When injuries happen to Fantasy football superstars, there usually isn't a silver lining to be found on the waiver wire. Sure, sometimes, you'll get a Mike Davis showing out for a few weeks in Christian McCaffrey's absence -- a situation we may see again in Week 10 with McCaffrey suffering a shoulder injury Sunday -- but usually you get what we've seen in the Giants backfield since Saquon Barkley's injury. Usually, that's just a net loss for the Fantasy football world; you lose a difference maker and he gets replaced with an inferior player.
Injuries to lesser players don't operate by the same math. Sometimes, a backup gets an opportunity and actually outplays the starter -- think of the situations we've seen in Miami, New England, Baltimore and with the Rams this season. And there could be three more coming out of Week 9, or at least three more spots where the backup will have a chance to bring a spark
The Texans lost David Johnson to a concussion early Sunday, while David Montgomery left the Bears game late with a concussion of his own. Later, Justin Jackson managed to make it through one play for the Chargers before leaving with a knee injury. All three injuries could open up short-term opportunities Fantasy players might be interested in for Week 10.
- The most intriguing backup is obviously Duke Johnson, who rushed for 41 yards and a touchdown while adding four catches for 32 yards with David Johnson out. Duke has been around for a while, usually working as a change-of-pace or third-down back, but he has averaged 11.8 PPR points per game in five career games where he's had at least 10 carries, and if David Johnson were unable to play in Week 10 against the Browns, Duke would be a very interesting Fantasy starter.
- The potential replacements for Montgomery and Jackson are a bit less interesting. Joshua Kelley would figure to see a bigger role if Jackson is out for the Chargers against the Dolphins, but given how he's run the ball this season, he probably wouldn't be the lead back. Sunday, that was Kalen Ballage, who stepped up to lead the team with 69 yards on 15 carries, with a touchdown. Ballage is a journeyman for a reason -- he's never impressed when given the opportunity -- but if he's getting double-digit carries and goal-line work in the Chargers offense, he could be a viable Fantasy starter.
- In Chicago, Ryan Nall would likely be the beneficiary of Montgomery's absence, if it comes to that. He replaced Montgomery on that late drive and scored on a pass from Nick Foles from 6 yards out. He played the final three drives with the Bears trying to make up ground through the air, catching four passes for 35 yards and that score, and would likely have received carries ahead of Cordarrelle Patterson if the situation had called for it. The matchup in Week 10 against the Vikings isn't great, but it isn't bad, either, so Nall could certainly be worth starting.
None of those players necessarily profiles as a must-start player even if they get a healthy workload, but all could be useful in Week 10. There is one other back who didn't play Sunday who might have more upside than any of them, however:
- DeAndre Washington didn't play Sunday, but he bears mentioning, because Myles Gaskin (knee, IR) and Matt Breida (hamstring) didn't play either. Jordan Howard got the start but was ineffective as usual, with undrafted rookie Salvon Ahmed leading the team with 38 yards. It could be Ahmed who continues to see those carries moving forward, but I'd bet on Washington, who was acquired at the deadline from the Chiefs. He was ineligible to play in Week 9 due to the COVID-19 protocols, but he could be Miami's primary running back as soon as Week 10 against the Chargers. Don't forget, Washington averaged 20.5 PPR points in three starts for Josh Jacobs last season.
Here's who else we'll be looking at for Week 10 and beyond:
Early Waiver Targets
MIA Miami • #1
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Now THAT was more like it. We barely got a sense of what Tagovailoa is capable of in his first start, but he proved himself ready Sunday. Tagovailoa started a bit slow -- and actually had what would have been a pretty inexcusable interception overturned by replay -- but ended up completing 20 of 28 passes while leading the Dolphins to a come-from-behind win on the road against a good team. The 35 rushing yards are a nice bonus and something he'll give you from time to time, but it's the poise and accuracy as a passer -- both of which were on full display in a brilliant 10-play drive to tie the game in the fourth -- that really stand out. With the Chargers on the schedule in Week 10, Tagovailoa figures to be a pretty good streaming option. And consecutive games against the Jets and Bengals in Weeks 11 and 12 make him worth hanging on to.
CAR Carolina • #10
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
I recommended Samuel as a possible waiver-wire add in my recap of the Panthers Week 8 game, but I said, "His role is still just a bit too small to be something you can rely on every week." He showed us in Week 9 what he's capable of if he does get a larger role. Samuel caught all nine passes thrown his way for 105 yards and a touchdown and added three rushes for 13 yards. The touchdown was on a pop pass, and that and the three carries highlight why he's such an intriguing talent -- the Panthers want to get the ball in his hands in as many ways as possible. I'm not saying Samuel is suddenly the No. 2 wideout here ahead of D.J. Moore, but if he gets three or so carries and five to seven targets every week, there's a lot to like about his profile for Fantasy.
K.J. Hamler WR
DEN Denver • #13
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
The Broncos have youth all over the offense, and the young guys are starting to figure things out. Jerry Jeudy had the best game of his career Sunday against the Falcons, and so did fellow wideout KJ Hamler. Hamler had career highs across the board, catching six passes for 75 yards on 10 targets while adding a 15-yard rush. The Broncos love Hamler, but his rookie season was derailed by a hamstring injury, hence the delayed breakout potential. He's healthy now and he gives the Broncos a weapon they can get creative with, so hopefully this is just the start of a big second half.
Austin Mack WR
NYG N.Y. Giants • #81
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
With Golden Tate held out of Week 9 after complaining about his usage, there was an opportunity available, and the rookie took advantage of it. Mack, who had just one catch in three games entering Week 9, caught four of the five balls thrown his way for a team-high 72 yards, including a 50-yard catch and a short touchdown that was overturned by replay. Besides Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, Mack was the only player on the Giants to have more than two targets, and while I'm not expecting Mack to overtake Darius Slayton in the hierarchy moving forward, this was a good performance and a good example of taking advantage of the opportunity in front of you.
WAS Washington • #41
Age: 27 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Alex Smith has now attempted 49 passes in relief of Kyle Allen over the course of two games, and J.D. McKissic has been the target on 18 of them, an absurd 36.7% rate. That won't keep up, and it's partially impacted by the fact that Washington has been chasing points in both of Smith's appearances. However, with Allen likely done for the season with an ankle injury, you simply can't ignore how much McKissic has been featured by Smith. Plus, Smith targeted Chris Thompson 32 times in the five games they played together in 2018 as well. Smith's reputation as a check-down artist might overstate the case a bit, but it isn't unearned, and McKissic figures to be a beneficiary, even if we'd rather see every single one of those touches going Antonio Gibson's way.
DET Detroit • #80
Age: 35 • Experience: 12 yrs.
With Kenny Golladay sidelined by a hip/groin injury, it wasn't Marvin Jones who stepped up as the Lions top target; it was Amendola. Amendola earned 10 targets and turned them into seven catches for 77 yards, all of which led the team. Amendola did most of his work with Matthew Stafford, too, so that bodes well heading into Week 10. Amendola doesn't have huge upside,but he can be Fantasy relevant if he gets the targets.