Start 'emSit 'em: Week 10

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Start 'emSit 'em: Week 10

The guys stayed close in Week 9 and enter Week 10 with just two points separating all three.

This week features four teams on a Bye -- Washington, Green Bay, Cleveland and Arizona -- meaning quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Robert Griffin III and Brandon Weeden are out of commission for one matchup. Though, if you're counting on old man Weeden as your No. 1 fantasy QB, your team has more issues than just a simple Bye week.

So many QBs are on the bubble as starter-worthy fantasy guys, but we attempt to sift through the mess this week, touching on six different signal-callers. We even toss in a few RBs and WRs, too, just to keep things interesting.

Just a reminder for those keeping score at home (though we'll do it for you), for players who each analyst starts, these are the points they will receive:
Start 'em:5 points if a player scores 25 points4: 20-243: 15-192: 10-141: 5-90: negative-4
Sit 'em:5 points if a player scores negative points to 4 points4: 5-93: 10-142: 15-191: 20-240: 25
Without further adieu, here are our picks for Week 9. Good luck!
Tony Andracki (Week9: 14 points; Season total: 99)
I didn't have the best week, but still maintained my lead over these jokers. My biggest mistake was one that I will correct below. As I told my cousin after the first half of the Broncos-Chargers Monday night game in Week 6 -- Never count out Peyton Manning.

It pains me to see C.J. Spiller with a rough day, but at least I called it. I like Fred Jackson, and I know Spiller isn't exactly the picture of health, but the Bills would be a much better team if they gave Spiller 20 touches every game. He needs to be the focal point of that offense.

Jamaal Charles probably would have had a better day if he didn't get hurt, but such is life. Rivers would have been better, too, if he didn't go all Philip Rivers at the end of the first half of that Thursday Night Game.

Start 'em:
Carson Palmer, QB -- Raiders (@ BAL)
Normally, you wouldn't start many fantasy guys against the Ravens defense if you can help it. But here's the thing -- Baltimore's D has been ravaged by injuries and they should go up big early. Palmer is among the league leaders in passing attempts, topping out at 61 last week. Most of that is due to the fact Oakland is trailing often, and this week will be no exception. By sheer opportunity, Palmer is a must-start this week.

Reggie Bush, RB -- Dolphins (vs. TEN)
Bush looked like fantasy gold after the end of last season and the first two games of this season (totaling 890 yards from scrimmage and 4 TDs in that six-game span), but has trailed off in the six games since (393 yards, two tuddies). I bet he gets back on track this week against a Titans defense that has been gashed for more than 130 yards on the ground in all but two games this season.

Eric Decker, WR -- Broncos (@ CAR)
It wouldn't be a StartSit without Eric Decker huh? I made a mistake last week in including him in my Sit. Never. Count. Out. Peyton. Manning. Even while his teammate, Demaryius Thomas, ranks fourth in the NFL in receiving yards, Decker has become a must-start in any game with Manning under center. Don't ever doubt him again.
Sit 'em

Joe Flacco, QB -- Ravens (vs. OAK)
Once again, I blame myself for Flacco's struggles. Well, that and the fact that Flacco is just not an elite fantasy quarterback. (I said fantasy, people. Don't need an "elite" quarterback debate on our hands, here.) Flacco won't need his laser-rocket arm this week. Expect a heavy dose of Ray Rice (have you seen how bad the Raiders are at defending the run?) and a big lead early. No need for the Flac man to release the Kraken.
Matt Forte, RB -- Bears (vs. HOU)
It hurts me to sit one of the Bears, especially in arguably the biggest game of the season. Forte will be a focal point of Chicago's offense this week, but his contributions may be limited to the passing game. Houston has not allowed a rushing TD this season, and they've given up more than 82 rushing yards just once this year. Forte will be bottled up early and often.
Hakeem Nicks, WR -- Giants (@ CIN)
This has nothing to do with the matchup, especially since the Bengals were torched for 38 standard-league fantasy points by Denver's wideouts last week. Warm up a spot on your bench for Nicks. He's been bogged down by a knee injury all year, and it's apparently gotten worse, with more swelling this week than last. Nicks has had just one good fantasy day this season (Week 2) and hasn't even come close to being relevant the other five games. Until he proves you can trust him, bench Nicks like a third-string quarterback.

Mark Strotman (Week 9: 13 points; Season total: 97)
It's really impressive how close the three of us have been all year long. That's a testament either to how good or how bad we've been in our predictions, but if you're reading this, you must like something we're doing. This week, I'm riding the coattails of players who have been hot the last few weeks, and I'm benching waiver wire pickups that looked a lot better in your head than in your lineup.

Start 'em:
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB -- Bills (@ NE)
Fitzpatrick hasn't lit up the fantasy world this year, and has posted double-digit points just once since Week 5. But these are the Patriots, and he has had plenty of success against his division foe in six meetings. He threw for 350 yards and four touchdowns against the Pats in Week 4 (4 interceptions, too), and I like him to have success through the air on Sunday as well.
Brian Hartline, WR -- Dolphins (vs. TEN)
Ryan Tannehill is starting to put the pieces together, and Hartline is going to benefit most from that. After three ugly games in a row, Hartline caught eight passes for 107 yards last week in Indianapolis. With the Titans' 27th ranked pass defense coming to South Beach on Sunday, I expect Hartline to have a big day through the air.
Sidney Rice, WR -- Seahawks (vs. NYJ)
The Seahawks are boring, they play on the West Coast and generally don't draw a lot of national attention unless replacement refs are gift-wrapping them victories (still a bitter Packers fan), but Sidney Rice has quietly scored three touchdowns in the last four weeks. He has gone from a nice potential flex play to a WR2 in that span, so make sure he's in your lineup against Tim Tebow--I mean--Rex Ryan and the New York Jets.
Sit 'em:
Jonathan Stewart, RB -- Panthers (vs. DEN)
I was ecstatic to have picked up Stewart in two of my fantasy leagues two weeks ago, only to be disappointed, to say the least. Stewart is "the guy" in Carolina, there's no debating that. But Carolina's offense is such a mess that there's no telling when they'll stick to the ground, or try and let Cam Newton win a game with his arm. Stewart has upside because he's going to get the carries, but he's back on my bench in both those leagues.
Jay Cutler, QB -- Bears (vs.HOU )
The Bears keep rolling along and Cutler continues to find chemistry with Brandon Marshall (three TDs last week), but this isn't the Titans' secondary he'll be going up against Sun day night. Aaron Rodgers was able to torch Houston's defense for 6 touchdown passes, but the Texans have allowed just seven other passing TDs all year. The Bears have a chance to win at home, but Cutler isn't going to have a repeat performance of Tennessee.
Pierre Thomas, RB -- Saints (vs. ATL)
Everyone's favorite waiver wire pick-up received just six carries last week, while Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram were also used in the run game without Darren Sproles. Thomas has a good matchup with Atlanta this week, but for now, I'm staying away from the RB situation in New Orleans. Thomas is worth a stash, but not a start.

Scott Krinch (Week 9: 17 points; Season total: 98)
Well, thanks to the "MuscleHamster" I finally had a strong week and due to Doug Martin going HAM,we've decided that nobody is allowed to start Dougie Fresh in our weekly StartSit.I thought I should have been awarded bonus points, but Tony and Mark weren'thaving any of that. Hey Mark, how did Donald Brown work out for you? That'swhat I thought.

Anyways, I scored big last week on Willis McGahee not findingpay dirt and Marques Colston's low yard total. Somebody tell me why I startedHakeem Nicks though?? The guy had ONE catch; going forward this will be thelast time I mention his name.

Last week, I threw allstrategy out the window and went with my gut feeling and it paid off. I doubtthat will happen again, so I'm mixing it up a little this week. Tone Zone hasbeen running his mouth about being back in the lead, so it's time to knock himoff his pedestal. Don't sleep on my picks this week, it may just win you a fantasymatchup. If it doesn't, well just blame Andy Reid. He seems to be taking a lotof heat in Philly this week anyways.

Start'em:

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB -- Bills (@NE)

I started Fitzy a few weeks back and it workedout, why not give it a go again? In six career games against the Patriots, theHarvard-grad has thrown 16 interceptions. Don't let that number scare you.Despite the high turnover-ratio, Fitzpatrick has 11 touchdowns and has averaged284 yards per game. I see Buffalo being behind all game, which will force theBills to air out. What does that mean for you? Garbage time points and fantasyowners love their garbage points. Just hope you're not playing against him.

Mikel Leshoure, RB -- Lions (@ MIN)

Iknow, I may be jumping the gun a little bit on Leshoure. The formerIllinois standout found the endzone THREE times against the Jaguars on only 16carries. With the Lions' redzone struggles, he may see a lot more carriesgoing forward. Minnesota, who at one time this season was one of the best rundefenses, has been miserable lately. In the Vikings' past four games, they haveallowed 166 rushing YPG for an average of 4.6 YPC. I don't see any reason whyLeshoure doesn't hit double digit fantasy points on Sunday afternoon.

Torrey Smith, WR -- Ravens (vs.OAK)

After starting off the season on fire, Smithhas been quiet as of late. He caught a touchdown last week, but just barelycracked double-digit fantasy points with 10. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williamshad a field day on Oakland's secondary in Week 9 and I believe Smith will dothe same. Smith has seen four redzone passes this season and caught all ofthem and the odds of being in the redzone are in Baltimore's favor against theRaiders. BOLD PREDICTION: Smith catches a TD pass for over 65 yards on Sundayafternoon.

Sit'em:

Cam Newton, QB -- Panthers (vs.DEN)

Newton has been better as of late, finding anice balance between the run and the pass, but Denver is not a good matchup forhim. The Broncos' secondary has been rock solid lately and kept Drew Brees andAndy Dalton in check. Carolina ranks 30th in the NFL (2.5 percent) intouchdowns per pass attempt. Those statistics don't bode well for Mr. Newton.Sit him with confidence on Sunday and search your league's waiver wire for abetter option.

Arian Foster, RB -- Texans (@CHI)

Sitting Foster?!?!? I must be insane. On myactual fantasy team, I wouldn't do such a thing, but that's because I don'thave any other viable options. Each week, I sit a player who's going up againstthe Bears' ferocious defense. Chicago is only allowing 9.1 fantasy points pergame to opposing backfields and hadn't allowed over 100 yards to a running backall season until Chris Johnson broke off a huge scamper on Sunday. Rememberthough, that was against backups. For the first time all year, I think Fosterwill finish under double-digit points.

VincentJackson, WR -- Buccaneers (vs. SD)

There's reallyno reason to sit Jackson, who's been a beast as of late, but I'm doing it. Ithink V-Jax is going to be way too pumped against his old team on Sunday and itcould diminish his fantasy value. Yes, it could be the complete opposite, but Iwill take my chances. With Martin being the focal point of the offense in TampaBay now, I think Jackson will see less and less targets each game.

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Bears DL Akiem Hicks making the most of a chance the Saints never gave him

Bears DL Akiem Hicks making the most of a chance the Saints never gave him

Living well is indeed the best revenge, and sometimes nothing feels sweeter than proving doubters wrong. Akiem Hicks is savoring that exact feeling.

When the New Orleans Saints made Hicks their third-round pick in the 2013 draft, they typecast their big (6-5, 318 pounds) young defensive lineman as a one-trick pony.

“There were people in New Orleans that said, ‘You can’t rush the passer,’” Hicks recalled after the Bears’ win Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers. “They told me from my rookie year, ‘You’re going to be a run-stopper.’”

This despite Hicks collecting 6.5 sacks and 3 pass breakups as a senior at Regina in Canada. The Saints forced Hicks into the slot they’d decided he fit – nose tackle – then eventually grew disenchanted with him and traded him to New England last year – where he collect 3 sacks in spot duty.

Interestingly, Bears GM Ryan Pace was part of the Saints’ personnel operation. Whether Pace agreed with coaches’ handling of Hicks then isn’t known, but when Pace had the chance to bring Hicks to Chicago for a role different than the one the Saints forced Hicks into, Pace made it happen.

Pace likely saw those New England sacks as a foreshadowing or a sign that the New Orleans staff had miscast Hicks. The Bears defensive end now is under consideration for NFC defensive player of the week after his 10-tackle performance against San Francisco. Signing with the Bears last March 13 as a free agent was the career break Hicks has craved. For him it was a career lifeline.

“They have given me the ability to go rush the passer,” Hicks said. “So I love this organization – [GM] Ryan Pace, coach Fox, Vic [Fangio, defensive coordinator] – for just giving a guy the capability to put it out there and do what you feel like you can do.”

[MORE BEARS: Back from scary concussion, Leonard Floyd playing like franchise pass rusher Bears craved]

Hicks has been showing what he can do, to quarterbacks. For him the best part of win over the 49ers was the two third-quarter sacks of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Those sacks gave the massive lineman, who the Saints said couldn’t rush the passer, 6 sacks for the season – more than any member of the Saints defense this season. It has been a classic instance of putting a player in position to maximize his skills, not jam someone into a bad fit.

“Akiem has been in a couple of different types of packages before with New Orleans and New England,” said coach John Fox. The Patriots switched from a long-time 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 but “we’re more of a New England-type style. But we’re playing him more at end; he played mostly a nose tackle [in New Orleans]. He’s fit really well for us as far as his physical stature.

"But he does have pass rush ability. It shows a little about his athleticism. So he’s got a combination of both.”

That “combination” has been allowed to flourish at a new level, and the Bears’ plan for Hicks was the foundation of why he wanted to sign in Chicago as a free agent. The Bears do not play their defensive linemen in a clear one-gap, get-upfield-fast scheme tailored to speed players. Nor do they play a classic two-gap, linemen-control-blockers scheme typically built on three massive space-eaters on the defensive line.

They play what one player has called a “gap and a half” system, which requires being stout as well as nimble.

One Hicks rush on Kaepernick featured a deft spin move out of a block, not the norm for 336-pound linemen. He got one sack with a quick slide out of a double-team.

“I’m not freelancing,” Hicks said. “But I’m rushing ‘fast.’ There’s a portion of the defense where you have the [run] responsibility and don’t have the freedom or liberty [to rush]. It’s a great system for me and I love what they’ve let me do.”