FANTASY GRIND: Jones hurt, Zachariason on streams

FANTASY GRIND: Jones hurt, Zachariason on streams
October 9, 2013, 3:33 am
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Julio Jones' foot injury is giving fantasy owners a crash course in patience.

The Atlanta Falcons could be without their Pro Bowl wide receiver the rest of this season, pending a second opinion from a foot specialist on Wednesday. Jones leads the league with 41 catches and is second with 580 yards receiving, making him the sixth best receiver using standard scoring and the best in fantasy points in point-per-reception leagues.

And thousands of owners in Yahoo leagues are already starting to shed him, many picking up his teammate Harry Douglas or shopping for other replacements.

What's the hurry? Every roster likely has other droppable players, and with a guy like Jones in a situation like this - with a bye in Week 6 along with another doctor's diagnosis expected - there's some value in waiting.

It depends on your league and needs, but more definitive word on the centerpiece of your receiving corps is likely more important than a jump on potential replacements like Terrance Williams of Dallas or Keenan Allen of San Diego. If you want a non-stats reminder of why, just watch a replay of Jones' one-handed 46-yard catch in the fourth quarter on Monday night (http://on.nfl.com/1a8VMIi ).

NFL news, especially when it comes to injuries, can change extremely quickly. So it's usually better to wait to find out what a team will do with a player rather than what it might do.

Patience-testing goes the other way, too.

It's a bit early for full disclosure, but I made what I thought was a smart deal on Monday night in a keeper league, trading Darren Sproles and Jonathan Stewart to a buddy in need of running backs. In exchange, I got Jones, who is ineligible as a keeper.

That made for a fun Tuesday morning.

Would it have been smarter to wait a few days to make the trade - even a week to get one more game out of Sproles with Jones on a bye? Maybe, but I figured the deal had a reasonable chance to improve my 1-4 team and I didn't want to risk the other owner getting cold feet. After all, these decisions are all a series of small gambles.

Sure, it stings like a bad beat. But that's fantasy. Get used to the agony.

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THE REPLACEMENTS

Jones isn't the only fantasy starter owners are looking to replace this week. Here are a few Week 6 options for you if you have someone who could be out a while:

QB: Nick Foles, Philadelphia. Michael Vick was jogging and throwing at practice on Tuesday, but didn't practice in team drills and is uncertain to play this week after pulling his left hamstring. As the AP's Rob Maaddi reports, coach Chip Kelly left open the possibility that Foles could win the job if he plays and performs well. Foles should be owned in most two-quarterback leagues already, but would be a plug-and-play option in any format if he starts.

RB: Marcel Reece, Oakland. Reece could produce a repeat of last year with Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings hurting. Last year, when given an opportunity, he turned in several decent fantasy performances and ended up going to the Pro Bowl. He's a team captain for the Raiders who can catch passes, and knows he needs to provide a reasonable rushing threat to take at least a little focus off quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Owners depending on David Wilson, Ahmad Bradshaw or any of the underperforming backs could get value out of Reece.

WR: Austin Pettis, St. Louis. There are many reasonable wide receivers to pick up this week, including Douglas, Williams or Allen. Pettis has put up similar numbers to teammates Chris Givens and Tavon Austin, but with four touchdowns. It's usually inadvisable to chase touchdowns, but Pettis is second on the team in targets and could directly benefit from quarterback Sam Bradford turning around a couple bad games.

TE: Garrett Graham, Houston. It's all about opportunity, and Owen Daniels may miss some time with a leg injury, according to a report on the Houston Texans team website (http://bit.ly/1bDbMcj ). Graham was already drawing notice from fantasy owners as Houston's second tight end, mostly because of his three touchdowns. If Daniels is ruled out, Graham would likely pick up at least some of his targets; Daniels has had 40 so far this year compared with 21 for Graham.

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RINGER TIME: JJ ZACHARIASON

Draft your quarterback late this year? The editor-in-chief of numberFire (http://bit.ly/q5G1Tj) thinks you can expand that philosophy to other positions, namely defenses and tight ends. Maybe even kickers, just any position where you start only one player.

``We've dubbed them the onesie positions,'' says J.J. Zachariason, who published ``The Late Round Quarterback'' as an e-book the summer before the 2012 season, when four quarterbacks went on average in the first round of fantasy drafts.

Zachariason said if there's one thing fantasy owners could grasp to improve their play, it's understanding that fantasy football is a weekly game - meaning it's not necessarily about how players perform over an entire season if you figure out how to single out players who can perform well just for one day.

Doing that means the free agent pool can act as your extended bench, he said.

During the 2012 season, Zachariason says, 38 different quarterbacks performed well enough in a single game to be ranked within the top 12 among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring for that week. He says 25 quarterbacks did it at least four times.

Peyton Manning may be having a historic year, but if you didn't bet on him and you're disappointed with Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick or others, you can still play matchups and be OK.

``You can still form this quarterback Frankenstein in a way and still get QB1 numbers, and top QB1 numbers,'' Zachariason said.

Streaming the ``onesies'' lets player put more focus on running backs and wide receivers, positions where top players were perform well more consistently than quarterbacks, he said. One key, he said, is that quarterback and defensive matchups for single weeks are more predictable than other positions.

``Quarterbacks are always free ... they kind of create their own destiny,'' Zachariason said.

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FULL DISCLOSURE

In the league where I traded for Jones, I'm 1-4 after losing to a buddy (fantasy nemesis, really) who started Peyton Manning and Tony Romo at quarterback - yes, those starting quarterbacks in a game that saw 99 total points scored.

Went 2-3 overall for the week, separating from the pack in the leagues where I'm doing well and sinking further in the leagues where I'm not, though I'm not fully out of contention yet.

That's what I tell myself, at least.

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Oskar Garcia is a news editor in Honolulu who spends way too much time on fantasy sports with too little to show for it. He can be reached at ogarcia(at)ap.org or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia

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