The importance of the waiver wire showed up big time in Week 3. If you were like me and started James Robinson, you are probably pretty happy with how your week went. If you are also like me and dropped Justin Jefferson to add Russell Gage, you were probably a bit frustrated.
Not every player you add from the waiver wire is going to be a winner and sometimes, you have to take the risk that it will be a complete dud. That’s what anyone who started Gardner Minshew this week found out. You can also hit it big and win your matchup as a result, as anyone who started Rex Burkhead found out. It’s not an exact science, but there is a usually a bit of a method to the madness.
Jared Goff, QB, LAR After a lackluster Week 1, Jared Goff has stepped up in back-to-back weeks. He went over 23 fantasy points for the second straight week. He now gets matchups against the Giants and Washington over the next two weeks. It is unlikely that he scores three touchdowns each week, but his efficiency has picked up and he seems to be in a groove with Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Tyler Higbee. If you need a streaming option at quarterback, Goff is my top choice for the week.
Nick Foles, QB, CHI Welcome back to fantasy relevance Nick Foles! He took the starting job from Mitch Trubisky and led the Bears to a comeback over the Falcons. Now, Foles won’t benefit from facing the worst fantasy (and potentially real life) defense in the league every week, but he looked comfortable in the starting role. He has to face an improving Colts defense and the Buccaneers in the next two weeks. It is probably worth stashing Foles on your roster as a bye week fill in.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, MIA If you haven’t hopped on the Fitzmagic train, it’s not too late. Fitzpatrick has scored 24 points in back-to-back weeks. Week 1’s dud against the Patriots aside, he has been one of the top five quarterbacks in scoring these past two weeks. He now faces a Seattle defense that is allowing the second most points to opposing quarterbacks through three games. The Seahawks will unquestionably be the favorite in that contest, but don’t be shocked if Fizpatrick puts up big numbers in a losing effort.
Jeff Wilson Jr., RB, SF No one can stay healthy on the 49ers. Jeff Wilson Jr. is likely to be the latest beneficiary of taking the starting role. It is not a guarantee that Jerick McKinnon misses Week 4 against the Eagles, but Wilson got plenty of usage even with McKinnon in action this past week. Assuming McKinnon is limited, Wilson will suddenly be a top option. Now the Eagles defense is good against the run, but Wilson got involved in the passing game as well. It is unlikely he scores two touchdowns again, but Wilson could be a flex play if you are suffering from injuries.
Myles Gaskin, RB, MIA The preseason hype of the Miami backfield centered on Matt Breida and Jordan Howard. Myles Gaskin has emerged as the lead back in the Dolphins running back by committee approach. His usage went to the next level against Jacksonville as he finished with 27 touches. That feels unsustainable and now he faces two tough run defenses in Seattle and San Francisco up next. I would not recommend starting him any time soon, but he is worth adding to your roster for running back depth. He won’t be available for too much longer.
Carlos Hyde, RB, SEA Another potential injury fill in here. Chris Carson’s status is up in the air against the Dolphins. He suffered a knee injury on a questionable play from Trysten Hill and could be out for a week or two. Hyde has not been fantasy relevant up to this point, but he could be thrust in the starting role on a high-scoring offense. Seattle has moved away from running the ball as much this season, but Hyde was a 1,000 yard rusher a year ago for the Texans. He is about as good of a fill in the Seahawks can hope to have if Carson misses time.
Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN There is the breakout we have all been waiting for. Justin Jefferson had five catches on six targets for 70 yards in his first two games. In Week 3, he came up with seven catches on nine targets for 175 yards and a touchdown. Now 71 of those yards came on his touchdown catch, but even if you remove that, a six-catch, 104-yard performance is more than impressive. If this is a sign of things to come, Jefferson is absolutely worth having on your roster. Maybe you were smarter than me and didn’t drop him in the first place. Either way, put in the waiver claim.
Allen Lazard, WR, GB Maybe the Packers really didn’t need to draft a receiver. Allen Lazard stepped up big time with Davante Adams out. He torched the Saints secondary for 146 yards and a score on six catches. He might not see eight targets every week with Adams back in the fold, but he has emerged as the clear No. 2 receiver in this offense. It is unlikely he posts the same gaudy numbers he had against New Orleans every week, but he is worth grabbing if he is still available in your league.
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, SF Even with Jimmy Garoppolo out, Aiyuk had a big week. He had five catches and 70 yards receiving. That alone would be a solid performance. He also added three carries for 31 yards and a touchdown due to all of San Francisco’s running back injuries. His versatility makes him an interesting prospect going forward. Deebo Samuel will eventually return, as soon as this week in fact, but Aiyuk looks to still have value in this offense as the number two receiver. Expect him to grow into this role as the season rolls on.
Cole Beasley, WR, BUF I can’t believe I am writing this, but it might be worth picking up Cole Beasley in fantasy this week. He has quietly earned at least six targets in each of his first three games and took it to the next level against the Rams by hitting the century mark in receiving yards. With John Brown out, it is hard to imagine his target share shrinking in an offense that is putting up a lot of points. He faces a solid Raiders defense in Week 4, but gets a disappointing Titans secondary the week after that. As long as Brown is out, Beasley seems like he will be worth grabbing.
Jimmy Graham, TE, CHI It still seems like the Bears overpaid Jimmy Graham, but he has a real connection with Nick Foles. Graham caught a pair of touchdown passes and earned a solid seven targets after Foles took over at quarterback. It is no secret that Foles likes to rely on his tight ends. Zach Ertz put up good numbers still whenever Foles filled in on the Eagles. It is unlikely Graham becomes an elite tight end option, but he should be viewed as a solid streaming option, even if he is playing against a Colts defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.
Eric Ebron, TE, PIT Slowly but surely, Eric Ebron is carving out a role for himself in this offense. He actually led the Steelers in receptions, receiving yards and shared the team lead in targets. Not to mention he added a touchdown to his statline to complete a really impressive week of scoring. The tight end position has been one of the most frustrating to predict in fantasy this season. Outside of Travis Kelce, is is hard to find a consistent producer at the position. He is far from a slam dunk, but you could do a lot worse than Ebron going forward, especially if Diontae Johnson misses any time due to injury.
Dalton Schultz, TE, DAL It was not the same type of dominant performance we saw in Week 2, but Dalton Schultz clearly has earned the trust of Dak Prescott. He had four more catches for 48 yards on six targets. That won’t win you your fantasy matchup, but Schultz is deservedly in the conversation as a fringe TE1. With both the 49ers’ Jordan Reed and Eagles’ Dallas Goedert going on IR, this would be a good time to snag him off waivers to hold down the position for a few weeks.
Another week of NFL action is in the books. The Chiefs reasserted their dominance atop the league, Nick Foles reemerged as a starting quarterback and New York is really bad at football this year (well, outside of Buffalo of course).
It was also another week where the storylines of the real world clearly reached locker rooms across the league. With the news of the chargers in the case of Breonna Taylor’s murder breaking during the week, it drew a lot of reaction from athletes across all sports on social media. Players from the Washington Football Team took it a step further on Sunday with a very clear message.
Social justice continues to be a hot topic across the NFL and really every sport. I am proud of the players for making this small gesture. Breonna Taylor deserves much better than what she got.
On the football side of things, there were fewer surprising results this week. Consequentially, there is a whole lot less movement in this week’s rankings, particularly now that we have three games of work to evaluate each team off of. Let’s dive in.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: 3-0 (Last Week: 2) Won 34-20 at Baltimore Clearly, I was very wrong about who the best team in the NFL was after Week 2. Kansas City smacked Baltimore in prime time to remind everyone they are still the defending champs. Patrick Mahomes was on fire, becoming the fastest player to reach 10,000 career passing yards. While Mahomes will deservedly receive most of the praise, the Chiefs defense deserves a ton of recognition for how it contained Lamar Jackson. The reigning MVP got loose on a couple of runs, but it was by far one of his most disappointing performances of his young career. KC’s defense sacked Jackson four times and forced a fumble in the process. There is a long season ahead of us still, but at this point, the Chiefs are still the team to beat.
2. Seattle Seahawks: 3-0 (Last Week: 3) Won 38-31 vs. Dallas Russell Wilson is on fire. He set an NFL record with 14 touchdown passes through the first three weeks of the season. He will certainly be earning at least one MVP vote this year if he stays healthy. Ignoring his statistical dominance, his value to the Seahawks is immeasurable. The Seattle secondary looks like one of the worst in the league, giving up 80 more passing yards per game than any other team in the NFL. The defense is strong against the run, but the back end needs to sure things up to have a shot at a title.
3. Green Bay Packers: 3-0 (Last Week: 4) Won 37-30 at New Orleans The NFC might just run through Green Bay once again when the regular season wraps up. Holding off the Saints in convincing fashion is another notch in Aaron Rodgers’ belt. For all those who doubted the Packers’ offseason choices of drafting his successor, the move might have just worked in the best way possible. Rodgers is humming along in his second season under Matt LaFleur. Aaron Jones is on fire. Even in Davante Adams’ absence was not enough to slow down this unit.
4. Baltimore Ravens: 2-1 (Last Week: 1) Lost 34-20 vs. Kansas City Well that was short lived. The Chiefs grounded the high-flying Ravens offense in an AFC heavyweight fight. Lamar Jackson mustered just 97 yards passing, the fewest of his career. Baltimore did come up with 158 yards rushing, but managed just one offensive touchdown. John Harbaugh also had no answer for Patrick Mahomes, who racked up five total touchdowns. This Ravens team was built to compete with the Chiefs to win the AFC. So far, it seems like that plan is still a major work in progress.
5. Buffalo Bills: 3-0 (Last Week: 5) Won 35-32 vs. Los Angeles No one circle the wagons (after almost completely blowing the game) like the Buffalo Bills! After leading 28-3, Buffalo inexplicably went down 32-28, before Josh Allen engineered a game-winning drive. If it was not for Russell Wilson, there is a very good chance Allen would be atop the early season MVP rankings. He has been sensational and proved it against much competition on Sunday. Beating up on the Jets and Dolphins is one thing. Topping the previously undefeated Rams shows the Bills mean business.
6. New England Patriots: 2-1 (Last Week: 9) Won 36-20vs. Las Vegas New England looked pretty formidable facing a Las Vegas squad coming off the high of knocking off New Orleans. It was thanks to the run game, and this time Cam Newton got some help. Sony Michel went over the century mark. Rex Burkhead scored three touchdowns. Even J.J. Taylor added 43 yards on a surprising 11 carries. Defensively, the Patriots recovered well from Week 2 against Russell Wilson. They held Darren Waller in check and forced three fumbles. New England has a chance to make a real statement in Week 4 with a visit to Arrowhead up next.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-0 (Last Week: 10) Won 28-21 vs. Houston It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Steelers just keep winning. Pittsburgh shut out Houston in the second half to close out its toughest yet. James Conner rushed for over 100 yards once again. Ben Roethlisberger took care of the football as well. The defense got after Deshaun Watson, sacking him five times. The Texans have struggled so far this year, but this was a playoff team just a year ago. This win sets up a battle of unbeaten teams when the Steelers take on the Titans in Week 4.
8. New Orleans Saints: 1-2 (Last Week: 6) Lost 37-30 vs. Green Bay Last week, it was the Saints offense that was cause for concern. Week 3, it was the defense that came up short. New Orleans has not looked the part of the Super Bowl contender we all expected entering the season. The Saints have had a tough schedule so far, but when you are gunning for a championship with a future Hall of Fame quarterback, you don’t get a pass for a tough schedule. A win against the Lions is a must.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-1 (Last Week: 11) Won 28-10 at Denver The competition was not great, but Tampa handled Denver with relative ease. Tom Brady played clean, efficient football with three touchdowns to lead the offense, but it is the defense who deserves the most credit. The Buccaneers racked up six sacks, two interceptions and a safety. They also limited Melvin Gordon and the rest of the rushing game to just 42 yards at three yards per carry. This is a brand of football the Bucs will find success with, even against better competition than the banged up Broncos.
10. Los Angeles Rams: 2-1 (Last Week: 7) Lost 35-32 at Buffalo Los Angeles nearly pulled off one of greatest comebacks in recent memory, but could not finish the job. It is hard to know which side of this loss to focus on. The Rams came out flat and got blown out in the first half. However, they rallied to make it a game and came very closing to winning. Unfortunately, the defense could not close it out. While it seems like L.A. has rebounded from last year’s debacle, it is going to need to play better to early in games to keep pace with Seattle.
11. Arizona Cardinals: 2-1 (Last Week: 8) Lost 26-23 vs. Detroit That had to be unexpected. Arizona was the up-and-coming club heading into Week 3. Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins looked unstoppable. The defense finally could make enough plays to be competitive. Instead, Murray made way too many mistakes as the Cardinals lost to a team who entered on an 11-game losing streak. His three interceptions were the biggest difference in the game. The Lions have been awful in the fourth quarter of games, but Kliff Kingsbury’s team did not get points on the board. This is still a young team with a lot to learn. Arizona does not have much margin for era as one of three NFC West squads sitting at 2-1.
12. Tennessee Titans: 3-0 (Last Week: 12) Won 31-30 at Minnesota Another week, another questionable victory for Tennessee. Derrick Henry put the offense on his back with 117 yards and two touchdowns as Ryan Tannehill struggled. He did not have a touchdown pass and threw his first interception of the year. It took six Stephen Gostkowski field goals, including the game-winner with under two minutes to play, to dispatch the winless Vikings. The Titans defense has not been the fearsome unit we got used to seeing last year either. Mike Vrabel needs to get that side of the ball figured out with the Steelers up next.
13. San Francisco 49ers: 2-1 (Last Week: 13) Won 36-9 at New York Who needs healthy players? It might help to play the two worst teams in the NFL right now in back-to-back weeks, but this was still an impressive showing from the 49ers. Nick Mullens played about as well as he could have in relief of Jimmy Garoppolo. The run game struggled a bit, but it got to be a bit predictable late in the game with San Francisco leading by multiple possessions the whole way. Defensively, three forced turnovers always makes it easier to win. Hopefully, a few of these injured players can return in Week 4 against the Eagles, but this team seems capable of hanging around even with its backups playing.
14. Indianapolis Colts: 2-1 (Last Week: 17) Won 36-7 vs. New York Even if it was against the lowly Jets, this was an impressive showing from the Colts. The defense has stepped up each of the past two weeks following a brutal season opener. Xavier Rhodes came up with a pick-six as the defense intercepted Sam Darnold three times in the contest. Philip Rivers really did not have to do much to ensure a win in this one, but he finally took care of the football. Indy faces an undefeated Chicago team changing quarterbacks in Week 4. This cupcake schedule to open the season makes me very skeptical of how good this team really is at this point.
15. Las Vegas Raiders: 2-1 (Last Week: 14) Lost 36-20 at New England Losing to the Patriots is not shocking, but I expected more from the Raiders after the performance we saw out of them in Week 2. Darren Waller disappeared and Derek Carr was nowhere near as productive. Even Josh Jacobs had a bit of a shaky game. The defense had no answer for the Pats ground game either, giving up 250 yards rushing. Las Vegas deserves some credit for containing Cam Newton, something teams have struggled to do so far, but that is not enough when it comes to facing the Patriots. Shutting down the primary option won’t be enough when playing most teams. Jon Gruden has a lot of work to do to get back on track in Week 4.
16. Dallas Cowboys: 1-2 (Last Week: 15) Lost 38-31 at Seattle Losing close to good teams is not going to cut it for the Cowboys. There were plenty of positives for Dallas, at it scored 31 points and watched Dak Prescott spread the ball around. However, the decision to let Byron Jones leave in free agency has come back to haunt the front office. Russell Wilson has been shredding every secondary he has faced, but this was disappointing. It is clear that the Cowboys are a good team, but it has also become clear that they are not a great team. Expectations were much higher for Dallas entering the season than where they are right now.
17. Chicago Bears: 3-0 (Last Week 21) Won 30-26 at Atlanta Nick Foles came to the rescue. He had some help from the team known for blowing late-game leads, but his three touchdowns in relief of Mitch Trubisky sealed the deal. Chicago is easily the most shocking 3-0 team at this stage in the season, but the Bears have not faced great competition either. If not for two fourth-quarter meltdowns and an injury to Saquon Barkley, Chicago could easily be 0-3. None of that matters to Matt Nagy, who will be focused on building momentum. This team seems comfortable winning tight games. The Bears might just have a chance at earning a playoff spot.
18. Houston Texans: 0-3 (Last Week: 16) Lost 28-21 at Pittsburgh Houston was very much in this game in the first half, leading by four at the break. Then the Texans offense disappeared, failing to score after halftime. The whole team managed a woeful 29 yards rushing at 1.9 yards per attempt. On the flip side, Houston could not stop the Pittsburgh running game. Sitting at 0-3, the trade for David Johnson looks like the worst move of the offseason. The franchise desperately needs to hire a general manager to save Bill O’Brien the coach from Bill O’Brien the general manager. Houston’s schedule finally gets a little easier as they face the also winless Vikings. Desperation to earn the first win of the season for two 2019 playoff teams makes that game one worth watching.
19. Cleveland Browns: 2-1 (Last Week: 19) Won 34-20 vs.Washington By now, you have no doubt heard that this is the first time the Browns are above .500 since 2014. That level of futility is truly mind boggling, but Cleveland has to hope it is finally on the right path. Baker Mayfield took care of the ball against an underrated Washington defense. Nick Chubb looked like a franchise running back as well with 108 yards and two touchdowns. The truth is, it was the defense that stepped up with five forced turnovers. It certainly made the offense’s day a lot easier. Beating the teams with the worst two records in the league a year ago does not create believers, but it is important for the Browns to win the games they are supposed to.
20. Los Angeles Chargers: 1-2 (Last Week: 18) Lost 21-16 at Los Angeles Hey rookie, welcome to the NFL. Justin Herbert had a much rougher second start. After taking the Chiefs to the wire, the Chargers could not find a way to edge the Panthers. Los Angeles kept it close the whole way, but the team’s four turnovers made it difficult to get any momentum going. The defense is more than good enough to contend with the best teams in the NFL. Now the offense needs to catch up. Unfortunately, the Chargers draw a really tough matchup against the Buccaneers next.
21. Miami Dolphins: 1-2 (Last Week: 27) Won 31-13 at Jacksonville Brian Flores is a heck of a coach. This team came close to knocking off the Bills a week ago and now notch their first win of the year with a complete performance against the Jaguars. Ryan Fitzpatrick was incredibly efficient, completing 18 of 20 passes and adding two touchdowns. This team is young at a number of key positions, but it is clear that Flores is building each week and this team continues to look better as a result.
22. Atlanta Falcons: 0-3 (Last Week: 23) Lost 30-26 vs. Chicago No lead is safe for the Atlanta Falcons. The Bears outscored them 20-0 in the fourth quarter as the Falcons blew another late-game lead in spectacular fashion. Even after falling behind, Matt Ryan had a chance to engineer a game-winning drive, but threw an interception almost immediately. With another devastating result, it is looking like Atlanta made a mistake in hanging onto Dan Quinn. With the Packers up next, the Falcons’ road to their first win is only going to get harder. This is around the spot in the rankings where I think there is a clear drop off, but it is hard to know which one of the these disappointing teams is really worse than the other.
23. Minnesota Vikings: 0-3 (Last Week: 24) Lost 31-30 vs. Tennessee I don’t care if they gave Mike Zimmer an extension before the season or that Kirk Cousins is under contract through 2022. No one’s job is safe in Minnesota right now. Cousins is tied for the league lead in interceptions and the Vikings are allowing more points per game than anyone but the Falcons. For all the Vikings fans out there wondering if drafting a quarterback is possible in the 2021 draft, there is a way out of Cousins’ contract after the 2021 season that would save the team $35 million in cap space. Finding a young quarterback to learn behind him before turning the offense over to the theoretical draft pick seems extremely possible at this stage.
24. Philadelphia Eagles: 0-2-1 (Last Week: 20) Tied 23-23vs. Cincinnati I held off for the first two weeks, but now it is time to panic. Carson Wentz struggled again, with two more interceptions on Sunday. He is tied with Kirk Cousins for the most interceptions in the NFL with six through the first three weeks. The rebuilt secondary also could not slow down Joe Burrow. Give the the Eagles credit for shutting down the run as Joe Mixon averaged just 2.9 yards per carry. However, this team had clear playoff aspirations for this year. Thanks to a very weak NFC East, that is still a possibility, but Philly needs to hit the reset button after a lackluster start to the season.
25. Detroit Lions: 1-2 (Last Week: 28) Won 26-23 at Arizona Ending the losing streak is huge for Matt Patricia and the Lions. Detroit finally closed out a game, outscoring Arizona 6-0 in the fourth quarter to pick up its first win since Matthew Stafford’s injury in 2019. Stafford played well and took care of the football. Adrian Peterson continues to be the most reliable option in the backfield. The talent is there for the Lions to be a competitive team. Hopefully, this allows them to flip their mentality and starting building something positive after ending this streak.
26. Carolina Panthers: 1-2 (Last Week: 29) Won 21-16 at Los Angeles Matt Rhule earns his first NFL win with a gritty performance on the road. Carolina’s defense really stepped up after a disappointing first two weeks. The Panthers forced four turnovers. That coupled with Teddy Bridgewater finally getting back to ball control offense was enough for Carolina to pick up the win. Considering they managed it without their offensive superstar Christian McCaffrey, this is a good sign for how this team can cope while he is out.
27. Denver Broncos: 0-3 (Last Week: 22) Lost 28-10 vs. Tampa Bay Turns out Drew Lock and Courtland Sutton make a big difference for this offense. The combination of Jeff Driskel and Brett Rypien struggled to produce consistently. Driskel was also under siege, taking five sacks and losing 45 yards in the process. Even with all the injuries, Denver has to be disappointed with how it played against Tampa. Rushing for only 42 yards and failing to generate a turnover is the opposite of how you beat Tom Brady. Vic Fangio has a really tough task ahead of him.
28. Washington: 1-2 (Last Week: 25) Lost 34-20 at Cleveland Reminder: Washington is still a rebuilding team. The defense played better than the scoreline would indicate. Dwayne Haskins and the offense turned it over five times. There are only so many change-of-possession situations a team can hope to survive in a given game. Ron Rivera says he remains committed to developing Haskins, who has just edged out Sam Darnold for the worst QBR in the league through three weeks. The offense needs to change course to help him improve. Only Jeff Driskel has a worse completion percentage this year. This is going to be an uphill climb.
29. Cincinnati Bengals: 0-2-1 (Last Week: 30) Tie 23-23 at Philadelphia Cincinnati draws closer still to the first win of the Joe Burrow era, but it was put on hold once again after the defense gave up a late touchdown to spoil it. Burrow seems to be settling in well though as the starter with another sharp performance. Zac Taylor was much more committed to running the ball, even if Joe Mixon struggled to do so efficiently. However, the offensive line is clearly to blame for that. Philly is solid defensively, but 2.9 yards per carry and eight sacks allowed is pushing it. There is progress, but tons of room for improvement.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-2 (Last Week: 26) Lost 31-13 vs. Miami Time to kill the early season hype around the Jaguars. This was a poor showing in every sense of the word. Ryan Fitzpatrick tore up the defense and the Minshew magic never really kicked in. Gardner Minshew threw an interception and never found the end zone. Expectations are low for this team in 2020, but this was not the type of performance anyone expected from Jacksonville.
31. New York Giants: 0-3 (Last Week: 31) Lost 36-9 vs. San Francisco The loss of Saquon Barkley hit this offense hard. Daniel Jones had one of the worst games of his young career. He had some moderate success running the ball, but got no help from his running backs. Devonta Freeman, Wayne Gallman and Dion Lewis combined for just 17 yards on 10 carries. Considering this 49ers team is the most injury riddled in the league at this stage, this is a major disappointment for the Giants.
32. New York Jets: 0-3 (Last Week: 32) Lost 36-7 at Indianapolis Jets players continue to defend Adam Gase after another dismal performance, but it is getting harder to ignore the critics. Sam Darnold had one of the worst games of his career, with three interceptions and a poor completion percentage. Defensively, the New York continues to excel at the stopping the run. Unfortunately, it also has shown a pattern of allowing big plays. Philip Rivers averaged 10.3 yards per attempt against the secondary. The tank of Trevor Lawrence campaign seems to be gaining steam. A loss to the Broncos on Thursday night could very well be the end of Gase’s tenure as head coach.
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We were warned. Every expert, pundit and talking head around the NFL said there were going to be injuries this year. I just don’t think we were expecting them all to come at once.
Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Davante Adams, Jimmy Garoppolo, Drew Lock, Courtland Sutton, Paris Campbell, Breshad Perriman, Tyrod Taylor, Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman all sat out or left their games with an injury on Sunday. Those are the offensive players. They joined the likes of Michael Thomas, Kenny Golladay, Chris Godwin and George Kittle on the injury report.
It sounds like a few of these guys should be back before too long. Godwin has already cleared concussion protocol. Golladay and Kittle could be back as soon as this week. The 49ers have also voiced optimism about Garoppolo’s ability to play in Week 3 as well.
With all the injuries, you are likely in need for some major reinforcements for your fantasy football team. Here are my top guys to add from the waiver wire heading into Week 3.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, TEN Through two weeks of the NFL season, Ryan Tannehill is currently tied with Lamar Jackson as the No. 9 quarterback in fantasy. He is also still available in roughly 60 percent of ESPN leagues. With teams loading the box to stop Derrick Henry, Tannehill is showing that he can get it done through the air. With another fantasy-friendly matchup coming up against the Vikings, he is in a great position for a spot start this week.
Gardner Minshew, QB, JAX Just behind Tannehill is Minshew, who put up some big numbers against the Titans this past weekend. He has been fairly consistent in his scoring as well, with 19 points in Week 1 and 22 points in Week 2. He gets a Dolphins secondary that had no answer for Josh Allen on Sunday and could be without Byron Jones. Minshew might not throw the ball 45 times again like he did in Tennessee, but he is still a fringe starter if you are hurting for a quarterback.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, SF If had a running back go down over the weekend, McKinnon is someone you should be targeting. He showed good burst in limited opportunities through the first two weeks. Both Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman are expected to be out for a few weeks though, which opens up the door for McKinnon to be the feature back. He is actually tied for 18th among running backs through two weeks despite only nine total touches. With an even larger workload coming his way against a suspect Giants defense, he is a RB2 option in Week 3.
Joshua Kelley, RB, LAC In case you weren’t already aware, Los Angeles is going to run the ball a lot this year. After two weeks of play, the Chargers lead the league in rush attempts and rank sixth in yardage. Austin Ekeler is the leader in the backfield, but Kelley has carved out a meaningful role for himself. He earned an outrageous 23 carries in Week 2 against the Chiefs. Kelley was not overly efficient, but he faces a Panthers defense that is last in points allowed to fantasy running backs so far. He is a flex play at worse in Week 3.
Mike Davis, RB, CAR Attention Christian McCaffrey fantasy managers. You need someone to fill in for McCaffrey for the next month while he is out for an ankle injury. Mike Davis is ready to do just that. He only has one carry this season, but he posted eight catches for 74 yards against Tampa on Sunday. Considering that McCaffrey played into the fourth quarter, that is a really good sign regarding his fantasy viability. I don’t know that I would recommend starting him against a solid Chargers defense in his first week as the starter, but he is certainly worth claiming from the waiver wire.
Dion Lewis/Wayne Gallman, RBs, NYG The Giants backfield took a major hit following Saquon Barkley’s torn ACL. Really the whole offense did. While it is unclear exactly who will be in the lead role, Lewis and Gallman are in line for an increase in touches. I lumped the two together, because it is not overly clear who really will be the feature back. More likely, New York will go running back by committee. Lewis has more value in PPR formats, while Gallman could be a solid add to your bench in non-PPR leagues. However, it looks likely that the Giants sign Devonta Freeman, so I would not prioritize either of these backs over those listed above.
Russell Gage, WR, ATL I will continue to bang the table for this guy. The Falcons have maybe the worst secondary in the NFL, which means they are going to throw a lot to stay in games. Gage has earned 21 targets over the first two weeks of the season and currently ranks tied for 10th among fantasy receivers. That ties him with the likes of Tyreek Hill, Tyler Lockett and Terry McLaurin. Gage is still available in 72 percent of ESPN leagues. Expect him to be a flex option for the foreseeable future.
Corey Davis, WR, TEN He was not quite as spectacular in Week 2, only totaling three catches for 36 yards, but he found the end zone. He is currently the Titans’ top target with A.J. Brown out and he faces a terrible Vikings secondary in Week 3. Only the Seahawks have given up more fantasy points to receivers through the first two weeks of the season. His matchups get a bit tougher starting in Week 4, but he definitely has some value for this week.
Keelan Cole Sr., WR, JAX Cole continues his surprising start to the season. He posted 15-plus fantasy points for the second straight week in PPR scoring and found the end zone again. His 12 targets n two weeks suggest that his upside is a little limited in this run-first Jaguars offense, but he should definitely be on more teams than he currently is. Cole is rostered in 3.2 percent of ESPN leagues right now and could be in for another big week as he faces a Dolphins team that gave up over 400 yards through the air to the Bills.
N’Keal Harry, WR, NE I’m still a little tentative on this one, but Harry flashed a lot of the potential that made him a first-round selection in the 2019 NFL draft against the Seahawks. As I mentioned before though, no team has given up more fantasy points to receivers than Seattle. He seems to be a better option in PPR formats, picking up a ton of targets and catches, but not a tremendous amount of yards. The Patriots offense is still one of the most difficult to predict on a weekly basis, but Harry seems pretty well entrenched as Cam Newton’s No. 2 receiver behind Julian Edelman. A favorable matchup with the Raiders adds to his value for Week 3.
Dalton Schultz, TE, DAL There are not a ton of great options available on the tight end market, but Schultz looked sharp in his first game as the starter. An early fumble was disappointing to see, but Schultz racked up nine catches for 88 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. It is unlikely he see quite as many throws his direction in the future, but his position in this offense gives him at least decent fantasy value. If you are looking a backup tight end to stash, he is the best one available.
Logan Thomas, TE, WAS The target share is there for Thomas. Dwayne Haskins has thrown 17 passes his way through just two weeks. That is tied for third with Dallas Goedert in the league among tight ends at this point, trailing only Darren Waller and Travis Kelce. It is clear that Haskins trusts Thomas as his security blanket. Unfortunately, those 17 targets have netted just eight catches for 63 yards and one touchdown. Only one of those passes has been a drop by Thomas, so the issue is really Haskins’ accuracy. If you trust that he can put it together against a banged up Browns defense, than Thomas has a ton of value in Week 3.
Jonnu Smith, TE, TEN His production has been largely touchdown dependent so far, but that is pretty standard for tight ends in the NFL not named Kelce, Waller or Kittle. Smith has become Ryan Tannehill’s favorite red zone target early in the season. He is not as available as some of the other players on this list (rostered in just over 50 percent of ESPN leagues), but if he is sitting around in your league, go grab him. He has starting tight end potential going forward.
Mo Alie-Cox, TE, IND His outlook is dependent on Jack Doyle’s health. If Doyle will be back in Week 3, it is unlikely that Alie-Cox is really worth a pick up. But if Doyle is out, Alie-Cox becomes an intriguing option. He reeled in five catches for 111 yards on Sunday vs. the Vikings. He might not eclipse the 100-yard mark again, but he faces a Jets defense that just gave up two touchdowns to Jordan Reed. If you are in a league that places a premium on tight end scoring, Alie-Cox should be on your roster.
As you are reading this, another NFL player has likely suffered a season-ending injury. Injuries were undoubtedly the focal point of the second week of play. Big names like Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey and Nick Bosa all suffered season-altering setbacks for their teams. The lack of proper preparation was on full display.
When players weren’t getting hurt, the NFL actually felt very familiar. The Falcons blew a massive lead in inexplicable fashion. Most of the 49ers’ roster got hurt, but they still comfortably beat the Jets. Detroit blew a double-digit lead in their fourth straight game. While the league was mostly in shambles, those trends were comforting in a strange way. At least something was normal that we could hold on to.
There is a ton of movement in this week’s rankings. Some teams that won dropped. Some teams that lost moved up a couple spots. We now have a much better sense of where each team stands following a wild Week 2.
1. Baltimore Ravens: 2-0 (Last Week: 2) Won 33-16 at Houston Welcome to the top of the heap! Baltimore took care of business on the road this week. Lamar Jackson put up pedestrian numbers by his standards, but the defense came up with a number of big plays, including a pick-six. This might be the deepest team in the NFL, which might be really important at the rate these injuries are popping up. It is basically splitting hairs between the Chiefs and Ravens for the best team in the league right now. Thankfully, we will have that question answered on Monday Night Football this week.
2. Kansas City Chiefs: 2-0 (Last Week: 1) Won 23-20 at Los Angeles That was ugly. Kansas City was almost upended by a rookie quarterback in his first career start. Now there is no question the Chiefs were not prepared to face Justin Herbert. Herbert himself didn’t know he was starting until after the coin toss. However, it took a really long time for the offense to get going. Patrick Mahomes played really well when it counted and Harrison Butker came up clutch from long range, twice. Still, KC cannot not afford another slow start like that on Monday night in Baltimore.
3. Seattle Seahawks: 2-0 (Last Week: 4) Won 35-30 vs. New England What a thriller on Sunday night! Russell Wilson continued to cook with five more touchdowns against the vaunted Patriots defense. If you haven’t already heard, Wilson has only one more incompletion (10) than he does touchdown (9) through two weeks. DK Metcalf played like a superstar and largely won his matchup against reigning Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore. There are still plenty of concerns on the back end of the defense. Seattle lost Marquise Blair and Bruce Irvin for the season as well. Seattle has shown it can score a lot of points. The defense needs to do just enough to hang on for the win.
4. Green Bay Packers: 2-0 (Last Week: 5) Won 42-21 vs. Detroit Remember when we thought the Packers were foolish for not drafting a receiver? Or for not signing one other than Devin Funchess? Aaron Rodgers probably does. Aaron Jones likely does as well. The latter rumbled for 236 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. Green Bay leads the league in yards and points through two weeks. The defense is no joke either. Year 2 under Matt LaFleuer is off to an incredibly fast start. The Pack host the Saints in a Sunday night showdown in Week 3.
5. Buffalo Bills: 2-0 (Last Week: 6) Won 31-28 at Miami This was definitely closer than it should have been, but Buffalo was largely in control of this game throughout. Josh Allen continues to put up MVP-type numbers and the defense is making enough plays for the Bills to win. Devin Singletary and Zack Moss were also much more efficient running the ball, even if they didn’t put up gaudy numbers. After coasting past two rebuilding teams, Sean McDermott’s squad will get a much tougher test with the Rams coming to visit. Time for them to prove they are legitimate against better competition.
6. New Orleans Saints: 1-1 (Last Week: 3) Lost 34-24 at Las Vegas Father Time seems to have come for Drew Brees. The 41-year-old quarterback was off the mark on Monday night against the Raiders. On a night where Alvin Kamara posts 180-plus yards from scrimmage and scores two touchdowns, a few missed throws wouldn’t matter. However, the defense had no answer for Darren Waller and Derek Carr carved New Orleans up on third down. There were just too many mistakes in big moments, as New Orleans racked up 129 penalties yards This was supposed to be the big push for a title before Brees rode into the sunset. Even though Michael Thomas was hurt, the Saints do not get a pass for a poor performance.
7. Los Angeles Rams: 2-0 (Last Week: 11) Won 37-19 at Philadelphia Well then. I guess the Rams mean business. Beating up on the banged up Eagles doesn’t make you a Super Bowl contender, but back-to-back impressive weeks from the defense has me believing in this team’s potential. The backfield is deep and reliable. Jared Goff looks to be back in his 2018 groove as he completed his first 13 passes of the game. That doesn’t even cover Tyler Higbee’s breakout, three-touchdown game. Both Dallas and Philadelphia have struggled out of the gate, but Los Angeles looks it belongs in the playoff conversation.
8. Arizona Cardinals: 2-0 (Last Week: 14) Won 30-15 vs. Washington Arizona followed up their statement win in Week 1 with another solid outing. Kyler Murray continues to look dynamic with his arm and his legs. He accounted for three touchdowns and over 350 yards of offense. Washington did sack him three times, but Murray limited the damage by losing just eight yards on those sacks. DeAndre Hopkins has been exactly what the Cardinals hoped for when they traded for him as well. The defense also looks a lot better than last year, racking up four sacks and forcing two fumbles. It would not be a shock to see the Cardinals start 5-0 or even 6-0 with the Lions, Panthers, Jets and Cowboys coming up on the schedule.
9. New England Patriots: 1-1 (Last Week: 12) Lost 35-30 at Seattle I don’t care that it was a loss. New England showed it can hang tough with the best teams in the NFL. Cam Newton truly silenced the doubters with 397 passing yards and three total touchdowns. Julian Edelman continues to defy logic with an eight-catch, 179-yard performance. The Patriots got impressive outings from N’Keal Harry and Damiere Byrd as well. Surprisingly, it was the defense that let the team down. With so many new faces on that side of the ball, it is going to take the unit a few more games to really gel. Still, I was impressed by what I saw from the Pats.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers: 2-0 (Last Week: 8) Won 26-21 vs. Denver Pittsburgh was facing a Denver team playing without Drew Lock, Courtland Sutton, Phillip Lindsay or Von Miller and still almost lost this game. It was a tough reminder for Big Ben that he is still getting back into football shape. On the other hand, the defense came up when it mattered and James Conner bounced back from a disappointing start with a huge performance. The Steelers seem to have a deep group of playmakers with Diontae Johnson, Juju Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, Eric Ebron and James Washington all getting involved quite a bit on Sunday. There is still room for improvement, but Pittsburgh sits at 2-0 with a visit from Houston up next.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 1-1 (Last Week: 9) Won 31-17 vs. Carolina This team has the feel of some of those early Brady-Belichick teams. A great pass rush and a disruptive, opportunistic defense leads the way. There are a ton of options out of the backfield. The receivers on the outside are talented. Tom Brady simply needs to manage the offense. He has struggled to do that through two games as he now has four total turnovers after an interception and a fumble on Sunday. It is clear this team can win with Brady under center. They might just not win because of him. The Bucs travel to Mile High to face Jeff Driskel next.
12. Tennessee Titans: 2-0 (Last Week: 10) Won 33-30 vs. Jacksonville How is it that I feel worse about this team at 2-0 than I did at the start of the season? Tennessee is finding a way to win tight games, which is important. The question that hovers over these first two weeks is why were they so close to begin with. Ryan Tannehill is playing some great football, which he will need to continue as teams zero in on stopping Derrick Henry. Where Tannehill really needs some help is on the other side of the ball. The defense came up with a late interception to seal the game, but giving up 30 points and close to 500 yards of offense to the Jaguars is not good enough. Luckily, the Titans get a hapless Vikings team up next.
13. San Francisco 49ers: 1-1 (Last Week: 7) Won 31-13 at New York As they say, the 49ers won the battle, but likely lost the war. San Francisco picked up its first win of the season. However, they lost Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Bosa, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Solomon Thomas in the process. Bosa and Thomas are done for the year. There is some hope Garoppolo can play as early as this week. He should also get George Kittle back in the fold as well. No team has been hurt worse than the 49ers by injuries, which is why they drop so much despite the impressive performance. There is one stroke of good fortune. The Saquon Barkley-less Giants are up next.
14. Las Vegas Raiders: 2-0 (Last Week: 20) Won 34-24 vs. New Orleans What a performance from the Las Vegas Raiders. It was about the best possible way the Raiders could have opened their new stadium. Derek Carr played great, as did Darren Waller. Josh Jacobs put on another gutsy performance as well, even if he was not overly efficient. After a bit of a rocky start, the defense settled in, limiting Drew Brees and coming up big on third down. There are certainly some areas I’m sure Jon Gruden would like to sure up on that side of the ball, but it a great win for the relocated franchise. Vegas does not get any time to rest though with New England on the horizon.
15. Dallas Cowboys: 1-1 (Last Week: 13) Won 40-39 vs. Atlanta Mike McCarthy should send flowers to every single member of the Falcons onside kick recovery team. Without some truly astounding mistakes, there is no way the Cowboys could have come back in this game. Dallas found itself down 20-0 early on after a series of fumbles. The Cowboys coughed it up three times in total. Defensively, they had no answer for Matt Ryan or Calvin Ridley. Somehow, Dallas pulled off the comeback and avoided the embarrassment of starting 0-2. I wouldn’t count on too many more 20-point turnarounds this season though, particularly with a trip to Seattle coming up.
16. Houston Texans: 0-2 (Last Week: 17) Lost 33-16 vs. Baltimore It is hard to rip the Texans anymore than I already have. We know they made a bad offseason trade to acquire David Johnson and ship out DeAndre Hopkins. We also know they faced the particularly brutal task of playing the Chiefs and Ravens to open the year. They don’t get a complete pass for starting 0-2, but even with Hopkins, they likely would have lost both of these games. There were certainly some positives to this one. The defense limited Lamar Jackson and came up with four sacks. Unfortunately, it also gave up 240 yards rushing. Houston’s schedule does not let up either with Pittsburgh on the docket.
17. Indianapolis Colts: 1-1 (Last Week: 24) Won 28-11 vs. Minnesota In a battle of two struggling teams, the Colts quieted their concerns for at least one week. The defense stepped up and delivered three interceptions. Indy also kept Minnesota out of the end zone until the fourth quarter. It still wasn’t a great performance from Philip Rivers, but the offense was able to ride Jonathan Taylor to paydirt. The offense will have to truly round into form at some point, especially with Malik Hooker and Paris Campbell out for a while, but the Colts can get away with just good enough for this week.
18. Los Angeles Chargers: 1-1 (Last Week: 22) Lost 23-20 vs. Kansas City There are no such thing as good losses in the NFL, but the Chargers came as close as you can to having one in Week 2. Justin Herbert got the surprise start after Tyrod Taylor was ruled out pregame with a chest injury. The rookie from Oregon played extremely well, throwing for over 300 yards and a touchdown. He added one on the ground as well. Defensively, Los Angeles limited Clyde Edwards-Helaire and did its best to slow down Patrick Mahomes. It worked really well for three quarters. This is a team in flux though, so the loss does not really feel too painful. Anthony Lynn has said Taylor will be the starter when healthy, but the offense looked much better under Hebert. That will be a situation to watch.
19. Cleveland Browns: 1-1 (Last Week: 23) Won 35-30 vs. Cincinnati Beating the Bengals does not erase the memory of Week 1’s debacle against the Ravens, but it does put the Browns back on the right track. Baker Mayfield played much better. Meanwhile, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt showed why they are the best running back duo in the sport. Defensively, Cleveland struggled to slow down Joe Burrow. However, the defense could get reinforcements soon with Mack Wilson, Greedy Williams and Kevin Johnson all returning to practice on Monday. Cleveland will still have its hands full with Washington in Week 3.
20. Philadelphia Eagles: 0-2 (Last Week: 15) Lost 37-19 vs. Los Angeles If you haven’t already hit the panic button, you are probably hovering right over it as an Eagles fan. Carson Wentz looked downright terrible at home on Sunday. The offensive line actually held up decently well. The Rams did not record a sack or register a tackle for loss, but it still felt like this offense was struggling to get going. Defensively, Philly looks like a mess. It had no answer for Tyler Higbee or Darrell Henderson Jr. throughout much of the second half. The silver lining here is that Washington lost, so Philadelphia is only one game back in the division. The season is not over yet, but a Week 3 loss to the Bengals would really set off some alarms.
21. Chicago Bears: 2-0 (Last Week 21) Won 17-13 vs. New York Don’t ask me to explain how the Bears are 2-0. They just are. It was another uninspiring victory over one of the teams in the NFL’s basement. Mitchell Trubisky played poorly and the defense caught a big break when Saquon Barkley tore his ACL. Chicago seems to have simply lucked its way into two wins to open the year. That luck will likely run out against the Falcons in Week 3, but Atlanta has a propensity for blowing games, so who really knows what will happen.
22. Denver Broncos: 0-2 (Last Week: 18) Lost 26-21 at Pittsburgh Courtland Sutton is done for the year and Drew Lock is out for the next two-to-six weeks. That’s a major blow for the offense. And yet, the Denver was very much in the game on Sunday despite those injuries. Jeff Driskel played surprisingly well in relief of Lock, but showed his inexperience late in the game taking a sack on fourth down, failing to identify the pressure off the edge. Driskel might be able to keep the Broncos afloat until Lock can return, but this team’s playoff hopes took a huge hit.
23. Atlanta Falcons: 0-2 (Last Week: 19) Lost 40-39 at Dallas I’ve gotta say it. This was the worst blown lead in a game, well since the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. It was a staggering collapse for Atlanta, complete with dropped touchdowns, botched onside kick recoveries and bad coaching. The Falcons continue to waste incredible performances from Matt Ryan and the offense. Atlanta is fourth in total yards and sixth in points, but inexplicably finds itself at 0-2. Whatever trust Dan Quinn earned with the Falcons’ 6-2 finish to 2019 is definitely gone and the pressure is on for him to turn this around, fast.
24. Minnesota Vikings: 0-2 (Last Week: 16) Lost 28-11 at Indianapolis Talk about an offseason refresh gone wrong. Minnesota made some major changes with hopes of pushing itself over the hump. Gone was the unreliable secondary and disgruntled playmaker. In came the young wave of talent and the late addition of a star pass rusher. Turns out the Vikings could have used Stefon Diggs on Sunday. Adam Thielen is back to being a one-man show as Kirk Cousins flounders in the offense. Cousins posted an abysmal 15.9 passer rating. He owns the worst passer rating and third-worst QBR through two weeks of action. If Minnesota loses to Tennessee, it might not be much longer before we start to see some changes made to the coaching staff and front office.
25. Washington: 1-1 (Last Week: 25) Lost 30-15 at Arizona The euphoria of Week 1’s win wore off quickly as the offense spun its wheels in Arizona. Dwayne Haskins owns a league-worst 27.8 QBR through two weeks of play and it is starting to seem like he might be the problem. He might not have the best supporting cast, but his continued accuracy issues are a red flag. On the bright side, the defense showed flashes of brilliance again, with three more sacks and an interception. Washington is starting to get the right pieces in place, but still has a major question mark at quarterback.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-1 (Last Week: 28) Lost 33-30 at Tennessee So much for being the least talented team in the NFL. Jacksonville cut Leonard Fournette and traded Yannick Ngakoue less than 10 days before the start of the season. The Jaguars were a tipped pass away from forcing overtime or possibly moving to 2-0. This offense quietly has a good number of playmakers between DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, Keelan Cole and Chris Conley. James Robinson is proving he can be an NFL back while Chris Thompson is a nice change of pace option. The offensive line has held up fairly well. It would be nice to see the defense generate a bit more pressure, but it is hard to complain as a Jaguars fan through two weeks.
27. Miami Dolphins: 0-2 (Last Week: 30) Lost 31-28 vs. Buffalo That is more like the Miami team we saw in the second half of last season. Ryan Fitzpatrick was slinging the ball all over the yard, namely to Mike Gesicki, against the Bills. Unfortunately, the revamped secondary did not do its job. Byron Jones exited with an injury and Xavien Howard could not contain Stefon Diggs. It was a clear reminder that the Dolphins are still rebuilding, but seem to be on the right path.
28. Detroit Lions: 0-2 (Last Week: 27) Lost 42-21 at Green Bay If the Lions fired Matt Patricia tomorrow, I wouldn’t blame them. Detroit has somehow blown a double-digit lead in four straight games. Missing Kenny Golladay did not help matters, but after being up 14-3, losing by 21 is inexcusable. The pass rush is essentially nonexistent and the run defense had no answer for Aaron Jones. After some buzz about the Lions being a dark horse playoff team, it seems like Detroit is much closer to cleaning house than making a postseason push.
29. Carolina Panthers: 0-2 (Last Week: 29) Lost 31-17 at Tampa Bay Losing to a division rival is tough. Losing Christian McCaffrey in the process is much harder for the Panthers. So much of this offense runs through him. With Teddy Bridgewater suddenly unable to take care of the football, Carolina could be a in lot of trouble if their superstar is truly out for the month he is projected to miss. McCaffrey has already said he wants to beat that timeline, but if the Panthers are 1-5, there would be little use in rushing him back. This was always a multiyear rebuild for Matt Rhule anyway. This might just accelerate the tanking process.
30. Cincinnati Bengals: 0-2 (Last Week: 31) Lost 35-30 at Cleveland Close only counts in horseshoes, but the Bengals have to like what they saw out of their young quarterback on Thursday night. Joe Burrow threw for three touchdowns and, mostly, took care of the football, albeit in a losing effort. Unfortunately, the defense could not slow down the Browns running game, or Baker Mayfield for that matter. Cincinnati needs better play from its front seven going forward to stay in these games. It might be good to find a bit more balance on offense as well. Burrow threw the ball an outrageous 61 times, which does not feel like a recipe for success.
31. New York Giants: 0-2 (Last Week: 26) Lost 17-13 at Chicago Welcome to worst-case scenario for the New York Giants. The talk all offseason was that Daniel Jones would finally get a chance to play with all of the talent the Giants had assembled around him. That dream came crashing down when Saquon Barkley tore his ACL. Jones still led a valiant second-half comeback bid, but ultimately came up short. Sterling Shepard also suffered a toe injury that could keep him out for a few games. Hopes of turning the corner on the rebuild are crumbling as New York seems destined for a top-five pick.
32. New York Jets: 0-2 (Last Week: 32) Lost 31-13vs. San Francisco I am hard pressed to think of a time where the Jets have had less proven talent available on their offense. Sam Darnold was mostly working with Patriots castoffs Chris Hogan and Braxton Berrios after Breshad Perriman exited with an injury. Despite San Francisco losing what felt like their entire team to injury, New York had a measly three points at halftime. No matter what the injury concerns for the Jets, Adam Gase seems as good as gone and now the focus might change to what to do at quarterback if Trevor Lawrence is available when Joe Douglas gets to pick.
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Football is back! I thoroughly enjoyed my Sunday of watching the NFL on my couch. If you are like me, you were also likely checking your fantasy team (or teams in my case) on your phone the whole afternoon. I have been a lover of fantasy football for a really long time. I participated in my first league as an overeager and very confused eight-year-old back in 2006. I have never looked back. This year, I wanted to start creating some fantasy football content. I’ve written some predraft rankings before, but I figured I would attempt to add a weekly column to my usual slate of content offering some fantasy advice. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but hopefully I can help some people win their matchups.
Finding the top free-agent adds early in the season is crucial to fantasy success. There are players that slip through the cracks of your fantasy draft that end up determining the outcome of the league. In recent years, Alvin Kamara (2017), James Conner (2018) and Mark Andrews (2019) all went largely undrafted. Each of them finished sixth or better at their position during those seasons in PPR scoring. Working the waiver wire is important. You cannot just rely on your draft. So let’s dive into my favorite fantasy pick ups of for Week 2.
Kirk Cousins, QB, MIN He might not have been yelling his famous catch phrase after his Week 1 performance, but Cousins looked pretty sharp despite the loss. He completed 19 of his 25 passes for 271 yards and a pair of scores. He did toss an interception, but he made up for it with 34 yards rushing. His numbers have him as a fringe QB1 option against an underrated Packers defense. Cousins gets a much less impressive Colts defense next. That Indy defense just allowed Gardner Minshew to complete 19 of 20 passes and throw three touchdown passes. Cousins has better weapons to work with than Minshew and should be a solid starting option in Week 2.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, SF I am not convinced Garoppolo is a good quarterback, but fantasy success is not always linked to on-field success. Jameis Winston threw 30 interceptions in 2019 and was the fifth-best quarterback in fantasy. Garoppolo had a solid first week, posting 259 yards passing and two touchdowns with no turnovers. His receiving options are very limited at the moment with Deebo Samuel on IR and first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk dealing with a hamstring injury. He still has George Kittle and a solid group of running backs to lean on though. If you need are streaming quarterbacks, there are few better options heading into Week 2. Garoppolo faces a Jets defense that just gave up 27 fantasy points to Josh Allen. He might not reach those heights, but Garoppolo has a high floor heading into the matchup.
Nyheim Hines, RB, IND This is definitely the first player I am putting a waiver claim on this week. Marlon Mack is going to miss the rest of the season with an Achilles injury. That opens up a ton of playing time for Hines. Yes, Jonathan Taylor is likely still the lead back in Indianapolis, but Hines evenly split the second half snaps at running back for the Colts on Sunday. He ended up with 15 touches (seven rushes, eight catches) and two touchdowns. He has more value in PPR leagues, but is still worth adding in standard scoring leagues. He faces a Vikings defense next that just gave up 158 yards rushing to the Packers.
Malcolm Brown, RB, LAR Heading into Week 1, this backfield looked like a logjam with Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr. joining Brown. The Rams also have a capable complement of pass catchers, so it felt like Brown might get crowded out. Instead, he racked up 78 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. He also added 31 yards on three catches. There is no guarantee he will be the lead back week to week, but Brown seems poised for a healthy workload. He has the feel of a solid flex option going up against a banged up Eagles defense in Week 2.
James Robinson, RB, JAX If you didn’t hop on this one last week when he was announced as the starter, you aren’t too late. Robinson is still available in more than 70% of ESPN leagues. He did not put up gaudy numbers in the Jaguars win, but he had 17 touches and was the clear lead back for the team. He seems like a better option in standard leagues, only catching one pass in the contest. Jacksonville seems like they want to be a run-first team though, which bodes well for Robinson’s fantasy viability. He faces a tough Titans defense, but the long-term value here is good enough to go get him.
Benny Snell Jr., RB, PIT James Conner fantasy managers should be all over this one. Snell stepped in for an injured Conner and rushed for 113 yards against the Giants. He joins Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Derrick Henry as the only running backs in the league to eclipse 100 yards rushing in Week 1. He definitely has more value in standard leagues than PPR ones with no catches despite his heavy usage. Snell faces a tough Broncos defense in Week 2, but will get the Houston defense that gave up those 100+ yards to Edwards-Helaire in Week 3. He should have some fantasy value if Conner returns, but maximize his window as the lead back with Conner banged up.
Russell Gage, WR, ATL It is unlikely Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Gage will all go over 100 yards receiving again this season. However, nine catches on 12 targets gives me hope that Gage will carry fantasy value into the future. He earned at least six targets in five games last season, including Atlanta’s final three contests. This Falcons offense is going to throw the ball a lot. It seems like they might have to in order to win games given the inexperience of their secondary. Gage faces another middle-of-the-road secondary next week as Atlanta takes on Dallas. Consider him a potential flex option, with even more value in PPR leagues.
Corey Davis, TEN, WR You don’t want to overreact to one game, but it seems like Ryan Tannehill and Davis have developed a lot of trust in the offseason. The fourth-year receiver caught seven of his eight targets for 101 yards against the Broncos. With A.J. Brown commanding a lot of attention and teams stacking the box to stop Derrick Henry, Davis could be a huge beneficiary. He will face stiffer tests eventually, but he gets a Jaguars secondary that lacks depth and a very inexperienced Vikings group in his next two games. He has fantasy value this week and going forward.
Paris Campbell, WR, IND It was unclear how Indianapolis would use its receivers outside of T.Y. Hilton heading into Week 1. Between Campbell, Zach Pascal and Michael Pittman, it seemed like the Colts were almost approaching the WR2 spot by committee. Campbell emerged as the best of those options against a young Jaguars secondary. He posted solid numbers (six catches for 71 yards), and more importantly, tied Hilton with a team-leading nine targets. Clearly, Frank Reich intends to get the ball in Campbell’s hands. He was an intriguing fantasy option a year ago before injuries derailed his rookie season. Minnesota just got torched by Aaron Rodgers and company in Week 1 and that is who Campbell and Indy will face next. Consider him a low-end WR2 option for this week and a solid flex consideration in the future.
Mike Williams, WR, LAC There were a lot of fantasy managers who dropped Williams after he suffered a preseason shoulder injury. He rewarded those who stuck with him with a solid performance in Week 1. Four catches for 69 yards is not spectacular, but the target share was very promising. He had nine targets from Tyrod Taylor against the Bengals. Williams is a major red zone option as well, so he carries additional upside. He faces the Chiefs next, who will likely be without top cornerback Charvarius Ward. Williams will get a young Panthers secondary the week after that. He has a few weeks of really good fantasy viability ahead of him.
Dallas Goedert, TE, PHI If Goedert is available in your league, go get him. He was the top scoring fantasy tight option in PPR formats in Week 1, but was on only 21.8 percent of rosters in ESPN leagues. You can’t count on him to replicate these numbers (eight catches, 101 yards and a TD) consistently, but even if Goedert puts up half as many points per week, he is a tight end worth having in fantasy. With Carson Wentz clearly still favoring his tight ends over wide receivers, Goedert has the potential to be a top-tier fantasy option. His upcoming matchups are not great, but he is still worth stashing on your roster.
Logan Thomas, TE, WAS A tight end on the other side of this Week 1 matchup is my other top pickups for the week at the position. Thomas hauled in four passes for 37 yards and a touchdown. Now most of his scoring was dependent on that trip to the end zone, but he had a very healthy eight targets in Washington’s season opener. It is clear he has developed a good rapport with Dwayne Haskins. With few other reliable pass catching options outside of Terry McLaurin, Thomas could be a fringe TE1 and carries a ton of value in any league that places a premium on tight end scoring. I can almost guarantee you he is available, as he is currently rostered in just 0.4 percent of ESPN leagues. In Week 2, he faces a Cardinals defense that allowed the most points to opposing tight ends a year ago.