Corny title. Check.
It’s never fun when you lose your stud quarterback — or any stud for that matter — this close to the playoffs. It hurts.
But those unfortunate enough to lose Aaron Rodgers to injury can take solace in the wealth of quarterback options that have emerged to take his place. If you aren’t in one of those horrible deep bench leagues, you probably have a shot at making a run without your main mustachioed man.
I normally try to add notes about FAAB, or free agent acquisition budget, spending limits for each player, but this week, it’s really up to you.
There aren’t too many more weeks for you to play it conservative. It’s time to go big…or stay home while someone else goes to the fantasy football playoffs. I’ll suggest the minimum amount you probably need to acquire a player, but you can spend your whole bank if you have the conviction. Don’t let your favorite players end up on another roster. It’ll be doubly bad to see them started against you in these final, critical weeks.
So let’s get to it.
Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears
Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Case Keenum, QB, Houston Texans
Terrelle Pryor, QB, Oakland Raiders
Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans
Rather than single out each one of these guys, let’s talk about all the quarterback replacements as a whole. Cutler looks like he’ll return sooner rather than later, which makes him top of the list. His playoffs schedule is incredibly purdy, and it’s good to know his offense works even without him under center. If you lost Rodgers, Cutler is the safest direct replacement, even if he doesn’t end up back on the field right away in Week 10.
Foles is a close second to Cutler only because we don’t know how exactly the Eagles will handle their quarterback situation for the next few weeks. When Michael Vick is healthy, some expect him to take the starting job again, regardless of how well Foles plays. Others have pointed to Foles’ miserable outing against the Cowboys as evidence this performance is a fluke. I’m sitting on the fence on this one, but the Eagles’ schedule is favorable. Whoever ends up under center will have chances to succeed. You might as well take a shot on Foles if you are hungry at the quarterback spot and most definitely if you are sitting on Michael Vick right now.
Keenum is a puzzling prospect, and I lump him in with Pryor a bit because both have the ability to run the ball and extend the play. In that, they both get plus in the yardage department. Keenum’s upcoming schedule is more desirable, but we also haven’t seen him go against a defense with a lot of tape on his game. Now that he’s put it on display, we can expect Andre Johnson to get a little more attention from opposing secondaries. Pryor, on the other hand, will be expected to do a little more without Darren McFadden in the backfield, and his straight line runs provide a high floor that makes him safe each and every week, no matter the opponent.
In one league where I own Pryor already, I’m probably going to sit on him this week and, if anything, pick up another of these options as a third quarterback. Yes, that’s not the greatest scheme, but I am trying to make a few trade deals this week. Sitting on a few of the nicer quarterback options can’t hurt my trade packages. And that way, I don’t have to make the decision about whether Pryor is a better option than Keenum the rest of the way.
Jake Locker was supposed to be a QB1 for us in Week 9, but instead the Titans went back to the run game. If that continues to be the game plan against the upcoming easy opponents, I like him a safe play but not an exciting one at all. I’d rather have any of the above guys on this list.
As far as costs, I’d expect Cutler will cost you 20-25 percent of your FAAB or more. He’s probably worth going 40-50 percent for if you need a quarterback. Nick Foles probably won’t be had for less than 20 percent either. Keenum, Pryor, and Locker will probably go slightly cheaper, but I’d bet 15 percent will be necessary, at least for Keenum. Place your bets based on your need.
Andre Brown, RB, New York Giants
I’d be impressed if no one in your league has stashed Brown yet. He’s expected to take the field this week but may not inherit a full starter’s snaps until Week 11. Despite the Giants’ talent for falling behind in games this season, Brown is worth owning as a stash and possible flex play. Considering his value and the news about his return this week, you probably won’t get him for less than 25 percent FAAB.
Shane Vereen, RB, New England Patriots
On a bye this week, the Patriots will return in Week 11 with Vereen in the backfield. If his Week 1 usage holds up, he’ll be a force. Go in for him with at least 25 percent of your FAAB. The Patriots running back usage may not always make sense, but Vereen could stabilize things.
Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets
Ivory will be good when the Jets are winning, but Bilal Powell will take over his job when the Jets fall behind. That makes him a little risky, but he’s still going to have a few flex or RB2-worthy games in him. I’d expect him to cost you at least 10-15 percent of your FAAB.
Mike James, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
James had his first good game in Week 9, though he did pass for a touchdown, not throw one. With a few nice matchups ahead, I’d make sure he’s owned, but 25 percent or more of your FAAB may be required.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Oakland Raiders
Darren McFadden will once again miss time with a hamstring injury. Jennings should have room to run as long as Pryor is scaring defenses. I don’t expect him to perform as well as he did in relief of McFadden in Week 9, but he’ll be valuable, especially to McFadden owners. Toss 15 percent or more of your FAAB to lock up his services for the next several weeks.
You should also, of course, make sure Ben Tate, Joique Bell, Shonn Greene, and James Starks are owned considering how much potential they have if anyone was to get injured ahead of them.
Aaron Dobson, WR, New England Patriots
It looks like the stretch receiver job is his in the Patriots offense, which means these types of games are possible when Tom Brady looks like himself. Those in need should secure him right away. It’ll cost you around 20 percent of your FAAB if your league is paying attention.
Mike Brown, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Brown steps into the WR2 role for the Jags in Justin Blackmon’s absence. Cecil Shorts get more of the upgrade, but Brown will have his days. He may only cost you 10 percent FAAB or less because…well, he’s in Jacksonville.
Riley Cooper, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
As Nick Foles goes, so goes Riley Cooper. So that’s why I’m not incredibly excited, even though he scored three times in Week 9. I’d lower expectations and put a small bid of 10 percent FAAB on him just to make sure he doesn’t walk onto another roster, but I’m not sure what to make of him yet. He could provide flex or WR3 value the rest of the season…or he could disappear again if Vick takes back over.
If you’re more interested in the stash than the immediate play, make sure Percy Harvin isn’t sitting on your wire. You can also check for Michael Crabtree if you’re bound for the playoffs. And if not, stash his teammate Mario Manningham.
Timothy “Tim” Wright, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I’m not sure if he’s a Tim. Some of the fantasy sites out there are calling him Tim…some Timothy. But until we meet, I’ll never know. What I do know? Wright is a great tight end play this week against the Dolphins for owners of Rob Gronkowski or Jordan Cameron. And for everyone else, he could be a TE1 the rest of the way if Mike Glennon continues to look his way in the red zone. I’d be fine spending 20 percent FAAB on him or more if you need the points this week, but you might be able to get him for as little as 5-10 percent.
For the injury stashers, you should also keep an eye out for Dennis Pitta. There’s not even a timetable for his return yet, but he could provide a nice tight end boost in the playoffs. You know, if you’re going that way.
For the defensive streaming, I like the Cardinals a lot this week for some reason, even though I also like Case Keenum. So confused. The Fake Football also has some more thoughts there as does the end of the Rotoworld pickups.
Good luck in Week 10. Don’t start anyone I wouldn’t start.