Wednesday - Feb 20, 2019

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START/BENCH: Week 9

As if things weren’t already difficult enough for fantasy owners in Week 9.

In their infinite wisdom, the National Football League decided to schedule six teams for a Week 9 bye. The six-team siestas are a pain in and off their own right. But this week there’s an additional fly in the ointment.

Actually, there are two.

The first was the NFL’s trade deadline, which came and went on Halloween. It was, by NFL standards, an eventful one – with a couple trades with big-time fantasy implications.

Then there was the matter of the resolution (for now, anyway) of the Ezekiel Elliott suspension saga. As Jared Dubin of CBS Sports reports, U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla denied Elliott’s request for a preliminary injunction, meaning that barring a last-second miracle Elliott’s six-game ban begins this week when Dallas hosts Kansas City.

Combined with Jay Ajayi’s trade to the Philadelphia on Tuesday, that’s two Top-20 fantasy running backs out of commission in a week where the talent pool was already shallower than usual and many fantasy owners can’t afford another loss.

Other than that though, everything’s great.

As fantasy owners, all we can do is play the hand we’re dealt – even if the deck is short several cards.

With that in mind, let’s shuffle up the deck and get down to the business of sifting through the upcoming week’s slate of games.

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

Tom Brady, New England (BYE)

Drew Brees, New Orleans (vs. Tampa Bay)

Deshaun Watson, Houston (vs. Indianapolis)

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia (vs. Denver)

SPOT START OF THE WEEK

Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams (at New York Giants)

Rams head coach Sean McVay told Cameron DaSilva of Rams Wire that he’s been pleased with the way Goff has embraced the team’s new culture in 2017.

“We want to make him an extension of our coaching staff and he’s continuing to become that,” McVay said. “When you’re throwing the football, it’s all about decision, timing and accuracy. And if he can consistently make good decisions, take care of the football, throw on time and be accurate when the protection’s right, you’re going to give yourself a chance to play at a pretty high level, and I think he’s done a nice job of that.”

To say that Goff’s numbers are better relative to last year is an understatement and a half. In the same number of starts Goff made as a rookie he’s thrown for more yardage and scores with fewer interceptions and a passer rating that’s over 25 points higher. The Giants have been surprisingly kind to opposing quarterbacks from a fantasy perspective in 2017, so even on the road Goff has a good shot at posting strong numbers in his first game back after the bye.

ROLL THEM OUT

Alex Smith, Kansas City (vs. Dallas)

Kansas City got the win last Monday night, but Smith was uneven – he failed to complete half his passes, barely cracked 200 passing yards and threw just one touchdown pass. However, that was against Denver’s vaunted “No Fly Zone” secondary. This week’s matchup at home against Dallas is significantly easier.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit (at Green Bay)

Detroit offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter admitted to Michael Rothstein of ESPN that Stafford (and Detroit) have been up and down in 2017.

“Stafford’s playing well,” he said.” Stafford’s not perfect. Stafford’s got things to improve, but I wouldn’t say he’s dramatically better or worse than he was at this time last year.”

Monday night will be an “up” week.

SIT THEM DOWN

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (at Jacksonville)

Dalton was a pretty good spot start last week, passing for almost 250 yards and tossing a pair of touchdown passes against Indianapolis. However, while Indianapolis is one of the best fantasy matchups for quarterbacks this year, Jacksonville is the absolute worst – first in pass defense and last in fantasy points allowed to the position.

Marcus Mariota, Tennessee (vs. Baltimore)

The good news is that with a week off Mariota’s bad ankle should be better, so he should have at least some of his trademark mobility back. The bad news is that Mariota’s fantasy bounceback probably isn’t coming this week – Baltimore is playing well defensively and rank 28th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks in 2017.

Matt Ryan, Atlanta (at Carolina)

Ryan was fantastic last year in winning the NFL MVP award and leading his team to the Super Bowl. But last week’s mess of a game in the rain was a microcosm for his 2017 – a sloppy, turnover-filled disappointment. The reason why Ryan’s struggling is actually secondary at this point. All that matters is that he is, and his Week 9 matchup isn’t apt to help.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is a seven-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who was named the organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year for 2017. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.