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.