Welcome to Week 9’s start/sit fantasy advice for quarterbacks and defense/special teams (DSTs). But first I know you’re really interested to see how I did last week, so let’s take a look shall we.
Start Philip Rivers (24.04 fantasy points) – Since the Chargers can’t run the ball Rivers had another big game, airing it out in a losing cause
Start Matt Ryan (21.08 FP) – In real life he doesn’t look really good right now, but thanks to Julio Jones he can still put up good fantasy numbers.
Sit Peyton Manning (12.6 FP) – Manning looked as good as he has all season throwing for 340 yards, but he still didn’t throw for a touchdown and was picked off once
Plus, I warned you about starting Aaron Rodgers. That might be the best call of the week. Rodgers scored just 6.18 fantasy points thanks to only 77 passing yards and zero touchdowns.
Start Teddy Bridgewater (12.58 FP) – In a great matchup against the Bears he couldn’t get anything going.
Sit Derek Carr (29.12 FP) – Is there a better young quarterback in the NFL?
Teams on bye: Arizona, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Seattle
START THESE QBs...
Derek Carr, OAK (at PIT)
The way Carr has been playing this season and especially the past few weeks, he has easily established himself as a mid-level QB1 and has seen his name jump up the list of best young quarterbacks in the NFL. Carr has scored 20 or more fantasy points in four of seven games and is heading into Pittsburgh red hot, throwing for seven touchdowns over his last two outings. Pittsburgh’s pass defense is middle of the pack, as the Steelers are currently giving up the 14th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks on the season. But with Le’Veon Bell out, you know that the Steelers are going to let Ben Roethlisberger air it out, which will make this game a shootout – perfect for Carr owners.
Eli Manning, NYG (at TB)
This might seem like a no-brainer since Manning is coming of an epic game in New Orleans where he threw for 350 yards and six touchdowns in a losing effort. But you never really know what you are going to get from Manning. Last week he scored an incredible 38 fantasy points, but the week before it was a pathetic 6.4. So what gives? A healthy Odell Beckham Jr. makes a world of difference for Manning. This week Manning and the G-Men travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers and their defense that is currently allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. It’s probably crazy to expect Manning to throw another six touchdowns this week, but another 300-yard game and three scores is very likely.
Philip Rivers, SD (vs. CHI, Mon.)
Has there been a better fantasy quarterback this season than Rivers? He’s scored 20 or more fantasy points in five straight games and thrown 13 touchdown passes to only three interceptions over that span as well. Even though Rivers lost his favorite wide receiver in Keenan Allen for the season, Rivers is still as must-start as must-starts go. This week’s matchup is really juicy for Rivers. The Chicago Bears come to town giving up the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and throw in the fact that the Chargers are terrible on defense, we could have another old school shootout on Monday night. Look for Rivers to once again throw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Jay Cutler, CHI (at SD, Mon.)
Believe it or not Cutler is playing some pretty good football lately. On the season he’s only thrown four interceptions (pretty darn good for him) and eight touchdowns. In his last four games he’s averaging close to 20 fantasy points per game and now he has his favorite target Alshon Jeffery back and healthy. It might hurt Cutler not to have his safety valve in Matt Forte out there, but this week’s game in San Diego has the makings of a good old-fashioned shootout between Cutler and Philip Rivers, so don’t be surprised if Cutler goes off for 300 passing yards and three touchdowns.
SIT THESE QBs...
Andrew Luck, IND (vs. DEN)
Luck has looked like a shell of his old self so far this season. Whether it’s due to injury, the Colts’ terrible offensive line or poor coaching (or all of the above), Luck isn’t even worth starting most weeks. That seems crazy when entering the season many thought that Luck would be the highest-scoring fantasy player in the league. Luck has thrown at least two interceptions in every game but one he’s played in this season and he’s got a total of 12 on the season. That’s terrible. All that you really need to know is that he’s playing the Denver Broncos this week, who just held Aaron Rodgers to 77 passing yards. It might be hard, but leave Luck on your bench this week.
Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (vs. STL)
Bridgewater was a trendy sleeper pick coming into the 2015 season and he really hasn’t disappointed so far, but he’s far from being a fantasy QB1. But with six teams on bye this week, you might be looking for a quarterback to plug in. If you are, skip over Bridgewater. He has an absolute terrible matchup this week as the St. Louis Rams come to town. The Rams are giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and if the Vikings are going to win this game, it’s going to be on the legs of Adrian Peterson, not the arm of Bridgewater.
Ryan Tannehill, MIA (at BUF)
You never know what you are going to get from Tannehill from a fantasy perspective or in real football. It's his real lack of consistency that makes him hard to trust on a week-to-week basis, so when considering whether or not to play Tannehill, you have to look at his matchup for that week. This week Tannehill and the Dolphins travel up the east coast to visit the Buffalo Bills. Tannehill has struggled at Ralph Wilson Stadium in his career. In fact, he has just 464 passing yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions in three games in Buffalo. That history is enough to leave Tannehill on your bench this week.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Aaron Rodgers, GB (at CAR)
Last week, I almost and probably should have told you to sit Rodgers instead of warning you against starting him, but no one in their right mind is going to sit the reigning MVP. Well it just so happens you should probably do the same this week against the Carolina Panthers. Rodgers and the entire Packers offense folded like a cheap napkin last week against the Denver Broncos and things don’t get any easier this week on the road. The Panthers and their vaunted defense thus far have given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Rodgers just doesn’t have the weapons to put up any kind of fantasy numbers this week.
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs...
New York Jets (vs. JAC)
The Jets’ defense hasn’t looked like an elite defense over the past few weeks. That shouldn’t be possible when you consider who the head coach is (Todd Bowles) and with all the talent the Jets have on defense. But even with all that somehow they only scored 2 fantasy points in Week 7 (granted that was against New England) and they scored minus-one (-1) fantasy points last week in Oakland. This week, however, the Jets’ defense gets just what the doctor ordered to put them back on the fantasy map as the Jacksonville Jaguars come to town. The Jags are giving up the fourth-most fantasy points to DSTs this season and you can bet that the Jets are going to buzz Blake Bortles all game, pile up some sacks and snag a couple of interceptions.
Cincinnati Bengals (vs. CLE, Thurs.)
This is the Thursday night game so hopefully you are proactive and start the Bengals this week against the Browns. The Bengals’ defense is coming off a great game where they held the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers offense to 10 total points and they scored 13 fantasy points themselves. This week is a short one, but Cincinnati gets to match up against Johnny Manziel. The Bengals should get out to a decent lead, forcing the Browns to use Manziel to stay in the game. That’s a recipe for disaster for the Browns, but it’s awesome if you’re smart enough to start the Bengals’ DST this week.
SIT THESE DSTs...
Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. OAK)
The Steelers have been anything but a “steel curtain” in recent weeks, at least from a fantasy perspective. They’ve only scored a total of 10 fantasy points in their last two games. This week the red-hot Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders come to town, which means that you’re better off not starting the Steelers’ D this week. Defenses playing against the Raiders this season are only averaging 4.86 fantasy points per game, so find a DST with a better matchup this week.
Carolina Panthers (vs. GB)
I know it’s going to be hard to bench the Panthers’ defense because they are a top-10 fantasy unit, but keep in mind this week’s game is against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. You know that Rodgers is not pleased with his performance last week against the Denver Broncos where he threw for only 77 total yards. I’d bet that Rodgers has over 77 yards passing by the end of the first quarter this week against the Panthers. A pissed off Rodgers is not something you want to have to deal with. Look for a better fantasy DST option this week.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.