As we enter the second half of the 2012 fantasy football season some teams are sitting pretty and have the luxury of inserting players like Houston Texans running back Arian Foster into their lineups—fantasy studs that can be started on a weekly basis without hesitation.
However, some owners are running around like the proverbial headless chicken, desperately trying to salvage their seasons by trying to squeeze every possible point out of rosters filled with holes.
If you're the unlucky owner of a block of fantasy swiss cheese, have no fear: here's a look at a trio of fantasy sleeper plays who just might gallop in to save the day in Week 9.
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens (at CLE)
Judging from his last start as a fantasy sleeper, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was positively comatose two weeks ago. The fifth-year pro completed fewer than half of his passes and threw a pair of interceptions in a blowout loss to the Houston Texans.
The Ravens, for some reason, have struggled mightily on offense on the road this season, but as wide receiver Torrey Smith told Kevin Cowherd of The Baltimore Sun, it's simply a matter of the offense as a unit not executing well.
I don't know, but I've been getting asked that by everyone in grocery stores and everywhere," wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "I don't know. You're putting all the same players on the field, you've just got to execute and for whatever reason, on the road we haven't done as well."
If there was ever a game for Flacco to break out of his road funk it would appear to be this week against the Cleveland Browns, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks so far this season.
Mikel LeShoure, RB, Detroit Lions (at JAX)
The Detroit Lions have been searching all season long for a spark to bolster a rushing attack that ranks 22nd in the National Football League, and over the past few weeks the team has looked to second-year pro Mikel LeShoure to do that.
The 22-year-old, who has gained 305 yards with a touchdown on 76 carries so far this season, injured his right leg in last week's win over the Seattle Seahawks. Paula Pasche of The Oakland Press reports LeShoure is expected to be fine for this week's tilt with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
#Lions Mikel Leshoure not injured, has personal day today. Will return Thur, per Jim Schwartz— Paula Pasche (@paulapasche) October 31, 2012
It's that matchup with the Jaguars that should catch the eye of fantasy owners in need of a spot starter at running back, as Jacksonville has surrendered the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing ballcarriers in 2012.
Brandon LaFell, WR, Carolina Panthers (at WAS)
It's been another miserable season for the Carolina Panthers, and the regression of quarterback Cam Newton in his second season has hurt the statistical production of wide receivers such as third-year pro Brandon LaFell, who has only 20 catches.
LaFell has at least made the most of those receptions, averaging more than 18 yards a catch and scoring a pair of touchdowns. Yet the 25-year-old recently admitted to Max Henson of the Panthers' website that he's frustrated by the team's offensive woes.
"We all know we are better than that, at the end of the day we haven't shown it. It's frustrating week in and week out to put these types of performances on film," LaFell said. We've tried everything. We've tried running the ball more, we've tried passing the ball more, we just haven't been able to click,"
With that said, it's a very real possibility LaFell and the Panthers offense will "click" this week against the Washington Redskins, who have the NFL's worst pass defense and allow the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.