Each week, it appears a big-name fantasy player goes down with a multi-week injury. Unfortunately for Cowboy fans, they have been the hardest hit so far this season. In Week 2, Tony Romo fractured his left clavicle in Week 2. The original timetable for how long he will be out is eight weeks, although more information will be provided after scans on Monday.
Romo suffered the same injury in 2010 and ended up missing the rest of the season (the injury occurred about four weeks later that this year). However, this raises the question: what will the Cowboys' offense look like without Tony Romo?
While the timetable for wide receiver Dez Bryant has been extended to as many as 12 weeks, he certainly isn't going to be rushed back depending on what happens with the Cowboys season while he and Romo are sidelined. Dallas is 2-0, but is now without its No. 1 receiver and starting quarterback until at least November.
Brandon Weeden is Romo's backup, and while he is competent enough to manage the game, he isn't someone you ideally want leading your fantasy team. He did find Terrance Williams for a touchdown, so Williams' value doesn't take a huge hit, but the entire Cowboys offense is downgraded without Romo. Williams is a low-end WR2, Jason Witten is still a TE1, and no other pass catchers should be started in standard-size leagues. At running back, Joseph Randle is a RB2 as the Cowboys will likely try to run the ball more to take the focus off Weeden.
While Romo's injury appears to be more severe, he wasn't the only quarterback to go down on Sunday. Jay Cutler left Week 2's game early with a hamstring injury. As we've seen across the league, hamstring injuries can linger and can easily be re-aggravated. However, Cutler isn't exactly a mobile quarterback and won't need the hamstring to be as close to 100 percent as a wide receiver, for example.
For fantasy owners needing to replace Romo or Cutler, here are some options:
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (29 percent owned in ESPN.com leagues)
While Dalton is playing well, he's worth owning (and starting if you are in need of a quarterback). Through two games this season, he has thrown for 483 yards and five touchdowns. Most importantly, he hasn't turned the ball over once. The Bengals face Baltimore in Week 3, and he should be able to put up top-15 QB numbers in that game. Dalton is maddeningly inconsistent, but he usually plays well when the Bengals aren't playing in prime time. The Bengals don't play at night until Week 9 (Thursday night game against Cleveland).
Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs (27 percent owned)
In Week 1, Smith looked like he should be on the quarterback radar, going 22-for-33 with 243 yards and three touchdowns. However, in Week 2, he struggled against Denver, only completing 16 passes for 191 yards and no touchdowns. He had two interceptions as well. The Chiefs don't play Denver again until Week 10, and the schedule in the meantime is much more quarterback-friendly (Green Bay, Cincinnati, and Chicago are the next three matchups). While Smith is unlikely to put up huge fantasy numbers and he may be inconsistent, he is a viable fill-in for Romo owners.
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (24 percent owned)
After Week 1, Winston looked like he may not be ready for the NFL. After re-grouping, Winston went into New Orleans and looked much better. While the numbers from the two weeks aren't drastically different, the level of play was. And that was without Mike Evans making a single catch. Winston threw two interceptions in Week 1, and none in Week 2, which was the main difference on the stat sheet for the two weeks. Winston faces Houston in Week 3. As he suffers growing pains in the NFL, he will put up bad weeks, but he also has the weapons and the promise to put up big numbers at times.
Nick Foles, QB, St. Louis Rams (18 percent owned)
Foles has been in two tough matchups so far this year, so his ownership percentage is low. Facing Seattle in Week 1 was daunting, but he threw for 297 yards and a touchdown. He added a touchdown on the ground, but lost two fumbles. Against a better-than-expected Washington defense, he threw for 150 yards and a touchdown. He hasn't thrown an interception this season, and the schedule does get better for Foles. He faces Pittsburgh in Week 3.
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills (14 percent owned)
After Week 1, Taylor looked like a quarterback who could have fantasy value. In Week 2, he could finish as a top-5 fantasy quarterback. While his Week 2 matchup was against New England (who we now have learned does not have a very good defense), Taylor is a solid quarterback fill-in. Buffalo faces Miami in Week 3 (who just made Blake Bortles look good). While Buffalo will look to run first, with LeSean McCoy not at 100 percent, Taylor will look to throw the ball. He is still learning (as the three interceptions in Week 2 showed), but the promise is there (as the three touchdowns in Week 2 showed). Expect some weeks to be solid and others to be cringe-worthy, but Taylor is a solid quarterback option.
Running Back Injuries
Eddie Lacy left the Sunday night game in the first half with an ankle injury, and did not return. X-rays on the ankle were negative, but expect more information about Lacy's status for Week 3 and beyond to come out in the next day or so... Lamar Miller also hurt his ankle on Sunday and may or may not miss time... Carlos Hyde left with a head injury but was cleared to return. San Francisco head coach Jim Tomsula said after the game Hyde was held out for precaution. Fantasy owners looking for running back options should consider James Starks (9 percent owned), Damien Williams (1 percent owned), and Matt Jones (22 percent owned) as some early potential waiver wire adds.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.