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Good Call/Bad Call - Week 9

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Going into Week 9, you should have a pretty good handle on how good your team is. If you’re one of those guys that thinks your team is good enough to make it to the playoffs, but maybe not good enough to win it all, now is the time to start looking into a trade for a playmaker. Getting a trade done in fantasy football is a tricky process. You’ve got to find a team that has strengths where you’re weak, and is weak where you’re strong.

The goal is always to get more points out of your starting lineup, and that’s what your trade partner is looking for as well. The only problem is that your trade partner values his players more than you do; they are his players after all. You can’t offer a bunch of players for one stud, unless your trade partner is going to be starting a lot of those players. Receiving a bunch of players that would sit on the bench doesn’t make their team stronger.

So, if you’re going to be offering trades, realize that you’re going to have to look at it from your trade partners’ perspective and think, “If I were him, would this improve my team.” The best trades are where you can both trade bench players for guys you both would start, but those trades are hard to find, so you’re going to have think intensely about how you’re getting this trade done. Now on to the calls for the week.

Quarterbacks

Matthew Stafford hasn’t been having the season most people thought he was when they drafted him this year. So far, Stafford only has one week with more than one touchdown pass, but he does have four games with 300-plus passing yards. His best week of the season came last week, and if you didn’t start him then, you’re going to want to start him this week. Jacksonville ranks as the 19th-best fantasy defense against quarterbacks. The Jaguars have given up more than 20 points to four of the last five quarterbacks they’ve faced. Starting Stafford this week would be a ‘good call.’

Andrew Luck has been a decent fantasy quarterback if you’ve been starting him this year. Although he only has one passing touchdown in his last three games. Luck should be able to play off his last name this week when the Miami Dolphins come to Indianapolis. So far this season Luck has played in seven games. All four of his best games have come at home, where he has scored at least two touchdowns (passing or rushing) in every one of his games at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Dolphins give up at least one touchdown to every quarterback they face, and they allow an average of 300 passing yards. Start Luck with confidence this week.

If you’ve got Eli Manning this week you might want to think about sitting him. Besides his 510-yard passing game in Week 2, Eli has been underperforming compared to what he did last year. Manning has only scored more than 19 fantasy points twice this year. He had four games that broke that mark by this time last year. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been keeping every quarterback they’ve faced this year to 18 fantasy points or less. They average less than 200 passing yards allowed on the season. Combine his underperformance with a tough game against Pittsburgh this week, and you have the making of a ‘bad call’ for Manning this week.

It’s my belief that Tony Romo is just un-clutch. If the game is close and you need him to throw a touchdown, he listens to his coach about as well as Peyton Manning listens to Papa John. “Tony, we need one touchdown pass,” says Jason Garrett. “Okay, two interceptions!” Romo replies. Romo used to be a good fantasy quarterback despite his un-clutch-ness. He’d score enough fantasy points in the first three and a half quarters; you didn’t care what he did when the game was on the line. This year, things are just bad if you own Romo. Combine Romo’s struggles with a bad matchup in Atlanta, and Romo is a ‘bad call’ this week, and probably from here forward. He’s become unreliable.

Running Backs

If Miami wants to beat Indianapolis this week, they’re going to want to control the clock, run the ball, and keep Andrew Luck off the field. The fortunate thing for the Dolphins is that Indianapolis ranks 28th in points allowed to running backs. Shonn Greene had his career game a few weeks ago against the Colts where he had three touchdowns. Maurice Jones-Drew had 177 rushing yards against them. This week, Reggie Bush gets his opportunity to run all over the Colts defense. If you’ve got Bush this week, start him, he’s a ‘good call.’

The Detroit Lions should have a blowout game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Matthew Stafford was a ‘good call’ and so is Mikel Leshoure. The Jaguars are the third-worst defense in the league for points allowed to running backs. The only team to not get a running back with at least 13 fantasy points against Jacksonville was Green Bay last week, and that’s because they spent all afternoon passing the ball. If you’ve got Leshoure, go ahead and start him.

If you’ve got C.J. Spiller and can afford to sit him this week, do it. Spiller plays Houston who, believe it or not, hasn’t allowed one rushing touchdown all season. They’re also allowing the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game at 83. Now I do realize that Spiller gets a lot of his points from the passing game, but even pass catching backs haven’t fared much better against Houston. Reggie Bush had six catches for 46 yards in Week 1, and Ray Rice had five catches for just 12 yards two weeks ago. Things don’t look good for Spiller this week and he’s a ‘bad call.’

Jonathan Stewart had his biggest workload since Week 15 of the 2010 season last week with 17 carries and six targets. There have been rumors that he might finally get the chance at a lead running back role in Carolina. If you think that’s true, you might want to wait one more week to get him into your starting lineup. Stewart’s matchup in Washington this week is going to be tough. The Redskins haven’t allowed a running back to gain more than 79 yards on them all season. While the Redskins have allowed a few running back touchdowns, Stewart hasn’t had one of those since last season. Plus, if the Panthers get into a goal line situation, Cam Newton or Mike Tolbert will probably vulture that touchdown away. Stewart is a ‘bad call’ this week.

Wide Receivers

Torrey Smith lit up the Cleveland defense for six catches, 97 yards, and a touchdown in their first meeting this year. Deep threat wide receivers have been doing well against the Browns this year: A.J. Green (18 and 32 fantasy points in two meetings), Steve Johnson (19), and Victor Cruz (28). Overall, Cleveland has allowed 2,179 passing yards and 15 passing touchdowns on the year, to rank 25th in overall pass defense. Smith should have no problem putting up points for you this week and is a ‘good call’ for you to start.

If Michael Vick is playing for his job this week (which I think is a bunch of media hype), he gets a good game to do it, and he’s going to need to use DeSean Jackson. Jackson has been pretty quiet this year with just one touchdown and one game with more than 100 receiving yards. That should change this week, when the Eagles travel to New Orleans. The Saints have allowed the top receiver on five of the seven teams they’ve faced this year to get more than 100 receiving yards. If you’ve got Jackson, start him this week as he’s a ‘good call’ to be in your starting lineup.

Josh Gordon didn’t extend his touchdown streak to four games last week, even though he had an easy game with San Diego. This week he gets a tough matchup against Baltimore. The Ravens secondary is a very veteran one, and Gordon, who has a lot of talent still has a long way to go in the experience department. Gordon will have more big games this season, but this isn’t one of them. He’s a ‘bad call’ if you’re starting him this week.

The Minnesota defense looks improved this year. They’re holding receivers to the second best mark in the league at 10.4 yards per catch. If you’ve got Sidney Rice, this isn’t the week to be starting him. Rice’s bigger games this year have come against teams that have a weak defense and the Seattle Seahawks were in catch-up mode (New England and Detroit). I don’t think either of those situations fit this game with the Vikings this week. While Rice might have something to prove to the team he used to play for, I don’t think he’ll be able to pull it off.

Tight Ends

For tight ends that are involved in their teams pass games (Rob Gronkowski and Vernon Davis), playing against Buffalo has provided them with good games (21 and 15 fantasy points respectively). Owen Daniels should be able to get into the mix this week, and would be a ‘good call’ for you to start this week.

Heath Miller, Tony Gonzalez, Owen Daniels, Antonio Gates, and Jimmy Graham have all scored touchdowns when they’ve played Denver this year. Six tight end touchdowns in seven games, means Jermaine Gresham’s chances of getting one are pretty good this week. Start ‘em if you got ‘em.

Aaron Rodgers said the reason Jermichael Finley hasn’t been part of the passing game this year is because he’s been seeing a lot of double coverage. That’s resulted in an average of just 4.5 targets per game since Week 1. If Rodgers isn’t throwing the ball in Finley’s direction, he’s going to have a tough time putting up good numbers for you. Finley is a ‘bad call’ this week.

This week, Anthony Fasano gets to play the Indianapolis defense against which teams don’t use their tight ends. The Colts are still the toughest team for tight ends to put up points against. Look elsewhere for your tight end this week.

Twitter question of the week: Do you think we’ll see any coaches lose their job before the end of the season this year? Reply to @curtkestila with your response.

Good luck this week, and I hope you make all the right calls.