When it comes to fantasy football deciding who to sit and who to start can be a very difficult task. It may even decide the outcome of your weekly matchup. Other than the obvious, here are the players we believe are must starts this week:
START EM RB’S
1. Marshawn Lynch vs. Oakland: Why is Marshawn Lynch on this list and not on our obvious running back picks? Well Lynch has only scored 6 fantasy points in the last three weeks against teams who are in the bottom half of the league in rush defense (the Rams, the Cowboys, and the Panthers).Carolina and St. Louis both surrender above 130 yards per game to opposing backs. Lynch hasn’t really faired well in his easier matchups, but in recent years he has always shown up in big games. The Seattle Seahawks front office and team may be tired of his antics but lets be real here, he’s a staple to the offense and not giving Lynch his usual workload could factor in why the team doesn’t look at strong this year and is 4-3. Yes, the defense isn’t as good, but expecting the Legion of Boom to preform on that level two years in a row is unrealistic, especially as defensive backs are adjusting to the new rules with contact changes with wide receivers. Bobby Wagner has also been injured. It would be foolish for the Seahawks not give Lynch at least 25 carries to run beast mode on the Oakland Raiders, a team that is ranked 7th worst in rush defense allowing an average of 130 yards per game. Seattle should feature the run game in this game and total for around 180 yards rushing. Marshawn Lynch was drafted in the top 5 in most fantasy football drafts, that being said his last four weeks will give some the false illusion that someone like Jerrick Mckinnon will outscore Lynch in fantasy this week. Don’t do it, Lynch is our running back start of the week. Our Prediction: 130 total yards, 2 touchdowns.
2. Andre Ellington @ Dallas: Ellington is a human pinball, the 5″9′ 210 LB back bounces off defenders of much greater size and has found much success in his NFL career thus far. Ellington has been running hard for the Arizona Cardinals all year, the entire Arizona team seems to be playing with a chip on their shoulder recently, demanding respect from the league. In week 9, the Arizona Cardinals face the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas but keep in mind Colt McCoy shredded their defense for 300 yards in his first start in over three years. In the last 4 weeks the pinball has broken double digit fantasy points with his dual threat ability, in week 8 he rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown around 13 fantasy points depending on your league scoring. Dallas ranks 18th in rush defense, allowing an average of 114 yards per game. The Cowboys gave up 73 yards and a touchdown to a previously struggling Alfred Morris in week 8. Ellington comes into week 9 on a hot streak which should continue. Coach Bruce Arians has recently stated that he wants to get Ellington more involved in the offense and he certainly is a dual threat in the running and passing game. Ellington is a must start this week and pretty much all weeks when healthy. Our Prediction: 125 total yards, 2 touchdowns.
3. Jeremy Hill vs. Jacksonville: The news that Giovani Bernard did not practice Friday means that Jeremy Hill will most likely get the nod as the starter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at home in week 9. Hill has done a great job while filling in and replacing BenJarvis Green Ellis as the tough yardage bruiser in Cincinnati. So far this year on 50 carries he has rushed for 195 and three touchdowns, which if you were wondering is around 4 yards per carry. The Bengals may get A.J. Green back this weekend he and Mohammed Sanu will stretch the field and force the Jags to play more cover 2 or cover 3 defense opposed to stacking the box. This bodes well for Hill who will get his first NFL start with Bernard most likely out. The Jaguars rank 21st in the league in rush defense allowing an average of 115 yards per game. Our Prediction: 108 yards, 2 touchdowns.
4. Bobby Rainey @ Cleveland: I know what you’re thinking, why is Rainey on this list, well Doug Martin is out with an ankle injury in week 9 and rookie running back Charles Sims, just taken off the IR isn’t going to be thrown into the starter position immediately. Rainey has earned the starting role for week 9 against a Cleveland Browns team that ranks 3rd worst in run defense allowing an avergae of 144 yards per game. Sims may play more snaps then expected but that is a gamble and we are willing to take that risk on Rainey. He will run hard, sort of like he did against the leagues second worst rushing defense the St. Louis Rams in week 2 when he totaled 144 yards on 22 attempts. He is a safe start, especially if you have a running back problem or are facing a bye-week. Our Prediction: 110 yards and a touchdown.
5. Lamar Miller vs. San Diego: Lamar Miller has been on our “players to start list” a few times since Knownshon Moreno tore his ACL in week 6 and hasn’t disappointed fantasy owners not one time. Miller hasn’t broken the century mark more than once this year but has made up for it by being effective in the red zone and scoring touchdowns in the rushing and passing game. Tannehill is on a hot streak and is putting up around 18-20 fantasy points a game, one of his passing touchdowns will most likely be to Miller this week as they seem to always get him involved in the screen game in the red zone. Look for Miller to continue being effective in fantasy even though the San Diego Chargers rank 13th in the league, giving up 110 yards per game. Miller may run angry and even if he doesn’t break the century mark here he has a chance to put the ball in the end zone this weekend. Our Prediction: 87 yards and one touchdown.
Bye-week Running Back of the Week: Denard Robinson @ Cincinatti (Projected 12 PTS) *The Bengals rank 28th in the league allowing 140 yards on average to running backs.
Is Frank Gore a must Start? Yes we believe so, even though the San Francisco 49ers haven’t featured Gore or the running game in general as much in 2014. In week 8 they got away from their ground and pound game style and got crushed by the Denver Broncos. When the 49ers are run heavy it takes pressure off of Kaepernick to which allows him to stretch the field and look downfield. Running the ball has been a huge part of their success in recent years. In week 9 Gore will face the St. Louis Rams who held Gore to 38 carries on 16 attempts, but the fact they rank 2nd worst in the league in rush defense is a reason to start the back, even with Carlos Hyde picking at his workload.
Running Back Sleepers: Jerrick Mckinnon, Charles Sims, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Trent Richardson, Shane Vereen
Obvious RB picks: Demarco Murray, Le’veon Bell, Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles, Amhad Bradshaw, Justin Forsett, Lesean McCoy
Running Backs to watch for: Roy Helu, Joseph Randle, Juwan Thompson, Jonas Gray, Andre Williams
Darren Mcfadden @ Seattle: We were courageous enough to put Darren Mcfadden on our running back sleepers list in August, pretty much as I scanned the emulated picks on many fantasy platforms, Mcfadden was no where to be found. I witnessed Mcfadden run wild as a freshman at the University of Arkansas and knew he was a special player then. Though injury prone, we predicted that not having the pressure of being the number one back would bode well for him if he could stay healthy. In 2014 his numbers haven’t jumped off the page but he has been respectable. The problem though in week 9 is he plays an angry Seattle Seahawks team at home, and though they are missing Bobby Wagner, we think they will play with that Seattle swagger and hold Mcfadden in check. Sit Mcfadden if you have better options.
Ronnie Hillman @ New England: Yes we are aware that many fantasy experts expect Hillman to be a lock to put up double digit fantasy points in week 9 against the Patriots. But not so fast, Juwan Thompson had a solid game last week scoring two touchdowns and Montee Ball may be able to suit up after being out since week 5 with a groin injury. This game will most likely be a shootout as Brady is facing Manning in one of their last prime time games against each other. Hillman is a question mark to us though, even though the Patriots are one of the best pass defending teams the pass, they are one of the worst while defending against the rush. One might assume knowing this that Denver will run the ball more, not with Manning as your quarterback, obviously. I don’t really think it matters what defense Manning is playing, he is sure to put up at least 25 fantasy points. Sit Hillman if you have a more clear and better option.
Tre Mason vs. San Francisco: Another mess of a backfield, but this one was much more expected. After Sam Bradford went down in preseason many believed we’d see the Rams look more their running backs but newcomer Austin Davis has proved he can put up numbers in the passing game. Coach Jeff Fisher claimed that “Stacy is our guy,” and that he would see “70% of the workload” but we all know that isn’t true Mason has been the featured back for the past few weeks and done pretty well. Fisher is quick to jump the gun and the last two years have proven that as six games into the season the Rams are in more of a running back committee than anything. In week 9 the murky backfield faces the San Francisco 49ers and they should be able to keep Mason in check. If you have a better option go with it.
Branden Oliver vs. Miami: Not only have the Miami Dolphins stepped up on defense this year but the offense seems to have found it’s groove as well. We know it is any given sunday in the NFL but Oliver faces a Miami defense that ranks 14th best in the league and Ryan Matthews may be returning since spraining his knee in the second week of the season against the Seattle Seahawks. Oliver has done very well while replacing Matthews this year and will not go to the bench once Matthews returns but his production will certaintly drop. It already has since his breakout games in weeks 5 and 6. Since week 6 Oliver has not scored double digit fantasy points. Sit him if you have better options.
Darren Sproles @ Houston: Sproles is returning from a knee injury, that being said he is also playing against a Houston Texas team that has picked it up defensively, especially the front seven. J.J Watt will win the defensive player of the year award and Jadeveon Clowney, the first pick in the 2014 NFL draft is now healthy. The Eagles offensive line is beat up and the pressure will force the Eagles to stay away from the run and if they’re smart they’ll try and use McCoy in the flat on screens and such. The problem is we don’t know how healthy Sproles is, his matchup is not favorable and how much he will play is unknown at this point as well. Stay away from Sproles if you have better options, he’s not worth the risk.
Our Week 9 Projections:
|1. Demarco Murray 22 PTS||9. Ahmad Bradshaw 15 PTS|
|2. Marshawn Lynch 22 PTS||15. Frank Gore 14 PTS|
|3. Le’veon Bell 19 PTS||11. Bobby Rainey 13 PTS|
|4. Arian Foster 18 PTS||12. Denard Robinson 12 PTS|
|5. Jamaal Charles 18 PTS||13. Ben Tate 12 PTS|
|6. Andre Ellington 17 PTS||14. Ronnie Hillman 12 PTS|
|7. Lamar Miller 17 PTS||15. Alfred Morris 12 PTS|
|8. Jeremy Hill 16 PTS|