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Fantasy Football 2013: Viable Replacements For Aaron Rodgers





The Lion King. It’s an instant classic.

Remember the scene where Mufasa falls and is killed? His son, Simba, finds him and begs him to get up. Minutes later, and Mufasa doesn’t move, and young Simba can only sit there and sulk. That, my friends, is exactly how fantasy owners felt when they watched quarterback Aaron Rodgers leave Monday night’s game with injury.

Tears followed, of course.

Arguably the best signal caller in the league, the absence of Rodgers is devastating for fantasy owners. He was diagnosed with a broken collarbone, which is expected to sideline him for the next four-to-six weeks. He could be back for the fantasy playoffs, which would be great. However, owners need to find an alternative option for the coming weeks, and while none of them are Aaron Rodgers, they can be very serviceable.

EJ Manuel

One goes down with injury, the other makes his return from it. Manuel, who suffered a knee injury a few Thursday night’s ago, has been cleared to return this week. The rookie signal caller was a pretty solid option when on the field, averaging about 15 fantasy points per game. That was before he even began using his legs more often. He may not be the best option for this week, as the Bills head to Pittsburgh to face the fourth-ranked pass defense in football. However, Manuel looked pretty strong this season, and he has some strong matchups down the stretch, facing teams like Jacksonville, Atlanta and Tampa Bay. If the running game continues to step it up, Manuel’s job will be much easier, which could result in some more touchdown opportunity.

Case Keenum

I’m sipping out of the Keenum Kool-Aid, folks. Watching him on Sunday night was honestly a blast, and it’s evident that he has some massive fantasy upside, as long as he remains under center for the Texans. Against two of the AFC’s better defensive units (KC, IND), Keenum was extremely impressive. During the two games, he completed 59.3 percent of his passes, tossed four touchdowns to go with 621 yards. That’s in just two games. Taking a look at Pro Football Focus, you can see why he has upside. He is currently averaging 12.4 yards per target, which is the most among quarterbacks. Unlike Matt Schaub, he isn’t afraid to sling it down the field, which has already resulted in more fantasy success. He has the weapons around him to succeed, throwing to guys like Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. And if that wasn’t enough, check out his matchups after Week 10. They are pretty enticing.

Opponent

FPPG to QB

Rank

Oakland 24.48 2nd-most
Jacksonville 24.37 3rd-most
New England 17.78 22nd-most
Jacksonville 24.37 3rd-most
Indianapolis 19.10 19th-most
Denver 22.17 9th-most
Tennessee 14.78 29th-most

 

Nick Foles

Obviously, Foles is soaking up all the attention after eviscerating the Raiders defense. In case you live under a rock, Foles tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes in this game, while throwing for 406 yards and posting a perfect passer rating. It was impressive, and like Keenum, Foles is able to throw the ball down the field quite a bit. During this game, Foles averaged 13.9 yards per attempt, and tossed seven completions of 20 yards or more. I don’t think he will be a top-10 signal caller by any means. This game had a lot of wide open receivers, including two touchdowns were Oakland defenders fell down. He was obviously impressive, but I fear that this game was more of a statistical anomaly. Foles is just too inconsistent, but if you need someone to replace the likes of Rodgers, Foles is worth a look. He still gets to face the Redskins and Cowboys suspect pass defense one more time, which should result in fantasy fireworks. Of course, the Eagles have yet to officially name him the starter going forward, so that’s something to monitor as well.

Terrelle Pryor

Pryor is on my fantasy man crush list. Just watching his progression and improvement has been one of the most exciting things this season, and I strongly believe he has been the most improved player in football. His mechanics continue to improve, and he is looking more and more like a legitimate passer out of the pocket. Pryor has incredible upside, and has showed lately that even when he struggles throwing the football, he is still a viable fantasy option. Over the last four weeks, Pryor has thrown just three touchdowns compared to seven interceptions. He hasn’t scored in the last two games, but is still averaging 18 fantasy points per game during that span. How, you might ask? His rushing volume and ability. Pryor is currently averaging more yards per rushing attempt (7.7) than passing (7.26), and is averaging nine rushes per game. He has two 100-yard rushing games on the season, which is more than the likes of Ray Rice and Trent Richardson. As long as he is running with the football, he is more than serviceable in fantasy leagues.

Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.