||Rockstar Performer / Free Agent
||Worth a Look
||Roster Rescue / Temporary Fix
||Favorable Schedule Outlook
No Brainers: Matt Hasselbeck
1. Matt Cassel, Chiefs
Cassel returns from the bye week to face a Jacksonville pass defense that ranks 26th in the NFL. The Jags have allowed at least one passing score in every game this season. The only QB on bye this week worth mentioning is Brett Favre. However, if you need a one-week replacement option at the QB position, Cassel should top your list.
Availability: Owned in ~61% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Cassel is a viable spot starter this week against a woeful Jags defense.
2. Vince Young, Titans
In Week 8, Young guided the Titans to their first win of the season. His numbers, while not spectacular, were good enough for him to merit roster conisideration in larger leagues. Young passed for 125 yards and a touchdown, adding 30 yards on the ground. Tennessee appeared to get back to classic Titans football, playing sound defense and rushing the ball. If that continues, Young will continue to be nothing more than a number two QB for fantasy purposes.
Availability: Owned in ~15% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Young can’t be relied upon as a starter in most leagues but he’s worth a look as a backup.
No Brainers: Julius Jones, Jonathan Stewart and Felix Jones
1. Ryan Moats, Texans
Festivus has come early for owners who need help at RB. Ryan Moats took over for Steve Slaton, who fumbled in the early goings on Sunday. Moats proceeded to amass 151 total yards and three touchdowns. While head coach Gary Kubiak has not committed to a starter for next week, it will be surprising if Moats doesn’t get at least 50% of the touches going forward. A more likely scenario would be 60% or more. Houston’s schedule is iffy over the next couple weeks with a game against Indy and a bye. After that, it looks great with matchups against the likes of the Titans, Jaguars, Seahawks and Rams.
Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: The guy to get in Week 9.
2. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
With Larry Johnson serving a suspension, Jamaal Charles is slated to start this week’s game against the Jaguars. Jacksonville was just butchered by Tennessee’s Chris Johnson for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. Whether you need temporary help at RB for this week only or you’re seeking some depth for the long haul, adding Charles makes sense. Johnson’s future with the Chiefs is up in the air and it’s possible Charles could start for the rest of the season.
Availability: Owned in ~60% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Charles is an excellent addition to any roster this week.
3. Justin Fargas, Raiders
Fargas is a holdover from the last couple weeks. Despite playing in a terrible offense, Fargas continues to deliver useful fantasy stats. He’s scored or hit 90+ all-purpose yards in three straight games. The Raiders are on bye this week, but they’ll resume play in Week 10 with a soft matchup against the Chiefs. Grab him now as a number two or three RB.
Availability: Owned in ~55% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Fargas should be owned in all but the smallest of leagues.
4. Maurice Morris, Lions
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz has indicated Maurice Morris will likely see increased work in the coming weeks. Starter Kevin Smith has battled through various injuries this season and aggravated his bum shoulder against the Rams. His status for this week is up in the air. Morris split the carries Sunday, rushing 14 times for 63 yards. Morris has never lived up to expectations when given the chance to be the primary ball carrier. However, he has had the occasional big game. With an idyllic matchup this week against his former team the Seahawks, Morris could be a decent stopgap for owners in deep leagues.
Availability: Owned in ~4% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Morris is a viable spot starter this week in a revenge matchup against his former team.
5. Jerome Harrison, Browns
Browns starting RB Jamal Lewis announced he was planning to retire following the 2009 season. With Cleveland sputtering and sitting there with a 1-7 record, don’t be surprised if they start taking a more extensive look at Jerome Harrison. If you recall, Harrison had a monster game back in Week 4 against the Bengals when Lewis sat out. Pick up Harrison and squirrel him away on your roster in anticipation of him seeing more carries as the season draws to a close.
Availability: Owned in ~32% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Harrison is worth a speculative pickup in case the Browns starts looking ahead to 2010.
6. Kolby Smith, Chiefs
Smith tore up his knee last season and is currently on the physically unable to perform list (PUP). However, he has been working with the offense throughout the Chiefs bye. If the team decides to sever ties with Larry Johnson or bench him, Smith could become a factor. Smith had an excellent five-game stretch in 2007 in which he displayed a strong combination of rushing and pass-catching skills.
Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Smith is a sleeper in deep leagues.
No Brainers: Michael Crabtree
1. Malcom Floyd, Chargers
Floyd was mentioned here a couple weeks back and has posted serviceable stat lines for two weeks in a row. San Diego’s decision to release veteran wideout Chris Chambers yesterday is a vote of confidence for Floyd. He will now start opposite Vincent Jackson and figures to receive more targets each week. Chambers was thrown to frequently by QB Philip Rivers but had far too many drops. If you need WR help, Floyd should top your list this week.
Availability: Owned in ~5% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Floyd has a chance to become an every week fantasy contributor and should be owned in all leagues.
2. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles
Eagles rookie wideout Jeremy Maclin hauled in his third touchdown of the season in Week 8 against the Giants. Although he’s been up and down this year, Maclin looks like a WR who should be owned in most fantasy leagues at this point. He’s hooked up with QB Donovan McNabb for nine receptions in the last two games. Philadelphia’s schedule for the remainder of the season is looks okay. Grab Maclin and expect good things over the second half of the year as he becomes more accustomed to the Eagles offense.
Availability: Owned in ~64% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Maclin should be owned in all leagues with 12 or more teams.
3. Kevin Walter, Texans
Walter has been an utter disappointment for fantasy purposes this season. He hasn’t scored or exceeded 41 yards receiving in his last five games. However, with TE Owen Daniels out for the season with a knee injury, Walter will take on added importance in the Texans offense. Walter is the team’s best remaining possession receiver. He should get additional looks in the short-to-intermediate passing game for the remainder of the season.
Availability: Owned in ~70% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Grab him and stash him to see how Daniels’ absence plays out.
4. Mike Wallace, Steelers
Pittsburgh’s number three WR has racked up quality fantasy performances in three of his last five outings. His most recent game was the best of the bunch, amassing 72 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings. The Steelers offense favors the pass these days, which makes Wallace a viable WR in most leagues. He won’t start for you every week, but the schedule foretells a few more nice performances by Wallace. He faces the Broncos this week but should excel against the Bengals (whom had put up 102 yards against earlier this year), Chiefs, Raiders and Browns.
Availability: Owned in ~60% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Don’t be afraid to use Wallace as a matchup-based starter for the rest of the year.
5. Brandon Tate, Patriots
With the team’s top two RBs, Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris, expected to be out another month, Tom Brady might be passing even more than usual. If you play in a deeper league, this is a good time to invest a roster spot in New England’s receivers. Julian Edleman is out for the year, which has opened a window of opportunity for Brandon Tate and Sam Aiken. Aiken, currently the third wideout, caught two passes for 66 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago. He’s worth a look. As a deeper sleeper, I happen to like rookie Brandon Tate. Tate tore up his knee in 2008 as a senior at North Carolina but prior to that he was out-playing teammate Hakeem Nicks (now with the Giants). Following New England’s blowout win against the Bucs in Week 7, Brady indicated Tate would likely see his role increase following the bye.
Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Take a flier on Tate in deep leagues and especially dynasty leagues.
No Brainers: Brent Celek
1. Fred Davis, Redskins
With Chris Cooley on the shelf for at least four games, second-year TE Fred Davis will step into the starting role. Davis caught eight passes for 78 yards and a touchdown a week ago Monday against the Eagles. At 6’4” 257 lbs., Davis provides a big target for QB Jason Campbell. Davis and the Skins have a difficult schedule coming up but he can be used this week against the Falcons if you’re in a pinch.
Availability: Owned in ~24% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Davis is worth a look as a bye-week replacement option.
2. Spencer Havner, Packers
With Jermichael Finley sidelined, rookie Spencer Havner has stepped in and scored three touchdowns in two games. A meeting this week against the Bucs makes Havner a viable option for fantasy purposes. Tampa has allowed a TE touchdown in three of their last four games.
Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Havner is worth a flier as a temporary fill-in, especially in TD-heavy leagues.
No Brainers: David Akers and Nick Folk
1. Matt Stover, Colts
Stover drilled all four field goals he attempted on Sunday against the 49ers. As the kicker on one of the highest-scoring teams in the NFL, Stover deserves to be owned in more than 44% of fantasy leagues. When the weather turns cold, owning a kicker who plays in a dome will become even more important. If your kicker has been costing you, put in a waiver request for Stover. He’ll be a viable weekly option for as long as Adam Vinatieri is out, which will be the rest of the regular season in fantasy leagues.
Availability: Owned in ~44% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Stover should be owned in all leagues.
2. Olindo Mare, Seahawks
As fantasy kickers go, Mare is nothing special. He ranks 15th in the NFL in points scored. However, a home matchup this week against the Lions inflates his value enough to merit consideration for owners needing a temporary solution. Detroit ranks 31st in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing nearly 30 points per game.
Availability: Owned in ~15% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Mare is worth a look this week in a game against the Lions that could be a field goal fest.
DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS
No Brainers: New Orleans Saints
1. San Francisco 49ers
If you’re in the camp of owners who need a bye week replacement for the Vikings defense, give the 49ers a shot. San Francisco draws the Titans this week. Their win against the Jaguars notwithstanding, Tennessee does not have a very potent offense. The only thing they do well is rush the ball. San Francisco has the NFL’s second ranked run defense. Vince Young will have to throw the ball for the Titans to win, which should play into the hands of the 49ers. Look for Young to turn it over a few times and give up some sacks.
Availability: Owned in ~57% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: The 49ers are a viable plug and play this week.
2. Seattle Seahawks
With a favorable matchup this week against the Lions, Seattle’s defense is worth a look. The Seahawks have recorded 18 sacks, tied for seventh most in the NFL. Lions QBs have been sacked 24 times, fourth most in the NFL. Detroit has managed to limit their turnovers lately, but look for a minimum of 3-4 sacks for Seattle with the possibility of a turnover or two.
Availability: Owned in ~36% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Seattle is a good temporary DST solution this week.