The recent proliferation of injured NFL stars has many frazzled fantasy owners looking and sounding like Peter Boyle's creature after Gene Hackman's overzealous blind monk dropped a ladle of scalding hot soup in the worst of places and lit the tip of his thumb like a Cuban in "Young Frankenstein."
Deuce McAllister and Cadillac Williams are done. Steven Jackson and Marc Bulger are out. Brian Westbrook, Laurence Maroney, Johnsons Chad and Rudi, Anquan Boldin, Marvin Harrison and Joseph Addai are among the many who are hurting.
It's hard to remember a time when so many franchise players were banged up all at once. But now that we've had a week to come to grips with our health issues (I had to step away and do "The Happy Dance" after watching two of my four running backs suffer season-ending injuries and another helped off the field just before halftime the week I traded away LaDainian Tomlinson) it's time to regroup and retool.
If you're blue and you don't know where to go to, why don't you go and check out some of the following players if your team is on the fritz and needs a quick fix:
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Earnest Graham, RB, Buccaneers: Cadillac owners should pounce on Graham, who has averaged 4.5 yards per carry and already has three touchdowns. He will share time with Michael Pittman in Tampa's backfield, but Graham will get the lion's share of carries and his will be the first number called in goal-line situations.
Patrick Crayton, WR, Cowboys: Savvy owners scooped up Crayton in Week 1 once it was learned that Terry Glenn was out indefinitely with knee issues. After a quiet first three weeks, Crayton busted out with a seven-catch, 184-yard, two-TD performance last weekend against the Rams. It's unreasonable to expect such production on a weekly basis, but Crayton is the No. 2 wideout on the league's highest-scoring team and emerging as Dallas quarterback Tony Romo's main deep threat.
Dominic Rhodes, RB, Raiders: When LaMont Jordan went down with a back injury late in the first half of last Sunday's win over Miami, Oakland turned to Justin Fargas (22 carries, 179 yards) and didn't miss a beat. While you could take Fargas as Jordan insurance, Rhodes is the guy you should take because he will benefit most from Jordan's absence, however long it may be. Before Rhodes' four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, he and Jordan were expected to share the load anyway. The former Colt has fresh legs and something to prove, which makes him a viable option.
Kenton Keith, RB, Colts: Keith carried 10 times for 80 yards after spelling Addai last week. If Addai's injured shoulder keeps him sidelined against the Bucs on Sunday, look for Keith to step in and do what all Colts offensive players do: produce.
Selvin Young, RB, Broncos: Young's value hinges on starter Travis Henry's health and Henry's battle with the league over the results of a drug test that could result in a yearlong suspension. When Henry left last week's game against the Colts with a knee injury, Young stepped in and ran eight times for 81 yards, giving him 138 yards in 15 attempts (a whopping 9.2 average per carry) for the season. If Henry can't go, Young is a short-term sleeper with big-time potential.
Andre Davis, WR, Texans: Davis, seemingly the only healthy receiver on Houston's roster, caught five passes for 117 yards and a TD last Sunday in place of standout starter Andre Johnson, who has missed two games and counting with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee. Davis makes a decent bye week replacement or injury fill-in while Johnson remains sidelined.
James Jones, WR, Packers: Jones, a rookie out of San Jose State, could be this season's Marques Colston. He's already caught 18 passes for 232 yards and a TD, and Brett Favre has clearly taken a liking to him, which is all you need to know.
Roddy White, WR, Falcons: White had a season-long case of the drops in 2006, but he's tightened his grip in 2007 and emerged as QB Joey Harrington's favorite option in an offense that favors the pass and will be forced to play catch-up more often than not.
My Lineups for Week 5
TEAM 1 (second place) -- QB: Tony Romo (at Bills); RB: Julius Jones (at Bills) or Clinton Portis (vs. Lions) and Shaun Alexander (at Steelers); WR: Laveranues Coles (at Giants) and Patrick Crayton (at Bills); TE: Benjamin Watson (vs. Browns); K: Nick Folk (at Bills); D/ST: Broncos (vs. Chargers).
TEAM 2 (fourth place) -- QB: Peyton Manning (vs. Buccaneers); RB: Clinton Portis (vs. Lions) and Edgerrin James (at Rams); WR: Steve Smith (at Saints), Shaun McDonald (at Redskins) and Chris Chambers (at Texans); TE: Todd Heap (at 49ers); K: Nick Folk (at Bills); D/ST: Jaguars (at Chiefs).
Stu Rosenberg's fantasy sports column runs Fridays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 578-2300.