We’ve now crept into the 2nd half of the season, which means the playoffs will be here before we know it. Every game from here on out is that much more important as you look to clinch that playoff berth. Setting your starting lineup on a weekly basis proves to be one of the most stressful impediments you encounter. That’s why we’re here to help. Below I outline some key players you must include in your lineup, along with some other names who need to ride the bench in week 9.

Start

QB Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys)

The standout rookie is coming off his best fantasy performance of the season against a stout Philadelphia defense (26 points). Prescott’s dual threat ability is no question – he has 4 rushing TDs on the year. Going against a Cleveland defense which allows an even 20 points per week to opposing QBs, Prescott should be in for another 20+ point game. Dez Bryant back in the lineup and coming off a successful return is a bonus.

QB Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

The 1st overall pick from last year has quietly put together a good stretch of fantasy performances. In both games following the bye week, Winston has averaged 19 fantasy points. In the past 3 games he’s thrown for 6 TDs to just 1 interception. Winston goes up against a Falcons defense that allows the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing QBs – a game with all the makings of a shootout.

RB Devonta Freeman (Atlanta Falcons)

With Tevin Coleman a game-time decision in week 9, that already boosts Devonta Freeman’s week 9 value. Mix in the fact that he’s going against a Buccaneers defense which allows 20 points per game against opposing RBs, Freeman is in for a heavy workload and a big game. Last week he went for 17 points in Coleman’s absence.

RB Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans)

Coming off his best game of the year, Henry emerged as the priority waiver wire claim of the week. With DeMarco Murray’s status uncertain for Sunday, Henry will be given another heavy workload and should take advantage against a Chargers defense that allows over 20 points per game to RBs.

WR Jarvis Landry (Miami Dolphins)

While he’s cooled off since putting together double-digit performances early in the season, Landry has put together respectable 9 point games in consecutive weeks. He should go off this week against a Jets defense that allows the most fantasy points to opposing WRs.

WR Jeremy Maclin (Kansas City Chiefs)

Maclin is coming off his first double-digit game since week 1. He’s showed some life and a matchup against Jacksonville may be just what he needs to start a hot streak. If Nick Foles starts, that adds even more valuable as the two have a rapport that carries over from Philly.

TE Hunter Henry (San Diego Chargers)

While the rookie has cooled off in recent weeks, posting consecutive 1 point games, in the 3 weeks prior he went for double-digits every game. This week he goes against a Titans defense that ranks top 10 in fantasy points against. I also expect Philip Rivers to get back on his feet this week, and Henry will be a big reason why.

TE Jason Witten (Dallas Cowboys)

It was a quiet performance against Philly, but Witten’s game-winning TD salvaged his fantasy relevance in week 8 – his highest scoring game of the year. Going against a Cleveland defense that allows over 10 fantasy points to TEs, Witten should be in for his biggest production of the year.

Sit

QB Eli Manning (New York  Giants)

It’s been a porous start for the Giants’ signal caller as he barely ranks inside the top 20 among QBs. Manning is coming off his worst game of the season, going for only 7 fantasy points – his 3rd single-digit performance of the year. In a tough matchup against Philadelphia this week, Manning has no business in your starting lineup.

QB Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)

While he’s a top 5 fantasy QB at the moment, Stafford is coming off his worst fantasy performance since week 4 as he compiled only 13 points. It doesn’t get any easier this week against a tough Minnesota defense which allows less than 12 points per game against opposing QBs.

RB Frank Gore (Indianapolis Colts)

To my surprise, Frank Gore has been one of the steadiest fantasy RBs and ranks inside the top 10. I already expect his production to dip in the 2nd half, especially this week as he goes against a Green Bay defense which allows the fewest fantasy points to RBs.

RB LeSean McCoy (Buffalo Bills)

After Mike Gillislee’s impressive week 8, McCoy’s workload should dip a bit. He also continues to nurse a hamstring injury. Going against a tough Seattle front is icing on the cake to sit McCoy on your bench this week.

WR Michael Crabtree (Oakland Raiders)

Who would’ve thought that Crabtree would finish the 1st half of the year as a top 5 fantasy WR? He’s been very reliable and has only one game with less than 9 fantasy points. That should change this week against Denver, the best defense in the NFL – allowing less than 10 points per game to WRs.

WR Marvin Jones (Detroit Lions)

After his hot start, Marvin Jones has come back down to earth and landed on this week’s ‘Fallers’ list. A matchup against a Vikings defense that allows less than 14 points per game to WRs is not what he needs.

TE Jimmy Graham (Seattle Seahawks)

Since week 3, Jimmy Graham’s fantasy points have decreased every week – dropping to 3 this past week in what was supposed to be a “revenge game” against his former Saints squad. Buffalo allows less than 5 points per game to TEs – a very poor matchup.

TE Julius Thomas (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Thomas hasn’t surpassed 30 receiving yards since week 2 – his fantasy value is based solely on TDs. In an offense that has been up and down all season (mostly down) he can’t be trusted this week going up against a Kansas City defense allowing just 4 points per game to TEs.

About The Author Jonathan Valencia

Jonathan has been investing his time in sports writing for the past decade. Breaking Football's lead writer covers anything from the NFL Draft to providing fantasy football insight. Born and raised in the Jersey Shore. Follow him on Twitter @JonValencia_WiB to talk anything football.