Fantasy Clicks: Rodgers' injury leaves many scrambling for scraps

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.

Kerry Collins, Titans -- Collins is coming off a huge performance against the Colts in which he threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns. He did some of that damage on a drive that came at the end of the game and didn't mean much to Indianapolis, but he still played a good game. Now he gets the Texans and their historically bad pass defense. Tom Brady looks like a lock for the MVP, but the stats of Whichever Quarterback Plays the Texans (66.5 completion percentage, 3,639 yards, 29 touchdowns, 8.1 YPA) are nearly identical to Brady's (66.8 completion percentage, 3,398 yards, 29 touchdowns, 8.0 YPA). Collins also has a healthy Kenny Britt at his disposal. If you're a Rodgers owner, you should be all over Collins.

Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks -- We're digging deep with Hasselbeck, and I'll be the first to admit that I've dogged him in this column more than once. I compared his arm to that of Juan Pierre. A few weeks ago, I gave a one-word description of what I thought of his play. The word was "awful." But I believe in Hasselbeck this week. First, Atlanta's pass defense is no better than average, despite its 17 interceptions. The Falcons allow 7.2 YPA, ninth highest in the league. They've surrendered 21 passing touchdowns, also the ninth most. Hasselbeck likely will get Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu back from injury, and it's easy to envision the Seahawks trailing in this game, necessitating them to throw to stay in it.

David Garrard, Jaguars -- There's a much better than average chance that Garrard isn't available, but he could be available in shallower leagues, and he has a solid matchup this week against that same Colts' defense that Collins shredded a week ago. Garrard had 163 passing yards and two scores through the air to go along with 44 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown in their previous meeting this season.

Josh Freeman, Buccaneers -- Freeman, too, is likely owned, but if he isn't, he makes a great add for an owner in need of a quarterback. The Buccaneers host the Lions and their porous pass defense, which has allowed 7.6 YPA and 21 touchdowns on the year. With Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Quincy Black joining cornerback Aqib Talib and safety Cody Grimm on the shelf, these teams could end up lighting up the scoreboard.

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. Nik Bonaddio of numberFire explains:

"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 2. Philip Rivers vs. 49ers 3. Michael Vick @ Giants 4. Drew Brees @ Ravens 5. Matt Ryan @ Seahawks 6. Matt Schaub @ Titans 7. Tom Brady vs. Packers 8. Kerry Collins vs. Texans 9. Eli Manning vs. Eagles 10. David Garrard @ Colts 11. Joe Flacco vs. Saints 12. Kyle Orton @ Raiders 13. Matt Hasselbeck vs. Falcons 14. Josh Freeman vs. Lions 15. Ben Roethlisberger vs. Jets 16. Aaron Rodgers @ Patriots -- Check stauts later in the week

Running backs

1. Maurice Jones-Drew @ Colts 2. Michael Turner @ Seahawks 3. Darren McFadden vs. Broncos 4. Arian Foster @ Titans 5. Chris Johnson vs. Texans 6. Adrian Peterson vs. Bears 7. Peyton Hillis @ Bengals 8. Jamaal Charles @ Rams 9. Steven Jackson vs. Chiefs 10. LeSean McCoy @ Giants 11. Rashard Mendenhall vs. Jets 12. Ahmad Bradshaw vs. Eagles 13. Knowshon Moreno @ Raiders 14. LeGarrette Blount vs. Lions 15. Ray Rice vs. Saints 16. Jonathan Stewart vs. Cardinals 17. Felix Jones vs. Redskins 18. Matt Forte @ Vikings 19. Fred Jackson @ Dolphins 20. Brandon Jacobs vs. Eagles 21. Mike Tolbert vs. 49ers 22. Tim Hightower @ Panthers 23. Ryan Torain @ Cowboys 24. BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. Packers 25. Ryan Mathews vs. 49ers 26. Brian Westbrook @ Chargers 27. Shonn Greene @ Steelers 28. Ronnie Brown vs. Bills 29. Thomas Jones @ Rams 30. Cedric Benson vs. Browns

Wide receivers

1. Reggie Wayne vs. Jaguars 2. Roddy White @ Seahawks 3. Andre Johnson @ Titans 4. DeSean Jackson @ Giants 5. Hakeem Nicks vs. Eagles 6. Calvin Johnson @ Buccaneers 7. Marques Colston @ Ravens 8. Malcom Floyd vs. 49ers 9. Anquan Boldin vs. Saints 10. Brandon Lloyd @ Raiders 11. Kenny Britt vs. Texans 12. Terrell Owens vs. Browns 13. Jeremy Maclin @ Giants 14. Miles Austin vs. Redskins 15. Steve Smith (NYG) vs. Eagles 16. Mike Wallace vs. Jets 17. Brandon Marshall vs. Bills 18. Mike Williams (SEA) vs. Falcons 19. Wes Welker vs. Packers 20. Greg Jennings @ Patriots -- Depends on Rodgers 21. Sidney Rice vs. Bears 22. Santonio Holmes @ Steelers 23. Johnny Knox @ Vikings 24. Steve Johnson @ Dolphins 25. Mike Williams (TB) vs. Lions 26. Deion Branch vs. Packers 27. Dwayne Bowe @ Rams 28. Larry Fitzgerald @ Panthers 29. Mike Thomas @ Colts 30. Chad Ochocinco vs. Browns

Tight ends

1. Jacob Tamme vs. Jaguars 2. Marcedes Lewis @ Colts 3. Tony Gonzalez @ Seahawks 4. Vernon Davis @ Chargers 5. Antonio Gates vs. 49ers -- This ranking assumes he plays 6. Jason Witten vs. Redskins 7. Aaron Hernandez vs. Packers 8. Ben Watson @ Bengals 9. Kellen Winslow vs. Lions 10. Chris Cooley @ Cowboys 11. Bo Scaife vs. Texans 12. Rob Gronkowski vs. Packers 13. Brandon Pettigrew @ Buccaneers 14. Greg Olsen @ Vikings 15. Jermaine Gresham vs. Browns

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 Indianapolis over Jacksonville New England over Green Bay Atlanta over Seattle Dallas over Washington Chicago over Minnesota Tampa Bay over Detroit St. Louis over Kansas City Miami over Buffalo Oakland over Denver Baltimore over New Orleans Houston over Tennessee Cincinnati over Cleveland New York Giants over Philadelphia Carolina over Arizona New York Jets over Pittsburgh

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