It looked mighty painful for Patrick Mahomes when he needed to have his kneecap popped into place during the Chiefs’ Week 7 game in Denver. It might have been almost as painful for fantasy football owners who entrusted an early-round pick, and the fate of their mythical franchise, on the 2018 MVP.
The good news is Mahomes is already back at practice, albeit in a limited capacity. So he might not be out the full six weeks that were first feared. But how can you replace the 2020 Madden cover guy for the next three or so?
You might think the right option is right under your nose. Unfortunately, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, who’s enjoying a rather $84 million renaissance lately, has already played this week against Redskins on Thursday night.
Mahomes is not the only top quarterback who will be idle this week. Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Dallas’ Dak Prescott are on bye, and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan is injured. But there are plenty of good options who are still available in the majority of online leagues. So you won’t have to rely on Matt Moore, who the Chiefs pulled out of a scouting job only weeks ago to carry a clipboard.
Sam Darnold (Jets) — Sure … he saw some ghosts. But what the former USC star sees ahead is a very light schedule. After Sunday’s game against Jacksonville, his next six include two with Miami, and one each against the Redskins, Bengals and Giants. He had 338 yards passing and two TDs two weeks ago in his return against Dallas. You could see that level of production between now and early December.
Derek Carr (Raiders) — The definition of a serviceable quarterback. Over the past four seasons he has averaged 25 TDs and 3,800 passing yards per season. And the defenses he will face in coming weeks are pretty weak. Carr is no doubt looking forward to facing the Texans, Lions, Chargers, Bengals and Jets.
Kyle Allen and Cam Newton (Panthers) — You might need to grab both of these Panthers in order to cover yourself, though it may still be a few weeks before Newton is back. San Francisco will be tough this week, but upcoming foes include the Titans, Falcons and Redskins. Not a strong defense in that bunch.
Gardner Minshew (Jaguars) — He’s a first-round pick in any fantasy moustache leagues, and he gets the lowly Jets this week. His next four games include matchups against lesser defenses (Titans, Texans, Buccaneers). But eventually, he’ll be giving the QB job back to Nick Foles, perhaps as early as Week 11.
Mitchell Trubisky (Bears) — Want to take a chance that the Chicago underachiever will soon look like his 2018 version that accounted for 27 TDs? He has the Eagles, Giants and two games with the Lions in the next six weeks. You might be able to do worse.
Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey is an MVP candidate and a must-start, but he will not post great numbers against the unbeaten 49ers. Panthers receivers D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel will fare even worse. … New England’s defense will feast again against Cleveland. Keep Browns QB Baker Mayfield on the bench, and maybe even Odell Beckham, too. But keep Nick Chubb in your lineup. … Eagles QB Carson Wentz will have more trouble finding open receivers against the Bills. … Tennessee’s Derrick Henry will find the Tampa Bay run defense tougher than expected. … The free-falling Chargers are in Chicago, so neither of their running backs, Melvin Gordon or Austin Ekeler, is a particularly strong play. … And the Saints’ defense will make sure Arizona QB Kyler Murray’s hot streak ends, and that there will not be another 3-TD game from Chase Edmonds.
We assume you have fewer spots to fill right now because you were wise enough to start most of your Vikings against Washington. … Rams RB Todd Gurley will enjoy his Week 8 matchup against the league-worst Cincinnati rushing defense … The Falcons’ equally poor defense will get Seattle QB Russell Wilson back on track, as well as WR D.J. Metcalf. … The Raiders’ Derek Carr and TE Darren Waller will continue to connect against Houston. … So, too, in that game will Texans QB Deshaun Watson and his top targets, namely DeAndre Hopkins and Kenny Stills. … Philly’s poor secondary will help pad the numbers of Bills wideouts John Brown and Cole Beasley. … And Steelers enjoying the Monday night rout of Miami will include RB James Conner and WR Juju Smith-Schuster.
If you trusted Arizona RB David Johnson (back, ankle) to play last week, you’re especially dubious of his chances to play this week. … The Lions have put RB Kerryon Johnson (knee) on injured reserve, so Ty Johnson is the new No. 1 in Detroit. … The Patriots did the same for WR Josh Gordon, which explains why they traded with Atlanta to get Mohamed Sanu. … Houston WR Will Fuller will be out a few weeks. … Among the injured who could return this weekend (check our web updates for details), Green Bay WR Davante Adams, New Orleans QB Drew Brees and RB Alvin Kamara, Kansas City WR Sammy Watkins and Giants wideout Sterling Sheperd. But the Bengals’ A.J. Green is still a couple of weeks away, hoping against hope for a trade deadline ticket out of Cincy.
THE DEEPEST SLEEPER
When last seen on an NFL field, Mason Rudolph was unconscious. Quite literally. But Pittsburgh’s stand-in for Ben Roethlisberger is expected back Monday night when the Steelers face the most movable of all objects, the Miami Dolphins’ defense. The former Oklahoma State star will likely top the 229-yard, two touchdown effort he had in his Week 3 stroll past the Bengals. In a week when quarterbacks are relatively scarce, he could be your Monday night hero.
We’ll be updating our column, based on the latest injuries and innuendo, right up until Sunday’s kickoff. Go to TwinCities.com/theloop.