For many a fantasy owner, time probably stood still on Monday night when Aaron Rodgers hit the Lambeau Field turf hard after being sacked by Chicago’s Shea McCllelin. No doubt many a game was lost or won, depending on which side you were on, because of that one play.
Unfortunately, the news hasn’t gotten better. Rodgers didn’t return to the game and the early prognosis is that he will miss at least three weeks because of a small break in his collarbone. Green Bay has already had its bye week, so any time Rodgers misses will mean games.
So what is a Rodgers owner to do? There’s always the trade route, but here are some names that could be available on your league’s waiver wire that could help you survive the next three weeks. Besides, you’re really not going to start Seneca Wallace or whomever else the Packers bring in (Matt Flynn? Vince Young?) are you?
Eli Manning, New York Giants
Very few things have gone right for Manning and the Giants this season, but now may be the ideal time to get back on the bandwagon, at least fantasy-wise. After throwing at least one interception in his first six games, all losses, Manning has not tossed a pick in the past two, both wins. The Giants come off of the bye, hopefully rested and healthy, and are expected to get running back Andre Brown back. Then there’s the schedule. The rest of the way, the Giants face one team (Seattle) whose pass defense is not ranked in the bottom half of the league. Of those remaining seven games, six are against teams that are 24th or lower in the NFL when it comes to defending the pass, starting with a Oakland defense that just gave up 406 yards and seven touchdown passes to Nick Foles. If there ever was a time to buy low on a guy whose thrown for more than 3,900 yards and at least 26 touchdowns in each of the past four seasons, this could be it.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Big Ben is sixth in the NFL in passing yards at 291 per game, so you know he is going to get to throw it. He is coming off of a 400-yard effort against the Patriots and if anything the Steelers’ struggling defense could actually help increase Roethlisberger’s value. He has thrown 45 or more passes in three of the past five games. The one constant in those games – his team has been trailing. The biggest downside to Roethlisberger’s numbers so far has been a lack of touchdowns. He has just 12 passing and none on the ground. If he could find a way to pick up the pace in that category, he could be in line for a strong second half. Pittsburgh’s next four games are against Buffalo, Detroit, at Cleveland and at Baltimore. The Browns are the only team ranked in the top 10 in the league in passing defense and all four are among the top 18 in terms of fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Cutler and Rodgers are similar in that both have been injured this season. Cutler sustained a groin injury in the Bears’ Week 7 loss to Washington. The initial prognosis is that he would be out anywhere between three to four weeks, but Cutler is planning on practicing this week in hopes of returning to the lineup this Sunday against Detroit. Cutler definitely comes with a degree of risk and uncertainty, but he has been fairly productive in new head coach Marc Trestman’s offense, throwing for 12 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. He may not sling it all over the field as in years past, but he has deadly weapons to throw to and the potential for big numbers clearly exists. The Bears’ upcoming schedule doesn’t look all that imposing either, as St. Louis is the only top-10 passing defense Cutler would face from now until Week 15 (Cleveland).
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Foles is not a new discovery by any stretch, but any time someone ties the NFL single-game record for touchdown passes, it’s worth taking notice. After missing a game due to a concussion, Foles was one gigantic headache for Oakland on Sunday, passing for 406 yards and seven touchdowns, which tied the single-game record. Foles had more touchdowns than incompletions (six) and did all of this damage in three quarters. While I’m not saying that Foles is the second coming of Peyton Manning, he does have two things going in his favor. First, with Michael Vick nursing a hamstring injury, it appears Foles’ hold on the starting job is secure for the time being. Secondly, the Eagles’ next two games are against Green Bay and Washington, two teams that rank among the top 11 in terms of fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.
Case Keenum, Houston Texans
The Texans didn’t win on Sunday night, but Keenum certainly did his part. Making his second career NFL start, the former University of Houston gunslinger took center stage on NBC by throwing for 350 yards and three touchdowns and energizing the Texans offense and home crowd in the process. In two games, Keenum has yet to throw an interception, which is one of the main reasons why Matt Schaub lost the starting job, and has re-introduced the vertical passing game into the Texans’ offense. Keenum averaged 10.4 yards per completion against the Colts and leaned heavily on his All-Pro target, Andre Johnson (9-229-3). With the Texans sitting at 2-6 and Schaub’s future with the team up in the air, Keenum figures to get more chances to show the team if he’s the potential long-term solution at quarterback or not.