2012 NFL Redraft: Colts take Russell Wilson at No. 1 over Andrew Luck

Every year, people love to read redrafts and draft grades for draft class before we have really had time to evaluate them. I have been guilty of this as well, but in recent years, I have waited until we hit the five year mark before dishing out draft grades and looking to do redrafts. It takes at least that long to evaluate a draft class. And, as you can see by the 2012 redraft I did back in 2016, five years isn’t always enough. Still, I can’t stay away and I really enjoy looking back on what could have been. Especially with a draft class like this one!

There are a few things I want to clarify before I jump in. I undid every trade that happened on draft day. With the benefit of hindsight, it is much easier to say every team would have just stayed put and taken the best player available. One other thing I want to point out is that just because a team selected a player at a given position does not mean they have to draft the same position. For example, the Jaguars selected Justin Blackmon back in 2012. They are not bound to taking the best receiver from the class (T.Y. Hilton) just because he plays the same position. Hilton was a good player, but there are plenty of other needs Jacksonville could have filled instead. I tried my best to go with the best player available given the roster composition of that team in 2012.

With all of that in mind, let’s revisit this famous 2012 draft class featuring some future Hall of Famers and a number of notable busts.

1. Indianapolis Colts
Original selection: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Redraft pick: Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin

Andrew Luck was widely viewed as the best college quarterback prospect to come out since Peyton Manning. He had his moments during an injury-riddled career, but Russell Wilson’s continued excellence makes him the clear choice in this redraft. Wilson has a Super Bowl ring, seven Pro Bowl appearances and a fantastic touchdown-to-interception ratio is his career. He earned MVP buzz early in 2020 and continues to play like a top-five quarterback every season. Wilson’s mobility and penchant for making off-schedule throws would work well for the Colts, who struggled to protect Luck throughout the early portion of his career.

2. Washington
Original selection: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Redraft selection: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Luck’s fall is a short one. Even though he only lasted five full seasons as a starting quarterback, he led the Colts to several playoff appearances and showcased elite arm talent in the process. In each of the four seasons that Luck played all 16 games, Indianapolis reached the playoffs. Perhaps Luck would have fared better in Washington with Trent Williams protecting his blindside. Robert Griffin III had a great rookie season and might have been a solid NFL starter if injuries had not derailed his career. Despite Luck’s own injuries, he offers an upgrade over RGIII.

3. Minnesota Vikings
Original selection: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Redraft selection: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

Minnesota traded down one pick on draft night back in 2012 and took Matt Kalil. Kalil was serviceable as a starter in the NFL, even reaching the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2012. Unfortunately, he never built on that debut season. Meanwhile, Luke Kuechly went on to have a Hall of Fame career for the Panthers. He was an incredible tackler with impressive athleticism, which resulted in five first-team All-Pro selections and seven Pro Bowl appearances in eight seasons. Injuries cut his career short, but his leadership and production over those eight years make him worth the pick. Minnesota’s defense would have had a star to build around during those Christian Ponder years.

4. Cleveland Browns
Original selection: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Redraft selection: Fletcher Cox, DL, Mississippi State

This was one of the worst draft picks the Browns made during the 2010s, and that’s saying something. Trading up one spot to grab Trent Richardson proved to be a huge mistake, but give Cleveland some credit for cutting ties and recouping a first-round pick for Richardson a year later. With the benefit of hindsight, the Browns would have been much better off selecting Fletcher Cox. Cleveland started sixth-round Billy Wynn at defensive tackle in 2012. Cox would’ve been a massive upgrade. In his career, he has earned six Pro Bowl nods and an All-Pro selection. Cleveland’s defense would have looked very different with Cox and D’Qwell Jackson dominating the middle.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Original selection: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Redraft pick: Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State

Mark Barron went on to have a lengthy career as a box safety and might have been a bit ahead of his time. The NFL in 2021 loves to find those hybrid types, but that movement was still in its earlier stages. At least the Buccaneers slid down two spots before selecting Barron. Instead, the Buccaneers could have grabbed one of the best tackling middle linebackers in NFL history. Bobby Wagner is still at the top of his game nearly 10 years later. He is one of just three players in this draft class to go to seven Pro Bowls. The other two are Russell Wilson and Luke Kuechly. Tampa was in need of a linebacker at this point, too, as they ended up landing Lavonte David in the second round. Filling a huge position of need with a future Hall of Famer feels like a slam dunk.

6. St. Louis Rams
Original selection: Michael Brockers, DL, LSU
Redraft pick: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

On draft day, the Rams traded back with the Cowboys and landed an extra second-round pick. It was a pretty good move. Dallas selected Morris Claiborne, who never really figured out how to play corner in the NFL. Meanwhile, St. Louis landed a solid interior lineman in Michael Brockers. Passing up on Stephon Gilmore just does not make sense in this redraft. Keep in mind that the Rams started second-round selection Janoris Jenkins at corner that year, so it was definitely a position of need. Gilmore is one of the best cover corners in football. He became the first corner since Charles Woodson to win Defensive Player of the Year in 2019. He can lock down half the field and is one of just five players in this draft class to be named first-team All-Pro more than once.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Original selection: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Redraft pick: Chandler Jones, EDGE, Syracuse

Justin Blackmon had all the talent in the world, but he only lasted until 2014 in the NFL due to off-the-field issues. To make matters worse, Jacksonville actually traded up two spots to get him. Without a star receiver available in this draft class, the Jaguars tag the best edge rusher in the class to boost their defense. Chandler Jones would be an immediate upgrade over Austen Lane or Jeremy Mincey, Jacksonville’s starting defensive ends at the time. With 97 career sacks, Canton feels well within reach for Jones by the time his career wraps up. His impact probably would not have ended the Jaguars suffering, but it would have given them a talented player at a crucial position to build around.

8. Miami Dolphins
Original selection: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Redraft pick: Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State

I struggled with this pick a lot. Ryan Tannehill has experienced an incredible resurgence with the Titans, but he struggled a lot for the Dolphins. You could argue that simply not hiring Adam Gase would have solved all of Tannehill’s problems, but I can also understand if fans are hesitant about taking Tannehill again. Believe it or not, Kirk Cousins actually has more touchdowns, fewer interceptions and a better career completion percentage than Tannehill. However, Cousins didn’t truly take over the starting job in Washington until 2015. Would he have been as successful in Miami where he would have needed to start sooner? It’s hard to tell, but there is a chance he would’ve offered better stability than Tannehill did.

9. Carolina Panthers
Original selection: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Redraft pick: Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska

It’s tough to miss out on Luke Kuechly, but Lavonte David is a solid consolation prize. David has a nose for the football and actually leads this draft class in tackles, ahead of both Kuechly and Bobby Wagner. He has been incredibly reliable as well with just seven missed starts in nine seasons. He has not always received the same level of love as his draftmates with one Pro Bowl selection and one first-team All-Pro honor, but he is still paying dividends for the Buccaneers in 2021. He was a major part of the team’s success in the Super Bowl for his ability in pass coverage. As a bonus for the Panthers, he would no longer be suiting up for their division rival.

10. Buffalo Bills
Original selection: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Redraft pick: Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina

While he has had some rocky moments, at his peak, Josh Norman was one of the best corners in football. While he is definitely a step down from Stephon Gilmore, this is not a bad consolation prize for the Bills. Norman proved in 2020, actually playing for the Bills, that he is still a serviceable corner capable of starting in the NFL. Considering that Buffalo eventually let Gilmore walk in free agency anyway, maybe they would’ve done more to keep Norman around.

11. Kansas City Chiefs
Original selection: Dontari Poe, DL, Memphis
Redraft pick: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

Dontari Poe has had himself a solid NFL career, but Kansas City cannot pass up on a chance to find a long-term solution at quarterback. Matt Cassell would be gone after the 2012 season and had not done much in 2011 to indicate he deserved to be the unquestioned starter. As we discussed before when debating Tannehill vs. Cousins, Tannehill has really taken off over the past two seasons. Perhaps a chance to work with Andy Reid, who arrived in 2013, would have jumpstarted the version of Tannehill we have seen in Tennessee a few years earlier. Either way, he would’ve given the Chiefs a much better plan going forward at quarterback.

12. Seattle Seahawks
Original selection: Bruce Irvin, EDGE, West Virginia
Redraft pick: Mitchell Schwartz, OT, California

Seattle really loses out big time in this redraft. Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner are both off the board. The team is also set to go forward with Matt Flynn at quarterback with the next best option available in this draft being Nick Foles. The Seahawks traded down a couple spots on draft day and took Bruce Irvin. Irvin has actually had some bright spots, but he has never quite lived up to this draft slot. Mitchell Schwartz would give Seattle a pair of talented young tackles to bookend their offensive line. Schwartz has spent nine seasons as a quality starting right tackle for the Browns and Chiefs including an All-Pro nod in 2018. He did not miss a game prior to the 2020 season. There are few players as reliable and unheralded as Schwartz has been.

13. Arizona Cardinals
Original selection: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Redraft pick: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Florida International

Pretty much Arizona’s entire offense needed an upgrade outside of Larry Fitzgerald heading into the 2012 season. Michael Floyd had his moments, but he only managed 25 touchdowns in his career. Arizona needed a receiver, and T.Y. Hilton would have been a great addition across from Fitzgerald. Hilton has struggled with some injuries in recent years, but he has five 1,000-yard seasons, including 2016, when he led the league in receiving yards.

14. Dallas Cowboys
Original selection: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Redraft pick: Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame

Back in 2012, Dallas traded up to select Morris Claiborne. While the Cowboys were right to focus on rebuilding their defense, Claiborne turned out to be a terrible fit. Meanwhile, Harrison Smith is a five-time Pro Bowler with the most interceptions of any player in this draft class. You could make the argument that he was one of, if not the best safety in the league over a solid stretch. He would be a much-needed playmaker in that Cowboys secondary and provide a clear succession plan to Gerald Sensabaugh, whom Dallas cut following the 2012 season before he ultimately retired.

15. Philadelphia Eagles
Original selection: Fletcher Cox, DL, Mississippi State
Redraft pick: Brandon Brooks, G, Miami (Ohio)

Philly misses out on Fletcher Cox this time around, but they land a player who has been integral to their success in recent years. Brandon Brooks was selected in the third round back in 2012, but there is no way he lasts that long this time around. He was a decent player in Houston from 2012 to 2015, but really found his footing with the Eagles. He made three straight Pro Bowls and played a huge part in Philadelphia’s Super Bowl run in 2017.

16. New York Jets
Original selection: Quinton Coples, EDGE, UNC
Redraft pick: David DeCastro, G, Stanford

There are only a handful of players from this draft class who have been named first-team All-Pro more than once. David DeCastro has been a staple of the Steelers offensive line for close to a decade. New York made back-to-back AFC Championship Games in 2009 and 2010 behind an incredible offensive line. DeCastro would be an upgrade over Matt Slauson, or a potential successor to Brandon Moore. This would be a great value, especially instead of Quinton Coples, who was out of the league by 2015.

17. Cincinnati Bengals via Oakland Raiders
Original selection: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Redraft pick: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

It turns out the Bengals drafted a player at the right position from the right state, just the wrong school. Dre Kirkpatrick took three years to win the starting job and once he did, he never really lived up to his draft spot. Meanwhile, Janoris Jenkins turned out to be a steal for the Rams in the second round. He started his career with a bang in 2012, leading the league with three defensive touchdowns. He reached his peak in 2016 with a Pro Bowl appearance for the Giants. Jenkins has a good track record for making plays with 26 career interceptions. He has had some rough moments for sure, but he turned out to be a much more valuable player than Kirkpatrick.

18. San Diego Chargers
Original selection: Melvin Ingram, EDGE, South Carolina
Redraft pick: Melvin Ingram, EDGE, South Carolina

The then-San Diego Chargers were rewarded for their patience with Melvin Ingram. It took him a few years to get going after injuries derailed the early part of his career, but from 2015 to 2019, Ingram had at least seven sacks each season. He has been a crucial part of the Chargers defense in recent years playing across from Joey Bosa.

19. Chicago Bears
Original selection: Shea McClellin, EDGE, Boise State
Redraft selection: Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin

Shea McClellin turned out to be a colossal bust for the Bears. He managed just 8.5 career sacks and was out of the league after 2016. I don’t think there is an edge player worth taking here, and Chicago’s offensive line could have used a boost. Chilo Rachal started eight games at left guard and the front office signed Matt Slauson to take over before 2013. Adding Kevin Zeitler would have been a much better solution at the position. Keep in mind this is also a year before the Bears drafted Kyle Long. Zeitler has started from Day 1, and his consistency and longevity make him well worth going in the first round again, this time, even earlier.

20. Tennessee Titans
Original selection: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Redraft pick: Demario Davis, LB, Arkansas State

It turned out to be a pretty rough receiver class with Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright and A.J. Jenkins falling well short of expectations. The next best receivers available after T.Y. Hilton would be either Alshon Jeffery or Marvin Jones, and while both have been solid, neither is worth going in the top 20. On the other hand, Demario Davis has turned into one of the best players from this draft class. His career has been a bit odd, with a one-year stint in Cleveland before returning to the Jets, but after years of solid play, he was recognized as a first-team All-Pro in 2019 with the Saints. He has over 900 career tackles and would have fit very nicely in the middle of the Titans defense. If that wasn’t enough, Davis has not missed a game in his nine-year NFL career.

21. Cincinnati Bengals
Original selection: Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin
Redraft pick: Ben Jones, C, Georgia

On draft day, the Patriots traded up to this spot to select Chandler Jones. With Jones long gone and trades not allowed in the redraft, Cincinnati stays put and grabs an interior lineman to protect a young Andy Dalton. With Zeitler gone, Ben Jones is the next best interior lineman available. It took a few years for the Texans to determine where his best spot was, starting at both guard spots before finally moving him to center in 2015. Since then, Jones has started every game and become a huge part of the Titans’ sometimes unstoppable run game.

22. Cleveland Browns via Atlanta Falcons
Original selection: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
Redraft pick: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama

The absurd run on linebackers continues as Dont’a Hightower is now the fifth to come off the board in the first 22 picks. I don’t think I really need to explain why Brandon Weeden is not going here again. I know the Browns desperately needed a quarterback, but reaching for Nick Foles here or either Kirk Cousins or Ryan Tannehill at No. 4 over more talented and impactful defensive players is bad process. Hightower was a fixture for the Patriots defense before opting out in 2020. He has two Pro-Bowl selections to his name as well. Adding him and Fletcher Cox would have made this defense one of the most exciting units in the league alongside 23-year-old Joe Haden.

23. Detroit Lions
Original selection: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Redraft pick: Olivier Vernon, EDGE, Miami

Riley Reiff was a fine player for the Lions. He played out his rookie contract in Detroit and has been a starter for the Vikings in recent years. However, Reiff was not the starter in 2012, so the Lions could have waited another year or gone to free agency to find an eventual replacement to Jeff Bakus. Instead, adding Olivier Vernon to start across from Cliff Avril would have given the Lions an elite pass rushing tandem. He could take the year to learn from Kyle Vanden Bosch before launching a career that has accumulated 63.5 sacks, second only to Chandler Jones in this draft class. The only thing that holds Vernon back from going even earlier is his injury history. He hasn’t played a full season since 2016.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Original selection: David DeCastro, G, Stanford
Redraft pick: Damon Harrison, DT, William Penn

Pittsburgh nailed its pick the first time around, but with David DeCastro gone, the Steelers must look elsewhere to build their roster. The defense was full of aging stars at the time, including 35-year-old Casey Hampton. Damon Harrison went undrafted back in 2012, but there is no way he makes it out of the first round in this mock draft. He was one of the best run defenders in the league from 2013 to 2017. He has bounced around in recent years, but he is still a quality rotation piece and short-yardage option. He would help soften the blow of missing out on DeCastro.

25. Denver Broncos
Original selection: Derek Wolfe, DT, Cincinnati
Redraft pick: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

Denver actually traded back twice on draft night and took Derek Wolfe with the 36th overall pick. Instead, the Broncos will stand pat and take Dontari Poe. Poe would have been an instant starter collapsing the pocket with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil on the outside. Poe is a space eater at 346 lbs. He made the Pro Bowl in back-to-back seasons in 2013 and 2014. He might not be a future Hall of Famer, but he has been a solid contributor since he stepped foot in the league and is still worthy of a late first-round selection.

26. Houston Texans
Original selection: Whitney Mercilus, EDGE, Illinois
Redraft pick: Whitney Mercilus, EDGE, Illinois

There were only a few teams that not only took a quality player, but took in him in a realistic draft slot. Whitney Mercilus has been a solid contributor throughout his career. He has missed a decent amount of time due to injuries over the years, but his 54 career sacks and 68 tackles for loss speak for themselves. Taking him off this Texans’ defense would definitely be a detriment, even if he was not a perennial Pro Bowler.

27. New England Patriots via New Orleans Saints
Original selection: Chandler Jones, EDGE, Syracuse
Redraft pick: Michael Brockers, DL, LSU

New England worked some magic on draft night back in 2012, trading up twice to land two solid contributors on defense. Both Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower are long gone by this stage. Brockers has somewhat quietly put together an impressive NFL career. He has not racked up accolades, but he has been a steady presence on the Rams defense since he was drafted. His career totals are not staggering with 28 sacks and 48 tackles for loss, but Brockers is one of just eight players from this draft class who has been a full-time starter every year of his career. As the saying goes, the best ability is availability.

28. Green Bay Packers
Original selection: Nick Perry, EDGE, USC
Redraft pick: Akiem Hicks, DL, Regina

The run on defensive linemen and edge rushers continues. Green Bay hoped to find someone to play across from Clay Matthews in Nick Perry. He had a really good two-year stretch in 2016 and 2017 with 18 sacks. His career bizarrely ended after 2018 though and those two seasons are not enough to justify another first-round selection. Instead, Green Bay can grab Akiem Hicks to bolster its defensive line. Hicks was a decent player in New Orleans, but his career really took off after landing in Chicago in 2016. He peaked with a Pro Bowl appearance in 2018. His run stopping and disruptive playmaking would be greatly appreciated.

29. Baltimore Ravens
Original selection: Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama
Redraft pick: Kelechi Osemele, G, Iowa State

Baltimore traded out of the first round back in 2012. This roster had very few holes as the Ravens would go on to win the Super Bowl that season. If there was a weak spot, it would have been at right tackle. Believe it or not, Kelechie Osemele started at right tackle during that Super Bowl run. He later found his spot as a starter at guard. That type of versatility is worth the investment, this time in the first round. Osemele was solid in Baltimore, but really found his stride in Oakland. He made back-to-back Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro in 2016.

30. San Francisco 49ers
Original selection: A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois
Redraft pick: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

A.J. Jenkins lasted one season in San Francisco and just three in the NFL. Needless to say, this was a huge bust for the 49ers. Alshon Jeffery might have been the difference in the 49ers’ Super Bowl run. His huge frame and impressive catch radius would have made him a great red zone target. He reached the Pro Bowl in 2013 with 1,421 yards receiving. His career fell off a bit after a strong 2014 season. He has not topped 1,000 yards since then and has struggled to stay healthy, playing all 16 games just once since that point. Even if he eventually fell off, Jeffery’s short-term impact is well worth a late first-round selection.

31. New England Patriots
Original selection: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Redraft pick: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State

If there is a team that found success with players who ran into issues with the NFL or stirred up trouble in the locker room. I think Bill Belichick would be willing to take the talent that Vontaze Burfict brings to the table and deal with the suspensions later. He was a Pro Bowler in 2013 after leading in the league in tackles. There is a good chance he would have become a bit more disciplined playing in New England. Even still, the short-term investment is worth it for the Patriots.

32. New York Giants
Original selection: David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
Redraft pick: Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt

The reigning Super Bowl champs went after a playmaker on offense, but there were no running backs that really deserved to go in the first round of this draft. Instead, New York can tab Casey Hayward to succeed Corey Webster. Even though the Giants drafted Prince Amukamara in the first round the year before, Hayward is too good a talent to pass up and this secondary would have benefited from a top cover corner. He burst out of the gate with six interceptions in his rookie season, but Hayward didn’t really become a full-time starter until 2016. This would be the perfect situation for him to develop into a starting caliber corner.

Fantasy Football 2020 Waiver Wire Pickups: Plenty of replacement options for Dak Prescott

I’m back with some fantasy content this week. I had to pass on writing my waiver wire column last week because life just got a bit too busy. I guess that’s what happens though when you are buying a house.

Now that I’ve got a bit more free time on my hands, I am able to dive deep into that available players tab and help you find the best players to add to your roster for this week.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, MIA
For the fourth straight week, Ryan Fitzpatrick put up 20-plus fantasy points. He trailed only Patrick Mahomes in Week 5 among fantasy quarterbacks. Somehow, he is available in 80% (!!!!!) of ESPN leagues. If you are refusing to pick him up because Tua Tagovailoa could take over, you are missing out. He continues to put up huge numbers and heads into a Week 6 matchup with the Jets of all teams. While New York has had some success against Philip Rivers, Nick Mullens and Brett Rypien, that defense has given up 27.2 points per game when facing Josh Allen and Kyler Murray. Expect Fitzmagic to be closer to those two.

Tannehill looked sharp in the Titans’ return from an unexpected bye week. (Wikimedia Commons)

Ryan Tannehill, QB, TEN
There are a lot of streaming options/potential Dak Prescott replacements for your lineup this week. Tannehill dazzled on Tuesday Night Football with three passing touchdowns and one more on the ground. It was against a Bills defense missing it’s best defensive player in Stephon Gilmore, but a good sign nonetheless. He faces a middle of the road Texans defense in Week 6 as well. I wouldn’t expect him to replicate his 29-point outing again, but should fill in nicely for the week if you are desperate for a new quarterback.

Justin Herbert, QB, LAC
This rookie came to play. Herbert put up big numbers again against the Saints, topping 22 points for the third time in his four career starts. Now his upside is capped a little bit by the Chargers tendency to run the ball a lot, but he also tends to take a few shots downfield every game. He is heading into a bye in Week 6, but has a ton of value when he returns to action. Herbert’s next five games after the break are against the Jaguars, Broncos, Raiders, Dolphins and Jets. That is about as favorable of a fantasy stretch as you can ask for. He is still available in about 65% of ESPN leagues, but after his showing on Monday Night, he won’t stick around long.

Andy Dalton, QB, DAL
There are a lot of quarterback options this week. Dalton stepped in for the injured Dak Prescott. He will be Dallas’ starter going forward. Even if he is not as talented as Prescott, Dalton has arguably the best receiving corps in the league to work with and a workhorse running back. Given that the Cowboys’ defense can’t stop anyone either, he is going to be throwing the ball a lot. He faces a tough Washington front seven behind a battered offensive line, but I still think Dalton will point up points right away.

Goff has been a bit inconsistent this season, but has three games with over 20 fantasy points. (Wikimedia Commons)

Jared Goff, QB, LAR
Turns out I recommended Goff a week too early. After a lackluster performance against the Giants, he tuned up Washington’s defense with 309 yards passing and three total touchdowns. It is hard to know which version of the Rams offense is going to show up at this point, but Goff faces a favorable matchup in Week 6 against the 49ers. Hard to imagine the 49ers being a team you want your fantasy quarterback to face, but their defense is ravaged by injuries. Ryan Fitzpatrick carved up the Niners’ secondary for the second-most points in fantasy this past week. If you are looking for a streaming option at quarterback, you could do much worse than Goff.

Alexander Mattison, RB, MIN
For those of you who drafted Mattison and hung onto him this long, your patience might be rewarded. Dalvin Cook went down with a groin injury early in the second half against Seattle. Mattison finished with a staggering 20 carries, most of which came in the second half. Minnesota ranks fourth in rushing yards and third in attempts under Gary Kubiak. If Cook misses any time at all, Mattison is a borderline RB1 for every week he does. He is probably best in standard scoring leagues, but he can catch a few passes out of the backfield as well. He faces the Falcons in Week 6, who are giving up the second-most points in the NFL. If he is available, go get him.

Damien Harris, RB, NE
Didn’t pick up Harris last week? It’s not too late, but you are running out of time. He had an expected bye week after his game against the Broncos was postponed, which means he will be playing the rest of the season. He has a chance to be the feature back, or as close as the Patriots will ever come to having one. He will now face the Broncos in Week 6. With Cam Newton likely to return, he could lose out on some carries, but Harris will still see enough attention to be fantasy relevant.

Chase Edmonds, RB, ARI
If you are in PPR leagues, Edmonds might already be off the waiver wire. If he is still there though, he could have some spot flex value for your team. He picked on a weak Jets defense in Week 5 and faces a below average Dolphins one in Week 6. Only earning eight total touches is a bit concerning, but he was definitely the more effective running back in the Cardinals’ backfield. I will be curious to see if his role continues to increase with Kenyan Drake struggling. He is worth stashing on your roster, just in case he claims lead back responsibilities.

Chase Claypool, WR, PIT
Where in the world did that come from? Destroyer of defenses Chase Claypool put up 11 more points than the next-highest scoring PPR receiver in Week 5. When Dionte Johnson went down with an injury, which has been a frequent occurrence this season, Claypool stepped up. Ben Roethlisberger seems to trust him already. While it is unlikely he will score four touchdowns again at any point this year, or maybe ever, Claypool carries value in fantasy. Even if Johnson does return for Week 6, Claypool is a big-play and red zone threat. He looks like a matchup-specific flex play at the very least.

Travis Fulgham, WR, PHI
Speaking of the next highest-scoring receiver in fantasy… Proceed with caution on this one. Travis Fulgham was on exactly 0.2 percent of rosters heading into Week 5. He had a monster week though against the Steelers. With 10 catches for 152 yard and a touchdown on 13 targets, Fulgham put up WR1 type production. But was it just a flash in the pan? Desean Jackson, Jalen Reagor and Alshon Jeffrey should eventually return to action. Until they do though, Fulgham should hold flex value, especially in PPR leagues. You might have to sit him against the Ravens, but you could consider starting him against the Giants and Cowboys after that.

Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Jacksonville
It might be time to get to know Laviska Shenault Jr. The rookie from Colorado has earned at least six targets in three straight games. He racked up seven catches for 79 yards in Week 5 while facing the Texans. What makes Shenault appealing is his consistency. He has scored at least eight points in every contest under PPR scoring. D.J. Chark is battling an ankle injury, which should open up even more targets heading Shenault’s way. If he can start finding his way into the end zone, this will be a guy you want starting in your lineup every week.

Mecole Hardman, WR, KC
With Sammy Watkins set to miss some time due to injury, Hardman has an opportunity to step up. He is best-suited for standard leagues given his big-play nature. Few teams can take the top off a defense like the Chiefs can. However, he is definitely a boom-or-bust type play. He has not had more four targets in four of his five games this season. If you are willing to roll the dice on him in Week 6, he should have a slightly higher floor given that his targets should increase with less competition for Patrick Mahomes’ attention.

Mike Williams, WR, LAC
Williams got healthy and put up a huge statline against the Saints. He became the focus of the passing game when Keenan Allen exited with back spasms. Williams is always intriguing at his size from a fantasy perspective. He tends to draw a solid number of targets in the red zone, which creates a good floor for him. However, if Allen misses time, Williams becomes hugely valuable. However, with Los Angeles heading into a bye, Williams is nothing more than a roster stash that could help you when your other receivers are on a bye.

Eric Ebron, TE, PIT
If you are in a PPR league, Ebron does carry some solid value as a high-floor tight end. For the the third straight game, he earned at least five targets. Unfortunately, he has not picked up too many yards and only managed one touchdown. Ebron does get a favorable matchup with a Browns defense allowing the sixth most points to tight ends in PPR. What would really help Ebron’s fantasy prospects would be holding onto the football. He has fumbled twice in his past three games. As far as spot starters go, Ebron is a decent option.

Irv Smith Jr., TE, MIN
If you are in deeper league or look for a deep sleeper at tight end this week, Irv Smith Jr. could be a sneaky play. After back-to-back games without a catch, Smith had four for 64 yards on five targets against the Seahawks. Given how little he has produced up to this point, counting on him replicating those numbers is foolish, but he gets a great matchup with a Falcons defense allowing the second most points in fantasy to opposing tight ends. They are still 8.7 points worse than the average after allowing zero points to Panthers tight ends in Week 5 (because the Panthers don’t have a pass catching tight end they feature in this offense). He is my favorite boom-or-bust candidate of the week at the position.

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.

What if Matt Barkley didn’t return for his senior year?

Remember back in 2012, when there was a possibility that we could see one of the best quarterback drafts in NFL history. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were the top prospects with Ryan Tannehill viewed as a nice consolation prize. However, there was a large contingency that believed there was another quarterback worthy of a top ten pick who ended up staying school. Matt Barkley, who some argued would have competed with Luck for the top pick, returned to USC for his senior year. He showed some major relapses and he ended up being a fourth round pick in 2013. But what if the former Trojan decided to head to the NFL a year early? Nothing is for sure but you can imagine a lot would change.

Barkley was highly regarded but I think it is likely that during the pre-draft workouts, Luck and Griffin would put some distance between themselves and the kid from USC. However, I think Barkley would still rate higher than fellow first rounder Ryan Tannehill. On draft day, Luck and Griffin still go one and two. None of the teams from picks three to seven really needed a quarterback. Miami sitting at number eight was ready to move on from Chad Henne and with Barkley still on the board, the Dolphins would gladly draft him. Barkley would join a Fins team with another former USC star in Reggie Bush led by rookie coach Joe Philbin. If Barkley began playing anything like he did during his senior season or how he has in the NFL with Philadelphia, there is a really good chance that veteran signal caller Matt Moore beats out Barkley for the starting job.

So this also means that there is no way for the Dolphins to take Tannehill, who continues to fall down the draft board. He doesn’t fall too long because sitting at number twelve is a team in desperate need of a young quarterback. The Seattle Seahawks had Tavaris Jackson under center the year before and desperately needed an upgrade. Matt Flynn was brought in as a potential replacement but that wouldn’t stop Seattle from picking up the talented Tannehill. Tannehill was viewed as a bit of project and based on how much the team was paying Flynn, the rookie from Texas A&M would probably be given a year to sit on the bench.

The 2012 season looks extremely different as well. Seattle struggles under Flynn and by the end of the season, Tannehill gets some reps as the starter, but the Seahawks miss the playoffs. Green Bay win against Seattle in week 4 with no Fail Mary game. This means that Green Bay finishes the season with the second best record in the NFC. Instead of Seattle and Minnesota in the playoffs, Chicago and Philadelphia make the postseason in their place. The Bears get a major showdown with the third seeded 49ers. The Eagles travel to Washington for a duel of rookie quarterbacks. Robert Griffin III versus Russell Wilson. Oh right, did I forget to mention that the Eagles snag Wilson in the third round because Seattle took Tannehill? Philadelphia falls next week to Atlanta who meets Green Bay in NFC championship game. Green Bay dispatches Atlanta for a matchup with the Ravens in the Super Bowl where Aaron Rodgers outduels Joe Flacco for his second straight Lombardi Trophy.

Andy Reid still leaves in 2013 and Chip Kelly cannot wait to get his hands on an offense led by Russell Wilson. Seattle is still good but not great with Tannehill under center. They miss the playoffs for a second consecutive year. That means no Legion of Boom and no Super Bowl rout of the Broncos. With the Seahawks out of the picture, the 49ers win the NFC West and the Nick Foles led Cardinals make it as a wildcard. Foles was drafted by the Cardinals when Philadelphia no longer had interest in him in the fourth round in 2012. The Eagles get a boost with Wilson under center to the second seed while the 49ers take the top seed. Green Bay beats New Orleans in the wildcard round while Philadelphia takes down Arizona. The Niners beat the Packers in the divisional round setting up a meeting with Russell Wilson again in the NFC championship game, this time with the Eagles. Philly’s offense of DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin is the Greatest Show on Turf 2.0 and Philadelphia finds itself in the Super Bowl against Peyton Manning’s Broncos. With no incredible defense to haunt him, Manning plays great and narrowly beats Philly in a shootout giving Manning his second ring.

Now some of you might be saying, what about Matt Barkley and the Dolphins? Don’t worry. I’m getting to that. Barkley never develops quite how Miami wants. So in 2014, they are in the market for a new quarterback. Joe Philbin decides to go after a different Texas A&M quarterback with their first round pick by the name of Johnny Manziel. For once, the Cleveland Browns don’t completely lose out because they get Carson Palmer when Arizona no longer wants to sign him with Foles under center, so the Browns don’t want Manziel anyway.

So in short, Russell Wilson is an Eagle, Nick Foles is a Cardinal, Carson Palmer is a Brown, Rodgers has two rings, Manning has two rings and Wilson ends up with none. The Legion of Boom never happens in Seattle and Miami ends up with Manziel. All of this just because Matt Barkley decides to leave school one year sooner.