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:
Obvious WR picks: Demaryius Thomas, Antonio Brown, T.Y. Hilton, Dez Bryant & Terrance Williams, Steve Smith Sr, A.J. Green, Jeremy Maclin, Emmanuel Sanders.
1. Kelvin Benjamin vs. New Orleans: Fresh off a national championship at Florida State in 2013, who would have thought that Kelvin Benjamin would have immediate success in the NFL? Well we certainly did, he was near the top on our wide receiver sleeper list for 2014. And as we’ve stated before, it was pretty obvious. After watching the 6’5″ 243 pound receiver play one could easily see a comparison between Benjamin and future Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss. Last week Benjamin made a ridiculous 50 yard reception in between Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas two of the most respected defensive backs in the NFL, it reminded me of Moss. In week 9 he should be able to put up big numbers against New Orleans Saints team that ranks second to last in the league in pass defense giving up an average of 289 yards per game. Benjamin is not only a safe start, he’s but a must start and our wide receiver start of the week. Our Prediction: 120 yards, one touchdown.
2. Desean Jackson @ Minnesota: Since entering the league in 2008 Desean Jackson has been one of the most feared receivers in the NFL. He’s a tough match up for any cornerback given his speed and ability to stretch the field. After joining the Washington Redskins Jackson began his 2014 NFL campaign with two under par performances which totaled to 81 yards on 9 receptions the first two weeks. After shaking off some rust and getting acquainted with new system Jackson has pretty much thrived regardless of the quarterback is under center (minus a dud in week 4, one reception for 9 yards Jackson). So far this year Jackson has 32 receptions for 664 and three touchdowns with an average of 20 yards per catch. Although the Vikings rank 4th in the NFL in pass defense allowing just 212 yards per game, Colt McCoy shredded a Dallas Cowboys defense in week 8 that allows an average of 237 yards per game. McCoy and Jackson connected on 6 passes for 136 yards and keep in mind McCoy accomplished this feat on the road in Dallas. This week Washington will be on the road again but look for McCoy to try find Jackson deep and do a better job putting Jackson in the position for some more yards after the catch. Our Prediction: 110 yards, one touchdown.
3. Doug Baldwin vs. Oakland: After the trade and departure of former teammate Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin became the clear go-to guy and #1 receiver for Russell Willson and the Seattle Seahawks. In week 7, the same week as Harvins’ departure, Baldwin posted 123 yards on 7 receptions and a touchdown and around 21 fantasy points. A month or so ago he sat on the waiver wire in many leagues but now he’s very fantasy relevant, a WR1 at best. Baldwin should post big numbers at home against an Oakland team that ranks 20th in pass defense and allows an average of 234 yards per game to opposing wide receivers. The Seahawks will look to give the 12th man a reason to cheer in week 9 and Baldwin should play a big part in making that happen. Our prediction: 98 yards, one touchdown
4. Brandin Cooks @ Carolina: Finally, fantasy owners can breath! After drawing huge preseason hype, receivers such as Kelvin Benjamin and Sammy Watkins had been stealing most of the rookie thunder. Cooks hadn’t really posted another breakout performance since week 1 but that all changed in week 8 as the rookie had 6 receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown. I partly blame this on Sean Payton, not finding more creative ways to use him. Cooks’ inconsistency may also be due to the fact that Quarterback Drew Brees is under performing this year. Either way in week 8 the rookie receiver showed us why the Saints need to try and stretch the field and send Cooks on deeper routes. Prior to week 8 they seemed to just be using him in the screen game, on out routes, slants, and reverses. Cooks can be used just like Desean Jackson given his speed and home run ability. If the Saints go deep for Cooks tonight he should put up WR1 fantasy relevant numbers . The Panthers rank 15th in pass defense, allowing an average of 243 yards per game. Our Prediction: 110 total yards, one touchdown.
5. Mike Wallace vs. San Diego: Wallace has scored a touchdown in every game he has played this year with the except of two, last week against Jacksonville and in week 2 against Kansas City. Wallace is only averaging 59 yards per game but his touchdowns have made him a top tier fantasy receiver. His 59 yards last week matched his yearly average but while failing to score, he fell out of the top 15 for fantasy points in week 8. With Ryan Tannehill stepping up and playing well recently, fantasy owners should have nothing to worry about and should start Wallace with confidence. In week 9 the Miami Dolphins face the San Diego Chargers, San Diego is ranked 27th in pass defense allowing an average of 219 yards per game to opposing receivers. Our Prediction: 80 yards, one touchdown.
Other must starts: Mohammed Sanu, Andre Johnson & Deandre Hopkins, Brandon Lafell, Larry Fitzgerald
Wide Receiver Sleepers: Allen Robinson, Odell Beckham Jr, Mike Evans, Martavis Bryant, Keenan Allen
Receivers to watch for: Miles Austin, Cordarelle Patterson, Anquan Boldin, Kenny Britt, James Jones
Eric Decker @ Kansas City: Decker has been injury riddled most of the 2014 season and the New York Jets obviously have a quarterback problem. After Geno Smith threw three interceptions in the first quarter, Jets head coach Rex Ryan benched Smith and turned to veteran Michael Vick. Although we believe Decker is better off with Vick, the Jets recently acquired Percy Harvin and Vick has proven throughout the years to use his tight ends as a safety blanket. Vick is obviously the more experienced and better overall quarterback but we believe he will look to tight ends Jeff Cumberland, Jace Amaro, and Percy Harvin downfield most likely before Decker. So far this year Decker has 363 yards on 31 receptions for an average of 51 yards per game. This week the Jets play the Kansas City Chiefs, they rank 1st in the league in the pass defense. SIT EM!!!
Torrey Smith @ Pittsburgh: Put up the dreaded goose egg in week 8 and that’s obviously never good for fantasy owners nor is it an encouraging sign for them to start him this week, week 9. Although Smith has posted three double digit fantasy weeks, he’s much too inconsistent to trot him out against a Steelers defense at home that ranks in the middle of the pact in pass defense. Sit Smith, look at it like a business decision, is the risk worth the reward? Smith has pretty much always been a boom or bust candidate his entire career.
Vincent Jackson @ Cleveland: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers obviously have a lot of problems this year, offensively and defensively. And in week 8 Vincent Jackson only had one reception for 13 yards. Obviously the receiver is capable of big numbers but with a terrible rushing campaign so far from the Bucs and a unreliable quarterback not getting him the ball, the risk starting him isn’t worth the reward. Now if Jackson had Peyton Manning throwing to him this year along side of Demaryius Thomas he most likely would be putting up career numbers. This isn’t this case and we expect Jackson to have boom or bust written potential in week 9. If you have better options, take them and sit Jackson.
Julian Edelman vs. Denver: Julian Edelman started this season looking like the only reliable option for Tom Brady, in the first three game he had 22 receptions for 260 yards and a touchdown. Since then Brady has had a fantasy resurgence and it hasn’t really involved Edelman. The fact is, Brandon Lafell has stepped up and Brady has found other places to go with the ball for production. Edelman has only posted double digit fantasy numbers once since the first three weeks and has become unreliable. We aren’t saying he won’t put up big numbers in week 9 against the Denver Broncos, but do you really want to risk putting him in your fantasy lineup when you have better options? Sit Edelman until he starts to show consistent numbers again.
Percy Harvin @ Kansas City: Harvin was traded mid season and that doesn’t usually bode well for anyone, Harvin owners should proceed with caution. I don’t care how talented and speedy Harvin is, the fact that he hasn’t fully learned the offense isn’t a formula for success that I would gamble on in regards to fantasy football. We have already stated the Jets quarterback situation above and although Harvin may draw comparisons to Desean Jackson, a former successful component to Michael Vick in Philadelphia, we don’t believe the risk is worth the reward; especially against the number one ranked pass defense in the NFL in week 9. SIT EM!
Our Week 8 Projections:
|Demaryius Thomas 18 PTS||Brandin Cooks 14 PTS|
|T.Y. Hilton 17 PTS||A.J. Green 13 PTS|
|Antonio Brown 17 PTS||Steve Smith Sr. 13 PTS|
|Doug Baldwin 16 PTS||Desean Jackson 14 PTS|
|Dez Bryant 16 PTS||Terrance Williams 13 PTS|
|Jeremy Maclin 15 PTS||Kelvin Benjamin 13 PTS|
|Emmanuel Sanders 15 PTS||Mike Wallace 12 PTS|
|Randall Cobb 15 PTS||Andrew Hawkins 11 PTS|