We’re barely beyond the Golden Taint fiasco, but I’m here to talk about a different breed of replacements. The following players are Jimmy-McGinty-approved waiver wire options to replace the underachievers on your fake roster.
Christian Ponder, MIN – Ponder finished Week 3 in the top-5 at his position, largely thanks to 7 rushes for 33 yards and a touchdown. He also threw for 198 yards and 2 TDs against a stingy 49ers defense. He won’t finish in the top-5 (or even top-10) every week, but Ponder is drastically improved this season and should be even more productive going forward with the return of Jerome Simpson.
Jake Locker, TEN – Locker tied Ponder in Week 3 fantasy points, throwing for 378 yards and two scores. Take those lofty numbers with a grain of salt because Locker put them up against a relatively porous Lions defense. Still, if Chris Johnson remains ineffective, Locker is going to air it out and he will serve as a fine bye-week fill-in.
Shaun Hill, DET – Matthew Stafford pulled leg muscle against the Titans and if he can’t play in Week 4, Shaun Hill will square off against the Vikings. Hill has proven proficient filling in for Stafford in the past and should be added in 2-QB leagues as well as by Stafford-owners, on the chance that the Detroit starter misses extended time.
John Skelton, ARI – Skelton is another fine speculative add in deep or 2-QB leagues. The Cardinals have been winning in his absence, but more because of their defense and special teams than Kevin Kolb. There’s a decent chance Skelton regains the starting job when he gets healthy.
Matt Flynn, SEA – This is the last time I’ll mention Flynn in this space unless Russell Wilson gets hurt or the Seahawks announce a quarterback switch. I can only re-express my doubts in Russell Wilson so many times before my keyboard goes on strike and I’m forced to call on a replacement keyboard that can’t tell the difference between the letters “td” and “int”.
Mikel LeShoure, DET – Apparently it’s still impossible to lose one’s job to injury in the NFL, even if the injury occurred over a year ago and the player has since been suspended for violating the league’s drug-policy. LeShoure pounced on the Lions’ starting job in his NFL debut and poor Kevin Smith appears to be on the outs in Detroit. Starting running backs with talent don’t pop up in the free agent pool more than once or twice a year, so don’t be afraid to burn your top waiver priority or 90-100% of your FAAB budget to get LeShoure.
Ryan Williams, & LaRod Stephens-Howling; ARI – Beanie Wells left Sunday’s game with a toe injury. Williams stepped in, despite a lingering knee injury of his own, and ran for 83 yards on 18 carries. Williams is a nice consolation prize to Mikel LeShoure for the #2 waiver priority in leagues where both players are unowned.
Lamar Miller & Daniel Thomas, MIA – Reggie Bush injured his knee against the Jets, but the severity of that injury may have been overstated in initial reports. Bush will likely miss the Dolphins’ Week 4 game against the Cardinals, but could be back as soon as Week 5. In his absence, Miller and Thomas will tote the hand-egg for Miami. Thomas is the better short-term pickup – he had 19 carries to Miller’s 9 on Sunday – but Miller has more upside. Regardless, temper your expectations of both replacement rushers because the Dolphins face a tough Arizona defense in Week 4 and an equally tough 49ers team in Week 5.
Pierre Thomas, NO – He likely won’t set any fantasy records for your team, but stopgap options like Thomas become a necessity as injuries and bye weeks deplete our rosters. His touches are limited by the Saints’ depth at RB, but Mount Pierre occasionally erupts, spewing lava rich in fantasy minerals when he does, like he did in Week 2.
Tashard Choice, BUF – With C.J. Spiller doubtful and Fred Jackson questionable for Week 4, Tashard Choice may be the starter by default for Buffalo. Even if F-Jax isn’t ready this week, he should be good to go by Week 5, so don’t go crazy with your FAAB on Choice.
Bilal Powell, NYJ – Powell continues to win the Jets’ YPC battle, out-rushing Shonn Greene by five yards in Week 3 despite nine fewer carries.
Shaun Draughn, KC – With Peyton Hillis in a walking boot to start this week, Draughn is in line for an increased workload going forward. Furthermore, he’s a Jamaal Charles injury away from being the #1 RB in Kansas City.
Jerome Simpson, MIN – Simpson returns from his three-game suspension this week, just in time to start hauling in passes from the previously mentioned Christian Ponder. Simpson is still the Vikings’ #3 receiving option behind Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph, but he should be added in most formats.
Donnie Avery & T.Y. Hilton, IND – Any doubts you had about Avery’s involvement in the Indianapolis offense should be dispelled at this point, as Austin Collie was carted off the field yet again on Sunday. Still, it was T.Y. Hilton who benefited the most in that game, with 4 catches for 113 yards and a TD on 8 targets. Avery should be owned universally starting this week, but Hilton should only be coveted by deep-leaguers hoping for another aberration.
Ramses Barden, NYG – Barden had a nice game filling in for Hakeem Nicks on Thursday with 138 yards on 9 receptions. He’s not quite in Mario Manningham territory yet, but Barden could start to eat into the production of Nicks and Victor Cruz even when both of those starters are healthy.
Golden Tate, SEA – Say what you will about his touchception on Monday night, Tate has wrested the #2 WR job from Braylon Edwards and appears to have gained the trust of Russell Wilson. His Week 3 stat line would look a lot different without that controversial TD catch in the final seconds, but his first TD was no fluke.
Jon Baldwin & Steve Breaston, KC – Dexter McCluster injured his arm on Sunday. While neither Baldwin nor Breaston do what McCluster does, they should each see an uptick in targets if McCluster misses time. Baldwin is the better add of the two.
Rod Streater, OAK – Darrius Heyward-Bey suffered a concussion in Week 3 and had to be taken to the hospital, so don’t expect him back for Week 4. With DHB shelved, Rod Streater will work his way back into the Raiders offense.
Aldrick Robinson & Josh Morgan, WAS – Pierre Garcon appears poised to return to action, but with Leonard Hankerson questionable for Week 4, Robinson and Morgan should remain active in the Washington passing game.
Kevin Ogletree, DAL – Miles Austin left Sunday’s game with a rib injury, but returned eventually. If the injury lingers and gets worse, Ogletree may be able to deliver on some of the hype he garnered after his Week 1 breakout.
Justin Blackmon & Cecil Shorts, JAC – With Laurent Robinson questionable for Week 4, Blackmon and Shorts should pick up the receiving slack in Jacksonville. Neither player is a strong add, but someone has to catch passes from Blaine Gabbert.
Kendall Wright & Damian Williams, TEN – Britt’s knees held up in Week 3, but his ankle did not. If he misses time, Kendall Wright will be the main beneficiary, but Damian Williams will also see more targets.
Kevin Walter, HOU – Walter caught a long touchdown pass in Week 3, but don’t be fooled. The Texans are a running team and Walter’s production will be sporadic going forward. Still, you could do worse in deep leagues.
Jeremy Kerley, NYJ – Stephen Hill likely won’t play in Week 4, so Kerley should be The Sanchize’s #2 wideout against the 49ers.
Martellus Bennett, Dennis Pitta, Kyle Rudolph, & Heath Miller – This is your last chance to buy any of these tight ends, as each of them performed well yet again in Week 3. Add them in the order they are listed.
Fred Davis, WAS – After a disappointing first two games, Davis rebounded in Week 3, catching all seven of his targets for 90 yards. If you missed out on Bennett, Pitta, or Rudolph and someone else in your league gave up on Davis, punish their impatience and grab the Washington tight end.
Joel Dreesen, DEN – Dreesen’s Week 3 touchdown was a fluke reception that deflected off Eric Decker, so don’t read too much into his final stat line. Jacob Tamme is still the Broncos TE to own.
Craig Stevens, TEN – Jared Cook had a nice game against the Lions, but sprained the AC joint in his left shoulder. Stevens will assume the starting role in Tennessee if Cook misses any time.