It’s not often you can find the NFL leader in touchdowns on the waiver wire, but that’s the case as we get ready for Week 3. Who is it you ask? His name is Dante Rosario and he’s a tight end for the San Diego Chargers.
The Chargers' starting tight end is, of course, Antonio Gates, but he sat out the 38-10 win over Tennessee with a rib injury and Rosario (four receptions, three TDs) took full advantage of the opportunity.
Rosario, who's sure to receive a fair amount of attention on the waiver wire this week, is just one of the options available that may be able to help your fantasy team, whether that be for this coming week only or beyond. Here are some other names worth considering.
As surprising as it may have been that Antonio Gates didn’t play Sunday against Tennessee, no one could have predicted that Dante Rosario would make his absence a non-issue. Rosario, who saw just one ball thrown his way in Week 1, connected with Philip Rivers four times against the Titans for 48 yards and, most importantly, three touchdowns.
In just one game, Rosario put himself into a tie for first in the league in touchdowns and tripled his scoring output from the last two seasons combined. Prior to Sunday’s game, he had caught a total of five touchdowns in 77 career games. He went from an afterthought to the fifth highest-scoring tight end in all of fantasy football.
Moving forward, Rosario’s potential value is obviously directly tied to Gates’ health. As soon as Gates returns to the field, Rosario more than likely returns to irrelevance. However, considering Gates’ rib injury was serious enough to keep him out in Week 2, Rosario is certainly worth keeping an eye on until more news comes out on Gates’ status for Week 3.
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
It’s only two games, but Bradford is showing signs of the type of production that was regularly expected of him after he was taken No. 1 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft and followed that up by earning AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Bradford has completed more than 70 percent of his passes so far and is coming off of a 310-yard, three-touchdown effort in the Rams' win over Washington. Next up is a Chicago Bears defense that will serve as a good litmus test of how far Bradford and the Rams’ offense have come.
Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are 0-2, but it’s certainly not all Cassel’s fault. Because the Chiefs have yet to take the lead in their first two games, Cassel has had the opportunity to throw the ball a lot and, for the most part, he’s been fairly productive. Cassel has averaged nearly 280 yards per passing in the first two games and up next is New Orleans, the worst defense in the NFL in terms of both yards and points allowed. If Cassel can find a way to cut down on the turnovers (3 TDs, 3 INTs, 2 lost fumbles so far), he could become a more appealing fantasy option as the season progresses.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Dalton bounced back nicely from a rough opening week performance by throwing for 318 yards and three touchdowns against Cleveland. Dalton’s next four games — at WAS, at JAC, MIA, at CLE — could result in similar numbers. He’s definitely someone worth keeping an eye on as bye weeks start in Week 4.
Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
Smith’s game totals through the first two weeks are pretty much mirror images of each other as he’s completed 20 passes with two touchdown passes in each game. The most important number, however, is zero, as in the number of times he has turned the ball over. Smith hasn’t thrown an interception in his last 284 passes, including postseason games, which is a 49ers record. While his numbers may never be spectacular, Smith is quickly becoming a dependable and productive fantasy option.
Andre Brown, New York Giants
Ahmad Bradshaw went out with a neck injury and it was Brown, not first-round pick David Wilson, who got the carries. Brown finished with 71 yards rushing on 13 attempts; good for a more than respectable 5.5 yards per carry average. He also scored the game-winning touchdown with 31 seconds left in the game. The severity of Bradshaw’s injury is not yet known, but given his track record, Brown may be worth a pick up as the Giants get Carolina’s 28th-ranked rushing defense next.
Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions
It’s been nearly 17 months since he was drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, but Mikel Leshoure should finally make his much-anticipated pro debut this Sunday. Leshoure missed all of last season after tearing his Achilles tendon in August 2011 and missed the first two games of this season due to suspension. Just how involved he will be in Sunday’s game against Tennessee remains to be seen, but the opportunity is certainly there as current starter Kevin Smith is only averaging four yards per carry.
Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
Reggie Bush (172 yards on 26 carries) did most of the damage, but Miller’s 65 yards on 10 carries (6.5 ypc) and a touchdown cannot be ignored. It seems likely that the Dolphins will continue to rely heavily on the running game as they look to ease rookie starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill into the offense. At this point, it looks like fellow rookie Miller has supplanted Daniel Thomas, who did not play Sunday because of a concussion, as the ‘Fins’ No. 2 back.
Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams
Richardson got more carries (15 to 9) than Steven Jackson did on Sunday and for the season is averaging 6.1 yards per attempt. Jackson missed the majority of the Rams’ win over Washington with what has been called a groin injury. Couple that with Richardson putting up similar numbers (103 yards rushing to Jackson’s 111) with far fewer carries (17 to 30) and Richardson could be a wise add, especially for Jackson owners.
Ben Tate, Houston Texans
As Sunday’s win over Jacksonville showed, the Texans are capable of supporting two legitimate fantasy options at running back. Arian Foster is the undisputed lead horse for the Texans, but Tate got 12 carries against the Jaguars for 74 yards and two touchdowns. Tate also finished third on the team with four receptions for 23 yards. The obvious handcuff for Foster owners, the argument also could be made for Tate as a weekly flex option.
Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Mark Ingram got more carries (16 to 9), but Thomas got more yards as he posted 110 against Carolina. While his 12.2 yards per carry average from Sunday's game will be impossible to sustain, Thomas leads the Saints in rushing so far and is fifth on the team in receptions, meaning he’s a significant part of New Orleans’ offensive attack. Ingram and Darren Sproles may get more of the attention and are more widely owned, but Thomas has proven thus far to be just as productive.
Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams
It took him a week longer than I anticipated, but Amendola clearly showed his fantasy potential this past Sunday with his 15-catch, 160-yard and a touchdown performance against Washington. Amendola tied an NFL record with 12 first-half receptions and ended the game with a franchise-record tying 15. With 20 receptions on 25 targets through the first two games, Amendola is clearly Sam Bradford’s No. 1 option and is a legitimate WR3, if not WR2, moving forward.
Donnie Avery, Indianapolis Colts
It was Avery and not Reggie Wayne who got the most targets from Andrew Luck in Week 2. Avery and Luck connected on nine of 10 total targets for 111 yards in the Colts’ win over Minnesota. As long as Austin Collie is sidelined, Avery is worth a pick up considering Luck is averaging nearly 40 pass attempts through the first two games.
Brandon Gibson, St. Louis Rams
Amendola is the undisputed No. 1 target in St. Louis, but to this point, Gibson has been No. 2. Gibson is second to Amendola in receptions and receiving yards, but his two touchdown catches are first on the team. Gibson is more of a deep threat (17.3 ypc) than Amendola, which helps his potential fantasy value.
Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill picked up his first career NFL win by posting a solid passing (18-30, 200 yards, TD) performance and Hartline was the prime beneficiary. Tannehill looked Hartline’s way 12 times and the two connected on nine of those targets for 111 yards. It’s reasonable to assume that Tannehill will continue to target Hartline as he acclimates himself to life in the NFL.
Andrew Hawkins, Cincinnati Bengals
Entering the season, Cincinnati knew they had A.J. Green and a bunch of other young guys at wide receiver. Two games into the season, Hawkins, the smallest of the group at 5-7, has made strides to establish himself as Andy Dalton’s second option. The diminutive Hawkins currently leads the team in receiving yards with 142 and has the same number of touchdown catches as Green after his 50-yard scoring play against Cleveland on Sunday.
Greg Little, Cleveland Browns
Brandon Weeden had his first 300-yard passing game on Sunday, albeit in a losing effort, but perhaps the better news for Browns fans is that Little was a significant part of it. After not posting a single reception in Week 1, Little caught five balls for 57 yards and a touchdown against Cincinnati. Little’s 61 receptions in 2011 were the second-most among rookies, so the potential is clearly there. It’s now just a matter of the wideout and the quarterback establishing consistent chemistry, and Little hanging onto the balls thrown his way.
Mohamed Massaquoi, Cleveland Browns
Little’s output notwithstanding, Massaquoi has been Weeden’s favorite target thus far this season. The fourth-year pro from Georgia currently leads the team in targets (15), receptions (8) and yards (131). Given his early rapport with Weeden, Massaquoi's numbers could continue to increase as the Browns’ rookie signal callers gets more and more comfortable in the pocket.
Martellus Bennett, New York Giants
Eli Manning threw the ball 51 times and piled up 510 yards through the air on Sunday in the win against Tampa Bay. Although wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz did the majority of the damage, Bennett joined in on the fun as he was targeted 10 times. Bennett already has nine receptions and two touchdowns through two games and is currently sixth among his position in terms of fantasy scoring. This will probably be the last time you see his name on this list as the argument can be made he’s a legitimate fantasy starter for the rest of the season.
Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills
The Bills haven’t exactly aired it out this season so far, but Chandler is second only to wide receiver Stevie Johnson in targets (11) and is averaging more than 15 yards per reception. Chandler’s true value, however, comes in the red zone as evidenced by his two touchdown catches that have come inside the opponents’ 20.
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers
Half of Ben Roethlisberger’s four touchdown passes have gone to his reliable tight end as Miller has made the most of his seven catches. Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders may be the Steelers’ primary vertical threats, but there’s no one Big Ben trusts more in the red zone or over the middle than Miller.
Brandon Myers, Oakland Raiders
Carson Palmer has already attempted 94 passes in two games and he’s a perfect 11-for-11 when looking Myers’ way. Now in his fourth season with the Raiders, Myers has been a pleasant surprise and dependable target for Palmer, as evidenced by a team-high six receptions for 86 yards against Miami. Whether he keeps this up moving forward remains to be seen, but if Palmer is going to continue to throw upwards of 40 or more times a game, it does appear Myers will get his share of opportunities.
Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point per 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.
— By Mark Ross, published on Sept. 18, 2012