Injuries and other circumstances have not been kind to fantasy football superstars early this season. Many this week had to make do without any solid contributions from Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, A.J. Green or Robert Griffin III to name a few. And to make matters worse, some of these highly drafted players are going to miss more than one game. So yet again, beleaguered and bewildered owners will have to turn to their league’s waiver wire in hopes of finding a lifeline.
And in that respect Athlon Sports is here to help you sort through some of the potential free agent options. The players listed in our weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding on to all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may simply want to keep an eye on.
Week 1 Recap:Joe Flacco wasn’t spectacular (166 yds., 2 TDs), but he was steady and mistake-free in leading the Ravens to a big win over the Steelers. Jake Locker struggled against Dallas, throwing two interceptions and just one touchdown. Carson Palmer didn’t play against the Giants due to an elbow issue.
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
Robert Griffin III dislocated his ankle against Jacksonville, potentially putting his season in jeopardy. Then again, given how well Cousins performed after RGIII went down, the Redskins appear to be in pretty good shape under center. Cousins completed 22-of-33 passes for 250 yards, two touchdowns and no picks in Washington’s dominating 41-10 win at home. With appealing matchups against Philadelphia and the Giants looming, Cousins could be one of the most added players this week.
Week 1 Recap:Mark Ingram collected 104 total yards and scored his third rushing touchdown of the season in the Saints’ last-second loss to Cleveland, but he's also expected to miss up to a month because of a broken hand. Terrance West led the way for the Browns on the ground with 68 yards rushing and a score, while Isaiah Crowell chipped in 54 on 11 carries. Bernard Pierce got 22 carries against Pittsburgh and turned them into 96 yards, while most of Justin Forsett’s 56 yards rushing (8 att.) came on a 41-yard burst. Chris Ivory not only got more carries (13) than Chris Johnson (12), but he also finished with more yards (43 to 21) and scored another rushing touchdown in the Jets’ loss to Green Bay.
Matt Asiata, Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson was deactivated on Friday due to an ongoing legal issue in Texas, which meant Asiata got the starting nod against New England. He rushed for just 36 yards on 13 carries, but caught five passes for 48 yards, including a 25-yard TD to open the scoring. Peterson has been reinstated by the Vikings and is expected to play Sunday, but his owners just may want to be safe and add Asiata to their roster if they have room. As is the case with any legal- or personal conduct-related issues in the NFL, especially this season, there's no telling what will happen next.
Knile Davis, Kansas City Chiefs
Jamaal Charles went down early with an ankle injury, but the Chiefs’ rushing attack didn’t miss a beat with Davis. The former Arkansas star posted 79 yards rushing on 22 carries and scored both of Kansas City’s touchdowns in the 24-17 loss to Denver. With Charles sidelined "indefinitely" with the dreaded high ankle sprain, Davis will take over as the starter, beginning with a road date in Miami.
Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals
Giovani Bernard is No. 1 in the pecking order, but the Bengals are not forgetting about the new guy either. While Bernard carried the ball 27 times on Sunday, Hill also got 15 carries. He finished with 74 yards rushing and also picked up his first career NFL touchdown. Through two games Hill has averaged nearly 10 carries a game and is averaging nearly five yards per attempt. This rookie is quickly entering the RB2/RB3/flex discussion.
Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Doug Martin was a late scratch due to an ankle injury, opening the door for Rainey to see more touches. And all the diminutive (5-8) back did was explode for 144 yards on 22 carries against St. Louis. Rainey has excelled as the starter before, rushing for a total of 290 yards in games against Atlanta and Buffalo last season, so this isn’t exactly out of the blue. Add to this that his latest 100-yard effort came against a pretty good St. Louis defense and the fact the Bucs have a short week ahead of them, it’s highly likely Rainey will get another crack at those aforementioned Falcons on Thursday.
Week 1 Recap:Andrew Hawkins led the Browns in targets (12), catches (6) and yards (70) for the second straight game, including a critical 28-yard reception late in the fourth quarter that set up the game-winning field goal. Steve Smith Sr. was the Ravens’ leading receiver for a second straight week, catching six passes for 71 yards against the Steelers. In that same game, Markus Wheaton hauled in five grabs for 58 yards while also picking up 22 yards rushing on two carries. Jacksonville’s Allen Hurns followed up his huge Week 1 effort with two catches for just 13 yards, but was still better than teammate and fellow rookie Marqise Lee (2, 11), as the Jaguars’ struggled to move the ball against Washington’s defense (see below).
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
The new drug policy negotiated by the NFL and NFLPA is reportedly close to being finalized. While several players will be reinstated immediately once this deal becomes official, Gordon is not among them. However, Gordon’s season-long suspension will reportedly be reduced to 10 games. So even though Gordon won’t be seen on the field until Week 12, if he’s still available in your league, you need to act now. After all this is a guy who led the league in receiving yards last year despite playing just 14 games. Sure there’s plenty of risk in stashing Gordon away, but the payoff come fantasy playoff time could be well worth it.
James Jones, Oakland Raiders
He’s not in Green Bay anymore, but Jones looks like he’s become rookie quarterback Derek Carr’s favorite target for the Raiders. Jones caught nine passes for 112 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Houston and was targeted (14) twice as many times as any other player. Through two games, Jones is averaging 12.2 yards per catch and has caught a touchdown pass in each game. Remember in fantasy, it’s not the uniform that’s important; it’s the numbers the player puts up.
Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals
A.J. Green left early with a toe injury, one that could sideline him until after the Bengals’ Week 4 bye. With Marvin Jones already out with a broken foot and tight end Tyler Eifert on IR (dislocated elbow) that leaves Sanu as one of Andy Dalton’s primary targets. He led the team with 84 yards and a touchdown on just three catches and also completed one pass for 50 yards in the win over Atlanta. Except Sanu to be just as busy this coming Sunday against Tennessee.
Week 1 Recap:Dwayne Allen followed up a strong return to the field with an absolute dud (1 target, 0 catches) in the Monday night loss to Philadelphia.
Larry Donnell, New York Giants
Larry who? Donnell is a 2012 undrafted free agent out of Grambling State who has gone from being cut to a practice squad member to Eli Manning’s new favorite target. In his first two career games, Donnell has caught 12 passes (on 17 targets) for 137 yards and a touchdown. He leads the Giants in targets, receptions and yards. Donnell may not be Julius Thomas 2.0, who came out of nowhere last year and wound up as a top-three fantasy tight end, but at this rate he’s definitely worth considering as a backup or TE2.
Niles Paul, Washington Redskins
Jordan Reed is expected to miss several weeks because of a hamstring injury and Paul has already taken advantage of his absence. After leading the team with 86 yards on four catches in Week 1, Paul took top honors across the board with his 11 targets, eight receptions, 99 yards and a touchdown in the dominating win over Jacksonville. With Kirk Cousins (see above) taking over for an injured Robert Griffin III, it appears that not even a quarterback change can slow Paul’s hot start.
Week 1 Recap:Houston continued its impressive start, forcing four turnovers and keeping Oakland scoreless until the fourth quarter in its 30-14 victory. Next up for the Texans is a road date with the turnover-prone Giants.
I know, I’m as shocked as you are that I’m including the Redskins here. But any time a team racks up 10 sacks and holds a team to as many points, it’s worth noting. This defense is not going to do this every week; at least I don’t think it will, but there’s nothing wrong with giving credit where it’s due either. That said, it is possible that Washington’s D puts together two solid games in a row, considering it gets Philadelphia and the Eagles’ banged-up offensive line next.
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.