It was a tough week for quarterbacks in the NFL last week as Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler and Alex Smith all got knocked out of their games, thrusting their backups into action. As a result, many owners will be sent scrambling for replacements this week and since we are dealing with our last bye week of the season, that means those of you in deep leagues may have no choice but to turn to some risky options this week.
Big Ben’s injury looked to be the most serious, as he badly sprained his throwing shoulder. The speculation is he could miss as much as four weeks and possibly longer. It’s a pretty big blow to the entire offense and I’d be worried if I was counting on Mike Wallace or Antonio Brown in the coming weeks.
Vick got his bell rung pretty well on Sunday, and apparently also sustained an eye injury which resulted in some vision loss. Andy Reid has been looking for an excuse to bench Vick, and now he doesn’t need one. If you own Vick you have to prepare for the worst case scenario that his time running this offense is up.
Cutler and Smith both sustained concussions, so their owners may want to make contingency plans in case they can’t make it back this week.
Bye Weeks – Seahawks, Giants, Vikings, Titans,
Nick Foles, PHI – Foles will be one of the most added players this week in leagues of all sizes. He will be behind center this week against the shaky Redskins pass defense, and that makes him an attractive spot-starter for at least Week 11. Having a weekend house in the Poconos means I catch a lot of Eagles games on the tube and after seeing Foles perform in relief on Sunday, I came away with mixed feelings. At times he showed decent presence in the pocket and an ability to make some plays. But he also was harassed constantly and that led to some errant throws and turnovers. Rumors are starting to swirl that Vick could be “rested” the rest of the year, which would give Foles even more value beyond this week. It’s undeniable that the weapons are there on offense and the schedule isn’t that bad either. I’m glad that I don’t have to take the shot on Foles, but it’s possible you won’t have that same luxury. My advice if you go with Foles is to consider pairing him with the next guy on this list.
Jake Locker, TEN – Normally I might put a guy I profiled last week in the update section, especially when he isn’t even playing this week. But the carnage at the QB position over the weekend convinced me to put him up top once again. The Titans got Locker back under center earlier than expected to face the Dolphins, but the rust was evident throughout. The bye week comes just in time to get him sharp for a Week 12 meeting with Jacksonville. If you need a QB this week, Locker obviously isn’t your guy, but if you are looking for a QB with upside to replace an injured starter, I like Locker’s upside the rest of the way more than just about anyone who will likely be available in your league.
Sam Bradford, STL– Bradford had his best day since Week 6 against Miami, and it wasn’t a coincidence that Danny Amendola was a big part of making that happen. While Bradford is worth consideration for the QB needy, the schedule (NYJ, @Ari, SF) the next three week’s makes him a shaky starting option over that span. Think of him as what he is, a capable backup with some intriguing matchup during the fantasy playoffs.
Russell Wilson, SEA – I wrote Wilson up last week, and my opinion hasn’t changed that much since then. He’s on bye this week then gets two tough road games, where he has had less success so far this season. You may remember I was very high on Wilson coming into the season, and I think he has shown more than enough to be owned as a high-upside backup in all leagues at this point.
Colin Kaepernick, SF – Personally, I wouldn’t want to count on Kaepernick this week for a couple of reasons. The first is that the Niners play on Monday night and Alex Smith still has an outside chance to start. Second, the Chicago Bears defense means even if he gets the start, he could be in for a long day. If your choices are limited to the names in this section, his running ability gives him a higher floor and means he won’t be a total bust. I guess there is a chance Smith could miss more time, which makes him a name worth considering in deep leagues.
Jason Campbell, CHI – Cutler also has an extra day to try and get clearance to play this week, but if he can’t go, Campbell will get the start. The matchup isn’t great, and I wouldn’t count on big numbers, but the Chicago defense can shorten the field and provide some scoring opportunities for the strong-armed backup. I don’t normally talk about two-QB leagues, but that’s the kind of league where I might take a shot on the former Redskin and Raider this week.
Byron Leftwich, PIT – Big Ben’s injury is a big blow to the Steelers offense, and Leftwich will make his first start since 2009 against the Ravens. You probably read about his elongated delivery countless times over the past couple of days, and it seems likely that the Steelers will focus more on running the ball more making Leftwich little more than a game manager. He’s only an option for the truly desperate.
Week 10 Updates:
Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF – The former Harvard grad got back on track against the Patriots, and actually has a pretty favorable schedule for the rest of the year. I noted last week that he is likely only floating around in shallower formats, but if you lost Vick or Roethlisberger over the weekend, Fitzpatrick could provide more than enough to carry you the rest of the way.
Ryan Tannehill, MIA – Tannehill had been showing improvement before imploding with 3 INT’s against the Titans on Sunday. Normally a matchup with the Bills would have me interested, but with only 5 TD’s on the year, I just can’t get too excited any more.
Marcel Reece, OAK – Reece finally gets top billing this week after he emerged as the clear winner of last week’s battle for touches with Taiwan Jones. I will keep following up on Greg Morgan’s pimping of Reece, and now that the situation is clearer, if you took our advice and grabbed Reece, you should feel very confident about rolling with him this week against the Saints. His pass catching ability and the fact that the Raiders will no doubt be in catch-up mode early means he’ll get plenty of touches on Sunday. He needs to be owned in all leagues now since we still don’t know how long Darren McFadden will be sidelined.
James Starks, GB – I mentioned Starks taking control of the committee in Green Bay last week, and the coaching staff has indicated that his role will increase this week after the team’s bye. That makes him the back to own in Green Bay for the time being. Cedric Benson is eligible to return in Week 14, and Alex Green is still there to steal touches as well. We’ll undoubtedly revisit this backfield as the fantasy playoffs approach.
Daniel Thomas, MIA – Thomas got the bulk of the carries for the Dolphins last week after starter Reggie Bush got benched after an early fumble. While Thomas is not a guy I think you can bank on, this week’s tilt against the Bills does offer an opportunity for him to put up some useful stats. Even if Bush gets out of the doghouse, Thomas is the clear goal-line back here and that makes him a viable option in your flex spot this week.
Chris Wells, ARZ – Wells should be ready to return to the field in Week 12, and will be given every opportunity to reclaim his starting job. He’s worth adding in most leagues, but the likelihood that he’ll have a lot to prove before you’ll want to put him in your lineup.
Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL – Had him here last week, and here he is again. Like everyone else, I saw Michael Turner get stuffed multiple times at the goal-line last week, and I understand why everyone is saying the Falcons will finally give Rodgers more work as a result. I myself have said the same thing at least twice in this column at different points this season already. At this point, I will only believe it when I see it. If you have the roster spot to play with and he’s available, by all means take the shot if you like, ideally in PPR formats.
Andre Brown and David Wilson, NYG – The Giants are on bye this week, and Ahmad Bradshaw got banged up last week and required X-rays for a neck injury. Brown’s ownership numbers have dropped, so take advantage and grab him now. He’s already getting the goal-line work, and proved earlier this year he can handle a full workload. Wilson is more of a long-shot for deep leaguers, so view him as a lottery ticket that could pay off before the season’s through.
Ben Tate, HOU – Tate is getting closer to returning, and it could be worth checking to see if the Arian Foster owner in your league dropped him while he’s been out, in a bye-week roster crunch. I just checked one of my leagues and lo and behold there he was.
Week 10 Updates:
Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram, NO – Both had success last week as Pierre Thomas faded into the background. Ingram got the most carries he’s had since Week 2 and Ivory showed his explosiveness on his 56-yard TD run.
Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead, NE – Vereen gets a little boost in value this week with news that Brandon Bolden was suspended for 4 games. Vereen is now locked in as Stevan Ridley’s backup. Woodhead rewarded owners who plugged him in last week with a nice 2 TD effort.
Vick Ballard, IND – I was wrong about Donald Brown not being ready for last week’s game. As a result, Ballard slipped back into a complimentary role where he will likely remain unless injuries strike yet again.
Danario Alexander, SD – I think I mentioned Alexander in this column two weeks ago before most people took notice, and I told you again last week. Well he showed what he can do as long as he stays healthy turning a quick slant into an 80 yard touchdown gallop as part of a monster day. He’s got tough task this week in Denver, but he has a chance to keep filling the Vincent Jackson role in this offense the rest of the year. Hopefully you grabbed him on the cheap, because he’ll cost a boatload this week.
Cecil Shorts, JCK – Shorts is another guy that I find I need to keep mentioning due to his low ownership totals in shallower leagues. I don’t know what else he or I have to do to get you to pick him up. Like Alexander, this week’s game against the Texans might be a time to park him on the bench, but he needs to be on a roster at this point.
Donnie Avery, IND – Man, he just won’t go away. He’s not scoring touchdowns, but he’s back to being a viable flex play since he’s starting opposite Reggie Wayne and the Colts get the Patriots, Bills, Lions and Titans the next four weeks.
Donald Jones, BUF – Jones has been pretty hit or miss this year, but has looked pretty good the last two weeks, posting back-to-back six catch games. If he finds the end-zone like he did last week that will just improve his flex-worthy stats.
Laurent Robinson, JCK – Robinson has come back to life since returning for his concussion. He is still more of a possession threat, but 15 catches in two weeks puts him back on the radar as an option in PPR leagues.
Pierre Garcon, WAS – Garcon will apparently test out his injured foot this week to see if he can make it back on the field this year. It’s worth checking if he’s available in your league and if he is take a chance he can make it back. I think it’s more likely he’ll get shut down for the season, but I’d still grab him if I could to see what happens this week.
Mohamed Sanu, CIN – Feeling a little vindicated by my sticking with my thoughts on Sanu as he finally found the end-zone last week. He’s still really just a deep league stash at this point, but this week’s game at Kansas City could be another step forward.
Alshon Jeffery, CHI – Jeffery is getting closer to returning for the Bears, but any excitement I might have had about that is quashed by Jason Campbell at QB.
Week 10 Updates:
T.Y. Hilton, IND – Well, if you are going to crow about the one’s you get right, you’ve got to admit when you miss the bus. All signs pointed to Donnie Avery being less than 100%, thus opening the door for Hilton to shine. Sadly, he only got one target, zero catches and needed two rushing attempts to salvage something from the day. I like the talent, but as the third wheel, you just can’t bank on production.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, OAK – We were right about Carson Palmer’s second favorite WR getting back up to speed. Last week was the time to make a move on him. If you did, expect another good game against the Saints.
Emmanuel Sanders, PIT – Sanders will get another start in place of Antonio Brown. Sadly, Byron Leftwich will be throwing the ball, so don’t get too excited.
Kyle Rudolph, MIN – Rudolph had fallen out of favor with a couple of zero catch weeks recently. With Percy Harvin sidelined, Rudolph finally got some love from Christian Ponder again. Hopefully this will get him going again following this week’s bye.
Dwayne Allen, IND – Colby Fleener should be out at least another week or two, so Allen will have the opportunity to take advantage of good matchups against the Patriots and the Bills the next two weeks.
Rob Housler, ARZ – The pickings will be slim in deeper leagues, so Housler once again could be the best option available for those looking for a one-week fill-in.
Week 10 Update:
Brandon Myers, OAK – Myers didn’t find the end-zone this past week, but he delivered another solid performance.
Bengals – The Bengals are the winner of this week’s Kansas City sweepstakes. They are also coming off an emotional victory against the Giants and will be fired up for this one. If Brady Quinn is behind center, I like them even more.
Rams – The Jets are just terrible. They can’t score and they turn the ball over. I like the Rams at home to take advantage accordingly.
Redskins – I feel like a broken record kind of, but I liked the Cowboys against the Eagles last week and they paid off big-time. This week we’ve got a rookie QB and an even more demoralized team. The Redskins defense has been pretty lousy, so this is a slightly risky play.
Kai Forbath, Was – Forbath has been perfect since taking over the kicking duties and should get plenty of chances against the Eagles this week.
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