With the first half of the season officially in the books, now’s the time to batten down the hatches and begin your preparations for the ever-important playoff push.
Cam Newton QB, Panthers: Nothing cures a streak of lackluster statistical performances like a date with the Washington Redskins defense, which is currently giving up an average of 24.1 fantasy points per game to opposing QB’s (third-most in NFL). Newton’s ability to create plays with his feet coupled with the shoddy secondary play in Washington should result in very favorable Week 9 stat line.
Ryan Mathews RB, Chargers: General Manager A.J. Smith and head coach Norv Turner are on the hot seat while QB Philip Rivers looks like a shell of his former self. Bottom line: This is not a good football team. But all we’re looking for as fantasy owners is statistical production, and RB Ryan Mathews should experience just that Thursday night. The Chiefs defense ranks 23 against the run (126.4 yds/gm) and is giving up an average of 22.0 fantasy points per game to opposing RB’s (sixth-most in NFL).
Jeremy Maclin WR, Eagles: Philly is a sinking ship, but take note that Maclin has been targeted a hefty 28 times over his last 3 games. More importantly, Philly travels to New Orleans on Monday night to take on a Saints team that ranks 30 in both pass defense (304.6 yds/gm) and scoring defense (30.9 pts/gm). The Saints give up more fantasy points to opposing WR’s than any other team in the NFL (32.9 pts/gm).
Christian Ponder QB, Vikings: Ponder looked like he was ready to take the next step in his development as a starting NFL QB after going interception-less through his first four starts. Since that time, the former FSU standout has thrown seven picks in four games and is struggling with his accuracy. Leave him on the bench in Week 9 when the Vikings face a Seahawks defense that is currently surrendering an average of just 16.9 fantasy points per game to opposing signal-callers (seventh-fewest in NFL).
Chris Johnson RB, Titans: The artist formerly known as CJ2K has had a solid run as of late, racking up 65 touches for 429 total yards and two scores over his last three starts. Caution with Johnson in Week 9, as the Titans host Chicago, which currently leads the league in run defense (77.9 yds/gm), scoring defense (14.3 pts/gm) and allows fewer fantasy points to opposing RB’s than any other team in the league (10.3 pts/gm).
Dez Bryant WR, Cowboys: Don’t let Sunday’s garbage-time statistics fool you. Despite being in his third NFL season, Bryant looks like a guy who still doesn’t understand the intricacies of the Dallas offense. Throw in a Week 9 showdown with a Falcons defense that ranks tenth in the league against the pass (216.9 yds/gm) and is surrendering an average of just 18.4 fantasy points per game to opposing WR’s and you’re better served leaving Bryant on the bench.
Joe Fortenbaugh, worked as an NFL Agent from 2003-2006 at JB Sports, Inc. Follow Joe on Twitter @joefortenbaugh, and check out his website at NationalFootballPost.com. You can reach him at [email protected].