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November 5, 2009

Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Start/Sit Rankings (Week 9)

*Updated WR rankings with player analysis for the top 25 will be posted on Friday (11/6/09). Any additional updates that are necessary will be posted no later than Saturday in the final week 9 rankings.

1. Reggie Wayne (IND) – He ranks 1st in the NFL in receptions per game (7), receiving yards per game (98), targets per game (11), and receiving TDs (6). Wayne has been the most consistently productive fantasy receiver in the NFL to this point and there is no reason to believe that a mediocre Texans secondary will be able to slow him down in week 9. Wayne has 24 receptions for 330 yards and 2 TDs in his last 3 games against Houston. He is a must start for week 9.

2. Randy Moss (NE) – The last time Randy Moss faced Miami, he had 8 receptions for 125 yards and 3 TDs and that was with Matt Cassel under center. The last 2 times he faced them with Tom Brady under center, Moss combined for 9 receptions, 172 yards and 4 TDs. In other words, Moss owns the Dolphins. Miami currently ranks 21st in the NFL in pass defense, they start 2 rookies at CBs (albeit 2 quality rookie corners) and only 2 teams have allowed more pass plays over 40 yards than the Fins. This match up bodes extremely well.

3. Andre Johnson (HOU) – He has been held out of the end zone in each of his last 3 games, so Johnson is certainly due to find his way to pay dirt, but that will be a tall order against the Colts in week 9. Indianapolis has allowed just 3 passing TDs all season and the 6th fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers in the NFL. Johnson has had success against equally solid Colts secondaries in the past and he is certainly capable of a big game this time around, but he will also have his work cut out for him. While he should benefit from more targets this week with TE Owen Daniels out for the season, Daniels absence will also allow the Indy defense to direct more attention towards Johnson which will make it difficult to take advantage of the additional looks. Regardless, he is a WR1 each and every week. UPDATE: Johnson's match up got better on Friday as the Colts announced that they will be without three significant members of their secondary in week 9. CB's Kelvin Hayden and Marlin Jackson are out with knee injuries and Colts star safety Bob Sanders is done for the year with a torn biceps. Indy will have to start two rookies at CB.

4. Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) – He hasn’t been at the top of his game of late failing to find the end zone in each of the last 2 weeks, but that’s all the more reason to believe that the super star receiver will get back on track against a Jekyll and Hyde Bears secondary that has allowed 11 passing TDs in 7 games. He should see additional targets if Anquan Boldin is unable to play this week which appears to be the case. We like Fitzgerald’s chances for a big game in week 9 and he is a no brainer for fantasy rosters.

5. Wes Welker (NE) – With 28 receptions for 343 receiving yards and 4 TDs in his last 3 contests, Welker has clearly taken his game to the next level this season. He will look to continue the trend in a favorable week 9 match up against the Dolphins and their 21st ranked pass defense. Miami will be starting 2 rookies at corner back who should be no match for the crafty veteran. Welker has a solid history against his former team and he is at the top of his game. Look for another big fantasy performance in week 9.

6. Vincent Jackson (SD) – He now has a TD reception in 5 of 7 games this season including each of the last 3 weeks. In addition, the big play wide out has 100 plus receiving yards in 4 of 7 games while averaging 95 yards per game. Jackson is one of the hottest receivers in all of fantasy football and in spite of what could be a tough week 9 test against the Giants 3rd ranked pass defense, Jackson should come out on top. The Giants secondary has struggled in their last 3 games and big play receivers have been a problem for them all season.

7. DeSean Jackson (PHI) – You give him an inch and he will take a mile. That seems to be the trend with Philly’s big play receiver and we are fairly confident that you will see more of the same in week 9. Only 7 teams have given up more fantasy points to opposing wide outs than the Cowboys and Jackson is arguably the most dangerous receiver that they have faced all season. As we have stated previously, it would be nice to see Jackson targeted more frequently for comfort’s sake, but his production speaks for itself and this match up bodes well for him.

8. Marques Colston (NO) – The Carolina Panthers may boast the best pass defense in the NFL, but they are sure to have their hands full in week 9. There is one thing that you can count on for sure in this match up; the Saints are going to throw the football early and often with Colston as the main beneficiary. While this may not be a cake walk for the talented WR, we are confident that he will come out on top. Colston is averaging 108 receiving yards and a TD over the last 3 weeks. In addition, he has 14 receptions for 216 yards and 2 TDs in his last 2 contests against the Panthers.

9. Miles Austin (DAL) – There is not a receiver in the NFL that has been more productive in their last 3 games than Miles Austin. In week 9, Austin will face his biggest test of the season since becoming a starter against a solid Eagles secondary. Philadelphia has allowed the 3rd fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers in the league. That being said, Austin will definitely be targeted early and often in this match up and he certainly has the tools to succeed. Keep him penciled in as a WR1 despite the tough match up.

10. Roddy White (ATL) – There is no question that White will have his hands full in week 9 against a very solid Redskins secondary, but that works both ways and White has the tools to win out in this match up. White has been on a roll of late and has at least 1 TD grab in his last 4 contests. He now has 6 TD receptions on the season which ties him with 3 others for the most in the NFL among WRs. In addition, White has seemingly surpassed Tony Gonzalez as Matt Ryan’s favorite target of late and considering the Redskins knack for shutting down TEs, that trend should continue in week 9. He does have an undisclosed knee injury which may or may not be an issue. Be sure to keep tabs on his status and check back for further updates as they become available. UPDATE: White was finally able to practice on a limited basis on Friday and is expected to play. We will have a list of game time decisions on Sunday just before noon (eastern time) to let you know for sure. Check injury report: knee (questionable)

11. Chad Ochocinco (CIN) – He is fresh off of a bye week after enjoying his best fantasy performance of the season against the Bears. Ochocinco is having one of the best seasons of his career and fantasy owners that decided to roll the dice on his resurgence are reaping major benefits. Look for that to continue in week 9 when Ocho will face a familiar foe in division rival Baltimore at home. While the Ravens secondary is better than their ranking of 19th in the NFL would suggest, they do have some glaring weaknesses for Ochocinco to exploit. He has already proven that once this season when he hauled in 7 passes for 94 yards against them in week 5. He is more than capable of bettering those numbers in week 9 at home and a TD is not out of the question this time around as well.

12. Greg Jennings (GB) – If Jennings’ performance in week 8 was any indication of things to come, he could be in for a big second half of the season. Hopefully, that will in fact be the case and Jennings will have a great chance to build on his consistency with a very favorable week 9 match up against Tampa Bay. While the Bucs rank a respectable 15th in the NFL in pass defense, that ranking is a bit misleading and they have been more than kind to big play receivers all season. Only 1 team (KC) has allowed more pass plays of 40 yards or more, only 2 teams give up more fantasy production to WRs (TEN,JAC) and the Tampa defense has allowed 16 TDs through the air in just 7 games (3rd most in the NFL). If not for his sketchy play throughout most of ’09, Jennings would likely be our top WR pick in week 9 with this match up. That said, Jennings must prove that he can perform at a high level again on a consistent basis in order to return to elite status and regain the full trust of fantasy owners. Something he has yet to do.

13. Dwayne Bowe (KC) – He is capable of putting up big yards and he obviously has a knack for finding pay dirt. Unfortunately, Bowe has yet to combine those attributes for a monster game all season. He has been consistently productive due to one or the other, but never both in the same week (although he was very good against Dallas in both respects). The good news is that a week 9 match up against Jacksonville has all the qualities necessary for Bowe to finally achieve that monster breakout game. It is easily his best match up so far this season and Bowe has already fared pretty well in spite of many obstacles. The Jaguars give up the 2nd most fantasy points in the NFL to opposing WRs. Only the Titans give up more and the Jags would likely rank 1st in that category if not for Tennessee’s meltdown at New England. Jacksonville should have their best defensive back, Rashean Mathis, back from injury this week to cover Bowe, but Mathis is sure to be rusty and he had been struggling before his injury anyway. Bowe should be more than solid in week 9.

14. Mike Sims-Walker (JAC) – He was a major disappointment in week 8 against a surprisingly resurgent Titans pass defense. Despite being targeted only 3 times, Sims-Walker was open on several occasions throughout the day including once in the red zone which would have led to a sure TD, but QB David Garrard’s pass sailed over Sims-Walker’s head for an interception. The good news is that conditions are very favorable for a rebound performance in week 9. The Jags are at home this week where they have been extremely successful in the passing game and they play a Chiefs team that has been very generous against the pass all season. To this point, only 3 teams in the NFL have given up more fantasy points to WRs than Kansas City. The Chiefs have also allowed more pass plays of 40 yards or more than any other pass defense in the NFL which bodes well for Sims-Walker as a deep threat. He should get back on track in week 9 with this match up.

15. Nate Burleson (SEA) – He is not a notoriously consistent fantasy option, but when the match up is right, so is Burleson. Fortunately, a week 9 match up against Detroit meets that criteria and Burleson should be in for a solid fantasy performance. The Lions rank a miserable 27th in the NFL in pass defense and only the Titans have allowed more TDs through the air. This game is also being played in Seattle where Burleson has been outstanding so far this season. We like his chances as a WR2 for this promising match up.

16. Calvin Johnson (DET) - @ SEA – He has been practicing this week and all indications are that Johnson will be good to go on Sunday barring any setbacks with his sprained knee. The timing for his return is excellent as the Lions will face a Seattle pass defense that gives up the 5th most fantasy points in the NFL to opposing WRs. While Johnson’s return to active fantasy duty does come with some obvious risk, he is well worth it with such a promising match up. As a precautionary measure, it would be wise to continue to monitor his status. As of now, they are still calling him a game time decision, but it would be surprising if Johnson is not in the Lions starting line up on Sunday. Check injury report: knee (questionable as of Friday)

17. Hines Ward (PIT) – Ward was a major disappointment in his last game against Minnesota, especially when you consider the numbers he was putting up prior to week 7. That being said, we like his chances to rebound in week 9 against Denver. While the Broncos boast one of the stingier pass defenses in the NFL, Ward actually matches up pretty well against them. As the Broncos secondary will have their hands full trying to contain deep threats Santonio Holmes and Mike Wallace, Ward should find plenty of space underneath the coverage and he is very capable of making big plays after the catch. This is a tough match up, but Ward should bounce back in week 9. For what it’s worth, he also has a very good track record against Denver in his career.

18. Donald Driver (GB) – He continues to put up quality stat lines week in and week out and a week 9 match up against Tampa Bay is quite favorable. While the Bucs rank a respectable 15th in the NFL in pass defense, that ranking is a bit misleading and they have been very generous to WRs all season. Only 1 team (KC) has allowed more pass plays of 40 yards or more, only 2 teams give up more fantasy production to WRs (TEN,JAC) and the Tampa defense has allowed 16 TDs through the air in just 7 games (3rd most in the NFL). Our only concern is a neck injury that he suffered in week 8. Driver was unable to practice on Wednesday and Thursday due to this issue, but he claims to be fine and is expected to play. While you should monitor his status heading into Sunday just to be on the safe side, Driver should start without limitations in week 9. Check injury report: neck/stinger (probable)

19. Brandon Marshall (DEN) – A significant drop off in production the last 2 weeks is cause for concern, but we seriously doubt a player of Marshall’s caliber will stay down for long. While a week 9 match up against the Steelers sounds pretty frightening, it isn’t nearly as bad as you might think. Don’t get us wrong, the Steelers do have a formidable defense especially with star safety, Troy Polamalu back in their line up, but they are still not the juggernaut against the pass that we have seen in year’s past. In fact, they have been fairly mediocre throughout the season ranking 16th in the NFL in pass defense and there are only 11 teams in the league that give up more fantasy production to opposing WRs. Marshall may have his work cut out for him, but we expect him to be up for the challenge.

20. Devin Hester (CHI) – He continues to show that he can be a consistent fantasy option with no less than 6 receptions and 81 receiving yards in his last 3 games. Hester also has a promising week 9 match up on the horizon against Arizona. The Cardinals secondary can be described as suspect at best and they are notorious for giving up big plays to speedy receivers. There is some concern regarding Hester’s health heading into the favorable week 9 match up as he is apparently suffering from a slightly sprained ankle. Despite missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday, Hester claims that he will play on Sunday, but even if he is capable of playing, he could be risky. Hester’s greatest asset is his ability to separate from defenders with blazing speed which could be adversely affected by this injury. The match up is favorable for big time fantasy production, but this injury raises some serious doubts. Be sure to monitor his status heading into Sunday. If he doesn’t practice on Friday, we strongly recommend that you consider another option. Check injury report: ankle (questionable, limited practice on Friday, he is expected to play)

21. Steve Smith (NYG) – He has not been the fantasy juggernaut of late that he started the season as, but Smith continues to be one of the most targeted WRs in the league and he is still a legitimate threat to put up big numbers any week. While his recent lack of red zone production has earned Smith a slight downgrade, his reception and yardage totals are reasonably solid and he is still plenty capable of finding his way back to the end zone any week. He does have a somewhat difficult week 9 match up against San Diego’s 6th ranked pass defense, but there should be plenty of opportunities to find success. Smith’s reception and yard totals alone should be enough to qualify him as a WR2 for this match up. He is obviously a more attractive fantasy option in PPR formats for that reason.

22. Austin Collie (IND) – Once again, Collie was heavily involved in the potent Colts passing attack in week 8 against the Niners. He did whiff on the end zone for the first time in almost a month, but that just increases the odds that he will make his return to pay dirt in week 9 against a suspect Texans secondary. On paper, the Houston pass defense is not all that bad, but the numbers can be deceiving as Houston has faced the who’s who of bad passing offenses in the majority of their games this season. In other words, they are no match for the beast otherwise known as the Colts passing attack and Collie should be able to benefit significantly from the mismatch. He does have some limitations as Peyton Manning’s 3rd option, but there should be plenty to go around against Houston in week 9 (even the Colts ball boy is projected to score).

23. T.J. Houshmandzadeh (SEA) – We realize that he has been pretty much worthless with the exception of a couple of weeks, but the Lions pass defense is so bad, we would feel somewhat optimistic starting our 90 year old grandmother against them. Of course, she does run a 4.4 forty and has hands of glue (literally). Housh may not be playing his best football of late, but the bottom line is that a match up at home against the Lions is too good to pass up. Detroit is ranked 27th in the NFL in pass defense and have allowed 18 TDs through the air in just 7 games (10 passing TDs allowed in 3 road games).

24. Steve Smith (CAR) – Things are starting to look up for Smith as he followed up an impressive yardage total in week 7 with his first TD of the season in week 8. While his recent upswing is encouraging, we are still a bit skeptical regarding his week 9 fantasy potential against New Orleans. The Saints pass defense has allowed just 6 TDs through the air in 7 games with an NFL best 16 interceptions to their credit. These numbers do not exactly bode well for Smith with Jake Delhomme under center. That said, Smith is a tremendous talent, he is playing his best football of the season, he has an excellent track record against the Saints over the years and the New Orleans secondary is not completely immune to giving up a big play from time to time. So, Smith does have some things going for him in week 9, but don’t get your hopes up for a huge performance as Smith will have his work cut out for him against a constant blanket of double coverage from the New Orleans secondary. Consider him a low end WR2 with this match up.

25. Michael Crabtree (SF) – He appears to be getting better by the week and it is only a matter of time before he explodes for a monster. While a week 9 match up against Tennessee appears favorable for just such a game, we do have some cause for skepticism. The Titans rank dead last in the NFL in pass defense, they have allowed an NFL worst 19 TDs through the air and no one has given up more fantasy points to opposing WRs than Tennessee. All of those things bode extremely well for the talented rookie wide out, but anyone who saw the Titans play in week 8 knows that they looked more like the Titans of ’08. In addition, Tennessee now has shut down CB Cortland Finnegan back from injury and he was able to hold Jacksonville’s top flight receiver Mike Sims-Walker to just 9 receiving yards last week. Don’t get us wrong, we still like Crabtree’s chances given the Titans pathetic overall body of work this season in the secondary, but if the Titans defend the pass as well as they did in week 8, Crabtree could have a tough row to hoe in spite of his freakish ability.

26. Steve Breaston (ARI) - @ CHI – Check injury report: knee (probable)
27. Santana Moss (WAS) – @ ATL
28. Santonio Holmes (PIT) - @ DEN
29. Hakeem Nicks (NYG) – vs. SD
30. Derrick Mason (BAL) - @ CIN
31. Anquan Boldin (ARI) - @ CHI - Check injury report: ankle (questionable) UPDATE:the latest report is that Boldin practiced on Friday and may actually play in week 9 despite reports earlier in the week that suggested that he would take the week off to rest his sprained ankle. Boldin will be risky even if he does play as he could easily reaggrevate the injury which he did in week 8. That said, he may be worth the risk as a WR3 if he does play depending on your other options at receiver this week. He will likely be a game time decision.
32. Malcolm Floyd (SD) - @ NYG
33. Jeremy Maclin (PHI) – vs. DAL
34. Mike Wallace (PIT) - @ DEN
35. Pierre Garcon (IND) – vs. HOU - Check injury report: ankle (questionable)
36. Johnny Knox (CHI) – vs. ARI
37. Nate Washington (TEN) - @ SF
38. Kevin Walter (HOU) - @ IND
39. Devery Henderson (NO) – vs. CAR
40. Mario Manningham (NYG) – vs. SD – Check injury report: shoulder (questionable)
41. Andre Caldwell (CIN) – vs. BAL
42. Roy Williams (DAL) - @ PHI
43. Torry Holt (JAC) – vs. KC
44. Isaac Bruce (SF) – vs. TEN
45. Sam Aiken (NE) – vs. MIA
46. Mike Thomas (JAC) – vs. KC
47. Bobby Wade (KC) - @ JAC
48. Earl Bennett (CHI) – vs. ARI
49. James Jones (GB) - @ TB
50. Bryant Johnson (DET) - @ SEA

*Additional noteworthy WRs for week 9:
Antonio Bryant (TB) – vs. GB – Check injury report: knee (doubtful)
Mark Clayton (BAL) - @ CIN
Chris Henry (CIN) – vs. BAL
Robert Meachem (NO) – vs. CAR
Justin Gage (TEN) - @ SF
Josh Morgan (SF) – vs. TEN
Jerheme Urban (ARI) - @ CHI
Eddie Royal (DEN) – vs. PIT
Ted Ginn (MIA) - @ NE
Kelley Washington (BAL) - @ CIN
Sammie Stroughter (TB) – vs. GB
Jabar Gaffney (DEN) – vs. PIT
Patrick Crayton (DAL) - @ PHI
Michael Jenkins (ATL) – vs. WAS
Laveranues Coles (CIN) – vs. BAL
Deion Branch (SEA) – vs. DET
Kenny Britt (TEN) - @ SF
Devin Thomas (WAS) – @ ATL
Brandon Tate (NE) – vs. MIA

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