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Fantasy Football Week 9 Preview: Sleepers, Busts, You Know the Deal

Am I calling Dez Bryant a good play or a bad play this week?  Well, I'm not going to tell you right here.  READ!
Am I calling Dez Bryant a good play or a bad play this week? Well, I'm not going to tell you right here. READ!

I never wanted to call a week nine game a must-win proposition but here I sit. In my two money leagues, I'd consider this pretty must-win.

Sitting at 5-3 and sixth out of six playoff teams in one of my money leagues, a loss would surely knock me back into the non-playoff teams and looking from the outside-in, hoping to squeak out enough wins to just make it back. A win would probably give me enough of a cushion to withstand another loss. But with all my players on a bye, here's to getting as lucky this week as I've been unlucky for the whole season.

At 4-4 in the other money league, I've lost my last two games by a total of 3.5 points combined. No Darren McFadden and no Andre Johnson make Kenneth a dull boy.

I can't possibly be the only person feeling desperate right now. I need an answer. We need something as proof that there is a Fantasy God, and his name is probably not Tim Tebow. Last year I won my league easily with the waiver wire addition of Michael Vick. Can we get a waiver wire addition soon that just blows it up so hard that nobody you play against will ever be safe again?

Please? Because I'm about to quit all my leagues and start a new fantasy league where everything really is "fantasy." There are no injuries, there are no bad games, and every team wins $1000 without even having to pay an entry fee.

Yeah. Yeah, that sounds nice. Let's get on with it.

The Five Sleepers

5. Jonathan Baldwin versus the Dolphins

This is probably the last official week I can call Baldwin a "sleeper." He was one of the hottest waiver adds last week because A.) He caught five passes for 82 yards and a touchdown on Monday night and 2.) He's a first round rookie. People LOVE first round rookies in fantasy.

The "sleeper tag" mostly applies to the fact that Baldwin is a must-start this week facing an atrocious Miami pass defense. In yesterdays post regarding Matt Cassel versus Tim Tebow, I think I have to go Cassel because I'm starting Baldwin especially. One or two touchdown catches from him and I'm gravy like Old Navy.

4. Curtis Brinkley or Jacob Hester versus the Packers

Don't get mad at me if this doesn't work out, but I'm hard-pressed to find ANY running back sleepers I like. Brinkley set the world on fire on Monday night (and by "set the world on fire" I mean, he had some people picking him up because he scored in an NFL Monday Night Football game, which in the grand scheme of things, is actually quite meaningless) but then news of a concussion killed everything.

The Chargers are optimistic on him playing this weekend, while Ryan Mathews will probably be out and Mike Tolbert will be good to go. But Tolbert is a risk to leave with injury, and I expect this to be a high-scoring game. Playing anybody but Tolbert is a risk, but looking at my own situation, I have no other options but risks. These guys are Risky like doing Business with Tom Cruise. And that's just plain old good advice as well as a play on words.

3. Chris Ivory versus the Buccaneers

Ivory was a hot add last season, but only just made his debut last week after the Saints crowded backfield had an opening because of a Mark Ingram injury. It's likely that Ingram will sit out again, and like those two guys above, Ivory is a risk. He gained only 18 yards on six carries last week, but the Saints were getting killed by the Rams. At home, I expect them to have an easier time scoring and earlier in the game as well. I'm literally picking up Ivory at this second, just in case. He's deep like Rapunzel sleep.

2. Carson Palmer versus the Broncos

Welcome to the black hole for real Carson Palmer. His "debut" against the Chiefs was kind of bull-crap and unfair, but necessary considering that Kyle Boller was actually trying to play quarterback, as cute as that was.

Now he's had two whole weeks to prepare and though it's impossible for him to be entirely up to speed, Palmer will be a lot more prepared for Denver. At home, against a pass defense that's given up 14 touchdowns and intercepted only three passes, Palmer should score his first touchdown (or two or three) as a Raaaiiiiddddaahhhh. I hate Chris Berman with the passion of a million fires or a million Chris Berman off-camera expletives and innocent interns and background people, but whatever. Palmer and Oakland receivers should be gellin' like watermelon. Eewww, my watermelon is gellin'.

1. Harry Douglas versus the Colts, Early Doucet versus the Rams, Alfonso Smith versus the Rams

I'm actually exhausted right now and going off almost no sleep. So my gift to you in lieu of any in depth analysis I can come up with right now, is three interesting matchups or opportunities. If Julio Jones is limited in his first game back from a hamstring injury, Douglas gets perhaps the leagues worst D. It's still a nice matchup even if Jones is at full strength. Doucet draws the Rams. So does Smith and Beanie Wells, but how much will the oft-injured Wells play?

Why does this week feel so desperate? Is it my lack of sleep? I'm tired like Bill S. Preston, Esquire. (And Ted "Theodore" Logan) Do people born in the 90s know about Bill & Ted?

The Five That Struggle

5. Roy Helu and/or Ryan Torain versus the 49ers

Oh boy do I hate this matchup and these players. I see Helu getting more snaps and touches because Helu can catch a ball out of the backfield and Torain can't and that's the only way a running back will score on San Fran. Either way, screw this matchup. I hate to put any stock at all into "projections" and it only helps solidify my point when Helu is projected for over 8 points by Why? That's more than any of my other (admittedly crappy this week) running backs, and I'm considering dropping Helu today. Did I mention I hate this matchup? It's dumb like havin' three thumbs.

4. Steve Johnson versus the Jets

Guess who is back from the bye week for his weekly mention on "Guys you won't like this week"? Welcome to Revis Island Stevie, here's a lei, a blue drink with a tiny umbrella, and zero points. The Jets in total have allowed 4 passing touchdowns versus 11 interceptions. I wouldn't be happy about playing Ryan Fitzpatrick either.

3. Alex Smith versus the Redskins, Mark Sanchez versus the Bills, Joe Flacco versus the Steelers, Colt McCoy versus the Texans

Here's some more cheating on my part. If you're stuck in a rut with Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford on a bye week, I wouldn't want to go to battle with any of these guys this week. What order would I rank them in? In that order listed above.

2. Rashard Mendenhall versus the Ravens

This hasn't been the bestest season for Mendenhall and he draws the best defense in the league on Sunday night. The Ravens defense is so great this year, it might actually overcome Joe Flacco in order to make it to the Super Bowl, and that's impressive.

Mendy had 45 yards rushing against the Ravens in week one. He has 103 yards rushing over his last two games, and those games did not come against tough opponents. I'd buy low on Mendenhall by the way. He has some good matchups down the stretch, especially on Christmas Eve week 16 against the Rams.

1. Dez Bryant versus the Seahawks

I know, this matchup looks great. The Hawks are short on corners and Bryant should burn them yada yada. I just see Seattle getting burned by Miles Austin and Jason Witten moreso than Bryant. That's the way the Seattle defense is setup. I'm not benching Bryant by any means, but he has struggled to really get going and I don't love this matchup for him. He'll be slow like lava flow.

The Five That Go Off, Y'all

5. Larry Fitzgerald versus the Rams

This game should be interesting. Neither team has a good offense or a good defense. In fact, they both have a terrible defense. I would like Steven Jackson, Danario Alexander, Beanie, but especially Fitzgerald against a pass defense that gives up 2 touchdowns per game.

Kevin Kolb sucks, but maybe Fitz can finally have a big game.

4. Steven Jackson versus the Cardinals

11 rushing touchdowns allowed. Did I mention these defenses are terrible?

3. LeGarrette Blount versus the Saints

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Blount's return is quite triumphant. The Saints give up 5.5 yards per carry, worst in the NFL. They've also allowed seven rushing touchdowns. There's absolutely no competition for Blount, though the worst case scenario is that this becomes a blowout for the Saints early and LGB is completely taken out of the game plan.

2. Michael Vick versus the Bears

Bears are 28th against the pass, but just call this one a gut instinct more than anything. Vick on Monday night, the big stage, all that noise. He has a monster game.

1. Jason Witten versus the Seahawks

The Hawks have been playing "bend dont break" pass defense, and they haven't given up a lot of scores. But tight ends seem to do well against them, and Witten is one of the best. I expect that Seattle will continue to play good rush defense and Tony Romo will find Witten time and time again. How about nine catches and two touchdowns? How about it? You like it? I don't like it in real life, but my fantasy team will be happy.

Follow me on twitter @casetines


  • Worst four team bye week ever. No Stafford, Megatron, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Cam Newton or Steve Smith.
  • San Francisco is trying to win its fourth east coast game of the season, and at 10 AM PST. I don't care if you're playing the Redskins or not, that's a tough game. This should be a low-scoring affair.
  • If the Saints lose at home to the Buccaneers, that's a tough pill to swallow. I don't know what to make of New Orleans. One week they're great, the next they are very average. My gut tells me this will be a very close game.
  • The only thing standing in the way of Kansas City and a five-game winning streak is the 0-7 Miami Dolphins and at Arrowhead Stadium. I remember looking ahead at this game as a "Suck for Luck" matchup that could determine it all, but now it's very possible that the Raiders and Chiefs could be tied for first after Sunday.
  • The only thing standing from the Colts and 0-9 is the Atlanta Falcons, but the game is in Indy, so anything is possible. Did I mention Michael Turner should have a huge game? Because he should.
  • I think the Bills move to 6-2 with a win over the Jets, keeping them in first place and keeping the Jets close to not making the playoffs.
  • My poor, poor Seahawks go to Dallas where they likely come home with a loss to move them to 2-6. I promise you that the Seahawks defense is good, but the offense is just atrocious outside of the wide receivers. Don't sleep on Doug Baldwin as a flash in the pan, he can play for real.
  • What will Chris Johnson do against a good Bengals run defense? Because he can't do anything against a bad defense, so maybe CJ2K will go off.
  • Giants upset Patriots in New England. There, I said it.
  • Can Packers move to 8-0 in San Diego? Winning on the road is tough, but the Chargers winning before December is tougher. I don't know, I got to go with Green Bay and Chargers are coming off of a short week.
  • Rams at Cardinals is the Suck for Luck game of the week. The Rams may not be needing to "Suck for Luck" but regardless, that number one 2012 draft pick is as desirable as the "ring." The Cardinals do need to suck for Luck though because Kolb is playing so very, very badly. Going 1-15 isn't good for most teams, but Andrew Luck is a franchise-changer.
  • I know the Ravens crushed the Steelers in week one, but I expect Pittsburgh to return the favor this week.
  • Philly is one home win away from getting back to .500. Here we go.
  • Feel free to throw any questions you have down in the comments section. Good luck!