Taylor Swift is NOT happy Tony is benching Locker this week. We think she's got the words "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" in her head. (Photo credit: AP)
Is Brady fantasy relevant these days? At least he can have some Halloween fun with his wife Gisele Bundchen. (Photo credit: Instagram)
By: Tony Andracki, Scott Krinch and Mark Strotman
Welcome to another edition of CSNChicago.com's Start'em and Sit'em, where three totally unqualified guys give their take on the best and worst plays in the upcoming fantasy football week.
We're not experts, but then again, how can anybody truly be an "expert" at fantasy football? This is a game of luck and nobody can predict the future.
We don't have special powers, but we are pretty obsessed with fantasy sports. Just ask our girlfriends...if we had any.
Every week, each of us will comprise a trio of players with the best matchups or situations on tap for the week ahead and a corresponding trio of guys who are most likely to run into a metaphorical brick wall.
[RELATED: Week 8 picks]
And because we're men and we love perpetuating stereotypes, we, of course, turned this into a competition. Why not?
After three weeks (and all of last year), we realized a major flaw in our scoring: If we assign 0-5 values to each player's performance, there's nothing worse than a zero. And Mark's Week 3 sit of Antonio Brown (who went off for 31 ESPN standard points) should have been bad enough to sink his entire week (as Tony's picks of Cam Newton and DeSean Jackson in Week 6 did), instead of just that one pick.
So we've instituted a new system. We will add up the ESPN standard fantasy points for all of our "Starts" and subtract the points from all our "Sits" and the difference will be the weekly score. If one of us winds up with a negative score, so be it.
(Scoring example: If Scott's three starts total 45 fantasy points and his three sits total 20, he would finish the week with 25 points.)
So without further ado, here are our picks for Week 9:
Scott Krinch (Week 8: -31 points; Total: -33)
A miserable week for me could be the understatement of the century. -33 points, I don't know how that even happens? I guess Rueben Randle was due for a stinker - thankfully I didn't accept that trade of him for Keenan Allen in one of my fantasy leagues. I started Michael Vick who gave me a whopping -1. What makes matters worse is I started him over Colin Kaepernick in one of my bigger leagues. Anyways, I can go on and on about my struggles in Week 8, but I don't think you really want to listen. You probably don't want to listen to my advice after my latest showing either.
I feel confident about my choices going forward. I tried to play it as safe as possible and not get too flashy with my selections. This is the time in the fantasy season where you can't take risks. You need to make a playoff push because surprisingly the season is halfway over.
Here's my advice for Week 9: Play your horses. The guys that got you here are going to carry you down the stretch so don't get cute.
Robert Griffin III, QB -- WSH (vs. SD)
Forget the game that RGIII had against the Broncos. It was brutal, we all know that by now. The schedule for Griffin down the stretch is a cakewalk and we're likely to see him more around that 20-point range. Kirk Cousins isn't going to start, -- barring an injury -- I can promise you that. The Chargers pass defense is atrocious with a ranking of 31st in the NFL. They've only allowed one quarterback to finish with fewer than 10 points. This should be an easy matchup for Griffin.
Chris Johnson, RB -- TEN (@ STL)
I don't think we'll ever see CJ2K again, but that's fine unless you're a die-hard Titans fan. Johnson hasn't broken the 100-yard rushing mark this season, but he's doing damage in the passing game with 155 receiving yards and two scores in his last three games. It's a strange year for fantasy backs and Johnson is a valuable commodity to have. He has a favorable matchup against the Rams this week who are allowing 18.3 points per game to fantasy running backs. This is a game that it's imperative to have Johnson in your lineup.
Terrance Williams, WR -- DAL (vs. MIN)
I don't know if there is a wide receiver I like more in the NFL right now than Terrance Williams. Four touchdowns in his last four games. He's averaging 11.8 yards per reception. He's getting mismatches with teams playing Dez Bryant in double coverage. I don't see this as an aberration though. Williams is the real deal. He compiled huge numbers at Baylor and he's quieting scouts that dogged him leading up the NFL Draft. In Week 9, Williams will be licking his chops as he gets to lineup opposite Vikings' defenders. Minnesota is allowing 24.4 points per game to wideouts. Yeah ... Williams and Bryant are going to have a field day on Sunday.
Matt Ryan, QB -- ATL (@ CAR)
I think we're starting to see why people believe Matt Ryan is overrated. Without Roddy White and Julio Jones, Ryan threw four interceptions in Sunday's loss to the Cardinals. He doesn't have any weapons in the passing game outside of Tony Gonzalez. If you have him on your fantasy team, this is the time to trade him to somebody who's desperate for a quarterback and are buying on the "star" name. Also, his opponent this week, Carolina, has allowed the 2nd fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks in 2013. Park him on your bench.
DeAngelo Williams, RB -- CAR (vs. ATL)
Williams had his first touchdown of the season in Week 8. That goes to show you how much the Panthers dislike using him when they get to the goal line. It's a crowded backfield in Carolina with Mike Tolbert vulturing red zone carries, Cam Newton doing what Cam Newton does and the impending return of Jonathan Stewart in Week 9. This doesn't bode well for Williams despite playing a Falcons defense that just allowed 192 rushing yards to the Cardinals.
[RELATED: Top plays for Week 9]
Vincent Jackson, WR -- TB (@ SEA)
Jackson has gotten it done with two different quarterbacks this. He's proved that he is a top notch receiver in this league. He has hooked up with Mike Glennon for 55 fantasy points in ESPN standard leagues in his last three games. Normally I would say get him in your lineup, but this isn't the week to do so. Jackson will go up against the Seahawks defense who allow just 14.8 total points to opposing wideouts. I don't see this game ending well for Jackson nor his fantasy owners.
Tony Andracki: (Week 8 points: -2; Total: -33)
Last week was a changing of the guards in fantasy football. No longer are Tom Brady and Marques Colston must-starts. In fact, Colston, who has not even topped 20 receiving yards the last three games, may soon become droppable.
Gone are the days where Colston was heralded as a No. 1 receiver and Brady was considered a first-round pick.
But don't worry New Englanders, at least you guys have three World Series championships in the last 10 years to celebrate.
Terrelle Pryor, QB -- OAK (vs. PHI)
With six teams on Bye this week, that means Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford, Colin Kaepernick, Eli Manning, Chad Henne and Carson Palmer are all unavailable. Nobody's broken up about the last two, but the first four have been at least servicable fantasy QBs this season. Look no further than Pryor as a replacement. His 93-yard touchdown run proved there is no other QB in the league right now quite like Pryor. We haven't seen that breakaway speed from a QB since Michael Vick's heyday. Pryor has a great matchup this week against the Eagles (allowing 18 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs) and even if he he doesn't get it done through the air, he's like UPS -- he'll deliver on the ground.
Zac Stacy, RB -- STL (vs. TEN)
Stacy currently has an ankle injury, so this pick is a bit of a risk. But keep an eye on his health status entering Sunday. If he plays, he's a must-start. The pool of good fantasy running backs is thinner than ever and Stacy is now officially a member after a 134-yard performance against the vaunted Seahawks defense on Monday Night Football. The Rams also are the only team left in the NFL without a rushing TD. It's only a matter of time before that changes.
[MORE: Week 9 Target Watch -- AFC]
Keenan Allen, WR -- SD (@ WSH)
This kid has turned heads since breaking out in Week 4 and has become Philip Rivers' favorite target in San Diego. Since that Week 4 game, Allen has averaged 11.75 fantasy points per contest and he now draws the Redskins defense, which has allowed 26.7 fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts.
Ray Rice, RB -- BAL (@ CLE)
As I said before, this isn't a good week for running backs, so it would be awfully hard to sit a guy like Rice, whom you likely selected in the first round. This is more of a reminder to temper your expectations on Rice, even as he goes up against a Cleveland defense that has surrendered 23 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs. Rice is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry and has cracked 10 fantasy points just twice in six games this season. Make him prove he's a must-start before you blindly insert him into your starting lineup each week.
Jake Locker, QB -- TEN (@ STL)
No, I didn't choose Locker as a sit just to pick on Mark (who started him). The Titans quarterback has been very solid when healthy, but I have a hard time believing he's 100 percent just three weeks removed from a serious hip injury. Now, he has to go up against a St. Louis defensive front that sacked Russell Wilson seven times Monday night. Robert Quinn and Chris Long are an absolute nightmare and even if Locker stays healthy, he won't stay upright and the constant pressure could throw off his game.
T.Y. Hilton, WR -- IND (@ HOU)
Coming off a Bye, Hilton looks like the clear No. 1 target in the Colts offense with Reggie Wayne out for the season. But don't get too carried away just yet. The Texans have allowed just 13 fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts, the best mark in the league.
Mark Strotman (Week 8 points: 24; Total: 0)
Not sure whether I should be happy I scored 24 points last week or upset that it got me back to a whopping zero points. Oh, well. Apparently that's good enough for first place. Anyways, this week I'm feeling good about the Colts offense without Reggie Wayne and am excited to see a potential franchise quarterback take yet another big step. On the Sit 'em side, I've got two players who it's just time to face the facts with: they just aren't that good. Follow me, the guy with the hot hand, into a Week 9 win.
Jake Locker, QB -- TEN (@ STL)
Nothing says "I'm back" in the fantasy world like dropping 22 fantasy points on the 49ers defense. That's exactly what Locker did after missing two weeks with a hip injury, and now he's facing a Rams defense that is working on a short week after a gutsy performance against the Seahawks. With Chris Johnson doing next to nothing in the run game and St. Louis being pretty dreadful against the pass (Russell Wilson still managed 15 fantasy points) I think Locker is in for another big afternoon. This may be premature, but the Titans have found their franchise quarterback.
Trent Richardson, RB -- IND (@ HOU)
He's got to get going at some point, right? Right? Anyone? Look, Richardson has been an absolute bust of a fantasy pick/trade asset/best friend/son this year, but at some point his talent -- along with the Colts' offense -- is going to allow him a big night. I think that happens this week against a Texans defense that has been downright horrendous all year. Houston has allowed touchdown runs to running backs in four of the last five games (five total) and Andrew Luck is down his No. 1 wide receiver, meaning the run game will have to be moving early and often for the Colts to succeed. That means a big night for Richardson...I think. Anyone?
[ALSO: Week 9 Target Watch -- NFC]
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR -- IND (@ HOU)
Yes, Reggie Wayne is down and I expect the Colts to get things going on the ground. But as the awesome cliche goes, once the ground game gets going the passing game will open up. And while TY Hilton is now the best Colt skill-position player to own, Heyward-Bey is worth a shot in your flex. He scored his first touchdown of the season against the Broncos and the Texans allowed 17 points to Chiefs receivers last week. After a great win over the Broncos, I believe Andrew Luck and co. will be rolling. That means I think DHB can find the end zone and propel you to a win.
Tom Brady, QB -- NE (vs. PIT)
In the words of David, the Internet sensation kid who went to the dentist: Is this real life? And also in the words of David, if you drafted Tom Brady this season: Why is this happening to me? Let's put into perspective just how bad Brady has been this season (in terms of fantasy; the Patriots are still 6-2): He has fewer fantasy points (96.8) than Geno Smith (102.7), who has scored fewer than five points in a game THREE times. His best fantasy week got him 20.4 points; that's three fewer than Matt Schaub put up in Week 1 against the Chargers. He's thrown an interception in four straight games; Chad Henne's worst streak of the season with an INT in two games. Yeah, get him out of your lineup until he turns this thing around.
Gio Bernard, RB -- CIN (@ MIA)
He's got the 14th most fantasy points for running backs, but it's time to say goodbye to the Gio Bernard we knew early in the season. He has put up single-digit fantasy points in four of his last five games and hasn't found the end zone since Week 3. What's worse, The Lawfirm has looked pretty darn good in between the tackles for a team that simply needs the run for first downs and goal-line situations. Andy Dalton is finding more talent at the wideout position (hello, Marvin Jones; Andre Hawkins is back this week) to go with AJ Green. If you need to put him in your flex, you're doing so at your own risk. I would go find a wide receiver with more upside, because right now Bernard's is severely limited.
Alshon Jeffery, WR -- CHI (@ GB)
Yes, Josh McCown looked good last week filling in for Jay Cutler. Yes, Aaron Rodgers is 0-2 in his career against the Bears on Monday Night Football. And yes the Packers defense is still without Clay Matthews. But I really believe this is a bad position for Jeffery, who is now the No. 2 target (maybe No. 3 with Matt Forte) for a quarterback who hasn't started this season and is going up to Green Bay on the road in primetime. If the Packers race out to an early lead, maybe Jeffery gets some garbage-time yardage, but I think the Packers will have gameplanned for Jeffery by putting him up against a now-healthy Green Bay secondary, led by Casey Hayward, Tramon Williams, Micah Hyde and Morgan Burnett. Find another WR2/flex this week, as fun as it is having players on Monday Night.