Well, I sure hope none of you started anybody in last night’s Jets-Broncos game. Sure, from a fan standpoint it turned out to be a spectacular game, seeing as 1) Tim Tebow is the god of everything and 2) every time Rex Ryan loses an angel gets its wings. But from a fantasy perspective, it was mostly an absolute debacle. Tebow ended up with a decent day, but other than him the leading scorer was Joe McKnight, who is probably only owned in 16-team leagues that feature very cautious Jets fans. Not the strongest fantasy Thursday.
But don’t worry. If your players sucked tonight—and let’s face, they probably did—we still have all day Sunday to pray for greatness. So sit back, relax, and let the Backup Plan wash over you like the cool autumn breeze that it is.
Same deal as usual here: these aren’t player you necessarily wanted to start this week, but due to injury, byes or general suckery, you have to. It’s your backup plan. Here’s a rundown of some of the top widely available fill-ins by position and which guys they’ll be better than this week.
Terrible QBs on bye: Matt Leinart, that guy who’s not Peyton Manning
Carson Palmer vs. Minnesota
Yahoo: 57 percent owned, ESPN: 47 percent owned
OK, Hue Jackson. Your bold trade for Carson Palmer looks a little less stupid now, to be sure. After a horror-show of a debut where he had almost more interceptions than total yards, Palmer has been a top-10 fantasy quarterback in each of the past two weeks. And if that isn’t enough, he gets a Minnesota defense that allowed Aaron Rodgers to pass up, down and all around them. I would start him on your team.
Alex Smith vs. Arizona
Yahoo: 43 percent owned, ESPN: 26 percent owned
This guy just does enough. He’s definitely not great, but damn if he isn’t consistent as hell. He’s like a 200 yard, 1 touchdown machine for the 49ers, finishing with somewhere between 15-17 fantasy points in each of the past three weeks. Hey, it’s not the best you could do, but at least you know what you’re getting. San Francisco gets the Cardinals this week, who are nothing more than middling against opposing quarterbacks. Smith is a very solid, if unspectacular, play.
Vince Young vs. New York Giants
Yahoo: 4 percent owned, ESPN: 2 percent owned
DREAM TEAM! Man, does Vince Young regret saying that this preseason. The Eagles are a pretty foolish-looking excuse for a football team right now, and the fact that Michael “Glass” Vick broke two ribs last week in a loss to Arizona (the Cardinals? C’mon) isn’t helping. But Vince Young is essentially a taller, slower, not-as-good version as Vick, so if you’re a Vick owner, you could do worse than his backup. I mean, why not, right?
Guys he’s better than this week: Matt Hasselbeck, Josh Freeman
Kendall Hunter vs. Arizona
Yahoo: 39 percent owned, ESPN: 25 percent owned
It’s that time of year again. No, not Thanksgiving; Frank Gore is hurt! That statement usually isn’t an exciting one for most, but for the Backup Plan, it’s a freakin’ goldmine. We’ve been waiting for the explosive former OK-Stater to get his shot, and we may finally see it this week. Gore says he’ll play, but he’s a little banged up so be sure to keep an eye on the injury report. But Hunter could definitely see an uptick in touches either way.
Guys he’s better than this week: James Starks, Jackie Battle
Maurice Morris vs. Carolina
Yahoo: 39 percent owned, ESPN: 37 percent owned
If there’s ever going to be a week where Maurice Morris stops being Maurice Morris and starts being a worthwhile fantasy asset, it’s going to be this week. The Panthers have played matador defense against running backs all season, allowing nearly 27 points per week. There’s actually only been one week this season where an opposing team has less than 100 yards rushing against them. Mo Mo, this is your last chance. Make us proud.
Guys he’s better than this week: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Kevin Smith
Chris Ogbannaya vs. Jacksonville
Yahoo: 31 percent owned, ESPN: 15 percent owned
Cipher; noun; one having no influence or value; a nonentity; Chris Ogbonnaya. One of those definitions isn’t actually found in the dictionary, but it’s clearly not far from the truth. In the past three games, Ogbonnaya has had less than 60 yards, less than 20 carries, less than four yards per carry and zero touchdowns. But he’s still (sadly) the starter for the Browns, and he rushed for 90 yards last week. So, um, that’s something.
Guys he’s better than this week: Mike Tolbert, Roy Helu
Earl Bennett vs. San Diego
Yahoo: 41 percent owned, ESPN: 24 percent owned
Earl Bennett is not a player who can be held down by the man. He sees the NFL siphoning his pieces of his salary and just keeps on wearing his orange cleats, but he pays them no heed. And it’s working. In the two games he’s played following his return from injury, Bennett has 11 catches, 176 yards and a touchdown, cementing himself as the No. 1 option in Jay Cutler’s pouty, sad eyes. Keep on keepin’ on, Earl.
Guys he’s better than this week: Stevie Johnson, Dwayne Bowe
Laurent Robinson vs. Washington
Yahoo: 66 percent owned, ESPN: 37 percent owned
Yes, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are the No. 1 and 2 receiving options in Dallas. Yes, the Redskins defense is pretty good against the pass. And yes, the Cowboys literally scored zero touchdowns the first time they faced Washington. But Laurent Robinson has 208 yards and four touchdowns in the past three games. That’s definitely enough of a track record to get him in your lineups this week.
Guys he’s better than this week: Sidney Rice, Julio Jones
Vincent Brown vs. Chicago
Yahoo: 12 percent owned, ESPN: 2 percent owned
Well, at least there’s one guy named Vincent doing something worthwhile in San Diego. And yes, V-Jax, that is clearly a shot at you. Whoever Vincent Brown is had 97 yards and a score last week, so he’s definitely been the new apple of Philip Rivers’ eye. Seeing as the only play in Norv Turner’s playbook is “loft the ball to a WR and hope he catches it,” Brown could easily pull in another touchdown this week.
Guys he’s better than this week: Mike Williams, Deion Branch
Notable TEs on bye: Jimmy Graham, Owen Daniels, Heath Miller
Yahoo: 35 percent owned, ESPN: 17 percent owned
The Giants have been absolutely gashed by tight ends in the past two weeks. Like Aaron-Rodgers-facing-any-team-in-the-NFL gashed. Opposing tight ends have put up 245 yards and three touchdowns against the Giants in the past two games, and while Brent Celek is no Aarob Gronkownandez or Vernon Davis, the numbers don’t lie. Vince Young may end up looking for a safety valve this week, and Celek is that guy.
Jake Ballard vs. Philadelphia
Yahoo: 52 percent owned, ESPN: 37 percent owned
Philadelphia still has a strong defense and has been stingy against opposing tight ends this week, but the Backup Plan feels as if it would behoove you to start Jake Ballard anyway. Doesn’t it feel like the Eagles are just kind of done as a team this season? They’re pretty far out of the playoff race, Vick is hurt and they just lost to the Cardinals last week. Three strikes, start Jake Ballard against them this week.
Guys he’s better than this week: Kellen Winslow, Jermaine Gresham
Notable DSTs on bye: Pittsburgh, Houston
Jacksonville vs. Cleveland
Yahoo: 21 percent owned, ESPN: 27 percent owned
Cleveland vs. Jacksonville
Yahoo: 13 percent owned, ESPN: 36 percent owned
OK, this definitely might end up being the worst football game of all time, so we’re going to go ahead and stream both sides of this horror show. Colt McCoy vs. Blaine Gabbert? Bet these guys wish they were still tearing up the Big 12 rather than toiling away in the AFC’s basement. Gabbert has looked atrocious thus far this season, exemplified by the fact that the Jaguars give up the 26th most points in the league to opposing defenses. And Colt McCoy hasn’t been much better, as both him and rookie head coach Pat Shurmur look utterly lost against opposing defenses. This game could legitimately end 6-3, so both defenses are pretty stellar starts this week.
Defenses they’re better than this week: Detroit, Cincinnati, Philadelphia
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