Let's say you run a make-believe football team, call them, oh, I don't know, the North Dallas Bulls. In the course of 48 hours you lose your star quarterback, a standout running back, a talented-but-troubled cornerback and your punter, not to mention a crippling game in overtime. What's the next play?
Why, you go out and get a wide receiver, podner!
Okay, maybe that's not how Peter Gent would have written it, but that's how Jerry Jones and the real-life Bulls are playing it. The Cowboys decided to throw us a bone during the normally-boring trade deadline this year and make a notable deal, acquiring Roy Williams from the Lions Tuesday in exchange for a handful of draft picks.
Here's a team-by-team look at how it breaks down (and after that, we'll collect the rest of the day's news):
Cowboys: Williams will have to accept being the No. 2 guy again, something he didn't always like in Detroit with Calvin Johnson emerging, but this is clearly a step forward for him overall. He'll see a lot less double-coverage here, and a month down the line Tony Romo should be back. The excitement of playing on a winner can't be understated, either. If you owned Williams, enjoy the bailout - he's gone from a sinking ship to a vessel that's merely taken on a lot of water in recent days. There's still a lot to like about the Dallas offense, long-term.
Patrick Crayton and Miles Austin drop a spot on the depth chart to their more-reasonable roles, as No. 3 and No. 4 receivers, respectively. It's not a massive fantasy drop for Crayton because his targets tend to come and go, but Austin becomes drop-fodder in anything short of a very deep league.
Lions: Cheer up, Detroit, the Red Wings and Pistons are still really good. Football? It's a mess, as we all can see. Jon Kitna went on injured reserve Tuesday and while he's no great shakes, the other quarterbacks here are completely unproven. Get ready for the Dan Orlovsky and Drew Stanton show, Motor City, a Growing Pains remake.
Poor Calvin Johnson is left to fend for himself on the outside; opponents will now mark him with a corner, two safeties, a short fielder and the occasional cheerleader on any passing down. It's a chicken-egg debate as far as opportunity versus protection goes; the Lions have no choice but to feed Calvin the ball every week, but he'll have a much harder time getting open. I'd give him the benefit of the doubt and a slight bump forward if the Lions had legitimate play at the QB spot, but no one really knows what we'll see from Orlovsky and/or Stanton as they get their feet wet in the NFL. Bottom line on Megatron, his stock has dropped notably in recent weeks, no real fault of his own.
With the big piece out of the way, let's quickly hit the other items of the day:
• The Chiefs weren't able to complete a Tony Gonzalez swap, so we can look forward to Tony G. struggling along with the rest of the Kansas City passing game. Brodie Croyle is supposed to be back in the saddle this week, which is a middle step back; while Damon Huard is no savior at quarterback, he's the most experienced guy this team has.
• Shaun Alexander finally has employment, as the Redskins inked him to a deal as the temporary backup to Clinton Portis (Ladell Betts has a knee injury). Jim Zorn was up close and personal to the Alexander leakage in Seattle, so he should have realistic expectations on what Alexander has left. Maybe I'd handcuff Portis to Alexander in a deeper group, or drop Betts, but otherwise this news doesn't cause a ripple in my fantasy world. If Portis were to get hurt tomorrow, maybe Alexander can be a Top 25 or 30 back, but my expectations are very low here.
• Pacman Jones was suspended indefinitely by
sheriff commissioner Roger Goodell Tuesday, and it will be a minimum of four games before the league re-evaluates. With Terence Newman (hernia) also out at least a month, the Pokes are particularly vulnerable in the secondary, albeit the upcoming schedule may not reflect that (St. Louis and Tampa Bay are next up). I know you're all looking for some Pacman closure in the Arcade, but this is the best I could do.
• Quick Hits: Eli Manning suffered a chest injury Monday night; it's too early to get concerned but we'll see what we learn the next few days . . . LaDainian Tomlinson is whistling a happy tune over the condition of his toe. "(Sunday) was the best my toe had felt since I hurt it," Tomlinson told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I've said all along it's getting better. The great thing about it is it never was getting worse." . . . Willie Parker (knee) says he'll go this week, but we can already rule out Matt Hasselbeck (knee) and Carson Palmer (elbow).