, Minnesota (at Green Bay)
If you are looking for a deep sleeper, take a look at the rookie from Minnesota. The Packers rank 31st in pass defense at 299.6 yards per game, and Ponder is familiar with Green Bay as he got his first start against the division rival in Week 7. He was productive in the loss with a 219-2-2 line to go with 31 yards rushing in first meeting. Only the Colts (18) and Broncos (17) have allowed more passing touchdowns than the Packers' 16. The Vikings should be trailing and Ponder should be throwing.
Bench These Quarterbacks:
Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay (Houston)
Freeman is coming off his most efficient performance of the season (103.5), but that won't continue that this weekend. Houston is No. 2 in the NFL in pass defense at 182.6 yards per game and is allowing an NFL-best 51.7% completion rate. The Texans are also fourth in NFL sacks (24.0) and will be chasing him down all game. The Bucs are just not trustworthy in the fantasy world.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo (at Dallas)
Fitz has failed to top 200 yards in three of his last five games and has averaged 217.8 yards per game over that span. He threw six touchdowns and six interceptions over that same span with the Bills limping to a 2-3 record. In the last two home games, Dallas allowed 417 yards, no touchdowns and four picks to starting quarterbacks.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (Pittsburgh)
The Steelers are the No. 3 pass defense in the NFL at 184.7 yards per game. By the way, rookie Andy Dalton will be facing the Blitz-burgh Steel Curtain for the first time in his career. Additionally, most of Dalton's scoring has come against mediocre defenses Cleveland, Indianapolis and Tennessee (7 TD, 0 INT). Against Buffalo, San Francisco and Seattle, Dalton struggled (3 TD, 6 INT).
Jay Cutler, Chicago (Detroit)
The Lions are rested after a bye week and are sixth in the NFL in pass defense at 193.6 yards per game. Detroit has surrendered only nine passing touchdowns and has forced 11 interceptions. Cutler posted a modest 247-1-0 line against the Lions earlier this year, and he would be lucky to repeat that performance in a must-win situation for both teams.
Start These Running Backs:
Chris Johnson, Tennessee (at Carolina)
CJ2K finally showed flashes of his former brilliance last weekend with a 110 yards from scrimmage on 18 touches against one of the top defenses in the NFL (CIN). The Panthers rank 28th in the NFL against the run at 133.3 yards per game, and no one has allowed more rushing touchdowns in the NFL than Carolina's 11 surrendered. If Johnson is ever going to reach the end zone, it's this weekend.
Willis McGahee, Denver (at Kansas City)
McGahee returned to the field with a vengeance last weekend with an incredible 20-carry, 163-yard, two-touchdown performance against Oakland. Reggie Bush just torched Kansas City for 142 yards from scrimmage on 16 touches and a trip to paydirt. Play Mr. McGahee.
DeMarco Murray, Dallas (Buffalo)
Only the Cardinals, Panthers and Colts have allowed more rushing touchdowns than the Bills' 10, and Murray has been smoldering of late. He has 466 yards rushing in three games at an incredible 8.5 yards per carry. Toss in five catches and one touchdown and you have a fantasy monster. Plug and play the Oklahoma rookie.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina (Tennessee)
Stewart has 27 carries over the last two games. DeAngelo Williams has 17. Stewart has 127 yards from scrimmage in the last two games. Williams has 74 yards from scimmage. Stewart has scored in two of the last three games. Williams has scored one time all season (in Week 5). It's pretty clear who the better option is at this point.
Ben Tate, Houston (at Tampa Bay)
Tate has become a serviceable backup option for many fantasy owners. He has 32 carries in the last three games and has topped 100 yards in two of the last three games — despite Arian Foster getting 88 touches over the same span. The Bucs are 27th in the NFL against the ground game, so Tate is a quality sleeper option this weekend.
Bench These Running Backs:
Cedric Benson, Cincinnati (Pittsburgh)
Benson has averaged 2.2, 3.6 and 3.9 yards per carry over his last three games and now faces the NFL sixth-best rush defense (95.6 yards per game). His splits against the Steel Curtain aren't pretty either, as he has averaged 43.0 yards per game over six contests with only two touchdowns. Look elsewhere this weekend.
Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh (Cincinnati)
The Steelers have struggled to run the ball all season long, and Big Ben has taken over as the focal point of the offense over the last three weeks. Mendenhall has not topped 13 carries in any of the last three games, and the Bengals boast the NFL's No. 2 rush defense at 84.5 yards per game. A 49-1 line might be about right.
Brandon Jacobs, NY Giants (at San Francisco)
This one is pretty easy. Ahmad Bradshaw has been ruled out of the game and Jacobs produced in his absence last weekend (72-1). However, the Niners are downright nasty against the run. They lead the NFL by allowing only 70.8 yards per game and are the only team that has yet to allow a rushing touchdown on the season.
LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay (Houston)
Against a poor run defense last weekend, Blount produced a modest 72 yards in his first action since Week 5. The Texans are fourth in the NFL at 91.4 yards allowed per game and held Cleveland to 44 yards on 21 carries for a paltry 2.1 clip. Look for Houston's defense to pressure Freeman and stack the box.
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle (Baltimore)
The Ravens are third in the NFL against the run at 86.8 yards per game and have allowed only three rushing touchdowns the entire season. Baltimore permits only 3.4 yards per carry (201 attempts faced) and should destroy the Seahawks front line.
Start These Wide Receivers:
Jordy Nelson, Green Bay (Minnesota)
The banged-up Vikings secondary offers very little resistence and Nelson always seems to make one big play per game. And just in case you didn't know, Nelson is the No. 11 fantasy wide receiver in the NFL at the halfway point.
Santonio Holmes, NY Jets (New England)
After a slow start, Holmes has started to come on of late. He has scored in three of the last four games and is facing the NFL's worst pass defense at 314 yards per game.
Larent Robinson, Dallas (Buffalo)
With Miles Austin out, Robinson (who has scored in two straight games) looks to benefit. Dez Bryant is a must-play, but Robinson should get plenty of looks against the NFL's 25th-rated pass defense.
Michael Jenkins, Minnesota (at Green Bay)
The former Falcon is actually the highest-scoring receiver on the waiver wire of the Athlon Sports keeper NFL league. He posted his best game of the season in Ponder's first start (3-111-1) and should be playing from behind most of the season.
Bench These Wide Receivers:
AJ Green, Cincinnati (Pittsburgh)
Ike Taylor will be matched up against Green all game, and while it's hard to bench Green, his upside appears limited in Andy Dalton's first-ever experience against a Dick LeBeau defense.
Mike Williams, Tampa Bay (Houston)
Williams has averaged only 9.8 yards per catch this season and hasn't reached paydirt since Week 1. Expect the entire Bucs' passing attack to struggle against one of the NFL's best pass defenses.
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis (Jacksonville)
It's hard to believe but Wayne is approaching waiver wire status. He hasn't topped 77 yards since Week 1 and hasn't scored since the first game, either. He is hard to endorse against a relatively stingy Jaguars pass defense (197.0 ypg).
Sidney Rice, Seattle (Baltimore)
The Ravens have allowed an NFL second-best six passing touchdowns all season long and are fourth in the league in pass defense (192.6 ypg). Look for the entire Seahawks offense to be stymied this weekend.
Start These Tight Ends:
Brent Celek, Philadelphia (Arizona)
The Eagles tight end is finally getting his looks from Mr. Vick. Celek has averaged six catches and 65 yards per game and scored twice over the last three weeks.
Greg Olsen, Carolina (Tennessee)
The Titans have allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends this season, and Cam Newton favors him in the redzone (four TDs).
Bench These Tight Ends:
Vernon Davis, San Francisco (NY Giants)
Bueller? Bueller? Davis has nine catches for 75 yards over his last three games, and the Giants have allowed one touchdown to tight ends this season.
Kellen Winslow, Tampa Bay (Houston)
Houston has allowed the third-fewest points to the tight end this season, and the entire Bucs' passing attack will struggle.
Start These Defenses/Special Teams:
Houston Texans (at Tampa Bay)
The Texans have turned into one of the top fantasy defenses in the NFL. Plug and play.
Philadelphia Eagles (Arizona)
Without Kevin Kolb and a banged-up Beanie Wells, there should be opportunities for big plays.
Pittsburgh Steelers (Cincinnati)
Dalton has been solid but is facing an angry Pittsburgh team for the first time in his career. The Steelers will finally force some turnovers.
Bench These Defenses/Special Teams:
Dallas Cowboys (Buffalo)
Ryan Fitzpatrick is the least-sacked quarterback in the NFL, and the Bills will look to run early and often.
New York Giants (at San Francisco)
The Niners are built around running the football, with a quarterback who has thrown only two interceptions all season.