Okay, here we are starting the downhill side of the 2009 fantasy season. If you're in the playoff hunt you're looking for that edge, and if you're in a keeper league, you're looking to build for next season. Every time you go to that free agent pool the cupboard is looking pretty bare.
Let's take a look at a few guys who should be pretty useful the rest of the way.
IDP is too often neglected, so we'll start there first:
David Hawthorne, LB, SEA - A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Hawthorne would be filling in for Lofa Tatupa for the remainder of the season. If you listened to me, you got another great 30 point performance from him in his second full start of the season. If you didn't, bad dog, no bone. He's still available in 96% of ESPN and 80% of Yahoo leagues. Go grab him now. I'll wait.
Robaire Smith, DL, CLE - Over his last four games he has 21 solo tackles, eight assists and a sack. He's not Jared Allen, but he can help you if you're week at the DL position. He's on bye this week.
Calais Campbell, DL, ARI - Here's another kid that's coming on. In his last three games he has nine solo tackles, two pass deflections, and two and a half sacks.
Jairus Byrd, DB, BUF - Byrd is the word in Buffalo these days, with two interceptions in each of his last three games, and 7 interceptions in his last four games. he's also thrown in 10 solo tackles and eight pass deflections in those four games. The rookie is making the most of the injuries endured by the Bills secondary.
Tracy Porter, DB, NOS - Since coming off their bye week, Porter has come alive, averaging about 6 solo tackles a game to go with six pass deflections, and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a TD. His next match up is against Marc Bulger and the Rams. Hmmm.
Leon Hall, DB, CIN - In Hall's last four games he's racked up 24 solo tackles, two forced fumbles, three interceptions and seven pass deflections.
Now it's time to get offensive:
Malcom Floyd, WR, SDC - I have also mentioned Floyd over the last few weeks. he has been quietly sneaking into the Chargers pass game, and he's taller than the goal post, so he makes a big target for Rivers. You didn't think they cut Chris Chambers for nothing did you? See my Floyd prediction in this weeks Team Defense Start Sit.
Louis Rankin, RB, SEA - The Edge has lost his edge, and Julius Jones, can't go two feet without tripping over his own. Enter upstart, Rankin, who was cut by the Raiders who were swimming in RBs. Since signing with the Seahawks practice squad, Rankin has made the defense miserable. He will now backstop Jones, and given the chance...
Donnie Avery, WR, STL - Yes, that same under-productive sleepwalker who has done nothing all season for those who took a chance on him. He doesn't play on the greatest offense, but he is the team's best target. And he has put together a couple decent games of late. Add to that a week of rest and another week removed from his preseason injury and I think he'll do better than a lot of people expect down the stretch. He has some nice match-ups in the remaining weeks.
Bernard Berrian, WR, MIN - Berrian has sort of become the odd man out in Vikingville, with rookie Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice getting all the love and receptions. But most of that has to do with missing time to gel with Brett Favre early on. They've been connecting better of late, and they had an off week to work on their timing. A lot of owners have written him off this season as evidenced by his 75% ownership in most leagues. With him on a bye week, even if he's on someone's team, a desperate owner may give him away for a bye week filler...Just sayin'
Josh Morgan, WR, SF - Yes, I've been pushing this kid for weeks and the season's big sleeper has been doing the big sleep. Opposing secondaries are going to be busy focusing on Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, and guess who's gonna get the deep balls? Give Alex Smith a chance. His first full game came against the Colts. The Titans should give us a better measure of how things will play out.
Alex Smith, QB, SFO - I had no QB's on the list, but bye weeks are over after next week. That said, Smith faces the woeful Titans secondary followed by the Bears at home the next two weeks, so if you need a fill-in...He could put up tres TDs both weeks.
Here's a final two for you return league guys:
Danny Amendola, WR, STL - I was remiss in leaving him off my prior KR/PR list, but Danny's been getting more involved in the pass game as well as his return duties of late. He could be a nice surprise going forward.
Courtney Roby, WR, NO - Over the last three games, since the team came off their bye week, Roby has been averaging about 8 fantasy points per game in most leagues with return yardage. If I told you a player would get one catch all game, but it would be for a touchdown, you'd probably play him. Eight points is 8 points, any way you score it.
Alright bastiches, I'm outta here. See you with the RB Starts in week 10!