Sunday afternoon of Week 1 reminded us that speed is king. Sammy Watkins, DeSean Jackson, Marquise Brown (go get him!), John Brown, D.J. Chark and John Ross all came through with long scores. Multiple scores in some cases. In an era where quarterbacks' arms are stronger and players are speedier, it goes without saying that wheels are where teams think they can win.
That's what makes Tyreek Hill's shoulder injury even harder to take. There wasn't a person in any Fantasy league who didn't know that Hill's speed made him such a great player. When he walked off the field wincing in pain in the first half at Jacksonville on Sunday, you knew it wouldn't be good.
Following the game, Hill was taken to the hospital. Chiefs head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder released the following statement:
Dr. Brandon Bowers, a medical professional with our sister site SportsLine.com, believes the issue could involve a dislocation near Hill's lungs, which would most certainly require immediate medical attention. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport mentioned it's similar to the one Packers receiver Jake Kumerow had last season and it cost him two months. ESPN's Adam Schefter had a more optimistic report suggesting Hill will miss just a few weeks after not having any surgery.
So how will one of the league's most explosive offenses replace one of the league's fastest receivers? If Week 1 was any indication, Watkins will lead the way. He had 11 targets, catching nine of them for a career-best 198 yards and three touchdowns. Pretty obvious he'll pick up a bunch of the slack, along with Travis Kelce, but look for Demarcus Robinson and rookie Mecole Hardman to contribute more.
Robinson already had a role as the Chiefs' third receiver, playing nine snaps before Hill's injury and another 37 after according to Pro Football Focus. Hardman, meanwhile, saw 51 snaps following Hill's absence and basically acted as the replacement. You wouldn't know it by their stats — both had zero yards and only Robinson had a catch on two targets. But Hardman has very good speed and can be used similarly to Hill. It wouldn't be surprising in the least to see him get more opportunities next week against the Raiders.
That doesn't make Hardman the must-get waiver-wire add if you'll be without Hill, though. He's not even the must-get waiver-wire add no matter who you have. Here's who Fantasy managers will have eyes on when waivers open this week.
Early Waiver Targets
BAL Baltimore • #5
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Look, if Lamar Jackson is going to get clean pockets to throw from every week, both he and Brown will be Fantasy must-starts. That's not going to happen of course, but Brown's speed is what makes him such a unique player. Week 1 proved that all he needs is a little room and a well-enough thrown football to be extremely dangerous, and that's a formula that can happen every week, regardless of the opponent. I just hope he can play more than just a dozen or so snaps -- the guy barely played in Week 1! Bottom line: He needs to be rostered, and at least for Week 2, considered for a starting spot.
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #82
Age: 27 • Experience: 7 yrs.
You can't ignore 17 targets, 14 catches and 99 yards. It's very clear that the Jets (62 plays) will ask a lot of Sam Darnold and Crowder will draw a lot of light coverage in the slot. He should continue to be a key part of the offense against the Browns and is a quality flex consideration in full PPR leagues.
Ronald Jones RB
TB Tampa Bay • #27
Age: 23 • Experience: 4 yrs.
For the first time in his career, Jones ran with authority and established himself as the best running back in Tampa Bay. After a crummy first half (7 yards on four carries), he erupted for 66 yards on nine carries in the second half. Can he play well consistently? Can a run game be good on an offense with a quarterback who fluctuates as wildly as Jameis Winston? It might take a couple of weeks to get answers to those questions but until then he belongs on rosters.
TB Tampa Bay • #25
Age: 29 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Bengals running back Joe Mixon left the team's game at Seattle with an ankle injury in the first half and did not return. If he's out, Bernard would settle in as the lead back. In two games as the starter last year he had at least 14 non-PPR points and 19 PPR points per game and was nearly as good in two games in 2017 without Mixon.
More names to know
- Chris Thompson (available in 54% of CBS Sports leagues): As long as the Redskins figure to play from behind, Thompson should see considerable targets. Such was the case against the Eagles when he reeled in 7 of 10 targets for 68 yards. Thompson has dealt with injuries throughout his career, but he's healthy now and offers some moderate value in PPR leagues.
- Malcolm Brown (available in 84% of CBS Sports leagues): Todd Gurley ended Week 1 with 101 total yards, but for a while there it seemed like Brown wasn't just a part-timer, but the lead back. That changed by the fourth quarter when Gurley ran for 64 yards, but it's pretty clear that Brown is definitely the handcuff for Gurley; not so much Darrell Henderson.
- Danny Amendola (available in 81% of CBS Sports leagues): Is he the next Golden Tate? Amendola led the Lions in targets and catches and should continue to be an easy outlet from the slot (like Tate was). He'll especially be solid if the Lions run game can't get moving like they couldn't at Arizona.
- John Ross (available in 95% of CBS Sports leagues): It's hard to trust Ross, who exploded for his best game of his career without A.J. Green on the field. Ross has a track record of being brittle and ineffective. His Week 2 matchup versus the 49ers isn't so bad, but with so many other receivers out there with a safer floor, why risk it with him?
- D.J. Chark (available in 97% of CBS Sports leagues) & Chris Conley (99%): The Jaguars don't strike me as a team that wants to become pass-heavy, especially with sixth-round rookie Gardner Minshew at quarterback. Conley had more targets (seven) and catches (six), but Chark scored on a 35-yard bomb from Nick Foles and later reeled in a 69-yard deep ball from Minshew. These guys wouldn't be my first choices off waivers but if the Jags defense is going to continue collapsing then these two should at least be rostered.
- A.J. Brown (available in 93% of CBS Sports leagues): Brown's debut included exactly 100 yards on three catches in a startling Titans romp over the Browns. He was helped by a 51-yard catch-and-run where he weaved through Browns defenders. While I'd love to stash Brown and see if the Titans ramp up his targets, I'm not sure the offense is savvy enough to lean on him.
- Terry McLaurin (available in 96% of CBS Sports leagues): McLaurin caught a 69-yard bomb to help push his totals beyond anyone's wildest expectations. It was also the eighth touchdown of 50-plus yards of Keenum's career; the veteran has multiple 50-yard scores in only one of his seven seasons. Forgive me for not buying into McLaurin outside of deep roster and long-term formats.