The Loop Fantasy Football Report Week 9: Cousins hard to replace for Vikings, fantasy mavens

Replacing a productive quarterback with a torn Achilles’ tendon can be tough for a professional football team like, say, your Minnesota Vikings.

But losing someone like Kirk Cousins at the midway point of the fantasy football season can be equally crushing.

The Vikings are turning to rookie Jaren Hall and recently acquired journeyman Josh Dobbs in the hopes of salvaging their so-far 4-4 campaign. For fantasy mavens needing a sudden replacement for No. 8, the prospects aren’t much rosier.

The QB quarterback shortage has never been more acute than this week, thanks to starters who are injured (Justin Fields, Matthew Stafford, Deshaun Watson) and standouts who are on bye (Trevor Lawrence, Jared Goff, Russell Wilson, Brock Purdy).

Where can you turn? Here are five guys you might still be able to claim on waivers:

Sam Howell (Commanders) – If you’re lucky, this under-the-radar guy is still available. But his 2,146 passing yards and 13 TD passes in the first eight games probably have landed him on one of your foes’ rosters. But if he’s not actually starting in your league, this would be a good time to prepare a compelling trade offer.

Will Levis (Titans) – The rookie from Kentucky had a breakout debut last week with four touchdown passes, three to a revived DeAndre Hopkins. Levis has overcome his disappointment about being drafted in the second round. He’s a pretty good starting option Thursday night in Pittsburgh.

Bryce Young (Panthers) – The No. 1 draft pick has underwhelmed, but he did throw for 235 yards and a touchdown as Carolina got its first victory last week. He has seven TD passes this season and has built up a strong connection with former Vikings WR Adam Thielen. This week’s foe, the Colts, does not present an impregnable defense.

Mac Jones (Patriots) – Tom Brady’s hard-luck successor has nine TD passes this season and is averaging about 200 yards per game. While Bill Belichick might be thinking about bagging the season and gaining a better draft pick, Jones this week faces a mediocre Washington defense that just traded its two best pass rushers.

Zach Wilson (Jets) – Aaron Rodgers’ understudy has managed to keep his head above water, averaging about 220 yards per game with three touchdown passes over the past four weeks. And this week he’s facing a Chargers defense that is not nearly as strong as it looked last Sunday night against Chicago.

Matchup game

We’re counting on Tennessee’s passing revival last week leading to a big day for RB Derrick Henry tomorrow night against the Steelers, who are bottom five in the league against the run. … . .. Miami’s Raheem Mostert could stand out against a Chiefs defense that gave up 153 rushing yards in Denver. … Regardless of who the QB is, Cleveland WR Amari Cooper will stay hot against Arizona. … Baltimore RB Gus Edwards is getting all the goal-line glory for the Ravens and is a good bet to hit paydirt vs. Seattle. … Receivers we like this week include the Chargers’ Quentin Johnston vs. the Jets and Houston’s Nico Collins and Tank Dell against Tampa Bay. … As for quarterbacks, New Orleans’ Derek Carr (vs. Colts) and Gardner Minshew (vs. Carolina) are great starting options this week.

Sitting stars

The Vikings’ Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson are both must starts usually, unless they’re depending on a rookie QB like Jaren Hall against Atlanta. … Seattle’s Kenneth Walker won’t be a great start against Baltimore, especially with Zach Charbonnet getting more work. … Buffalo RB James Cook will be tested by an improved Cincinnati run defense. … Chicago’s offense is pretty stagnant, as will RB D’Onta Foreman be against the Saints. … Dallas’ CeeDee Lamb will be cooled down a bit by Philly’s pass defense, though he’s still a must-start. … That’s not necessarily true for Rams WRs Cooper Kupp or Puka Nacua if the QB is Brett Rypien and not Matthew Sfafford. … And while Arizona tight end Trey McBride is a very popular waivers pick according to the fantasy experts, that was before his QB (Josh Dobbs) was traded to Minnesota. McBride doesn’t look as promising with a QB named Clayton Tune.

Injury watch

Outside of all the ailing quarterbacks, the most noteworthy wounded warriors are San Fran WR Deebo Samuel and Giants tight end Darren Waller. Other questionable players include four notable receivers: the Rams’ Puka Nacua, the Falcons’ Drake London, Washington’s Curtis Samuel and Houston’s Robert Woods.

The deepest sleeper

New England’s new No.1 receiver might be a rookie from Liberty University named Demario Douglas. The Patriots’ top two pass catchers were knocked out in Miani: Kendrick Bourne (season-ending knee injury) and Devante Parker (concussion). Douglas had a team-high five receptions in the loss to the Dolphins and has 19 catches for 222 yards on the season. With unimpressive defenses on the slate the next three weeks (Commanders, Colts, Giants), Douglas has a lot of near-term upside.

The Thursday pick

Titans at Steelers (-3½):
Pick: Titans by 3

Breaking news

We’ll be updating our column, based on the latest injuries and innuendo, right up until Sunday’s kickoff. Go to

You can hear Kevin Cusick on Wednesdays on Bob Sansevere’s “BS Show” podcast on iTunes. You can follow Kevin on Twitter — @theloopnow. He can be reached at

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