6 Fantasy Football Stars to Start or Sit for Week 9

On the fence about your roster? Let the power of math guide the way!

Excited for Chiefs/Chargers? Yeah, me neither. I think I'd enjoy this game a lot more if the rules made it 7-on-7, or maybe they played hockey instead of football. As a primetime game, this is more of a snoozefest than Mike Francesa after Thanksgiving dinner. I'd rather watch MSG, with of all of those archived clips of Sleepy Floyd, know what I mean?

But hey, football is football and even if you don't give two squirts about the actual game, you surely care about your fantasy team. Let me guess: you're in the thick of the playoff hunt, and you're facing a tough opponent. Even more, he got drunk at last year's holiday party and told you he grabbed your girlfriend's butt once! Now is the time for justice, my friend! Now is the time for... Michael Vick?!

Fantasy Football Best Starts/Must Sits Week 9

Michael Vick - Philadelphia Eagles
Week 8: 18.59 Projected Points (#3 Ranked QB)
Percent Started: 52.0%
Verdict: Start Him

QB controversies are an interesting thing. Sometimes they're a function of a fan base always thinking the grass is greener (see: Tim Tebow). Other times they're a function of simply having two truly bad options (see: Brady Quinn). But in the case of Philadelphia, it's partially a function of expectations being set a little too high and people overrating the preseason performance of a totally unknown quantity. Regardless, it makes for great talk radio fodder.

It ends this week, though. Michael Vick is going to do bad, bad things to the Saints. (Side note: I am trying as hard as I can not to make any off-color jokes here. Our chief analyst, Keith, is a huge Eagles fan and, well, we can't afford to lose him.)

Don't get it twisted, though - this projection is almost solely based on the putridity of the Saints defense (#32 in our efficiency metrics) and the likelihood of a shootout, rolling up tons of garbage-time points for Vick and crew. He's obviously got potential, but he's just not showing it this year; he's just 24th in our passer efficiency ratings, right along Philip Rivers and Brandon Weeden. Yikes.

The news is not all bad though. Despite his top comparable being Aaron Brooks (double yikes), four out of his five top predictive performances for this week's upcoming game have him up above 17 points, making him a more than viable option for a bye-week substitution or a surprise matchup-based starter.

Rashad Jennings - Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 9: 10.73 Projected Points (#13 Ranked RB)
Percent Started: 34.4%
Verdict: Start Him

Let's play a little trivia, shall we? There are only two schools that have more than one current starting running back in the NFL. One is Oklahoma, with AP and DeMarco Murray. The other? Pitt, with LeSean McCoy and LaRod Stephens-Howling. And what's more, they could actually claim three - Rashad Jennings started as a true freshman for Pitt, before transferring in 2005 to be closer to his family.

Now of course I mention this because I'm a total Yinzer homer, for which I make very little by way of apologies. I typically wouldn't recommend Rashad on even the worst of rosters due to the atrocious state of the Jacksonville offense. This week, though, I'm afraid I must make an exception. The Lions rank a scant #27 in our defensive efficiency rankings and given the large talent gap between the two teams, the only shot the Jags have to keep the Lions anywhere close is to pound the rock and dominate possession.

Rashad is currently a negative force in his running, costing his team 0.34 points every time he touches the ball. To give you a sense of comparison, that compares him closest to Aaron Stecker, Clifton Dawson, and another Pitt product, Nick Goings. Must be something in the water down in Wannstedtville!

It is worth noting that Rashad has an amazingly large confidence interval for a starting RB; we're 95% confident that he's going to score between 0.32 and 21.14. Triple yikes. If you can stomach the possibility of a near goose-egg, he's got the upper-end range to be a home run for you. Just don't say we didn't warn you.

Kyle Rudolph - Minnesota Vikings
Week 9: 5.40 Projected Points (#12 Ranked TE)
Percent Started: 41.9%
Verdict: Sit him

The bloom feels a little bit off of Kyle, doesn't it? Much like Jordy Nelson last year, Kyle started the year with huge value for getting a ton of looks in the red zone, thus making his fantasy numbers seem a bit inflated in relation to his actual performance. He's cooled in the past two weeks - perhaps through no fault of his own - mirroring the struggles of his team and in particular, Christian Ponder.

Last week in this column, we said to watch him because his catch rate simply isn't all that high. He proved us right by turning in a total mess of a week, making just two catches in a game where the Vikings had to throw the ball to keep up. We also said that the Bucs were a difficult matchup play against tight ends; the bad news here is that Seattle, his Week 9 opponent, is even tougher.

Digging into the numbers a little bit, we find more evidence that Rudolph is a bit overrated. He adds 0.64 points to his offense every time he touches the ball; while this sounds great, it's actually only #14 amongst startable TEs. His top two comparables are both Jeremy Shockey. What's that cat up to these days? You get my point.

With all of that said, we do still have him as our #12 TE, so it's not as if he is wholly unstartable - just don't expect great things. If you've got a player in a better matchup (such as Joel Dreessen or Brent Celek), give them a go instead.

C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson - Buffalo Bills
Week 9: 9.33 (Spiller) and 7.19 (Jackson) Projected Points (#17, #24 Ranked RBs)
Percent Started: 31.3% (Spiller), 41.1% (Jackson)
Verdict: Sit Them

Sometimes I have a very difficult time writing these blurbs because, come on, they're playing the Texans. If the Ravens get blown out by 30 points against J.J. Watt and crew, how do you think the Bills are going to do? Do you think that either one of these two options are qualified to do Ray Rice's landscaping, comparably speaking?

Unless you've got no one else, sit them both. I'd start Spiller before I started Jackson, simply because he's more of an option in the passing game and I suspect they're going to need to throw the ball quite a bit.

Spiller is also projected to have more than twice the chance of finding the end zone (0.42 TDs to 0.18 TDs), for what it's worth. (Hint: not much.)

DeSean Jackson - Philadelphia Eagles
Week 9: 10.12 Projected Points (#13 Ranked WR)
Percent Started: 42.6%
Verdict: Start Him

For the same reason we think that starting Michael Vick is a fine option, so too we think that DeSean Jackson will make like Stella and finally get his groove back against the Saints. The Saints may cover one player but they can't cover them all, thus making DeSean a slightly more interesting play than Maclin.

Derrick Mason. Keyshawn Johnson. Steve Smith. Andre Johnson. Not bad, huh? Those are DeSean's current comparables. That should tell you a few things, not least of which is that DeSean Jackson is quietly playing much better than you think - certainly better than last year's complainfest. He's adding 0.78 points (compared to last year's 0.75) to his team's offense for each reception; this puts him #30 in the league amongst startable WRs.

Not saying you should go out and propose a trade for him, but his value is surely quite low right now and that schedule (NO, DAL, WAS, CAR) does look appetizing for today's hungry wide receiver.

Steve Johnson - Buffalo Bills
Week 9: 8.19 Projected Points (#29 Ranked WR)
Percent Started: 32.2%
Verdict: Sit Him

Frankly, I'm shocked that 32% of people are starting him right now. You people must have a worse bench than the Pittsburgh Pirates.

First, they're playing the Texans. Everything I said about Spiller and Jackson above is doubly true for Stevie Johnson. Second, do you have any idea who the #2 receiver is in Buffalo? Nobody knows who it is in Detroit either - sit down, Titus - but at least they went and did something about it in trading for Mike Thomas, who isn't a solution but at least they tried! What has Buffalo done about it recently? All it means is that against any decent defense, they'll lock down on their one and only legitimate receiver. Guess who that is.