Donald Brown is back from knee surgery and should resume his starting role
Three more bye weeks remain with four teams getting a break each week up until Thanksgiving. As for Week 9, New England is the team owners will miss most, although San Francisco, St. Louis and the Jets have their respective useful players.
So whether it’s Tom Brady or Frank Gore or the 49ers DST you need to find a replacement for this week, here are some options for those positions and others worth considering as you look to fill out your Week 9 roster.
Bye week teams: New England, New York Jets, St. Louis, San Francisco
Week 8 Recap: Josh Freeman posted his third-straight three-touchdown game against the Vikings, while Matt Hasselbeck, Chad Henne and Brandon Weeden combined to toss one TD pass. That came from Hasselbeck, as it was the only touchdown his Titans’ managed in their overtime loss to Indianapolis. Weeden’s Browns also scored a total of one touchdown, but that was enough to beat the Chargers. Henne didn’t even see the field as Blaine Gabbert played through a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder and helped the Jaguars put up a good fight before falling to Green Bay.
Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs
Just as he lost his job in part to a concussion, Cassel could have his starting job back after Brady Quinn sustained one this past Sunday against Oakland. Even though the Chiefs lost to the Raiders, Cassel didn’t play that poorly – 20-of-30 for 218 yards passing and a team-high 35 yards rushing. Turnovers, however, continue to be an issue as Cassel coughed up another fumble and threw a pick to increase his season total to 16 (10 INTs, 6 fumbles). Quinn will need to pass the mandatory concussion tests before he is cleared to practice, let alone play, so there’s a strong chance Cassel will be the starter this Thursday in San Diego.
Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill left the Dolphins’ 30-9 win over the Jets early after hyperextending his left knee and bruising his quad following a first-quarter sack. The rookie has said he is hopeful of playing this Sunday in Indianapolis, but if not the veteran Moore will get the nod. Moore wasn’t asked to do that much (11-of-19, 131 yards, TD) against the Jets, but he has plenty of starting experience under his belt. The Colts are allowing the 10th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, so if Moore gets the start, he could be a potential sleeper option if you are looking for one.
Week 8 Recap: Jonathan Dwyer reeled off his second straight 100-yard effort, as he rushed for 107 yards on 17 carries (6.3 ypc) in the Steelers’ win over the Redskins. Dwyer is making a strong case to keep the starting job even once Rashard Mendenhall and/or Isaac Redman return. Vick Ballard gained fewer yards rushing than Donald Brown (see below), but it was Ballard who scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime against the Titans after catching a pass and diving into the end zone. Rashad Jennings got 23 touches (17 carries, 6 receptions) and produced 115 total yards against Green Bay, while Danny Woodhead only saw seven for 59 total yards in the Patriots’ rout of the Rams. That was still more chances than Phillip Tanner (three for 13 yards) had in the Cowboys’ loss to the Giants.
Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
Bell got only three fewer carries (7 to 10) than Mikel Leshoure in the Lions’ win over Seattle and added four receptions to his afternoon’s work. For the season, Bell is averaging 3.9 yards per carry and is averaging better than five attempts over the past three games. He also has 20 receptions on the season and has caught three or more passes in five of the past six contests. Unless the Lions decide to give Leshoure the full workload, Bell could have some potential as a flex option, depending on how deep your league is, down the road.
Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts
Remember me? Brown was the Colts’ starting running back until knee surgery sidelined him after Week 5. He returned on Sunday against Tennessee and led the team with 80 yards rushing on 14 carries (5.7 ypc). Vick Ballard did a respectable job in Brown’s absence, but unless the coaching staff has had a change of heart, one would assume that Brown would resume his starting role, perhaps as early as this Sunday against Miami. Either way, Brown is definitely someone that should be added to your roster, if he’s still available in your league.
Justin Forsett, Houston Texans
After spending his first three seasons with Seattle, Forsett now finds himself in Houston. Forsett also could find himself with more to do now that Ben Tate will be out of action for some time due to a hamstring injury. Arian Foster is the undisputed top dog in the Texans’ backfield, but he’s already had a heavy workload (league-leading 168 carries), so there’s a chance the team may turn to someone else to help lighten the load. There’s also the matter that Houston comes off of its bye to play Buffalo this Sunday. The Bills are last in the league in rushing defense (176.9 ypg) and have given up 13 touchdowns on the ground. The opportunity at least appears to be there for Forsett to be a potential sneaky flex option this week.
Peyton Hillis, Kansas City Chiefs
Like Brown, Hillis also dropped off most people’s radars as he’s been out of action since Week 4 with an ankle injury. Hillis finally returned on Sunday and although he only had 23 yards rushing against Oakland, 17 of those came on one lone carry. He also finished with just one fewer carry (4 to 5) than Jamaal Charles, which no doubt frustrated Charles’ owners to no end. While I am not expecting Hillis to surpass Charles in the pecking order for any reason other than injury, it at least appears that Hillis will resume his backup role in the Chiefs’ running attack. If that’s the case, Hillis becomes a clear handcuff for Charles’ owners and a potential flex option/bench depth for others.
Week 8 Recap: Cecil Shorts caught eight balls for 116 yards against the Packers, while Santana Moss caught another touchdown pass in the Redskins’ loss in Pittsburgh. Jeremy Kerley and Nate Washington each hauled in five passes for their respective teams.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders
Heyward-Bey seems to be getting back into the flow of things with the Raiders after missing some time due to a concussion. He caught four passes for 85 yards (21.3 ypc) two weeks ago, and this past Sunday he made his one catch count as he took it into the end zone from 32 yards out against Kansas City. Denarius Moore has established himself as Carson Palmer’s top target, but Heyward-Bey is more of a vertical threat. This Sunday, Oakland hosts Tampa Bay, who is ranked second-to-last in the league in passing defense (310 ypg).
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
With four or more targets in each of the Colts’ past five games, Hilton is becoming a consistent part of his team’s passing attack. The rookie caught a season-best five passes against Tennessee and is averaging more than 14 yards per reception. With as well as Andrew Luck has thrown the ball, there will be opportunities behind No. 1 option Reggie Wayne, and Hilton should be in the mix for those along with Donnie Avery and the Colts’ tight ends.
Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs
In some leagues McCluster also qualifies as a running back, but in every sense of the word he’s a legitimate flex option. His performance was somewhat hindered by an earlier elbow injury, but he appears to be completely healthy once more. McCluster led the Chiefs with six receptions against Oakland, which went for 54 yards and their lone touchdown. He has six catches in each of the past two games, occasionally gets a carry or two out of the backfield, and can return kicks if need be. As much as the Chiefs’ offense has struggled this season, McCluster will more than likely continue to get some chances in hopes of providing some sort of spark.
Titus Young, Detroit Lions
For a variety of reasons, Young couldn’t seem to get out of his own way to start the season and Nate Burleson took advantage of the opportunity and posted decent numbers. Burleson is out for the season after breaking his leg in Week 7 and this time, Young didn’t let another chance pass by. Young caught nine passes, on as many targets, for 100 yards and two touchdowns, all team highs, in helping the Lions defeat Seattle on Sunday. There’s no denying the talent that Young, the Lions’ second-round pick in 2011, has, it’s just been a matter of capitalizing on that untapped potential. With no one in front of him on the depth chart and All-Pro Calvin Johnson to attract plenty of attention on the field, there are no more excuses for Young to fall back on. Because this time, if he doesn’t, he may get bypassed by teammate Ryan Broyles, who caught his second touchdown pass in as many games against the Seahawks.
Week 8 Recap: Logan Paulsen caught four passes for 43 yards in his first career NFL start, while David Thomas didn’t make the start, nor see much time on the field, as Jimmy Graham returned to the Saints’ starting lineup.
Zach Miller, Seattle Seahawks
After averaging nearly 57 receptions over a four-season span with Oakland, Miller caught a total of 25 passes last season, his first in Seattle. Miller already has 16 this season, including one that went for a touchdown this past Sunday against Detroit. Miller’s track record speaks for itself and it looks like Russell Wilson is realizing this and is starting to look the tight end’s way a little more frequently.
Brandon Myers, Oakland Raiders
Myers has averaged five receptions and 52 yards receiving over the past three games. Carson Palmer clearly trusts his tight end, as Myers leads the Raiders in receptions (31) and is second only to Denarius Moore in targets (37). If he could find his way into the end zone a few times, Myers could develop into a borderline starting option depending on the week and match up.
Week 8 Recap: Atlanta got to Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick three times in its win on Sunday, but the Falcons weren’t able to force the Eagles into any miscues, limiting their fantasy output.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers’ defense has performed pretty well to this point, as the unit is 10th in total defense and second in rushing defense. The Chargers held the Browns to just one touchdown in a 7-6 loss on Sunday, and will host the Chiefs on Thursday. Kansas City has had its share of issues on offense, most notably with the quarterback position, and is tied for 29th in the league in scoring at 17.1 ppg.
Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point per 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.
— By Mark Ross, published on Oct. 30, 2012