With six teams around the NFL on the bye this week — the Cardinals, Bengals, Colts, Jaguars, Giants, and Eagles are all off Week 9 — and several injuries across the league, there’s a chance you don’t have a ton of options when setting your fantasy lineups for Sunday. But, in case you do, here’s a look at one player you should start and one player you should avoid at each of the four main positions.
Start QB Alex Smith, WAS: Smith hasn’t thrown an interception since early October, but unfortunately, he’s also thrown just four touchdowns in his last three games. It goes without saying that he’s not a fantasy football juggernaut, but he has one of his best chances of the season to put up some numbers this week against a Falcons defense that ranks near the bottom of the NFL in both passing yards allowed and passing touchdowns allowed — and they just had their bye, meaning they’ve played one less game than almost half the league. Furthermore, the Falcons haven’t held an opponent under 20 points since their Week 1 loss to the Eagles. That’s why Smith is worth a look this week.
Sit QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT: It seems like Big Ben is always banged up, and that’s certainly the case this week as he enters the Steelers game against the Ravens with a fractured finger on his non-throwing hand. That’s not the worst injury to play through, but add to that the fact that Roethlisberger hasn’t fared well in Baltimore his last few times there, and Sunday’s matchup doesn’t bode well for the Steelers quarterback.
Start RB Phillip Lindsay, DEN: After an up-and-down start to his NFL career, the Broncos’ rookie running back seems to have found a groove. Over the last two weeks, he’s carried the ball 32 times for 185 yards and a pair of touchdowns (one in each game). Unfortunately, it seems like every time Lindsay has back-to-back games of high usage, he’s nearly invisible the following week. Look for him to buck that trend on Sunday against Houston.
Sit RB LeSean McCoy, BUF: Nathan Peterman is starting for the Bills. Abandon all hope ye who own Buffalo players.
Start WR DeSean Jackson, TB: Just because there’s quarterback drama in Tampa doesn’t mean DeSean Jackson or Mike Evans owners need to be worried. Both quarterbacks have combined to make the Bucs one of the top passing offenses in the NFL, and with Ryan Fitzpatrick expected to start again on Sunday, that could be good news for Jackson’s fantasy owners … assuming there’s some Fitz-magic on display.
Sit WR Allen Hurns, DAL: The Cowboys made arguably the biggest splash of the trade deadline when they acquired Raiders wideout Amari Cooper for a first-round pick, and on Monday night against the Titans we’ll finally get to see if he was worth the steep price they paid. You can bet Dallas is going to want to get their new receiver involved, and against a tough Titans defense, that could be trouble for Dallas’ other wideouts, specifically those who play on the outside like Allen Hurns.
Start TE, Chris Herndon, NYJ: The former Miami Hurricane is returning to his old stomping grounds to face the Dolphins this weekend, and he’s coming in red hot. Herndon, who has scored a touchdown in three straight games, is also getting a great matchup against a Dolphins team that has struggled keeping tight ends out of the end zone.
Sit TE Benjamin Watson, NO: In a Drew Brees-led offense that spreads the ball around plenty, Watson’s value has taken a hit in recent weeks. He’s only gone over 50 yards once this season and after catching all 10 of his targets (including his only touchdown reception of the season) in the previous two weeks, Watson wasn’t targeted at all in the Saints’ Week 8 win over the Vikings. If you can afford to, it might be time to move on from the veteran tight end.
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