When we talk about talented young players whose path to Fantasy relevance is blocked at the start of the season, it's worth remembering the famous words of Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park: "Life, uh, finds a way."
We all knew Justin Fields was going to be the starter for the Bears before long once they took him with the 11th overall pick in this year's NFL Draft. It didn't matter how many times Matt Nagy said otherwise, it was going to happen inevitably. And, as soon as it did -- whenever it did -- he was going to be Fantasy relevant.
Well, it looks like it's happened. It unfortunately came as a result of a knee injury to Andy Dalton, who left Sunday's game against the Bengals with an injury after an awkward landing on a scramble -- one of four starting quarterbacks to leave Sunday's games. We don't know the exact extent of the injury -- it has been reported to not be a torn ACL, at least -- but it sure looks like Fields is going to get the chance to make his first NFL start in Week 3 against the Browns, and that should make him one of the highest priorities on waivers this week.
It is worth noting that Fields didn't exactly set the world on fire in his first extended taste of NFL action Sunday. He completed 6 of 13 passes for 60 yards with an ugly interception, finishing with just 3.5 Fantasy points in a little over a half of football. He'll have to play better than that in order to be worth the hype, but it's also worth believing that he will.
You just have to look around the NFL to see why. The Fantasy impact of running quarterbacks is obvious -- Jalen Hurts passed for just 190 yards with no touchdowns and still scored 21.8 Fantasy points in Week 2. I'm not sure Fields can be counted on for the kind of rushing production Hurts has accounted for -- 60-plus yards in five of his first six starts -- but he should be a very productive rusher, and I expect he'll fare better as a passer than what he did in coming out in relief Sunday.
It's a crowded field at the top of the QB rankings these days, but Fields absolutely has the skill set to crash the top 10 if he does get the chance to start. And, given his upside, Fields may not give the job back if he does. If you need a quarterback and Fields is available -- he's 78 percent rostered in CBS Fantasy leagues, but is available in more than half of ESPN as well as 49 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Here's who else we'll be looking for on waivers heading into Week 3:
Sony Michel RB
LAR L.A. Rams • #25
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
We'll have to keep an eye on Darrell Henderson's status, because he was forced out with a rib injury Sunday. Henderson has been absolutely dominating snaps and touches for the Rams so far, but we had concerns about how he would hold up as a lead back -- and so did Rams coach Sean McVay. If Henderson can't go, Michel will be the lead back for the Rams, with Jake Funk likely to take on a passing downs' role. Michel looked good running the ball Sunday, picking up his 46 yards on 10 carries after Henderson left the game. The bad news is, the Rams have a very tough matchup on the way with the Buccaneers on the Week 3 schedule, so Michel would likely just be a flex option for this week. However, if the injury lingers beyond that, Michel could be in the RB2 conversation most weeks.
Tony Pollard RB
DAL Dallas • #20
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
I don't think Ezekiel Elliots needs to be looking over his shoulder for Pollard taking his role or anything, but Pollard is looking pretty awesome in his own role, and that role is suddenly looking pretty valuable. Pollard had 13 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown while adding three catches for 31 yards on three targets. That gives him 23 touches through two games, and it might have been even higher if the Cowboys hadn't had to abandon the run early in Week 1 against the Buccaneers. Pollard would be a must-start player if anything happened to Elliott, but even with Elliott healthy, he's looking Fantasy relevant. He should be rostered in all leagues.
IND Indianapolis • #11
Age: 24 • Experience: Rookie
I was admittedly a little down on Pittman after he had just three catches for 29 yards on four targets in Week 1. He led the Colts wide receivers in snaps and targets, but hasn't yet proved in his NFL career that he can do much with that kind of playing time. Doing what he did against the Rams Sunday made this arguably the most impressive game of his career, and now he gets a matchup against the Titans in Week 3 that will make things even easier. It'll be tough to trust Pittman if Jacob Eason has to start in place of Carson Wentz, but with Pittman showing he might be able to be a difference maker, make sure he's not available on waivers in your league.
ARI Arizona • #4
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
Moore's big game Sunday had some good luck attached to it -- his 77-yard touchdown came on a pretty incredible play by Kyler Murray and a total defensive breakdown by the Vikings secondary. Still, the production is impossible to ignore, and it was almost even better -- he fumbled just shy of the goal line on a pop pass in the first half, too. That ball went harmlessly out of bounds and the Cardinals kept looking his way, and he ultimately led the team in targets in the win. Moore won't be the No. 1 guy every week, but he's clearly a significant part of what this offense wants to do and he's making the most of every opportunity. I'm not quite ready to anoint Moore as a must-start player, but there's no reason he should be left on waivers in any league at this point.
Ty Johnson RB
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #25
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
If you're going to go after any running back for the Jets, it should probably be rookie Michael Carter, who is 77% rostered in CBS Fantasy leagues. If he isn't available, Johnson actually led the team in snaps in Week 1 and had more carries (12) than Carter (11) in Week 2. Carter had 88 total yards in Sunday's game against the Patriots, compared to just 50 for Johnson, but with Tevin Coleman barely playing Sunday, it's clear these are the top two guys to target. Neither is more than a desperation flex play for Week 3 against the Broncos, but both will be worth adding just in case their roles continue to expand.
SF San Francisco • #23
Age: 25 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Hasty, like every other 49ers running back, left Sunday's game with an injury. Hasty ran the ball five times for 38 yards with four catches for 21 yards before leaving with an ankle injury, and he was clearly the primary backup to Elijah Mitchell -- who left with a shoulder injury before briefly returning late. It was only after both Mitchell and Hasty left that Trey Sermon got in -- and he left after just one carry with a concussion. It's a mess right now, with the top three backs on the depth chart heading into Week 3 with injury questions -- and that is after Raheem Mostert underwent season-ending knee surgery following Week 1. Hasty is the most widely available of the team's backs and if he is healthy and gets a chance to start, he could be very valuable for Fantasy.
ATL Atlanta • #84
Age: 30 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Patterson isn't the lead back for the Falcons, but he's carved out a much bigger role alongside Mike Davis than anyone expected. Patterson has seven carries in each of the first two games, and he rushed for 11 yards but scored a short touchdown Sunday, while adding five catches for 58 yards and an additional score. Davis had nine carries and seven targets Sunday, so he isn't going away, but Patterson has his role in this offense and it looks pretty valuable.