Injuries galore earmarked the NFL landscape in week seven. That means a ton of fantasy options are filling up the waiver wire as replacements. Which names deserve the most attention?
Kellen Clemens – QB – St. Louis Rams
Sam Bradford is done for the season with a torn ACL and the St. Louis Rams are left to pick up the pieces. Still, they have to move on and adjust as best they can. It starts with handing the reigns to veteran backup Kellen Clemens. While nowhere near as talented as Bradford, he has some success on his record and the Rams still have some offensive weapons to work with. A key will be Jeff Fisher trying to get the running game going. If they can do that then Clemens has a far better chance of keeping the team on a winning path.
Case Keenum – QB – Houston Texans
By far the biggest surprise of week seven was how undrafted rookie Case Keenum gave the Kansas City Chiefs defense all it could handle. The Houston Texans weren’t able to steal the game but signs pointed to a young quarterback who wasn’t afraid to let it rip with confidence. He does have some tough games coming up but after that is the Raiders, the banged up Patriots and two against the Jaguars. Though not an immediate start, he could become a serious flex option in the right situations.
Darrius Heyward-Bey – WR – Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck is about to find out about life without his favorite target. Reggie Wayne is done for the year with a torn ACL. That means the go-to receiver duties will shift to T.Y. Hilton and it falls to free agent pickup Darrius Heyward-Bey to absorb more responsibility. The former first round pick has shown improvement and still has that blazing speed that got him noticed in the first place. If Luck uses him right he can have a solid impact.
Mike James – RB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Doug Martin was probably the one player the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offense could least afford to lose. Now he’s done for the season, leaving rookie quarterback Mike Glennon to try to engineer enough points and yards. The best hope the Bucs have is that rookie reserve Mike James, who has gotten very few carries this season, is ready to step in and balance the offense enough to where defenses can’t tee off on Glennon. That success will depend on how well the offensive line can block.
Josh McCown – QB – Chicago Bears
Nobody expected much from the 34-year-old Josh McCown when he stepped in to replace Jay Cutler for the Chicago Bears. He responded with over 200 yards passing and a touchdown in a single half against Washington, almost pulling the game out. With Cutler out for at least four weeks McCown is the starter. He has good mobility, makes good decisions and has a proven play caller for a head coach in Marc Trestman. Still, starting is difficult with the Packers and Ravens defenses coming up.
Ben Tate – RB – Houston Texans
He wanted 2013 to become the season he showcased his ability as a running back worthy of starting. Well, Ben Tate has his chance. In the wake of their narrow defeat at Kansas City, the Houston Texans learned their star runner Arian Foster could be out a while with a bad hamstring. It’s the same injury that has dogged him in the past. Either way, Tate is next man up and with a rookie starting at quarterback in Case Keenum the Texans are sure to run as often as they can. Fantasy owners should take note of that.
Andrew Quarless – TE – Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers has a knack for adjusting to NFL injuries around his offense but it’s getting pretty bad with the Green Bay Packers. James Jones and Randall Cobb were already out in week seven. That was compounded when word broke that tight end Jermichael Finley will miss time after suffering a scary neck injury that landed him in the hospital. It’s a hard loss to suffer for Rodgers, but if he was able to elevate young receiver Josh Boyce without Cobb and Jones, perhaps reserve tight end Andrew Quarless will experience the same.