Monday, September 21, 2015

It’s ‘next man up’ in Fantasyland

That moaning sound you hear is the world’s most depressing victory celebration in Dallas. The angst is shared across Fantasyland as Tony Romo’s owners now must shift to Plan B, which hopefully doesn’t stand for Bradford.

Romo’s broken collarbone – coupled with last weekend’s loss of Dez Bryant – will almost certainly have a negative domino effect on every other member of the Cowboys’ offense. Sorry, but Brandon Weeden’s “perfect” showing in relief of Romo on Sunday is about as relevant as Sam Bradford’s outstanding preseason.

I suppose developments like these are what fuel much of the interest in weekly fantasy games. But those of us old schoolers who remember a simpler time before 24x7 DraftKings commercials can’t just start over with a whole new team this week any more than Jerry Jones can.

And dagnabbit, that’s the way we like it!

So we’ll take our lumps, turn to our bench for the “next man up” and play them one game at a time. Then we’ll scour the waiver wire for a young buck or two to buttress our lineup while our starters mend their wounds.

We don’t yet know how many games, if any, will be missed by Eddie Lacy (ankle), Lamar Miller (ankle), Tevin Coleman (ribs) or Jordan Cameron (groin), or if Jeremy Hill’s benching is permanent. No one can predict with certainty when DeMarco Murray will celebrate his first double-digit rushing performance in Philly. Heck, we don’t even know who Crockett Gillmore is, period.

But we’ll move forward, uphill, barefooted, in the snow, like real fantasy football players, all the way to the playoffs. And we’ll do it with the core group of men we drafted during the preseason. Because that’s what Vince Lombardi would want us to do.


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills. It’s hard not to be impressed by how resilient the athletic quarterback has been in his first two starts in Buffalo. Though Taylor coughed up the ball four times and was sacked eight times by New England, he also amassed four TDs, including one on the ground. Just as important, he got Sammy Watkins involved this week. The Bills’ schedule is favorable moving forward so Taylor is worth a backup spot on your roster if you’re in need of QB help.

Matt Jones, RB, Redskins. Those banking on Alfred Morris should be very concerned, as the third-round draft pick significantly out-performed the starter against a very stout Rams defense. With 146 combined yards and two TDs on Sunday, Jones just had his coming-out party. Could the rookie be the new leading man in Washington?

James Starks, RB, Packers. Eddie Lacy’s owners should already have Starks handcuffed for times like this. The veteran is fully capable of carrying the rushing load as long as Lacy’s ankle injury keeps him out.

Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons. If Tevin Coleman’s rib injury forces him to miss games, Freeman will become Atlanta’s workhorse by default. The committee system has kept both backs’ value in check thus far, but Freeman’s stock will rise sharply if the rookie can’t go.

Travis Benjamin, WR, Browns. The knock on Benjamin is that he sees so few targets in Cleveland’s lackluster pass offense. But he sure knows how to make the most of them! With three long receiving scores and a punt return TD in the first two weeks of 2015, it’s time to give Mr. Big Play his due.

Don’t be fooled

Brandon Weeden, QB, Cowboys. He looked awful last season when pressed into action as the Cowboys’ starter, and that was with Dez Bryant on the field. Look elsewhere (like Buffalo, or even Oakland) for help if Romo was your guy.

Alfred Blue, RB, Texans. Blue has been marginalized in Houston’s backfield rotation, touching the ball just six times on Sunday. With Arian Foster (groin) on pace to return soon, you can safely unload the underachieving backup.

Owen Daniels, TE, Broncos. With just five receptions for 24 yards over his first two games as a Bronco, there’s scant evidence that Daniels will be the next Julius Thomas. Feel free to drop him. Virgil Green scored on a short pass on Sunday, but he, too, is a bit player in Denver’s retooled passing attack.

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