By: Kimra Schleicher //
One of my brothers grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan. I was watching the game on Sunday afternoon and just when I thought Dez Bryant was going to be a hero at the end, the replay showed part of his fingers ever so slightly on the out-of-bounds line. Sometimes, it seems like the Dallas Cowboys can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but not this time. Their schedule doesn't get any easier this week as they travel to Atlanta and play against the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night.
As I was watching the rest of the games on Sunday, I realized we are halfway through the season. Some teams look poised to make a run for the playoffs, like the New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Houston Texans and Denver Broncos. Can anyone tell me what is going on in Kansas City and San Diego? I have Jamaal Charles and Antonio Gates in a few leagues and there is no direction on offense for either team. Jamaal Charles stood on the sideline for most of the game while the San Diego Chargers were trying to adapt to the wind and rain in Cleveland. As for the New Orleans Saints, it is plain and simple -- they miss their head coach, Sean Payton. For fantasy purposes, Drew Brees will continue to put up good numbers because they will be playing from behind in most games. If you have any fantasy players playing against the Saints, always be sure to play them unless you have a better option at that position.
It will be interesting to see if Andy Reid starts Michael Vick against the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football. If Vick can't be successful against the Saints' defense, he will probably make a change at the QB position. Lastly, it is great to see Peyton Manning regaining his form and looking more comfortable as the season progresses. The Broncos' schedule is very nice moving forward as they play the Bengals this weekend and then have division games against the Chiefs, Chargers and Raiders. Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Willis McGahee should post solid fantasy numbers for the rest of the season.
Week 9 Free Agent Focus
Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers
I have highlighted him before but if Jonathan Dwyer is still available, you need to get him on your roster. His running style reminds me of Jerome Bettis. Because of his performance the past two games, I believe Dwyer will be the main RB moving forward. He has posted over 100 yards rushing the past two games.
Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville Jaguars
If somehow Jennings is on your waiver wire, you need to add him immediately. I highlighted him last week and Maurice Jones-Drew has already been ruled out for week 9. Jennings will continue to carry the load at RB in Jacksonville.
Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts
If someone dropped Donald Brown, go get him now if you have room on your roster. He might be in a running-back-by-committee with Vick Ballard, but Brown could be the main guy at some point. Brown posted a solid 80 yards in week 8.
Alex Green/James Starks, Green Bay Packers
It is no secret that Green Bay will continue to throw the ball. However, they have to find an effective runner if they want to make the playoffs and have some type of balance in their offense. Green is their PPR guy and I think he will be the main guy moving forward, but James Starks will see the field until Green solidifies this position. I can't see Starks receiving more than 12-15 touches per game but he is worth a roster spot if you have room and Alex Green is not available.
Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
I own Mikel Leshoure in several leagues and to my dismay, he was standing on the sideline for a quarter and a half on Sunday. It looked like Jim Schwartz was going with the player who had the hot hand and that was Bell. No one knows for sure if Leshoure is injured but if Bell is available on the waiver wire, you need him on your roster. If Bell were to get additional touches moving forward, he would be a very nice flex player for the second half of the season.
Titus Young and Ryan Broyles, Detroit Lions
With Nate Burleson out for the season, Titus Young and Ryan Broyles will continue to see additional targets. I highlighted Broyles last week, and this week Young had 9 receptions for 100 yards and 2 TDs. Broyles had 3 receptions for 37 yards and another TD. That makes two straight games with a TD catch. If you can only pick up one player, I would add Titus Young first. Young has speed and playing opposite of Calvin Johnson he will make a very nice WR3 for your team the rest of the way.
Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams
By chance if someone dropped Amendola from their roster, go add him now. St. Louis is on a bye week so don't wait. Amendola returned to practice this past week and they expect him to be available after their bye week. He was red hot before his injury and Bradford will target him heavily once he returns to the lineup.
Chris Givens, St. Louis Rams
I highlighted Givens last week because he helped me to win a head-to-head matchup two weeks ago. Givens caught a 50 yard TD on Sunday against the Patriots. With Amendola set to return, Givens should see the benefit of playing on the outside.
Dustin Keller, New York Jets
He is probably not available in your league, but if you need depth at the TE position or a bye-week replacement, I wouldn't hesitate using him. He had 7 receptions for 67 yards on Sunday and he has emerged as the primary receiver for the Jets. The Jets will play from behind in most games and Keller will continue to see additional targets due to injuries at the WR position.
I haven't focused on defenses, but the Denver Broncos have a favorable schedule against Carolina, San Diego, Kansas City, Oakland, and Cleveland.
If you participate in a deep league, you should consider adding these players to your roster if available: Santana Moss, Jeremy Kerley, Kendall Wright, Andre Roberts, Brandon LaFell, Cecil Shorts, Golden Tate and Daryl Richardson.