FANTASY PLAYS: No Beckham presents big problems for owners

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Odell Beckham Jr. will be on your bench for championship week. That still seems almost unfathomable.

With his one-game suspension, there goes all that production. A kick in the gut for those who have him and lucky enough to get this far.

Former NFL quarterback Shaun King's post on his Twitter account pretty much summed up the feelings of everyone who had Beckham on their fantasy roster: ''Dear NFL, the fantasy football CHAMPIONSHIP round is this Sunday, please don't suspend Odell...''

Alas, the league didn't listen. With Beckham goes 91 catches for 1,396 yards and 13 touchdowns - a nearly impossible hole to fill on your roster, especially with the waiver wire either woefully thin or even locked in some leagues.

But there are a couple of receivers out there who could - fingers crossed - contribute. Like Pittsburgh's Markus Wheaton, who's only picked up in 29 percent of Yahoo Leagues. He's emerging as a reliable target for Ben Roethlisberger. Consider this: Big Ben looked Wheaton's way 11 times on Sunday against Denver, the tandem connecting six times for 62 yards and one TD.

Miami's DeVante Parker may be out there as well. Parker had six catches for 87 yards over the weekend in San Diego.

They're not Beckham, of course. He was off to a slow start before catching six passes for 76 yards and a score. Imagine if he just would've played football all game.

But as everyone saw, he was busy tangling with Carolina cornerback Josh Norman, even delivering a diving helmet-to-helmet hit on Norman while blocking.

In the end, the league suspended him. And your team - the one you've been building and tinkering with since September - may pay the price.



- The Patriots signed a familiar name as they brought in veteran running back Steven Jackson. That's how beleaguered New England's backfield has become with Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount already out. The 32-year-old Jackson once had eight straight 1,000-yard seasons with the St. Louis Rams.

- Expect Cam Newton to have another productive week, because the 14-0 Panthers aren't going to be resting their starters anytime soon. They're still trying to clinch home-field advantage. Newton was a fantasy machine last weekend, earning more than 50 points in some leagues. Tight end Greg Olsen is a must start as well, but you already knew that.

- Eddie Lacy disappeared again. He had 23 yards rushing at Oakland. This after gaining 124 and scoring a TD the week before for the Packers.

- The emergence of Arizona rookie David Johnson is great and all, but it's also taking some of the value away from Carson Palmer. Johnson had 187 yards rushing and three TDs. Palmer's string of two straight 300-yard, two-TD games was interrupted by the David Johnson Show.

- Sore non-throwing shoulder and all, Brock Osweiler remains Denver's starting QB - for the moment anyway - as Peyton Manning will try to return to practice Wednesday.



Sometimes, a player such as Newton can save you from a bad decision. In the semifinal of the consolation bracket - yep, that kind of season - decided to start Javorius ''Buck'' Allen (minus-0.20 points) over Charcandrick West (16.50). Also left DeSean Jackson on the bench. Newton's performance made up for such lineup blunders.



Chances are you probably don't have all that many players in a game between San Diego and Oakland. Maybe Amari Cooper Or Michael Crabtree. Possibly Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates or Danny Woodhead, who had three receiving TDs and another rushing last weekend. There's nothing better than starting out the week fast with a player who explodes on Thursday. There's nothing worse than when it doesn't happen.


Pat Graham is an Associated Press sports writer based in Denver. He's played NFL fantasy football for a while and also dabbles in college fantasy football. Follow him on Twitter:


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