- T.J. Yeldon and Geronimo Allison could be looking at increased roles, albeit for different reasons, after Week 1. They kick off our look at the waiver wire going into Week 2.
The waiver wire is an omnipresent part of the equation in every fantasy football season, but that doesn't mean we all approach it in the same way. In order to reflect those differing opinions, 4for4's John Paulsen and I will have a short discussion every week about the most intriguing available players before we jump into a full look at the waiver wire. This week, we start with a couple of players who could be looking at much larger roles thanks to injuries suffered by starters in Week 1.
Michael Beller: Well, John, it didn't take long for the injury bug to make up for a relatively quiet preseason. Aaron Rodgers stopped Wisconsin's collective heart before making a triumphant return in the second half. Delanie Walker suffered what appeared to be a serious leg injury after teammate Marcus Mariota gave way to Blaine Gabbert because of a hand issue. We'll leave those discussions for this week's injury column, though. To kick off our look at the Week 2 waiver wire, I'd like to take us to Jacksonville and Seattle, where a couple of injuries have opened the door to a few players who were barely on the fantasy radar a week ago.
Leonard Fournette left Jacksonville's win over Giants in the second quarter with a hamstring injury. T.J. Yeldon took over the primary duties in the Jaguars backfield, totaling 69 yards and a touchdown on 17 touches. We may not have any great information on Fournette until later in the week, and it's almost certain that the waiver deadline will pass before the Jaguars have much, if any, idea on Fournette's Week 2 status. If he has to miss time, Yeldon will be on the start radar in all fantasy leagues, in my estimation. Do you read that the same? What percentage of a FAAB budget would you spend to secure Yeldon's services?
Over in Seattle, Brandon Marshall had a solid team debut, catching three of six targets for 46 yards and a touchdown. He also had a second score taken off the board because of an offensive pass interference penalty. Marshall likely got more looks than he would've had Doug Baldwin played all afternoon, but he got just one target before leaving with a sprained MCL in his previously healthy knee. Now that Baldwin has two balky knees, should we be taking Marshall seriously? Can the 34-year-old get back in the good graces of the fantasy community?
John Paulsen: One trick with trying to figure out a good bid for FAAB formats is estimating how long the player in question is going to be useful. In this case, Fournette is not the most durable player, with foot problems that go back to college and three missed games as a rookie, so there does appear to be some medium-term upside to Yeldon. However, coach Doug Marrone is “pretty optimistic” about the injury and Fournette did not have a noticeable limp as he walked and down the sidelines as the game continued. This indicates that he probably won’t be out for very long, maybe a week or two, and most owners will have a decent option on the bench that can fill in for that length of time.
As for Yeldon, one concern with his draft stock was that Corey Grant also loomed in the event of a Fournette injury, but he was a non-factor against the Giants. Yeldon ended up with 17 touches while Grant only saw one, so it seems pretty clear that Yeldon will carry the load as long as Fournette is out. Yeldon has averaged 12.6 fantasy points per game (half-PPR formats) in the 15 games where he received at least 15 touches.
I don’t think Yeldon is anything resembling a league-winner but I could see laying down 15-20% of my budget if I were thin at running back and wanted to roll the dice that Fournette’s injury might linger or recur later in the season.
In Seattle, Doug Baldwin’s season is getting off to a very poor start, and both Marshall and personal favorite Tyler Lockett are in position to take advantage. Marshall feels like a low-YPC PPR play with some touchdown upside at this point in his career. He only had six targets against the Broncos even though Baldwin was limited to one, so I wouldn’t expect monster usage. But since Russell Wilson is a highly efficient passer as far as fantasy points per pass attempt goes, targets from him are worth more than targets from most quarterbacks. I could see Marshall posting fantasy WR3 numbers while Baldwin is out. That probably makes him worthy of a 10-15% bid in PPR formats.
I’d probably be more inclined to target Geronimo Allison on the waiver wire. He posted 5-69-1 on eight targets against the Bears and looked good doing it. As the third receiver in a base three-WR offense, Allison should be on the field for 75% or more of the snaps and it appears that he’s ahead of Jimmy Graham (four targets) in the receiving pecking order right now.
Beller: Leave it to a Packers fan to shoehorn a Packer into the conversation.
In all seriousness, I see where you’re coming from on Allison. Aaron Rodgers put that touchdown throw right on the money, but it was a heck of a catch by Allison, too, who beat essentially perfect coverage by Kyle Fuller. We’ll touch on him in a bit more detail later in the column. As for Yeldon and Marshall, I think your percentages are right on, and I think I’d chase Yeldon even harder if I were a Fournette owner. The foot and leg issues going back to his LSU days are troubling, no matter how insignificant this hamstring injury seems on its face.
With that, let’s get to the rest of the Week 2 waiver wire. As always, all players have ownership rates of 40% or less on at least two of Yahoo, ESPN and CBS.
Phillip Lindsay, Broncos
Royce Freeman was a chic breakout pick during draft season, but it was Lindsay who led the Broncos backfield in Week 1. He ran for 71 yards on 15 carries, caught two passes for 31 yards, and hit paydirt once in an impressive career debut. Freeman matched him exactly on the ground, also carrying the ball 71 yards on 15 totes, though he didn’t get a target. At this point, it appears Freeman and Lindsay are sharing the backfield, and that makes Lindsay a worthy waiver target.
Austin Ekeler, Chargers
The Chargers followed through in Week 1 on all their preseason protestations of getting Ekeler more involved. He got five carries and five targets, totaling 126 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on 10 touches. What’s more, he did so with Melvin Gordon playing a huge role in the offense, too. The starter carried the ball 15 times and notched 13 targets, racking up 166 yards from scrimmage. That Ekeler’s production didn’t come at Gordon’s expense bodes well for his future fantasy utility.
Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines, Colts
At this extremely early point in the season, still so much is unknown. As such, Wilkins and Hines both showed enough to get on the waiver wire radar. Wilkins led the Colts with 14 carries, 40 rushing yards and a 56.1% snap rate. Hines, meanwhile, got nine targets, catching seven of them for 33 yards. Neither back produced anything of note, but the fact that they were both so involved in the offense is reason enough to kick the tires on the waiver wire. It also means that the door is open for Marlon Mack to run away with the job when he returns from his hamstring injury, likely in the team’s Week 2 game in Washington.
Javorius Allen and Kenneth Dixon, Ravens
It’s hard to judge the Ravens backfield usage, given that they had a win sewn up by halftime, eventually putting a 47-3 drubbing on the Bills. Allen played 37.5% of the team’s snaps, getting six targets while scoring on the ground. Dixon led the team with 13 carries for 44 yards and a score, but he played just 22 snaps and did nearly all of his damage when the result was well in hand. Alex Collins left plenty to be desired in Week 1, but he remains in control of this backfield. Allen and Dixon are considerations only in deeper leagues.
Geronimo Allison, Packers
Allison looks like a top-three option in Green Bay’s passing attack, and, yet again, Aaron Rodgers proved just how valuable such a role can be. Allison caught five of his eight targets for 69 yards and a touchdown in the Packers’ 24-23 win over the Bears in Week 1. Just as importantly, he was on the field for 70% of the team’s snaps, as sure a sign as any that the Packers will be a heavy three-wide team this season. Jimmy Graham, meanwhile, got four targets, and failed to make himself a weapon in between the 20s. If Allison is looking at a 100-target role in Green Bay’s offense, he’s going to be fantasy-relevant all season.
John Brown, Ravens
Brown had a strong summer, developing into an attractive late-round pick at the end of draft season. He came through immediately for fantasy owners who believed in him, catching three passes for 44 yards and a touchdown in the Ravens’ 47-3 thrashing of the Bills. Brown got fewer targets than Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead, but it’ll be important to not read too much into usage in this game. The Ravens had the result put away by halftime, taking a 26-0 lead into the locker room. Brown did all his damage in the first half, catching a 29-yard pass in addition to his 7-yard score. The Ravens had little reason to push the ball down the field in the second half, and that’s where Brown typically makes his money. That he was so heavily involved when the outcome was still in question should give his owners a ton of confidence about the role he can play, from both real-life and fantasy perspectives.
Phillip Dorsett, Patriots
How much of Dorsett’s Week 1 production owes to Julian Edelman’s absence, and how much is a sign of things to come? The former has to be part of the equation, but the Patriots made no secret of their desire to get Dorsett a larger role this season. He hauled in seven passes in the 27-20 win over the Texans, totaling 66 yards and a touchdown. Rob Gronkowski is the only sure thing in the New England offense from week to week—other than Tom Brady, of course—and there are a ton of mouths to feed out wide and in the backfield. Still, there’s almost no bad way to get invested in this offense. Consider Dorsett a lottery ticket with a solid floor.
Quincy Enunwa, Jets
Enunwa paced the Jets with 10 targets in their 48-17 drubbing of the Lions, catching six of them for 63 yards and a touchdown. Robby Anderson, meanwhile, got just one target, and all other Jets receivers, including Anderson, combined for four. Enunwa was a popular sleeper pick last season before a neck injury suffered in the summer cost him the entire year, but he looked the part of a potential breakout player in Week 1. Enunwa played two-thirds of the Jets' snaps, five more than Anderson, and when you add that to the extreme target dispartiy, there's reason to believe he could be the team's true No. 1 this year.
Danny Amendola, Dolphins
Amendola didn’t do much in his Miami return, catching four of six targets for 26 yards. The six targets were second on the team to Jakeem Grant, though, and two more than Albert Wilson, with whom he’s likely in direct competition for targets. Amendola is going to have a low-value role all season, but there’s still reason to believe he can be a worthwhile fantasy player when the bye-week portion of the schedule arrives.
Dede Westbrook, Jaguars
Westbrook got six targets in the Jaguars’ 20-15 win over the Giants, one more than Donte Moncrief and two more than Keelan Cole. He caught five of them for 51 yards, leading the team in receptions. Does this mean we should treat him as the No. 1 in Jacksonville? Of course not. First of all, he ran third among the receivers in snap rate, playing just fewer than half of the teams snaps. Still, chances are there won’t be a true No. 1 in Jacksonville, and that’ll open the door to all three on a week-to-week basis. Westbrook has enough juice to carry value during the bye-week portion of the schedule, and he could pop up on season-long WR3 radar if Cole or Moncrief were forced to miss time.
Chris Godwin, Buccaneers
Godwin followed through on all his preseason promise, catching three of four targets for 41 yards and a touchdown in the Buccaneers’ survivor pool destroying win over the Saints in Week 1. He played 69.7% of the team’s snaps, more than anyone other than Mike Evans and Peyton Barber, a great sign for him going forward. Godwin needs to be owned in all competitive leagues.
Dante Pettis, 49ers
Pettis stepped up in place of an injured Marquise Goodwin, catching two of five targets for 61 yards and a touchdown. This is really just an injury play, however. George Kittle and Pierre Garcon are locked into large roles in San Francisco’s passing game, and Goodwin will be right there with them when healthy. Pettis is worth claiming in case Goodwin’s quad injury is something that costs him time, but don’t break the bank for the rookie out of Washington. He won’t have a ton of value when the offense is at full strength.
Will Dissly, Seahawks
Dissly was one of the surprise Week 1 stars, catching three passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. Before getting too excited here, consider some of the game-specific circumstances that aren’t likely to be around every week. First, nearly every play Dissly hit was a big one. His score came from 15 yards out, and his two other catches went for 66 and 24 yards. Second, Doug Baldwin got just one target and left early with a knee injury, and while that could cost him some time, he’s going to have a much larger role in an average week than he did on Sunday. Third, Russell Wilson attempted 33 passes while Seattle running backs got just 14 carries. Dissly is worth a look, especially if you’re a Delanie Walker or Greg Olsen owner, but he’s unlikely to be more than a streamer.
Eric Ebron, Colts
Ebron carved out a nice role alongside Jack Doyle in his first career game with the Colts, catching four of five targets for 51 yards and a touchdown. Doyle got 10 targets, pulling down seven of them for 60 yards. The concern for Ebron, or anyone buying into him after Week 1, is that he played 45.1% of the snaps, while Doyle played all but five. Still, a healthy Andrew Luck has supported multiple fantasy-relevant tight ends in the same season previously, and he could do it again, especially with T.Y. Hilton the only sure thing out wide for the Colts.
Jonnu Smith, Titans
With Delanie Walker out for the rest of the season, Smith steps in as the Titans' new starting tight end. The second-year player out of Florida International played well in limited duty last year, catching 18 of 30 targets for 157 yards and two touchdowns. He missed time in both of his final two years at Florida International, but still showed enough promise to be a third-round pick for a Titans team that didn't really need help at tight end. He has a lower floor than some other widely available tight ends, but more upside than many of those options, as well. If you're looking for a Walker or Olsen replacement and want to swing for the fences, at least in the short term, Smith is worth a claim.