Fantasy Football

Rivers, Henne rise in QB ranks

RotoWire.com Luke Hoover
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In the passing department this week, injuries opened the door for Colin Kaepernick and Chad Henne, each of whom has been terrific in two games with extended action. For 12-team leagues and deeper, Kaepernick already looks as if he's a weekly No. 1 option, though he has yet to be officially named the starter this week. If Kaepernick were somehow benched in favor of Alex Smith, expect the former top overall draft pick to be plenty motivated to turn in a stellar performance against the same Rams team that knocked him out a couple weeks back. For those true two-quarterback only options, Henne appears poised to climb toward the top of that list. His excellent chemistry with the young and gifted Blackmon and quietly spectacular Cecil Shorts makes it look like the recent afterthought still has a promising career as a starting NFL quarterback.

With the magnitude of playoff spots on the line this week, don't get too cute with those starting decisions. Your best players should play - regardless of matchup in most cases - and if you need a quick fix for that one last lineup hole, make sure it's a calculated option based on a combination of recent play, friendly matchup and/or, most important, opportunities to touch the ball.

1. Colin Kaepernick at St. Louis - Kaepernick looks like a safe bet for 200-plus passing yards and two totals touchdowns pretty much every game. Two Niners' pick-sixes were about all that held him from adding another score or two last week, and it might not be long before he's considered a top-10 fantasy quarterback. If you own him, it's awfully hard to bench him.

2. Josh Freeman at Denver - Freeman's 6-game streak of multi-touchdown performances came to an abrupt halt when he couldn't get into the end zone a single time versus Atlanta last week. Although he faces a Denver defense ranked fifth in the league in passing yards allowed (just 210 per game), look for Freeman to get back on track. The Broncos have given up 18 scores through the air, and considering the Bucs bring the league's worst pass defense to Mile High, Peyton Manning and Co. have a good shot at making Freeman play catch-up through the thin Denver air.

3. Chad Henne at Buffalo - With the emergence of Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon as playmakers the Jaguars have found a productive passing game for the first time in years. Of course, Henne has had a lot to do with that. Over his last nine quarters he's thrown for a whopping 736 yards and seven touchdowns at a ridiculous 9.8 yards per attempt. It's hard to imagine a weak Buffalo pass defense slowing his hot streak down too much.

4. Matt Schaub at Tennessee - The Texans have to start saving Arian Foster for the playoffs at least a little, don't they? That means Schaub should continue to get extra work out his arm whether the Titans can keep this game competitive or not. With Andre Johnson playing at a historic level lately, that figures to translate into solid production from Schaub yet again.

5. Philip Rivers vs. Cincinnati - Rivers has only thrown 40 passes in a game three times this season. When he did hit that threshold, Rivers registered at least 240 yards and two scores each time. Given the dominant way the Bengals have won their last three games by a combined 64 points and are having little difficulty moving the ball, expect Rivers to post game No. 4 with 40-plus tosses.

6. Ryan Tannehill vs. New England - For deeper leagues it's worth noting that Tannehill somehow completed 69 percent of his passes for 253 yards and a score versus an elite Seattle pass defense that's among the best in the league in touchdowns and yards allowed through the air. And he did that damage while averaging nearly 10.0 yards per attempt as the Dolphins ran it more than they threw it. Facing a Patriots team that's among the worst pass defenses in the league and is sure to force Tannehill into more dropbacks, the rookie may be one of the week's sneakiest starts.

No. 2 QUARTERBACK RANKINGS

* Check injury status

12. *Colin Kaepernick SF at StL
13. Matt Schaub HOU at Ten
14. Andy Dalton CIN at SD
15. Philip Rivers SD vs. Cin
16. Jay Cutler CHI vs. Sea
17. Jake Locker TEN vs. Hou
18. Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF vs. Jac
19. Chad Henne JAC at Buf
20. *Carson Palmer OAK vs. Cle
21. Ryan Tannehill MIA vs. NE
22. Joe Flacco BAL vs. Pit
23. Josh Freeman TB at Den
24. Christian Ponder MIN at GB
25. *Mark Sanchez NYJ vs. Ari
26. Sam Bradford STL vs. SF
27. Russell Wilson SEA at Chi
28. *Nick Foles PHI at Dal
29. Brady Quinn KC vs. Car
30. *Charlie Batch PIT at Bal
31. *Ryan Lindley ARZ at NYJ
32. *Brandon Weeden CLE at Oak
33. *Alex Smith SF at StL
34. *Ben Roethlisberger PIT at Bal
35 *Michael Vick PHI at Dal

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Tagged: Bills, Browns, Rams, Dolphins, Eagles, 49ers, Buccaneers, Jaguars, Cardinals, Steelers, Chargers, Texans, Matt Schaub, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Alex Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chad Henne, Josh Freeman, Colin Kaepernick, Cecil Shorts III, Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles, Ryan Lindley

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