Waiver Wizard 2019 Week 3
Nick Nack Paddy Whack Everyone Just Broke a Bone
Each Fantasy Football season there is a week that seemingly stands out from an injury perspective, with several high-profile players going down for extended periods of time. Owners have to hope for their own sakes that Week 2 is the most detrimental, as the quarterback position can't sustain another barrage of maladies.
Reviewing the major three occurrences, Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers stands out as the most impactful. Placed on the season-ending IR following elbow surgery later this week, the team will look to 2018 third-round selection Mason Rudolph to lead them to the playoffs. Rudolph is competent enough to maintain low-end WR1 status for JuJu Smith-Schuster and keep James Conner in the upside RB2 category, but all other pass-catching options on the team take a major blow. Owners hoping that Donte Moncrief would fix his case of the dropsies or that James Washington would suddenly break out will need to pump the brakes, as the offense will surely become more conservative moving forward.
Drew Brees injured the thumb of his throwing hand upon the helmet of Aaron Donald during Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Rams, and is expected to miss around six weeks with a torn ligament. Backup Teddy Bridgewater is more than capable of holding his own, and is my preferred waiver wire pickup over Rudolph in two-quarterback leagues. With Bridgewater now starting, all New Orleans Saints players outside of Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara can be benched, especially Jared Cook. This team was already transitioning from a pass-first to run-heavy philosophy over the last several years, and I expect this to simply speed up the process.
Up the East Coast, Sam Darnold contracted mononucleosis, and the team is taking a very cautious approach with their young stud. Given the nature of the disease it is difficult to put an exact timetable on his return, and early reports have reflected a guessing game of sorts, predicting between a 3-7 week absence. Unfortunately for the New York Jets, backup Trevor Siemian suffered a devastating ankle injury in Monday night's loss to the Cleveland Browns, forcing Luke Falk to start. Falk played reasonably well, and his final numbers could have been much more eye-catching if his receivers opted to catch the ball rather than look upfield. Without question, Falk is off my radar given the Jets lack of talent or weapons.
Continuing to look at players who will come into larger workloads due to injuries, check out the following players for waiver wire claims in your leagues:
Jaylen Samuels (Pittsburgh Steelers) - One of the better "handcuffs" in football, Samuels has played well this season when given the chance, and saw an increased amount of snaps after starter James Conner left Pittsburgh's game early due to a knee issue. Post-game reports described the injury as "not serious", and when asked about his status for Week 3, Conner seemed confident that he would be able to play as usual. Despite the optimism, it wouldn't hurt to add Samuels in the event of a reinjury, or if the Steelers opt to limit Conner's touches. An excellent receiver out of the backfield, Samuels value moves even further in PPR formats. This is a team that is desperately attempting to stay relevant, and will do everything in their power to make a run at the playoffs this season.
Frank Gore (Buffalo Bills) - Rookie running back Devin Singletary had played exceptionally well out of the gate, rendering the "ageless one" Gore largely irrelevant prior to departing last week with a hamstring injury. Perhaps it was the woefully inept New York Giants defense making him look 15 years younger, but Gore appeared to not miss a beat when filling in. Rushing for 68 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, he demonstrated plenty of power, obliterating safties and cornerbacks attempting to bring him down. With Singletary expected to miss time, Gore slots in as a RB2 that is dependent upon volume and game-script to reach his projections, similar to Adrian Peterson. This isn't a "sexy" pickup per se, but Gore is definitely worth a FLEX spot.
As for some wideouts….
Demarcus Robinson - Robinson will be the most added player in Fantasy leagues following his breakout performance against the Oakland Raiders, hauling in six receptions for 172 yards and two scores. Logistically speaking, anyone who steps on the field for the Kansas City Chiefs offense is worth a speculative add, as blowups like Robinson's are possible with Patrick Mahomes at the helm. This of course begs the question - is Robinson's performance sustainable, even with rookie receiver Mecole Hardman's presence? I believe so. Keep in mind that Hardman also had a score in Week 2, and had another called back due to a questionable call. Both Hardman and Robinson are worthy FLEX starters in the absence of Tyreek Hill. I don't expect either player to ascend above Travis Kelce for targets in the offense as Andy Reid spreads the ball around, but the big-play potential for both makes them worth considering. Since Robinson will be so heavily discussed, owners looking to acquire him will need to place at least a 25-30 percent bid of their FAAB to be competitive.
Nelson Agholor/J.J. Arcega-Whiteside - I attended the Sunday Night Football game in person, and was caught off guard by the number of injuries that the Philadelphia Eagles sustained at the receiver position. Alshon Jeffery left with a calf injury that is initially expected to sideline him for multiple contests, and Desean Jackson suffered a groin injury. Jackson's status for Week 3 hasn't been clarified yet, but given the nature of his skillset as a speed burner coupled with the tendency to suffer a setback, don't be surprise if the Eagles play this cautiously. Nelson Agholor became the go-to weapon not named Zach Ertz for Carson Wentz on the field, with Arcega-Whiteside seeing additional targets as well. Agholor is prone to the occasional boneheaded drop, but has a solid floor in PPR formats. Arcega-Whiteside is more of a speculative add, as he would be the natural fit due to body-size and skillset to replace Jeffery. "JJAW" was very impressive during the preseason, and was one of my favorite players selected in the NFL Draft this year.
Deebo Samuel - Dante Pettis who? Even with Pettis back on the field following a recovery from his groin injury, Samuel started over him, and the team made it a point to get him involved early and often. Samuel's seven targets ended up leading the San Francisco 49ers (a bit surprising, given the presence of George Kittle) and he finished the game catching five receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown. Many pundits downplayed the 49ers offense given how poorly Jimmy Garoppolo appeared in the preseason, but through two games they appear plenty competent. Fantasy owners can continue to see Samuel featured each week, as Marquise Goodwin (downfield burner) and Trent Taylor (chain moving third down option) have limited skillsets. For a long-term play, Samuel is a fantastic addition in any format deeper than 10 teams.
On another note…
Daniel Jones - Jones makes this list not due to an injury of Eli Manning, but the New York Giants attempting to find a spark to save their season. Adam Schefter of ESPN announced hours ago that Jones would be starting for Big Blue moving forward, and the Manning era has officially come to an end. Should Sterling Shepard be removed from the league's concussion protocol and return in Week 3, Jones would have enough weapons on the field to make him worth a speculative add in deeper formats, or at least putting him on the "watch list". The New York Giants will add another weapon in Golden Tate after Week 4, and still have a top-flight running back and tight end as alternative options for Jones to utilize. "Danny Dimes" impressed many and silenced critics in the preseason, completing over 85 percent of his passes.