Nick Mensio

Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em

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Week 9 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

Friday, November 3, 2017


Happy Week 9, everyone. Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes, as these are players I’ll likely have some exposure to over the weekend.

QUARTERBACK

Start of the Week: Dak Prescott vs. Chiefs: All things considered, Prescott played well last week in D.C. In the driving rain and whipping winds, Prescott was asked to throw the ball just 22 times. Ezekiel Elliott ran it 33 times for 150 yards and a pair of scores. Prescott completed 14 of those 22 passes for 143 yards with no scores and no picks, finishing as the QB24 on the week. It was Prescott’s lowest finish of the season to date. In a week with six teams on bye, Prescott is a top-flight QB1 coming back home to face a Chiefs defense traveling on a short week. This one will be played in a dome with no weather concerns. Over the last five weeks, the Chiefs are 29th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, and no team has surrendered more touchdowns through the air in that span. This defense has really struggled without All-Pro S Eric Berry (Achilles’) and OLBs Justin Houston (knee) and Dee Ford (back) aren’t 100 percent. CB Steven Nelson was activated off I.R. last week, but Kenneth Acker was still playing snaps and getting beat by Demaryius Thomas. Trevor Siemian just couldn’t make the Chiefs pay. With Elliott’s suspension expected to start this week, look for the offense to lean more on sophomore Prescott. Chiefs DC Bob Sutton also runs a man-coverage scheme, which tends to have the defensive backs with their backs to the line of scrimmage. That will open up running lanes for Prescott as a scrambler to go with his dream matchup as a passer. Only three teams have allowed more rushing yards to quarterbacks than Kansas City. The 51-point total for Chiefs-Cowboys is the highest of Week 9, and the game is currently a pick ‘em. This has shootout written all over it. Prescott should bounce-back in full force Sunday.

Starts

Jared Goff at Giants: It’s a difficult week if looking for a streamer off the waiver wire, but there are a couple guys with whom you can win the week. Goff fits in that category. The Rams are coming off their bye and currently sit No. 2 in the league in points per game at 30.3, just behind the Texans’ mark of 30.7. Goff has been a respectable 13th among quarterbacks in fantasy points per game through eight weeks. Coach Sean McVay is getting the most out of last year’s No. 1 overall pick, and the Rams will travel to face a Giants team that McVay knows well from his days as the Redskins’ OC in the NFC East. And now the Giants will be without top CB Janoris Jenkins after he was suspended by coach Ben McAdoo for violating team rules. This G-Men squad is off the rails, and the once-feared pass defense is dead last in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks the last five weeks. Without Jenkins locking down one portion of the field and no RE Olivier Vernon (ankle) screaming off the edge, this defense doesn’t put fear in opposing offenses. Goff hasn’t tossed multiple touchdowns in a game since Week 4, but Sunday presents a ripe opportunity to end that drought.

Jacoby Brissett at Texans: Brissett is in the same category this week as Goff above; a not-great quarterback in a normal week, but on the fantasy map with six teams on bye. Brissett managed the QB10 finish on the road in Cincinnati last week and nearly led the Colts to an upset win before he tossed a back-breaking pick-six in the fourth quarter to LE Carlos Dunlap. It was Brissett’s first multi-touchdown passing game of the season. The Texans present an opportunity to tie on another. Over the last five weeks, Houston is 31st in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, and the defense is getting burned by passers with mobility in that timeframe. Only two teams have allowed more rushing yards to quarterbacks since Week 3, and the Texans are 1-of-3 teams to allow multiple rushing touchdown to the position in those five weeks. Brissett has ran for three touchdowns since taking over as the starter in Indy and has 135 yards on the ground. Houston has been injury-ravaged in its front seven, losing all three of DE J.J. Watt, DE Christian Covington, and OLB Whitney Mercilus to IR. ILB Brian Cushing is on suspension, and fill-in ILB Dylan Cole isn’t practicing with a hamstring injury. This defense just got torched by Week 8’s QB1 Russell Wilson. Colts-Texans has the third-highest over-under of the week at 49 points and is a good bet to go over that number in a weather-free dome.

Alex Smith at Cowboys: Not often do we need to advise starting fantasy’s overall QB1, but Smith understandably still goes overlooked in fake football. Smith is coming off a Monday night clunker against the Broncos, throwing for just 202 yards and one score. That happens often against Denver. The Cowboys defense shut down Kirk Cousins in D.C. last week, but weather played a huge role in that effort, and the Redskins were missing nearly their entire offensive line. Cousins didn’t stand much of a chance. This defense isn’t one to fear by any means. Over the last five weeks, Dallas has picked off just one pass, and Smith has yet to throw an interception this season. He committed his first turnover of 2017 by losing a fumble last week. In the last two games at Jerry’s World, the Cowboys have allowed 35 points to the Rams and 35 to the Packers. Jared Goff managed the QB14 finish in that game, while Aaron Rodgers was the overall QB6 in his. Smith has been putting up fantasy points all season and is squarely on the QB1 map this week in a potential shootout in the dome. As mentioned earlier, the 51-point total in Chiefs-Cowboys is the week’s highest.

Sits

Matt Ryan at Panthers: Ryan simply hasn’t gotten going in 2017. He’s the QB20 in fantasy points per game. Ryan hasn’t had a 300-yard game since Week 1 and has yet to throw for three touchdowns in a week. He accomplished those feats eight and nine times respectively as MVP last year. Under new OC Steve Sarkisian it isn’t happening, and Sark is doing a bad job of getting the ball into the hands of his best offensive players, namely Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, and Tevin Coleman. Ryan’s stats are suffering because of it, and he’s already nearly matched his interception total from last season (7) with six through eight weeks. The Falcons now try to right the ship in Carolina where they’ll face a defense ranked No. 7 in pass-defense DVOA and 10th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks the last five weeks. This unit also just got back centerfield S Kurt Coleman and MLB Luke Kuechly back from injuries and shut down the Bucs’ offense in Week 8. Carolina is second in the league with 27 sacks. Atlanta’s implied team total of 21 points is one of the lowest of the week. At this point, we need to see it from Ryan before starting him in fantasy.

Andy Dalton at Jaguars: Dalton has taken advantage of plus matchups this season and just did so in Week 8 against the Colts, throwing for 243 yards and two scores as the QB3 on the week. He also had a big game against the Browns back in Week 4. Those are two of the easiest spots a quarterback could ask for, but a date with the Jaguars is one of the toughest. Jacksonville leads the league in sacks and quarterback hits and just traded for DT Marcell Dareus during last week’s bye. The Jaguars are No. 1 in pass-defense DVOA, No. 1 in pass yards allowed, and No. 1 in fantasy points given up to quarterbacks. They’ve allowed just four touchdown passes all year. Meanwhile, the Bengals offensive line is 30th in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate. After losing both LT Andrew Whitworth and RG Kevin Zeitler in free agency, this blocking unit has cratered as a group. The Bengals’ implied team total of 17.5 points is the lowest of Week 9. Jacksonville’s defense is arguably the top play on the board, and it’s priced that way on daily fantasy sites.

Kirk Cousins at Seahawks: Cousins is currently the QB7 in fantasy points per game, but he’s coming off a real bad outing last week against the Cowboys. Heavy rain and swirling wind played a large role in the QB19 effort, but the Redskins were missing LT Trent Williams, C Spencer Long, and RG Brandon Scherff all to injuries, while swing tackle Ty Nsekhe was also out. RT Morgan Moses was playing on two bum ankles after twisting them both in Week 7. All four of Williams, Long, Scherff, and Nsekhe missed practice again on Wednesday and don’t have particularly promising Week 9 outlooks. Good luck trying to bring a patchwork offensive line to Seattle. The Seahawks just got torched on their home turf by rookie Deshaun Watson last week, but odds are strongly against it happening again with Cousins considering all the injuries, including Jordan Reed (hamstring) and Jamison Crowder (hamstring) after they didn’t practice Wednesday. Reed has all but been ruled out. Seattle is sixth in pass-defense DVOA and eighth in touchdown passes given up. Washington’s implied team total of 19 points is one of the lowest of Week 9. Seattle is a top-end D/ST play.


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Nick Mensio is a football writer for Rotoworld.com. The 2014 NFL season marks his third with Rotoworld. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.
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