Fantasy Football 2020 Waiver Wire Pickups: Injuries open up opportunities in Week 3

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.

Tannehill has tossed six touchdowns in his first two games. (Wikimedia Commons)

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.

Fantasy Football 2020 Waiver Wire Pickups: Nyheim Hines and Corey Davis highlight Week 2 options

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.

Cousins finished 15th among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring in 2019. (Wikimedia Commons)

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.

Brown finds himself in a wide-open backfield after the Rams cut ties with Todd Gurley this offseason. (Wikimedia Commons)

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.

Goedert was the No. 10 fantasy tight end in 2019. (Wikimedia Commons)

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.