Crystal Ball Week 2 2017

By Evan Tarracciano
Evan Tarracciano One of the more frustrating things to deal with as a Fantasy Football owner is injuries. Though there are methods to minimize the amount of damage they cause through handcuffing and selecting upside backups, ultimately they can derail and cripple a team. This season has started off with a flurry of injuries to high-profile players. That in itself is bad enough, but the players who are inheriting their roles and workload are largely inferior in terms of talent, which makes the waiver wire process even more of a headache.

Take the well-publicized David Johnson injury for example. After it was known that he would miss an extended period of time due to a dislocated wrist, owners assumed that Kerwynn Williams would be the clear backup, and Andre Ellington would see an uptick in usage on passing-down situations. The Arizona Cardinals instead opted to bring back Chris Johnson, creating a three-headed monster that sapped all value and relevance out of the position. Williams faltered in the touches he was given, and Johnson only managed to play slightly better. Ellington oddly enough led the backfield in snaps. Do you really want to own any of these players unless you are in a very deep league? Probably not.

Greg Olsen was selected amongst the top of the tight end class this year, not only based upon his elite and consistent production, but also in part due to his ability to stay healthy. He seemed like the “safer” choice over Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Reed, since he started all 16 games each year since 2008. Safe, right? Not so much. Olsen broke his foot last weekend, and his incoming replacement is Ed Dickson. Yes, that Ed Dickson. The same one who has been around seemingly forever and not amounted to much. Will he see an increase in targets and perhaps catch a touchdown or two? Sure, but his talent pales in comparison of that to Olsen.

Now look, I know what you’re going to say.

Of course backups aren’t going to be as good as the starters, dummy. That is why they are backups. And the starter. Not everyone has Derrick Henry behind them.

While that is absolutely true, here is a few players who have either been hurt or are dealing with injuries, and their supposed replacements.

David Johnson/Chris Johnson

Kevin WhiteCameron Meredith/Kendall Wright-Deonte Thompson

Jordy Nelson/Geronimo Allison

Jimmy Graham/Luke Willson

Tyler Eifert/Tyler Kroft

Julian Edelman-Danny Amendola/Philip Dorsett

The list goes on.

More than ever, owners who are looking to find the next “big thing” on the waiver wire should concentrate on players that will usurp the starter due to talent, rather than inheriting a role from an injury. I’ve said it repeatedly on radio appearances and prior articles, but leaving a rotating final bench slot to take upside fliers like Chris Carson or Alvin Kamara will pay off more often than not.

I’ve seen plenty of waiver wire articles promoted on Twitter promoting owners to pick up players who will assume roles due to an injury, making the inaccurate assumption that the incumbent will be as productive, (if not more so) than the former starter. Remember to examine other factors and variables which dictate the new player’s chance of fantasy relevance before blowing a ton of FAAB to acquire them. What sort of offensive line does the team have? What is the run/pass philosophy of the head coach? Will this new player be on the field regardless of what the score is, or be more situationally based? Remember to do a bit of digging before you spend your waiver wire money or selections!

If you are new to this column and would like to have your questions answered in the future, please make sure to give me a follow on Twitter (@Roto_Wizard) and submit all inquiries on Tuesday afternoons. In addition to providing answers here, I also host a weekly “Q&A” video chat over on the Football Diehards Facebook page, which you can find here:

Q: Kerwynn Williams was a bitter disappointment in last week’s game. Is Chris Johnson now the back to own in Arizona?
A: I touched on this a little above, but I’d prefer to not own any of the Cardinals running backs if I can help it. Based upon what happened last week, Johnson should start and see more carries, but his age and recent ineffectiveness make me wary of expecting much.

Q: Who would you rather own the rest of the season, Le’Veon Bell or Kareem Hunt?
A: Choo choo! All aboard the hype train! I’d still rather own Bell over Hunt, but the Kansas City rookie is extremely fun to watch and makes for a solid RB1 each week.

Q: Is Buck Allen going to be the Baltimore Ravens new starting running back? Terrance West didn’t do much last weekend other than score a touchdown.
A: Yes, and hopefully owners were listening to my “7 at 7” segment with Bob Harris and Mike Dempsey last weekend when I suggested this could happen. West is the poster boy of “just another guy” to me. He takes what holes are open in front of him and might generate a yard or two after contact, but isn’t a particularly exciting talent. Allen is the superior receiver, and is also a very effective blocker. If for some reason he’s still unowned, Allen would be my top waiver wire grab this week.

Q: What sort of upside does Chris Carson have in Seattle? Is he the long-term solution there?
A: For now, Carson appears to have secured the starting role for the Seahawks. Last week the team opted to make Eddie Lacy a healthy scratch, and Carson was by far and away the most effective back, rushing for 93 yards on 20 attempts. That said, I’m in the minority of analysts who don’t see him as a “must have” addition. Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise are still present, and last week’s gameplan was a combination of Rawls still being eased into his role following a return from an ankle injury, and the team being ahead for a good portion of the game and wanting to run down the clock. Seattle’s offensive line is terrible, and is constantly being pushed back. Carson might have another week or two of volume-based production, but I wouldn’t recommend viewing him as much more than a FLEX or spending 10 percent of your FAAB on him.

Q: Should I drop Duke Johnson for James White or Chris Thompson?
A: In a PPR format I could see you making the move for White, since he will catch plenty of dump-offs from Tom Brady in New England. The Patriots don’t seem particularly keen on having Dion Lewis play more snaps than necessary, so White is the de-factor PPR compliment to Mike Gillislee. Thompson I view as more of a flash in the pan, he is unlikely to ever have a two touchdown week again. Don’t chase last week’s statistics.

Q: Was offered a trade where I give away Terrelle Pryor and acquire Adam Thielen. Is this a good move?
A: Pryor has had a rough start to the season, totaling eight receptions for 97 yards and no touchdowns during his first four games. I view him as a more talented player than Thielen, but until Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins passing game get rolling, it is hard to view him as anything more than a FLEX. Thielen’s value largely depends on the health of Sam Bradford, and we all know how that can go. When Bradford is on the field, Thielen is a PPR monster, and has a very high floor. In his absence he is a flier at best. Minnesota’s defense is superior to Washingtons, and they seem to have different philosophies. Minnesota works in passes off of the running game, and Washington works in runs off of the passing game. Bottom line? When everything is right for both players, I’d prefer to have Pryor. Thielen is tempting though!

Q: So about those New York Giants….wow.
A: Don’t get me started. Outside of Odell Beckham, and in deeper leagues Evan Engram, I was no part of this team. It is going to be a long season.

Q: Will the real Hunter Henry please stand up? I benched him this past week after his donut in the opener. What gives?
A: Henry, like many of the tight ends ranked in the mid-to-low TE1/high TE2 category, are incredibly inconsistent. He is in a similar tier to me as Eric Ebron, Coby Fleener and Kyle Rudolph. Who knows if he will catch one or ten passes in a given week, especially with all the other receivers on the Los Angeles Chargers.

Q: Rank the following waiver wire adds – Perine, Foreman, CJ?k. Should I drop Bilal Powell for any of these guys?
A: I think that order is just about right. I don’t trust Johnson long term, and the Cardinals look terrible. Assuming that you only drafted Powell as a FLEX at best, I’m fine picking up Perine in the hopes that he starts this week and eventually gets the starting role from Rob Kelley long-term.

Q: Drop Jameis Winston to pick up Trevor Siemen?
A: No, no, no.

Q: How about Andy Dalton then?
A: Yes. That I would do in a heartbeat.

Q: Any good D/ST to stream this week?
A: I usually target anyone who plays the New York Jets – this week it is the Miami Dolphins. Given how inept the Giants appear to be, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to grab the Philadelphia