Our two running back picks from last week, LeSean McCoy and Justin Fargas, ended up with great lines, and if you had either as your fill-in RB2 for the week, I'm sure you were pleased with their performances. Unfortunately, the rest of our sleepers didn't hit.
What does that matter for this week, you say? How about ... more running backs! That's right, call now and we'll double your RB sleepers at no additional cost!
Now that the spirit of Billy Mays has passed through the column, let's check out the POaYD crew this week.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, NYG vs. SD
Fantasy owners were loving Bradshaw for much of the season. Through six weeks, the shifty runner had one huge game, two other double-digit performances, and only one game under 50 yards (Week 2's air show in Dallas). He was averaging 6.22 yards per carry! After two terrible weeks, that average has dropped all the way down to 5.35 yards per carry. That's still pretty good. Both Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs should thrive this week against the Chargers, so don't give up on the pair of Giant backs just yet. I own Bradshaw in multiple leagues, and he's starting in
Matt Cassel, QB, KC at JAC
Michael Crabtree, WR, SF vs TEN
Crabtree signs, and the Niners can't seen to buy a win! They played a heck of a game against what I think is the best team in football though. The rookie receiver built on his 56-yard debut by catching six balls for 81 yards in the tough loss. If the trend continues, he should have his first 100-yard game against the Titans, who did much better defending the pass last week against the Jaguars. With the defense focusing on stopping Vernon Davis and Frank Gore, look for Crabtree to see single coverage for most of the game and exploit it to his advantage.
A Good Night's Sleep
Mike Bell, RB, NO vs. CAR
Don't tell me you're ready to give up on him after one bad game. Pierre Thomas stole the show on Monday night, but Bell was actually given the bigger share of carries, despite not doing much with it. If you were disappointed in his yards-per-carry average, look back to the 12-carry, 80-yard performance from Week 7. Now he gets the Panthers, a team that's been very easy to run on this season (as long as your QB isn't throwing their defenders the ball). Chalk up big days for both Thomas and Bell, whom I'm playing as a RB2 or flex in many of my leagues (you know, the half of my teams that don't have Bradshaw).
Jamaal Charles, RB, KC at JAC
Sometimes it's not what you do, it's what the idiot ahead of you on the depth chart does. Many people have been clamoring for Charles to receive an expanded role in the offense, and that time has finally come. He can't be worse than the 2.7 yards-per-carry the Chiefs offense has been built around. While he might still have to share the ball to some extent, expect Charles to receive the bulk of the load, which will probably be 12 to 15 carries. If he maintains his 5.0 yards-per-carry average, that'll lead to a usable fantasy day for you.
Ben Watson, TE, NE vs. MIA
Looking to catch lightning in a bottle? Watson has four touchdowns on 15 catches this season, with the last being a 35-yard score in London before the New England bye. Miami has been giving up TE points all season, with the latest success story being the previously-slumping Dustin Keller. The Dolphins will be doing their best to keep up with New England's great receivers, and I expect Watson to sneak in a score or two along the way.
Alex Smith, QB, SF vs. TEN
Was the Tennessee rejuvenation in Week 8 a preview of the second half, or just a blip on the screen of a lousy season? We know which scenario Smith is hoping is true. A week after his huge comeback against Houston, Smith had a good-but-not-great day in Indianapolis, throwing for about 200 yards and a TD, with one interception against him. He should be able to get multiple TDs under his belt this week, as I'm not sure the Titans have an answer for Vernon Davis. Play him with confidence as your flex QB or QB2.
Falcons Defense, TM, ATL vs. WAS
Backup tackle, meet John Abraham. John Abraham, meet Jason Campbell. Abraham resurrected his career last year but has just three sacks so far in 2009. That total could double on Sunday. Other things that could double in Week 9: Atlanta's one defensive TD this season, Campbell's halftime benchings, and coaching duties Jim Zorn "willfully" surrenders to assistants. With the Redskins' O-Line hurting, the Falcons are your obvious defensive plug-and-play for the week.
Malcom Floyd, WR, SD at NYG
Say goodbye to Chris Chambers, Charger fans. Some of you looked shocked -- did you not know he was still a member of the team when you heard the news of his release? It wouldn't surprise me, as Chambers has done nothing to endear himself to fans and fantasy owners alike this season. Now the much more talented Floyd steps into the spotlight. He's a guy you can always rely on if you need a big catch in the red zone, and now it looks like the Chargers will be relying on him more often. The Giants couldn't stop the Eagles passing game last week, and if we see a reprise here we should see a big game from Floyd.
Bryant Johnson, WR, DET at SEA
No team is worse at defending No. 2 WRs than Seattle, something that I'm sure comes as no shock after the Dallas game, where they didn't defend any receivers, or so it seemed. The man with the next shot at glory is Johnson. He's been decidedly mediocre all season, but the matchup is great for anyone needing to gamble in Week 9. If Calvin Johnson can play, that just opens up much of the field for Bryant Johnson. He's not my favorite play, but he's a nice pickup for deep league guys needing a fill-in.
Fred Davis, TE, WAS at ATL
The Falcons have allowed the second-most yards to tight ends this season, behind only the resting Vikings. Davis stepped in for Chris Cooley by catching eight balls for 78 yards and a score. Put the two together and you have a very nice low-end TE1 for Week 9. There's a very good chance he's available in your league, so make the move before someone realizes how well he did in Week 7.
Justin Forsett, RB, SEA vs. DET
Much like Malcom Floyd is benefiting from the Chambers release, Forsett has also seen his stock go up with the release of Edgerrin James. Forsett now becomes the clear No. 2 back and the much preferred guy on the field in passing situations (of which there are many for Seattle). Act now, because he's bound to have a big game within the next few weeks and become a waiver wire darling (a la Ryan Moats and Shonn Greene). What better team to announce your fantasy worth against than the Lions?
Matt Stover, K, IND vs. HOU
Thanks for bearing with us this long. This is our last sleeper, I promise you. When the 49ers put up a fight in Indianapolis, the Colts turned to their kicker to keep the game close. Not Adam Vinatieri, who's been out with an injury, but veteran Matt Stover, who connected with four FGs on the way to a big game. The Texans-Colts game usually ends up being closer than people expect, and if that happens again, people should expect even more fantasy fireworks from Stover.