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  • Two big-name QBs went down on Sunday, with ripple effects across the fantasy world.
By Matt Brandon
September 16, 2019

Many fantasy football owners saw their teams decimated by injuries in Week 2, particularly at the quarterback position. Two future Hall of Fame players suffered serious injuries. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger will undergo season-ending elbow surgery while Saints QB Drew Brees will miss six weeks due to a torn ligament in his right thumb. Obviously, it is safe to drop Big Ben, but if Brees is your QB2, I would stash him on the bench. If he is your starter, you may be forced to scramble on the waiver wire. You could pick up each injured players’ replacement in Mason Rudolph or Teddy Bridgewater, but there are plenty of other quarterbacks who I would prefer still available in more than 50% of Yahoo leagues. There are three quarterbacks I would target on the waiver wire right now if I were in desperation mode: Josh Allen, Jimmy Garoppolo and Matthew Stafford (in that order). Allen proved he is the king of New York and can produce fantasy points both through the air and with his legs. Jimmy G was clearly rusty but is coming off a three-touchdown performance against the Bengals and Stafford has put up two very strong outings to open the season. However, if you are in a very deep league and can only choose between Rudolph and Bridgewater, go with the Steeler. He has 14 games left compared to Bridgewater’s six games before Brees’s expected return, and also looked much better than Bridgewater in Week 2. I also expect the Saints to rely much more on the running game whereas Rudolph will be asked to sling it, especially because the Steelers will be behind in most contests.

Here's some more fallout from the two major injuries:

For all intents and purposes, the Steelers’ season is officially over. It was already going to be difficult for them to win the division with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens lighting up the box scores, but now with Ben Roethlisberger out for the season, the Steelers are forced to turn to Mason Rudolph, a guy who has never started an NFL game in his career. While I actually like Rudolph and saw some solid play from him on Sunday, there is no doubt that JuJu Smith-Schuster’s value will take a huge hit. Pittsburgh’s hyped WR1 moves from a top-6 receiver in fantasy football to a top-20 player among the wide receiver landscape. I do think Vance McDonald’s value will remain just about the same, but Donte Moncrief can be dropped. James Washington is someone I would hold as I’d like to see if Rudolph and Washington are able to obtain the chemistry they once had when they played together in college.

Not only did Pittsburgh lose to the Seahawks on Sunday, start 0-2 and lose Big Ben for the entire season, but now there are concerns about featured running back James Conner. Conner exited the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury, and even if he is healthy enough to return for Week 3 against the 49ers, Conner’s fantasy stock has taken a huge hit. His first two games were not all that impressive and to be honest, I don’t think he is much better than backup running back Jaylen Samuels. Regardless, if you have Conner, you are most likely starting him. Hopefully you drafted his handcuff because Conner is in danger of missing at least a couple weeks. Expect Pittsburgh to be cautious with their franchise running back with the knowledge that 2019 is a lost season.

The Saints’ situation is a bit different. New Orleans did not start the season off 0-2, and their backup quarterback is much more established in Teddy Bridgewater. Not to mention, if all goes well, Drew Brees will be back on the field after the team’s bye week in Week 10. 

You can’t really critique Bridgewater’s performance in Week 2 because he was thrown into a very tough situation unexpectedly and was playing against one of the best defenses in the league in the Rams. It’s still very telling that Michael Thomas finished Week 2 with exactly the same number of targets and receptions as he produced in Week 1 (10 for 13). The yardage was a bit less, but Thomas has started the season strong. I would expect head coach Sean Payton to utilize Thomas in as many advantageous matchups as possible, lining him up all over the field. As for the rest of the Saints’ offense, Jared Cook falls from a TE1 to a TE2, Tre’Quan Smith becomes irrelevant and Tedd Ginn Jr. may have one or two good games under Bridgewater, but is not someone I would start in any format. 

It’s also interesting to note that Alvin Kamara had his worst outing in a very long time. While I expect New Orleans to lean on Kamara now more than ever, yesterday was the first time that the third-year running back failed to produce double-digit PPR points since Week 5 of last season. It’s only the second time he failed to reach 10 fantasy points in his last 18 games. Much of yesterday’s poor performance had to do with the physicality that the Rams’ defense brought and game flow. Although Kamara owners may be worrying a bit, Bridgewater loves to dump the ball off to his running backs and the first-round fantasy pick will remain an elite option for the rest of the season. Don’t worry about him.

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