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Fantasy Factor: Week 9


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -** As we hit the midway point of the NFL season and start crunch time for playoff pushes, I realized why fantasy football is exploding. There is no defense being played early in the season. This has been a three-year trend, at least, in my mind.

There were 1,087 yards of offense in the Steelers-Colts game. The Patriots lit up the Bears, the Broncos and Chargers had a pretty good shootout going for a bit, as did the Saints and Packers. The days of a 9-6 game are gone. I like scoring but I don't want to see kickers as the only point scorers. This weekend, getting on the board seemed too easy.

I wouldn't mind some adjustments to the holding and interference rules. Calls are up 60 percent. I do think this will slow down as flags stay in pockets when playoff races heat up. I just like a little more defense in my NFL. High-scoring games make for great fantasy matchups, though.

There are a few major injuries to watch for this week. Tony Romo left Monday's game in the third quarter with a back injury, but he returned to the game. Adrenaline could have played a factor in his return, so we'll see how stiff he is before Sunday's matchup against the Cardinals.

Alex Smith has a stiff shoulder. Andy Reid said he'll be fine, but the Jets are a physical team that put a lot of pressure on quarterbacks. If he's your bye week guy, may want to rethink that.

Michael Vick is intriguing now that he's getting first-team reps this week. Kansas City has a tough defense, but I like the Jets' skill guys. If I was hurting, I would roll the dice on Vick. Colt McCoy showed some moxie against the Cowboys. He could be a plug-in option too. I must say, I am a Kyle Orton detractor, but he has had a nice fantasy run the last three weeks. Pick him up if you need him, but note that he is on a bye this week.
* * Doug Martin and Giovani Bernard also have injuries. The Bengals say that Bernard is okay, but keep checking on his status throughout the week. Martin has been one of the biggest busts of the year so sit him regardless of his status. I will be doing just that. Denard Robinson in Jacksonville seemed to be solidifying his role as the team's starter. He and Ravens rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro are probably your best adds this week.

Marcus Lattimore is set to start practicing on Wednesday for the 49ers. Watch his progress. I wouldn't add him just yet, but one big game and he'll be snatched up. He could be the next Willis McGahee, who came off injury to power the Bills late in the season about a decade ago.

Stay out of the Carolina backfield. DeAngelo Williams should play Thursday, but that team can't run the ball, or decide on a feature back. Play the Broncos' backs against New England. Bill Belichick always seems to give the Broncos the run with Manning.

At wide receiver and tight end, Brian Quick is done for the year. Cameron Jordan has a concussion. You can take a flyer on Heath Miller, but Pittsburgh may be hard-pressed to repeat last week's aerial attack. Miller is a teaser, too. Andrew Hawkins in Cleveland is an option at WR. We all saw Brandin Cooks on Sunday night for the Saints. Get the claim in, but he may not be the featured pass catcher every week. He seems to be gaining Drew Brees' attention. Another Steeler to be real leery of is rookie Martavis Bryant. Likely just a nice week, as that is not a pass happy offense with Le'Veon Bell. Jason Witten is worth a play again if Brandon Weeden is in for Tony Romo. Tight ends can be a security blanket for young guys.

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