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NFL fantasy football: Bad time for big-name injuries

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. If you're reading this, it means I'm dead and the Empire has won. Okay, if you're reading this, it means you're still alive so keep doing what you've been doing: stay on the lookout for free agents and make sure you have replacements for your injured players. You've gotten this far, keep it going.

Big injuries to watch

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: It's a shame because he was actually having a decent game before his rib injury against Cleveland. Either way, you're still not playing him going forward.

Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys: The decision is up in the air whether or not he'll play again this season due to his finger injury. We'll know well before kickoff Sunday, but if he's out you can drop him and pick up one of the WRs I have listed below.

Brent Celek, TE, Philadelphia Eagles: His concussion suffered during the Eagles win over Tampa Bay means you're looking for a replacement this week if you were starting him. Options include Martellus Bennett, Greg Olsen, Kyle Rudolph, Brandon Myers and Dennis Pitta, who are all available in 50 percent of leagues or more on

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears: He's day-to-day with a neck injury, but fantasy-wise, he's (hopefully) not someone you've been starting. If you own Brandon Marshall, I wouldn't fear if Jason Campbell has to play in Cutler's place, because he knows how to get the ball to him.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins: This is the big one. Though he didn't suffer knee ligament damage against Baltimore, RG3's availability is up in the air for this week. While backup Kirk Cousins has filled in pretty well, it's hard to trust him in the playoffs this week. So if you're in the market, here's a list -- in descending order -- of QBs you can trust to replace him who may be available on your waiver wire: Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brandon Weeden.

Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills: His knee injury is going to keep him out a minimum of two weeks according to head coach Chan Gailey. So you can waive him unless your championship game is in Week 17. There's not a lot out there, but Montell Owens certainly would be worth picking up if you're desperate.

Other free agents to pick up

Danario Alexander, WR, San Diego Chargers: If somehow he's still available, pick him up and play him. He's for real and Philip Rivers' No. 1 target ahead of Malcom Floyd.

Vick Ballard, RB, Indianapolis Colts: The running game goes through him in Indianapolis. He's not a player you'll absolutely start, but he can get you 10 points in a flex position depending on the matchup.

Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns: He was ice cold, then he was hot, then he was ice cold, now he's hot again. The Browns seem to be peaking, and Gordon has a great matchup this week against the Redskins, so he's worthy of flex consideration.

Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets: He's splitting the carries with Shonn Greene in New York, but that's OK because they're each getting the football between 15-20 times a game. The Jets will keep running it the rest of the season. He's a very good flex option if you need one.

David Wilson, RB, New York Giants: Absolutely pick him up, but don't expect him to suddenly become the Giants' No. 1 RB. New York will still rely on Ahmad Bradshaw to carry the load, with Wilson as the home-run hitter. I'm still wary of starting him this week unless you're desperate.

Other notes of note

1) Knowshon Moreno is still a terrific play against Baltimore this week. Him getting the ball 30 times against Oakland was a message they were sending that they can beat you that way if they want to. He's a dynamite flex or even a low-end No. 2 RB.

2) Kenny Britt is playing terrific the last two weeks, but he has an incredibly difficult matchup against the Jets on Monday night. I can't recommend starting him.

3) It shouldn't be a question: play Steve Smith the next two weeks. He's hot, Cam Newton is hot, so ride him against San Diego and Oakland.

4) Don't give up on Jonathan Dwyer. He's still Pittsburgh's unquestioned No. 1 RB. He doesn't have easy matchups coming up (@ DAL, CIN), but barring falling behind like they did against San Diego, the Steelers will continue to solely rely on him on the ground.

5) Michael Crabtree is averaging over 10 fantasy points per game the last two weeks. It seems like he's emerged as Colin Kaepernick's go-to guy, so if you're in need of a No. 3 WR or a flex, he's trending upward.

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

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