Start 'em, Sit 'em: Week 9

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Start 'em, Sit 'em: Week 9

The guys were on top of their game in Week 8, so let's see if they can do it again in Week 9.
This week features four teams on a Bye -- New England, San Francisco, St. Louis and the New York Jets -- meaning guys like Tom Brady, Frank Gore, Chris Givens and Tim Tebow (just kidding) are out of commission for one matchup. So you may have to dig deeper into your bench or the waiver wire to pull out a win this week. Never fear, we're here to help you with those tough decisions on who to start and who to sit.
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 8. Good luck!
Tony Andracki (Week 8, 18 points; Season total: 85)
Last week was all about restoring order. I returned to the head of the class with some great startsit choices and I got Eric Decker (and subsequently, Jessie James) back in the weekly article after a Bye. Deck rewarded my faith handsomely, putting up two tuddies against a shaky New Orleans defense.
Speaking of New Orleans, make sure you start anybody who plays against them. Running backs, quarterbacks, wideouts, tight ends. Heck, even the grounds crew. I bet even Calvin Johnson could rack up 100 yards and a touchdown against the Saints. And that's saying a lot given how far he's fallen this year. That's what I get, I guess, for taking him fourth overall. Nice job, Tone.
Start 'em:
Jamaal Charles, RB -- Chiefs (@ SD)
Charles is the ultimate Jekyll and Hyde fantasy running back. One week, he'll have 35 touches, 250 total yards and a score. The next, he has five touches, four yards and a goose egg in the point column. But at least even his coach realized the error in his ways (I think? Maybe?), so look for Charles to get plenty of touches this week. He may even score. So consider this a Jekyll week. (Or Hyde. Which one was good again?)
Denarius Moore, WR -- Raiders (vs. TB)
The Bucs have rekindled the magic in their passing game, as Josh Freeman has suddenly emerged as a top-notch fantasy QB. The only thing is, their pass defense has gone in the other direction at the same time. Tampa has allowed more than 500 yards and three scores to opposing wide receivers the past two weeks, meaning there are plenty of fantasy points to be had for Moore, who has become the Raiders' clear No. 1 receiver. Start with confidence.
Philip Rivers, QB -- Chargers (vs. KC)
Could Rivers be any more disappointing? Could the Chargers? The good news is, Ol' Man Rivers (he's not old, but he's certainly playing like it) has a pretty decent matchup this week. The Chiefs have allowed multiple passing scores in all but one game this year, and in three of those contests, they've allowed three tuddies through the air. If Rivers is going to get back on track this year, I'm saying it'll happen this week. But I've been wrong before. On at least one occasion.
Sit 'em
Eric DeckerDeMaryius Thomas, WR -- DEN (@ CIN)
I know. I'm surprised, too. I've touted Decker week after week as a surprise start, and now I'm turning my back on him just when he's at his peak? This is fantasy sports, folks. No time for nostalgia. The Bengals are very efficient against wide receivers, having allowed just four scores to opposing wideouts in seven games. They get even tougher at home, in which they've only allowed one tuddie in three contests. One of these Denver receivers may wind up with a decent fantasy day, but it's too tough to say who it'd be. Or they may both end up disappointing. Either way, the risk is too high. Stay away.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB -- Steelers (@ NYG)
Yes, this seems dumb to sit a guy against a Giants defense that just allowed 437 passing yards to the Cowboys. But here's the thing -- it took 62 attempts to rack up that many yards. And Romo still only finished with 19 fantasy points. I mean, that was mostly due to the four picks, but therein lies the issue with starting Big Ben this week (I know he doesn't like to be called "Big Ben" anymore, but I simply don't care.). The Giants get to the QB, they force turnovers and the Steelers have like 18 running backs in the trainer's room each day, so there's no hope of a running game slowing down New York's front four. It could be a long day for Roethlisberger.
C.J. Spiller, RB -- Bills(@ HOU)
I've been pretty long-winded on all of my reasoning thus far. So let's keep this short and sweet (like all the Halloween candy I'm eating right now. I'm currently gorging on Tootsie Rolls if anybody was curious): Spiller is in a timeshare in Buffalo, the Texans haven't allowed a rushing touchdown all year (and have allowed 90 rushing yards in just one game so far) and when the Bills get down early (which happens like, what, four times a month?), they throw. A lot. Which means Spiller and Fred Jackson will get left out in the cold once again when the Texans go up big quickly. Huh. Guess that wasn't so short and sweet (like all the Halloween candy I'm eating right now. I switched to a Tootsie Pop in that span. Still the same family, sure, but a different type of delivery in consuming the Tootsie Roll, ya know?). Anyways, don't start Spiller if you can avoid it. Moving on to Kit Kats now...
Mark Strotman (Week 8, 16 points; Season total: 84)
I can't believe I lost my first place lead to the third member of the Eric Decker-Jessie James love triangle. But that's OK. I liked my picks last week and I feel confident that they'll do well again. My starters are looking to bounce-back, either from injuries or off weeks, while my sit 'ems are fading down the fantasy stretch, and it's time you took them out of your lineup...perhaps for good.
Start 'em:
Donald Brown, RB -- Colts (vs. MIA)
The Colts' leading rusher is back fully healthy, and he rushed 14 times for 80 yards last week against the Titans. Vick Ballard was a hot pick-up the last two weeks, but Brown has fresh legs and could do some damage against the Dolphins' defense. This is more of a gut feeling that Brown will run well with fresh legs than a situational play.
Josh Gordon, WR -- Browns (vs. BAL)
At the beginning of the year starting a rookie against the Baltimore secondary would have been fantasy suicide, but this is a nice play for Gordon. The Ravens have been awful and injuries have decimated their secondary depth. Gordon missed the end zone last week for the first time in a month, but I think he'll get back there this week.
Joe Flacco, QB -- Ravens (at CLE)
Remember Week 4? Flacco torched the Browns on Thursday Night Football for 356 yards and a touchdown in a big win. Also, the Ravens are coming off a bye week after being embarrassed in Houston two weeks ago. I think Flacco and company are going to make a statement at the hands of the Browns, and it will start with the signal caller's arm. I think he's a strong QB1 this week.
Sit 'em:
Dwayne Bowe, WR -- Chiefs (at SD)
The Chiefs are bad. Like, really bad. Tied for the worst record in the NFL, the offense has a league-high 25 turnovers and a QB rating of 64.4. More important, the Chargers and Norv Turner need this game tonight. I think Matt Cassel throws up a stinker and that Bowe is silenced. It's a tough sit given his potential, but I'm staying away from all Kansas City quarterbacks and wide receivers for the time being.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB -- Bengals (vs. DEN)
It's usually a good omen to start a running back coming off his bye week, but Green-Ellis is in a rut and I don't see him getting out of it against the Broncos. He hasn't found the end zone in four straight games, and another black-and-blue AFC game may yield the same results. Consider this: Green-Ellis hasn't scored double-digit points since Week 2.
Alex Green, RB -- Packers (vs. ARZ)
The experiment seems to be over. Not only has Green done nothing in the backfield in his three weeks as the featured back, but James Starks (the preseason starter) appears healthy enough to start taking some of his carries. While Green is the better receiver out of the backfield, Starks would likely get the goal line carries. This is a situation to avoid, especially if you own Green.
Scott Krinch (Week 8, 13 points; Season total: 81)
If you took my advice this week, I'd like to issue you a sincere apology. I was WAY off on each one of my starts. For some reason I decided to go with Brandon Weeden, who scored a measly five fantasy points. Ouch with a captial "O." I promise you that will be the last time I ever start a 29-year-old rookie quarterback. LeShoure had a decent game racking up yards, but couldn't find the end zone. Finally, I think we all know what happened to Dez Bryant on Sunday. If only he had smaller hands...
I decided to sit Cam Newton against the Bears. Cam passed for over 300 yards, but the two picks and no touchdowns helped me out there. Ryan Mathews didn't have the "monster" game ESPN predicted, but he did rush for 95 yards which hurt me. My last sit, Mike Wallace, recorded seven catches, but didn't find the end zone.
Something very odd is that NOT one of my starts or sits found pay dirt on Sunday. Let's see if I can change that trend this week and quiet the new leader in the standings.
Start 'em:
Tony Romo, QB -- Cowboys (@ ATL)
I'm going out on a limb here with Romo and hoping he builds off his solid second half against the Giants last week. In two career games against Atlanta, Carrie Underwood's ex has thrown for 589 yards, five touchdowns and only one interception. If Dallas has any chance of knocking the Falcons out of the undefeated category, they will need a huge game from Romo. I don't see the Cowboys winning, but I do see an offensive shootout with Romo racking up some fantasy points.
Doug Martin, RB -- Buccaneers (@ OAK)
It looks like the learning curve may be over for Doug Martin. He torched one of the best rushing defenses in the league, Minnesota, for 135 yards and a touchdown. I don't see Martin having any problem cracking 100 yards with a touchdown against a so-so Raiders run defense. If Martin keeps up his current pace, RG3 may have some competition for Rookie of the Year.
Hakeem Nicks, WR -- Giants (vs. PIT)
I know. Nicks has done nothing this year to warrant me starting him this week. I just have a hunch. In his last three games, he's recorded 13 total fantasy points. Not something you want to see if you drafted him in the second or third round of your fantasy drafts. The one thing Nicks has going for him is it looks like he's fully healthy. Pittsburgh's defense has been great as of late, but I think it's going to be Nicks and not Victor Cruz that lights up the Steelers secondary.
Sit 'em:
Josh Freeman, QB -- Buccaneers (@ OAK)
He's got to have a bad game at some point, right? Freeman has scored over 20 fantasy points and recorded at least three touchdowns in his last three games. Why is it going to end this week? I have no idea, but I just don't have a good feeling about this matchup. The Raiders secondary has gotten better during their last three games. The Buccaneers may win this game, but it's going to come off the legs of Martin.
Willis McGahee, RB -- Broncos (@ CIN)
The reason why I'm sitting McGahee is because he hasn't had back-to-back good fantasy games all season. Rookie Ronnie Hillman is starting to get a few more touches to keep the veteran McGahee fresh. The Broncos have been on fire, but the Bengals desperately need this game to stay in the AFC North hunt. Coming off the bye week, I believe Cincinnati's defense will be up to the task.
Marques Colston, WR -- Saints (vs. PHI)
Why am I sitting Colston? Well, same reason I sat Freeman and McGahee. I'm going with my gut. Last week I went with matchups and statistics and it failed me miserably. I think this strategy may work better for me. Colston only had five catches last week and the Eagles defense is going to come out with something to prove after hearing criticism all week.

White Sox will give Tim Anderson freedom to make mistakes

White Sox will give Tim Anderson freedom to make mistakes

MINNEAPOLIS -- The White Sox have no plans for Tim Anderson to take the same path as the Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber.

An hour before the Cubs announced their shocking news Thursday that the World Series hero is headed to Triple-A, White Sox manager Rick Renteria said he thought Anderson’s struggles could be addressed in the majors.

Playing in his first full season, Anderson has had an up and down campaign. He leads the majors with 16 errors committed and has struggled at the plate, hitting .256/.284/.374 with six home runs and 19 RBIs in 265 plate appearances. The roller coaster ride has led to some aggravation for Anderson, who slammed his batting helmet in frustration during Wednesday’s loss. Anderson said the helmet slam was the topic of a postgame conversation he had with Renteria on Wednesday.

“I feel like this year has been the toughest year I’ve dealt with since I’ve started playing baseball,” Anderson said. “I have to keep playing, lock in and control it.

“(Slamming the helmet) doesn’t make you feel better. It’s just a little frustration. You get mad at times, but you just try to control it and keep playing.”

Anderson, who turns 24 on Friday, has had a lot to manage in 2017.

It’s his first full season in the majors. He signed a contract extension in March. Since May he’s been dealing with the loss of his close friend, who was shot to death. Throw in the on-field struggles and Renteria realizes there’s a lot with which Anderson had to deal.

“You just make the sure the perspective they’re having at any particular moment is the correct perspective,” Renteria said. “You try to make sure that the underlying frustrations he might be having, that he’s able to separate it.

“You have ups and down, they’re not always going to be in the best place mentally at times. But for the most part you address it, you talk about it because you understand it, you’ve lived all those things and you just try to give him a little insight and keep it going in the right direction.”

[VIVID SEATS: Buy your White Sox tickets here]

Anderson made a pair of miscues in a costly third-inning Twins rally on Wednesday night.

But Renteria expressed his confidence in the second-year player, calling him one of the premier shortstops in the league.

The White Sox manager has seen Anderson make the necessary corrections after infield work with bench coach Joe McEwing. The effort and preparation have been there. Renteria just wants to make sure his player can compartmentalize and stay focused. He realizes there’s going to be mistakes from time to time and wants to make sure Anderson is handling them well.

“To say he’s not going to continue to make mistakes every now and then, yeah that’s going to happen,” Renteria said. “It’s there for everybody to see. That’s why everybody takes notice and that’s natural. I think the one thing we have to do as a staff and players also is step back and stay away from the fray of that attention and stay focused on what you have to do. Minimize how all the noise affects you and continue to play the game.”

Renteria remembers his own struggles as a young player and knows how much more scrutiny Anderson faces. Every game is televised and highlights are streamed on the internet. Any little gaffe can be magnified. Anderson admits that at times he’s dealt with frustration he’s never before experienced and it’s caught up to him. Now he just needs to learn how to cope with the stress a little better.

“Nobody wants to go through tough times and struggle,” Anderson said. “Slamming helmets is not the right way to go about it because you could get injured, so try to handle it in a better way.

“It’s been tough times and a lot of frustration, but I try not to let it get to me, but sometimes it does. I try to balance it out and keep going.

“I’m just trying to manage it, balance it out and separate it from each other.”

Bears announce training camp schedule

Bears announce training camp schedule

The Bears released their official training camp schedule Thursday morning. After reporting to Olivet Nazarene on Wednesday, July 26, the first of ten practices open to the public will take place the following day. The Bears will be based out of Bourbonnais for the 16th straight season. Training camp will go through Sunday, Aug. 13 before the Bears break camp and finish the preseason in Lake Forest. 

All practices are tentatively scheduled to start at various times during the 11 a.m. hour with the exception of Saturday, Aug. 13, which starts at 12:05 p.m. Those times are subject to change based on weather, and a varying set of schedules that John Fox and his coaching staff have set up, as they adjust to player and training staff preferences in hopes of reducing injuries. 

Also, new this season, fans wanting to attend practices must order free tickets in advance through the Bears website. Fans will not be allowed in without a ticket, and the first 1,000 fans each day will be given various souvenirs. The practice campus will be open to the public with tickets from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Here is the full training camp schedule: