Did a top quarterback just come onto the market?
Tony Romo will be out 6-8 weeks with a broken collarbone suffered in the Cowboys' loss to the Giants Monday night. His backup is 38-year-old Jon Kitna, who hadn't thrown a pass since 2008 before Monday. It's hard to evaluate quarterbacks forced into the game due to injury, but the numbers looked OK, fantasy-wise: 16-for-33, 187 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Kitna is not going to be a great quarterback this year, but he might put up very good fantasy numbers. Dallas, though 1-5, has an explosive passing offense; much of that is due to the play of Romo, sure, but a veteran like Kitna can do something with all those weapons.
Kitna is not going to make or break your season. But those of you in dire quarterback situations -- horrified Jay Cutler owners, for example -- can get a QB that just might do very well for himself.
Before this season, Ryan Fitzpatrick was mostly known as "the NFL quarterback from Harvard," mostly because every story written about him mentioned it. He had also thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in his NFL career. This year, the Harvard man has 11 touchdowns against 4 picks in just four starts since taking over for Trent Edwards in Buffalo. Against Baltimore on Sunday, Fitzpatrick went 29-for-43 with 4 TDs and 2 INTs against a Ravens' third-ranked pass defense that also got back Ed Reed.
The Bills' defense gives up a ton of points; the offense generally ends up throwing a lot. Fitzpatrick's receivers have been singing his praises. And Fitzpatrick is available in most fantasy leagues. The touchdown numbers will probably come down -- his percentage of passes for touchdowns is 8.6, a very high rate -- and he's been inconsistent in the past, but those in need of a quarterback can get a guy who could put up very solid numbers for nothing more than a waiver pickup.
Matthew Stafford, Lions: It's risky to start him on his expected return to the starting lineup Sunday, but he's an option going forward. Shaun Hill put up good numbers and he faces a bunch of pass defenses that haven't played well this year in the coming weeks. The Lions are in D.C. this week; Washington's pass defense isn't great except when facing Jay Cutler.
On the hot seat: Kevin Kolb, Eagles. This one's easy: He's no longer the starter. Michael Vick will return to the lineup after the bye week as the Eagles continue their quarterback carousel.
By this point in the season pretty much everyone is taken. Fight for scraps on the waiver wire. One option in Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount. Bucs coach Raheem Morris doesn't want to start him because he's still working on his blocking, but Blount may force his way into the lineup. He ran 11 times for 72 yards on Sunday and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry compared to starter Cadillac Williams' 2.5.
If Blount ends up learning the protection better and getting more playing time, he could be a decent starter at running back by late-season. If you have the roster spot, definitely pick him up now.
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks: He didn't have any sort of great day Sunday, but it looks like Lynch is taking the starting role in Seattle. He scored in his first game and got a ton of carries in his second; he's available in about 60 percent of leagues. It looks like he might put up serviceable numbers eventually.
Reggie Bush, Saints: He's been cleared to play Sunday and is available in about half the leagues out there. It's definitely a gamble starting him this week -- he still hasn't practiced, and the reeling Saints play Pittsburgh -- but he's out there.
On the hot seat: Beanie Wells, Cardinals. He finally got into the end zone Sunday against the Seahawks, but he's still not starting, he hasn't run for more than 75 yards in a game and he doesn't inspire much confidence in fantasy owners each week. You might have a better option.
If Fitzpatrick's performance this year isn't a fluke and the Bills keep passing, someone has to catch those passes. Lee Evans probably isn't available in your league -- grab him if he is -- but if not you might want to consider Steve Johnson. The third-year wide receiver has a career-high five touchdowns already and has scored in five straight games, including a 8-catch (on 10 targets), 158 yard, 1 TD game Sunday.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys: Kitna's favorite target -- at least for one game -- is available in about 30 percent of leagues. Go get him if you can.
David Gettis, Panthers: With Steve Smith double covered in his return to the Carolina lineup, Gettis was the beneficiary of a ton of one-on-one coverage and got nine targets from Matt Moore. This will probably be his best performance of the season, but he's serviceable bye-week filler.
On the hot seat: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals. No matter who's in at quarterback, Fitz isn't getting the ball. He had just three catches for 30 yards Sunday. It's not as bad as it looks: Though all the Arizona QB options are bad, he was targeted 10 times last week. More of those should turn into catches eventually.
The Colts come off by this week without tight end Dallas Clark. He'll be replaced by Jacob Tamme, an intriguing option if some Clark owner didn't stash him on the bench during the bye week. He won't put up Clark-like numbers and the Colts may use more three- and four-wide receiver sets, but he's Peyton Manning's tight end. There's a good chance he'll do better than your tight end. Jim Caldwell is mum on his starter, but the Colts' other tight ends are more blocking tight ends. It should be Tamme.
On the hot seat: Kellen Winslow, Bucs. Owners are grumbling because he's not getting into the end zone. He's still getting a ton of targets each week -- 10 on Sunday -- and his yardage totals are high and consistent enough for a tight end. He'll start finding the end zone eventually.
On the other side of the ball, Seattle's defense continues to surprise and continues to be available in about 30 percent of leagues. Playing in the NFC West, the Seahawks don't have a tough schedule and should put up relatively decent numbers.
On the hot seat: What's up with Baltimore's D? It wasn't just last week against the Bills; the Ravens' defense has given up almost 20 points a game and has just 12 sacks, 5 picks and 4 fumble recoveries. The Ravens' pass defense should get better as Ed Reed continues to get back in the game, so it's not worth dropping Baltimore's D yet, but they're on a short leash.
If the Seahawks continue to struggle to get into the end zone -- and best guess is they will -- then Olindo Mare remains an attractive fantasy option available in a ton of leagues. He kicked five field goals Sunday and is 9-for-9 this year. He's not going to have games like Sunday every week, but he's good for an attempt or two a game and is accurate enough to start.
On the hot seat: David Akers, Eagles. This is a case of a guy getting off the hot seat, as Akers went 4-for-4 a week after missing three field goals. Looks like the 1-for-4 performance was an anomaly. He's safe to use.