Week 9 of the NFL season turned out plenty of key injuries and role changes, so this should be an active week on the waiver wire. Here are my suggestions on who to target.
Sage Rosenfels, QB, Texans. If the Cowboys are the team that has the biggest dropoff from their starting quarterback to their backup, the Texans are the team that has the smallest. With a good offense around him, I see no reason that Rosenfels can't do the same things that Matt Schaub was doing, both for the Texans and your fantasy team.
Brady Quinn, QB, Browns. America's most famous backup quarterback is finally getting his chance to start. The usual caveats for young quarterbacks apply, but there are two things I like here: On a team with Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, Quinn has weapons to throw to (unlike, say, JaMarcus Russell in Oakland); And the Browns' schedule is very favorable the next four weeks: Broncos, at Bills, Texans, Colts. I don't think Quinn has quite the short-term upside of Rosenfels, if only because Quinn is unproven, but Quinn is more likely to hold the job for the rest of the season.
Rex Grossman, QB, Bears. Did you notice how much the Bears ran the ball in the second half against the Lions, after Kyle Orton got hurt? The more conservative approach was not a coincidence. The Bears are aware of Grossman's turnover propensities and will play things closer to the vest than they did with Orton. As such, unlike Rosenfels, don't assume that Grossman is going to put up the stats that Orton was posting -- he won't. Also, Grossman's matchups the next two weeks are brutal (Titans, at Packers), though it eases up after that (at Rams, at Vikings).
Lions quarterbacks. Dan Orlovsky has been playing well the past couple of games, but rumors are emerging that he's hurt and will miss a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, Dante Culpepper was just signed, presumably to be the starter, and Drew Stanton is still in the picture. Unless Orlovsky is pronounced healthy, I'd avoid this situation.
Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals. If Hightower is not owned in your shallow league, then go get him. This is my biggest "no duh" recommendation so far this season.
J.J. Arrington, RB, Cardinals. In a deep league, Arrington suddenly has value as the change of pace running back. As I analyze it, the comparison that keeps coming to mind for me here is Derrick Ward. Both Arrington and Ward are backing up bruising running backs on good offenses, and both are borderline fantasy starters when their teams play inferior opponents.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs. Larry Johnson is taking career advice from Pacman Jones, and Kolby Smith appears to be out for the year with a serious knee injury, leaving Charles as the last man standing in the Kansas City backfield. There's not a lot of upside here (think Cedric Benson), but Charles should certainly be owned in all formats.
Ryan Torain, RB, Broncos. I've never written so much about a player who has yet to score a fantasy point. Michael Pittman and Andre Hall just got put on injured reserve, so Selvin Young is now Torain's only competition for carries in Denver. It's always hard to know what Mike Shanahan will do with his running backs, but it's clear that he doesn't like Young on the goal line. At worst, Torain should be the goal-line and short-yardage back on a good offense.
Darren Sproles, RB, Chargers. Remember two weeks ago, when I recommended Leon Washington against the Chiefs? Sproles is similar to Washington in a lot of ways, and this week he's also playing the Chiefs. I expect the Chargers to win handily this week, so if you miss out on one of the backs listed above and need a one-week plug-in, you could do worse than Sproles.
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Michael Bennett, RB, and Clifton Smith, RB, Bucs. I have often written about my desire to find "this year's Earnest Graham," but I never thought that guy might come from Graham's own team. Anyway, I want to be very clear here -- Bennett and Smith are, at this point, little more than speculative picks. That said, Warrick Dunn is not healthy and Earnest Graham has a knee injury of unknown severity. If Graham's injury is significant, and Dunn can't get healthy, somebody is going to get carries for the Bucs.
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings. Before the season, most people viewed Rice and Bernard Berrian as fairly close in value. What's changed since then? Well, a lot -- Berrian has played well and Rice has been hurt. Rice scored last week, though, so he seems to be getting healthy, and with more defensive attention on Berrian, Rice may become a fantasy option before long.
Josh Morgan, WR, and Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers. Do you know who Shaun Hill's go-to receiver will be? Me, neither. If you're in a deep league, keep in mind that it could be Morgan or Davis. If you're skeptical, I don't blame you. I want to hold my nose even as I type this. Just keep in mind that when a new quarterback enters the fold on a team without a stud receiver, you never know who he will have chemistry with.