Your fantasy league is entering its home stretch, and with any luck you made the playoffs. Unfortunately, just as bye weeks ended, a major blight hit starting quarterbacks across the league. Ben Roethlisberger suffered a life-threatening ribs injury, Michael Vick and Jay Cutler sustained concussions and Alex Smith was benched for no fault of his own.
Cutler started Week 12, and Roethlisberger may return this week to play the Baltimore Ravens. Vick and Smith may not play another snap this season, however, leaving fantasy owners scrambling during what should be a quiet time for waiver-wire activity.
Luckily, plenty of under-the-radar gems are still available in your league, whether you're desperate due to injuries or ineffectiveness at the position. As usual, the following five QBs, ranked from worst to first, are owned in 60 percent or less of Yahoo! leagues.
5. Ryan Fitzpatrick -- Own percent: 45% Season: 219-for-356 passing, 2,359 yards, 18 TDs, 11 INTs
Fitzpatrick has cooled off a lot since a hot start to the season. After throwing 12 touchdown passes over his first four games, he has been held without a touchdown pass in four of his last eight games played. The schedule is nice through Week 16, with Jacksonville, St. Louis, Seattle (potentially without its starting corners) and Miami on deck. Unfortunately, three of those games are in Buffalo where bad weather could be a factor. Fitzpatrick is a risky starting option, but if you're desperate his ceiling is potentially very high.
4. Russell Wilson -- Own percent: 21% Season: 178-for-280 passing, 2,051 yards, 17 TDs, 8 INTs
Wilson has put up steady fantasy starter-type numbers in recent weeks, throwing at least two touchdown passes in each of his last four outings with just one interception over that span. What's even better is that he is almost certainly available in your fantasy league. Unfortunately, he faces an opportunistic Chicago Bears defense this week. Playing home against Arizona, at Buffalo and home again against San Francisco through Week 16 doesn't make him a great option for your playoff run, either. It's too bad the schedule stinks, because he really is playing some solid football.
3. Sam Bradford -- Own percent: 22% Season: 210-for-349 passing, 2,447, 14 TDs, 9 INTs
Bradford had thrown two touchdown passes or more in a game just twice this season before reeling off three straight games with a pair of TDs heading into Week 13. He has thrown just two interceptions over that span, proving to be a steady-plus fantasy option if you're in need of a stopgap. Next week's game is against the San Francisco 49ers, which is not a good matchup. He plays Buffalo, Minnesota and Tampa Bay, which is a decent enough way to close out Weeks 14, 15 and 16, however. If you're peeking ahead of Week 13, take a long look at Bradford.
2. Jay Cutler -- Own percent: 53% Season: 174-for-286 passing, 2,002 yards, 13 TDs, 11 INTs
Cutler could be bumped down this list if Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner win their appeals and are able to play Sunday against the Bears. As things stand, the Seahawks will be without their top two cornerbacks when they head to Chicago in Week 13, giving Cutler an unexpectedly good matchup. The Bears' schedule through Week 16 is "eh." They travel to Minnesota, host Green Bay, then travel again to Arizona. If you need someone for this week, however, Cutler could be surprisingly good. Keep a sharp eye on Sherman and Browner, however.
1. Colin Kaepernick -- Own percent: 36% Season: 48-for-74 passing, 680 yards, 7 TDs (4 rushing), 1 INT
Kaepernick, with all of two starts, also has 214 yards rushing on the season. Against the Bears two weeks ago and the New Orleans Saints last week, he proved to be a cool customer running the 49ers' offense as a passer and making smart decisions in a read-option rushing attack. With rushing touchdowns worth a couple more points more than passing touchdowns in lots of fantasy leagues, Kaepernick is must-pickup off waivers, if only to keep him out of the hands of a competitor. That said, he is a solid fantasy starter in standard fantasy leagues as well, with the Rams, Dolphins, Patriots and Seahawks on deck.