Oct 27, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell.
Week nine offers a host of interesting if unremarkable matchups. On the other hand, owners in NFL fantasy leagues should be thrilled, as it might offer prime opportunities for serious points.
Start – Tony Romo against Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings have one of the worst defenses in the NFL. They haven’t given up fewer than 27 points in a game this season. Their once dominant defensive line has gotten pushed around on both run and pass plays while their young secondary has been exposed on more than one occasion. Now they must go into Texas against a Dallas Cowboys team with a lot more to play for at this point in the season and is coming off a frustrating loss in Detroit. Tony Romo has played very well and his receiving corps is developing into one of the best in football. If they keep him protected there is little hope the Vikings can stop them.
Sit – Russell Wilson against Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Seattle Seahawks are returning home after another win but make no mistake. Few of their games have looked pretty. Russell Wilson has not developed into the franchise quarterback type yet. Part of that is shoddy pass protection and the other is a constantly banged up group of wide receivers. The loss of Sidney Rice to a season-ending knee injury only magnifies that. With Percy Harvin still not ready the Seahawks may have to lean on their running game more than ever. That won’t be easy against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite their own offensive ineptitude, their defense is stout against the run and they have plenty of talent in the secondary to suffocate Wilson’s remaining targets. Seattle should win, but it will be another ugly one.
Start – Terrelle Pryor against Philadelphia Eagles
This sounds like a bit of a risk but it’s actually not when looking at the matchup. Terrelle Pryor plays good football when teams can’t put pressure on him. His ability to move around and make plays only magnifies that issue. The Philadelphia Eagles rank 25th in the league in sacks. That inability to get home is a big reason why their pass defense is among the worst in the league. If Pryor has time he should find openings down the field. Toss is his running ability and he should have a Cam Newton-like day heavy on fantasy points.
Sit – Torrey Smith against Cleveland Browns
Teams have stopped fearing the Baltimore Ravens offense. Losing Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta can do that. Though they beat the Cleveland Browns in their first meeting, it doesn’t guarantee any happy news for fantasy owners in the rematch. At the heart of it is wide receiver Torrey Smith. He will certainly get plenty of looks from Joe Flacco since he had a good game against Cleveland earlier in the year. The problem is this time he will have to worry about crowd noise and an ever intensifying Browns pass rush that will make life hard on Flacco. Unless Smith pops one deep it’s not likely he’ll have a big impact.
Sleeper – Le’Veon Bell against New England Patriots
Nobody on the coaching staff will ever admit to it, but losing Vince Wilfork could prove the Achilles heel to the New England Patriots defense once playoff time rolls around. Since losing the All-Pro nose tackle they have sunk to 31st in the NFL in run defense, allowing over 130 yards per game. This is great news for rookie Le’Veon Bell who seems back healthy from his early injury issues and is poised for breakout for Pittsburgh. If the Steelers commit to him and stay disciplined in their blocking, the extra attention Ben Roethlisberger will get should give Bell plenty of chances to find open holes.