Tyrod Taylor vs Miami
When Rex Ryan named his quarterback for 2015, most scoffed at the idea of Tyrod Taylor being able to handle the assignment. Now, several weeks later, we find ourselves pining for Taylor to return to the lineup. Not only have Taylor owners suffered through a couple injury weeks and a bye, but every offensive skill position took a step back in his absence. With Taylor and LeSean McCoy back healthy after the bye, we should see The Bills offense get back to business. Even if Sammy Watkins can’t go, the Buffalo offense will still take a giant step forward this week. The Miami defense has been playing fiery, but The Patriots dismantled them last week and exposed all of their weaknesses. If Taylor can come back in a big way and toss for 250 yards with two scores while adding in some gravy rushing numbers, we’ll have no choice but to view a healthy Taylor as a low end QB1 for the rest of 2015.
Cam Newton vs Green Bay
This entire game boils down to The Packers’ pass rush against The Panthers’ blockers. As well as Killer Cam has played to this point, we still must remain very weary of the shortcomings of the Carolina offensive line. Newton will either pick up the blitz and exploit the lack of coverage or he’ll be sacked 7 times with a fumble lost. This game almost defines Cam’s season as it’ll pretty much be him against The Pack all by himself. He’ll either be able to lift himself up or he’ll be bashed and bruised into oblivion. With the way the schedule opens up for the rest of the season, a top-end game here would go a long way for his weekly rankings. If he were to step up with multiple passing touchdowns, over 250 yards passing, and a TD on the ground, it would be hard to view Newton as anything less than a top-5 QB for the remainder of the year.
Marcus Mariota vs New Orleans
Where do we sit on the Mariota hype train? Are we all on considering his early season run? Or is everyone off with the latest fall back to rookie reality mixed with injury concern? Mariota could do himself a big favor this week by taking on the Saints defense for close to 300 yards and 3 touchdowns. While that might seem laughable for a rookie coming off an injury, let’s not forget that those touchdown figures would be half of what a struggling Eli Manning was able to do against New Orleans last week. The matchup is as mouth-watering as prime rib as the rookie has a lot of value to prove to owners this week. This new offense is supposed to be tailored to his strengths. Less than 200 yards with multiple interceptions would be vomit inducing when considering they played to his strengths against an inferior defense. We may actually finally get to see M&M finally running here in Week 9.
Julius Thomas vs New York Jets
Let’s do a quick J-Thom recap. His first preseason catch goes for 2 yards and a broken finger. That broken finger ends up costing him over a quarter of the year. He’s finally full-go in London and he slips ever so slightly going out of bounds and his body jerks just a little bit. That jerk resulted in him having 1-catch for 4 yards on the day as he dealt with a so-called ankle sprain. Let’s call a spade a spade here and point out that Thomas’ biggest value factor isn’t his quarterback, it’s the fact that he is seemingly made out of Princess House crystal. Two weeks removed from the latest Barbie Doll type of injury, Thomas should be fully recovered and, once again, viewed as top 10 TE. Unfortunately, he draws the tough Jets defense who could once again hold him to one catch with a hard hit for more missed time. There is no more wiggle room for Thomas. It’s put up or shut up time for the highest paid tight end in the history of the league. Anything short of 80 yards and a touchdown out of the bye means that Thomas will surely fall out of the top 10 TEs for the rest of the year and in next year’s rankings as well. If he ends up on the sideline getting the attention of a trainer for any reason at all, he’ll be worthy of hitting the waiver wire if you’ve been patient enough to hold out to his point.
Ben Roethlisberger vs Oakland
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back (Sung to the rhythm of Welcome back, Kotter.) The return of Big Ben into the offense combined with the loss of Le’Veon Bell means that the passing game is set to shoulder a huge load. DeAngelo Williams will do some impressive things but it’ll have to be the passing game that steps up in order for the Steelers to make a serious run at the playoffs. It should all start this week as Pittsburgh faces off against a Raiders team that is worse off against the pass than they are against the run. Roethlisberger has to do a lot over the second half of the season to make up for his prolonged injury absence. This is his best opportunity to start making good for his past fantasy indiscretion.