Kevin Payne offers his advice to fantasy owners dealing with one of the developing injury situations throughout the NFL and how to benefit from the backups stepping up. This article is part of our series that highlights quality content from premium subscription sites. RotoWire has been gracious enough to share a weekly article with our users for free. For additional RotoWire insight, you can visit RotoWire.com.
If there’s a theme for every week, Sunday showed why the NFL is a passing league more than ever, and the tight end position benefited the most. Nine tight ends scored, including two scores each for Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham and Tony Gonzalez, all of whom also notched 100 yards receiving. Seven quarterbacks surpassed 300 passing yards, and surprisingly none was named Brees or Brady. It was also a concussion week for quarterbacks as three teams lost their starters, possibly opening opportunities for their backups the next few weeks.
Colin Kaepernick, SF – It’s hard to recommend any of the next three quarterbacks based on the uncertainty of the starters ahead of them. I’ll list the three quarterbacks in order of preference, starting with Kaepernick. While I don’t like his matchup this week against a Bears team coming off a tough loss, Kaepernick has the most fantasy appeal given his legs and the ability to pad his fantasy stats by rushing 10-plus times per game. He finished Sunday’s contest with eight carries for 66 yards and a touchdown, showing his potential. I’d also guess there is the slim possibility that even once Alex Smith is healthy, Kaepernick could keep the job.
Nick Foles, PHI - Foles was discussed in this spot a few weeks back when Michael Vick was struggling with turnovers, and he’s very close to Kaepernick considering his schedule, plus Vick appears much worse than Alex Smith. A couple of brutal shots to the head gave way to Foles who, while looking like a rookie at times, made some plays for the Eagles offense. Foles had some preseason success and found Jeremy Maclin for a long touchdown Sunday. With Vick’s injury labeled “pretty significant,” Foles could find himself in a good position, especially this week against a weak Washington defense. Keeping in mind Kevin Kolb and A.J. Feeley, it shouldn’t surprise if Foles steps into Andy Reid’s system and has immediate success.
Jason Campbell, CHI - I will never forget when Campbell led Auburn to an upset win over Penn State in their bowl game years ago. Inexplicably, Joe Paterno didn’t use Larry Johnson that game, and Campbell had a solid effort. Of the three quarterbacks, Campbell has the least upside, but he does have some interesting weapons at his disposal. He’s never had a wide receiver of Brandon Marshall‘s caliber, and deep threat Alshon Jeffery should be back for the San Francisco game this week.
Beanie Wells, ARI – During preseason I was as big of a Ryan Williams backer as you could find, in part because of the ineffectiveness/durability concerns that came with Beanie Wells. However, a lot has changed since, as Williams is out for the season and Beanie is healthy with a fresh set of legs. I’ve trashed the Cardinals offensive line during the season, but the fact is LaRod Stephens-Howling has two touchdowns in his last three games. Therefore, that goal-line work could be handed off to the bigger Wells. While Wells isn’t eligible to return until Week 12, he should be proactively added now before other owners pursue him next week.
Chris Ivory, Mark Ingram, NO - I hate hedging and talking about two players at the same position for a team. It’s hard to handicap what’s going to happen in the Saints backfield while Darren Sproles is out, but it appears both players will have a role until his return. Ivory silenced the critics who wanted Pierre Thomas to become the workhorse with two long touchdown runs in each of the last two games. Ivory has decent speed, but his ability to break tackles, especially in the open field, is what he does the best. Ingram is only averaging a measly 3.5 yards per carry but has 23 carries for 111 yards (4.8 yards per carry) over his last two games. There have been reports that Ingram is finally healthy and has a full understanding of the offense. In my opinion, Ivory, not Ingram, should see the lion’s share of carries, but the powers that be in New Orleans think differently given that Ingram had 16 carries to Ivory’s seven Sunday. Both players are widely available and are more interesting than any running back in the Carolina backfield.
Donald Jones, BUF – Jones posted his third straight decent fantasy week, gaining 74 receiving yards on six catches and a touchdown. He’s now had 19 targets from Ryan Fitzpatrick the last two weeks and has scored in two of his last three games. The Bills defense continues to struggle, meaning Buffalo will be behind a lot and have to throw in to catch up. Jones has a nice matchup at home this week against the Dolphins, a team that averages 278 passing yards allowed this season.
Jarius Wright, MIN – Wright’s a pickup for deep leagues as he only saw his first action of the season due to Percy Harvin‘s ankle injury. With the Vikings on a bye this week Wright could be deactivated if Harvin is able to go Week 12. That said, Wright made a long catch downfield for 54 yards and added a three-yard touchdown reception Sunday as the Vikings’ most successful wide receiver. Christian Ponder still appears to be a work in progress, but Sunday’s performance by Wright could give me more opportunities.
Brian Quick, STL - I was pretty high on Quick during the offseason given the Rams used the 33rd pick to get him in this year’s draft. He’s been passed on the depth chart by Chris Givens and will remain behind him and Danny Amendola. Quick has been used more the last few weeks (four targets in his previous two games before last weekend) and scored his first professional touchdown Sunday. He’s a stash-and-hold player and at least someone who should be on the fantasy radar.
Brandon Pettigrew, DET – Pettigrew is available in roughly half of most standard leagues and is an interesting add if you need of tight-end help. He has been targeted 69 times this season, fourth for the position and two more than Rob Gronkowski. He found the end zone for the second time this season Sunday, and despite the Lions trying to get the running game going, it has typically been on Matthew Stafford‘s shoulders to win games this season.