Lady and gentlepersons, welcome to week 10 of the NFL season! As usual it is going way too fast and we will soon be left to fondle our Ben Roethlisberger fatheads and start planning next year’s top 10, can you say Ray Rice? So do your best to savor each moment! Thankfully Thursday night football is here to fray the already severely frayed knot that binds what relationships you are tenuously holding together, but it’s football, what good is “social interaction” and “love” when you can manage your fantasy team to Canton, or more likely some place online where they give you a digitized trophy? For a fantasy breakdown of tonight’s game take a look at my post over at Bears Blitz. Yeah, I know, the Bears suck!
Here is our weekly installment of sleepers and busts. Bow to our greatness:
Chet Gresham, Here and Now
Jerricho Cotchery, WR: The Cotch Rocket should be all healed up and has a nice #1 receiver to take away some pressure in the way of Braylon “playing for the money” Edwards. He also gets a team in Jacksonville that ranks last in DVOA to #2 wide receivers. He’s a must start this week.
Mark Sanchez, QB: To carry on with the J-E-T-S theme I’m liking a lot of their players this week up against the Jags. Sanchez has shown he can have clunkers, but his last game before the bye was a strong one versus the weak Dolphins secondary. I feel like he can have a productive game at home off the bye against a poor Jags secondary.
Kolby Smith, RB: No, not Thomas Jones! I can only stomach so many Jets players at a time! I don’t like Kolby Smith (It’s a long story. Essentially he tried to kill my dog.), but I think Haley does like him, at least as an inside runner. You know I like Jamaal Charles because I own him, but my last conversation with Haley was heated on this subject. We decided that to remain friends we would agree to disagree. I think Todd is going to give Smith a shot at the goal line. Will he be able to convert? I’m kind of hoping not for my very selfish reasons, but since he should get the chance he’s worth a flier in deep leagues against a poor Raiders defense.
Roddy White, WR: Carolina faced the loaded pass offenses of Arizona and New Orleans over the past two weeks and allowed a total of one touchdown pass to wide receivers. Even that one to Robert Meachem last Sunday came from 54 yards out. Such big plays have been a big part of White’s success this year, as four of his six touchdowns have come from at least 31 yards away. His chances of adding to that total don’t seem great this week, however, for two main reasons. White continues to deal with a knee injury that had him questionable for the Washington game, and the Panthers don’t give up many big pass plays. They’ve allowed the fifth fewest passes of 20 yards or more (16) all year. White scored in the first meeting between these teams but also tallied just 53 yards on his six catches. As Matt Ryan has struggled a bit and the team has leaned more heavily on Michael Turner lately, White has caught four passes or fewer in three of the past four games. He has also been held to less than 60 yards in all but two outings. Those numbers don’t matter too much if you find the end zone, but they make for a pretty mediocre fantasy day when you don’t.
Greg Olsen, TE: Every tight end that has garnered at least eight targets against the Niners so far has come away with at least six catches. Unfortunately for Olsen, there has only been one game so far in which Jay Cutler threw that many passes his way. The outlook gets worse if you don’t play in a point-per-reception format, as Owen Daniels has posted the only touchdown by a tight end against San Francisco this season. The list of tight ends who played the Niners and didn’t find the end zone includes Dallas Clark, Tony Gonzalez, John Carlson and Visanthe Shiancoe. Throw in Chicago’s utter lack of a running game, and it’s not hard to imagine the Bears struggling to get close enough for Olsen to get some of the red-zone looks that led to his big game last Sunday.
Kyle Orton, QB: When you see Washington come up on the schedule this year, it’s easy to think of a thoroughly terrible team against which any opponent can get right. This isn’t the week for Orton to do so, though. No quarterback has thrown for more than one touchdown on Washington all season, and although plenty of weak passers adorn that list, it also includes Donovan McNabb, Matt Ryan and Eli Manning. In part because the Washington offense has been so anemic, only two opposing quarterbacks have even reached 200 yards the team. Let’s not discredit the Washington defense, though, which has held opponents to the sixth fewest yards per attempt. Denver has had its once attractive running game stuffed by Baltimore and Pittsburgh the past two weeks and can use this far less challenging matchup to get things going again in that area.
Sleeper: Brett Favre: The Vikings got a much needed week of rest after the emotional win for Favre in his return to Lambeau Field. Favre has surprisingly been a top 10 option at QB thus far in 2009, and this week he draws a juicy matchup with one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. The Lions are allowing an average of 18.6 points per game to opposing quarterbacks, and Favre will have no issues finding his receivers very open all day. In their Week 2 matchup, Favre completed 23 of 27 passes for 155 yards and 2 touchdowns. He should easily score for several touchdowns, but also approach the 300 yard mark in passing. Start Favre with confidence this week.
Bust: David Garrard: David Garrard’s on again, off again 2009 season is about to hit the skids yet again. Garrard finished in the 10 top last week for quarterbacks due to a matchup against the weak Kansas City Chiefs and an offensive explosion by Mike Sims-Walker. The Jets have been one of the toughest matchups so far in 2009 for opposing quarterbacks allowing only 7 fantasy points per game on average. Darrelle Revis should have no problem containing Sims-Walker, and the constant pressure from the blitzing Jets defense won’t give Garrard any time to find any of the other Jaguars receivers.
Sleeper: Mike Bell: We over at Fantasy Phenoms had this one circled for weeks. With Bell and the Saints heading into St. Louis in Week 10, this game should be in the books before the 2nd quarter. Look for Bell to get plenty of second half carries, as Pierre Thomas will likely be resting much of the latter part of the contest. If Bell touches the rock 15 times, he will certainly produce quality fantasy stats against the leagues 27th ranked rush defense. If you have both Thomas as well as Bell…play’em both.
Bust: Rashard Mendenhall: I’ve got nothing but love for Mendenhall overall, but in Week 10 against the Bengals’ 2nd ranked rush defense, look for the Steelers to go to the air the majority of the game. Inversely, the Bengals’ pass defense is suspect, and a bottom 10 unit, so look for Big Ben and his weapons to be the main source of production for the Steelers.
Sleeper: Robert Meachem: This play is somewhat contingent on the availability of Lance Moore, but the mid-week report is that Moore still has not practiced, and hasn’t practiced since Week 8. With that said, Meachem has an excellent match-up this week against a Rams secondary that is 30th in the league in passing yards allowed per game at home, 257.7. They allow a league worst 9.2 yards per attempt. The Rams are also 29th in points per game allowed at 27.6. Meachem is coming off a game that saw him targeted a season-high 6 times, in which he led the Saints receivers with 5 catches for 98 yards including a highlight reel 54-yard touchdown score. Meachem is producing when Brees goes to him, and this game for the Saints should be a high-scoring wide-open affair, with plenty of fantasy points to go around for this offensive juggernaut.
Bust: Mike Sims-Walker: All the stats stack up against Sims-Walker this week. First off, he’s on the road, and the Jacksonville passing attack has been horrible in away games, averaging only 150.5 yards passing a game. In comparison, they average 291.0 yards passing a game at home. The last time we saw MSW on the road was against Tennessee where he had two catches for nine yards. In sizing up the Jaguars opponent, the Jets, they are 3rd in the league in allowing only 145.2 yards passing a game at home. The are especially stingy to the wide receiver position where they are 2nd in the league in allowing only 8.8 receptions per game, and 1st in lowest yards allowed to the position per game at 96. Jets are also 2nd in the league in allowing only three wide receiver touchdowns.
Sleeper: Brandon Pettigrew: Pettigrew looks to be fully healthy again and with Calvin Johnson on the field to take some of the pressure off, Pettigrew had his best game as a pro with 7 receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown on 8 targets in week 9. In week 10 he faces a Vikings defense that is 32nd against opposing TEs. Detroit will most likely get behind early and Pettigrew might be the only player that can actually get open against Minnesota.
Bust: Dustin Keller: Keller is coming off his best fantasy game of the year in week 8 when he was the Jets leading receiver against the Dolphins. He recorded 8 receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown. The Jets had a bye in week 9 but this week they face a Jacksonville team that has not allowed any TEs over 39 yards and has only allowed 1 TD all year to TEs. Find a better option than Keller. The Jets should be able to run all day on the Jaguars and will look to take shots deep against a defense that only has 8 sacks and 5 INTs on the season.
Sleeper: Chicago Bears: The Bears have been a dreadful defense for you if you picked them up in the beginning of the year. They rank in the bottom third in fantasy football this season and with guys like Brian Urlacher and Pisa Tinoisamoa down for the year, it is easy to see why. However, this week they head to San Francisco on Thursday night to face off against a San Francisco team that hasn’t won in four consecutive weeks despite the re-emergence of QB Alex Smith. I expect Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman to drape the 49ers’ wide receivers and come up with a couple interceptions which will be a nice surprise for owners in need of a defensive pickup in week 10.
Bust: Indianapolis Colts: Indianapolis might be the best all around team in football. Their offense is quite obviously one of the most proficient in the league and is supporting what has been at times, a patchwork defense.. And while the secondary made due last week without Bob Sanders, Kelvin Hayden, and Marlin Jackson, it is going to catch up with them on Sunday night. Tom Brady will exploit every nook and cranny of the Indianapolis defense and turn the game into a shootout which never spells good news for fantasy defense owners. If you have to start Indy, do what you must, but I’d be seeing if I could pick up someone at least for week 10.