If you picked Reggie Wayne instead of Reggie Brown, or Randy Moss over Roy Williams this preseason, you’re probably a little frustrated with the way your fantasy football season has been going. But in a year where Andre Johnson is second among fantasy receivers, Joey Harrington is somehow starting for the Dolphins, and Chester Taylor has more yards than Shaun Alexander, it’s only safe to say that nothing is certain. So if you’re looking for a replacement for Cadillac Williams, Larry Fitzgerald, or Matt Hasselbeck, look no more: These guys might not win your league for you, but they could be the missing pieces your team needs to get back in contention.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys:
It’s officially Romo-time in Dallas now, and nervous Cowboys can take solace in knowing that the new guy can’t be much worse than Drew Bledsoe. Romo started the second half of the game on Monday night against the Giants and threw an interception on his first pass, but also led the Cowboys on two scoring drives against a ferocious Giants defense that had already registered four sacks and a safety against Bledsoe. Romo’s NFL experience is limited at best, with his only other appearance coming against the Texans in Week 6, but the third year quarterback should provide an immediate upgrade over Bledsoe. Unlike the cement-footed Bledsoe, Romo is versatile in and out of the pocket and loves to take chances downfield. His gambling should lead to an increase in interceptions, but that negative should be outweighed by an increase in touchdowns. The Cowboys travel to Carolina on Sunday night, and the Panthers will most likely put eight men in the box and force Romo to beat them through the air. The Panthers have allowed five touchdowns and an average of 235 passing yards the last two games, and with an arsenal including Terrell Owens, Terry Glenn, and Jason Witten, Romo should be able to put up stats close to those.
Wali Lundy, Houston Texans:
He’s no Reggie Bush, but Lundy is starting to become a presence in the Texans’ running game. On Wednesday, Texans coach Gary Kubiak said that Lundy would be the starting back this week, “and hopefully for a long time to come.” The rookie from Virginia was expected to take the starting job in the preseason after starting back Domanick Davis was lost to injury, but struggled in his first two starts and did not play for four games after that. Lundy began Sunday’s game against Jacksonville on the sideline, but ended as the Texans’ leading rusher, gaining 93 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. The Texans have one of the NFL’s easiest schedules this year and are playing the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The Titans are last in the league in run defense, allowing over 164 yards on the ground every game, so Lundy should see plenty of holes to run through in his first NFL start.
Reuben Droughns, Cleveland Browns:
Droughns has been disappointing so far for the Browns this year, but is still the undisputed starter in the backfield. This week, Droughns faces a New York Jets defense that is ranked 28th against the run and is allowing over 142 yards per game. Last week, even the woeful Lions gained 125 yards against the Jets, despite playing from behind most of the game. Droughns gained 100 yards against a similar Oakland defense in Week 4.
Jerricho Cotchery, New York Jets:
Cotchery has quietly stepped up this season to become a solid No. 2 receiver for the Jets, catching 30 passes for 418 yards and three touchdowns. In leagues that give points for receptions, Cotchery has more points than Reggie Wayne, Plaxico Burress, Chris Chambers, Randy Moss, Terry Glenn and Chad Johnson. Last week against the Lions, Cotchery was Chad Pennington’s primary target, catching 7 passes for 79 yards. This week, the Jets face another weak defense in Cleveland. Cotchery should see plenty of action against the Browns’ 19th-ranked defense.
Kansas City Chiefs:
After being decimated by Pittsburgh two weeks ago, the Chiefs rebounded with a huge win against the division rival San Diego Chargers. This week, the Chiefs take on a Seattle Seahawks team that has been ravaged by injury and has scored only 49 points in its last three games. The Seahawks are without MVP Shaun Alexander and Pro-Bowl QB Matt Hasselbeck and are showing little resemblance to the team that represented the NFC in the Super Bowl last year. The Chiefs have the 11th-ranked defense in the NFL and should capitalize on the inexperience of Seahawks backup quarterback Seneca Wallace as he tries to spark the NFL’s 21st-ranked offense. The Chiefs allowed 27 points last week to the Chargers, but don’t expect the Seahawks to come close to reaching that total on Sunday.