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November 23, 2011

Examining NFL batch of quarterbacks

David Coleman's Fantasy Football for Nov 24

PORT ARTHUR — Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

This week, I thought we’d take a look at what’s going on in the world of quarterbacks. A rash of injuries and inconsistency seems to be gripping the top of the fantasy leader board lately. For one reason or another, QBs owners could count on to hold strong have fallen away.

The odd thing about that is there used to be a lot of parity amongst QBs. The top 10 were stratified, sure, but there were at least eight solid starters an owner could feel great about putting out there every week.

Right now, that number is probably down to about three: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady. The other guys, like Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub, Matthew Stafford, Michael Vick and now Jay Cutler, have all been felled by injuries of one kind or another.

Schaub and Cutler look to be out for a while. Big Ben and Stafford will play through their injuries. It appears we can also add Brady to the list of QBs playing through injuries., as it was revealed Monday that the Pats QB has been dealing with a bone bruise in his elbow.

Cam Newton and Ryan Fitzpatrick both started out the season strong, but have been quite inconsistent of late. Newton has only topped 260 passing yards twice in the past six weeks and has just one week with more than one passing TD over that stretch. Of course, Newton adds a ton of value with his rushing touchdowns, but it’s folly to count on scores for fantasy value. That way lies the Tampa Bay Mike Williamses of the world.

Fitzy has also been lousy since getting his big contract. He’s not alone, as Vick has not played nearly as well this season, even before the rib injury he’s currently nursing. Still, each one has seen a noted dropoff in fantasy value.

Where’s that leave owners heading into the playoffs? Relying on guys like Eli Manning (inconsistent), Matt Ryan (no upside), Mark Sanchez (ditto on the upside), Alex Smith (more of a game manager) or Tim Tebow (I have no words).

Just ask Dallas fans how they feel about Tony Romo being one of the few hot starting QBs right now. The Romocoaster could slide again at any minute. Of course, with what’s going on in the rest of the QB landscape, Romo owners must be feeling very lucky indeed.

Injury watch

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings: Applaud All-Day. He’s got a lot of moxie, verve, pep in his step. That’s all I can say about his statement Sunday night that he wouldn’t miss any games with this ankle injury.

To review, Peterson is on a 2-8 team, already got paid with a huge contract extension and is now dealing with a high ankle sprain. His injury is the least severe type of strain, but expect AP to miss at least one game with this and maybe more.

In some way, this is a shame. Despite having a reputation as being injury-prone, Peterson has only missed three games in his career and two of those came in his rookie season.  If you have Peterson, go ahead and pick up former Stanford runner Toby Gerhart as a handcuff for the next few weeks.

Waiver warrior

Kevin Smith, RB, Detroit Lions: Talk about a feel-good story. I don’t even care about all the warning flags about Smith’s great performance against Carolina. The former Central Florida runner used to be the future of Detroit’s backfield, but was supplanted by Jahvid Best because of injuries.

Smith is still just 24, though, and seems to have found some explosiveness again. He was going up against a dreadful Panthers defense, but 159 yards on 20 carries and six catches for 79 yards will play against any team.

Don’t expect Smith to put up this kind of rushing total every week, but Detroit’s pass happy offense should open some running lanes for him. If he can keep this up, Detroit could put up some big numbers down the stretch.

Buyer beware

Jermichael Finley, TE, Green Bay Packers: I know, I usually go with a waiver wire guy in this spot. This week, though, I was too struck by the Packers star tight end’s season. As maybe the second tight end off the board in most drafts, Finley has been a huge disappointment this season.

He’s not been bad and he’s certainly not been hurt. But, a combination of things have sapped his value. For one, there is a glut of viable TEs right now. Anyone from Brandon Pettigrew and Jermaine Gresham to Jake Ballard and Ed Dickson. All of those guys have had a comparable number of points to Finley over the past four weeks.

Finley’s biggest problem is Green Bay’s success. That’s a heavy duty passing attack with a lot of different options. He can certainly explode in any given week for a huge point total, but overall, it’s never clear whether Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson or any number of Green Bay targets will be the beneficiary of Aaron Rodgers’ attention.

The only thing Finley adds right now is that slight chance for upside. It’s a slim lead and a very disappointing finish for someone who should have been an unquestioned leader at the position this season.

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