Another week down and yet again another big injury affecting fantasy football lineups early in the year. There could be waiver wire gold yet to be had out there and it could be yours for the taking.
All players focused on here are owned in less than 50% of all NFL.com leagues and could be available in your redraft leagues to help you to a win. Ownership % shown in parentheses.
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- Alex Smith (46.7%) – Facing off on Thursday night against the Broncos, Smith faced one of the league’s best defenses and it showed. Smith took 4 sacks and threw 2 picks while not scoring any touchdowns. Next up is a Monday Night showdown at Lambeau Field against Green Bay and follow that contest up with a trip to Cincinnati on a short week.
- Andy Dalton (15.3%) – Dalton took advantage of the ground game, the Bengals had 175 rushing yards, and was efficient. He added 3 more touchdowns to the young season (all different receivers) and no interceptions. The Bengals travel to Baltimore to take on a defense that gave up 351 yards to David Carr in a loss after bottling up Peyton in week 1. If the running game can keep the defense honest, Dalton may have the room to through with Eifert and Green.
- Derek Carr (10.2%) – Facing the defense that kept Peyton Manning in check, Carr had a tall task to be able to move the ball and score. Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper were the beneficiaries of the passing game posting a stat line of 9-111 and 7-109, respectively. Carr only took one sack against the Ravens and will need that protection as the Raiders take on a Browns team that, on Sunday, sacked Marcus Mariota 7 times and forced 4 fumbles (recovering three). After a meeting with the Bears, the schedule gets a little rough with Denver, San Diego and the Jets on tap but he has the poise to succeed.
- Tyrod Taylor (7.6%) – Taylor found the sledding a little bit rougher facing a Patriots defense that sacked him 8 times and picked him off 3 times and kept him under constant pressure. His 3 interceptions were all a product of overthrows and alert defenders making good plays. There were flashes of great play as he showed great touch and poise and will need to bring his A-game next week against Miami. The Dolphins gave up 273 yards and no interceptions to Blake Bortles on Sunday and I expect Taylor to put up similar numbers. Softer defenses (Giants and Titans) are on deck so Taylor should post decent stats over the next few weeks.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick (0.9%) – Fitzmagic continues to get it done some how some way. In taking on the Colts on Monday, he drew a team that was without its top corners and lost Vontae Davis in the first half. Fitzpatrick heavily targeted Decker and Marshall on his way to a stat line of 22/34 for 244 and 2 touchdowns and one interception. The Jets defense kept Andrew Luck in check and that seems to be the recipe for success in New York. Next up is the Eagles who looked awful against the Cowboys, followed up by the not so tough Dolphins before facing an underrated Redskins team. Now Fitzpatrick will not be flashy but he will take full advantage of his weapons in Decker and Marshall. Keep an eye on the Decker injury but if you are in need of a QB you could do worse.
- Blake Bortles (2%) – Bortles improved on his poor performance in week 1 and took full advantage of having Allen Robinson for a target. Bortles was 18 for 33 for 273 yards and showed off his accuracy on long completions. New England is fresh off its win over Buffalo and is waiting for Bortles and the Jags on Sunday. The Patriots secondary can be thrown on and Bortles and company should find room. I do not expect the same level of numbers as today but something close is not out of the question.
- Brandon Weeden (0.1%) – Tony Romo is the big injury I started this article off with and combined with Dez Bryant’s foot injury, the light is slowly dimming in Big D. After Romo exited the game with a broken collarbone, Weeden came in and went 7/7 for 73 yards with a 42 yard touchdown going to Terrance Williams with 4 minutes left in the game on Sunday. The Cowboys will turn to the run even more to mask the deficiencies of Weeden in the passing game as he has less mobility than Romo and is not nearly as accurate. In the one game Weeden started last year against the Cardinals, Weeden completed 18-33 for 183 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs. That is not very reassuring for Dallas as he is the starter until at least Thanksgiving at the earliest. Unless the above options are not available, I would not take the chance on Weeden as the ‘Boys, without Romo and Dez, are now the NFC version of the Browns.
- James Starks (1.2%) – With the Eddie Lacy injury Monday night, Starks becomes the number one waiver wire target for Lacy owners and others looking for a solid short term option. Starks gained 95 yards on 20 totes and looked good running the ball. He gives the Packers the ability to not lose a beat and should hold down the fort until Lacy returns. Starks slots in as a solid RB2 in standard and mid-range RB2 in PPR leagues.
- David Johnson (30.7%) – Why the Cardinals continue to trot out Chris Johnson is mind boggling. All David Johnson did was run back a 108 yard kickoff back for a touchdown, score from 13 yards out on the ground and average 8.4 yards on 5 carries. DJ is making a case for more touches and by the time Ellington comes back it may be as a COP/3rd down back with David being the lead dog. Next week the 49ers coming calling and he should add to his resume and stake his claim even more.
- Ronnie Hillman (17.5%) – On Thursday night, Hillman continued to show that he deserves a good size part of the carries in the Denver backfield. With C.J. Anderson slightly banged up, Hillman 34 yards on 9 carries averaging a full 1.5 yards more per carry that Anderson. Now Anderson remains the starter but he is on shaky ground with Hillman waiting in the wings. The Lions are next up on the schedule and they were just shredded by A.P and the Vikings. Hillman will still be in a committee with Anderson but will still get enough of the action to be in the RB3 conversation.
- Dion Lewis (12.6%) – With Blount coming off suspension, Belichick was expected to move Lewis back to the Vereen role. Well that didn’t happen and Blount only got two carries to Lewis’ 7. Coach Belichick even went back to Lewis after a fumble. Dion even caught 6 passes for 98 yards. Next week is the Jaguars and Belichick should go back to the well with Lewis but with the Patriots you never can tell. At worst, Lewis is a RB3 with upside (especially in PPR formats) and at best a mid RB2 depending on game flow.
- Matt Jones (1.1%) – While Alfred Morris is still listed as the starter, I believe that will end after this year. Matt Jones has done nothing but out produce the starter and it was on display against a normally stout Rams defense. Jones had 19 carries for 123 yards and two touchdowns on the ground while securing all three of his targets in the passing game for 23 yards. The Redskins backfield is split right now but forward thinking owners will stash Jones looking to the future.
- Duke Johnson (42.1%) – Duke is still splitting the backfield with Crowell and surprisingly was not targeted on Sunday. The non-targets are baffling as he was billed as one of the best pass catching backs coming out in this draft but then again Manziel didn’t throw much. Duke averaged 3.6 yards on the ground which is a full yard behind Crowell per carry. I believe it will eventually be Johnson’s backfield sooner rather than later if the Browns figure out how to play to Duke’s strengths. The Raiders come calling next and Duke should find room to run and show what he can do.
- Karlos Williams (4.2%) – With McCoy seemingly back to normal, Williams was relegated to COP duties. He did get a short yardage touchdown but otherwise did not factor much in the game. With McCoy’s fragility, Williams is the clear handcuff to own in the event Shady were to miss time as he can produce.
- Donte Moncrief (43.8%) – Very nice game for Moncrief as Andre Johnson looked extremely sluggish while the second year Moncrief looked electric. With the Colts playing behind all game, Luck looked his way often and really shined. Moncrief was targeted a team high 8 times and hauled in 7 for 122 yards and a touchdown. Johnson looked spent, like Wayne last year, and should cede looks to the younger, more dynamic Moncrief more by the week. Moncrief remains a low end WR3 with upside but that could change quickly as his usage in standard sets was on the upswing. Grab and stash him for later and reap the dividends.
- Stevie Johnson (21%) – Johnson was efficient again securing 5-6 passes for 45 yards and a touchdown while being tied with Allen, Green and Woodhead for targets. Stevie is taking full advantage of the Gates suspension and should post similar numbers against a Vikings team that gave up 160 yards to Calvin and Tate on Sunday. Once Gates suspension is completed, I foresee these numbers to take a slight dip but Stevie has definitely earned his claim to playing time in this offense.
- Allen Hurns (4.5%) – Hurns is nothing but reliable for the young Blake Bortles securing 4-4 targets for 68 yards. Aside from Allen Robinson, Hurns is the only other reliable option in the Jaguars passing attack and has established a good rapport with Bortles. With the Jaguars probably playing from behind in most games, there will be receptions to be had on a regular basis. The only issue is going to be the low volume of yardage. Hurns can be a good target for those playing in PPR leagues but is a volatile option as the second read for Bortles behind Robinson.
- Rishard Matthews (0.3%) – Playing in a good passing offense, Matthews is carving out a role behind Jarvis Landry. Matthews caught 6 of 7 passes and led the team in receiving yards with 115. With Parker still working his way back from injury and Jennings and Stills not making an impact, Matthews could be turning into Tannehill’s next reliable target.
- Leonard Hankerson (0.2%) – Is this a changing of the guard in Atlanta? It sure looked like it on Sunday with Hankerson getting 11 targets to Roddy White’s lone target. He secured 6 of those passes for 77 yards and a touchdown and nearly had another. Consistency will be the key here as last week Hankerson only caught two balls for 16 yards against the Eagles. He is definitely worth a claim and stash as a possible replacement for White down the road.
- Jordan Reed (6.5%) – Reed was perfect in securing all 6 of his targets for 82 yards. He was tied with Ryan Grant for targets right behind Pierre Garcon. With the Redskins dominating on the ground, Cousins did not need to pass a lot but was efficient and Reed took advantage. Reed remains a good option for targets with DeSean Jackson nursing a hamstring injury and should provide good points as long as he stays healthy and on the field.
- Richard Rodgers (5.4%) – In a game that saw the Packers lose Adams and Lacy, Rodgers posted a similar stat line as Week 1 going 3-4 for 29 yards and a touchdown plus a 2pt conversion. With Lacy out for multiple weeks and Adams somewhat limited, Rodgers should see an uptick in targets and could be a viable streaming option in a high powered offense.
- Crockett Gillmore (1.4%) – Serving as the second option for Joe Flacco, Gillmore caught 5 of 6 passes for 88 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Raiders. With only Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken getting more targets and still no Perriman, Gillmore is making his case to be Flacco’s second read on passing downs. With Maxx Williams still a few years from fantasy relevance, Gillmore remains entrenched as the starting TE and provides good value in an offense void of weapons in the passing game.
- Ladarius Green (19%) – Green was targeted 6 times and hauled in 5 for 47 yards on Sunday versus the Bengals. Like Stevie Johnson, he was tied with Danny Woodhead with 6 targets a piece thus remaining a big part of the offense. With Gates suspended until Week 5, Green is putting up consistent numbers and, at worst, should force the Chargers to run more 2 TE sets if not take the job over completely by years end.
- Austin Seferian-Jenkins (34.3%) – With Jameis Winston only attempting 21 passes, ASJ managed to snag 2 out of 3 of his targets for 29 yards and narrowly missing a touchdown. While Mike Evans did return for this game, he was a non-factor as he was returning from a hamstring injury and played more of a decoy role. Evans should be fine for next week, so Seferian-Jenkins ceiling remains capped as a mid TE2 in a young offense acting as Winston’s security outlet.
- Kyle Rudolph (17.2%) – Rudolph made the most of targets securing 5 out of 7 for 30 yards and touchdown. Working the short routes, Rudolph’s longest reception was just 11 yards and helped Bridgewater in an otherwise low passing volume game as the Vikings only threw for 151 yards. Rudolph remains the safety valve for a young QB and should settle in for weekly numbers such as today for the year until Bridgewater is able to push the ball down field more.
- Eric Ebron (4.5%) – Stafford was forced to throw quite a bit against the Vikings and targeted Ebron 10 times although he was only able to bring in 5 for 43 and a touchdown. While the target numbers are good, the inefficiency is a little troubling as he is still behind Calvin and Tate as the third read. With news that Matt Stafford may miss time due to injury, I would temper expectations as Orlovsky does not scare any defense.
- Antonio Gates (45.8%) – Now I know Gates is still suspended for two more weeks and Green has performed well in his absence but he is still Antonio Gates. With owners possibly not drafting him because of the suspenion, he could be available in your league and should provide a good return for virtually no cost. It’s that forethought that just might help you win your league this year.
Until next week, may you find some of those waiver wire gems!
Follow me on Twitter: @DaTrajik2
All stats from ESPN.com
All ownership % from NFL.com
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