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Fantasy Football Week 9 Start/Sit: Chris Johnson’s struggles continue

Every week of the 2011 NFL season I will be putting out an article of the top “starts” and “sits” for the upcoming week in fantasy football. Keep in mind that no one can predict what will happen on Sunday’s and I encourage everyone to make their own decisions, but hopefully I can provide some insight. Players I deem as good “starts” for the week I think will have a better than projected week and should find a way into your starting lineup. On the other hand players I name as “sits” I personally would rather find room on my bench in favor of someone else. Of course when it comes down to week to week decisions you always start your studs, and just because I think Wes Welker is “sit” worthy doesn’t mean you necessarily have someone worth starting over him. Take it for what it is worth and good luck this week.

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-Matt Ryan(start): Matt Ryan has pretty much done what has been expected out of him so far this fantasy season. Ryan will continue to put up solid numbers week after week but he is unlikely to really explode on a given week. This week “Matty Ice” will take on a struggling Colts secondary that has allowed a passer rating of 109.9 to opposing quarterbacks. Keep in mind the Falcons will be fresh off their bye week, and the re-installment of their star rookie wide receiver, Julio Jones, is likely.

-Matt Cassel(start): Matt Cassel certainly isn’t a quarterback fantasy owners want to see in their lineup on a week to week basis. However, for owners dealing with bye week fill-ins, Cassel could be in line to make a big impact this Sunday. The Chiefs offense as a whole struggled early on due to the loss of running back Jamaal Charles. It should also be noted that on three receiver sets the Chiefs have been looking to use Steve Breaston (acquired this offseason) and Jon Baldwin, a rookie. Because of the significant loss at running back and unfamiliar wide receiver core Cassel struggled early, but visually it seems like those times are starting to fade. Cassel will face the Miami Dolphins this week who are allowing the second most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Expect Cassel to have a strong game.

-Ryan Fitzpatrick(sit): Ryan Fitzpatrick’s hot season has come to a sluggish halt the past five weeks. After absolutely tearing teams apart the first three weeks, Fitzpatrick has only thrown for over 250 yards once and has given up six turnovers since then. The long downfield passing attack from the first three weeks simply isn’t there, nor has it had a reason to be considering running back Fred Jackson continues to run like a mad man. As if the numbers couldn’t get any worse, Fitzpatrick takes on the New York Jets this Sunday. The Jet’s defense have begun to show their true colors and are currently giving up the fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks

-Ben Roethlisberger(sit): It is really hard to advocate Ben Roethlisberger as a sit with his recent emergence into fantasy greatness. Three out of the past four weeks Roethlisberger has put up at least 20 fantasy points, and two of those games were 25+ monsters. Unfortunately, Ben and the Steelers take on the Ravens on Sunday Night in their always anticipated rivalry. To be honest, if Ben wasn’t playing the Ravens he probably would be a start. The fact is this matchup is known for the brutal defense and neither quarterback tends to fair to well in the recent history. The key to this matchup has been hard nose football with an emphasis on the run game, and this was only highlighted in the week one game when Roethlisberger had five turnovers in their 35-7 loss to the Ravens.

-Beanie Wells(start): Beanie Wells shocked everyone last Sunday when at the last minute he was cleared to play and ended up rushing 22 times for 83 yards and a score. Similar to much of his career, when Wells has been healthy he has been great. If Wells can manage to make it through practice this week with no setbacks, he will get the pleasure of running against the St. Louis Rams defense. In case you’ve forgotten the same St. Louis Ram’s defense allowed Demarco Murray to rush for 253 yards two weeks ago. It would be far from a surprise if Wells is able to rush for over a hundred yards this week combined with a score, as he has found the end zone in every game he has been fully healthy for.

-Shonn Greene(start): Shonn Greene has been unimpressive this year but there is reason to be optimistic. After receiving under 16 carries the first four games of the season, Greene now has three straight games with 20 or more carries. Although his mediocre 3.8 yards per carry isn’t anything exciting, the fact that Greene is finally seeing solid touches week after week is a good omen. This week the Jets take on the Buffalo Bills who although held the Redskins to only 14 yards rushing last weekend, it can’t be forgotten that they allowed Ahmad Bradshaw the week before to rush for over a hundred yards and three touchdowns. I think Greene has upside in this game especially if the Jets get up early on the Bills.

-Chris Johnson(sit): Chris Johnson has been miserable this year and if it wasn’t for the ridiculous contract he managed to steal from the Titans this offseason, he probably would have been benched by now. With this week being the official halfway point of the season it is about time owners realize that Johnson’s struggles are probably more trend then blip. Experts have analyzed, studied film, and argued. As puzzling as it is Chris Johnson just doesn’t seem to be the same back that we crowned with the title CJ2K. If things could get any worse they did last week when backup, Javon Ringer, had 14 carries in the game which equaled Johnson’s 14. Against a stingy Bengals defense who has only allowed one back to rush over 100 yards, it is likely to see this star continue to burn out.

-Ryan Matthews(sit): Ryan Matthews has evolved into a stud running back this season. Even with his poor performances the past two weeks, he still remains a top ten fantasy running back. Owners received some bad news earlier in the week when it was announced that Matthew’s groin troubles will likely keep him out this week against Green Bay. The Chargers seem to realize Matthew’s success has been vital to their season so far and a groin injury isn’t something that they should mess around with. It is likely they will rest him, but if he were to get the start it would be ill-advised for fantasy owners to start him. Ever since getting banged up Matthews hasn’t received more than 13 carries in a game.

-Mario Manningham(start): Mario Manningham was a trendy preseason pick to have a huge leap in fantasy production but has yet to live up to the hype. Entering week nine, Manningham barely breaks the top 70 wide receivers for fantasy purpose. Things seem to be trending upward though as Manningham has recorded at least five receptions in his past three games. Hakeem Nicks, the Giants lead wide receiver, suffered a hamstring injury last Sunday and hasn’t practiced yet this week. Manningham’s upside would skyrocket with Nicks out, but nontheless the matchup against the Patriots, who have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year favors all the Giants wide outs.

-Sidney Rice(start): After missing the start of the season Sidney Rice has been productive for the majority of his games, posting 10+ fantasy points 3 out of the 5 games he has played. What should be noted is that the two games Rice struggled his quarterback was Charlie Whitehurst. Tavaris Jackson finally seems to be healthy enough to play so Rice’s value should see an uptick. Another factor that bodes well for Rice this weekend is the Cowboys top corner, Mike Jenkins, will be out with a hamstring injury. Rice has even more value in point per reception formats.

-Steve Johnson(sit): Steve Johnson’s fantasy production has been directly correlated with Ryan Fitzpatrick’s struggles. After three huge fantasy games to start the season, Johnson has failed to break ten fantasy points. This week Johnson gets to take an all expenses paid trip to Revis Island where he will likely be welcomed by Darrelle and his blanket coverage. It is hard to expect much from any receiver when they are matched up against Revis, and with Johnson’s continued slump the upside here is limited.

-Wes Welker(sit): Wes Welker was an absolute beast to start the season. Through the first five weeks of the season Welker was actually on pace to break Jerry Rice’s single season receiving yards record. Since then teams have begun to lock down on Welker. Defenses have started to make him the focal point of their game plans and they have found numerous ways to send extra help and key on Welker. On top of this, Welker appeared on the injury report this Wednesday with an apparent neck injury that held him out of practice. The New England Patriots are known for being vague with their injury reports, and the fact that a player shows up on one mid week is always reason for concern. Be sure to check on Welker’s status come Monday, and hope the team isn’t making this injury less of a deal than it really is.

-Brent Celek(start): Brent Celek’s fantasy value has taken a hit ever since Mike Vick took the helm as the Eagle’s offense. Because of the struggles on the offensive line Celek’s chances to flourish in the passing game have diminished. It seems the Eagles have begun to realize how vital and effective he can be for their passing game. In two straight weeks Celek has double-digit fantasy points and has found the end zone in each game. This week the Eagles take on the Chicago Bears who struggle with opposing tight ends. Celek tore apart the middle of the field last weekend against the Cowboys, and the Eagles would be fools not to use this to their advantage again this week.

– Antonio Gates(start): Antonio Gates has been hobbled by his foot injury all year and because of it he obviously hasn’t lived up to his draft ranking. Owners shouldn’t feel weary when inserting him into their lineups from now on. When Gates is on the field he will produce. Although the explosion and quickness of norm may not be present anymore, Gates is a force to be reckoned with in the red zone. Gates got unlucky on Monday Night when he had a clear touchdown, that would have given him his second straight week of double digit fantasy points, called back because of a bogus pass interference call. Against the Packers, Gates should have no problem being productive.

-Jermichael Finley(sit): Jermichael Finley owners have to be furious at this point in the season. Finley was talked about and drafted in the preseason as a tight end who could possibly take over Antonio Gates dominant roll of tight end production. Unfortunately the exact opposite has occurred and Finley has struggled to even get targeted in the Packers prolific offense. The targets aren’t there, the touchdowns are low, and there are just simply too many mouths to feed in the Packers offense.

-Benjamin Watson(sit): Ben Watson has been a sleeper pick for the majority of the season and every so often has found a way to produce as respectable week. Unfortunately the Cleveland Browns offense has struggled as a whole and Watson’s numbers aren’t much better. Emergence of tight end Evan Moore has hurt Watson’s value even more as he continues to take away targets week after week.

-Chiefs(start): The Kansas City Chiefs defense has been huge the past two weeks and are largely the reason for a lot of their success. The Chiefs arguably have on of the best cornerback pairings in the league between Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr. Although the one weakness in the defense is the pass rush, Tamba Hali has been a complete freak and has managed to acquire six out of the Chief’s nine total sacks this year. Facing quarterback Matt Moore this weekend, the Chiefs will look to continue to harass opposing quarterbacks tallying eight interceptions in the past two games.

-Bears(sit): The Chicago Bears defense has been pretty good this year for fantasy purposes and has done well against specific matchups. This matchup against the Eagles however doesn’t seem to be a favorable one. The Eagles offense finally looked completely in sync last Sunday during their 35-7 offensive clinic against the Cowboys. More importantly, the Eagles went without turning the ball over. There are simply too many weapons to contain when they are all clicking.