Loss of Cooley can be overcome by his owners


Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley seems to be a pretty interesting guy, outgoing and personable, diverse and multifaceted, so he'll find plenty to keep him busy during the second half of the NFL season. But it appears playing football likely won't be one of those activities.

Cooley reportedly broke his right ankle in the Redskins' loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night. There's no confirmation of this injury yet, but Cooley, who hasn't missed a game in his career, might be done for the season. (At least now he'll have more time to blog on his Web site.)

An unfortunate injury, to be sure, but his fantasy owners will be fine. Cooley is also one of us, as his history of playing fantasy football has been chronicled by me, colleague Matthew Berry and others, and I bet even he would tell you his loss, although sad for him, doesn't change the fantasy landscape very much. (It doesn't change the plight of the Redskins' season much, either, but that's a different story.) The tight end position is, in my opinion, the deepest position in fantasy football this season; for instance, when ranking players for Week 7, I wanted to find room for more than 10 tight ends among the top 10 at the position, even with six teams on bye. Cooley, the sixth tight end selected on draft day and currently No. 12 in scoring at the position, was of course one of them.

I have Cooley on one team, and I will simply wait until waivers pass in that league on Thursday and choose someone else. It's really not that big a deal because the guy racked up all of 42 fantasy points in seven games. Thirteen kickers had more.

There are plenty of choices at tight end. Consider that most people don't keep a reserve tight end on their roster, so in a 10-team league, there are players such as touchdown machine Visanthe Shiancoe, Week 7 hero Vernon Davis and top Raiders option Zach Miller lurking and available on the waiver wire. Consider that of the top 10 tight ends, only half are owned in more than 90 percent of leagues. Maybe Brent Celek, Heath Miller and Jeremy Shockey are still out there for you.

In that particular league of mine, which has a 12-team format and is made up of office folks who don't seem to be dropping replacement tight ends after their starters' bye weeks -- what's the matter with you guys? -- I'll have to dig a bit deeper, because 18 tight ends are owned. I won't make a trade, although someone already offered one. Instead, I'll pick someone up, and here are a few of the options I'm looking at, with all but Tony Scheffler being owned in fewer than 10 percent of ESPN.com leagues.

Tony Scheffler, Broncos: Kyle Orton didn't seem to look Scheffler's way very often during the first month or so, but in the Broncos' last game (in Week 6, just before their Week 7 bye), Scheffler was a major factor against the Chargers, hauling in six passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. No Broncos wide receiver was targeted more, and Scheffler had a 52-yard catch in the game. The Broncos have underused him in 2009, but when healthy last season, no tight end delivered more yards per catch. That's enticing, even with the Ravens up next.

Fred Davis, Redskins: Cooley wasn't doing much scoring with the awful Redskins, so Davis might not have any more luck in that respect. But this guy is a huge target, and Jason Campbell found him eight times Monday. Davis is the biggest -- and probably only -- beneficiary of Cooley's injury, and the 2008 second-round pick from USC has the skills to be productive. It didn't look as if he could block -- or have any inclination to -- at all, however, which might hamper his playing time. Still, he should be an emerging weapon with the Redskins throwing way too much.

Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars: A popular fantasy pickup after Week 4, when he posted his second double-digit fantasy week, Lewis has but one fantasy point since. Up next, however, is a trip to Tennessee to face the Titans. It's hard to figure out these Jaguars, but if you watch the 6-foot-6 Lewis play, you can see how enticing he could be statistically. Last season, David Garrard barely looked his way near the goal line, but that seems to have changed.

Brandon Pettigrew, Lions: Immensely talented but raw and unproven, Pettigrew was one of my preseason sleepers, and I think he's interesting heading into games against the Rams, Vikings (one of the worst defenses against tight ends) and Browns. Lewis has a great matchup this week, too, and is closer to being fully formed. But Pettigrew has more upside.

Note that popular sleeper Jermichael Finley is already owned in this league, and I won't bother with Benjamin Watson for at least another week because the Patriots enter their bye week. You know what? I'll be fine. Get well, Chris, and update that blog with the latest.