Week 9 Pickups: Are You In Or Out?

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We're halfway through the NFL season and nearly two-thirds of the way through most fantasy regular seasons. By now, you know what's up with your team.

Most teams are in three categories.
1: You're firmly entrenched in the playoffs, and your roster only needs the occasional tweaking for injuries. You can take some risks, speculate on guys with good playoff matchups and generally coast until things get hot. It's good to be in this category.
2: You're in the playoff hunt, but still need a few wins to get in. This is a critical juncture for you. You gotta make moves, but don't want to get too crazy with your lineup. Don't sacrifice a win today for what might be a playoff berth tomorrow.
3: You're in the lower half of the league, and need to make moves ... fast.

I have a team in each of these positions. I almost would rather be completely out of it than in a losing battle for a playoff spot. At least then you can focus your attention on other things, like scouring the "rouge" leaders in your fantasy CFL league (what, is that just me?).

The guys below are mostly for groups 1 and 3. The waiver wire is a barren wasteland of sure-fire talent these days, especially for quarterbacks and running backs. You need to take some chances if you're a couple games out of a playoff spot, and you can afford to take some fliers if you've already got one wrapped up. Hopefully these guys will help.

QUARTERBACK
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills
I'll keep touting this guy as long as he remains unowned in more than half the leagues out there. A 10/3 TD-to-INT rate over the last month is worthy. The emergence of solid receivers like Steve Johnson and the fact that the Bills have decided to throw caution to the wind and just starting flinging the ball all around is a great sign of things to come.

Josh Freeman, Buccaneers
I don't know how much longer people are going to hate on Tampa Bay before realizing they're an elite team in the NFC. Freeman is not flashy, but he hasn't thrown an interception in his last three games, averaging 230 yards and a touchdown in that span. If you're looking for a QB at this point, you better be prepared to be happy with those numbers.

RUNNING BACK
LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers
Is his nickname "Philly"? It should be. Of course, after putting up 120 yards and two scores last week, you should call him whatever he wants to be called.

Shonn Greene, Jets
I'm seeing him get dropped in a bunch of leagues. If this is the case in your league, and you've got an open spot, pick him up and stash him away. I'm not a gambling man, but I'd put a grand down on LaDainian Tomlinson breaking down sometime this year.

Javarris James, Colts
OK, this is completely speculative, as the dude has 3 carries for 4 yards in his entire career. But he's the fourth string RB in Indy, and the other three are hurt. Why not?

WIDE RECEIVER
Steve Breaston, Cardinals
He came back strong after missing a month with a knee injury, racking up a career-high 147 yards. When healthy, he looks to be the No. 2 guy behind Larry Fitzgerald, which means plenty of single coverage. Good times!

Jordan Shipley, Bengals
Forget the numbers. Watch this rookie live in a game and you'll see he's a star in the making. He's got burning speed and runs great routes out of the slot. Plus it looks like Carson Palmer is starting to trust him more and more. He broke out two weeks ago with 100 yards and a score against Atlanta. I'm not saying he'll do that against Pittsburgh this week, but I would bet on him becoming a much bigger part of the Cincy offense sooner rather than later. And with Chad Ochocinco getting banged up last week, Shipley could become the No. 2 guy after TO.

TIGHT END
Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings
Not sure if you heard, but a certain receiver whose name rhymes with Dandy Loss is no longer in the picture. He's been a non-factor ever since Marshall's finest came back to town, but here's betting Favre gets back to basics and looks for his well-endowed tight end once again.

Greg Olsen, Bears
What's our rule about tight ends playing against the Bills? That's right! Always start them. Even if they have three catches in the past month and a half. Olsen is too good not to be involved in this offense. Of course, you can almost hear the collective cry from Bears fans across the city - "Check down, Jay, check down!" - as he gets sacked yet again every week.

DEFENSE
Lions
Normally we wouldn't suggest playing the Detroit defense in a million years. Howeva! ... Damo Suh is a sack machine, they got a pick and a score last week against the Redskins, and they're playing against a Jets team that just got shut out at home. What the hell, gotta take a gamble every once in a while.

Bills
Let's put it this way: My grandma could sack Jay Cutler. Of course, she's 6-foot-2, 245 and runs a 4.5 40 ...

KICKER
Connor Barth, Buccaneers
It's gonna be a defensive battle against Atlanta, meaning not many touchdowns, and it's gonna be in a dome. These are both good things for a kicker.

Garrett Hartley, Saints
Looks like this whole team got their mojo back after a win over Pittsburgh. If he's still available, I'd bank on him getting over his early-season woes and being a solid play in this offense going forward.

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