Fantasy Football: Playing the Waiver Wire for Week 3
Injuries hit quarterback and running back hard in Week 2, but there are options out there to help you heading into Week 3.
Quarterback was thought to be one of the deepest positions for Fantasy owners this season, but injuries are testing that depth after just two weeks. And along with some key running back injuries, this could be a busy week on the waiver wire.
Three starting Fantasy quarterbacks and one key backup are dealing with ailments heading into Week 3 with Tony Romo (clavicle), Matthew Stafford (chest), Drew Brees (shoulder) and Jay Cutler (hamstring) all banged up. Romo is expected to miss eight weeks, and Cutler could be out for two weeks. Stafford will likely play in Week 3, but Brees' status remains up in the air.
At running back, Eddie Lacy (ankle), Carlos Hyde (thigh/concussion), Lamar Miller (ankle) and Tevin Coleman (ribs) were all injured in Week 2. Coleman will miss Week 3, and Lacy, Hyde and Miller could also sit as well.
Receiver and tight end were a little luckier on the injury front, although Monday night saw Eric Decker (knee) and Dwayne Allen (ankle) get hurt. And when you add in the injuries from Week 1 with Dez Bryant (foot), Andre Ellington (knee) and Delanie Walker (hand), we're starting to lose a lot of star power.
We also have some quality players available on the waiver wire, and every Fantasy owner looking for a quarterback -- pay attention those of you with the disappointing Sam Bradford -- should flock to Andy Dalton. A host of running backs should be helpful with James Starks (if Lacy is out), Dion Lewis, Matt Jones, David Johnson and Devonta Freeman.
Donte Moncrief showed Monday night he should have been added last week as we suggested, but don't make that same mistake twice if he's still available. And Jordan Reed and Eric Ebron look like potential starters in all formats at tight end after two solid weeks of production.
All is not lost if you started 0-2, even if you're missing some starters on your Fantasy team due to injury. Here's hoping the waiver wire will be kind to you this week and provide some relief to your roster.
Injuries: Tony Romo (clavicle), Jay Cutler (hamstring), Matthew Stafford (chest) and Drew Brees (shoulder)
Priority list (add them in this order): Andy Dalton (57 percent ownership), Marcus Mariota (68 percent), Teddy Bridgewater (68 percent), Derek Carr (27 percent), Jameis Winston (41 percent), Tyrod Taylor (34 percent) and Blake Bortles (21 percent)
Potential drop candidates: Tony Romo (100 percent) and Jay Cutler (69 percent)
Why Dalton is the best: Dalton was a solid Fantasy quarterback two years ago when he had a full complement of weapons, and he has guys making plays for him again in 2015. He's off to a great start with at least 22 Fantasy points in his first two games and has five touchdowns and no interceptions over that span. He plays at Baltimore in Week 3, and the Ravens just got embarrassed by Carr on the road. Dalton doesn't have a great history against Baltimore, but without Terrell Suggs (Achilles) this defense might not be the same. He's a great long-term solution to anyone looking for a quarterback.
Of note: Two quarterbacks owners might find available in 10-team leagues include Carson Palmer (84 percent) and Colin Kaepernick (70 percent). I would take Palmer over Dalton, but Kaepernick should only be added after Mariota. I think you'll see a lot of games like Week 2 at Pittsburgh where Kaepernick is chasing points, and he should have the opportunity to post some decent stat lines. ... In deeper leagues, Fantasy owners can look at Brandon Weeden (1 percent), who will replace Romo. He doesn't have a great receiving corps with Bryant out, but he did connect with Terrance Williams for a touchdown against the Eagles in Week 2. ... Mariota struggled in Week 2 at Cleveland, but he still scored 19 Fantasy points. He could face a weak secondary in Week 3 against the Colts, especially if Vontae Davis (concussion) is out. ... Bridgewater rebounded from a poor Week 1 outing at San Francisco with 20 Fantasy points against Detroit in Week 2. He could be in that range again in Week 3 against the Chargers at home, and it would be nice to see his upside once his receivers get going with Charles Johnson and Mike Wallace so far limited to minimal production. ... Carr showed his hand injury from Week 1 was just fine in Week 2 against Baltimore with 32 Fantasy points, and the Raiders could find themselves in plenty of shootouts moving forward with a porous defense. ... The same could be said for Winston, who had the first 20-point Fantasy game of his young career. We'd love to see what Winston would look like with Mike Evans involved since he doesn't have a catch yet in 2015. ... Taylor was sloppy in Week 2 against the Patriots with three interceptions, but he also had four total touchdowns (one rushing) and showed his playmaking ability. His best games will likely come when Buffalo is chasing points and the run game fails, which could happen this week at Miami. ... Bortles took advantage of the Dolphins defense for 24 Fantasy points, and he faces the Patriots in Week 3 on the road. It will be hard to trust him, but New England has allowed both quarterbacks it's faced this season to score at least 20 Fantasy points with Ben Roethlisberger and Taylor.
Injuries: Eddie Lacy (ankle), Carlos Hyde (thigh/concussion) and Tevin Coleman (ribs)
Priority list (add them in this order): James Starks (29 percent ownership), Dion Lewis (42 percent), Matt Jones (51 percent), David Johnson (52 ownership), Devonta Freeman (69 percent), Lorenzo Taliaferro (11 percent), Damien Williams (9 percent), Reggie Bush (58 percent), Dexter McCluster (3 percent) and Karlos Williams (45 percent)
Potential drop candidates: Joique Bell (96 percent)*, Alfred Blue (78 percent), Charles Sims (59 percent) and Benny Cunningham (49 percent) -- * indicates drop in 10-team leagues only
Why Starks is the best: This is a tricky one because Lacy has not been ruled out yet for Week 3 against Kansas City. You'll have to judge if you want to add a potential one-week stud (Starks had 106 total yards vs. Seattle in Week 2 after Lacy got hurt) or someone with long-term potential like Lewis or Jones. It will likely be roster specific, but if you need someone to help you this week only then put in a claim for Starks first.
Of note: You can value Jones ahead of Lewis if you want after he was dominant against the Rams in Week 2 with 19 carries for 123 yards and two touchdowns and three catches for 23 yards. He outplayed Alfred Morris, but I still expect Jones will need a Morris injury to take command of this backfield. As it stands now, however, he will definitely get work and has a plus matchup in Week 3 at the Giants on Thursday. ... As for Lewis, he had over 120 total yards for the second week in a row, and LeGarrette Blount barely saw the field at Buffalo. Lewis is definitely the guy on passing downs, and we'll see what happens once New England commits to the run, which could happen this week against Jacksonville. Still, he has a defined role, and if the Patriots continue to put on this aerial assault we've seen through two weeks then Lewis should be a stud. ... As long as Ellington remains out we'll continue to see the Cardinals have Chris Johnson and David Johnson share playing time, but it was evident David Johnson needs more work. He had five carries for 42 yards and a touchdown at Chicago, and he also returned a kickoff for a score. Chris Johnson, meanwhile, had 20 carries for 72 yards and isn't as electric as his rookie teammate. ... Freeman will see a lot of work with Coleman out, and he had 12 carries for 25 yards and a touchdown and four catches for 34 yards on eight targets in Week 2 at the Giants. He's a great flex option in all leagues in Week 3 at Dallas. ... Taliaferro could start taking work away from Justin Forsett, and he scored in Week 2 at Oakland. He's worth stashing in deeper leagues. ... You're never going to trust anyone in the Titans backfield with Bishop Sankey, Terrance West and McCluster, but the latter could be a good add in deep PPR leagues. He had 10 carries for 98 yards in Week 2 at Cleveland and four catches for 26 yards on four targets. When Tennessee is chasing points, which could be often, McCluster will get plenty of work. ... Karlos Williams scored for the second week in a row, but he's just a handcuff for LeSean McCoy. And Damien Williams and Reggie Bush are just handcuff options for Miller and Hyde in case they are out in Week 3. ... In 10-team leagues, owners might find Shane Vereen (78 percent) and Danny Woodhead (73 percent) on waivers. I would take Woodhead over everyone on this list aside from Starks if Lacy is out, and Vereen is only worth adding in PPR leagues.
Injuries: Eric Decker (knee)
Priority list (add them in this order): Donte Moncrief (63 percent ownership), Steve Johnson (69 percent), Doug Baldwin (69 percent), Michael Crabtree (38 percent), Marvin Jones (24 percent), Torrey Smith (56 percent), Travis Benjamin (10 percent), Leonard Hankerson (9 percent), DeVante Parker (44 percent), Ted Ginn (4 percent) and Rishard Matthews (1 percent)
Potential drop candidates: Michael Floyd (85 percent), Marques Colston (85 percent), Percy Harvin (83 percent), Charles Johnson (75 percent)* and Markus Wheaton (45 percent) -- * indicates drop in 10-team leagues only
Why Moncrief is the best: I thought Moncrief would be the best receiver for the Colts on Monday night with T.Y. Hilton dealing with a knee bruise and Andre Johnson coming off a bad Week 1, and he exceeded my expectations with seven catches for 122 yards and a touchdown on a team-high eight targets. He was the lone bright spot for the Colts, and he looks like a potential starter for all Fantasy owners for the rest of the year. Buy in if you still can.
Of note: Some Fantasy owners gave up on Allen Robinson (77 percent) after a poor Week 1, and he should be owned in all leagues after his dominant Week 2 outing against Miami. And Pierre Garcon (76 percent) should continue to benefit with DeSean Jackson (hamstring) out for owners who can still add him in 10-team leagues. ... Steve Johnson will continue to be a significant contributor for the Chargers, and he's scored in consecutive games with 12 targets over that span. ... Baldwin showed he can still be a go-to guy for Russell Wilson with seven catches for 92 yards and a touchdown on eight targets against the Packers. He can be a No. 3 receiver in the right matchup, including Week 3 at home against the Bears. ... Crabtree turned back the clock to 2012 with his performance against the Ravens with nine catches for 111 yards and a touchdown on 16 targets. Like we said about Carr, Oakland's defense will likely put the offense in a lot of passing situations, and it's clear Crabtree still has something left to offer. ... Torrey Smith is basically in the same situation as Crabtree, and he benefitted with the 49ers playing from behind with six catches for 120 yards and a touchdown on seven targets at Pittsburgh. ... Jones is the third target at best for the Bengals behind A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, but he's two years removed from a 10-touchdown season and is worth looking at in deeper leagues. ... I'm not keen on boom-or-bust receivers like Benjamin or Ginn, but they play for offenses in Cleveland and Carolina, respectively, that need help at receiver. They are better options in daily league tournaments than seasonal formats. ... Matthews has quietly put together two solid stat lines for the Dolphins as the No. 2 receiver behind Jarvis Landry with at least nine Fantasy points in each of the first two games. We hope Parker eventually takes on a bigger role, which is why he's listed here as a stash candidate, but Matthews can definitely help owners in all leagues right now as one of Ryan Tannehill's go-to options.
Injuries: Dwayne Allen (ankle)
Priority list (add them in this order): Jordan Reed (56 percent ownership), Eric Ebron (24 percent) and Crockett Gillmore (3 percent)
Potential drop candidates: Julius Thomas (78 percent), Zach Ertz (68 percent) and Owen Daniels (52 percent)
Why Reed is the best: Reed is always going to be a health risk based on how his career has gone so far, and he battled a quad injury heading into Week 2. But so far he's performed like a No. 1 Fantasy tight end through two weeks with 13 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown on 17 targets. He'll continue to benefit with Jackson out, but it's clear he has a solid rapport with Kirk Cousins. I like his matchup for Week 3 at the Giants, and he will be a Top 10 tight end this season if he can play 16 games.
Of note: Players like Reed and Ebron are making tight end deeper than it's been in years, especially if they can sustain this level of play. For Reed, it's health, but Ebron could be ready to break out in his sophomore campaign. He was solid for the second week in a row with five catches for 43 yards and a touchdown at Minnesota on 10 targets, and he now has nine catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns on 15 targets for the season. He has a tremendously difficult matchup in Week 3 against Denver, but it's hard not to get excited about Ebron based on his hot start. ... Gillmore was someone my colleague Dave Richard touted heading into the season, and he liked him in Week 2 at Oakland. Gillmore responded with five catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns on six targets. He has a tough matchup in Week 3 against the Bengals, but Gillmore will be a tight end to monitor all season and could definitely be a streaming option. Remember, Joe Flacco and offensive coordinator Marc Trestman have a good history using tight ends.
Patriots (vs. JAC): 52 percent
Browns (vs. OAK): 19 percent
Vikings (vs. SD): 26 percent
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