Fantasy Preview: Week 9

Posted Nov 1, 2013

This is the bye we all haven't been waiting for. Broncos, Lions, Giants, 49ers, Cardinals -- heck, even the Jaguars, who have two usable WRs and a starting RB – all out of commission. Fantasy owners are digging deep.

After this week, there are 10 byes left. You're still likely to be down a regular starter at some point over the next three weeks, but if you make it through this gauntlet, you should be able to start making a few trades for stud starters or dropping guys you were just holding onto for bye-week fill-ins. Depth still matters, but if you're making a real run at your league's title, you're going to need guys who can put up big points in a hurry.

But for now, you have to focus on taking care of this week. And that's why we're here to help you make some of those tough decisions. Here are some key numbers to know about every contest, plus a stud, sleeper, stumbler or injury concern to watch for with a brief explanation why. Note that the “studs” are guys who are either better than most owners realize or established stars who owners might be foolishly thinking about benching.

Titans at Rams

Stat to know: The Rams have limited dual-threat QBs Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson to just 17.9 fantasy points per game (FPPG) this season. Jake Locker comes in with some big fantasy numbers over his past three games, but he's not as good of a sleeper as he looks like on paper.

Sleeper: RB Daryl Richardson (If Zac Stacy is out, Richardson could take advantage of a Titans' defense that's allowed double-digit fantasy points to an RB in four straight games.)

Falcons at Panthers

Stat to know: Atlanta is allowing the fourth-most FPPG to WRs this year (28.3). Steve Smith is a must-start, and both Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn are legit WR3 candidates in this bye-heavy week.

Sleeper: RB Jacquizz Rodgers (Panthers allowing 52 receiving yards per game to RBs, fourth most.)

Vikings at Cowboys

Stat to know: Jason Witten has been struggling lately, but the Vikings' 29th-ranked pass defense is very friendly to all receivers, including tight ends. They're allowing the 12th-most FPPG to TEs (9.2), which includes six TDs, tied for second most.

Sleeper: WR Greg Jennings (Cowboys allowing 25.4 FPPG to WRs, 10th most.)

Saints at Jets

Stat to Know: The Jets are allowing the third-fewest FPPG to RBs (12.4), including a league-low 19.1 receiving yards per game to RBs. It could be a tough day for both Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles.

Sleeper: WR Kenny Stills (Jets allowing 25.7 FPPG to WRs, including 17 pass plays of 25-plus yards.)

Chiefs at Bills

Stat to know: Few players have caused as much frustration this year as Dwayne Bowe, but he's worth another chance this week. The Bills are allowing a league-high 34 FPPG to WRs, including 15 receiving TDs to WRs, another league high. Dexter McCluster is also worth a shot as a flex.

Injury: RB C.J. Spiller, ankle (Game-time decision; Fred Jackson is a solid RB2 if Spiller is out again.)

Chargers at Redskins

Stat to know: Both the Chargers and Redskins are in the top seven in FPPG allowed to WRs. If you're looking for a bye-week fill-in, take your chances with Eddie Royal, Vincent Brown and Leonard Hankerson. Pierre Garcon and Keenan Allen are must-starts in this matchup.

Sleepers: RBs Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead (Redskins allowing most FPPG to RBs.)

Eagles at Raiders

Stat to know: In the two games Nick Foles quarterbacked earlier this year, DeSean Jackson had one of his best games and his worst. But he always got targets, averaging seven per contest. With Foles once again under center for the injured Michael Vick (hamstring), Jackson should be fine in this matchup against the Raiders' slightly below-average pass defense (241 yards allowed per game).

Sleeper: QB Terrelle Pryor (Eagles allowing ninth-most FPPG to QBs.)

Buccaneers at Seahawks

Stat to know: Reports out of Tampa indicate that CB Darrelle Revis will return to his more familiar man-coverage role, which is bad news for No. 1 wide receivers. This week, that's Golden Tate. Tate has had at least seven targets in each of the past four games, but with Revis on him, don't expect many catches or yards.

Stumbler: TE Tim Wright (Seahawks allowing fourth-fewest FPPG to TEs.)

Ravens at Browns

Stat to know: Torrey Smith received 13 targets when these teams met back in Week 2, helping him to 8.5 fantasy points. No. 2 WR Marlon Brown still had more points (10.5), and now Jacoby Jones has assumed that role after eight targets in his last game. Both Smith and Jones are worth starting this week.

Stumbler: RB Willis McGahee (10.6 fantasy points the past three weeks; Ravens allowing fewest FPPG to RBs.)

Steelers at Patriots

Stat to know: Stevan Ridley has scored in three straight games, and even better, he's averaged 5.0 yards per carry in that span. Against a Pittsburgh defense allowing the eighth-most FPPG to RBs (19.8), he's a must-start even if he loses some carries to Brandon Bolden and LeGarrette Blount.

Sleeper: K Shaun Suisham (11 FG attempts in his past three games; at least two in his past five games.)

Colts at Texans

Stat to know: No team is allowing fewer FPPG to WRs than the Texans (14.4). Fantasy owners might be excited about the extra targets both T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey are due, but Coby Fleener might benefit the most from Reggie Wayne's knee injury this week.

Injuries: RB Arian Foster, hamstring and RB Ben Tate, ribs (It's unclear who would start if both backs are out, and since this is a primetime game, fantasy owners should have another option ready.)

Bears at Packers

Stat to know: The Packers have shut down the Vikings' and Browns' passing games the past two weeks, allowing just 19.4 total fantasy points to their WRs. The Bears with Josh McCown at QB might be on par with those teams. Brandon Marshall is a must-start, but it's tough to recommend starting Alshon Jeffery.

Stumbler: Bears D/ST (Packers allowing fifth-fewest FPPG to D/STs.)