Injuries and disappointment tend to send owners to the waiver wire. If you already lost someone for the season, dive in. All others, beware of overreacting to one week of opening day-induced surprises and disappointment.
Need to replace a running back?
David Johnson’s wrist injury crushed the souls of fantasy owners lucky enough to have a top-two pick in their NFL fantasy draft. Owners are running to add Kerwynn Williams, who took over in a small fashion when Johnson went down. Don’t do it.
Arizona’s head coach has never mentioned Williams alone as a replacement for Johnson. He immediately put Andre Ellington’s name first and talked about both picking up the slack for Williams. Then he signed a nice rookie out of Arizona State, DJ Foster, off New England’s practice squad and brought back Chris Johnson. Kerwynn Williams had a three-yard touchdown, a four-yard run and then less than a yard-per-carry the rest of the game. Not only might he not be the answer, Arizona’s running game could be a smaller part of the overall scheme and be split among a committee of runners.
Ellington’s value goes up in PPR. If you have a slot to stash Williams or Chris Johnson on conjecture, go ahead. But you will better off looking elsewhere for a running back. Like Chicago.
Tarik Cohen is not taking over for Jordan Howard. He will share the load, but at 188 pounds, he is not getting the ball 25-30 times a game. He is Darren Sproles – a back who can line up anywhere and will catch passes and pitches for quick chunks of yards. He is a far-better choice than anyone out of Arizona, but don’t pay too much for him and don’t trade off Howard!
We listed Javorius (Buck) Allen as a sleeper and worthy handcuff for Terrance West and Danny Woodhead before Week 1. Woodhead is out and West did not exactly take firm possession of the RB1 role. Allen will not knock your socks off with his yards-per-carry average, but he will surely take over Woodhead’s role as the pass-catching back. Baltimore’s attempts to protect their quarterback’s achy body will offer rushing volume, too. Allen might be a safer pickup than Cohen.
I already stashed Chris Carson as I believe Pete Carroll will eventually abandon his committee approach and make Rawls (when healthy) and Carson the top two backs, not necessarily in that order.
Wide receivers anyone?
I love being an “I-told-you-so”, so… get Cooper Kupp and Kenny Golladay like I told you last week. Here’s the caveat, though: Kupp is an every week starter until teams realize they can’t ignore him while chasing Sammy Watkins and Todd Gurley around the field. Kupp operates in Jared Goff’s high-percentage range and will get targets and catches every week.
But Golladay took advantage of Marvin Jones being shut down by Patrick Peterson on Sunday. If you saw Matt Stafford and Jones connect in the preseason, you would rightfully assume Jones will see more than two targets in a typical week. Also, most teams have a better option to play the third receiver. Golladay will be touchdown-reliant and thus, somewhat erratic week-to-week. I have him as a bust candidate against the Giants Monday night.
Be just as careful about Philadelphia’s Nelson Agholor. I know Philly kept talking him up and traded Jordan Matthews and all, but the bulk of Agholor’s production this week came on one busted play. He also should have caught at least one other target, looking like last season’s Agholor on the play. He should be okay, but I am far from sold on dumping anyone on my roster for the Eagles’ slot receiver.
Ditto on Jermaine Kearse. Kearse emerged as the top receiver on the Jets in Week 1, but the Jets also signed Jeremy Kerley during the week and still have a slew of potential breakout youths on their roster. Plus, it’s the Jets. They tend to disappoint me regularly.
Allen Hurns thrived in the top spot for Jacksonville two years ago. After finding himself on the trading block, he may come in with a chip on his shoulder that brings him back to form. But Marqise Lee is the WR1 and the Leonard Fournette show will keep any Jacksonville receiver from being a consistent NFL fantasy star. Stash Hurns or Lee on the cheap if you have space. But don’t expect much.
Quarterbacks on tap
Sam Bradford and Alex Smith threw the ball vertically this week and looked like completely different quarterbacks. Are they for real? Yes, kind of…
Bradford will have Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen downfield all season. Dalvin Cook will have defenders taking their first step toward him all season. Bradford is savvy enough to take advantage of that. He might not look as awesome as he did in Week 1, but the Vikings’ passer has a high floor and just raised his ceiling. I am dumping Eli Manning for him this week.
Smith has Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt with Travis Kelce and Chris Conley ready to take advantage if defenses get preoccupied with the dynamic duo. Smith’s stock is definitely up. The caveat on both is that opening day often brings out quirky gameplans, especially when facing explosive opponents like the Patriots and Saints. Smith and Bradford can air it out each week, but their coaches may revert to their more conservative patterns just as easily.
Tight ends and a kicker?
Austin Hooper probably won’t find himself standing alone in the middle of the field as often as he did Sunday, but he is still a forgotten entity among the Falcons’ stars. He is worth a tight end spot, but don’t expect 100+ yards each week.
Charles Clay remains largely unowned. He showed you exactly what I expect from him week-to-week. 50-70 yards and a touchdown every other game or so. The thing that was unusual was the number of missed targets (four catches in 11 targets). Expect that ratio to be higher most weeks.
Jesse James emerged as the top tight end in Pittsburgh. He might continue to get targets, but Le’Veon Bell will eventually take those touchdowns back. If you listened to my warning about Vance McDonald after the trade, good for you. If you changed your mind based on my sleeper article… well, sorry about that.
Zach Miller looks set to take on a bigger role in the Bears’ receiving game. Dion Sims will also see more targets as Chicago wide receivers become an endangered species.
If you happen to need a kicker, sign up Giorgio Tavecchio from Oakland. He looks like the real deal and has won the trust of his head coach.
Look for last minute sleeper considerations later in the week and come back to RealSport each Tuesday for waiver wire advice and news. And don’t forget to send your fantasy questions to [email protected] for our weekly mailbag which will run on Wednesday!
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