The quarterback must go down hard
Last week saw a number of quarterbacks go down with injuries. The early reports on San Francisco 49ers game manager Alex Smith (concussion) are very positive, and there's hope that he'll play. The already limited Niners passing attack should be dialed down a little further if Colin Kaepernick gets the start. He made suspect decisions throwing the ball in relief of Smith, while his best plays came on designed runs and read option plays.
Things can only get better with rookie Nick Foles for the receivers of the Philadelphia Eagles. He showed some flashes but also made some backbreaking errors after being thrown into action, however. It sounds like the Eagles would have no issue shutting down Michael Vick (concussion) and going back to a more basic pocket passing approach as Foles gets seasoned for 2013.
Riley Cooper saw the most playing time of the season and made an impressive catch for a score in the red zone. He'll get a big opportunity to step up with Jason Avant (hamstring) expected to miss at least one game and Jeremy Maclin (back) possibly hindered or inactive. Cooper is only a desperation pickup, though; more targets will instead probably go to tight end Brent Celek.
Brandon Marshall is third in league with 103 targets and had been the only Chicago Bears receiver worth owning, but he could take a big hit with Jay Cutler (concussion) doubtful this week against a rough San Fran D. If he's out, Jason Campbell would take snaps. His slow release is a bad fit behind a poor offensive line, but if Campbell can find strikes to Marshall he might keep his star receiver's fantasy value afloat. Maybe this means slightly more looks for Earl Bennett or Devin Hester, but there's no rush to add them.
Slow motion thrower Byron Leftwich could be in line for a number of starts with Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder) feared lost for a significant amount of time. Mike Wallace already saw shaky production when Big Ben was healthy and becomes even riskier with him out; midrange specialist Heath Miller's production could survive, at least to a degree. Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery should see a boost, but to bring aboard the latter, you'd have to be quite desperate.
Backfields in motion
- Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens scored but struggled for yardage against a venerable Oakland Raiders defense before being rested in a blowout. Rice received a season-high 25 carries the week before, so the choice to keep him fresh was an easy one. Thankfully the touchdown salvaged his production for fantasy purposes, and Rice's touches should normalize quickly.
- The Oakland Raiders made it clear that they prefer Marcel Reece to carry the ball, a duty that should continue for at least another week. Despite only modest performance on the ground, Reece is an asset as a receiver with 15 catches over the last two games. As for Reece's backup, Jeremy Stewart got seven carries to just the pair of attempt rookie Taiwan Jones received; neither deserves your attention, especially with the possibility of Darren McFadden and/or Mike Goodson returning soon from the high ankle sprains.
Wide array of wideout consistency....
About Eric McClung
Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a three-time award finalist. Over the years, he's made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts. He's also captured the fantasy football championship in the KFFL staff league twice.
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