The RotoExperts team reviews all the Week 9 action from fantasy perspectives.
It's becoming very apparent to any fantasy owner. You don't have to be an expert to see it. Ben Roethlisberger isn't going to be able to lead your team to a fantasy championship unless you're very lucky. He simply can't stay healthy, as he continues to take hits behind an offensive line that is a shadow of what it was a few years ago.
Roethlisberger couldn't finish the win over Washington because of shoulder problems. Even though he has been known for being mobile and tough, often either escaping some blows or absorbing more than the average quarterback, there's only so much that Big Ben can take before he goes down. Pittsburgh's offensive line has been in decline since Super Bowl XL, as personnel changes and injuries have taken a heavy toll on what used to be one of the NFL's elite units.
Roethlisberger's status for the next game is already unclear. Even when he returns, he's going to take more hard shots, and it's highly likely that he will miss even more time at some point. He's a big risk to leave your lineup at any time and could hurt your point totals in a pivotal week, maybe even a playoff game. If you seriously plan to contend for your league championship, you should turn to another quarterback for steady production. Byron Leftwich completed 7-of-10 attempts and tossed a TD pass after Roethlisberger went down. If he ends up starting, Leftwich will not be a recommended fantasy QB. He may have played well in a short window, but Leftwich was notorious for being erratic and injury-prone in the past. He certainly won't be able to develop any sort of a rhythm behind that shaky line. Don't waste roster space on him.
Willie Parker returned to action, rushing for 70 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Parker showed no lingering effects from his recent knee injury, as he hit openings quickly and displayed his signature speed. The Steelers didn't rush him back into action too soon, but Mewelde Moore only carried the ball once and Najeh Davenport carried four times. If Pittsburgh continues to lean heavily on Parker and not let other RBs get a decent amount of touches, they may overwork him, conceivably exposing him to more injuries. Hopefully, they will use Moore and Davenport to give Parker more breathers in the weeks ahead, while not cutting into his workload significantly enough to bring down his numbers.
Santonio Holmes caught a TD pass, but finished with only three catches for 30 yards. His overall numbers will continue to be disappointing for the rest of the year. The offensive line's constant breakdowns make it difficult for Pittsburgh quarterbacks to regularly complete passes downfield. Hines Ward caught only three passes for 39 yards, and he has delivered two consecutive disappointing outings. Still, I believe Ward's owners should keep him active. He is the team's best possession receiver and will continue to get a lot of looks when the quarterbacks need a safety target.
Jason Campbell threw his first two interceptions of the season, but what's more disturbing is that Campbell has thrown only two TD passes in his past five games. Some fantasy players and analysts had been overrating him recently because he hadn't turned the ball over. He hasn't been making many positive things happen from the fantasy perspective either, and he shouldn't be in your lineup. Campbell is a pretty good game manager as a regular NFL quarterback, but he is a mediocre fantasy player.
Clinton Portis was held to 51 rushing yards on 13 carries, but he added seven catches for 73 receiving yards. Portis provided another example of why you shouldn't bench your superstars no matter the matchup. The Redskins couldn't get Portis to break loose as a runner, but they were able to compensate by attempting to put him in open space, so the final fantasy numbers were still good. Portis is clearly the best running back in fantasy football right now. Defenses know he is the obvious crux of the Washington offense, yet he still comes through with fine performances every week. He doesn't let injury concerns keep him out of action, either, and his reliability is a huge plus.
Santana Moss was held to 14 yards on two receptions, and the low numbers were more due to him being less than 100 percent than the match up against the Steelers. When an explosive playmaker who doesn't have great size is limited in his ability to use his quickness, he usually won't be effective. Moss depends on great bursts and sudden movements to get in and out of his cuts, and he needs to be fully healthy to gain separation from defensive backs. He is yet another example of why you should typically avoid players who are game time decisions. Just because a guy plays, it doesn't mean he will be effective. Just being on the field might work as a decorated decoy, unlikely to translate into quality production, especially when others get the ball most of the time.-- Scott Engel
Joe Flacco had his best day as a pro, passing for a career-high 248 yards and two touchdowns. Don't be tempted to pick up or start Flacco, Baltimore is still a running team, and the Ravens have a brutal schedule in the second half of the season. Derrick Mason reeled in a season-high nine passes for 136 yards and a touchdown, but is still unreliable as an every-week starter. He has had less than 50 yards receiving in half of Baltimore's games. Mark Clayton caught Flacco's other touchdown toss, and finished with four receptions for 87 yards. That was Clayton's first touchdown of the season, and the first time he has had more than 37 yards receiving. Leave Clayton on your free agent list. Todd Heap did not catch a pass. Willis McGahee didn't play, which opened the door for Ray Rice, who also had his best game, finishing with 176 total yards. Rice split the running duties with Le'Ron McClain, who totaled 37 yards and one touchdown. McClain is a good flex play going forward in deeper leagues.
Braylon Edwards caught four balls for 86 yards and one touchdown, but the play everyone will remember is the one that went through his hands at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Had he caught that ball, he probably would have had another touchdown. That drop seemed to suck the wind out of the Browns sails, and the rest of the team did basically nothing from that point. Derek Anderson finished with 219 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Anderson should not be started unless you have no other viable options. Kellen Winslow Jr. had five receptions for 64 yards, and should be back in your lineup next week. Donte' Stallworth did not play due to an injury. Jamal Lewis totaled 62 yards, and remains as a low-end RB2 option. Jason Wright had 24 total yards and a touchdown catch, but doesn't get enough touches to be considered for your roster. Cleveland has a short week, as they play Denver on Thursday, and will do so with Brady Quinn at QB. If you have an extra roster spot, consider picking up Quinn. -- Matt Wirkiowski
David Garrard didn't throw a touchdown pass for the first time since Week Three, threw his first interception since Week 3, and finished with 229 passing yards. The Jaguars were dealing with a patchwork offensive line that had issues protecting Garrard. Matt Jones continued to cement his role as Garrard's favorite target, hauling in seven balls for 69 yards. This was the third straight game Jones had at least seven catches. There was a Jerry Porter sighting; Porter caught two balls for 38 yards in his second game of the season. Don't be quick to pick Porter up until he shows more. Maurice Jones-Drew failed to gain at least 40 yards rushing for the fourth time in five games, and he has struggled finding holes behind the injury-laden offensive line. Jones-Drew finished with 62 total yards and a touchdown. Fred Taylor had similar issues running the ball, and finished with only 12 total yards. Taylor has now had five consecutive games in which he has not surpassed 25 rushing yards. Taylor should be cut in shallow leagues.
Those of you who had Chad Ocho Cinco on your bench are kicking yourselves after his performance. Ocho Cinco had dos touchdowns among his five receptions, and finished with 37 yards. Despite this game, Ocho Cinco is still a risky play; he has yet to accrue more than 60 receiving yards in any game, and has scored in only three games out of nine. T.J. Houshmandzadeh snagged seven balls for 65 yards, which marked the fifth straight game in which he has had at least seven catches. If you are in a PPR league, Houshmandzadeh is a must-start, but if you're not, he is a risky play, he has had only one 100 yard game. Despite tossing two touchdowns, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for only 162 yards and one interception, and hasn't topped 165 passing yards in the five games he has played. Cedric Benson turned in Cincinnati's first 100 yard rushing game, finishing with 109 total yards (104 rushing) and one touchdown. Benson is no better than a flex play, as the Bengals are still a bad team, and they face a number of tough defenses the rest of the way. -- M.W.
Chad Pennington had his fourth straight game in which he passed for at least 280 yards; but he didn't throw a touchdown and had one interception. During that stretch, he has had four touchdowns and three interceptions. While the passing yards have been good, until he starts throwing more touchdowns, he's not startable. Greg Camarillo had 11 receptions for 111 yards, the first time he has had more than six receptions. Camarillo has one touchdown, and is only averaging 3.0 YAC. Ted Ginn Jr. returned to his normal production, with three catches for 38 yards. Ronnie Brown had 89 total yards and a touchdown, and was also sacked on an attempted pass play. Brown was mostly held in check, as he had 59 rushing yards on 20 carries. Brown hasn't surpassed 60 rushing yards since Week 5, and should no longer be an automatic start for your team. Ricky Williams rushed for 16 yards for the third straight week, and is only averaging 43.3 total yards per game.
While Jay Cutler threw for two touchdowns and 307 yards, he also threw three interceptions, and now has six interceptions in his past three games. Cutler nearly had a third touchdown toss to Brandon Marshall, but Marshall was called for offensive pass interference. Marshall never got into a rhythm, and finished with only two catches for 27 yards. Eddie Royal had his first touchdown catch since Week 2, and over his past four games, he has had at least seven catches three times. If the Denver running back situation wasn't complicated enough, rookie running back Peyton Hillis caught seven passes for 116 yards and one touchdown. Hillis didn't attempt a rush, but with Michael Pittman re-injuring his neck during the game, Hillis may be in line for more work, especially since Selvin Young missed another game, and Andre Hall was ineffective. However, the player to target is Ryan Torain. Torain only had three carries for one yard, but depending on the health of Pittman and Young, he could be in line for more carries. Keep in mind this is a short week, as Denver plays at Cleveland Thursday night. -- M.W.
Brian Westbrook had a quiet day, as he totaled 96 yards, with his longest run being only eight yards. Donovan McNabb made up for Westbrook's limited numbers by passing for 349 yards and two touchdowns while throwing one interception. Now that he has a full complement of receivers, McNabb should be poised for a big second half. McNabb and the Eagles had been waiting for Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis to return, and with the emergence of DeSean Jackson, McNabb has three good options. Brown only caught one pass, but it went for a touchdown. Brown should not be started just yet. Kevin Curtis played a bigger part in the offense, with six catches for 83 yards, and depending on your depth, he may be an option in your flex spot. DeSean Jackson saw his role in the offense diminish with the return of Brown and Curtis and had only two receptions for 20 yards. Jackson's role could be spotty, depending on the continued health of Brown and Curtis, so only start him if you don't have better plays available. L.J. Smith did not play due to a concussion suffered last week, which opened the door for Brent Celek, who took full advantage of the opportunity by hauling in six balls for 131 yards. This performance was an anomaly, so there's no reason to pick up Celek.
The Seahawks offense continues to sputter. Seneca Wallace had one great play, in which he hit Koren Robinson for a 90-yard touchdown in the first quarter, but the QB only finished with 169 passing yards. In fact, Wallace had only one other throw that went for more than 10 yards. Help does not appear to be on the way, as Matt Hasselbeck is out indefinitely. Robinson finished with four receptions for 105 yards and that touchdown, but with the erratic play at quarterback, he cannot be trusted to put up quality numbers on a regular basis. John Carlson reeled in two balls for 30 yards, while Bobby Engram snatched three balls for 20 yards. Neither should be in your lineup. The running game didn't do much, and the carries were basically split 50-50. Julius Jones had 10 carries, while Maurice Morris had eight carries. Jones finished with 41 rushing yards, while Morris ran for 43 yards. Neither should be in your fantasy lineup. -- M.W.
Think the Cowboys are looking forward to the Week 10 bye? Terrell Owens was the only Cowboy to have a fantasy day of relevance. If it wasn't for his touchdown, you can bet his owners would not be very happy with his 36 receiving yards. When Owens returns in Week 11, he remains a must-start even if Tony Romo does not return. Marion Barber III continued his streak of sub-par games, this time managing only 54 yards against the Giants. However, when Romo plays, teams will not be able to stack the box and you should expect more running lanes for Barber.
Brandon Jacobs, meanwhile, saw plenty of running lanes and hit those holes for 117 yards and a touchdown. It is worth noting however, that Jacobs only had five more carries than Derrick Ward, who also scored a touchdown to accompany his 63 yards. Expect more good games from Jacobs but for the time-share approach to continue in New York. Eli Manning fell well short of yardage expectations with only 147, but did successfully hit our touchdown prediction of three. Speaking of correct predictions, sometimes I'm very wrong. I admit it. But sometimes I'm a Picasso of prognostications as I was with Kevin Boss: Boss will match his totals from last week: 30 yards and a touchdown. And guess what Boss did? That's right, a touchdown and yes, exactly 30 yards receiving. While I continue to sell myself, you should take this opportunity to realize that Boss has become a viable option at TE. I did, however, also predict a big game for Plaxico Burress, who only had 34 yards receiving. He did lead all Giants receivers in yards though, so don't worry about Burress. Amani Toomer and Steve Smith were the other two touchdown recipients, but remain flex plays at best unless you're in a deep league that requires at least three wide receivers. -- Mark Strausberg
The Oakland Raiders are proving weekly that there is no bottom of the abyss to which this once glorious ship can sink. Meanwhile, fantasy owners of Raiders players can only tether those players to their bench in keeper leagues, should jettison them outright in redraft leagues, or trade them for anything you can get from a less intelligent owner. The entire Raiders offense had 77 yards total. It is safe to say that not a single Raider had a fantasy performance worth highlighting.
Meanwhile, Matt Ryan proves that teams can rise out of the muck, as Ryan passed for 220 yards and two touchdowns. Even in re-draft leagues it might be worth trading your other QB and keeping Ryan, as Carolina and Tampa Bay are the only tough pass defenses left on Atlanta's schedule. As expected, Roddy White drew Nnamdi Asomugha which resulted in a quiet 54 yard day. Michael Jenkins, however, stepped right in and contributed with 64 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers should be reversed in future weeks. Michael Turner is proving to be a solid play when the matchup is right, as he rumbled for 139 yards. Jerious Norwood chipped in a touchdown along with 63 yards. How bad are the Raiders? Even Atlanta's third running back, Jason Snelling, had 47 yards on eight carries. Turner had over 30 carries, so don't worry about this being a running back by committee situation. -- M.S.
A reader questioned my omission of Kevin Walter in the preview for this game. It looks like I was right twice in one day, as Walter barely made a blip with 47 yards. He was far outpaced by Owen Daniels, who hauled in a career-high 11 receptions for 133 yards. Andre Johnson still produced, by catching a touchdown. Steve Slaton managed to juke his way to 118 combined yards against the Vikings.
He was greatly overshadowed, of course, by Adrian Peterson, who grounded out 139 yards and a touchdown. That was not very surprising, nor was the 104 yards and a touchdown from Bernard Berrian. The three touchdowns from Gus Frerotte, however, were unusual. Do yourself a favor, though, and stay off the Gus Bus. It will leave you stranded with no fantasy points in sight. Sidney Rice caught a touchdown and is a viable red zone target. Look at Rice as less of an attractive option and more of a detriment to Berrian's production. -- M.S.
Trent Edwards threw for a career-high 289 yards and a touchdown as the Bills spent much of the second half playing catch-up. This was Edwards' third 200-yard passing game in as many weeks. He still doesn't have a multi-touchdown game, which hurts his value. Marshawn Lynch was limited in the first half with flu-like symptoms and finished with 68 total yards. Only 16 of those yards came on the ground, and Lynch is now averaging only 58 rushing yards per game. He has six touchdowns, but Lynch's limit on yardage downgrades him to a RB2. Robert Royal led the Bills with five receptions for 70 yards. Royal hasn't scored since Week 1, but in the last three weeks he's averaging 49 yards per game. Lee Evans had his least productive game of the season, catching four passes for a season-low 41 yards. Evans is still one of the most consistent receivers in the league and remains a WR1 going forward.
Brett Favre threw for 201 yards and did not throw a touchdown for the second time in the last three weeks. Favre did throw an interception and has now thrown six in the last three weeks. Favre remains a startable fantasy quarterback and will continue to mix touchdowns with interceptions. Thomas Jones received only 12 carries, but made the most of his opportunities, rushing for 69 yards and a score. Jones is finding the end zone and becoming a reliable RB2. Leon Washington followed up his two-touchdown performance in Week Eight with 55 total yards against the Bills. Washington isn't likely to provide much the rest of the season. Jerricho Cotchery caught six passes for 62 yards, maintaining his status as a high-end WR2. Laveranues Coles continues to battle a sore hip and caught three passes for 40 yards. Coles also remains a WR2, but has limited upside. -- Brad Rysz
Matt Forte rushed for a career-high 126 yards and scored his seventh touchdown. Forte had been averaging only 3.5 yards per carry, but the Bears bye week obviously allowed Forte to recover, as he averaged 5.7 yards against the Lions. Forte's versatility makes him a top RB2. An injury to Kyle Orton forced RexGrossman into action and he threw for 58 yards and a touchdown. Grossman also ran for a touchdown and provided the Bears with a late, game-winning scoring drive. Owners shouldn't be rushing to pick up Grossman. He was inaccurate for most of the game and threw an interception. Rashied Davis caught a touchdown and finished with 64 yards on five receptions. As long as Brandon Lloyd is injured, Davis makes a solid WR3/flex play. Devin Hester caught four passes for 42 yards. Davis has overtaken Hester as the Bears receiver most worthy of a roster spot. Greg Olsen had two catches for 10 yards. Olsen is still a top fantasy tight end.
Dan Orlovsky threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns against a vulnerable Bears secondary. Orlovsky has thrown for at least 223 yards and a touchdown in three straight games. Calvin Johnson caught a career-high eight passes for 94 yards and a score. Johnson has scored four weeks in a row and is approaching WR1 territory. Shaun McDonald scored a touchdown and caught six passes for 65 yards. McDonald seems to be a more valuable fantasy receiver than Mike Furrey. Furrey finished with four catches for 40 yards. Kevin Smith scored his fourth touchdown and rushed 14 times for 37 yards. Smith is producing more than Rudi Johnson and is the one Lions running back that should be owned. -- B.R.
Kurt Warner threw for 342 yards and two touchdowns as he picked apart the St. Louis secondary. Warner now has 16 touchdowns to only six interceptions and is arguably the top quarterback not named Drew Brees. Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald caught six passes a piece. Boldin finished with 85 yards and a score, while Fitzgerald totaled 81 yards. Steve Breaston caught only two passes for 39 yards. There are just enough passes to go around for Breaston to continue to be a valuable receiver when Boldin and Fitzgerald are in the lineup. Tim Hightower started over an all-but-finished Edgerrin James and ran for 109 yards and a touchdown. If Hightower holds on to the starting role, he is a RB2 for the remainder of the season. James shouldn't be dropped, but definitely shouldn't be played.
Marc Bulger passed for 186 yards and two touchdowns, but was rather inconsistent for most of the day. Bulger confirmed that he deserves to be on someone's fantasy bench. Steven Jackson returned from an injury to rush for only 17 yards on seven attempts. Jackson had a brutal return, missing a sure touchdown pass in the third quarter, and sitting out most of the game after that. Jackson's potential keeps him at a RB1, but those expectations should be tempered as the Rams offense cannot find a rhythm. Donnie Avery couldn't produce a third straight successful outing, catching only three passes for 26 yards. So is life as an NFL rookie, and Avery will undoubtedly have his highs and lows as the season progresses. His potential is still massive and Avery can be started as a WR3 with upside. Torry Holt returned to fantasy relevance, catching six passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. Holt isn't going to provide significant yardage, but he can be considered a solid option to score in the coming weeks. -- B.R.
Chris Johnson continued his impressive rookie campaign, totaling 161 yards and a touchdown. Johnson hasn't slowed down a bit as the season progresses and is approaching a RB1 level. LenDale White received only eight carries and rushed for 77 yards, including a 54 yard run. White wasn't in too many goal-line situations, which is where he does most of his work. Kerry Collins threw for 180 yards without a touchdown or an interception. Collins shouldn't be considered in the fantasy realm, nor should any of the Titans receivers.
Donald Driver caught seven passes for 136 yards and a touchdown. This was Driver's first 100 yard game of the season, and proof that he can still be a quality fantasy option. Consider Driver a WR3 with limited touchdown potential. Aaron Rodgers finished with 314 yards and a touchdown. Rodgers has proven that he can produce against the toughest NFL defenses and remains a must-start every week. Greg Jennings didn't find the end zone, but caught three passes for 79 yards. Jennings remains a top-notch WR1. Ryan Grant's mysteriously below-average season continued, as he rushed 20 times for 86 yards. Grant is getting enough attempts per game, and is simply just under-performing. Grant is a RB2 if he has a favorable matchup. -- B.R.
Peyton Manning threw for two touchdowns and 254 yards on Sunday night. Manning has now thrown two touchdowns in each of the Colts last two games and is reclaiming his status as one of the most consistent quarterbacks in fantasy. Anthony Gonzalez caught two touchdown passes and finished with four catches for 55 yards. Gonzalez can be an injury concern, but is still one of Manning's top targets. Reggie Wayne caught five passes for 65 yards. Wayne hasn't scored in three straight weeks and is averaging only 39 yards per game during that span. Wayne is a low-end WR1 until he either starts scoring more or gaining more yards. Dallas Clark finished with 63 yards and is rising to the top of the fantasy tight end list. Joseph Addai returned after missing two games and rushed for 32 yards on 17 carries. After next week's game against the Steelers, Addai has a favorable remaining schedule.
Matt Cassel continued to post pedestrian numbers, passing for 204 yards and an interception. His improvements have been minimal, so don't expect Cassel to break out at any point this season. Kevin Faulk totaled 98 yards, but saw BenJarvus Green-Ellis get the red zone carries and score once. As long as Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan are out with injuries, Faulk will gain the yards while Green-Ellis will be counted on to score. Neither player is more than a flex play. Randy Moss led the Patriots with 65 yards on six receptions. Moss has been seeing enough looks with Cassel throwing him the ball, but the Patriots lack of success on offense is leaving him limited opportunities to score. Moss is a WR2 without Tom Brady. Wes Welker caught seven passes, but only gained 37 yards. Welker isn't achieving the yardage he did last season, but is still a WR2 in PPR leagues. -- B.R.
This is why we speculate on handcuffs: If he's not already taken, Jamaal Charles should be the most-added player in your league this week. With the season-ending injury to Kolby Smith, and Larry Johnson already suspended for this upcoming week, Charles should follow up his 18 carry 106 yard effort against the strong Tampa Bay defense with additional strong efforts against the weaker defenses of San Diego and New Orleans in the next couple weeks. Meanwhile, Tyler Thigpen surprised many by not only throwing a touchdown (along with his 164 yards) but also catching a touchdown on a 37 yard pass from Mark Bradley. However, Thigpen remains an emergency start. Despite only 27 receiving yards, Dwayne Bowe had another productive game, catching a touchdown. If you have been sitting Bowe, it is time to get him back into your lineup, especially with the aforementioned secondaries coming up.
Antonio Bryant scored and caught eight passes for 115 yards. Bryant has become the main receiving threat in Tampa Bay and is a solid WR3 choice moving forward. Meanwhile, it is safe to scratch Earnest Graham out of your flex spot, as he managed just 62 yards on 19 carries, but was also injured. However, the Bucs have a bye in Week 10 and he might be able to return in Week 11. But keep your expectations low. Jeff Garcia threw for 339 yards and a touchdown. Garcia remains a decent bye week fill-in.