Fantasy owners can rejoice in the final round of byes as we enter the final stretch. The good an bad news about this point is that we still have 1/3rd of the season left. For those of you who are worse than 4-6, your odds of making the playoffs are extremely slim (assuming you use the traditional 4-team playoff bracket), but for anyone who is 4-6 or better, odds are that you have a shot at making the playoffs. Naturally this all depends on your current league standings; if the top 4 teams are all 8-2 then 4-6 likely won't cut it. Statistics suggest that the 4th place team is likely 6-4, meaning that 4-6 teams are on the outer bubble. For everyone out there freaking out about fantasy playoffs, most of you still have a chance.
Speaking specifically to week 10, we had a lot of new injuries come about. Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler, Alex Smith, and Michael Vick were all injured. The good news is that the bye week quarterback stock is pretty weak. If it weren't for the fact that Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, Russell Wilson, and Eli Manning are the QBs on bye we would have serious issues. Even still, 8 starting quarterbacks (let's not count Gabbert, just to be distinct about our definition of "starting quarterback") will not be starting this week. There is a good chance that the owners of Roethlisberger and Vick will be slumming through the quarterbacks trying to find a replacement this week.
The running back situation is a bit different. Bradshaw, Peterson, Lynch, and even Chris Johnson are all starting running backs. That's 4 of the top 15 (and 3 of the top 10) running backs in fantasy out for the week. To top that list off, the resurgent Fred Jackson is also down for the game. Spiller owners (myself included across three leagues) are very excited. Fred Jackson owners are not. Owners of Darren McFadden have to be wondering whether this is like his injury last year where he was always just about to come back but never did.
The wide receiver and tight end positions are much less affected. Sure, players like Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Percy Harvin, and ... well that's about it actually. Even those guys didn't show up in week 10 (but at least you didn't play Harvin). The loss at wide receiver was minimal.
Finding a Replacement:
The quarterbacks have really fanned out in terms of ownership. On Yahoo! there are 13 quarterbacks with 90% or greater ownership and there are an additional 5 quarterbacks with at least 70% ownership. Of that second category, Andy Dalton and Matt Schaub are probably more guaranteed points than anyone with under 70% ownership. If they are available you should start them in place of your injured or bye-week starter.
Assuming those players are taken, you're going to need to branch out and look for a different replacement. Carson Palmer (59% owned) is probably the guy with the best matchup this week. He's someone I would definitely target if I were in need of a quarterback. As an added bonus, for those of you with long term problems (Big Ben or Vick), Palmer has a very favorable schedule over the next few weeks. My next best bet would be starting Nick Foles. Sure, he definitely looked bad against the Cowboys, but he did score about 9 fantasy points in one half. The Cowboys have been allowing 12.8 points per game to opposing quarterbacks, so Foles really didn't do so poorly. I think he has a lot of potential and will be a huge waiver acquisition after this week.
If you are in desperate need of a running back, Marcel Reece, Joique Bell, Daryl Richardson, and Daniel Thomas are all owned in fewer than 40% of leagues. I would start them in that order, with Reece being the best option and Thomas being the worst. Chris Ivory is a guy with plenty of potential, and I'm still waiting for my bold prediction about Travaris Cadet to come true. I could see that guy scoring a touchdown this week. (A guy can hope)
Fortunately the wide receiver position is much more volatile. There are always guys who are going to have great games if you can locate them. Darrius Heyward-Bey is still only about 50% owned, and the Raiders play New Orleans this week. Cecil Shorts has been extremely productive, and should be viable (even against Houston). Donnie Avery and TY Hilton both have the potential for a big game against New England this week.