Injuries continue to affect the NFL and fantasy football seasons.
We start with news out of Jacksonville where it appears unlikely Maurice Jones-Drew will return this year.
That makes Jalen Parmele a hot commodity as he has now surpassed Rashad Jennings on the Jags depth chart following a strong effort last week. Quarterbacks who appear out this week are Big Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich, Michael Vick and Blaine Gabbert (out for the year). Jay Cutler should be back in action for the reeling Bears.
In other news, Beanie Wells returns for Arizona and is in line for twenty plus touches this week against the Rams. If he is available in your league, grab him. Other players to consider this week are Ronnie Hillman, Lance Ball, Colin Kaepernick (who has won the 49ers starting QB role), Chad Henne, Mohamed Sanu, Danario Alexander and Bryce Brown who will be subbing for the concussed LeSean McCoy.
Speaking of Alexander, last week I made one of my best calls ever by benching Julio Jones and starting Danario and was rewarded with a huge effort and a narrow win in the Mario Bates League. Those are the type of decisions that can win or lose you a weekly. Luckily, this time it went in my favor as I trusted my instincts that Jones would be a bust last week as predicted.
A reach in deeper leagues may be Knowshon Moreno who may come to prominence with Willis McGahee's regular season-ending injury if the rookie Ronnie Hillman and journeyman Lance Ball fail in Denver. Another deep reach may be the recently signed Plaxico Burress by the wide receiver depleted Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Oracles top 5 are Atlanta, Houston, San Francisco, Green Bay and Baltimore. New England and Denver are on the outside looking in and ready to make their move if one of these teams should stumble. The Chiefs remain in the Oracles' outhouse at 1-9.
In the WTO Laid Back League featured game, (8-3) Bob "Big Bossman" Patchen takes on defending champion Brian Hagberg (7-4). In another game with playoff implications Jacob "Where's Perryman" (6-5) battles Brian "Fish" Ferry (6-5). In what appears to be Derek "Mountain Man" Farr's (5-6) second elimination game in as many weeks, he meets Jonathan "Foosball" McAfoos (5-6). Allen "Wingnut" Seybert (5-6) hopes to keep his slim playoff hopes alive facing Mitchell "Living Wilston" (6-5).
Other games include league leading Cody "Nightmare on Elms Street" (9-2) tackling Josh "The Gambler" Cotton (4-7). The Oracles continue their quest for a points championship despite their 3-8 record against Jon "Houshmanzadeh" Sitler (2-9). With two weeks to go, the Oracles trail Team Patchen by just 1.02 points.
Last week's results: Elms 110.04, Oracles 100.26; Sitler 118.26, Wilston 64.28; Cotton 86.82, Hagberg 47.76; Patchen 86.10, Perryman 59.34; McAfoos 115.14, Ferry 101.54 and Farr 94.50, Seybert 92.44
ASK ALAINA (18-12): Alaina finished 3-2 last week and continues her strong predictions against some really tough calls. This week's calls are 1. Aaron Rodgers or Eli Manning - Rodgers 2. Andy Dalton or Carson Palmer - Palmer 3. Marshawn Lynch or Chris Johnson - Johnson 4. A.J. Green or Roddy White - Green 5. Eric Decker or Demaryius Thomas - Decker
FANTASY STAR OF THE WEEK: Matt Schaub threw for 527 yards and five touchdowns which were good for an amazing 47.08 points.
STEELERS (6-4) and BROWNS (2-8): In a battle of two of our local teams, the Charlie Batch led Steelers face the close but no cigar Browns. I like the Steelers in a low scoring affair, 17-13. Rashard Mendenhall and Trent Richardson make good plays as does Mike Wallace who I expect to score in this one. Start the Steelers defense with lots of confidence this week.
BILLS (4-6): The Bills have finally named C.J. Spiller the starter despite Fred Jackson being healthy. The Bills need this one if they are going to make a playoff run. I think this game will be wide open and I like Buffalo, 34-31, over Indianapolis. Start Spiller, Fitzpatrick and Stevie Johnson for the Bills.
FANTASY BUST: Last week a banged up Julio Jones came up real small to keep my bust picks on a roll with only one miss in nine weeks. This week, Darren Sproles is my target. Three weeks removed from a broken hand, facing the 49ers defense does not look like much a recipe for success.
FANTASY START: Of the remaining players, I like Matt Ryan to put up big numbers against the hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. Look for 340 yards and three touchdowns.
RACHEL'S LOCKS OF THE WEEK: Go with Atlanta, Denver and Indianapolis
ELIMINATOR PICK (8-0): For the second week in a row, the team I picked survived as Dallas barely edged Cleveland. The pickings are getting real slim since I have already used Houston, NY Giants, Atlanta, Green Bay, Chicago, Denver, Pittsburgh and Dallas. Cincinnati looks like the obvious pick with the way the Raiders are not playing defense, so we go all in with the Bungles.