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.

As White Sox bats heat up, Todd Frazier feeling like himself after bumpy start to 2017

As White Sox bats heat up, Todd Frazier feeling like himself after bumpy start to 2017

Three games do not a comeback make, but Todd Frazier is feeling like his normal self again.

Frazier’s been battling a host of health-related issues since the start of 2017, including injuries to his finger and oblique that hampered him in the spring and most recently a bout with the flu that cost him six of eight games and saw him lose 10 pounds.

But the last three games have been more like it for Frazier, as the White Sox third baseman has gone 4-for-12 with five RBIs, four runs scored, three doubles and a pair of walks. In Tuesday’s win over the visiting Kansas City Royals, Frazier had a pair of doubles, matching his total from his previous 12 games.

“It was weird to start off with the finger on something weird that happened last year and that turned into a cast. And then the oblique. It has been a crazy ride,” Frazier said after Tuesday’s game. “That’s why this game you’ve got to work your butt off in the offseason and be ready now, and I feel like I’m getting back to where I need to be.

“I feel fine. I’m good. I’m trying to lift as much as I can. Maybe a little soreness from lifting trying to gain some muscle and some weight back. Trying to eat as much as I can too as well.”

The time off would be enough to knock someone off their game, but Frazier — who posted career lows with a .225 batting average and .302 on-base percentage last season — was still looking to heat up after struggling to produce through the season’s first few weeks. In his first 10 games, the veteran third baseman slashed just .091/.189/.212 with just three hits and one RBI.

So Frazier has been studying up. The entire White Sox lineup has feasted in the first two games of the current series against the Royals, combining for 22 runs on 29 hits. But Frazier credited his personal success to some of the work he’s been doing.

“Just doing my homework,” he said Wednesday. “I’m just trying to go back and understand what I did in the other years  that made me hit the ball better. Talk to the coaches. At the end of the day, it’s mental, that’s all it is. You’ve been hitting for all these years now, just got to understand to focus.

“We see these pitchers a lot. People always told me, ‘You’ve got the upper hand, you see these guys all the time.’ So let’s start figuring out what they’re throwing.”

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Tuesday night, Frazier served as the White Sox designated hitter, the second time he’s been in the lineup but not in the field this season, matching the number of times he played DH in 2016, his first year with an American League team.

While it presented a change of pace, Frazier had a positive review of something he hasn’t done very often.

“I liked it. Every once and a while I think you need a day like that,” he said. “I think we’ve got a lot of guys that can do it. It was good to get Matt (Davidson) in there at third base, get his body going a little bit out in the field a little bit more. It’s like, ‘You got a day off, you’re DH’ing.’ Not really. You’ve got to keep the body moving, keep staying loose. It worked out well for everybody.

“I did a little heavy lifting in the legs the day before, and Rick (Renteria) didn’t even know about that. I was a little sore, and I was like, ‘Good, I got a little DH spot today,’ which was great for me, and now I can focus on defense, as well.”

In baseball, fortunes can change on a daily basis, so who knows if this will be the start of a surge for Frazier or just a brief spike in a long season. But if the White Sox can get Frazier and the rest of the lineup to keep hitting like they have the past few games, it could mean big things.

“Everybody focused and prepared,” Frazier explained when asked about the big run totals in the last few games. “I think the little things, guys getting here earlier, guys wanting to get out there and take extra work, and the focus and determination that we’ve got going right now is pretty nice. Nobody’s trying to do too much.

“You see our plate approach, you see guys hustling out balls. You watch guys like Avi Garcia, he’s got two big infield singles for him. At the end of the year, you look back at some things like that, a guy hits a one-hopper to second base and beats out a ball. That takes your average from .250 to .260 if you get three or four of those. Examples: Leury Garcia beating out a ground ball, getting a play overturned because of hustle. We don’t lack that this year, and I think that’s something big that we’re working on.

“Win, lose or draw, we’re going to give 100 percent. We know we’ve got Rick Renteria coming in here telling us ‘Nobody’s feeling sorry for you. So pick yourself up. We’re professionals. We’re White Sox.’ I think that’s what we’re going by right now.”

Ryan Pace focusing on 'best player available,' at No. 3: Could that be Deshaun Watson?

Ryan Pace focusing on 'best player available,' at No. 3: Could that be Deshaun Watson?

Last month, Ryan Pace described his day-before-the-draft press conference as being one of the “hardest” he does all year.

With only a little over 24 hours until the Bears go on the clock with the third overall pick in the NFL Draft, the third-year Bears general manager wasn’t tipping his hand while answering the media’s questions on Wednesday.

One of Pace’s overarching points, though, was that the Bears have to focus on taking the best player available at No. 3 Thursday night. Pace said the Bears have three players targeted for that spot, and what the Cleveland Browns or San Francisco 49ers do ahead of them won’t impact their decision.

What also won’t impact the Bears’ decision is the need to draft a quarterback.

“I think you get yourself into trouble if you’re not sticking with our philosophy of best player available,” Pace said. “When you start trying to manufacture things or create things, that’s when teams get into dangerous water. I think if we just stay with guys we have a consensus on and best player available we’ll be in good shape.”

Plenty of draft observers — ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Rotoworld’s Josh Norris, NFL Network’s Mike Manock, CBS Sports’ Rob Rang — don’t have a quarterback in the top three of their respective “big boards,” which are headlined by the likes of Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett, LSU safety Jamal Adams, Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas and/or Alabama’s Jonathan Allen, among a few others.

But what if the Bears’ consensus is that a quarterback is a top-three player?

Over the last few months, Pace has consistently touted intangibles as being of prominent importance when evaluating a quarterback. At the combine in Indianapolis, he pointed to Drew Brees taking Purdue — a perennial Big Ten bottom-feeder — to a Rose Bowl. Pace, of course, knows Brees’ NFL success well having watched him in New Orleans before becoming the Bears’ general manager. 

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There’s one quarterback in this year’s draft class that could have those intangibles to be considered at No. 3: Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. 

Before Watson took over as a full-time starter in 2015, Clemson established itself as a perennial Orange Bowl contender that’d win 10 or 11 games a year. But Watson took Clemson to a different level, going 28-2 and reaching the College Football Playoff title game in 2015 (a loss to Alabama) and 2016 (a win over Alabama). 

“It's big with every position, the intangibles,” Pace said. ‘That's what I continue to stress to our guys right now, because you can get enamored with these physical qualities or these traits. There's enough good players where we don't need to change our standards.

“I really like our locker room right now. I really like the vibe right now in that locker room with the guys that we have here, it feels good, and I want to continue to add to that vibe and add to that excitement. It's up to me to impress that to our scouts and to our coaches that, hey, we've got to make sure we're adding the right kinds of guys, the right kinds of intangibles to our room.”

If Watson isn’t among the team’s consensus top three, he could fit into one of the “clouds” Pace talked about if the Bears trade down into the middle or later part of the first round. But trading down (or back into the first round) carries risk if the Bears believe Watson could be a franchise-changing quarterback. The No. 3 pick is the highest the Bears have had since the early 1970s, and it’s a position the team hardly wants to be in again.

Pace, of course, wasn’t going to reveal much the day before he and the Bears make a critically-important selection. The Bears know who they want, and Thursday night, so will everyone else.

“There’s been so much that’s come into this since August, so you’ve just trust what your eyes see and don’t over-think it,” Pace said. “Trust your conviction and trust your instincts and trust your gut.

“You can get into trouble right now if you’re up there watching additional tape and doing all that; I think you can over-scout players. By now we’ve got enough opinions. We’ve met with enough players. We’ve been through the Combine and been through the Pro Days and seen players play live. At this point we feel good. I don’t think we’re in a situation where we’re overthinking anything.”