Early Position Ranks, Week 9

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This is no time to be distracted the Randy Moss sideshow, gamers. Eyes on the goal. Let's be focused, like the resplendent fans above. You've got an imaginary match-up to win. FOCUS.

Six NFL teams have byes this week, so there are a few sketchy names in the ranks below. You've been warned. The Broncos, Titans, Rams, Niners, 'Skins and Jaguars are all vacationing. We can only rank players who are active, so please — please — don't ask me about Ed McCaffrey and Natrone Means. I'd love to rank them, obviously, but they can't contribute in Week 9.

OK, let's get to it. Everybody, one clap

QUARTERBACKS

1. Aaron Rodgers(notes) vs. DAL
2. Drew Brees(notes) at CAR
3. Peyton Manning(notes) at PHI
4. Philip Rivers(notes) at HOU
5. Eli Manning(notes) at SEA
6. Michael Vick(notes) vs. IND
7. Matt Schaub(notes) vs. SD
8. Ben Roethlisberger(notes) at CIN
9. Joe Flacco(notes) vs. MIA
10. Matt Ryan(notes) vs. TB
11. Tom Brady(notes) at CLE
12. Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes) vs. CHI
13. Josh Freeman(notes) at ATL
14. Matt Cassel(notes) at OAK
15. Jay Cutler(notes) at BUF
16. Mark Sanchez(notes) at DET
17. Carson Palmer(notes) vs. PIT
18. Brett Favre(notes) vs. ARI
19. Jason Campbell(notes) vs. KC
20. Chad Henne(notes) at BAL
21. Matthew Stafford(notes) vs. NYJ
22. Jon Kitna(notes) at GB
23. Derek Anderson(notes) at MIN
24. Matt Moore(notes) vs. NO
25. Matt Hasselbeck(notes) vs. NYG

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Michael Vick was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, and he's expected to get the start against the Colts, a team coming off a short week. DeSean Jackson(notes) reportedly passed the required post-concussion tests, too, so Vick's receiving corps won't lack weapons. … Josh Freeman looks like the best of the widely available quarterback plays this week. (He's 43 percent owned, which is up significantly from Sunday). He'll face an Atlanta defense that ranks 27th in passing yards allowed (260.3 YPG).

It seems ridiculous to rank Jay Cutler as a middle-of-the-pack fantasy option when he's facing a defense that's dead-last in points allowed (30.1 PPG). But we'll remind you that the last time he took the field, he turned the ball over five times against the league's No. 30 pass D (Washington). Cutler has also been sacked 19 times in his last 10 quarters of action. … Brett Favre has an outstanding match-up at home against the Cards, a team that hasn't traveled well (or done anything well). But as you might have heard, Favre will be without a significant member of the receiving corps. He's also dealing with a medley of injuries (ankle, elbow, face) and, after nearly half a season, he ranks 29th at his position in fantasy scoring. … Jason Campbell seems likely to draw the start against the Chiefs, and he's coming off a pair of multi-TD games, but Bruce Gradkowski(notes) (shoulder) will reportedly reclaim that job whenever he's healthy. The Raiders have a bye after facing KC, then they travel to Pittsburgh in Week 11.

RUNNING BACKS

1. Adrian Peterson vs. ARI
2. LeSean McCoy(notes) vs. IND
3. Michael Turner(notes) vs. TB
4. Darren McFadden(notes) vs. KC
5. Arian Foster(notes) vs. SD
6. Rashard Mendenhall(notes) at CIN
7. Ray Rice(notes) vs. MIA
8. Jamaal Charles(notes) at OAK
9. Peyton Hillis(notes) vs. NE
10. LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) at DET
11. Matt Forte(notes) at BUF
12. LeGarrette Blount(notes) at ATL
13. BenJarvus Green-Ellis(notes) at CLE
14. Ahmad Bradshaw(notes) at SEA
15. Jonathan Stewart(notes) vs. NO
16. Thomas Jones(notes) at OAK
17. Brandon Jackson(notes) vs. DAL
18. Shonn Greene(notes) at DET
19. Cedric Benson(notes) vs. PIT
20. Beanie Wells(notes) at MIN
21. Jahvid Best(notes) vs. NYJ
22. Ronnie Brown(notes) at BAL
23. Ryan Mathews(notes) at HOU
24. Fred Jackson(notes) vs. CHI
25. Mike Tolbert(notes) at HOU
26. Mike Hart(notes) vs. PHI
27. Brandon Jacobs(notes) at SEA
28. Ricky Williams(notes) at BAL
29. Marshawn Lynch(notes) vs. NYG
30. Michael Bush(notes) vs. KC
31. Danny Woodhead(notes) at CLE
32. Chester Taylor(notes) at BUF
33. Willis McGahee(notes) vs. MIA
34. Felix Jones(notes) at GB
35. Darren Sproles(notes) at HOU
36. CJ Spiller(notes) vs. CHI
37. Donald Brown(notes) at PHI
38. Jason Snelling(notes) vs. TB
39. Christopher Ivory(notes) at CAR
40. Justin Forsett(notes) vs. NYG

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https://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/Yahoo/ept_sports_fantasy_experts-656466484-1288831117.jpg

The Bears offense has gone 0-for-10 from the 1-yard line this season, which seems almost impossible. You'd think that eventually a team would accidentally score from short range, but no. Chester Taylor, not Matt Forte, will likely get the goal line work against Buffalo's historically bad run defense (188.7 rush YPG). Both backs are respectable plays against the Bills; we assume that Mike Martz will be willing to run. … Mike Hart injured an ankle in Monday night's win over Houston, so his availability for Week 10 isn't known as of this writing. If he were healthy, he'd rank much higher than No. 26. Hart rushed for 84 yards on just 12 carries against the Texans. Donald Brown and the undrafted Javarris James(notes) will get the backfield work for Indy, if Hart and Joseph Addai(notes) (shoulder) are sidelined. … Felix Jones didn't practice on Wednesday due to ankle and forearm injuries, and he doesn't exactly have a reputation as a quick healer. If he can't go, Tashard Choice(notes) may finally see a few touches. Choice has barely been a rumor since the disastrous Week 1 fumble.

The New Orleans backfield is just an annoyance at this point. Christopher Ivory suffered a mild concussion in Week 8 against Pittsburgh, but he managed to practice on Wednesday. Julius Jones(notes) had 10 touches for the Saints last Sunday, gaining 36 yards from scrimmage. (Meanwhile, Pierre Thomas(notes) upgraded his walker to a more expensive model, with a storage basket and hand-brakes. Better for mall-walking). There's no doubt that some New Orleans back is going to have a useful day against Carolina's run defense (119.0 rush YPG). But for now, I can only award two-and-a-half Noises to this committee:

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WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Roddy White(notes) vs. TB
2. Hakeem Nicks(notes) at SEA
3. Reggie Wayne(notes) at PHI
4. Andre Johnson(notes) vs. SD
5. Greg Jennings(notes) vs. DAL
6. Terrell Owens(notes) vs. PIT
7. Calvin Johnson(notes) vs. NYJ
8. Mike Williams (TB) at ATL
9. Miles Austin(notes) at GB
10. Jeremy Maclin(notes) vs. IND
11. Anquan Boldin(notes) vs. MIA
12. Brandon Marshall(notes) at BAL
13. Larry Fitzgerald(notes) at MIN
14. Marques Colston(notes) at CAR
15. Dwayne Bowe(notes) at OAK
16. Pierre Garcon(notes) at PHI
17. Steve Smith (CAR) vs. NO
18. Steve Smith (NY) at SEA
19. Dez Bryant(notes) at GB
20. DeSean Jackson vs. IND
21. Steve Johnson(notes) vs. CHI
22. Hines Ward(notes) at CIN
23. Patrick Crayton(notes) at HOU
24. Chad Ochocinco(notes) vs. PIT
25. Davone Bess(notes) at BAL
26. Mike Wallace(notes) at CIN
27. Braylon Edwards(notes) at DET
28. Johnny Knox(notes) at BUF
29. Lance Moore(notes) at CAR
30. Percy Harvin(notes) vs. ARI
31. Lee Evans(notes) vs. CHI
32. James Jones(notes) vs. DAL
33. Wes Welker(notes) at CLE
34. Santonio Holmes(notes) at DET
35. Danny Woodhead at CLE
36. Mike Williams (SEA) vs. NYG
37. Derrick Mason(notes) vs. MIA
38. Jordy Nelson(notes) vs. DAL
39. Steve Breaston(notes) at MIN
40. Anthony Gonzalez(notes) at PHI
41. Mario Manningham(notes) at SEA
42. Jacoby Jones(notes) vs. SD
43. Robert Meachem(notes) at CAR
44. Roscoe Parrish(notes) vs. CHI
45. Nate Burleson(notes) vs. NYJ
46. Michael Jenkins(notes) vs. TB
47. Darrius Heyward-Bey(notes) vs. KC
48. Brandon Tate(notes) at CLE
49. Roy Williams at GB
50. Deion Branch(notes) at CLE

Terrell Owens currently leads the NFL in targets, which no reasonable person would have guessed back in August. Bench him at your own risk. He may leave a few fantasy points on the field, but he's a high-volume receiver. … Oakland corner Nnamdi Asomugha(notes) (ankle) didn't practice on Wednesday, and he seems unlikely to be close to full strength for the KC match-up. Thus, Dwayne Bowe's outlook improves. Bowe has reached the end zone in three straight games. … Donald Driver(notes) has already ruled himself out for the match-up with Dallas, after aggravating his quad injury in Week 8. David Garrard(notes) carved up the Cowboys' secondary last Sunday, and Aaron Rodgers can be expected to do the same. James Jones and Jordy Nelson are solid plays in Driver's absence. … Andre Johnson tweaked his injured ankle on Monday night, limping off the field late in the loss to the Colts. Despite not practicing on Wednesday, AJ is still expected to face the Chargers on Sunday. … Malcom Floyd(notes) (hamstring) and Legedu Naanee(notes) (another hamstring) are both expected to miss the Houston game, and Buster Davis had been placed on IR. The wideouts of interest for San Diego are Patrick Crayton and Seyi Ajirotutu(notes), at least for this week.

TIGHT ENDS

1. Jason Witten(notes) at GB
2. Tony Gonzalez(notes) vs. TB
3. Jacob Tamme(notes) at PHI
4. Dustin Keller(notes) at DET
5. Zach Miller vs. KC
6. Visanthe Shiancoe(notes) vs. ARI
7. Kellen Winslow(notes) at ATL
8. Benjamin Watson(notes) vs. NE
9. Antonio Gates(notes) at HOU
10. Brent Celek(notes) vs. IND
11. Aaron Hernandez(notes) at CLE
12. Tony Moeaki(notes) at OAK
13. Heath Miller(notes) at CIN
14. Brandon Pettigrew(notes) vs. NYJ
15. Greg Olsen(notes) at BUF

Antonio Gates reportedly "popped the plantar fascia in his right foot" in the second half of the game against Tennessee. His status for the Houston match-up isn't yet known, but if he's going to play, he's going to require some serious pain-killing. Here's his description of the injury, via the San Diego Union-Tribune:

“It’s the worst feeling in the world,” Gates said. “Sometimes you feel your career is coming to an end.”

Monday, Gates had to be driven to his car in a cart because he couldn’t walk.

[…]

Gates declared privately after the Titans game he was out for this Sunday at Houston.

“I was in so much pain,” Gates said. “But you take steps, you prepare the right way. I hope I can go.”

So that's brutal news. If you're a Gates owner, make sure to have a Plan B on the roster — preferably Jacob Tamme.

DEFENSES

1. Green Bay Packers vs. DAL
2. New York Giants at SEA
3. New York Jets at DET
4. Minnesota Vikings vs. ARI
5. New Orleans Saints at CAR
6. Pittsburgh Steelers at CIN
7. Chicago Bears at BUF
8. New England Patriots at CLE
9. Kansas City Chiefs at OAK
10. Buffalo Bills vs. CHI
11. Baltimore Ravens vs. MIA
12. Seattle Seahawks vs. NYG
13. Oakland Raiders vs. KC
14. Philadelphia Eagles vs. IND
15. San Diego Chargers at HOU

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Photos via US Presswire

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