As you rigorously prepare and research leading into each week of DFS, injuries are always going to change the landscape. “Next Man Up” is a series that examines players who are now being propelled into the starting role (thus creating a larger opportunity for that player), whether it be via injury, or simply a change to the depth chart.

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Wes Welker — WR, St. Louis Rams

The one-time fantasy stud has been sitting on his couch, waiting for his phone to ring all season. Now Wes Welker is getting another chance.

When the Rams got word that their slot receiver, Stedman Bailey, was suspended by the NFL for four games beginning this week, they jumped into action. They tried out a few different receivers, but in the end, St. Louis decided Welker would be the best fit.

Welker missed five games during his two-year stint in Denver, all due to concussions. There’s clearly a risk here, not just for the Rams, but a long-term risk to Welker’s health if he were to suffer another concussion.

Hopefully Welker can stay healthy, and if he does, he doesn’t have very big shoes to fill. Bailey has only tallied 12 catches for 182 yards and one touchdown in the first half of the season — realistic numbers for Welker to live up to, but nothing that’s going to help you win fantasy football matchups.

Since his career year in 2011 (122 receptions/1,569 yards/9 TD), Welker has been steadily on the decline. He bottomed out last season with the Broncos, having his worst season since 2005 — a mere 49 catches for 464 yards and a pair of scores.

Wes Welker absolutely has the ability to replace Bailey. In fact, if he stays healthy, he should be better than Bailey. But at this stage of his career, that’s a big “if.”

Welker simply can’t take another knockout blow, so for his wellbeing, let’s hope he doesn’t. With all these uncertainties, it’s nearly impossible to recommend Welker as a fantasy option this season.

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