When I drafted Eli Manning this year in one of my leagues, I was looking at getting out of the gate strong. I did accomplish that, but thought that it would be easy to figure out who to start in his place by Week 11. As I look at the wire, I have a huge dilemma as to which play makes sense for me. My original thought was that I would have Jay Cutler available. While his match-up wasn't necessarily a great one, I didn't need him to hang the moon or anything in order for my team to be competitive.
As you know, Cutler suffered a serious concussion and is not expected to play this week. Jason Campbell will likely start in his place versus the San Francisco 49ers. Alex Smith also had concussion-like symptoms after taking a vicious hit last Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. Colin Kaepernick looked 'OK' in relief and should be the starter against the Bears Monday night. The problem lies in that there will be no time to make the correction if any of these scenarios change. If you decided to roll with either Campbell or Kaepernick, you probably don't look too much at defensive statistics. Both clubs have very stout defensive units and it's pretty hard to run or pass on either. The contest will more than likely be decided by special teams and defensive play. It is probably not the scenario that you were hoping for.
So I now have Cutler on the shelf, Manning on a bye, and only a couple of options on the wire. I immediately thought back to the injury sustained by Ben Roethlisberger. However, I don't think Byron Leftwich played well enough to get the nod. Come to think of it, the last time Roethlisberger missed a game, it was Charlie Batch who leapfrogged Leftwich on the depth chart to get the start. Based on the guessing game that we have been playing with the backfield in Pittsburgh, I don't think that I want any part of this scenario, either. Batch was not dressed last week; that won't be the case this week. It makes you think that even if Leftwich does get the start versus Baltimore, that he will be on a short leash. So I'm avoiding the scenario all together.
Michael Vick also suffered a serious concussion last week. Nick Foles came in and found Jeremy Maclin on a 44-yard scoring play. Given a completion percentage north of 68 percent, I would say this situation merits a closer look this week versus the Washington Redskins. Washington ranks second-to-last in points given up to quarterbacks. Let's reexamine that number coming at the hands of Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Josh Freeman and Eli Manning. Some pretty powerhouse offenses are listed here. The Philadelphia Eagles are not in that category despite the talent on this roster. My gut tells me that Foles will be used more as a game manager and LeSean McCoy's workload will increase. I don't think this is a bad play, but the total will be below the average on the road in Washington. A statline of 12-15 points could be a more realistic expectation.
Matt Cassel is available in more than a few leagues, and this week's match-up versus Cincinnati is not ideal, but serviceable. Cassel's completion percentage goes up a few points at home. The Bengals shut the New York Giants down last week and really owned that game start to finish. If that were to happen this week, Cassel will be forced to throw. The Bengals are suspect versus good running teams, which sets up some nice play action opportunities. A statline of 16-18 points is very likely. I think this situation merits a look as well.
John Skelton will be facing Atlanta on the road. He has eclipsed 260 yards in the last three contests, but his two touchdowns and three interceptions leave something to be desired. Larry Fitzgerald is wondering why he stuck around for this crap.
Ranking them in order:
1. Cassel 16-18 points*
2. Foles 12-15 points*
3. Campbell 10-14 points
4. Leftwich/Batch 8-12 points
5. Skelton 8-12 points*
6. Kaepernick 7-12 points*
Cassel is the highest risk/reward play. Foles is the safest play. Kaepernick has some additional upside as a runner and his value depends on your league's scoring system. Skelton may challenge for the most yardage, but his lack of touchdown production screams "leave me on the wire."
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