rodgers-ball2

End times. End times for all.

If you own Aaron Rodgers, you spent a second-round pick on Aaron Rodgers, and you therefore expected/hoped that significant early investment in a position that can easily be addressed later would lead to two things: a player who’s far above and beyond his quarterback peers, and an easy playoff berth. You might not get either.

At eighth in fantasy points, Rodgers is behind the likes of Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, and Philip Rivers, all of whom were drafted far behind the Packers quarterback. And now you’ll be without him for a yet undetermined amount of time after Rodgers was driven into the Earth by Shea McClellin last night.

Earlier today Rodgers said he has a fractured collarbone, and although the timetable remains uncertain, the rosiest return seems to be three-to-four weeks. That means there’s a very real chance Rodgers will be gone for the remainder of the fantasy regular season. This is my sad face.

Clearly the fantasy impact of Rodgers’ absence goes far beyond the quarterback himself, as Jordy Nelson now becomes the latest Larry Fitzgerald, a tremendously talented wide receiver who will suffer greatly due to insufficient quarterback play. Same goes for James Jones, and despite his brilliance last night, it’s not all peaches for Eddie Lacy, who could quickly see more stacked boxes.

But what about you, the Rodgers owner who’s only now picking himself up from a flat surface somewhere? Sit down, get a blanket to ease those cold sweats, and sip some herbal tea. There’s a waiver wire to ease your pain.

Quarterbacks

1. Jay Cutler: Say, are you a fan of risk that’s barely risk? Because that needs to describe you during the desperate horror that is trying to replace Rodgers. Here’s the deal with Cutler as it stands now on Tuesday afternoon before the week of practice begins: although there was confidence through multiple reports last night that he’ll play in Week 10, the man himself wasn’t nearly as confident this afternoon. That’s a problem, but if the most rosy Rodgers scenario plays out and he’s sidelined for only three weeks, Cutler is still the best waiver grab even if he misses another game. Over the next three weeks he’ll have an opportunity to throw against the Lions, Ravens, and Rams, and two of those three defenses (Lions and Ravens) are giving up over 250 passing yards per game. If he can get mended this week, a matchup against the Lions will be particularly glee-filled, as that secondary is currently ranked 31st (317.9 passing yards allowed per game). That right there is more than enough reason to get comfortable with the risk a Cutler claim presents. Call me stubborn, or call me worse, but the mere fact that Cutler still could play in that matchup makes him the best post-Rodgers injury claim, with Foles below a close second. It’s all about cool you are with the risk factor.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 53%, Yahoo – 31%

2. Nick Foles: By now you might be familiar with that whole thing Sunday about Foles becoming one of just seven quarterbacks in league history to throw seven touchdown passes in a game, and until some other crazy man throws eight he’ll be tied for that record alongside George Blanda and Y.A. Tittle. That’s obscene, and now he’ll face a Packers defense that just allowed 272 passing yards, two touchdowns, and most importantly, 20 fantasy points to a backup quarterback. Clay Matthews remains out, and won’t be around to hurt Foles, or you.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 10%, Yahoo – 28%

3. Jake Locker: Yeah, there’s some repetition from last week around these parts. But the matchups — and thus your streaming Rodgers replacements — are just too damn good to ignore. That very much includes Locker, who now gets to chuck against a Jaguars defense allowing a league worst 33 points per game.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 24%, Yahoo – 38%

4. Ryan Tannehill: I’ve turned to this well a few times and Tannehill has burned me, which I suppose will happen when the quarterback in question is currently on pace to be sacked 70 times, and he therefore doesn’t have nearly the required time to find receivers deep. But a matchup against Tampa this weekend is more appealing than it initially seems given both the weakness of Miami’s offensive line, and the Bucs’ second-ranked pass defense (allowing 196.8 yards per game). Recently, success has been found against that secondary mostly by turning attention away from Darrelle Revis (crazy, I know), as Russell Wilson completed 73.1 percent of his passes this past Sunday in a game that ended in 21 fantasy points. A week earlier Cam Newton completed 71.9 percent of his attempts on his way to 27 fantasy points, and then in Week 7 Matt Ryan completed 76.9 with 10.5 yards per attempt and a quarterback rating of 148.4. So for those keeping score, that’s three straight weeks in which the Bucs have allowed a completion percentage of over 70.0 to an opposing quarterback, and three straight weeks when said quarterbacks have scored at least 20 fantasy points. So yeah, Revis = meh.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 13%, Yahoo – 24%

5. Mike Glennon: Let’s keep this simple, and look directly at the opposite sideline. The Dolphins are fresh off of giving up 338 passing yards to Andy Dalton, and they’re also only a week removed from allowing Thad Lewis — Thad Lewis – to complete a steady clip of his passes at 65.6 percent. So we have that, and we also have the still mountainous throwing volume Glennon is sporting because the Bucs have mostly been getting crunched. Though Week 9 was an outlier (Glennon attempted only 23 passes in an utter disappointment), in his four other starts he’s averaged 45.3 attempts per game

Percentage owned: ESPN – 1%, Yahoo – 6%

Running Backs

1. Chris Ivory: I’m doing this out of a sense of obligation until those of you in Yahoo leagues right a serious wrong. Ivory has had 100 or more rushing yards in two of the Jets’ last three games, highlighted by 139 yards against the Saints Sunday. Yet look how at his ownership level in Yahoo leagues, which is just lunacy.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 78%, Yahoo – 46%

2. Rashad Jennings: The odds of Darren McFadden healing sufficiently in just a week from a hamstring injury which is similar to the one that already kept him out for a game are pretty ungood. So out comes Jennings, who had 176 total yards — and 23.5 fantasy points — against the Eagles after McFadden went down, with his 74 yards on 10 targets bringing you particularly nice value in PPR leagues.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 4%, Yahoo – 12%

3. Andre Brown: You’re giddy about Brown returning from his preseason injury following his eight touchdowns last year over just 12 games. But your desire to spend a whole whack of waiver cash or blow your waiver priority on him should be dictated by exactly how you intend to use Brown. Are you facing a desperate bye situation this week (hi there, Jamaal Charles owners), and you therefore need him immediately? Stay away then, because Brown will wisely be eased back in, and will platoon with Brandon Jacobs initially. But are you thinking more long-term, wanting to flex him during the fantasy playoffs? Go nuts then, friend, because as soon as next week he’ll be on the high end of that platoon.

Percentage owned: ESPN -  20%, Yahoo – 37%

4. Mike James: C’mon, guys, give him some love. There’s a Doug Martin owner in every league — absolutely every single fantasy football league in the world — and yet like Ivory, James’ ownership levels remain obscenely low. Perhaps some of those Martin owners in leagues with moderate depth looked elsewhere, but many more should be climbing aboard the James train now after he posted 156 rushing yards on the Seahawks, a defense that’s struggled lately on the ground, but one that’s still allowing only 116.2 rushing yards per game.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 10%, Yahoo – 50%

5. Ben Tate: And yet again, here we have another potential RB1 — at least this week — who’s surprisingly unowned in one of the two main sites we use to gauge such things. Tate is playing through four broken ribs, which proves that football players aren’t actual humans, and he still rushed for 81 yards. With Arian Foster battling through both back and hamstring injuries, Tate will likely be the Texans’ lead back again this week against Arizona, and he’s unowned in nearly half of Yahoo leagues.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 68%, Yahoo – 52%

Wide Receivers

1. Michael Crabtree: Whoaaa there, hold up a second. It’s swell that Crabtree is practicing, and indeed we have photographic evidence of that fact. However, the words written above about Andre Brown apply here too, just more. Crabtree is still likely at least a few weeks away from playing in a meaningful football game, and his snaps will surely be limited at first too. That means the brightest scenario has you waiting until at least Week 12 before he’s truly Crabtree again. But I have him here as the top add because if your league affords you the roster space and if you’re a playoff contender, Crabtree could easily be the best fantasy post-season stash add this side of Percy Harvin.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 5%, Yahoo – 11%

2. Kendall Wright: An emerging young receiver now has at least 60 yards over each of his last four games, which is maybe only pretty alright until you recall that Wright dealt with Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterback for part of that stretch. He’s now becoming quite friendly with Jake Locker and is only a week removed from being targeted 12 times, and he gets to run and catch against the Jaguars this week. They are, perhaps, the worst football team in the history of time.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 34%, Yahoo – 51%

3. Greg Little: I hate myself for even suggesting that Greg Little is worth anything to anyone. But at the low, low cost of a few FAAB dollars or a low-end waiver priority, you can gamble on the bro love between Little and Jason Campbell being more than a one-game thing. At worst, he flames out again, and you shrug your shoulders and move on with your life. At best, he’s targeted much more, and he turns those looks into more performances similar to his 122 yards on seven receptions in Week 9.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 2%,  Yahoo – 6%

4. Aaron Dobson: Though Dobson’s sudden spike is less of an outlier because it’s been over two weeks (he has 190 receiving yards and three touchdowns over his last two games), there’s still the overwhelming possibility that like Little, we’re seeing a mirage here. That reality could become even more apparent a little later in the season once Shane Vereen returns, but given the volume of passes thrown by Tom Brady (six games with over 35 pass attempts), owning and flexing any piece of the New England offense could lead to a highly desirable outcome.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 4%, Yahoo – 37%

5. Jerricho Cotchery: Continuing to take the booming and busting to its logical extreme, Cotchery scored three touchdowns Sunday, and his highest touchdown total in any season is six. Seriously absorb that before you invest far too much in a receiver who’s normally still third in the pecking order for targets in Pittsburgh behind Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown (prior to Week 9 Cotchery had received just 34 targets over six games). He has moderate value at best, especially with Markus Wheaton now returning to compete for slot opportunities.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 1%, Yahoo – 5%

Tight Ends

1. Tim Wright: His hand is still reasonably warm with Mike Williams out (Wright led all Bucs receivers Sunday with 58 yards and he’s scored in two straight games), he’s still versatile and only called a tight end because we have to call him something, and he’s still unowned pretty much everywhere. Flex this man.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 1%, Yahoo – 14%

2. Zach Ertz: The tight end roulette in Philadelphia has been less than enjoyable, but maybe — oh, just maybe — we’re seeing a beam of hope with Ertz’s six targets that he turned into 42 receiving yards and his first touchdown during Foles’ kaboom against the Raiders. Or maybe that was a vicious mirage, as Brent Celek still received four targets. This week it could matter little, though, as Foles will be throwing against another tight end friendly defense, with the Packers allowing 73.6 yards per game to the position.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 1%, Yahoo – 2%

3. Garrett Graham: With 46 receiving yards in a loss to the Colts, Graham had his second highest receiving total of the season during Case Keenum’s second start, and this time that came against a difficult defense, but one that still isn’t the Chiefs. I don’t think that was a coincidence, as there was plenty of chunk yardage to go around with Keenum slinging all the guns in an easier matchup. Keenum averaged 10.3 yards per attempt against Indianapolis, and Graham now has a +20 yard reception in three straight games.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 17%, Yahoo – 21%

4. Joel Dreessen: Julius Thomas was held out of practice Monday, though there still isn’t reason to flee to ledges yet until he doesn’t practice tomorrow due to his ankle injury. Still, it’s at least mildly concerning that Thomas isn’t able to practice even following a bye week of rest, so stashing Dreessen at a low cost is wise for those of you in deep leagues.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 1%, Yahoo – 1%

5. Mychal Rivera: This is a reach, but a viable solution for those desperate to replace either Jordan Cameron or Rob Gronkowski this week, and Cameron’s absence is especially painful since he’s the second highest scoring fantasy tight end. There’s optimism this week hidden with Rivera, though, because he’ll face a Giants defense that’s giving up 65.1 receiving yards per game to the position.

Percentage owned: ESPN – 1%, Yahoo – 0%

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