Beaten and Battered
One look at the leading news from fantasy football this week and you can’t help but notice the large amount of injuries that took place. Even worse, many of the injuries that occurred were to quarterbacks. Given that each team only uses one quarterback (sorry, New York Jets fans), there are precious few options out there for teams who find themselves limping at this pivotal position. Here is a look at the injuries and what I think about the possible fill-ins.
For years, fantasy pundits have warned that Michael Vick was a high injury risk due to his reckless style of play. After nine weeks of inflicting pain on owners with inconsistency and turnovers, Vick left Sunday’s game with what is being described as “a pretty significant concussion.” For some owners, the definitiveness of the injury will be a blessing as it allows them to bench Vick and consider other options. Rookie Nick Foles is slated to get his first start after an impressive preseason.
Filling in for Vick against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Foles threw for 219 yards and a touchdown. He added an interception and fumble for good measure. In his first start, Foles will face off with the Washington Redskins. The Redskins are one of the weaker fantasy defenses against quarterbacks, so Foles could be a decent one week fill-in if your normal starter is banged up or on a bye (Christian Ponder, Eli Manning, Russell Wilson, Jake Locker). For the long haul, you should expect Foles to perform like the typical rookie signal caller with a lot of inconsistency.
Two other concussed quarterbacks may be prepping their understudies for a Monday night matchup that could quickly turn in to a defensive battle. Alex Smith and Jay Cutler also took hard hits that led them to the sidelines. Jason Campbell will fill-in for Cutler if he is unable to go. Campbell has started before in the NFL and figures to be a quick study for the Chicago Bears’ offensive game plan. Despite his experience, Campbell is not a solid option to lead your fantasy team. Campbell was uninspiring Sunday night against the Houston Texans, and there is a reason that other teams elected to go other directions at the quarterback position.
In San Francisco, Smith was replaced by Colin Kaepernick, who ran for more yards than he passed. Kaepernick is an athletic quarterback who has the ability to extend plays with his feet. Given the Bears’ talented and equally athletic defense, Kaepernick may be forced to run more for survival than for his stats. The 49ers and Bears have two of fantasy football’s more stout defensive units who regularly stymie starting quarterbacks. Backups will have little chance of contributing.
So if these backups offer little to your team, where should you look for help at quarterback? The better options are obviously less likely to be available, but be sure to check them out first. Carson Palmer is a Top 10 quarterback in many formats and according to http://www.fleaflicker.com/ he is still available in approximately 25 percent of leagues. With a Week 11 matchup against the New Orleans Saints, who give up more quarterback fantasy points than any other team, Palmer would make an excellent fill-in option and should offer you a decent fall back option should your quarterback miss extended time or suffer an injury.
Josh Freeman is quietly having a nice bounceback season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Freeman, who is currently owned in 82 percent of leagues, is coming off his fifth straight multi-touchdown outing. Freeman faces off with the Carolina Panthers this week. He was unimpressive in their Week 1 matchup, but he is playing like a completely different player now. Throw in the fact that he has favorable fantasy playoff matchups and he should be a top target to add to your squad for this week and beyond.
If neither Palmer nor Freeman is available in your league and you have to scramble even deeper for help, you might want to take a look at St. Louis’ Sam Bradford. Bradford is coming off a nice 275-yard performance against the stingy San Francisco defense and is poised for another productive day in Week 11 against the New York Jets. With his favorite receiver Danny Amedola back in action, Bradford will look to again be a reliable fantasy QB2.
This time of season, injuries often are what separates playoff teams from the also rans. While you can never fully prepare for injuries, you can make key, informed additions to your team to weather these unfortunate storms.