Jay Cutler, Matt Schaub and Matt Cassel are on the shelf for a while and their replacements are rather ... uh ... uninspiring.
Caleb Hanie will step in while Cutler tries to recover from hand surgery and will take the reigns of an offense that is largely dependent on the legs and hands of Matt Forte. Hanie will likely be asked to not lose the game more than he is expected to win the game. This approach does not translate well for fantasy football relevance. Verdict: Instant mashed potatoes. Easily found, not quite the real thing and painfully plain. Discard immediately while you can still tell what they are.
The last time Matt Leinart faced off with the Jacksonville Jaguars, he completed half of his passes. Well, he only attempted six passes and those three completions only went for 22 yards. The now 28-year old Leinart has reportedly matured, meaning that he will likely spend the weekend prepping for the Jaguars rather than checking out the Black Friday deals on hot tubs. I can appreciate his newfound commitment to his career, but the fact is that Leinart lacks the talent to carry a team. Expect more than six pass attempts, but the Texans know that their only hope to cling on to the division lead lies with Arian Foster, Ben Tate and the running game. Verdict: Another helping of instant mashed potatoes here. The only thing that can make leftover instant mashed potatoes stomachable is to douse them with gravy. Andre Johnson is likely to return this week, and if he is able to return at full strength his talent will give Leinart a reliable target. Be careful though, and know your potatoes from your gravy.
Tyler Palko, last year's leftover fruit cake and Kyle Orton's neckbeard ... three things that will never find themselves in high demand. If you find yourself dependent on Palko or Orton to carry your team you probably will want to get to the front of the line and ask Santa for a new quarterback now.
By now, Kevin Smith and the Detroit Lions have already faced off with the Green Bay Packers. We should have a much better idea of how much of Smith's Week 11 heroics were him and how much were the Panthers' porous run defense. Verdict: The thing about sweet potatoes is, well, they aren't actually potatoes; they are actually a root. Is Smith the real thing? He is running with a renewed passion and appreciation for the game that he didn't have before. Some weeks he will likely be a great big, plain, root bound to the confines of his limited talent, but with the right matchup he will turn in a sugary, sweet performance reminiscent of a huge heap of sweet potato soufflé. As long as he maintains the starting job he belongs on your roster, but you can't start him every week without exercising extreme caution. Know that Smith did leave the game against the Packers with a hurt right ankle and his status for next Sunday's game is questionable at best.
A couple of months back, Buffalo Bills' coach Chan Gailey attributed C.J. Spiller's output more to a lack of opportunity than a lack of talent. With Fred Jackson landing on the injured reserve this week, opportunity comes knocking for Spiller. A tough matchup with the New York Jets awaits Spiller and the banged up Bills' offensive line. Rookie Johnny White and newly signed Tashard Choice figure to get in the mix some as well and will take some carries from Spiller. The next month will be good measuring stick as to whether Spiller was worth a Top 10 pick last season. Verdict: Stuffing. Not the tasty and filling stuffing you might be thinking. Stuffing as in the clogged and crammed running lanes Spiller will face with the Jets. The Jets haven't given up more than 100 rushing yards since Week 6. Spiller will have better weeks. This week I'm passing.
Maybe you are like me and you have endured Darren McFadden's injury woes only to be hit again with a dreaded high ankle sprain to Adrian Peterson just as McFadden was ready to ease back in to the lineup. What do we make of their fill-ins? Michael Bush has been a lifesaver filling in for McFadden. Two 30-carry games have netted 157 and 109 yards and a touchdown each. Verdict: Turkey sandwich. While the turkey sandwich is not in its original form, neither is the Raiders' backfield. The best Thanksgiving leftover requires a little adaptation and change. Bush has been a perfect complement to round off your Thanksgiving festivities. You generally only eat turkey for a season, and while the window may be closing for Bush, his contributions can't be overlooked. Bush will likely get the majority of the carries again this week and has long-term value backing up the often injured McFadden.
Adrian Peterson is out this week and possibly longer. The Minesota Vikings will look to Toby Gerhart to shoulder the load. I hope you don't have to. Gerhart faces the Atlanta Falcons' second-ranked run defense this week and will have a tough time moving the ball. In the limited carries he has earned this season, Gerhart looks like he is trying out for Dancing with the Stars rather than squaring his shoulders up and moving the ball north and south. Verdict: Green Bean Casserole. That's not fair; green bean casserole is good, right? Hear me out. What exactly is green bean casserole? Green beans are good if not plain and simple. Sounds like Gerhart to me. Cream of mushroom soup is a versatile filler to bring things together. Percy Harvin projects to get some reps at running back as well as receiver to mix things up. Sprinkle in some fried onions and you have a delicious treat. Don't forget that Lorenzo Booker will likely steal some carries, too.
Be thankful for those hidden gems. Be wary of the indigestion causing frauds. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving weekend and fill up on turkey and fantasy football wins!