Sunday was an absolute bloodbath, and press F in the comments to pay your respects to all of those who think their fantasy season is over because one of their studs got hurt. Come on, it’s only Week 2, pick your head up and let’s get back on the horse! Plenty of players found themselves moving up the depth chart this week, and there are a lot of interesting opportunities ahead. Along with this article, we have a weekly podcast going over the waiver wire, hosted by Frank Costanzo and Ryan Heath, that you should be sure to check out as well.
I’m still being pretty conservative on FAAB. I don’t think we’ve seen anyone get into “no question marks” territory, which is when I really want to bust out the big bids. Like I said, there are a lot of interesting opportunities, but it remains to be seen if any of these guys can capitalize on said opportunities. So while I’m optimistic on a lot of them, I won’t be the one to break my bank, and if someone else wants to put down a majority of their FAAB, I will happily let them. Someone put down 40% of their budget on Nyheim Hines in Week 1, and that made me so happy, even before I saw how Sunday turned out. That’s my personal mindset at the moment, but if you find yourself needing to replace a Christian McCaffrey or Saquon Barkley, feel free to get a bit more aggressive.
Mike Davis, Carolina Panthers (6% rostership on Yahoo/0.8% on ESPN)
For the second straight week, this column is led by a running back who moves to #1 on the depth chart due to an injury. But this week is different because for better or for worse, we actually know that the starter is hurt. Christian McCaffrey is set to miss 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain, making Mike Davis the starter in the meantime. He was featured heavily in the passing game, turning 8 targets into 8 receptions and 74 receiving yards (with 72 of them coming after the catch). That kind of passing work gives Davis a great floor; add a handful of rushes per game to that and he should be an RB2 moving forward. While he’s only going to be relevant while McCaffrey is hurt, he certainly has the highest ceiling of any available player for the next few weeks, and those who roster McCaffrey should definitely be looking to get Davis at whatever cost.
FAAB Budget: 25%
Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers (24%/19%)
Jeff Wilson Jr., San Francisco 49ers (0%/0.1%)
The extent of Raheem Mostert’s is still unknown, though HC Kyle Shanahan did say that Mostert is likely to miss their upcoming game against the New York Giants. With Tevin Coleman also expected to miss time with a knee injury, that leaves Jerick McKinnon as the last back standing from their three-headed backfield entering the season. McKinnon has an extensive injury history as well though, so I wouldn’t expect him to suddenly be the bell cow, especially in this San Francisco offense that doesn’t typically rely on one running back, but he will definitely get the majority of the work even with Jeff Wilson and JaMycal Hasty in tow. Keep a close eye on the Mostert injury, if he’s only expected to miss one week, then you can cool your jets on McKinnon. Otherwise, full steam ahead. As for Wilson, he is #2 in the 49ers backfield which is still a valuable position, and if McKinnon gets hurt he is suddenly the man for the next few weeks at least. He’s worth a speculative add for sure.
FAAB Budget: 20-25% for McKinnon if Mostert will miss multiple weeks, 10-15% otherwise. 3-5% on Wilson
Darrell Henderson Jr., Los Angeles Rams (33%/45%)
Last week I said I was hesitant to put Malcolm Brown on this list, and Henderson showed us all why we can’t rely on Brown, even with Cam Akers leaving the game early. This week, I’m hesitant to put Darrell Henderson on the list, because I don’t ever think we are going to get a reliable answer on who the top dog is going to be any given week. However, he was the guy with the most carries, and more importantly, the only back to get any work in the passing game, giving him a much more interesting role than Brown at least. I’d want to roster Henderson, but I wouldn’t want to bet my house on him.
FAAB Budget: 10%
Devonta Freeman, Free Agent (13%/8%)
Dion Lewis, New York Giants (6%/1%)
With Saquon Barkley out for the season with a torn ACL, the Giants find themselves with a huge hole in their backfield. Dion Lewis did his best on Sunday, being on the field for an absurd 88% of the team’s total snaps, but that won’t ever happen again, and it led to just 56 total yards and a touchdown. If Devonta Freeman does indeed sign with the Giants (he’s expected to meet with them today), he likely becomes the early-down back and Lewis will be the third-down back, at least to begin with. While the most likely scenario is that neither Freeman, Lewis, or Wayne Gallman separate themselves in this backfield and it becomes a complete stay-away, there’s a chance that one of them becomes the go-to guy, and I’d want to take my shot on Freeman first, or Lewis if Freeman doesn’t end up signing.
FAAB Budget: 5-10%
Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers (40%/29%)
Look who’s back for another week, as Joshua Kelley is still below 50%, he stays on this list. Last week I talked about how the Chargers ran 2/3 of their rushing attack between the tackles, and that stayed the same in Week 2. As long as the Chargers want to continue to play the style of football that they are, Kelley will remain relevant in the Melvin Gordon role from last year. Austin Ekeler is a fantastic weapon for them but he’s not going to soak up all the volume. This is a team that wants to run the football, and that makes Kelley a very interesting option still.
FAAB Budget: 5-8%
Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins (16%/13%)
While Myles Gaskin didn’t take all the work this week, he did do enough for me to feel confident about at least having him in a bench spot. He had the same number of carries as Matt Breida but was way more involved in the passing game, where Gaskin had 7 targets to Breida’s 1. Howard continues to get the goal-line work and that limits Gaskin’s upside, though I wonder how much longer they will let Howard be the goal-line back, he has 13 carries and 11 yards on the season. Gaskin is looking like the best running back in Miami and if he can keep chipping away at this role, he could be a flex option for you moving forward.
FAAB Budget: 2-4%
JaMycal Hasty, San Francisco 49ers (0%/0%)
Wayne Gallman, New York Giants (1%/1%)
I put these two guys together at the bottom of the column because they are in very similar positions. Both find themselves on the active roster due to major injuries in their backfield, and both are likely not worth starting unless there’s another injury or ineffectiveness on the depth chart above them. However, the Giants have a very uncertain backfield right now and the 49ers do like to lean on multiple running backs, so both of these guys should get an opportunity to show what they can do. If I had a bench spot available to speculate, I might speculate on one of these running backs and see if they become the headliner of next week’s waiver wire column.
FAAB Budget: 0% (can probably get for free after waivers run)
Tre’Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints (15% rostership on Yahoo/18% on ESPN)
When it was announced that Michael Thomas wasn’t going to be able to play this week, there was a bit of a stir in the fantasy football world. Some folks were saying that Tre’Quan Smith stood to gain the most from the injury, some were saying Deonte Harris, and others were saying that the established starters (guys like Emmanuel Sanders, Alvin Kamara, and Jared Cook) would be the ones to step up and soak up the volume. However, it seems pretty clear after last night’s game that Smith is who Brees trusts the most. In fact, he really doesn’t seem to be on the same page with Sanders at all, so Smith is the best wide receiver in New Orleans until Thomas gets healthy again.
FAAB Budget: 10-12%
Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons (23%/20%)
This was a very good sign for Russell Gage. Not just that he had the volume that he did for the second straight week, but the type of looks he was getting speaks to his value remaining high moving forward. In Week 1, Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones were mostly targeted at 10+ yards, in fact, both of their ADOTs (average depth of targets) are beyond 14 yards this season. Gage’s ADOT sits at 6.9, meaning most of his receptions are within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. While Ridley and Jones will continue to see the high-value targets, Gage will probably continue to get a handful of receptions underneath and he’s shown the athleticism to turn those receptions into more, with 64 yards after the catch on the year. Atlanta will be in a ton of shootouts all year long and will need all hands on deck, including Gage’s.
FAAB Budget: 8-10%
N’Keal Harry, New England Patriots (27%/40%)
Cam Newton was looking for Harry early and often, and while Julian Edelman was the big winner of the day, it was N’Keal Harry who actually led the team in targets with 12. This is the kind of thing you want to see with a new quarterback in town, which receivers does he trust and who is he looking towards, and this is the best-case scenario for the former first-round pick. Now, to temper expectations a bit, this is not the kind of game that the Patriots likely want to play. We know Bill Belichick’s style, and the Patriots are much more likely to play in games like they did last week against the Dolphins, where Newton throws it 19 times instead of 44 times, so the volume won’t always be there for Harry. But it’s good to know that when Newton does need to throw, Harry will be in his sights.
FAAB Budget: 3-4%
Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars (17%/13%)
Keelan Cole Sr., Jacksonville Jaguars (4%/2%)
The Jaguars offense has been a really nice surprise to start this season. We really weren’t sure what to expect from anyone, not the backfield, not Gardner Minshew II, and certainly not this receiving corps beyond DJ Chark. But through two games, a few things have become clear for this passing attack. First, Minshew is able and willing to sling the ball effectively. He showed the efficiency last week, going 19/20, and he showed the volume this week, throwing 45 times as they tried to come back against the Titans. More importantly, in both games, he really spread the ball around and got everyone involved, which is bad for those who are counting on Chark, but good for Laviska Shenault Jr. and Keelan Cole Sr. here. Shenault is certainly the more interesting player, he’s being used creatively and has that next-level athleticism that makes you think every play could be a big play, but Cole is a really safe PPR player for those needing a high floor from their receivers. Both should be on your radar.
FAAB Budget: 5-6% for Shenault, Cole 1% or probably free after waivers run
Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys (2% rostership on Yahoo/1% on ESPN)
Mo Alie-Cox, Indianapolis Colts (1%/1%)
I’m not going to spend too much time talking about either of these guys, but given that they play the shallowest position and are in good offenses where tight ends can thrive, these two should be on your radar. The Cowboys have always looked for their tight ends, and Dalton Schultz received the most targets on a day when the Cowboys were playing from behind the whole game. Phillip Rivers has also historically targeted his tight ends, and Mo Alie-Cox is the man there as long as Jack Doyle is out. You may already have a TE that you trust, but if you find yourself needing a streamer or needing to replace a disappointing draft pick, like a Rob Gronkowski or a Chris Herndon, these two guys should be considered.
FAAB Budget: 0% (can probably get for free after waivers run)
Gardner Minshew II, Jacksonville Jaguars (33%/20%)
You may find yourself wanting to replace Tom Brady, or Carson Wentz, or some other disappointing QB, and the guy who’s rising the most for me is Gardner Minshew II. I spoke a lot about Minshew above in the Shenault/Cole writeup, and really it just comes down to a few things for me here. First off, the Jaguars are likely going to find themselves on the wrong side of the score a lot and needing to throw to get back in the game. Secondly, it looks like they have better options for him to throw to than they did last year. I think he’s taken a step forward from last year and will have a better chance at being fantasy-relevant than a lot of quarterbacks that we would have ranked higher than him coming into the season.
FAAB Budget: 1-2%, I’m not spending on QB
Photo by MSA/Icon Sportswire