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Analysis Paralysis: Week 9 Start & Sit

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Shonn Greene?! Is this what we've come to? Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images
Shonn Greene?! Is this what we've come to? Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

And here we come, down the home stretch. There are only five weeks left until most fantasy playoffs start (and only four in some cases). It's time to start making your move if you haven't already - and I hope that move isn't re-stocking your team for next year if you're in a keeper league. With the high-scoring Broncos and Lions on bye this week, there are quite a few fantasy studs who will be missed (the Jaguars are on bye too, but I'm not sure many fantasy owners are too torn up about that). I can't promise you that I'll be able to find the guy who will catch four touchdowns on only 13 passing routes this week (ahem... Marvin Jones), but I did my best to dig a little deeper for those of you who are dealing with a depleted roster this week.

And with that, let's get into the Week 9 players who deserve to be in your lineup (or on your bench).

12-Pack of Goodness
(12 players who are primed to outplay their normal value this weekend)

Ben RoethlisbergerWhile the Patriots are statistically the seventh-worst defense for a fantasy quarterback to face, they’re missing important players at every level of their defense right now. Roethlisberger has been playing better lately (averaging just over 13 fantasy points per game over his last six starts) and should be able to capitalize on the depleted Patriots defense, especially over the middle.

Terrelle Pryor: I wouldn’t normally have Pryor among my Top 10 quarterbacks, but with players like Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford and Colin Kaepernick on bye, the position is pretty thin this week. Pryor is currently averaging 13.1 fantasy points per game and gets to play an Eagles defense that has given up 18 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks.

Shonn Greene: Even though this is more of a desperation play, Mike Munchak said he wants to get Greene somewhere around 15 touches a game going forward (that’s a good thing). Whether that happens remains to be seen, but that’s a nice number to target if you’re in a bind – especially when you consider the fact that the Rams are one of the worst teams against the run in terms of fantasy points.

Ryan Mathews/Danny Woodhead: It’s hard to start a running back knowing that he’s going to split carries, but these two have found a way to coexist fantasy-wise recently. Woodhead has yet to record double-digit carries, so he’s a much better play in PPR leagues, while Mathews has topped 20 carries in each of his last two games and is safe to start regardless of the format. Oh, and they get to face a Redskins defense that has allowed the most rushing touchdowns among any team not named the Jaguars.

James Starks: Again, digging really deep here. Starks has some desperation flex potential this week. Now fully healthy (supposedly), Starks is coming off a game in which he carried the ball seven times for 57 yards and a touchdown. While he’s not likely to top 10 carries, the Packers are playing a bad Bears run defense, and Starks may very well find the end zone.

Keenan Allen: Even though I think of Allen as a must-start (I have him in my Top 10 wide receivers this week), I still see a lot of questions about starting Allen. The answer is, "Yes." He’s averaging nine targets and just over 96 yards over his past three games, and has a great matchup against a Redskins defense that has given up points in bunches.

Kendall Wright: Speaking of targets, Kendall Wright is another player who has been getting tons of targets lately (almost 10 per game over his last three). He’s only scored once all season, but his numbers have been trending upwards across the board, and he should be able to find the end zone with Jake Locker healthy again.

Dexter McCluster: Someone has to catch the ball against a Bills defense that has allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this year. Dwayne Bowe is listed as questionable with a groin injury and Donnie Avery’s targets have seemingly gone to McCluster. He’s not a prototypical wide receiver, but McCluster is strangely the best Chiefs wide receiver to own at the moment and should be able to do some damage against the Bills on Sunday.

Heath Miller: This might be a little obvious considering the amount of bye weeks this week, but I also think Miller is a must-start and has a good chance at finishing as one of the better tight ends this week. The Patriots are statistically pretty good against tight ends, but their linebackers are slow and Miller should be able to find some room to operate – hopefully in the red zone.

Kyle Rudolph: Rudolph might be the most frustrating player to own in fantasy, but he’s also a better option than a lot of other tight ends this week. He’ll be facing a Cowboys defense that has been relatively vulnerable to opposing tight ends and should be able to overcome his quarterback situation and do some damage.

New Orleans Saints: Of all the teams playing this weekend, the Jets allow the second-most points to opposing defenses/special teams. Guess who those mistake-prone Jets are playing this weekend…

Baltimore Ravens: It seems weird to see the Ravens in the bottom half of fantasy defenses, but I guess this isn’t your big brother’s Ravens defense. They will get to play the Browns this weekend and should be able to salvage some points of the matchup.

6-Pack of Sorrow
(Six players you should think about benching if you have better options)

Matt Ryan: Ryan will likely be without Roddy White (again this weekend) and has to play a tough Panthers defense that hasn’t allowed more than one passing touchdown in a game this season. I have Ryan as a QB2 this week and would start guys like Pryor, Brady, and Roethlisberger ahead of him.

Alfred Morris/Roy Helu: I know Morris is a must-start for most people (and I’m not saying to sit him), but just be aware of the fact that San Diego hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown yet this season. If you’re thinking about starting Morris or Roy Helu, take a good look at your other options, as both should be downgraded this week.

Fred Jackson: Speaking of rushing touchdowns, the Chiefs have only allowed one all season and have held opposing rushing attacks to less than 71 rushing yards per game. With C.J. Spiller looking like he’ll play this weekend, it’s time to think twice about starting Jackson.

Chris Givens/Tavon Austin: I know it’s tempting to start Tavon Austin or Chris Givens based on their preseason value, but neither one is remotely worth starting at this point. Neither has topped double-digit fantasy points in standard leagues since Week 2, and both have Kellen Clemens throwing the ball to them. No thanks.

Kenbrell Thompkins: The preseason sleeper has basically just gone to sleep at this point. With the emergence of Aaron Dobson and the return of Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola to the Patriots lineup, Thompkins has been the forgotten man (only 14 snaps last week) and should be dropped in all but the deepest of leagues.

Scott Chandler: While I like Chandler as a desperation play most weeks, this isn’t one of them. He plays a Chiefs defense that has swallowed opposing tight ends who and spit them back out to the tune of only three fantasy points per game (that’s not good).