Aaron Rodgers injury scrambles fantasy owners


If you’re an Aaron Rodgers owner, I’m sorry. He’s one of two quarterbacks that warranted a pick in the second or third round.

After leaving Monday night’s 27-20 loss to Chicago with a left shoulder injury, there’s not any other available QB that can reliably supplant his points that were almost guaranteed.

If you’re a Jordy Nelson owner, you’d better not hold your breath, either. Nelson’s value takes a huge hit as long as Rodgers is inactive as Seneca Wallace is the definition of a “game manager.”

He doesn’t trust himself enough to throw deep and coach Mike McCarthy could easily struggle creating a game plan around that.

Route trees that are limited from the line of scrimmage to 15 yards out become cluttered and easily defended, and the loss of Randall Cobb will kill the production of anyone not named Eddie Lacy.

Even Lacy could begin to struggle with loaded boxes and aggressive defensive schemes.

The situation in Green Bay is a fantasy football nightmare, plain and simple.

If you read my sleepers and busts column before the season began, you should have Keenan Allen and Alshon Jeffery on your roster. If not, you’re in the same boat as one of my colleagues that currently has the entire busts portion, including CJ Spiller.

That last paragraph wasn’t to brag. Well, ok. Maybe a little. But there was a point.

There are still players out there that haven’t played to their full potential and will have the opportunity to step up and handle business. Guys like Nick Foles, who just threw the best statistical performance in the history of professional football.

Mike James of the Buccaneers, who just ran for 158 yards on 28 rushing attempts against the best defense in the league and in the toughest venue in the league. They’re out there.

There are a few players that can fill in for Rodgers:

Jason Campbell, Cleveland Browns: Campbell is someone who seems to have been forgotten after leading the Oakland Raiders on a playoff run in 2011, before suffering a season-ending injury. Campbell has a similar receiver group to work with in Cleveland and has clearly been playing like everyone knows he can.

Campbell is hardly owned in all formats and is worthy of serious consideration.

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears: Cutler has been underwhelming down the stretch throughout his career, but has never had the weapons to work with that he now has. He was injured three games ago and Josh McCown showed how functional this offense can be.

McCown is half the player Cutler is and ‘Da Bears’ are now in serious playoff contention. He is available in about half of leagues and if he is rostered, he’s probably someone’s backup. There’s a solid chance he’ll go for cheap.

Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles: There’s probably going to be a fight for Foles once waivers open. It’s not too far-fetched to believe he’ll be owned in almost all leagues by next Sunday. He should be. The issue with Foles resides with Chip Kelly and Michael Vick, who was originally expected to return for Week 10. Now, no one’s sure.

Foles is worth adding if you can, but take it slow if your league resets waivers after a claim. He’s not worth burning one over.

Replacing Rodgers by way of trade

One of the things that has made Rodgers so valuable was how reliable he’s been year in and year out. Not only has he remained healthy, missing only one game to injury since taking over as the starter in 2008, he is going to put up solid numbers.

Replacing this type of player in free agency may prove difficult. There’s a fair chance that you have something extra on your roster that you may not need. Torrey Smith is an example, an extra guy that is a stop-gap. His value is nominal, but can be packaged with another player and traded for one of these guys:

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers: Kaepernick was one of the two quarterbacks on my sleepers list. Though the other was Michael Vick, I belive Kaepernick will out-play any quarterback in fantasy from Weeks 10 to 17.

After facing five of the best teams in football, including one game in Seattle, Kaepernick has a pretty easy schedule. It includes the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, St. Louis Rams, Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons.

It also includes the Seahawks at home, but the 49ers shouldn’t have as much trouble as they did at CenturyLink. After all, even if the record setting sound wasn’t artificial as sound experts have suggested, he won’t have to deal. He’ll also have Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree back. It’s a nice time to play football for him and the 49ers.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: Stafford may not come cheap. But he’s one of a few guys that will need to throw often to win a division that will come down to the final minutes of Week 17. What Stafford has over the rest in that group, beyond Calvin Johnson, is an incredibly easy schedule.

The Giants, Ravens, Eagles, Steelers, Packers and Vikings, all of which have bottom tier defenses against the pass.

Stafford also has the tandem of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell to dump-off to in case of trouble and both are just a half step from taking one of those short passes to the house.

Making the most out of a disaster

The Dalai Lama once said:

“Even when a person has all of life’s comforts — good food, good shelter, a companion — he or she can still become unhappy when encountering a tragic situation.”

Michael Jordan shared a similar sentiment, though he put it in a simpler way, saying:

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.”

There’s room for that. I wouldn’t advise that an owner trade away Jordy Nelson, but I’d definitely advise that an owner consider it. Until there’s an exact timeline for Rodgers injury, it’d be best to sit tight, but the early indications are that it may be a while before he returns to start.

There’s a solid chance that Seneca Wallace will face stacked boxes and odd-looking coverages, but this strengthens the case of players like James Starks and tight end Andrew Quarless. Tight ends generally get matchups that favor them, as do running backs in loaded boxes.

Both are quick outlets for a quarterback and are often used in situations like this. Three of the touchdowns that Foles threw on Sunday, one to LeSean McCoy, one to Brent Celek and another to Zach Ertz, were against the blitz.

Its something that happens all the time in the NFL and there’s the silver lining.

Follow @SFBay and @JLeskiwNFL on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.

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