Forte, Tomlinson should roll for fantasy owners in Week 9

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Start 'em & Sit 'em is the ultimate look at weekly matchups and how they'll affect your fantasy team. Sleeper alert features a player who's under the radar and could produce good numbers. Owners beware features a player who's a regular fantasy starter but could fail to meet expectations. For your final lineup decisions, check our lineup rankings.

Start of the week

Matt Forte at Bills (Toronto): Forte has been like a roller coaster ride for fantasy leaguers this season, mixing great performances with absolute clunkers. But if there was ever a week to start him, it's this week against the hapless Buffalo Bills. Their defense has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

Quarterbacks -- start 'em

Michael Vick vs. Colts: After missing the past three games due to injured ribs, Vick is expected to start for the Eagles in Week 9. He should be starting for your fantasy team as well. In the three games where he took the majority of the offensive snaps for the Eagles earlier this year, Vick averaged close to 26 fantasy points on NFL.com.

Tom Brady at Browns: Brady has been a pedestrian quarterback since the trade of Randy Moss, averaging a mere 12 fantasy points in his last three games. But with six teams on a bye and a matchup against the Browns up next, he should still be starting in most leagues. Their defense has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Jay Cutler at Bills (Toronto): With a porous offensive line in front of him and a serious penchant for interceptions, it's hard to trust Cutler as your quarterback. However, he does have a great matchup against the Bills this week. Their defense has allowed an average of over 16 fantasy points per game to signal-callers.

Eli Manning at Seahawks: Manning is throwing way too many interceptions this season -- he's on pace for an awful 25 picks -- but he's also putting up nice yardage and touchdown totals. The Seahawks have been bad against the pass, so Manning should be considered a nice fantasy starter.

Matthew Stafford vs. Jets: With very few quarterbacks having favorable matchups this week, Stafford is going to be active in a lot of fantasy leagues. The Jets did keep Aaron Rodgers in check in their last game, but overall their defense has allowed an average of over 14 fantasy points per game to opposing signal-callers in 2010.

Sleeper alert -- Josh Freeman at Falcons: Believe it or not, but Freeman has scored the eighth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks on NFL.com this season. With six teams on a bye, he's a nice option for owners against the Falcons. In his last two starts for the Buccaneers, Freeman has averaged a very impressive 16.9 fantasy points.

Quarterbacks -- sit 'em

Carson Palmer vs. Steelers (Mon.): Palmer has quietly put up nice numbers for owners this season, but he's a risk against the Steelers on Monday night. Their defense has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in 2010. Palmer also has thrown just two touchdowns in his last four games against the Steel Curtain.

Brett Favre vs. Cardinals: Favre has been an enormous disappointment for fantasy owners this season, ranking an awful 29th in fantasy points among quarterbacks on NFL.com. With Moss no longer in the offense, his value has decreased even more moving forward. Unless you're desperate, the old gunslinger needs to be on the sidelines.

Matt Cassel at Raiders: Cassel has been a nice matchup-based option for fantasy owners in recent weeks, but his upcoming game against the Raiders isn't exactly favorable. In their last two games, the Silver & Black have held opposing quarterbacks to a combined 9.27 fantasy points on NFL.com. Keep Cassel on the fantasy sidelines.

Chad Henne at Ravens: Henne has been mediocre in his last two starts, averaging an unimpressive 9.1 fantasy points on NFL.com. He also has a tough road matchup next against the Ravens, who have allowed an average of just over 11 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. That make Henne quite a gamble for owners in all leagues.

Jon Kitna at Packers: If Kitna can't produce good numbers at home against a hapless Jaguars defense, it's hard to trust him on the road against a Packers team that is coming off a tremendous performance at the Meadowlands. Overall, Kitna shouldn't be active in fantasy leagues unless you're really in need of a quarterback this week.

Owners beware -- Matt Schaub vs. Chargers: I'm on the fence about Schaub this week, because I can see this game becoming a shootout. But if we look at the numbers, Schaub is a risky starter. He's averaged just 10.8 fantasy points in his last three games, and the Chargers have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

Running backs -- start 'em

LaDainian Tomlinson at Lions: Tomlinson failed to score double-digit fantasy points last week for the first time since the regular-season opener, but he'll bounce back against the Lions. Even with DT Ndamukong Suh in the mix, their defense has still allowed more fantasy points to running backs than any other team in the league.

Ahmad Bradshaw at Seahawks: One of the better draft values of the season, Bradshaw is on pace to put up career bests across the board. While the presence of Brandon Jacobs does hurt his value a bit, the explosive runner is still a solid option for owners in all leagues. Keep Bradshaw active against an inconsistent Seahawks defense.

Jamaal Charles at Raiders: Despite the fact that he's sharing carries with Thomas Jones, Charles is still on pace to finish the season with better than 1,500 rushing yards. With a matchup against a porous Raiders run defense next on the schedule, fantasy owners should consider both Charles and Jones solid starting options across the board.

Peyton Hillis vs. Patriots: Hillis, the best waiver-wire pickup at the running back position in 2010, should remain active in all leagues against the Patriots. While they have won five straight games, the Pats still don't have a tremendous defense. In fact, they have allowed an average of 18 fantasy points per game to running backs.

LeGarrette Blount at Falcons: Blount, listed as a sleeper in last week's edition of Start 'em & sit 'em, more than met expectations with 120 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Now that he's earned a featured role, the rookie out of Oregon is suddenly a very attractive No. 2 fantasy back or flex starter in most leagues.

Sleeper alert -- Darren Sproles at Texans: Sproles has quietly become a bigger part of the Chargers backfield committee in recent weeks, and he's a great sleeper against the Texans. With so many wideouts dealing with injuries, Sproles could see a ton of targets against a Texans defense that's been terrible against the pass in 2010.

Running backs -- sit 'em

Cedric Benson vs. Steelers (Mon.): Benson has struggled for owners in his last two games, scoring a combined 13.7 fantasy points on NFL.com. While he's still hard to bench, Benson could be in for another rough stat line against the Steelers. Their defense has surrendered the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs.

Jahvid Best vs. Jets: Remember when Best was one of the best runners in fantasy football? Well, that lasted about two weeks. Since then, he's averaged 6.7 fantasy points. Based on those numbers, not to mention a difficult matchup against a stout Jets run defense, Best is better left on the fantasy sidelines.

Marshawn Lynch vs. Giants: Lynch's move to Seattle was supposed to help his fantasy value, and it did -- for about one week. In his last two games, the veteran back has scored a combined 9.60 fantasy points on NFL.com. That includes a .70-point stinker against an awful Raiders run defense. Consider Lynch a major risk against the Giants.

Ronnie Brown at Ravens: One of the most disappointing players in fantasy football this season, Brown ranks just 30th in points among running backs on NFL.com. His fortunes aren't likely to change this week against the Baltimore Ravens, who have surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

Felix Jones at Packers: As if things could get any worse for the Cowboys, Jones is now dealing with ankle and forearm injuries that could limit him against the Packers. In fact, reports out of Dallas suggest that Tashard Choice could see more work in the team's backfield. Regardless, Jones is an obvious risk for owners in Week 9.

Owners beware - Ray Rice vs. Dolphins: I'm not telling you to bench Rice if you don't have good alternatives, but this week's matchup against the Dolphins is not at all favorable. In fact, the Fins have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to running backs. Their defense even held Rashard Mendenhall to just 4.3 points in Week 7.

Wide receivers -- start 'em

Brandon Marshall at Ravens: Marshall is on pace for a solid 107 catches and over 1,300 yards, but the fact that he's scored just one touchdown has fantasy leaguers a bit worried. Regardless, the veteran needs to be active against the Ravens -- their defense has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season.

Steve Smith at Seahawks: Hakeem Nicks has clearly become the best fantasy wideout on the Giants roster, but Smith is putting up decent numbers as well. He's posted double-digit fantasy points in two of his last three games, and a favorable matchup against the Seahawks makes him an attractive No. 2 wideout in most fantasy formats.

Steve Smith vs. Saints: Smith is coming off one of his best fantasy games of the season, catching nine passes in a loss to the Rams, and should remain active against the Saints. Heading into this year, he had posted an average of six catches for 90 yards with a combined seven touchdown catches in his last nine games against them.

Mike Williams at Falcons: Williams might not receive a ton of press, but he's still putting up tremendous numbers. In fact, the rookie standout ranks 20th in fantasy points among wideouts on NFL.com after eight weeks. He also has a great matchup ahead, facing a Falcons defense that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to wideouts.

Patrick Crayton at Texans: The Chargers will be without Malcom Floyd and Buster Davis, and Legedu Naanee remains a question mark. That leaves Crayton to fill in as the top wide receiver in the offense. Considering how poorly the Texans have defended opposing wideouts this season, Crayton should be seen as a viable No. 3 fantasy option.

Sleeper alert -- James Jones vs. Cowboys: Donald Driver has already been ruled out for this week's game due to an injured quadriceps, so Jones will no doubt see more targets in the Packers passing game. The Cowboys have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers in 2010, so Jones has starting value in most fantasy formats.

Wide receivers -- sit 'em

Chad Ochocinco vs. Steelers (Mon.): Ochocinco has been an enormous disappointment, scoring double-digit fantasy points in just two of his first seven games. If you can afford to bench him, it's a good idea against the Steelers -- he's averaged just 4.4 catches for 53.7 yards with one touchdown in his last nine games against them.

Percy Harvin vs. Cardinals: Harvin's value is falling fast, both due to injury and the absence of Moss. Even if he is able to play against the Cardinals, he'll do it at far less than 100 percent. Harvin will also have to contend with more defensive attention, so the prospects of him having a solid game are very bleak.

Deion Branch at Browns: After putting up a great stat line in his first game back with the Patriots, Branch has come crashing back down to earth. Not only has he caught just five passes in his last two games, but Branch is also dealing with a problematic hamstring that makes him a risk regardless of his numbers or the matchup.

Santonio Holmes at Lions: Holmes has played in three games for the Jets this season. In those contests, he's averaged a mere 4.2 fantasy points on NFL.com. While he could eventually emerge as a more productive option for owners, it's hard to trust Holmes right now. Unless you need a third wideout, he's better left on the sidelines.

Darrius Heyward-Bey vs. Chiefs: Fantasy owners might see Heyward Bey's 105-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Seahawks and think he's a viable bye-week option. Well, I would think again. The Maryland product will be hard pressed to produce against Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers, who is developing into a top NFL defender.

Owners beware -- Marques Colston at Panthers: Colston is finally starting to produce for owners, scoring a touchdown in two straight games. However, don't be shocked if his recent success stops against the Panthers. In his last five games against them, Colston has caught a combined 13 passes for 207 yards and scored just one touchdown.

Tight ends -- start 'em

Jacob Tamme at Eagles: Tamme made quite a nice impact last Monday night, catching six passes for 64 yards with one touchdown in a win over the Texans. Based on his increased role in the offense, not to mention a favorable matchup against the Eagles, Tamme has gone from waiver-wire fodder to fantasy starter in less than one week.

Visanthe Shiancoe vs. Cardinals: Shiancoe's fantasy stock is back on the rise after the release of Moss. The veteran should once again see more targets from Favre, especially in the red zone, and this week's matchup against the Cardinals is a favorable one. Their defense has struggled to stop opposing tight ends all season long.

Aaron Hernandez at Browns: Hernandez didn't do much to help fantasy owners last week, catching just two passes for 33 yards in a win over the Vikings. However, he should still be active in most leagues in Week 9. The Browns have allowed an average of close to seven fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.

Benjamin Watson vs. Patriots: Watson, who is on pace for close to 70 receptions, is worth a look as a fantasy starter against the Patriots. Not only will be be motivated to face his former team, but the matchup against the Patriots is also favorable -- their defense has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends.

Tony Moeaki at Raiders: Fantasy owners in deep leagues that need a tight end this week should consider Moeaki, who has posted 40-plus yards in five of his last six games. The Raiders are also one of the weaker teams in terms of defending tight ends, allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to the position after seven games.

Sleeper alert -- Greg Olsen at Bills (Toronto): Olsen has been held without a single reception in two of his last three games, so he's by no means a lock to put up big numbers. However, he's still worth a roll of the dice against the Bills -- their defense has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.

Tight ends -- sit 'em

Brent Celek vs. Colts: Celek has started to show signs of life after a slow start to the season, but this week's matchup at Lincoln Financial Field against the Colts makes him a bit of a risk. Their defense has allowed fewer receiving yards and fantasy points to opposing tight ends than any other team in the National Football League.

Kellen Winslow at Falcons: Winslow might still have some name value in fantasy leagues, but he's not exactly putting up huge numbers. In his last two games, Winslow has just six combined catches. He also hasn't scored a single touchdown all season. Unless you're in dire straits, it's better to keep this veteran on the fantasy sidelines.

Todd Heap vs. Dolphins: Heap has hauled in three touchdowns in his last two games, but his proneness to inconsistent stat lines makes him almost due for a stat-sheet clunker. With that said, Heap's numbers could be less than impressive this week against a Dolphins defense that has been very tough on opposing tight ends all season.

Tony Scheffler vs. Jets: Outside of a 12-point performance against the Vikings in Week 3, Scheffler has been non-existent in fantasy leagues. He was held without a catch last week against the Redskins and is losing targets to Brandon Pettigrew. Scheffler also has a tough matchup against the Jets, who have stifled tight ends in 2010.

Jermaine Gresham vs. Steelers (Mon.): Gresham, a rookie out of Oklahoma, is on pace to post a very respectable 66 receptions this season based on his current totals. But against the Steelers, he's a very risky fantasy option. Their steel-tight defense has allowed just one touchdown reception to opposing tight ends this season.

Owners beware -- Dustin Keller at Lions: Since an impressive three-week statistical stretch earlier this season, Keller has scored a combined 13.4 fantasy points in his last three games on NFL.com. The Lions have also been tough on tight ends in their first seven games, allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points (4.6 PPG) to the position.

Kickers -- start 'em

Dan Carpenter at Ravens: Who says that kickers don't matter in fantasy football? Believe it or not, but Carpenter has scored more fantasy points than Brown and Ricky Williams! That includes a three-week stretch where he's scored a combined 47 points. Carpenter has a nice matchup against the Ravens, so keep riding him while he's hot.

Mason Crosby vs. Cowboys: Crosby hasn't been a consistent option for owners, but he's still in the top 10 in fantasy points at his position. This week he has a great matchup against the Cowboys, though, so his numbers should be solid. The Boys from Big D have allowed an average of close to nine fantasy points per game to kickers.

Robbie Gould at Bills (Toronto): The Bills have one of the worst defenses in the entire league, so it's no surprise that opposing kickers have thrived against them. In fact, their defense has allowed more fantasy points to the position than any other team. That's good news for Gould, who should be active in most fantasy leagues in Week 9.

Sleeper alert -- Garrett Hartley at Panthers: The preseason No. 1 kicker in fantasy football, Hartley has been an enormous bust up to this point in the season. Still, he's worth a look if you need a kicker this week. Hartley faces a Panthers defense that has surrendered the third-most fantasy points to opposing kickers after eight weeks.

Kickers -- sit 'em

Nick Folk at Lions: Folk is coming off a big, fat zero in a loss to the Packers, so chances are he's being dropped in a lot of leagues. That's not surprising, as Folk has had just one solid stat line all season -- a 19-point explosion against the Vikings. The Lions have been tough on kickers, so Folk could be less than impressive once again.

Stephen Gostkowski at Browns: Gostkowski has been an inconsistent option for fantasy owners this season, and this week's matchup against the Browns isn't exactly a favorable one. Their defense has allowed a mere 6.4 fantasy points per game to opposing kickers, so don't be surprised if Gostkowski produces less-than-stellar numbers.

Connor Barth at Falcons: Barth has averaged a very solid 11 fantasy points in his last two games, but his streak of recent success could be close to an end. This week's opponent, the Falcons, have allowed fewer fantasy points (4.4 PPG) to opposing kickers than any other team in the league, so look elsewhere for help at the position.

Owners beware -- Matt Bryant vs. Buccaneers: Bryant, who is coming off a bye week, ranks seventh in fantasy points among kickers on NFL.com. What that said, this week's matchup against the Buccaneers isn't as favorable as it might look on paper. Their defense has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to kickers this season.

Defenses -- start 'em

Giants defense at Seahawks: The Giants are fresh off a bye and should put up some terrific fantasy points against a mediocre Seahawks offense. Hasselbeck is at less than 100 percent at the quarterback position, and his line could be without tackle Russell Okung due to a problematic ankle. Look for the G-Men to bring the pressure in this one.

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Saints defense at Panthers: The Saints defense is coming off a good performance against the Steelers, so it's value is back on the rise. This unit should continue to shine on the road against the Panthers. Defenses have scored more fantasy points facing Matt Moore and his offense than any other team in the National Football League.

Vikings defense vs. Cardinals: Derek Anderson will start ahead of Max Hall this week, but it doesn't make this matchup any less attractive for the Vikings defense. In fact, Anderson has more turnovers (8) than touchdowns (4) in his scattered time on the field. The Vikings haven't been great, but their defense is still worth a look this week.

Sleeper alert -- Cardinals defense at Vikings: The Vikings defense is a nice play in Week 9, but don't discount their opponent, the Cardinals. Without Moss in the pass attack, the Vikes won't be nearly as effective. What's more, Favre has an awful 15 turnovers compared to just seven touchdowns. He's also an easy target due to injuries.

Defenses -- sit 'em

Cowboys defense at Packers: Is there a defense in the National Football League that has done less with more than the Cowboys? They just gave up 35 points to the Jags on their home field, and now comes a much tougher road matchup against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. The Polks should be benched, or released altogether, in all leagues.

Bengals defense vs. Steelers (Mon.): With seven games in the rearview mirror, the Bengals rank an unimpressive 23rd in fantasy points among defenses on NFL.com. Next on the schedule is a date with the Steelers on Monday Night Football -- defenses facing this talented team have combined to score the seventh-fewest fantasy points.

Dolphins defense at Ravens: Much like the Bengals, the Dolphins have been all but invisible for fantasy owners. They rank 25th among defenses on NFL.com, and this week's road matchup against the Ravens isn't at all favorable. Defenses facing Joe Flacco and his crew have combined to score the sixth-fewest fantasy points in 2010.

Owners beware -- Eagles defense vs. Colts: Whenever a defense faces Peyton Manning and the Colts -- even if it's on their home field and in front of their fans -- that unit is going to be a risk. Opposing defenses have had little luck scoring fantasy points against the future Hall of Famer, so keep the Eagles in the nest and out of action.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Leave it in our comments section or send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com!

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