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Insurance policies

By GREG AUMAN
Published August 31, 2005


The best fantasy breaks come when key players fall to major injuries, thrusting unheralded players into big fantasy roles. Find those combinations of injury-prone starters and talented backups and you help anticipate the unexpected and benefit from it. If you gamble on a starter, squirrel away his backup with a late-round pick.

1. LaBrandon Toefield, RB, Jaguars: It's almost cliche to foresee injuries for Fred Taylor, but if his knees don't get healthy, Toefield could have a breakout season.

2. Billy Volek, QB, Titans: Few quarterbacks play through injuries like Steve McNair, but that's not necessarily a good reputation to pick up. Volek will be right there, waiting.

3. Derrick Blaylock, RB, Jets: Curtis Martin has been remarkably durable, but he's 32, and Blaylock fared well in Kansas City when called upon as a starter.

4. Matt Schaub, QB, Falcons: Michael Vick's running puts him at greater injury risk, and Schaub is a top-notch young backup who could put up big numbers if he were pressed into duty.

5. Chester Taylor, RB, Ravens: Jamal Lewis could get hurt, could go to jail, and Taylor averaged 4.5 yards last season and filled in with two 100-yard games in December.

6. Jim Sorgi, QB, Colts: Who? Peyton Manning hasn't missed a game in seven NFL seasons, but if he does, this second-year pro is an instant fantasy star running a prolific offense.

7. Anthony Thomas, RB, Cowboys: Julius Jones has never handled the burden like he will this fall, and if he goes down, Thomas steps in as the center of Dallas' offense.

8. Kris Wilson, TE, Chiefs: Missed last season with injury himself, but if anything happens to Tony Gonzalez, Wilson becomes a major target in Kansas City's offense.

9. Shaud Williams, RB, Bills: Buffalo has a big dropoff from Willis McGahee, who has a history of knee problems. If you take McGahee, stash the unproven 'Bama star just in case.

10. Chris Perry, RB, Bengals: Cheat sheets that have Kenny Watson as Rudi Johnson's backup are wrong; Perry, who had 18 TDs as a Michigan senior, could step in and shine if needed.