When it rains, it pours. The good news is the sun will come out tomorrow.
A tomorrow won't come for Julio Jones (foot) or Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) in 2013, while the fantasy pain in the neck David Wilson is a real pain in the neck now. This is what fantasy owners do every year, every week. They deal with injury and move on.
As long as you have a productive quarterback and roster spots to use the waiver wire, you still have a breath in what looks like a lost season. Fantasy football is a game of redeeming features.
Just get yourself into the fantasy playoff picture and hope the ball (and future injury concerns) bounce your way. As long as you are not 0-5 like the Giants or Jaguars, you have an honest-to-goodness shot still.
How to react to Jones' foot
The silver lining with Jones' injury is there are wide receivers everywhere on the waiver wire. They won't put up consistent numbers like the second-rounder, but you can rotate warm bodies based on the matchups. Here are the most vulnerable secondaries to exploit in fantasy:
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Buffalo Bills
- Denver Broncos
- Washington Redskins
- San Diego Chargers
- Atlanta Falcons (on bye in Week 6)
- St. Louis Rams
- Green Bay Packers
- Dallas Cowboys
- Oakland Raiders
You generally can pick up the second and third receivers for the teams facing them in any given week. The Giants, Lions and Vikings are also porous.
If you want some fantasy insider picks on which waiver-wire options to pick through when you finally get the news Jones is out for the season, here are my top-five favorites (CBS Sports ownership):
- Vincent Brown, San Diego Chargers (48 percent)
- Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers (38)
- Harry Douglas, Atlanta Falcons (21)—wait until he returns from bye in Week 7
- Mario Manningham, San Francisco 49ers (2)
- Golden Tate (66) and Sidney Rice (52), Seattle Seahawks
Now is time for flier on Manningham
If you are left lamenting Colin Kaepernick's struggles and lack of targets in the passing game, the time is now to pick up Mario Manningham, who is coming off reconstructive knee surgery. Manningham can be activated this week and the 49ers have a three-week window to decide if he will be added to the active roster.
"Excited about that," head coach Jim Harbaugh told 49ers.com's Taylor Price.
Manningham will just now begin to practice with the team, so it might take a few weeks, but you were going to be without the Falcons' Jones until Week 7 anyway, so perhaps that is the move you make.
Crabtree won't be ready to return to game action Nov. 17 at New Orleans, but Monday Night Football at Washington (Nov. 25 against that poor secondary) is a possibility.
Backtracking on backflipping Wilson?
The Giants are terrible and still didn't fully feature Wilson in Week 5 as we had hoped they would. It was going to be a bad matchup at Chicago regardless, but you shouldn't feel inclined to cut Wilson yet. The Giants have a lost season and are likely being overly cautious with their talented, young back on the short week.
Brandon Jacobs and Da'Rel Scott, two backs off the street, are going to fill in for a week and do the limited running the Giants attempt. It is no wonder Eli Manning is sacked so often. Clearly all they are doing is dropping back and trying to throw all the time.
Back to Wilson, ESPN's Dan Graziano reports the injury "could linger into Week 7 and possibly beyond." That isn't enough to panic yet if you are a Wilson owner.
Reacting to Bradshaw news
Donald Brown was an intriguing waiver claim when Vick Ballard (knee) went down for the season before being rendered moot when the Colts traded for Trent Richardson. Brown reached the end zone in Week 5 and will be a change-of-pace back with Richardson going forward.
The Colts' Pep Hamilton likes to feature a physical running game—it made Stepfan Taylor draft-worthy out of Stanford—and Brown will get some touches and fantasy points on a regular basis. Brown is a must-have handcuff if you are a Richardson owner. You should feel good about Bradshaw not around to take a significant chunk of the pie now, though.
Battle of quarterback attrition
You cannot like what Jones' loss does for Matt Ryan or the lack of targets for Kaepernick, but at least the rash of quarterback issues hasn't hit a majority of fantasy's top 12 starters. With all of the scrubs rising up to play, you need to be wary of the offenses around these guys...and play the defensive/special teams units facing them.
Here is a quick review of the quarterbacks starting this week who were not starters going into the year:
- Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders—He has emerged as fantasy-viable, at least during the bye season, and has made Denarius Moore a must-have option and Rod Streater a potential sleeper.
- Geno Smith, New York Jets—He looked great Monday night. Jeremy Kerley has seen a boost in fantasy value amid Santonio Holmes' hamstring issues. Also, Jeff Cumberland has stolen Kellen Winslow's thunder at tight end.
- Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns—We put him here because he lost his job to Brian Hoyer (knee) but gained it back when Hoyer went down for the season last week. He at least has fantasy starters Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon to work with, not to mention some pending garbage time.
- Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars—Speaking of garbage time, Henne should get it in place of Blaine Gabbert (hamstring). The Broncos are setting records as a 28-point favorite this week. It should be a good week to have Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts. They are going to be facing a lot of soft zone coverage in that blowout.
- Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles—Don't buy too much into thoughts that Foles can run away with the starting job in Michael Vick's (hamstring) absence. With Foles calling the plays, the Eagles might be able to go faster in their no-huddle attack, but you cannot trust anyone but DeSean Jackson in fantasy lineups right now.
- Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Josh Freeman is now a backup (temporarily) for the Vikings as the Glennon era starts in earnest. The fact Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams were fantasy starters coming into the season gives Glennon some hope. You can start Jackson, but monitor Williams' targets. Doug Martin is going to face a lot of stacked boxes, but he still is too good to sit in any matchup.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tennessee Titans—Nate Washington, Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright, Damian Williams and Justin Hunter is a fantasy quagmire, especially with Jake Locker (hip) out. Avoid them all for a few weeks as they settle the targets and production questions for us in fantasy.
- Matt Cassel/Christian Ponder/Freeman, Minnesota Vikings—The only people who truly care who starts here going forward are the Greg Jennings and Kyle Rudolph owners. Both are solid buy-low options, because it shouldn't matter which bad quarterback the Vikings decide on. They are play-action receivers in Adrian Peterson's offense.
- Thaddeus Lewis, Buffalo Bills—We thought we had something building for Steve Johnson and Robert Woods in fantasy because of EJ Manuel (knee). Now, we cannot trust either. We should worry more about C.J. Spiller, too. A bad quarterback, stacked boxes and Fred Jackson's overuse is making Spiller far less of a sure thing in lineups on a weekly basis.
Good luck making sense of those messes. Hopefully that helped you.
Thursday Night Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
- New York Giants: Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks
- Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett, Robbie Gould and Bears D/ST
The woebegone Giants cannot do anything but pick up garbage time at this point, so if you're Cruz and Nicks owners, you have to hope they stay close enough in the game to go to these two top-25 fantasy wideouts. The Bears are "start all" against a Giants defense that's fifth worst against quarterbacks, eighth worst against running backs, bottom 10 against tight ends and dead last against kickers and defense/special teams. They are merely middle of the pack against wide receivers because they have already long been blown out.
- New York Giants: Eli Manning, David Wilson, Brandon Jacobs, Da'Rel Scott, Rueben Randle, Brandon Myers, Josh Brown and Giants D/ST
- Chicago Bears: Michael Bush and Earl Bennett
The Bears are a lot better against the run than they have shown, but it shouldn't matter there: The Giants are dead last running the ball and their defense is decimated. Jacobs and Scott are nonstarts in fantasy in Wilson's absence. You could even consider the Bears' Bush if you're really desperate at running back, but with just two teams on bye, you shouldn't be.
Roster Trends Review
We review the most-added players from Wednesday morning's waivers run, using CBS Sports roster trends data.
Nick Foles has a chance to take the reins of the Eagles job and run with it, but it is more likely he winds up as a placeholder until Michael Vick (hamstring) is healthy. Terrelle Pryor is the real find of this group. He has proven consistently productive enough to consider as a bye-week replacement in standard one-quarterback leagues.
Zac Stacy is more valuable than this week even gives him credit for. As the starter and goal-line back, he can prove to be a viable starter in all leagues. He should have been this week's most-added player. Willis McGahee's ownership should be higher, too—closer to BenJarvus Green-Ellis' 89 percent.
While rookie Terrance Williams might be intriguing long term, he is fantasy fool's gold. Williams will only start and get production if Miles Austin (hamstring) is out. He might be against the Redskins, the fourth-worst team in fantasy against wide receivers, but Tony Romo won't be throwing for 500-plus yards again this week. Vincent Brown should be getting a lot more respect, perhaps even finishing up near teammate Keenan Allen as the most-added player this week.
It was a bad week to look at tight ends until news broke that Owen Daniels has a broken leg (see the tweet below). Garrett Graham goes from being a vulture on Daniels' fantasy numbers to being a viable starter in all leagues. The Texans really like to use the tight end, and Graham has looked capable of emerging as a consistent threat for them and fantasy owners.
The Bengals are the clear head of the class here, facing the Bills and practice-squad starting quarterback Thaddeus Lewis. The Bengals probably shouldn't have been cut before their Week 5 matchup against the Patriots. They played very well against a potent offense—no matter what you think of the Pats quarterbacks.
While the intrigue on Steven Hauschka is understandable, fantasy owners are still missing the boat on Mason Crosby. Before his disappointing 2012, he was arguably the No. 1 kicker in fantasy every year. Now, despite posting the biggest kicker performance of the season in Week 5, he cannot get his ownership above 45 percent. Dudes, this guy has his bye week out of the way. Set him and forget him at kicker.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.