- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
A week ago I actually thought it would be a bit too obvious to label Indianapolis Colts tight end Jacob Tamme as a sneaky free-agent pickup. With Dallas Clark being placed on injured reserve, fantasy owners across any sport should be conditioned by now to start their replacement search with, well, the injured player's replacement. In a dynamic passing offense like the Colts', this would appear to be even truer.
Tamme isn't going to be Clark in terms of targets or production, but he's got the right quarterback in place to put up usable numbers that fantasy owners even in 10-team leagues might enjoy. A year ago we kind of went through this with Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley; he broke his ankle in Week 7, and out of nowhere Fred Davis turned in more than respectable numbers. That was with Jason Campbell at quarterback. Tamme has Peyton Manning.
The tight end position is hurting, so I figured Tamme would be a popular fantasy addition, but he hasn't been in ESPN standard leagues. Yes, the Colts were on bye in Week 7, so that helped blunt attention, and I can still count 10-12 other tight ends I'd rely on more, including Aaron Hernandez, Tony Moeaki and Brandon Pettigrew, but if Tamme catches six passes for 60 yards on Monday night against the Houston Texans, you can't say it's a surprise. Plus, the Texans allow the second-most points to tight ends in the league, or the most in the non-Buffalo Bills category. I'm not saying Tamme will break out, but if you've got bench space, take a chance.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Colts are an interesting story this week as well. There's nothing sneaky about Mike Hart at running back at this point, as he could very easily be the team's starter this week. I don't think Joseph Addai will play, and color me skeptical about Donald Brown, who's still dealing with a hamstring issue. I saw an article by an Indianapolis columnist this week saying that Brown and Anthony Gonzalez really need to step up. I don't think either has shown anything this season that leads fantasy owners to get excited, but certainly Gonzalez should be owned in more than 3.4 percent of leagues. If healthy, he almost has to be productive. Pierre Garcon missed practice this week as well.
That's another reason the unfortunate plight of others this week makes Tamme look better. Who runs the ball and who catches after Reggie Wayne and probably Garcon? Austin Collie is out. Blair White? Hey, pick him up, too. In deeper formats, as I mentioned a week ago, check out former North Carolina State running back Andre Brown. Someone's got to play for the league's No. 2 offense!
Here are a few other sneaky pickups by position:
QB: Well, while I don't expect much from San Francisco 49ers quarterback Troy Smith -- or should we still refer to him as former Heisman Trophy winner? -- the fact is he gets opportunity, and he's readily available. I blogged this week about Smith's opponent, the Denver Broncos, and how Kyle Orton should continue to play well, but if the team keeps losing, he's potentially outta luck. So Tim Tebow deserves mention in this spot. I'd mention Tarvaris Jackson as well, though I remain convinced that the battered, Wrangler jeans guy who will never retire will indeed play.
RB: I'm keeping an eye on the Dallas Cowboys because if they continue to not trust Felix Jones as their prime running back (with resulting touches), then maybe they let Tashard Choice have a chance. In Jacksonville, where the Jags are dealing with more offensive line problems, Deji Karim is the handcuff to Maurice Jones-Drew, not Rashad Jennings. Add Kenneth Darby of the St. Louis Rams in case Steven Jackson and his fractured digit can't perform. And in our weekly James Starks update, he remains on the PUP list. Looks like Brandon Jackson's recent play has given the Green Bay Packers more confidence in their running back situation. In a way, Jackson was once so overrated that now he has become underrated.
WR: I feel like I've mentioned most of the nice pickups. For example, I still like the Washington Redskins' Anthony Armstrong here. The Philadelphia Eagles' Riley Cooper had a nice Week 7, and I don't expect DeSean Jackson back in Week 9. David Gettis and Jordan Shipley aren't so sneaky anymore, I suppose. I will mention Ted Ginn Jr., Jordy Nelson and Jacoby Ford. With Ginn in San Francisco, it's the theory that he was the wide receiver working the most with backup quarterback Troy Smith in practice. OK, so it's not a strong recommendation. Nelson in Green Bay matters if the team decides Donald Driver can't work through his thigh injury. I did drop Driver's rank some this week, noting that James Jones benefits most. And someone has to catch the passes for the Oakland Raiders, and Ford might start for an injured Louis Murphy.
Eric Karabell says the Colts' Jacob Tamme could get his share of catches with Dallas Clark done for the season.