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Week 9 Fantasy Football: Last-Minute Lineup Advice, Tony Romo Out Sunday

Dave Major

Senior Fantasy Analyst for @XNSports. While not wasting immeasurable time as a stand-up comic in New York, Dave Major can be found watching three football games at once and telling people how to live their fantasy lives.

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It’s week nine in fantasy football, and time for another Sunday Stat Day, where all the significant stories and impactful numbers have their place. Here is the most relevant last minute advice to make start and sit lineup decisions for your fantasy football team.

Arizona
Andre Ellington bears the fifth heaviest workload in the NFL, with 22.3 touches per game. His 28 receptions also rank fifth at the position. During week seven’s game, Ellington said he pulled himself at the goal line to give Stepfan Taylor the opportunity to score. The backup left week eight’s game with a calf injury, and has been ruled out for Sunday’s NFC showdown in Dallas. Last week, Ellington got both of Arizona’s red zone carries, scoring once from the one-yard line.

Baltimore
Ravens team reporter Jamison Hensley reported last week that Lorenzo Taliaferro likely would be taking over goal line duties. Bernard Pierce was a healthy scratch for last week’s game, and indeed, Taliaferro got three red zone carries for 18 yards and two scores. The touchdowns came from ten and eight yards out. Starter Justin Forsett ran the ball twice in the red zone, held scoreless with six yards. He got the team’s first two red zone attempts on Sunday, from the Cincinnati seven and two-yard lines.

Cincinnati
ESPN writer Coley Harvey reported Friday that Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has ruled Giovani Bernard out for Sunday’s game against Jacksonville. When asked if his starting runner would be available for week ten’s contest versus the Browns, Lewis said, “We’ll cross those bridges then.” Jeremy Hill will get to lead the backfield for his first time in his fledgling career. The rookie has averaged 9.0 touches for 46.6 total yards and 0.4 touchdowns, behind Bernard’s 18.7 touches, 89.3 total yards, and 0.7 scores.

Lewis expects A.J. Green (turf toe) to start Sunday for the first time since week five. “If everything stays the way it is, he’ll play,” offered the coach. Mohamed Sanu will benefit from less coverage. Over the last three weeks, the Bengals’ second wideout has averaged 6.7 touches for 108.7 total yards and 0.3 touchdowns.

Cleveland
Jordan Cameron (concussion) was ruled out for Sunday’s game. Head coach Mike Pettine commented, “I don’t want to get into the details of it, but he won’t be available on Sunday. Then we’ll see about next week.” Oakland safety Brandian Ross was fined $22,050 for concussing Cleveland’s Pro Bowl tight end on an illegal hit.

Andrew Hawkins leads the Browns with 62 targets, 36 receptions, and 470 yards. He is also first on the team with five red zone targets and four red zone receptions. Hawkins towers over elementary school children at 5-foot-7.

Dallas
NFL’s Ian Rapoport reported Saturday that Tony Romo (two fractures to transverse process) will participate in the team walkthrough Sunday before the game. It’s anyone’s guess whether this decision will be made by Romo, Jason Garrett, the team’s general manager, or the owner. While he may not have the time to clean his own glasses, Jerry Jones filled at least two roles this week, hand-delivering the quarterback’s injury status to Garrett on the sideline. Dallas has a way of engraving indelible memories on Monday Night Football. Romo did return in that loss to Washington, but his ability to play this week will depend on pain tolerance. UPDATE: Tony Romo has been ruled out for today’s game.

Brandon Weeden led two scoring drives last week, and may get another chance against Arizona’s 32nd-ranked pass defense. The Cardinals allow 302.9 yards to opposing passers, but own the fifth-stingiest scoring defense (19.9 points per game). Should he play, Weeden will likely lean on DeMarco Murray and former Oklahoma State teammate, Dez Bryant. Weeden passed to Bryant in the end zone on back-to-back plays Monday, having one throw defensed by cornerback Bashaud Breeland, and one dropped by the receiver.

A runaway train has taken the league by surprise, and his name is DeMarco Murray. He ranks first in the NFL with 206 carries, 1,054 rushing yards, 629 yards after contact, seven touchdowns, 45 missed tackles, and 24 red zone attempts. His rankings are impressive, but his lead over second place remains astounding. Murray leads in carries by 29.1 percent (Arian Foster, 146 carries), yards by 27.3 percent (Foster, 766 yards), yards after contact by 25.8 percent (Foster, 467 yards after contact), and missed tackles by 26.7 percent (Foster, 33 missed tackles). Dallas gets the Cardinals’ third-ranked run defense on Sunday (77.9 yards per game).

Denver
New England ranks 25th against the run (129.6 yards per game). Since taking over for Montee Ball in week five, Ronnie Hillman ranks third in the NFL in rushing. His 347 rushing yards trail only DeMarco Murray and Arian Foster during that span. Hillman is averaging 20.8 touches and 4.8 yards per carry with his newfound responsibility.

Houston
Through eight games, DeAndre Hopkins is on pace for 106 targets, 72 catches, 1,138 yards and six touchdowns. Andre Johnson is heading for 150 targets, 92 receptions, 1,102 yards and two scores. Houston hosts the Eagles and their 26th-ranked pass defense this week. Philadelphia allows 266.9 passing yards per week, and 26.6 fantasy points to wide receivers (fourth worst).

Indianapolis
The Giants rank 22nd against the run and 25th through the air. They host Indianapolis on Monday night, and Reggie Wayne (elbow) is probable to start. The six-time Pro Bowler is catching 5.4 balls for 62.0 yards each week this year. Wayne’s 62 targets, 38 receptions, and 434 yards are second on the team. T.Y. Hilton is leading the Colts with his pace for 154 targets, 106 grabs, 1,732 yards, and four touchdowns.

Through eight games, Trent Richardson averages 16.9 touches for 74.7 total yards and 0.3 scores, while Ahmad Bradshaw gets 13.4 touches, 79.4 total yards, and 1.0 touchdowns each week. Bradshaw has 14 red zone carries to Richardson’s 17. Within the opponent’s five-yard line, Richardson has seven carries for two scores, and Bradshaw has hit pay dirt once on three attempts.

Jacksonville
Four different receivers have led the Jaguars aerial attack this year. Allen Hurns registered 110 yards in week one, and Allen Robinson has led the team with efforts of 75, 79, 51, 60, and 82 yards. Tight end Clay Harbor‘s 70 yards led the team in week four, and Cecil Shorts posted a team-best 103 yards in week six.

Denard Robinson may be solidifying the running back depth chart in Jacksonville. Through week six, no Jaguar had rushed for more than 42 yards in a game. Since being elevated to starter two weeks ago, Robinson has posted two 100-yard box scores, rushing for 127 and 108 yards respectively. Only DeMarco Murray and Andre Ellington have carried the ball more over these two games. As starter, Robinson averages 20.5 touches for 122.5 total yards and 0.5 scores. The Jaguars travel to Cincinnati this week, where the 29th-ranked run defense will host a welcoming party for Robinson and his firmly-tied shoelaces.

Kansas City
Jamaal Charles has scored six touchdowns in his last four games. Only Arian Foster has score more total touchdowns (eight) over this period. Charles’ scores came from two, five, eight, 16, one, and 36 yards out.

Miami
Lamar Miller is averaging 16.4 touches for 86.7 total yards and 0.7 touchdowns. He has scored four times in the last four weeks. Ryan Tannehill has completed over 74 percent of his passes in two of the last four games. Since week four, the quarterback ranks 10th in the NFL with 22.8 fantasy points per game.

Minnesota
Since week four, Jerick McKinnon leads Minnesota on his pace of 16.8 touches for 92.6 total yards. Matt Asiata has scored three times during that period, while the rookie has been held scoreless. In the red zone over that stretch, Asiata has nine touches for the three touchdowns, where McKinnon has five scoreless attempts. Asiata’s three carries within the opponents’ five yard-line are the only of their kind by any Vikings backs this season.

New England
Week six between the Patriots and Bills ended or derailed the seasons of three running backs. C.J. Spiller (broken collarbone) and Stevan Ridley (torn ACL and MCL) each lost their seasons that day, while Fred Jackson (torn groin) likely will miss a month. In week seven, Shane Vereen took over the Patriots backfield with 11 carries for 43 yards, and also led the team with five receptions for 71 yards and two touchdowns. A different story came in week eight, as rookie Jonas Gray rushed 17 times for 86 yards, while Vereen was held to five carries for 22 yards. The Patriots scored six touchdowns in the 51-23 rout of the Bears, but none by a running back.

Since week four, Brandon LaFell leads all Patriots wide receivers with 26 receptions for 415 yards and four touchdowns. Only seven NFL wide receivers have more yards during this time, and only three have more scores.

New York Giants
Rashad Jennings has not played since week five. Since that day, Andre Williams has averaged 19.0 touches for 64.3 total yards and 0.3 scores. Indianapolis brings their ninth-ranked run defense to town this week.

New York Jets
Michael Vick turned the ball over three times last week, after replacing Geno Smith for his three interception performance. Vick completed 18 of 36 (50 percent) for 153 yards and an interception. His only bright spot was finishing as the game’s leading rusher with 69 yards from eight carries. Percy Harvin logged nine targets, three catches, and 22 yards in his first game as a Jet. The former Seahawk also rushed four times for 28 yards. If Vick and Harvin can’t get it done through the air, maybe they can still get there on the ground.

Chris Ivory has caused 26 missed tackles, enough for fourth best in the NFL. Unfortunately, New York has been bad enough that Ivory gets just 12.6 carries per game.

Oakland
Oakland’s rookie quarterback Derek Carr is preparing to face the Seahawks and their 10th ranked pass defense. The former Fresno State passer has not thrown an interception since week six, when he also threw four touchdowns while completing 18 of 34 for 282 yards. Last week, Carr connected on 34 of 54 passes for 328 yards and a score.

Philadelphia
Since week five, LeSean McCoy ranks eighth in the NFL with 313 rushing yards. His one touchdown in 2014 ranks him 47th in the league. McCoy ranks fourth with 137 carries and 309 yards after contact. Darren Sproles (sprained MCL) is preparing to return for his first game since week six. He scored four times through the first six games, amassing 704 all-purpose yards. His 2,696 all-purpose yards in 2011 are the NFL record for a single season.

Pittsburgh
Martavis Bryant made his professional debut in week seven, and it didn’t take the Hamburglar throwback uniforms for Pittsburgh fans to take note. Through two games, Bryant has scored three touchdowns, averaging 6.0 targets, 3.5 catches, and 61.5 yards. Tempered expectations should remain for any rookie receiver, even one who — at 6-foot-4 — stands a full five inches above Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, and Lance Moore.

San Diego
Branden Oliver took over the San Diego backfield in week five when Donald Brown was concussed. Since that day, Oliver has averaged 22.5 touches for 111.8 total yards and 0.8 touchdowns. Brown is probable for this week’s game in Miami, but may inherit a complementary role following Oliver’s impressive production as a rookie. Brown has averaged 2.1 yards per carry this year, a stat exposed during his week three start when he ran 31 times for 62 yards.

San Francisco
The 49ers are coming off a week eight bye, after playing Denver in week seven. The Broncos’ top rated run defense held San Francisco to 62 yards on the ground. Over their three previous games, Frank Gore averaged 20.0 touches for 106.7 total yards and 0.3 scores, while Carlos Hyde put up 10.7 touches for 28.0 total yards and no touchdowns. The rookie is still the favorite at the goal line. Hyde has 15 red zone carries this season, and Gore has 12. Within the opponent’s five-yard line, Hyde has run five times for a score, compared with two scoreless attempts for the ten-year veteran.

Seattle
Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reported last Sunday that Marshawn Lynch will not be with Seattle in 2015. Through week seven, the Pro Bowl back averaged 18.8 touches for 94.2 total yards and 1.0 touchdowns. In last week’s 13-9 win over Carolina, Lynch created 64 total yards on 15 touches. Outside of Russell Wilson‘s kneel-down to end the game, Seattle did not attempt a single red zone carry during the game. Christine Michael and Robert Turbin are waiting in the wings, and it seems likely the Seahawks could begin increasing their roles to better understand the team’s 2015 offseason needs.

St. Louis
St. Louis placed Brian Quick on injured reserve Thursday, ending his season. Quick leads the team with 375 yards, and ranks second with 39 targets, 25 receptions, and three scores. Tight end Jared Cook stands atop the team with 48 targets for 27 catches. His 331 yards are behind only Quick.

Tampa Bay
ESPN writer Adam Caplan reported this week that the Bucs were preparing to activate the rookie running back from injured reserve. Bucs reporter Tom Krasniqi of Tampa Bay 620 WDAE added, “From the sound of things, RB Charles Sims will play a TON when he’s ready.” Sims was taken with the 69th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Last year at West Virginia, Sims created 1,496 total yards for 14 touchdowns.

Bobby Rainey is expected to start against Cleveland’s 30th-ranked run defense. Rainey has averaged 12.0 touches for 66.7 total yards and 0.3 touchdowns. Doug Martin left last week’s game with an ankle injury, and is doubtful for this week. The starter has averaged 5.6 fantasy points while playing in five games. Rainey has played in seven contests and produced 7.5 fantasy points per week.

Washington
Robert Griffin III has not played since dislocating his ankle in week two against the Jaguars. Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy can now be dropped in standard leagues. Griffin threw just three passes in week two, and has completed 77.5 percent of his passes in his limited action.

Jordan Reed pulled his hamstring week one, and returned to the field week six in Arizona. In the last three games, Reed leads the team with 24 targets and 20 receptions. His 186 yards rank second to DeSean Jackson‘s 300 yards over this span.

In his rookie year, Alfred Morris ran for 1,613 yards, finishing behind only Adrian Peterson‘s 2,097. Morris eclipsed 100 yards in seven of 16 games. Washington’s starting back surpassed that mark three times last year, en route to a fourth-placed 1,275 yards. This week, Morris will be celebrating a one year anniversary. Week nine of last year was the last time he surpassed 100 yards, having played 15 games since. Jay Gruden’s top plodder has also made 26 catches in his 40 NFL games. Washington travels to Minnesota this week, where they will face the NFL’s fourth-ranked pass defense, who is 16th best versus the run.

Stats and data courtesy of pro-football-reference.com, footballguys, espn, and profootballfocus.com.