Ben Roethlisberger's injuries are not only putting the Pittsburgh Steelers' playoff hopes in jeopardy, but may do the same to his fantasy owners if they fail to find an adequate replacement in Week 13.
This common sense guys is spot on: Steelers officially rule out Ben Roethlisberger— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) November 30, 2012
It's obvious that most owners have a contingency plan in place now. Not even the most negligent owner would allow his quarterback position to go unfilled for three consecutive weeks. However, there are some guys with great matchups this week that could be even better than the standard Roethlisberger replacement.
With that in mind, here is a look at a few waiver-wire pickups that should fill in nicely for the Steelers quarterback in Week 13.
Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco 49ers)
While he hasn't been named the permanent starter yet by Jim Harbaugh, the job is Kaepernick's to lose for the remainder of the season. And, believe it or not, most fantasy owners are yet to catch up, as he's owned in just 43.7 percent of ESPN leagues.
Let me make this clear: If Kaepernick is still available in your league, scoop him up now—even if it means dropping Roethlisberger.
In two games as a starter, the second-year quarterback has shown flashes of undeniable talent. He's thrown for 474 yards and three touchdowns against one interception, proving far more able in the pocket than even his most strident supporter expected.
But it's Kaepernick's ability in the run game that could truly make him a fantasy star. Despite limited use throughout the first half of the season, Kaepernick already has 214 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. That yardage is fifth among NFL quarterbacks this season and only Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton have more touchdowns.
The 49ers matchup against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday isn't as good as it sounds on paper. St. Louis boasts a top-half defense in the nearly all counting categories and played San Francisco to a tie just three weeks ago.
Nevertheless, based on what we have already seen, I have no problem calling Kaepernick an every-week start in 10-team leagues.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (Buffalo Bills)
Just about everyone who has hit the quarterback waiver-wire has given Fitzpatrick a shot this season. As he's wont to do, the Bills signal-caller has been both intermittently brilliant and horrifying from a fantasy perspective.
Look for a return to the former on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Coming into Week 13, Jacksonville ranks 28th in the NFL in pass defense, giving up 274.5 yards per game. With weaknesses in the secondary and an almost non-existent pass rush (though Jason Babin's acquisition may help), Fitzpatrick should be able to stand in the pocket and find open receivers.
Granted, the Jaguars also struggle mightily against the run, so C.J. Spiller might soar in the ground game and hurt Fitzpatrick's value somewhat.
However, you can't exactly be picky at this point in the season. Kaepernicks don't simply cascade down on the masses every week to sprinkle their magic dust on a fantasy team. If the 49ers quarterback is taken in your league, you could do a whole lot worse than Fitzpatrick in Week 13.
Chad Henne (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Call me an optimistic skeptic (if that's even possible) in regards to Henne's fantasy prospects. In no way, shape or form do I believe in Henne as the answer in Jacksonville, nor do I think he'll consistently replicate his top-shelf performances of the last two weeks long term.
As a one-week replacement who is facing the Bills, though? Henne is probably the best guy who is actually available in just about every league.
Despite tearing up the Texans and Titans to the tune of 615 yards and six touchdowns against one interception, the Jaguars quarterback is owned in only 8.1 percent of ESPN leagues. I guess you could say fantasy owners aren't paying attention—or are just familiar with Henne's previous work in the NFL.
Still, a matchup against the Bills shouldn't stop Henne's string of stellar play. Though better against the pass than run, Buffalo is still 30th in the NFL in scoring defense, giving up 29 points per game.
Henne may not have 300-plus yards and three touchdowns, but he'll certainly be able to get somewhere in the 15-point range in standard scoring.