Fantasy football enthusiasts had to be delighted with this little nugget underscoring the craze from Cowboys Coach Bill Parcells's news conference the other day:
"Nobody cares except the players themselves, the coaches and the people in the organization. Nobody cares. They forget that in two weeks. They just pick up their next fantasy player on their list."
Parcells was referring to injuries to left tackle Flozell Adams and wide receiver Patrick Crayton. For fantasy owners, he might as well have been talking about quarterbacks.
Fantasy fallout has been widespread with the recent spate of injuries at the position. Most notable were Tampa Bay's Brian Griese, St. Louis's Marc Bulger and Carolina's Jake Delhomme. Griese is out for the season with torn ligaments in his left knee, and Bulger is almost certain to miss at least the next couple games with a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder. Delhomme was knocked out momentarily after taking a wicked shot to the helmet on Sunday, but Coach John Fox has said he should be able to start after Carolina's bye this weekend.
Then there are the Lions and Browns, who are mulling quarterback changes because their current starters have been ineffective or just plain bad. The Vikings probably should be on the list too, even though Coach Mike Tice has endorsed Daunte Culpepper as the clear No. 1.
All of which leaves fantasy owners scratching their heads as to which quarterbacks to start and/or add to their rosters.
The safest play seems to be Rams backup Jamie Martin. He's an old hand who knows the complexities of the Rams' system. In 2002, Martin played five games with the Greatest Show on Turf and threw for 1,216 yards and seven touchdowns. His completion percentage was 63.6.
Martin's fantasy value is higher still so long as interim coach Joe Vitt keeps versatile tailback Steven Jackson involved. Not many teams have the luxury of a big back who is a threat to turn a short pass into a long touchdown. As an added bonus, the Rams are anticipating the return of wide receiver Isaac Bruce from a toe injury.
The most intriguing fantasy play may be Lions backup-for-now Jeff Garcia, who's probably a week or two away despite speculation he could start Sunday for struggling Joey Harrington. Garcia thrived under Coach Steve Mariucci when both were with the 49ers, and the three-time Pro Bowl selection has plenty of talent around him, including Roy Williams, Mike Williams and, in time, Charles Rogers.
Of the remaining backups who could play in the near future, the Buccaneers' Chris Simms has the most fantasy value -- though only as an emergency fill-in -- because he is a sure bet to start. In Cleveland, Coach Romeo Crennel did not rule out starting rookie Charlie Frye in an effort to stimulate a stagnant offense. Until Crennel officially proclaims Frye the starter, he is worth adding only in leagues with liberal reserve rules. In Minnesota, Tice said he would bench Culpepper for injury reasons only, meaning Brad Johnson won't be taking snaps any time soon. Johnson shouldn't occupy space on a fantasy roster either.