If you're an Aaron Rodgers owner, odds are you made the playoffs. If you're a Rodgers owner who had to play last week, there's a pretty solid chance you had your worst week of the season. If you managed to survive one of the more crushing fantasy playoff injuries in recent memory, congratulations. Now you need a replacement.
Rodgers' status for Sunday night's game at New England remains up in the air. The fact that it's the Sunday night game complicates matters, because you can't just wait around until game-time to see if he plays. You obviously can't pick up Tom Brady on the fly, and the Monday night game features one quarterback you definitely don't want staring for you (Tavaris Jackson) and another (Jay Cutler) who might not be available and who you probably don't want to start even if you can grab him. Which available quarterbacks make the best Rodgers insurance? Let's take a look.
One quick note: I prefer Garrard and Freeman to Hasselbeck, but listed the Seahawks quarterback first because of his far-greater likelihood of being available.
Having a good Plan B is as important as ever this time of year. The NFL has one for the Bears-Vikings game this week, and Kerry Collins isn't the only fantasy Plan B either. Matt Cassel's appendectomy has a major affect on Dwayne Bowe's value, Antonio Gates could be inactive again, and Chris Ivory is also in jeopardy of missing this week's game. So who else makes for a great fantasy Plan B?
Tim Hightower and Pierre Thomas could both end up paying huge dividends for owners willing to take a chance, or those forced into starting one of them. Hightower gets a Carolina defense that has decent numbers on yards per carry allowed (4.1) but has surrendered 17 scores on the ground, second most in the NFL. If Ivory is a no-go, Thomas, who got 12 carries and four targets last week, would stand to get at least a plurality of carries for the Saints.
Right there in lockstep with Collins is wide receiver Kenny Britt. I like him for the same reasons I like his quarterback. The Texans allow more air traffic than George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
A sleeper tight end is a little harder to come by, but I like Ben Watson this week. There's a good chance Colt McCoy returns from his ankle injury for the Browns, which would be a boon for Watson.
One guy who is certainly rostered in all leagues but once again failed to meet expectations this year is Felix Jones. However, he's starting to look like the guy who comes on just when fantasy owners need him most, and that could spike in Week 15.
"In a recent poll on numberFire, an overwhelming 68 percent of respondents listed the Cowboys as their most disappointing team of the year. I'm not saying they're wrong, but 68 percent? Either I have a userbase that is unbelievably Metroplex-heavy, or people had some seriously out-of-whack expectations of the Cowboys. I never bought them; they stayed the same while everyone else in their conference got better, all while retaining Wade Philips, the living personification of a lame duck. So why did everyone imagine them to be such a heavy contender? Part of it -- at least in this writer's humble opinion -- is the pervasive and continued overrating of Felix Jones and Marion Barber, a two-headed monster of mediocrity, disappointment, and fumbles. Let's go to the numbers: Felix Jones' closest statistical comparables are Tim Biakabutuka and Darick Holmes. Marion Barber's closest ones are Terry Allen and Jonathan Linton. Does that sound elite to you?
"With all of that said, Felix is finally starting to take the reins a little bit, staking his claim to the RB1 spot after a few years in committee purgatory. His YPC average still sucks, but with 20-ish carries and four-ish receptions per game, he's doing a reasonably passable LeSean McCoy impression, despite the notable handicaps of being on a worse team and being considerably less talented. As far as the matchup, the Redskins have to be more than a little demoralized after their Week 14 comedy of errors, stealing defeat from the grips of victory in exciting ways not seen since the glory days of Dave Wannstedt. That demoralization coupled with a rejuvenated Cowboys fanbase, the distractions of the Haynesworth saga, and a defense that is second-worst against the run means you've got a recipe for southern-fried RB2 goodness.
"The Redskins surrender a staggering 4.9 yards per carry. Jones looks like a top-20 back this week, hands down."
Check me out on Twitter, @MBeller, for updated rankings on Friday.
1. Peyton Manning vs. Jaguars
1. Maurice Jones-Drew @ Colts
1. Reggie Wayne vs. Jaguars
1. Jacob Tamme vs. Jaguars
We're going to do things a little differently this week. It seems a folly to give you my top-three survivor picks with it being so late in the season. Even offering up a pair of teams likely to be available doesn't make sense anymore, as five teams probably won't suffice for everyone. I'm going to pick the winners of each game in descending order of confidence. If you're still alive in survivor, and you've used the team at the top, just move on down the line until you find a team you haven't already picked.
San Diego over San Francisco