Red Zone

Jamaal Charles, Justin Forsett join growing list of injured fantasy stars

Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett.
Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett. Tribune News Services

Like a spoon caught in the garbage disposal. That’s how I felt as I watched replay after replay of Jamaal Charles essentially blowing out his knee. Obviously, I felt terrible for the guy, who was writhing in pain on the field.

But it didn’t take long for my selfishness to kick in. (Honestly, it was instantaneous.) There goes my first-round pick! Will he take my fantasy season with him?

Minutes later, I cheered as my No. 2 RB, Justin Forsett, took a fourth-quarter pass 32 yards to put a cherry on top of his stellar rushing day. But my jubilation was short-lived, as I gazed in disbelief at Forsett limping off on an injured ankle.

If I used emoticons, it would look like “The Scream” by Edvard Munch.

The extent of Chiefs' Jamaal Chiefs injury is unknown, coach Andy Reid said during a press conference Monday. Charles was undergoing an MRI

My top two running backs, gone just like that. Though Forsett’s injury is comparatively minor, it was enough to put a serious damper on my victory celebration. Will it be the last time my 4-1 team tastes the sweet nectar of fantasy conquest?

Momma said there’d be days like this.

We Charles and Forsett owners won’t get any sympathy from our competitors who’ve been treading water without Tony Romo, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, Dez Bryant, Alshon Jeffery and other stars. Injuries are part of the game, and managing them well is what often separates fantasy winners and losers.

So I’ve got my work cut out for me. And I’m not the only one. #hellowaiverwire

FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS

To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ’em while you can

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars. I gave a tepid endorsement to Allen Hurns last week, and he responded with another strong performance thanks in large part to his quarterback. With Hurns, Allen Robinson and now a healthy Julius Thomas at his disposal, and a favorable schedule ahead, Bortles is worth a flier for those needing help at the position.

Charcandrick West, RB, Chiefs. There’s no replacing Jamaal Charles, but the Chiefs are going to have to try. West, an undrafted second-year back, unexpectedly leapt over Knile Davis on the depth chart a couple weeks ago and will presumably get first crack at the lead rushing role. (He took 18 snaps vs. Davis’ four after Charles went down Sunday.) West is considered the better receiver, which is important for PPR leaguers. Though this situation bears watching, for now, West is the guy to target on the waiver wire. If you miss out on him, Davis is a decent pickup as well.

Willie Snead, WR, Saints. Brandon Coleman was all the rage after he scored in his first career game. But it’s been Snead, another undrafted rookie, who has emerged as the de facto No. 2 receiver in the Saints’ passing game. Though this isn’t the high-powered attack we’ve come to expect, Snead is still putting up enough stats to earn some fantasy love.

Gary Barnidge, TE, Browns. After his second 100-yard outing, and his third consecutive game with a TD, it’s time to take the veteran tight end seriously. Though he barely registered a blip on the fantasy radar over his first six NFL seasons, Barnidge has become a trusted target of the suddenly prolific Josh McCown. Just don’t plan to start him right away (see below).

Don’t be fooled

Josh McCown, QB, Browns. Don’t look now, but McCown has put up 1,154 passing yards and seven total touchdowns over his last three games. That’s mighty impressive, especially given the state of Cleveland’s receiving corps. So why the negativity? McCown’s next three opponents are the Broncos, Rams and Cardinals. It doesn’t get much tougher than that.

Andre Johnson, WR, Colts. Was Johnson’s stellar performance against his old teammates a turning point in his season or an aberration? Let’s put it this way: If you own the future Hall of Famer and can trade him for someone of value, do it.

Kansas City Head Coach Andy Reid discusses possible replacements for Jamaal Charles at the running back position Monday during a press conference. (Oct 12, 2015 Video by Monty Davis | The Kansas City Star)

Ladd Biro is a two-time winner and four-time finalist of the Football Writer of the Year Award by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com), on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).

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