The Waiver Wire Wizard Week 2 2020
Welcome back to another season of the Crystal Ball/Waiver Wizard column! For many it seemed impossible with COVID-19 ravaging the United States since early March that this season would get off the ground in the first place -- there were too many variables to overcome between spread management, testing, keeping the players in a bubble format akin to the NBA … the list goes on. I'll admit -- even I was skeptical that the 2020 NFL season would happen. There were plenty of times where I'd touch base with Bob Harris after a Sirius XM segment or chat and I'd ask for an update, hoping that there would be some good news that he'd be able to share with me. Each time I'd cling to a glimmer of hope, a "well, if these things fall into place…" comment, or his eternal optimism. Things seemed impossible for a long while -- surely something would go wrong that would either delay the start of the season or postpone it entirely, right?
And here we are. This past weekend prior to kickoff the entire league (both players and coaches) passed their COVID-19 tests and were labeled "good to go" after stadium health checks. Not one positive test. Not. One. This is a minor miracle considering how easy it is to contract the virus, and a tip of the cap goes to both sides (the players and staff) for ensuring this season occurred in a timely fashion. This isn't suggesting that issues may crop up along the way as we proceed, but a solid start inspires hope that the players will be diligent and restrained enough to not put themselves in position to cause issues.
So, after months of writing, preparation, ranking players, drafting, scouring the waiver wire for sleepers, hopping back on social media and starting a routine that was so sorely missed, here we are. Here. We. Are.
For those unfamiliar with this column and reading it for the first time -- treat this as a very brief recap of the week that was, followed by burning questions and waiver wire targets to check out. An all-encompassing masterpiece, if you will. This year I'm going to utilize a slightly different format to the piece, intertwining the waiver wire suggestions with game analysis to create a more cohesive reading experience. Lets roll!
Chiefs 34, Texans 20 (Thursday Night)Even with Patrick Mahomes passing for just 211 yards, one could tell that this offense was humming. The addition of Clyde Edwards-Helaire adds an entirely new dimension. It was surprising to see him not utilized as a receiver, but his 25/138/1 statline is encouraging. The offensive line did a phenomenal job of opening holes for him, and "CEH" is a locked-and-loaded RB1 for me. It was surprising to see Sammy Watkins lead the team in receptions and yards, with Mecole Hardman and Tyreek Hill taking a backseat. Watkins is owned in most leagues and I think that he will remain a viable FLEX until his inevitable injury. I'd hold onto Hardman if possible as a bench stash. Demarcus Robinson managed to drop two sure-fire touchdowns, and he will remain off of my Fantasy radar. This is an offense that will primarily flow through CEH-Kelce-Hill. The remaining players will just rotate in value and cause headaches. Plenty of owners blew a ton of FAAB on Darrel Williams, who was largely irrelevant.
On Houston's side I was pleasantly surprised by David Johnson -- this was the spryest he's looked in years. It was a shame that the game wasn't somewhat closer in score, as Johnson was averaging 7 yards a clip before the Texans needed to play perpetual comeback. Deshaun Watson looked "off", and I couldn't tell if this was due to a lack of DeAndre Hopkins on the field or his receivers having the inability to get open. He did manage to find Will Fuller constantly, who posted a 8/112 line on 10 targets. His floor is massive as long as he stays healthy. Brandin Cooks is the only other receiver I'd be willing to roster right now, as it appears the team will attempt to justify the Johnson/Hopkins trade by becoming more of a run-heavy offense than in years past. I don't see the upside of rostering Randall Cobb at the moment.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Seahawks 38, Falcons 25During the offseason we heard rumors about "letting Russell Wilson cook" -- and that was the case. The normally run-first Seahawks totaled 20 attempts on the ground to 35 passes and let Wilson do his thing, finishing with 322 yards and four touchdowns. He was unreal. Chris Carson only (somehow) had six rushing attempts for 21 yards, and his Fantasy day was salvaged by six receptions, two of which he converted into touchdowns. Carlos Hyde actually had more rushing attempts -- a situation worth monitoring in the future. This appears to be more of a split than anticipated. Both D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett had eight targets and performed extremely well -- I have both players entrenched as WR2s.
Atlanta played from behind the entire game (as they will for most of 2020), forcing Matt Ryan to attempt an absurd 54 passes. He showed great chemistry with three receivers, targeting Julio Jones (9/157), Calvin Ridley (9/130/2) and Russell Gage (9/114) 12 times each. Offseason acquisition Hayden Hurst was quiet surprisingly -- I thought that more targets would flow to him rather than Gage. Todd Gurley played well enough, but he is becoming very touchdown dependent.
Waiver Wire targets: Russell Gage -- should be owned in 12-team formats or larger
Bills 27, Jets 17Can we start off by saying this this game was REALLY hard to watch? On New York's side I thought that Sam Darnold looked terrible (as usual), and he was running for his life for most of the day. One long touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder salvaged his stats, but as a whole this team played awful. Chris Herndon wasn't targeted until the very end of the game, he finished with a 6/37 line but lost a fumble along the way. Le'Veon Bell is hurt already with a hamstring injury and Frank Gore came in for mop-up duty. Don't be surprised to see Josh Adams be more involved moving forward should Bell miss any time. He's a capable receiver and interesting add in deeper leagues.
Josh Allen somehow eclipsed the 300 passing-yard mark, but had several errant throws that most high school quarterbacks could have completed, including multiple in the end zone. He still finished with two touchdowns on the day, but his statline could have been monstrous. Allen also led the team in rushing attempts and rushing yards -- Devin Singletary and Zach Moss were largely irrelevant, outside of Moss catching a touchdown. Owners waiting on his breakout should exercise patience. Allen is decent enough to support both Stefon Diggs and John Brown, with Diggs being a WR2 and Brown a WR3 most weeks. Cole Beasley remains a Hail Mary flier in PPR formats.
Waiver Wire targets: Josh Adams -- worth a flier in 14-team formats or larger if Bell misses time
Bears 27, Lions 23This was a case of Detroit (once again) finding a way to give away the game, rather than being outplayed by Chicago. Matthew Stafford made several poor decisions, but none worse than his late-game INT that propelled the Bears comeback. Without Kenny Golladay on the field T.J. Hockenson became more involved, reeling in a TD and catching all five of his targets. I pegged him as a solid TE option for those who waited at the position. Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola each had decent games with their targets. On the ground, Adrian Peterson rendered Kerryon Johnson and DeAndre Swift completely irrelevant, not an encouraging situation for either back. With Peterson taking the Lion's share (pun intended) I'd be willing to hold onto Swift for another week or two, but Johnson is a cut candidate.
Mitch Trubisky somehow didn't end up with several interceptions, despite forcing the ball into triple coverage at every opportunity. He only completed 20 of his 36 attempts for 242 yards, and was bailed out on fantastic touchdown grabs by Anthony Miller and Jimmy Graham. The Bears will pass through Miller and Robinson with everyone else playing second fiddle. David Montgomery continue to plod along on the ground, and remains a back that is based upon volume rather than talent. It was nice to see him on the field in Week 1 though, a surprise considering the reports leading up to this contest.
Waiver Wire targets: T.J. Hockenson as a TE streamer in shallower formats while Kenny Golladay is out
Packers 43, Vikings 34What do you mean Aaron Rodgers is over the hill? Even with Green Bay having one capable wideout in Davante Adams, the connection between him and Rodgers is strong enough that it doesn't matter if he is routinely double-covered. Adams finished with an absurd 17 targets, 14 catches for 156 yards and two scores. Marques Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard played complimentary roles in this one, each catching a touchdown in limited opportunities. Game script led to this being a shoot-out, even though Aaron Jones was effective on the ground. I'm unsure if will continue to be the plan moving forward, but MVS is worth an add as a bench stash.
Kirk Cousins was efficient in this one, but was unable to elevate anyone in the passing game other than Adam Thielen. Olabisi Johnson is clearly a massive downgrade from Stefon Diggs, and he was only targeted four times. Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison both totaled 50 yards on the ground, with Cook scoring twice. Mattison remains my top handcuff in the league, and Minnesota would do well to limit Cook's overall touches if possible to keep him healthy. Justin Jefferson was very quiet in his first game, and is clearly the third fiddle right now. In order for him not to become Laquon Treadwell 2.0 he will need to step up his game quickly.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Patriots 21, Dolphins 11The Miami offense as a whole did absolutely nothing in this game, so this blurb will be quite short. Fitzpatrick threw three INTs and looked lost, Jordan Howard played through a hamstring injury and averaged less than one yard per carry, and DeVante Parker aggravated his hamstring injury that limited him in practice moving forward. Yuck. Another performance or two like this and Tua Tagovailoa will start soon, after he is recovered from his hip injury. Myles Gaskin and Matt Breida formed a RBBC in the absence of Howard.
On the Patriots side, Cam "Game Manager" Newton was the story. He finished with 15 completions for a paltry 155 yards, and saved his day by finding the end zone twice and totaling 75 yards on the ground. Right now if I owned Sony Michel or anyone else on this team not named Julian Edelman or James White, I'd be looking to sell or cut bait. This is a team that will rely upon a stingy defense, time of possession and short passes to win football games -- Fantasy options are limited.
Waiver Wire targets: Myles Gaskin in 14-team leagues as a streaming FLEX if Howard is hurt
Football Team 27, Eagles 17Man, that headline is an eye-sore. Can they just pick a name for this franchise already? Washington was gifted a win here thanks to their defense, who put Carson Wentz under pressure the entire game, forcing multiple turnovers and putting them in great field position. Dwayne Haskins Jr. continued to look lost, completing just 17-of-31 attempts for 178 yards (thankfully Terry McLaurin caught five balls for 61 yards). Antonio Gibson was supposed to step into a larger role following Bryce Love being a healthy scratch, but Ron Rivera continually gave the ball to Peyton Barber instead, despite his laughable 29 yards on 17 carries. Gibson is the better player, but the team clearly thinks he can't handle a larger workload. Somehow. Unreal.
For Philadelphia, Carson Wentz faded as the game went along, and the team failed to score in the second half of the game. Dallas Goedert led the team in targets with 9, catching 8 balls for 101 yards and a score. It is unclear if Zach Ertz was an afterthought due to his public comments about his contract situation or this was just game script. DeSean Jackson, a popular streaming candidate with so many wideouts hurt entering the week failed miserably, catching just two passes for 46 yards. Boston Scott left the field after totaling 32 rushing yards on the ground and didn't return, allowing Corey Clement to finish the game. The Eagles have to hope and pray that Miles Sanders will be available next week, otherwise this will get ugly again.
Waiver Wire targets: Corey Clement, if Miles Sanders and Boston Scott are both unavailable next week. Check practice reports and focus on adding him as a streaming option in 12-team leagues or larger.
Raiders 34, Panthers 30This was truly the Josh Jacobs show on the Las Vegas side of the ball. Carr performed well enough to get an assist for the victory, but the offense flowed through Jacobs first and foremost, as was predicted by so many beat reporters and analysts in the offseason. Continued production like this will lead to him being a top-5 selection next season. Henry Ruggs III missed time in the middle of the game with an injury, but was able to finish with no issues. Those who boarded the Bryan Edwards hype-train were disappointed, as he only caught one pass for nine yards total. Better weeks are coming his way, so be patient.
Teddy Bridgewater's extremely conservative tendencies are concerning, primarily for D.J. Moore and Christian McCaffrey. Moore led the team in targets with nine, but only managed to catch four for 54 yards, even with the team trailing for the entire second half. McCaffrey only had four targets, and was relied upon instead primarily as a runner. He will still be a dual-threat, but catching another 100 passes this year may be out of reach. Moore's status as a sleeper WR1 is in serious jeopardy unless they start treating him as a downfield threat. Robby Anderson did have a 75-yard score and will be mentioned as a hot waiver wire target, but as is the case with any wideout built upon speed, he will have his fair share of dud games as well. Proceed with caution.
Waiver Wire targets: Robby Anderson can be added in shallower leagues (especially standard) as a WR3 with a decent floor. It is unlikely for this team to attempt more than 35-40 passes in a given week, so his ceiling is capped.
Jaguars 27, Colts 20I made the remark on Twitter that I was rooting hard for Gardner Minshew this year -- not for his Joe Dirt persona, but to throw a monkey wrench in the cogs of the Jacksonville plan to tank for a top pick. He, nor the players, deserve that. Clearly he heard my plea and proceeded to have one of the best games in his career, finishing with three touchdown passes and just one incompletion. This team spreads the ball around a LOT given the number of targets that they have. In order for anyone other than D.J. Chark to have decent production, another injury or trade might have to happen (and this is even AFTER they had Dede Westbrook out as a healthy scratch). James Robinson played well enough in his first start for the team, but I didn't see any plays that truly stood out per se. He remains a FLEX option only for me.
Indianapolis had plenty of headlines, most notably starting tailback Marlon Mack tearing his Achilles early in the game, thrusting Jonathan Taylor into action early and often. Nyheim Hines finished with the team-lead in both rushing yards (28) and receptions (8) and chipped in two scores. He's a phenomenal add in PPR formats where he wasn't drafted. Taylor vaults up to low-end RB1 status, with Hines being an every week RB3/FLEX. Parris Campbell and T.Y. Hilton shared the target lead with 9 each, and overall this offense played well under Phillip Rivers. Expect plenty of short passes to the running backs and the occasional look downfield to Campbell/Hilton.
Waiver Wire targets: Nyheim Hines in deeper PPR formats is a must-add this week following the injury to Mack.
Ravens 38, Browns 6This game wasn't expected to be close, and it didn't disappoint. Lamar Jackson continued to look like an MVP, tossing three scores and leading the team in 45 yards rushing. He really is Michael Vick 2.0. From a receiving standpoint it was the Marqise Brown and Mark Andrews show -- Brown is approaching Tyreek Hill status for the best deep threat in the game, and Andrews has a real chance to lead the league in receiving touchdowns. Mark Ingram led the team in carries, but was wildly inefficient, rushing for less than 3 YPC, with J.K. Dobbins scoring both touchdowns on the ground. This was supposed to be a time split, and he will need to be more productive with his touches moving forward to remain a RB2.
Do we really have to talk about Cleveland? Ugh, fine. Baker Mayfield continued to be uninspiring and demonstrated awful mechanics, missing Odell Beckham Jr. several times on crossing routes. Even though the team has arguably the deepest group of receivers in the AFC, Mayfield isn't good enough to utilize them. Landry will still be relevant in PPR formats, but Beckham Jr. is fading into FLEX territory -- something we though unheard of just a few years ago. Austin Hooper only saw two targets, despite the team being behind all game (it wasn't as if David Njoku had many more -- he just had three). Kareem Hunt out-touched and out-played Nick Chubb, just days after signing an extension. Chubb carried plenty of risk since he isn't a pass-catcher, but this is concerning.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Chargers 16, Bengals 13Los Angeles was a full-blown mess in this game, and it is evident that they miss Phillip Rivers. Tyrod Taylor was a miserable 16/30 with just 208 yards passing, Keenan Allen only had four receptions for 37 yards and somehow Austin Ekeler only had one target. We aren't quite sure if this game plan was intention or not, but it doesn't play to the strengths of the players, which is concerning. Ekeler looked great when given the chance to run the ball (19 carries for 84 yards) and rookie Joshua Kelley (12 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown) is sure to be a hot pickup on the waiver wire. Hunter Henry and Mike Williams appear to be the favored targets of Taylor, who looked slow when he escaped the pocket. At this rate it won't be long until Justin Herbert takes the job.
For Cincinnati, Joe Burrow played very well for the Bengals, even though he had Chargers DL in his face the entire game. He put his team in a position to tie (if not win) the game in the fourth quarter, which is all that one can ask out of rookie quarterback. He was drafted as a bye-week replacement or upside QB2, and I think that territory is right -- I don't view him as a weekly starter yet. Joe Mixon struggled to find running lanes behind a bad offensive line, and A.J. Green was the only receiver to break the 50-yard mark. Expect better days ahead for this offense and be patient if you drafted Tyler Boyd.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Saints 34, Buccaneers 23Pegged as the game of the week, this one held its own and was definitely entertaining. Neither future HoF quarterback excelled against tough defenses, but Brees was able to limit his mistakes and avoid turnovers, with the Saints defense forcing two Tom Brady interceptions and a fumble. Alvin Kamara struggled mightily on the ground, rushing for just 16 yards on 12 carries, though he made up for it as usual as the focal point of the receiving game. Michael Thomas suffered a high ankle sprain in this game -- an injury that he will attempt to play through if possible. His three receptions for 17 yards was by far the worst game of his career. Jared Cook continues to be a TE1, and Emmanuel Sanders found paydirt in his first game in the Big Easy.
On Tampa Bay's side, Ronald Jones actually surprised me with how well he played -- he ran well and VERY hard. It was evident that he is showing the coaching staff he can hold off Leonard Fournette. With Mike Evans battling through a hamstring injury, Chris Godwin led the team in targets (7), receptions (6) and yards (79). No surprise there. However, Brady's newest BFF Scotty Miller had five catches for 73 yards. He's sneaky relevant. O.J. Howard played much better than Rob Gronkowski, and you could tell that Gronk hadn't been on the field in quite some time. Drafted as a starter, Gronk will need more targets and snaps to meet expectations.
Waiver Wire targets: Tre'Quan Smith could be interesting, depending on the severity of Michael Thomas ankle. Additionally, don't sleep on Scotty Miller in PPR leagues -- in anything deeper than a 12-team league he deserves to be owned.
Cardinals 24, 49ers 20I really enjoyed this game. Arizona came in with a ton of hype and lived up to it, entering San Francisco and knocking off the defending NFC champions on their home turf. Murray struggled to convert most of his throw for the Cardinals (26/40) but tacked on a ridiculous 91 rushing yards and a score on the ground, posting Lamar Jackson-esque numbers. Even with a plethora of talented receiving threats, DeAndre Hopkins was the first and second read for Murray, catching 14 receptions on 16 targets for 151 yards. I can't say that he will command this many targets per week, but if he does Fitzgerald and Kirk will have a hard time cracking lineups. Kenyon Drake struggled on the ground before chipping in garbage time production and (most importantly) was the clear 1A back ahead of Chase Edmonds.
Jimmy Garoppolo finished with a QBR of 35.3 -- not exactly ideal. He was constantly under duress and was forced to rush many of his throws. On the ground, Raheem Mostert finished with 15 of the team's 25 carries, with Jerick McKinnon spelling him as needed. Mostert also led the team with five targets and 95 yards through the air -- circumstances that were aided by George Kittle suffering a hyperextended knee midway through the game. Kittle was able to finish, but don't be surprised to see him miss practices early in Week 2 and come in with a questionable tag. Quick aside -- McKinnon also caught three receptions for 20 yards and a score on five targets. He's being used all over the field, and has clearly surpassed Tevin Coleman as the backup option du jour.
Waiver Wire targets: In deeper PPR formats I think that Jerick McKinnon can be a fine stash. Should anything happen to Mostert he would immediately escalate to an RB2. As is, he's eating into his touches and the team has been very vocal on how high on him they are.
Rams 20, Cowboys 17I mentioned on Twitter that I was disappointed this game ended on a bogus offensive pass interference call on Michael Gallup -- Dallas should have had an opportunity to at least tie it at the end. On the Cowboys side of the ball Dak Prescott was his normal above-average self, even when staring down Aaron Donald for most of the evening. Statistically he will have better nights moving forward. Ezekiel Elliott was the major star, putting up 96 rushing yards and a score on the ground, while catching three passes for 31 yards and a score in the air. His receiving touchdown highlighted his ability to make defenders miss in space, as the Rams secondary is still picking up their jockstraps. Amari Cooper functioned as the chain-moving option with rookie CeeDee Lamb opposite, and Michael Gallup ran deep routes. I thought that Lamb would cut into the target share of Cooper, but in this contest he did so for Gallup. I'll be interested to see if that is the case moving forward. Blake Jarwin suffered a torn ACL, which trimmed down the pass-catching options in the future.
Los Angeles stated that they wanted to become more physical and that was certainly the case -- they had 40 rushing attempts to just 31 pass plays. Malcolm Brown was the surprise star, churning out 79 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. He will be the unquestioned waiver wire add this week, as he operated ahead of rookie Cam Akers. There is little reason to see that committee shifting in the near future. Akers continually ran into the backs of his own offensive lineman, and struggled to find the holes that were clearly in front of him. Robert Woods finished with six receptions and 105 yards, with Cooper Kupp pulling a disappearing act -- a curious situation given that the team just extended him for multiple years. I'm not willing to suggest Van Jefferson as a waiver add…. Yet. He's worth keeping an eye on though, should Woods or Kupp go down.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Steelers 26, Giants 16Big Ben is back! A popular DFS option this past weekend, Roethlisberger finished with a strong stat line, completing over 65 percent of his passes and tossing three touchdowns en route to victory. Juju Smith-Schuster and opposing weapon Diontae Johnson benefitted mightily with his return, especially JJSS, who slides back into WR1 territory. James Conner lasted just six carries prior to sustaining an ankle injury, and in his absence Benny Snell Jr torched the Giants front for 113 yards. Chase Claypool and James Washington should be owned in most leagues, but will be relegated to bye-week streamer status barring an injury to someone in front of them.
For what it's worth, the Giants played some inspired football, especially on the defensive side. This game was within reach all the way up until the beginning of the fourth quarter, and few predicted it would be that close. Daniel Jones exhibited fantastic reads on several throws, but turnovers continue to plague him, including a mammoth interception in the red zone during the fourth quarter. Saquon Barkley was continuously met in the backfield and had no holes to run through, totaling six yards on 15 attempts. Thankfully for his owners he caught six passes for 60 yards to make up the difference. Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard performed as expected, with Evan Engram catching just two receptions on seven targets.
Waiver Wire targets: Chase Claypool and James Washington are interesting adds in deeper leagues now that Roethlisberger is back and the offense becomes more pass-heavy. Both are relevant in 14-team leagues.
Titans 16, Broncos 14That sound you hear is a giant sigh of relief from Stephen Gostkowski that this game is finally over. In a defense-dominated contest, Ryan Tannehill was comfortable handing the ball off to Derrick Henry 31 times and finding Corey Davis (and not A.J. Brown, strangely) down the field when necessary. Tannehill remains a low-end starting option, and it is doubtful that he will attempt 40 plus passes every week. A.J. Brown owners shouldn't be too upset, given that both he and Davis saw 8 targets each. Brown just needs to convert and be more efficient when the passes come his way. Jonnu Smith is a sneaky upside play at tight end -- he received plenty of preseason hype but it was nice to see him deliver with four receptions for 36 yards and a score.
Drew Lock was placed in a difficult position from the get-go, down his top receiving threat in Courtland Sutton and second-round pick K.J. Hamler. To make things even worse, Philip Lindsay went down with a turf toe injury in the second quarter and Melvin Gordon fumbled the ball. Despite being undermanned and outgunned Lock played well enough to keep this team in contention until late, and made several nice throws to Noah Fant, who was his main target in the contest. Jerry Jeudy showed flashes of how special he is on comeback routes. This offense when fully healthy is going to be hard to stop.
Waiver Wire targets: Corey Davis is an interesting WR3 in 12-team formats or larger. Tennessee is still a run-first team and he will have to contend with Brown, Smith and Adam Humphries for targets, but he showed why the team drafted him in the first-round years ago. He's worth a stash if on the wire.