James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, NM and has been playing fantasy sports for just over 15 years. Not only does he write the Bengals fantasy section, but he also does the Miami Dolphins fantasy section. Crossing over, Morris writes the fantasy sections for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA. Just send him an email and he will reply back the same day with your answer. Or, find him on Twitter (Fantasyguy23) and get all your NFL news before it hits the national media.
With the Patriots and 49ers on a bye this week, many fantasy owners are looking for alternatives at QB, TE and defense. The reality is that by Week 9 of the NFL season, most waiver wires have been picked clean and there is nothing left but true leftovers. I try and give you advice each week on lesser-thought-of guys to start, and higher-profile guys to bench. But, there is no such thing as a sleeper in Week 9; if the guy is still sleeping, he is probably in a coma!
I did tell people via Twitter and Facebook to play the Chargers defense this week, so hopefully you guys/girls listened (you know who you are) because they went all BEAST MODE on the Chiefs offense and racked up 26.00 points in NFL.com scoring.
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, third worst in the NFL.
Doug Martin– RB, Buccaneers: Martin was just named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for October, and now he gets to feast on the generous Raiders run defense. The Men in Black allow opposing RBs to score 25.4 PPG in PPR formats, which is the eighth worst number in the NFL. I would look for Martin to have an RB1 type of game this weekend.
Matt Forte – RB, Bears: The main problem with Forte this season has been Michael Bush vulturing TDs from him in the red zone. 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 underwhelming Redskins 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 second 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 backup Rashad 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 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 the 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-linemen 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 lineup. The Lions give up just 13.6 PPG to RBs (7th best 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 No. 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.
Lance Moore – WR, Saints: Moore really got fantasy owners' attention in Week 7 when he hauled in 9 passes for 121 yards. But, he showed in Week 8 just how volatile a fantasy player he is as he finished with 3 receptions for 25 yards. This week the Saints face the Eagles, and while I expect this to be a higher scoring game, I’m not so sure Moore is a strong fantasy play given the Eagles cornerbacks. He could go off for 100-plus yards and a TD, but he could just as easily finish with 3 catches for 25 yards.
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 of 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 lineup.
Arizona Cardinals Defense: Even though the Cardinals defense is ranked No. 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 for the defense as they will spend even more time on the field following turnovers.