Quarterback Mark Sanchez –Coming off a dreadful performance vs. the Packers, I understand owners being reluctant to start Sanchez against the Lions. Overall, Sanchez has been extremely efficient on the season, especially when the Jets are playing with the lead. Last week was the first time all season where LaDanian Tomlinson was shutout, so going against the Detroit 27th ranked rushing defense, Tomlinson should strut his stuff opening up the passing game for Sanchez. I expect a 200 yard passing, two touchdown performance by Sanchez making him a top 12 fantasy quarterback this week.
Running Back Jonathan Stewart – As a Stewart owner I still have a shred of hope that his season can be saved. With DeAngelo Williams sidelined, Stewart will see the bulk of carries against a Saints team that gives up 108.6 yards on the ground per game. New Orleans has been dominant vs. the pass, so if Carolina wants to win, Stewart will have to be the force to pull them to a victory. Maybe I am naive, but a top 10 fantasy running back from a year ago can’t just fall off from fantasy relevancy when you’re only 23 years old. The bounce back game we have all been looking for takes place this Sunday, and if not, welcome to the waiver wire.
Wide Receiver James Jones – Jones make for the perfect bye week fill in at the receiver position with the Cowboy heading to Lambeau Field. Jones owners should be ecstatic about this matchup, since Dallas has allowed eight touchdowns through the air in their last two games. With Donald Driver sidelined, Jones will have to step up with Greg Jennings getting double teamed for 60 minutes. Owners should forget last week’s performance vs. the Jets as the Packers offense was nonexistent. In this contest of historic franchises, Jones makes for a great number two receiver that will sneak up on you’re opponent.
Tight End Greg Olsen – When the Bears hired Mark Martz to be offensive coordinator, many believed Olsen would be a fantasy disappointment and thus far the experts are right. Through seven games Olsen has 18 receptions for 222 yards and two touchdowns, leaving him outside the top 15 in tight end rankings. In week nine, Olsen has a chance to give back to his faithful believers with a juicy matchup against the Bills defense. Last week was the first game where a tight end didn’t score against Buffalo in 2010, a trend that is likely to end on Sunday. Olsen is a tier one tight end this week, so play him with confidence as the Bears cross the border.
Defense Cleveland Browns – While the Browns have a measly two victories, their defense has stepped up to the plate on a weekly basis. In their week seven win over the Saints, Eric Mangini’s defense forced Drew Brees into four interceptions in the Superdome. New Orleans has arguably the best offense in the NFL, so Tom Brady’s Patriots without Randy Moss and Deion Branch with a questionable hamstring; this has upset written all over it. Coming off a bye, look for a ‘’Dawg Fight’’ in Cleveland and for Brady to be introduced to veteran linebacker Scott Fujita.
Quarterback Joe Flacco – My hate for Flacco this week has more to do with the Dolphins pass defense then the Ravens pass offense. The Miami secondary has allowed four passing touchdowns on the road and one of them was pure luck with the ball luckily bouncing to Terrell Owens. Teams are barely passing for over 200 yards a game against Miami, so expect a heavy dose of Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. Don’t expect for Flacco to take shots down field and for Ravens to dumb down the offense vs. this fantasic road defense.
Running Back Cedric Benson – Last season Benson carried fantasy teams to first place finishes, and in 2010 he’s been a huge bust. The Bengals have struggled to get the ground game going and the Steelers coming to town won’t help. The combination of Benson averaging 3.8 YPC and the top rushing defense in the league giving up less than 60 yards a game equals disaster for Benson owners. I rank Benson outside my top 25 running backs this week and would feel better with Brandon Jackson or Fred Jackson in my lineup.
Wide Receiver Lee Evans – Since Ryan Fitzpatrick took over for Trent Edwards, the Bills passing game has come alive and Evans has benefited. For this matchup with the Bears, I like Steve Johnson, but Evans is better off on the bench. Chicago doesn’t allow big passing plays which are the strength of Evans game. Julius Peppers and Lance Briggs should over power the Buffalo offensive line, so Fitzpatrick will be throwing quick outs, benefitting Johnson and Roscoe Parrish, hurting Evans fantasy impact.
Tight End Brandon Pettigrew – Pettigrew is having a nice sophomore season, and is a tight end that I would target in keeper leagues. Saying that, if I was an owner of Pettigrew I would bench him in week nine with the Jets are coming to the Motor City. New York has given up two touchdowns to the tight end thus far, and is giving up the six fewest fantasy points to the position on the season.
Defense Buffalo Bills – The Bills are sneaking up on people’s ranking this week as a top ten defense, and I can’t seem to understand why? Yes, Buffalo is excellent vs. the pass and the erratic Jay Cutler is coming to town, but doesn’t that mean a heavy dose of Matt Forte is in line for the Bills? Buffalo has the 32nd ranked rushing defense, so Chester Taylor could make for a nice flex play in deeper leagues. Cutler’s struggles are because of tough defensive lines getting to him, something the Bills don’t have as they only have 11 sacks through seven games. My advice is to bench the Bills defense and start Cutler, Forte, Olsen and Johnny Knox.