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Winners Club: Don’t Freak Out—Add These Fantasy Free Agents

Plus, NFL betting trends through two weeks, futures odds on the move and more.

It was fair to wonder if the Bills hype train went a tad too far in the offseason.

The AFC is really deep. The Chiefs aren’t going anywhere, the Chargers got better and what about the Bengals?

All Buffalo has done through two weeks is topple the defending Super Bowl champions and blowout last year’s No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Bills scored 41 unanswered on Monday night against the Titans in a rout. And don’t forget about the Eagles over in the NFC, who thoroughly thumped the visiting Vikings in the second game of the Monday Night Football doubleheader.

(Confused why this was a Week 2 doubleheader? I was too. This from Jimmy Traina should clear things up.)

Anyhow, let’s get down to business—in today’s Winners Club you’ll find:

  • Players to pick up on the waiver wire
  • Fantasy takeaways from Week 2
  • Latest injury news from around the league
  • Super Bowl, division odds risers and fallers

Free Agents Who Are Worth Your Well-Earned FAAB

The biggest injury news of the week was Trey Lance breaking his ankle. The 49ers’ second-year quarterback went down against the Seahawks and the team later announced he will miss the remainder of the season.

Jimmy Garoppolo came in to replace Lance, who had supplanted him as the team’s starter this season, and San Francisco handled Seattle with a familiar face under center. If your fantasy team is hurting, you might consider following San Francisco’s lead and try replacing him with Garoppolo.

Craig Ellenport broke down what Lance’s injury means for fantasy managers and explained why Jeff Wilson Jr. might be the biggest beneficiary.

There’s some other minor injury news that we’ll get to, but Lance’s season coming to an early is the one that’s sending managers scrambling to the waiver wire, where they’ll likely find Tua TagovailoaCarson Wentz and Jared Goff awaiting them—all good adds!

Jen Piacenti is here to walk you through the waiver process once again this week and Matt De Lima does the same for IDP formats.

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Read Michael Fabiano’s top 10 fantasy takeaways for more on the Week 2 performances. I also started up a new fantasy series this week titled “Good News, Bad News” where I’ll be looking at a few players’ production from different perspectives. I began with D’Andre SwiftJavonte WilliamsD.J. Moore and Rashod Bateman. Check it out!

More news of note: Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans plans to appeal his one-game suspension for “unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct”, Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz has a PCL injury in his knee, Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette tweeted an apology to fantasy managers and said “touchdowns coming soon!”, Colts coach Frank Reich said WR Michael Pittman (quad) could return this weekFalcons coach Arthur Smith said "It's not fantasy football, we're just trying to win” when asked about tight ends Kyle Pitts’s lack of targets, Cardinals running back James Conner’s ankle injury is not considered serious and Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (ribs) is considered day-to-day.

Unders, Underdogs Prevail Across NFL

We should have known when Chargers-Chiefs went under on Thursday night that there weren’t going to be a lot of points scored this week.

That game went under the admittedly astronomical 54.5-point total. And its outcome was indicative of another early trend showing up so far this season: Los Angeles, a 4.5-point underdog, covered the spread.

The under is 22-10 (68.8%) and underdogs are 18-13-1 against the spread (58.1%), according to covers.com.

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Matt Ehalt went deeper on the subject in his Week 2 NFL betting recap.

It was a notably brutal Sunday for the AFC North, which went 0-4 ATS and straight-up.

  • The Ravens lost 42-38 to the Dolphins as 3.5-point favorites. Baltimore led 35-14 going into the fourth and then Tagovailoa turned things up to the tune of 450 passing yards and six touchdowns.
  • The Browns also blew it against the Jets despite being favored by nearly a touchdown. Cleveland was up two scores late in the fourth quarter but New York mounted a last-minute comeback on the road to win, 31-30.
  • The Bengals did not right the ship in Dallas against the Cooper Rush-led Cowboys. Cincinnati was more than a touchdown favorite in this game and lost 20-17 to start the season 0-2.

The last wild stat I’ll leave you with is this: No team came back from a 20-point deficit in all of the 2021 season. Two teams did so Sunday. The Cardinals trailed the Raiders 20-0 and came back to win in overtime and the Dolphins were down 35-14 before they mounted their comeback.

Week 2 Results Spark Further Odds Shakeup

Another wild week around the league shifted the future markets dramatically. Some preseason teams dubbed contenders—many of whom reside in the AFC—have gotten off to very rocky starts, while the top teams (Bills, Chiefs, Buccaneers) all separated themselves from the rest of the league with sizable wins.

Let’s check back in with some of the biggest risers and fallers this week at SI Sportsbook, starting off with the Super Bowl-favorite Bills.

(Initial odds are based on preseason markets)

Risers

Bills

Super Bowl: +600 → +400
AFC East: -220 → -400

Buffalo’s defense has seven takeaways and allowed the second-fewest points in the league. And its offense is first in points per game. Put all that together and you have a team head and shoulders above the rest of the pack.

Eagles

Super Bowl: +1800 → +1200
NFC East: +150 → -200

Philadelphia was appropriately dinged for letting the Lions back in the game Week 1. It made sure to keep the Vikings at bay on Monday night after Jalen Hurts got the Eagles on top early. These odds also reflect Dallas losing quarterback Dak Prescott for at least several weeks.

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Dolphins

Super Bowl: +3300 → +2000
AFC East: +400 → +400

Miami made a statement on the road against the Ravens by beating Baltimore for the second year in a row. The Dolphins’ speedy receivers looked unstoppable Sunday and Tagovailoa had no problem airing the ball out often against a talented defense.

Fallers

Colts

Super Bowl: +2000 → +3300
AFC South: -125 → +140

Indianapolis is still winless after beginning its schedule with two softballs in its division. Now, the Colts get the Chiefs at home this week and face an uphill battle to the postseason.

Bengals

Super Bowl: +2000 → +2500
AFC North: +160 → +275

The Super Bowl hangover is very much real for Cincinnati. Sure, Joe Burrow didn’t toss five interceptions this week, but the Bengals still lost on the road to a backup quarterback and a shorthanded Cowboys team.

Raiders

Super Bowl: +3300 → +5000
AFC West: +650 → +1400

Las Vegas had plenty of opportunities to put the Cardinals away and never quite did. After putting up a fight Week 1 against the Chargers, the Raiders let Arizona force overtime and send them to 0-2, a death knell in the AFC West.

In Other News

MLB Power Rankings: The playoff race is narrowing as October approaches and there’s now 15 teams fighting for 12 spots. The Orioles, White Sox and Brewers are the clubs on the outside looking in with plenty still to be sorted out over the next few weeks.

CFB Bowl Projections: Week 3 didn’t affect the Playoff Projection, but there’s been some alterations to the other New Year’s Six Bowl games following another week of college football action.

NBA Draft Age Requirement Could be Lowered: The league and the players association are expected to agree on lowering the age eligibility for the draft from 19 years old to 18, according to The Athletic.


Thanks for reading Winners Club! I’ll be back in your inbox Thursday morning. Until then.