This week we focus on concussions and other injuries and how they affect their teams and the fantasy value of the players on them.
Alex Smith, Jay Cutler, Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger all were injured in a bad week to be an NFL quarterback. San Francisco appears to be in the best shape heading into its Monday night matchup against the Jason Campbell-led Chicago Bears. Alex Smith appears good to go. If not, it will be run-happy Colin Kaepernick.
Chicago seems to be the most affected as the veteran Campbell looked rusty in relief. I am downgrading Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall in the short-term. Robbie Gould will see more opportunities as the Bears may move the ball but will struggle in the red zone. The Bears defense shouldn't be affected much as the Bears offense will play it safe and turnovers should be limited.
Rob Stewart is... The Fantasy Oracle
Philadelphia fans who have been wishing for Nick Foles will get their wish. In relief last week, he was a defensive coordinator's dream as he allowed both a pick six and a fumble return for a touchdown in limited minutes. Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek may see a rise in their stats based on this move. DeSean Jackson should see a noticeable decrease in targets, while LeSean McCoy may get a few more rushing attempts than usual.
Pittsburgh is staring at a huge problem as Big Ben's timetable for his return is about as concrete as the economic recovery plan. It may be two weeks, it may be six. Byron Leftwich takes the helm during the critical three-week period in which the Black and Gold face the archenemy Baltimore Ravens twice. The Steeler running game featuring Rashard Mendenhall, who is likely back, and Jonathan Dwyer, receives a boost in value, while Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders values are sinking like the Titanic. Heath Miller should be the benefactor of this move. Leftwich's delivery is slower than molasses in January, and he will turn the ball over - making any team defense facing the Steelers start-worthy. Shaun Suisham will see more attempts than usual. Antonio Brown, when he returns, may become Leftwich's go-to-guy.
We also say good bye to the bye weeks for 2012 after this week and all the troubles they have created. An important note to remember is that there are three games on Thanksgiving Day next week.
In the WTO Laid Back League featured game, (7-3) Bob "Big Bossman" Patchen takes on (6-4) Jacob "Where's Perryman."
In what appears to be an elimination game, Allen "Wingnut" Seybert (5-5) battles Derek "Mountain Man" Farr (4-6).
Other games include league-leading Cody "Nightmare on Elms Street" (8-2) facing the tough luck Oracles (3-7); Jon "Houshmanzadeh" Sitler (1-9) meets Mitchell "Living Wilston" (6-4); Josh "The Gambler" Cotton (3-7) tries to upend defending champion Brian Hagberg (7-3), and; Brian "Fish" Ferry (6-4) tangles with Jonathan "Foosball" McAfoos (4-6).
Last week's results have Hagberg 114.48, Oracles 110.32; Elms 89.98, Sitler 80.78; Wilston 84.14, Farr 71.64; Seybert 143.36, Ferry 73.78; Patchen 132.70, McAfoos 92.26, and; Perryman 152.74, Cotton 81.78.
ASK ALAINA (15-10): Alaina had her first sub .500 week at 2-3 last week. This week's questions are: 1. Drew Brees or Carson Palmer - Brees; 2. Tom Brady or Andrew Luck Brady; 3. Arian Foster or Ray Rice Foster; 4. Alex Smith or Jason Campbell Campbell; 5. Reggie Wayne or Wes Welker Wayne.
BYE WEEK TEAMS: Minnesota, N.Y. Giants, Seattle and Tennessee
FANTASY STAR OF THE WEEK: Joe Flacco with an astonishing 35.74 points. No one saw this coming not even my crystal ball.
STEELERS (6-3): The Steelers battle the Ravens this week in what should be a tough physical game. Who would have thought two weeks ago the edge at quarterback would go to Baltimore in this one. When all is said and done that is what will decide this game. Baltimore 20 Pittsburgh 13.
BROWNS (2-7): Ouch! The Brownies come off the bye week and head right into a wolf's den. I believe the Cowboys have been awakened and this game has blowout all over it. I like Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Miles Austin in this game, as well as safety net Jason Witten. When asked Tony Romo or Josh Freeman by a reader, I said overwhelmingly Romo this week. Dallas 38 Cleveland 10.
BILLS (4-6): The Bills came up with a huge win Thursday night against the Dolphins and finally gave Oracle favorite C.J. Spiller the ball. He rewarded them with 130 yards and controlled the clock in the Bills win.
FANTASY BUST: Last week Dwayne Bowe struggled as I predicted with just 55 yards. This week I am putting the whammy on Julio Jones who is battling an injury. Many prognosticators list him as a Top 10 receiver this week, but with all the other options I see it unlikely he will be too heavily involved as the Falcons prepare to secure home field throughout the NFC playoffs.
FANTASY START: Drew Brees against Oakland. This is the same defense that made Joe Flacco the fantasy star of last week.
ELIMINATOR PICK (7-0): I survived what I thought was a lock last week in Pittsburgh. After a deep breath I will pick Dallas to stomp Cleveland since I have already used Houston, N.Y. Giants, Atlanta, Green Bay, Chicago, Denver and Pittsburgh.