Between Week 1 and Week 2, most fantasy football owners were a little reluctant to shake up their roster -- and rightfully so -- for a lackluster group of guys who may have been one-week wonders. But following Week 2, the waiver wire has suddenly turned into a battle zone for the best available players because of how many injuries/suspensions we saw this past weekend.
Owners of Jamaal Charles, Maurice Jones-Drew, Doug Martin, Knowshon Moreno and DeAngelo Williams will all look for waiver-wire warriors. While Adrian Peterson is supposed to play in Week 3, his owners would be wise to buy some fantasy insurance, too. Also, owners of Eric Decker, A.J. Green and DeSean Jackson will be in an add/drop frenzy, too, looking for wide receiver help.
If you don’t own any of the above players, consider buying a lottery ticket. You should still be active on the waiver wire, especially if you have a player or two ready for dumping (looking at you, Cecil Shorts’ owners). By grabbing some of the most valuable waiver-wire replacements, you could gain major trade pieces, even if you don’t plan on starting the player you pick up.
Last week, we steered you right on Bobby Rainey, Brian Quick and Larry Donnell, but we missed the boat on Jake Locker, Benny Cunningham and the Dolphins defense. Let’s correct that.
Each week, we’ll share 8-12 players we think are worth a look in standard fantasy football leagues based on performance and upcoming matchups. Each of these players listed are owned in fewer than 30 percent of leagues on CBS Sports, ESPN and Yahoo! leagues.
Kirk Cousins, Washington (Owned in eight percent of CBSSports leagues, 4.8 percent of ESPN leagues and eight percent of Yahoo! leagues) -- Obviously, fantasy owners of Robert Griffin III should look to add Cousins if they don’t already have a better alternative. With Griffin (dislocated ankle) sidelined indefinitely, Cousins suddenly holds the keys to an offense that’s well-suited to his game. The third-year player was drafted in the same draft as RGIII, and he looked like a veteran against Jacksonville Sunday. He made good reads, stayed in the pocket and didn’t try to do too much. The Redskins play the Eagles and Giants in the next two weeks, which makes Cousins someone to consider starting in fantasy, but then they line up against the Seahawks and Cardinals.
Keeping an eye on: Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles.
Donald Brown, San Diego (17 percent, 87.7 percent and eight percent) – Note: ESPN has him owned in 87 percent of leagues, which is much higher than the others, but I felt he still deserved mentioning in this column. With Ryan Mathews expected to miss a month or so with a sprained MCL, Brown will likely be a big part of the Chargers’ running game. Danny Woodhead should continue to see third-down action, but Brown was brought in as an insurance policy for Mathews. Unfortunately, the Chargers like to use Woodhead near the goal line, so scoring opportunities might not be there for Brown. But getting a starting tailback on a prolific offense like the Chargers’, who’ll be on the field an awful lot every week, makes Brown your top waiver choice this week.
Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota (24 percent, 0.9 percent and 12 percent) – Every Peterson owner should be working to get McKinnon or Matt Asiata, who is owned at a higher percentage. As of now, the Vikings plan on playing Peterson in Week 3, despite the child abuse charges he faced last week. With AP out in Week 2, Minnesota made Asiata the main man, but he’s a plodding back (2.8 yards per carry) who just happened to catch a pass in broken coverage for a touchdown. McKinnon has impressive speed (4.41 40-yard dash at the NFL combine), he’s strong (32 reps of 225 lbs.) and he’s athletic (second-best vertical and broad jump). The numbers say he’s the better bet if Peterson does lose time, but the rookie out of Georgia Southern has to prove he’s capable in pass protection and comfortable with the playbook.
Jonathan Dwyer, Arizona (16 percent, 27.4 percent and nine percent) -- Andre Ellington (foot) played in Week 2, but his quarterback didn’t. The Cardinals like to use Dwyer near the goal line, and the former Steelers’ tailback scored his first touchdown since 2012 in Week 2. While a game against the 49ers this week is quite unappealing, and Dwyer is going to be on a bye in Week 4, remember the Cardinals’ vulture back for Weeks 6-9, when they’ll face the Redskins, Raiders, Eagles and Cowboys.
Keeping an eye on: Denver’s C.J. Anderson and Seattle’s Robert Turbin.
Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati (14 percent, 1.7 percent and eight percent) – A.J. Green sprained a toe ligament early in his Week 2 game against the Falcons. Sanu, the third-year player out of Rutgers, caught three passes for 84 yards and a touchdown, but he only had four total targets as the Bengals relied more on their young tailbacks. Even so, Sanu is a good insurance policy with Green expected to miss at least one more week.
Brian Quick, St. Louis (22 percent, 3.7 percent and 16 percent) – We’re going to push Quick again this week, as he continues to get things done no matter who’s under center. The only wide receiver with more catches through two weeks is Jordy Nelson. Like I said last week, Quick won’t score a lot (he hasn’t scored yet), but you could do much worse for a WR4 in PPR leagues.
Aaron Dobson, New England (21 percent, 3.0 percent and 19 percent) – He’s healthy, starting across from Julian Edelman as the X receiver in Tom Brady’s offense, and Kenbrell Thompkins was inactive this past weekend. When the Patriots get into games where they need to throw a lot, Dobson will be a key cog.
Keeping an eye on: Cleveland’s Miles Austin, Carolina’s Jason Avant and Green Bay’s Davante Adams.
Niles Paul, Washington (10 percent, 0.7 percent and four percent) – Unlike Larry Donnell, who we profiled here last week, Paul didn’t earn the top job out of camp, since Jordan Reed was coming off a stellar rookie season. But the oft-injured Reed pulled up lame with a balky hamstring in Week 1, and Paul, a four-year veteran, posted solid numbers in his place (four catches for 86 yards). In Week 2, Paul again filled in for Reed, making eight grabs for 99 yards and a touchdown. Washington travels to Philadelphia in Week 3, and he’s a borderline fantasy starter in 12-team leagues.
Greg Zuerlein, St. Louis (30 percent, 3.6 percent and 10 percent) – The Rams offense seems to be just good enough to get to the 30-yard line. Legatron’s kicking strength is legendary, and he has six field goals in the past two weeks. He gets a home game in Week 3 against Dallas before a bye week, so if you’re streaming kickers, this is the play.
There aren’t any defensive matchups that include teams with less than 30 percent ownership worth using in Week 3. If you have to roll the dice, consider picking up the Browns, who face the Ravens in Cleveland.