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NFL fantasy football: Monitor Trent Richardson's ribs

Whether you're a fantasy beginner or don't have as much time to devote to your fantasy team during the week, I'm here for you with the newest edition of Fantasy 101 - all your fantasy needs in 15 minutes or less. Because that's how long you'll need to digest this column and make your appropriate moves. This week there's more than a few potential free agents for you to pick up at every skill position. Don't be afraid of dropping players you've had on your team for a while who aren't producing, because you can only carry those players for so long before moving on.

Big injuries to watch


Fred Davis, TE, Washington Redskins: He's out for the season with an Achilles injury. While the Redskins re-signed Chris Cooley, the real name to go get in that Redskins offense is Santana Moss. He's Robert Griffin III's top WR target as long as Pierre Garcon is out, which could be awhile. So nab Moss if he's available.

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: For MJD, it's pretty simple. Pick up Rashad Jennings if he's available. As we saw Sunday, he'll get all the carries for however long Jones-Drew is out (which is at least this week). And you can start him with confidence. But as soon as MJD returns, Jennings' value goes back to zero.

Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns: He says his rib injury is worse than people think it is, so you need to monitor him closely. If he's out, Montario Hardesty will take over almost all of the work, but I like Vick Ballard or LaRod Stephens-Howling as better replacements for your roster, and it's quite possible they're both on your waiver wire. Remember that Stephens-Howling plays the San Francisco 49ers this week so he's not a good start.

Other free agents to pick up


Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers: He had a huge Week 7, and now that the Packers are back to being the team they were offensively in 2011, Cobb is worth a roster spot if you have room on your bench. His value gets muddied when Greg Jennings eventually returns.

Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns: Go get him right now. He's the number one WR in Cleveland and has four TDs in his last three weeks, and should have had another long one Sunday but he dropped a pass in the end zone. He's the top WR to get this week.

Dustin Keller, TE, New York Jets: He's healthy and has re-emerged as Mark Sanchez's security blanket. If you have an underperforming tight end (and who doesn't?), he's worth picking up and starting.

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Brandon Weeden, QB, Cleveland Browns With bye weeks upon us, Weeden has proven he can give you very good fantasy production every week. He can throw for 300 yards every week and has six TD passes in his last three games.

Other notes of note


1) It's hard for me to start Brandon Lloyd anymore. When you can't get the ball in an offense that routinely rolls up 400 yards a week, I can't trust you. 2) Josh Freeman has a terrific schedule the rest of the way that should lead to plenty more big games like he had in Week 7. You might soon be able to play him every week - which would hopefully let you trade your other, higher profile QB. 3) Don't worry about Hakeem Nicks. He needed this week to round back into shape. He's a good play every week from here on out. 4) It's going to be hard to start any Carolina Panthers or Pittsburgh Steelers running backs going forward. The Panthers RBs won't give you consistent production, and the Steelers' workload will likely be split as many as four ways when Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman return. 5) Want to know when to play Joe Flacco as your QB? When he's at home and has a good matchup. He struggles on the road and against tough defenses. Luckily the Ravens have a bye this week.

Jason Smith hosts NFL Fantasy Live on the NFL Network and writes fantasy and other pith for nfl.com. Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca, and listen to his Fantasy Podcast with Michael Fabiano and Elliot Harrison every week on nfl.com. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.

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