Scott Engel of RotoExperts.com examines some current and past trends and tells you how the numbers apply to your fantasy football strategies and outlook for Week 9.
FEELING THE HEAT:
Players who have positive numbers following them into Week 9.
Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets
Stat: In his past three games, Sanchez has thrown for 540 yards, six TDs and one interception.
Analysis: Sanchez has actually been an underrated fantasy producer this season. In Michael Fabiano's NFL.com Invitational Experts League, which uses standard passing scoring, his 108.50 points currently rank 12th among QBs. That puts him in viable starter territory, and he faces the 24th-ranked Bills pass defense this week, so you can use him if a bye week or underperforming alternative is a concern.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle
Stat: Lynch is shooting for his fourth consecutive game with a TD run.
Analysis: Dallas' fourth-ranked rush defense was torn apart by LeSean McCoy last week, and will likely perform much better against a Seattle offensive line that is still a work in progress. You can find better options than Lynch this week, as the Cowboys will be well-prepared to defend the short yardage runs when the situations arise this time.
Roddy White, WR, Atlanta
Stat: White aims for his sixth consecutive game against the AFC with 100-plus yards.
Analysis: White has been a disappointment so far this year, but he may get Julio Jones back as a complement this week against Indianapolis' 22nd-ranked pass defense. White still has a lot of statistical upside and should deliver the best expected returns this week.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Miami
Stat: Marshall has six TD catches in his past four games against the Chiefs.
Analysis: In five career starts vs. the Chiefs, Marshall has averaged 92.4 receiving yards per game. But he has not scored since Week 2 and has only two 100-yard games this year. Marshall has become a mediocre fantasy player, so do not hesitate to start an upside player with a better matchup over him.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Oakland
Stat: In his past four games, Heyward-Bey has averaged 96.3 receiving yards per contest.
Analysis: With Darren McFadden not expected to play, Heyward-Bey and the Raiders would seemingly become easier to defend, especially with a somewhat rusty Carson Palmer at QB. But Denver has a 19th-ranked pass defense and this is a divisional game, so you can still roll with DHB as a WR3.
Beanie Wells, RB, Arizona
Stat: Wells has a rush TD in two of three games against the Rams.
Analysis: Wells' knee may be an issue for the rest of the year as he has indicated, but if he is active, you simply have to play him. We have witnessed his ability to play through pain more than once this year, so take it week to week with Wells and enjoy the tasty matchup with St. Louis.
Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore
Stat: In his last meeting with the Steelers, Rice had a rushing and receiving TD.
Analysis: No fantasy owner in his right mind would bench Rice, but some will stress over his potential production vs. Pittsburgh. Rice has earned his fantasy superstar status because he does his thing against all levels of opposition, so maintain your confidence in him this week.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia
Stat: Jackson has receiving TDs in two of his past three games vs. the Bears
Analysis: The Bears have surrendered 11 TD passes and can certainly be burned by the deep ball. Jackson has frustrated his owners this year with his inconsistency and lack of scoring, but this is a good week to have some faith in him.
SEARCHING FOR SPARKS:
These players will look to turn some negative outlooks around in Week 8.
Miles Austin, WR, Dallas
Stat: Austin has 117 receiving yards and no TDs in his past three games.
Analysis: This is the week when Austin bounces back. Seattle is without both of its starting CBs and the Cowboys passing game will click as Dallas gets back on track after the Eagles debacle.
Stevie Johnson, WR, Buffalo
Stat: Johnson has not registered a 100-yard game yet this year and has scored once in his past four games.
Analysis: The Jets can afford to put Darrelle Revis almost exclusively on Johnson, as the Bills have no other major threats in the passing game. Do not hesitate to reserve Johnson for a lesser WR with a friendly matchup.
Ryan Torain, RB, Washington
Stat: Torain has 31 rushing yards in his past three games
Analysis: Torain has not been a factor in seemingly friendly matchups, so facing the top-ranked 49ers run defense makes him a must-bench player. The move towards rookie Roy Helu as the No. 1 RB for Washington should start gaining momentum this week. Avoid the Redskins RBs this week, but get Helu now if you can.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Tennessee
Stat: Hasselbeck has one TD pass in each of the past three games.
Analysis: Hasselbeck has cooled off considerably recently, as he has no true playmaking WRs and does not get consistent support from the running game. Even in a bye week situation, there is no upside at all against the Bengals' third-ranked pass defense. Even Tarvaris Jackson, who replaced Hasslebeck in Seattle, is a better bye week plugger.
Tim Tebow, QB, Denver
Stat: Tebow has been sacked 13 times and has four fumbles in his two starts this year.
Analysis: Tebow has only lost one fumble, but the numbers have clearly indicated that he is really struggling in his adaption to the pro game. You are taking a big risk by starting Tebow, who could conceivably be pulled from the game against the Raiders at some point.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, New England
Stat: Green-Ellis has rushed for 67 yards in the past two games.
Analysis: You keep using Green-Ellis because he remains a finisher for a potent offense, a guy who will get a lot of short-yardage scoring opportunities. The Giants have allowed nine rushing TDs, and Green-Ellis is a viable Week 9 option.
Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis
Stat: Wayne does not have an 80-yard outing or a TD in his past seven games.
Analysis: If you need to clear roster room for an important pickup, do not hesitate to cut Wayne. Forget where you drafted him or even what his name used to mean. You are not going to start him in most cases, and you should not keep him on the bench just because of who he was just a year ago.
Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco
Stat: Davis has 35 receiving yards and no TDs in his past two games.
Analysis: You cannot keep a good TE down for long, and many players at the position are riddled with inconsistency. Stay patient and the results will come again from Davis. Alex Smith surely still wants to keep him heavily involved in the offensive flow.
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