Injuries to star players are brutal at any point of the season. But to sustain them in Week 14, after four long months of hard work, when all the money is on the line? That’s a swift shot to the family jewels.
Never fear, however. Injury leads to opportunity, and there is plenty of it available cheaply as we try to replace Rob Gronkowski, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Wes Welker and others.
The Gronk Spike and the Jimmy Graham jumpshot were two of the biggest difference-making sights in fantasy football. At a thin position, they soared above the rest. However, a healthy Dennis Pitta would have been right there with them if not for his preseason hip injury. Pitta is the intermediate option Joe Flacco desperately needs, and he also excels in the red zone. Now healthy, he’s a legit threat for 5-7 catches and a score the rest of the way. Jacob Tamme is another option because he’s Wes Welker’s (concussion) backup in the slot. It’s a simple equation: Peyton Manning plus slot receiver equals money.
All Day misery
You had the No. 1 overall pick and took Peterson. Congratulations. Now it’s time to dig in and do some work. The logical move is to simply insert Toby Gerhart into lineups, but that’s complicated by his hamstring injury. The better move is to add Jordan Todman, the speedy backup to Maurice Jones-Drew (doubtful, hamstring). Todman will be facing the Bills at home. Another option, especially if you get any points for receptions, is to look at Chris Ogbonnaya. Willis McGahee is nursing a concussion and the Bears have given up 100-yard days to six straight running backs.
Welker has now sustained two concussions in a month, putting him out for Week 15 and very questionable for Week 16. Ideally, owners have built up enough at wideout to sustain this. Guys like Roddy White, Julian Edelman and Michael Crabtree have come back from the dead to give the position depth. But if you need upside plays, look to rookies Da’Rick Rogers and Cordarrelle Patterson. Rogers is a immature mega-talent that has moved ahead of Darrius Heyward-Bey. Patterson is a size/speed freak that is getting force-fed the rock.
Week 15 pickups
Defensive/special teams …
Colts D/ST — A home game against Case Keenum and the Texans is a welcome sight for the struggling Indy D.
Jaguars D/ST — E.J. Manuel is so raw the coaches had to scale back the playbook for him. The Jags’ D is much improved.
Titans D/ST — Don’t use Tennessee against Arizona Sunday, but hold them for a Week 16 matchup with Jacksonville.
Get these borderline wideouts in your lineups this week …
1. Riley Cooper, Eagles – A bunch of bad luck lately has kept Cooper off the scoresheet. He’ll feast on the Vikings’ brutal secondary.
2. Julian Edelman, Patriots – Minitron continues to play every snap and will be even more important with Gronk down.
3. Torrey Smith, Ravens – A sure way to break out of a slump is to play on the fast track of Ford Field and face the Lions’ corners.
Follow fantasy writer Adam Levitan on Twitter @adamlevitan.