Steelers running back Najee Harris was forced to leave Week 1's game against the Bengals with a foot injury, and while we don't know the extent of the injury yet, that's a scary sight for someone who missed much of training camp with a Lisfranc injury. Harris went to the locker room for further evaluation and missed the end of the game. That's the kind of injury that could have a massive impact on Fantasy seasons already.
It's too early to say for sure, though what we can say is that Jaylen Warren suddenly looks like he might be the running back to add in Fantasy ahead of Week 2 – even ahead of the 49ers Jeff Wilson, who figures to step into a significant role in the aftermath of Elijah Mitchell's knee injury. Warren is the clear backup to Harris based on what we saw from the preseason, and while that didn't lead to much production Sunday, he was the only other running back to touch the ball for the Steelers.
The reason you'd rather have Warren over Wilson is because the 49ers also have Trey Lance and Deebo Samuel to split carries, while the Steelers tend to lean heavily on one running back no matter who is available. Between 2019 and 2020, for instance, Benny Snell had 19 or more touches in four of his five starts in place of James Conner. Warren could have a similar role moving forward.
Of course … this Steelers offense might not be very good. Mitchell Trubisky passed for just 194 yards on 38 attempts Sunday, while they rushed for 75 yards on 22 carries – including just 30 yards on 13 carries between Harris and Warren. And, with the more mobile Trubisky in at QB instead of the statuesque Ben Roethlisberger, the running backs had just three targets between them. It's just a one-game sample size, and this is a pretty talented Bengals defense, but this was not a great debut for the Steelers new QB.
Still, Warren looks like he could be set for a significant role if Harris' injury, and that would make him the clear top option on waivers this week. We'll find out more in the coming days about Harris' injury, but given the preseason injury, it's hard to be optimistic. If Harris has to miss significant time, Warren could be the kind of pick up you spend a quarter or more of your FAAB budget on, because I would project him to be an RB2 as long as Harris is out.
Here are some other players we'll potentially be looking at on the waiver wire ahead of Week 2 -- though don't forget about Jeff Wilson,if Elijah Mitchell's knee injury proves serious:
WAS Washington • #10
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Samuel is healthy and had exactly the kind of workload I was hoping to see. He lined up all over the field and had a significant role in Ron Rivera's offense, catching eight of 11 passes thrown his way for 55 yards and a touchdown, while adding 17 yards on four carries to help the Commanders backfield with the absence of Brian Robinson. He was the most targeted player for Washington, mostly on short designed throws – a good sign that they wanted to get him heavily involved. Per TruMedia, he had seven snaps out of the backfield and was the team's primary slot receiver. Samuel is an effective playmaker with the ball in his hands and after actually making it through camp healthy (unlike last season), the Commanders made a point of featuring him. There are suddenly a lot of mouths to feed in this offense, but Samuel's unique role could make him very valuable for Fantasy moving forward.
Jahan Dotson WR
WAS Washington • #1
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Samuel isn't technically a new face for the Commanders' offense, but Dotson is, and the team's first-round pick impressed in his first taste of real NFL action. Dotson played 59 of 68 snaps and ran 38 routes, second on the team to Terry McLaurin. His actual production was buoyed by a couple of touchdowns, and you can't expect that to continue, but he's clearly already earned a significant role in this offense. That makes him worth rostering just to see where this goes. He's a talented young player with a valuable role, so you want him on your bench, if not your starting lineup just yet.
Zay Jones WR
JAC Jacksonville • #7
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Christian Kirk played a big role in his Jaguars debut, as expected, but fellow free agent signee Jones was right there with him. In many ways, quite literally – Jones matched Kirk for the team lead in catches with six and in routes run with 41, though he only earned nine targets to Kirk's 12. Kirk is the clear WR1 here, but Jones was heavily featured as well, playing in nearly all two-WR sets and seeing some time out of the slot. Jones still needs to prove more to be worth adding in, say, your standard 12 team or shallower league, but this was a nice start in his new home.
Rex Burkhead RB
HOU Houston • #28
Age: 32 • Experience: 10 yrs.
So much for Dameon Pierce being the clear No. 1 RB for the Texans – at least for Week 1. Burkhead played 47 of 66 offensive snaps, including nearly all of the passing downs, and that latter was what we expected. However, he also led the team in both rush attempts (14 to 11) and yards (40 to 33). Burkhead wasn't particularly good, which is to be expected, but neither was Pierce, which probably helped keep Burkhead on the field. If Pierce starts to pop, he can probably easier force Burkhead off the field, but he didn't do that in Week 1, so I won't assume it'll happen in Week 2, either. That puts Burkhead in play as a low-end flex option, but someone who probably needs to be rostered in all formats.
Kenyan Drake RB
BAL Baltimore • #17
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Drake was the clear lead rusher for the Ravens Sunday, and while that didn't turn into big-time production, it makes him worth rostering in all formats. J.K. Dobbins could be back for Week 2, but he's unlikely to be ready for a full snap share, and Drake played 31 of 53 snaps for the Ravens Sunday and had 11 of 15 carries by Ravens running backs Sunday. If Dobbins is out next week, Drake figures to be an RB3 for Fantasy, and even if Dobbins is healthy, Drake should be enough of a factor to be an emergency starter if you need one. I'd certainly rather start him than Cam Akers, to name one.
Josh Palmer WR
LAC L.A. Chargers • #5
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Palmer didn't do much in Week 1 after Keenan Allen's hamstring injury, but he did have 17.6 PPR points in the game Allen missed last season. Wide receivers don't necessarily work the same way was running backs -- Palmer still has to get open and earn targets even if Allen is out -- but there's obviously an opportunity and a bit of a track record to believe Palmer could be useful if Allen is out.
KC Kansas City • #10
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
Clyde Edwards-Helaire stopped playing mid-way through the third quarter, and as of Sunday night, it's not clear if there was any kind of injury there. I think it was probably just because the Chiefs were blowing the Cardinals out, so don't expect Pacheco to be the lead rusher next week or anything. But still, it was good to see him get some extended run late and play well. Pacheco is an impressive size/speed specimen who really impressed in camp and he's worth stashing wherever he's available just in case he parlays this early success into a bigger role.
Greg Dortch WR
ARI Arizona • #83
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Dortch might not have even played much if not for Rondale Moore's injury, but he was Kyler Murray's go-to target in this one, and seeing as Moore suffered a hamstring injury in practice prepping for Week 1, he may not be ready for Week 2. That would put Dortch into play as a possible PPR option in deeper leagues, at least.
ATL Atlanta • #1
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
This was a good example of why I liked Mariota as a streamer to open the season. The Saints have been one of the best defenses in the league the past few seasons, and he just casually put up 19.8 Fantasy points without a passing touchdown. The Saints locked up Kyle Pitts and Mariota still played well, mostly thanks to his mobility. That's going to be a significant part of Atlanta's offense, and it's going to make him Fantasy relevant. Is Mariota going to be a top-12 QB every week? Probably not. But the Falcons will probably be chasing points pretty regularly and the matchups won't always be that tough. I think he's probably going to be a must-start guy in 2QB leagues, and a viable streamer as long as he's starting in all formats.
O.J. Howard TE
HOU Houston • #83
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
We're so desperate for tight end production that we can't ignore Howard's two-touchdown performance less than two weeks after signing with the Texans. Howard played just 12 snaps in the game, fewer than both Brevin Jordan and Pharaoh Brown, so he'll need to be a bigger part of the offense moving forward to maintain Fantasy relevance. However … he also scored two touchdowns on just six snaps, so it might be in the Texans best interest to get him more involved. I wouldn't recommend starting Howard, but if you're looking for tight end help and have the roster spot to play with, he's worth a stash.