Fantasy Football: Week 9 Preview

Posted Nov 3, 2012

Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham could be poised for a big week. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Some say it takes a big man to admit when he's wrong. Of course, it's usually the person who was wrong who says that, so as to save some grace from whatever they were wrong about.

Well, after looking over last week's preview column, I realized that several of the predictions I made were the complete opposite of what actually happened. A few examples: Tabbing Michael Crabtree, Trent Richardson and Jason Witten as stumblers. All three had at least 16.7 fantasy points. Sometimes you play the numbers; sometimes the numbers play you.

But I'm a big man, so not only am I willing to admit I'm wrong, but I'm also willing to get right back in the saddle, comb through more stats and dish out more key numbers to know about every contest, plus a sleeper, stumbler or injury concern to watch out for with a brief explanation why. Impressive, right? Let's get to the numbers.

Byes: New England, New York Jets, San Francisco and St. Louis.

Bills at Texans

Stat to know: The Texans are top five in total defense (283 yards allowed per game), run defense (83) and pass defense (200). It's tough to bench Stevie Johnson, Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller, but it's unlikely that all three will have good games. Spiller has the most upside because of his big-play ability.

Sleeper: K Shayne Graham (at least 8 fantasy points in every game this year; double-digits in two of his past three).

Ravens at Browns

Stat to know: The Ravens rank 30th in run defense (142.9 yards allowed per game), and when these teams faced each other in Week 4, Trent Richardson had 104 total yards and a touchdown. Expect an ever better performance this week.

Sleeper: WR Anquan Boldin (Had 131 yards against Cleveland in Week 4; averaged 9 targets per game in past four contests).

Broncos at Bengals

Stat to know: Cincinnati is allowing the eighth-most fantasy points per game to RBs (21.7), so Willis McGahee is once again a strong play. Ronnie Hillman, who had a season-high 14 carries for 86 yards last week, can also work as a flex in deep leagues.

Sleeper: TE Jermaine Gresham (Broncos allowing 11.2 FPPG to TEs, third most).

Bears at Titans

Stat to know: About the only area in which the Bears' defense has even been somewhat vulnerable is against receivers, but even that's a bit misleading because of 214 passing yards and two passing TDs that have come in garbage time, according to Sporting News' garbage-time tracker. Chris Johnson is about the only Titan worth taking a chance on this week.

Sleeper: QB Jay Cutler (Titans allowing fourth-most FPPG to QBs).

Lions at Jaguars

Stat to know: Lions' coach Jim Schwartz said Joique Bell took over for Mikel LeShoure in the fourth quarter because he had the “hot hand,” but fantasy owners should expect LeShoure to get the bulk of the touches against the Jaguars. Jacksonville is allowing the fourth-most FPPG to RBs (23.3), so LeShoure should have a good game.

Stumbler: TE Brandon Pettigrew (Jaguars allowing second-fewest FPPG to TEs).      

Cardinals at Packers

Stat to know: Alex Green has had 20-plus carries in three straight games, and all he's managed is 154 rushing yards. Last week, he salvaged his day with four catches for 28 yards, but it will be harder for him to pad his stats this week against Arizona, who's allowing the third-fewest receiving yards to RBs (21.3).

Sleeper: WR Andre Roberts (Packers allowing 11th-most FPPG to WRs; Roberts averaging 9 targets per game over past five contests).

Dolphins at Colts

Stat to know: It's unclear how carries will divvied up between Donald Brown (14 last week) and Vick Ballard (12), but neither are very good fantasy plays this week against Miami's third-ranked run defense (82 yards allowed per game).

Sleeper: WR Brian Hartline (Colts allowing fifth-most FPPG to WRs).

Panthers at Redskins

Stat to know: If there was ever a week for Cam Newton to break out of his slump, it's this week. Washington is allowing the third-most FPPG to QBs (24.4). The Redskins are also allowing the second-most FPPG to WRs (31.3), so expect a big game from Steve Smith and a solid game from Brandon LaFell (concussion) if he plays.

Stumbler: WR Santana Moss (Panthers allowing third-fewest FPPG to WRs).

Buccaneers at Raiders

Stat to know: Josh Freeman has scored at least 29.4 fantasy points in each of his past three games, and he impressed last week on the road for the first time. Expect him to continue playing well against an Oakland defense allowing 21 FPPG to QBs (ninth most).

Sleeper: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (Bucs allowing third-most FPPG to WRs).

Vikings at Seahawks

Stat to know: Christian Ponder and the Vikings started the year strong in terms of taking care of the ball and not allowing sacks, but over the past three games Minnesota has turned it over five times and allowed 10 sacks. Seattle's D/ST is a solid play at home.

Sleeper: QB Russell Wilson (Better at home; Minnesota allowing eighth-most FPPG to QBs, including second-most rushing yards per game to QBs).

Steelers at Giants

Stat to know: The Giants D/ST has averaged 17.3 FPPG over the past three weeks, but they have a tough task this week against Pittsburgh. The Steelers are allowing just 4.9 FPPG to D/STs (sixth fewest) and have only twice allowed more than five fantasy points in a game this season.

Stumbler: RB Jonathan Dwyer (Giants have allowed just 88.5 rushing yards per game to RBs and three total rushing TDs to RBs).

Cowboys at Falcons

Stat to know: Tony Gonzalez has turned in two subpar games and has seen his targets drop by almost two per game in that span. He's still worth starting against a Cowboys' defense allowing just 6.3 FPPG to TEs (ninth fewest), but he might not be a top-five TE all season.

Sleeper: Falcons D/ST (Cowboys allowing second-most FPPG to D/STs).

Eagles at Saints

Stat to know: It's tough to know what to expect from Eagles' receivers given Philadelphia's precarious QB situation, but both Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson are must-starts against a New Orleans' defense allowing the most FPPG to WRs (32.7).

Sleeper: K Garrett Hartley (Eagles allowing third-most FPPG to Ks).

Matt Lutovsky is a fantasy football writer for Sporting News' Fantasy Source. You can read more of his work on the Fantasy Source football homepage.