With injuries to key running backs, fantasy owners are going to have to turn to backups such as Mike Davis
As most fantasy owners know, Week 2 was brutal for injuries. If you managed to keep your team intact despite the carnage that occurred on Sunday afternoon, consider yourself lucky. However, for the rest of you, there may be large holes on your roster than need to be filled.
Saquon Barkley is officially done for the year with a torn ACL. Christian McCaffrey is out for possibly a month or more with a high ankle sprain. Raheem Mostert has an MCL sprain; Cam Akers was injured... and that's just the list of big-name running backs. Drew Lock is going to miss several weeks and Jimmy Garoppolo could as well. Courtland Sutton is done for the season and Parris Campbell is likely headed to injured reserve as well, and Sterling Shephard, Breshad Perriman, Davante Adams and Jerry Jeudy also are banged up. The key this week will be to look at your lineup and prioritize your own needs.
Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans (46 percent owned)
In Weeks 1 and 2, Tannehill has thrown for about 240 yards and six total touchdowns. He may still be available in your league, and he gets Minnesota in Week 3. The Vikings are a mess – both on offense and defense – and fantasy owners should try to take advantage of that where they can. Tannehill, even without A.J. Brown, is able to spread the ball around and move it down the field. He will be a low QB1 for Week 3.
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (3 percent owned)
Apparently, prior to kickoff on Sunday, Tyrod Taylor had an injection for a rib injury that caused him to miss the game. The team is still sticking with him as the starter, but anyone watching the game realizes that Herbert is the future and he will be under center sooner rather than later. If the Chargers want to stay with Taylor for another week, they might, but he's going to sink his own ship. Presumably with few snaps with the first-team offense leading into the game, Herbert stepped in and threw for 311 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also ran for a touchdown. He may not be an option for those who need a QB for Week 3 (depending on what the team decides), but he's worth picking up if you aren't happy with your current situation.
Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers (39 percent owned)
Kelley was in this column last week, but is still available in about 60 percent of leagues. In Week 2, he had 23 carries for 64 yards. He added two receptions for 49 yards as well. It will be interesting to see how Kelley will fare when Justin Jackson returns (he missed Week 2 with a quad injury). Kelley isn't a must-add, but is certainly someone to pick up if you need a running back.
Darrell Henderson Jr., Los Angeles Rams (33 percent owned)
With Cam Akers banged up, Henderson came in and had 81 rushing yards, a touchdown and 40 receiving yards. It's unclear how long Akers will be out, but his injury didn't seem as serious as some others. Malcolm Brown also left the game with a finger injury, so this may be Henderson's backfield in Week 3. The Rams face the Bills, a tough matchup, but Henderson can definitely fill an empty RB spot on fantasy rosters.
Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers (24 percent owned)
McKinnon may be the only man standing in the San Francisco backfield. The 49ers got decimated by injuries in Week 2 (two key defensive players tore their ACL, Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman are both sidelined with knee injuries, Jimmy Garoppolo has a high ankle sprain… and George Kittle and Deebo Samuel were already out) so it will be tough, but McKinnon had 77 yards and a touchdown in Week 2. That was only on three carries, as he ran the ball on a 3rd-and-31 for 55 yards, but McKinnon proved he is fast and he may be the offense for the 49ers when they face the Giants in Week 3. He's worth spending some FAAB money on.
Devonta Freeman, free agent (14 percent owned)
Freeman is scheduled to meet with the New York Giants today, and depending on what happens, he may be the starting running back for the team in Week 3. At worst, he's worth a speculative add. However, if fantasy owners find out on Tuesday night that he is signed by the Giants, he is worth a high waiver priority as he figures to immediately become the lead back.
Mike Davis, Carolina Panthers (6 percent owned)
With the news that Christian McCaffrey will be out for four-to-six weeks, fantasy owners need to find a replacement. While McCaffrey is going to try to beat that timeline, it doesn't always fare well (see: Saquon Barkley, 2019 season). The immediate replacement for CMC is Davis. In Week 2, he had eight catches on as many targets for 74 yards. He'll try to do his best CMC impression, but fantasy owners know no one can replace McCaffrey. Davis is worth the waiver claim, however.
Dion Lewis, New York Giants (6 percent owned)
Hopefully fantasy owners will know by the time they have to put in waiver claims what the Giants plan to do to fill Saquon Barkley's roster spot. It seems likely that they will bring in someone new, but Lewis is still in the picture. He'll likely be involved primarily on passing downs, so those in PPR leagues should pay more attention to Lewis than those in standard scoring formats. Even if the Giants sign Devonta Freeman, Lewis will still be involved in the passing game (he had four receptions for 36 yards in Week 2).
J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team (1 percent owned)
In Week 2, McKissic had eight carries for 53 yards. In Week 1, he barely made the box score. It's tough to figure out exactly what Washington is doing with their running backs. Peyton Barber had two touchdowns in Week 1 and one carry in Week 2. Antonio Gibson is the best running back in the group and has had consistent touches in the first two games. However, for desperate fantasy owners, McKissic will likely have games where he is fantasy-relevant.
Jeff Wilson Jr., San Francisco 49ers (0 percent owned)
For fantasy owners in deep leagues that are desperate for a running back to fill in their roster, Wilson is likely available. With both Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman likely out for Week 3 and beyond, the 49ers are going to need some depth behind injury-prone Jerick McKinnon. Wilson is someone that may not be worth a waiver wire claim, but could provide some value in the next couple weeks.
N'Keal Harry, New England Patriots (27 percent owned)
Cam Newton seems to like getting the ball to Harry, something fantasy owners should take note of. Harry seems to be involved in the short passing game (a la Julian Edelman). In Week 2, he had 12 targets. He caught eight of them for 72 yards. For PPR owners, Harry is slowly becoming someone worth starting. Available in over two-thirds of fantasy leagues, he is definitely someone to look at to fill a hole left on your roster by an injured wide receiver.
Keelan Cole (4 percent owned) and Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars (17 percent owned)
It's hard to truly recommend adding Cole, but he has caught a touchdown in the first two games of the season. He tied Chris Conley for the most targets in Week 2 after leading in that category in Week 1. Fantasy owners can't argue with targets – or touchdowns. Cole is available in most leagues and is worth a look in deeper formats. Shenault also is widely available and has a higher ceiling, although he hasn't proven himself to be fantasy starter-worthy in leagues that only start three WRs.
Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts (15 percent owned)
Pittman was questionable heading into the game, but he played and caught four passes for 37 yards in Week 2. Parris Campbell is out for multiple weeks (at minimum), and someone is going to have to step up. Obviously T.Y. Hilton will be the No. 1 receiver, but it is likely that Pittman will get more opportunities. Philip Rivers has trusted him enough to target him eight times over the past two weeks, and that should just increase.
Tre'Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints (14 percent owned)
Smith was in last week's waiver wire column as the guy to pick up when Michael Thomas was out. In the first game without Thomas, Smith was in fact the guy to step up. Leading the team in yards and targets, Smith finished with four receptions for 80 yards on five targets. Thomas will likely be out a couple more weeks, so Smith will be a WR3 when the Saints face the Packers in Week 3.
Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team (32 percent owned)
After Week 1, many fantasy owners picked up Thomas. However, if you are in the two-thirds of leagues where he is still available, he's worth a waiver claim. He's had 17 targets in the first two games, and while he has only four receptions in each game (and one touchdown), the targets indicate that he is going to be a big part of this offense. He's a fringe TE1.
Jordan Reed, San Francisco 49ers (7 percent owned)
With George Kittle out for Week 2, Reed filled in. The oft-injured 30-year-old tight end had seven receptions for 50 yards and two touchdowns. Reed's success is linked to Kittle. Don't rush to the waiver wire for Reed, especially if you need a tight end immediately. However, if he is available, he's worth adding in case Kittle misses more time.
Drew Sample, Cincinnati Bengals (1 percent owned)
Lost in all of Sunday's carnage was T.J. Uzomah tearing his Achilles tendon on Thursday night. He's out for the season, and Sample will be the starting tight end for Cincinnati. In Week 2, he had nine targets. He caught seven of them for 45 yards. The Bengals do like using their tight end, and Sample is likely available in your league. He's going to have weeks where he posts a 1/8/0 stat line, but he also is a tight end that will play in a position that is getting thinner by the week.
Defense/Special Teams (DST)
Indianapolis Colts (42 percent owned)
The Colts host the New York Jets in Week 3, and this should be enough to know that this is the DST to add. While sometimes this ends up being a mistake (for survivor pools and DST adds), it seems like the Colts will be able to beat the Jets. The Jets as a whole have put up a total of 30 points over the past two games. They are inclined to turn the ball over and that will result in points for the Colts DST.
— Rankings by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.
(Top photo courtesy of panthers.com)