Week 9 Startability Index (Start ‘Em/Sit ‘Em)

Let me start this week’s Startability Index with my Week 9 lock: the Chargers defense! OK, honesty alert, this is being published late Thursday right, well after the Chargers racked up 14-20 fantasy points, depending on your scoring system. Whether you believed this thought circulated in my head beforehand is beside the point. We have a new rule in fantasy, folks – starting the defense of the Chiefs opponent is mandatory.

Moving on to this week, let me try something new — more names than usual, this also means a lot less narrative and much more getting the point. Starting in 3-2-1….


Andy Dalton vs. Denver (5): Dalton has not fared well against attacking pass rushes as of late (Pittsburgh and Miami). He has also been interception-prone, although he does have bouts of his 2011 accuracy.

Josh Freeman at Oakland (7) Freeman is one of the league’s hottest QB’s with three TDs in each of his last three games. But Oakland has allowed opposing QBs only one TD a game in their last three, and that includes Matt Ryan. Still a solid start.

Cam Newton at Washington (8): Here’s a suggestion – start almost any quarterback against the worst secondary in football. If Cam can’t get it done here, drop him immediately.

Christian Ponder at Seattle (4): Seven INTs in his last four games. Percy Harvin dealing with a family issue. Should play but not confirmed. Seattle’s secondary may be too physical. And playing in Seattle is problematic.

Ben Roethlisberger at New York Giants (8): Consistent fantasy numbers all year. Coming off 3 TD game. Receiving corps healthy. Giants allowing 274 passing yards/game.

Running Backs

Vick Ballard vs. Miami (3): Ballard had two less carries than Donald Brown last week. Expect that gap to widen further, unless Brown is out (he was held out of practice Thursday.) Either way, the Dolphins are one of the best teams up front and no back has rushed over 80 yards.

Ronnie Hillman at Cincinnati (3): Hillman had a great game against the Saints, but a) many of his carries were in “killing the clock” time and b) the Saints can’t tackle. I like Hillman but there is no indication that he is going to be a significant part of this running game at this point.

Chris Johnson vs. Chicago (6):  Johnson vs. the Bears run defense may be the weekend’s best in-game matchup. Chicago has held opponents down all season and may do the same here. However, Johnson has at least 90 yards in his last three games and is really impressing once again with his shiftiness.

LaRod Stephens-Howling at Green Bay (4): Hard to be excited about a guy coming off an 8 carry, 6 yard performance. But that was the 49ers. Still, the Cardinals are going to have to focus on winning through the air, especially trying to expose the Charles Woodson injury.

Jonathan Stewart at Washington (5): No touchdowns and 3.5 yards per carry this season. Maybe that’s why the Panthers held onto DeAngelo Williams. The Redskins got torched by the Steelers on the ground last week so you never know if this will be Stewart’s breakout game.

Daniel Thomas at Indianapolis (6): Thomas has scored a touchdown in three of his last four games. Reggie Bush has struggled since his knee injury, but I don’t see Thomas stealing his limelight, except at the goal line where the Colts have given up a lot of points on the ground.

Pierre Thomas vs. Philadelphia (5): As reflected in his low rush attempt numbers, the Saints just don’t like to keep the ball on the ground. The Eagles have only allowed two rushing touchdowns this season. UPDATE: I moved up Thomas one point due to the news that Darren Sproles broke his hand and will be out indefinitely. Because of Sproles’ unique role (more receptions than rushes) I do not think the boost to Thomas will be substantial.

Kendall Wright vs. Chicago (5): I like Wright a lot better in PPR as he is being targeted consistently. Opposing wide receivers do succeed against the Bears’ Cover 2 from time-to-time but it doesn’t seem like Wright’s typical routes would make him the guy.

Wide Receivers

Ryan Broyles at Jacksonville (5): Broyles has scored in his last two games and appears to be a legitimate part of the Lions passing game. However, I believe a lot of his success has to do with Calvin Johnson’s combination of being tightly covered and dropping passes.  When either lets up Broyles could very well go back to being a bit player for now.

Eric Decker at Cincinnati (8): With five touchdowns in his last four games and no game with less than four receptions, Decker is a solid start every week at this point.

Josh Gordon vs. Baltimore (4): Gordon’s scoring streak came to end last week, albeit in good weather. But like almost all deep threats on teams without elite quarterbacks, Gordon’s numbers will be inconsistent. A fun start if the rest of your lineup is stacked, but don’t count on him.

Brian Hartline at Indianapolis (5): Watch the injury report, as Hartline was limited in practice Thursday. A decent start if healthy as the Colts have given up 12 passing touchdowns.

James Jones vs. Arizona (7): When he’s not scoring two TDs a game, he’s racking up 7-10 targets. As long as Greg Jennings is out, Jones is a good start. Especially against a Cardinals secondary coming off a uncharacteristic poor performance. Perhaps Patrick Peterson is trying on a new role?

Jeremy Maclin at New Orleans (7): Maclin has a least five receptions a game since Week 5. He is also a favorite target of Michael Vick and has a terrific matchup against the Saints lowly defense.

Denarius Moore vs. Oakland (6); Moore has scored in each of his last three games. The Bucs can be a tough secondary but did give up four touchdowns to Drew Brees a couple of weeks ago.

Cecil Shorts vs. Detroit (7): Somehow Short either has 100 yards or a TD in his last two games while playing on the worst offensive team in football. The Lions secondary does not play intimidating ball so Shorts should get plenty of targets.

Titus Young at Jacksonville (6); Big breakout 100 yard, 2 TD game last week. Expect Jacksonville to double and triple-team Calvin Johnson, much to Young’s benefit. New WR acquisition Mike Thomas should not be a threat.

Tight Ends

Owen Daniels vs. Buffalo (6): The Bills have played well against opposing tight ends, but Daniels has scored in four of his last five games and should get opportunities.

Jermichael Finley vs. Arizona (3): As Finley’s drop issues have increased, his =receptions have decreased. With just two in each of his last two games, and Aaron Rodgers losing confidence fast, I’d look elsewhere.

Heath Miller at New York Giants (7): Miller has scores in each of his last two games. The Giants allowed Jason Witten to have a monster game last week. Miller is used differently but should also be effective.

As always, if there is a player I have not covered please make requests in the comments. Thanks and good luck this week!