Fantasy Doctor: Finding your fantasy rock

Fantasy football is a search for consistency.

The game itself is centralized around adding players to your roster that bring a constant effort week in and week out. If a player doesn’t score much, you drop them. If they are inconsistent, you can’t trust them. The goal is to build a team you can count on, but no one can count on their entire team every week.

As many fantasy owners know, though, there exists a special few players that beat the odds every season. No matter what the circumstance, owners can count on these players to stand among the best of the best and turn out consistent, high numbers each and every week. These players are your fantasy rocks.

Take Peyton Manning for example. He’s thrown multiple touchdowns in every game in addition an average well above 300 yards per game. He’s reached 20 points or higher every game. For the 2013 season, anyone who drafted Manning knows he’s a driving force behind your fantasy team’s success this season.

Matt Forte and Jamaal Charles are also rocks, each one of them practically guaranteed to thrive no matter the opposition. They are positions never in need of filling. They are the players whom you never need to watch with anxiety but instead with pride and joy. They are the very foundations for which you build your fantasy team on.

But while many think these star players are simply the products of any old first-round draft picks, finding a rock can be much harder than that. Arian Foster was a favorite this year and likely went in the first round of your league, but his track record with injuries made some owners wary when drafting this season.

To truly find your rock often requires you to develop an astute comprehension of the season before you. Looking at Denver’s preseason movements, it would have been easy to predict a regular showcasing of talent in 2013. Demaryius Thomas was no longer Manning’s only weapon. Wes Welker added a second cannon to the ship, and the athleticism of rookie tight end Julius Thomas was enough to send expectations rightly through the roof.

In a game stricken with week-to-week strain, though, these rocks don’t just bring you big numbers each week. They bring you unvarying comfort by removing a piece of the stress. But once you find them, hang on to them while you can. No two seasons are the same, and the solid rocks of this season could have cracks on inconsistency next year.

Aaron Rodgers’ injury is the most prevalent of the week, which is likely to shake up a lot of teams. Fortunately, the self-proclaimed best fantasy doctor in the Champaign-Urbana area is here for you with some hot waiver wire pickups and drops.

Bye Weeks: Cleveland, Kansas City, New England, New York Jets.

PICKUPS

Jay Cutler (quarterback, Bears, 53.7 percent owned in ESPN leagues) — Cutler fully expects to be back in action Sunday against Detroit, which is a huge opportunity for people in need of a quarterback. Before Cutler went down in Week 8, he was a model of consistency in fantasy numbers. He broke 20 points twice, and hit 16 or higher every week except for two — one being the week he was injured. He averaged 11.4 yards per throw, 236.9 yards per game and has thrown for multiple touchdown five of the six games he played the entire time. He has good receivers, better protection and the skills to make things happen — especially for fantasy teams in need of leadership.

James Starks (running back, Packers, 24.1 percent) — Aaron Rodgers is down, and it’s unsure for how long. Seneca Wallace was not, is not and will not be the answer, which shifts the pressure on the Green Bay backfield. While rookie Eddie Lacy is very likely to be stellar in Rodgers’ absence, Starks will share the workload. Lacy may have returned strong, but Starks has vultured two touchdowns the past two weeks as the short-yardage rusher. Not to mention he serves as a quick-pass option for a pressured quarterback, which will more than likely be the case for whomever stands in at quarterback. Take a look at Starks, he could be a terrific flex option.

DROPS

Rashard Mendenhall (running back, Cardinals, 79.2 percent) — Maybe I’ve been hanging on to Mendenhall out of Illini pride, but it’s time to cut the cord. With Andre Ellington having emerged as a rushing threat just before the bye week, Mendenhall’s value is going to be halved at the very least. Best case scenario: they split the carries, and the former Illini is lucky enough to punch one in. Worst case: Your fantasy team falters and you lose the game that would have put you in the playoffs, all because you put your faith in someone unreliable. 

Roddy White (wide receiver, Falcons, 92.5 percent) — The prestige of his name may make this sound outrageous, but White hasn’t helped your team so far this year — and he won’t in the coming weeks. The Falcons are struggling, and I don’t just mean recently. Matt Ryan has had trouble keeping up all season, even before Julio Jones went out. Jones’ inactivity may help White’s chances, but not much. He’s already missed three weeks, and it’s unsure as to when he’ll be back to full strength. It’s Week 10, which means your team only has four weeks left to make its playoff push — and an injured receiver with 10 points on the season won’t help you make it.

J.J. is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Wilsonable07.