- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
Frankly, I just don't know how Chad Henne's fantasy owners will be able to overcome his season-ending injury (a separated left shoulder). It's too much to take. I mean, Peyton Manning, Jamaal Charles, Kenny Britt and now Henne is done, too? Just throw in the towel on the season, man.
OK, so that's sarcasm at play, but Henne is done for 2011, and although I have all the faith in the world that his fantasy owners -- he's still owned in 31 percent of ESPN standard leagues -- will find a way to carry on by adding the likes of Colt McCoy, Andy Dalton or Alex Smith (in that order), I am seeing a lot of questions about how his loss affects Brandon Marshall and other Miami Dolphins.
For the record, and I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to find what I wrote/said after Henne's misleading Week 1 performance (33 fantasy points against the New England Patriots), this wasn't a strong passing offense to start with. Henne is owned in nearly one-third of leagues because fantasy owners got excited after Week 1, when the team's main running back was out and the Patriots weren't yet regarded as sieves defensively.
Henne averaged 12 fantasy points in Weeks 2 (versus the Houston Texans) and Week 3 (at the Cleveland Browns). The Dolphins never changed their offensive philosophy, as many fantasy owners wanted to believe; the Patriots just can't control the pass, so Henne threw for 416 yards in a game his team trailed. It was an outlier, and other quarterbacks have enjoyed facing that Patriots pass defense as well.
However, because Marshall is the only Dolphin whom fantasy owners start on a weekly basis, I can see why he gets the most attention. He racked up 139 receiving yards for 13 fantasy points that fine Week 1 Sunday. The following week against Houston, he matched the 13 fantasy points with 79 yards and a touchdown. He was back! Since then, however, he has totaled nine fantasy points on nine receptions and 95 receiving yards. Cause for concern if you own Marshall? Do you simply try to trade him now?
Marshall was my No. 15 wide receiver in my end-of-season rankings this week, so I still view him as a WR2, and losing Henne doesn't alter my thinking. Is Matt Moore any worse than Henne? Is Thursday's acquisition Sage Rosenfels? In truth, I think either of those fellows is just as serviceable as Henne, enough to make Marshall relevant.
Moore looked half-decent a few times late in 2009, recording consecutive three-touchdown games against the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants. He started Week 1 in 2010 but suffered a concussion, so Jimmy Clausen took over the starting role. I'm not saying Moore will make my top 20 quarterbacks in Week 6, when the Dolphins return from their bye week, or ever, but I wasn't a big Henne fan. And if Rosenfels gets a chance ... well, he mattered some in 2007. But again, Marshall is talented, and Henne wasn't Tom Brady in the first place, so don't panic.
Even though Marshall and his pals are on bye this week, I'm seeing trade offers in my leagues with Marshall and running back Daniel Thomas attached. Keep those guys around. Marshall might slip a bit to flex status, and Thomas isn't likely to escape that flex designation, but a quarterback change doesn't really change my mind in evaluating them.
Here are other wide receivers who will be in action this week and are being discussed because of their teams' quarterback situations:
Percy Harvin, Vikings: Yeah, Donovan McNabb has stunk, and Harvin has been rather quiet. Don't blame McNabb, though; Harvin just isn't on the field that much. I'd buy low here, even knowing there's a possibility McNabb gets replaced by rookie Christian Ponder by Week 10 (right after the team's Week 9 bye). Like Marshall, if Harvin plays enough, he'll get numbers no matter who's throwing the football.
Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers: No worries here. Yes, Ben Roethlisberger is banged up and his offensive line can't give him time to throw or protect him, but Wallace is still third in the NFL in receiving yards. Roethlisberger is ninth in passing yards. Even if Charlie Batch is summoned, Wallace is a stud. A quarterback change would gently steer me from one of my fave sleepers in Antonio Brown, though. Did you know Brown has more targets than Wallace?
Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks: Say what you will about Tarvaris Jackson, but we're past the point of assuming that Charlie Whitehurst will be any better. The point is Rice is a potential beast; he has reached double digits in fantasy scoring in consecutive weeks, and we don't have to consider Jackson a top-20 quarterback to enjoy Rice's performances. Rice made the staff top 20 at wide receiver this week.
Eric Decker/Brandon Lloyd, Denver Broncos: Yes, I could see the Broncos pulling Kyle Orton again. Although I generally defend Orton, especially last season, when he was yanked for Tim Tebow despite leading the NFL in passing yards at the time, he's not playing as well now. (He's tied for 19th in QB fantasy points.) Meanwhile, Decker is fantasy's No. 6 wide receiver for standard scoring so far, and Lloyd was fantasy's top receiver last season. Note that Lloyd remained just as productive during the three Tebow weeks last season (Weeks 14-16). My advice is buy low on Lloyd and keep Decker around no matter who the quarterback is in Colorado.
Eric Karabell discusses the fantasy implications of Chad Henne's season-ending injury, including a closer look at Brandon Marshall's 2011 value, and examines a few other receivers possibly affected by their quarterback situations.