Great Odin’s Raven! What a week! There were injuries everywhere you looked on Sunday, leaving fantasy GMs scratching their heads and searching for answers. Based on the numbers, Jamaal Charles and his fantasy owners were better off with him sitting out — avoiding the carnage that was Week 2. The same might be said for Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady’s owners. This is an unconventional week of preparation for fantasy GMs. There are going to be a lot of nervous people out there, and the bidding will be aggressive in leagues that use FAAB auctioning for free agents. In waiver leagues there will be tons of claims. I’m starting off with the running backs first this week because that’s where all the stress is.
Here are the backs who are either out for Week 3 or in some form of peril.
Ameer Abdullah (foot) — Seeing a specialist, out Week 3
Adrian Peterson (knee) — Highly questionable for Week 3, could be out multiple weeks
Doug Martin (hamstring) — Questionable for Week 3
Arian Foster (hamstring) — Questionable for Week 3
Thomas Rawls (leg bruise) — Could play Week 3
Rashad Jennings (wrist/thumb) — Questionable for Week 3
Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) — Out for Week 3
Danny Woodhead (ACL) — Out for the year
Some of this injury information is still fluid. I will update these situations and get into the relative value of the replacement options during this week’s waiver wire podcast over at Rotobahn, and in the expanded waiver wire at Rotobahn. Both will be posted before your commute home and they will get you up to speed fast.
Tevin Coleman, Falcons, 57 percent
Atlanta is sticking to a split backfield, and that makes Coleman a must-own player in all formats. If there’s an injury to Devonta Freeman, Coleman becomes a potential stud, and it’s crazy that so many Freeman teams are choosing to leave this guy on the waiver wire! Scoop him up and have a great upside talent on your bench or even in your lineup.
Jerick McKinnon, Vikings, 25 percent
He must be picked up at every available opportunity. McKinnon is an elite athlete with big-play potential. They did not overuse him last week because he’s been nursing a foot injury, but he should be ready for more this week and then even more after that. This is a potentially special running back and no way am I adding Matt Asiata if if have the option to add McKinnon.
Charles Sims, Buccaneers, 52 percent
He is a must-add player for Doug Martin owners and for anybody else who has bench space in any format, but particularly in PPR leagues. Sims has stand-alone flex appeal when Martin is healthy, but he could be an RB2 against the Rams if Martin is forced to sit with his sore hamstring. In better matchup, he has RB1 potential if starting.
Jordan Howard, Bears, 8 percent
He is the only running back in Chicago who is capable of being a true lead back. I suspect that he will own the early down and goal-line work at some point this season, and perhaps at some point soon. Howard is, quite simply, better than Jeremy Langford. Add him in all 12-team leagues.
Matt Asiata, Vikings, 2 percent
He’s the Plan B option to McKinnon, but the value will be short term, because the coaching staff will quickly realize that McKinnon is too good to sit very much without Adrian Peterson around. Still, in bigger PPR formats, Asiata could be an effective one- or two-week bridge.
Fozzy Whittaker, Panthers, 6 percent
In PPR formats Whitaker is the guy to add if you are looking for a Jonathan Stewart replacement. He should be playing almost all passing downs, and I suspect he’ll get some early-down work as well. He also gets looks in the red zone even when Stewart is healthy, so he has an established role, whereas Cameron Artis-Payne has been left inactive in Weeks 1 and 2.
Dwayne Washington, Lions, 1 percent
He’s a raw player with huge explosive elements to his game. If Ameer Abdullah is seriously hurt, and he may be, then Washington needs to be picked up in 12-team leagues. In bigger formats, even Zach Zenner could have some appeal, because unlike Washington, Zenner can be trusted as a blocker and is not a fumbler.
Kenneth Farrow, Chargers, o percent
The loss of Danny Woodhead will mean a full-time starring role for Melvin Gordon, but in the event of a Gordon injury, the next man up is Kenneth Farrow, who now is worth a roster spot in big formats as he will be getting weekly touches and snaps.
Cameron Artis-Payne, Panthers, 1 percent
In deeper leagues, with standard (non-PPR) scoring, Artis-Payne makes as much or more sense than Whitaker. While Whitaker has a stable role, Artis-Payne is the more conventional early-down runner, and I expect him to do most of the pounding on first and second downs. He also would play the closer role if the Panthers get a big lead.
Jay Ajayi, Dolphins, 27 percent
He’s the odds-on favorite to start in place of the injured Arian Foster (hamstring) this week, but he wasn’t given a bell-cow role after Foster went down in Week 2. He could do more this week with starter’s reps in practice. The matchup with the Browns certainly is enticing. Others Dolphins to watch and add in deeper leagues are Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams. All three backs have enough talent to produce.
Christine Michael, Seahawks, 59 percent
He needs to be owned if you are a Thomas Rawls owner, and he should be owned in all 12-team leagues whether or not you own Rawls. Michael has looked strong all spring and throughout the summer. He’s carried that into the regular season and it’s not impossible to think he could steal the job at some point, though I still favor a healthy Rawls.
Shane Vereen, Giants, 19 percent
Vereen looked very good last week despite some average stats. He was involved in the red zone and running various routes out of the backfield and the slot. With Rashad Jennings banged up and potentially out for Week 3, Vereen is a great add, particularly in PPR formats.
Kenneth Dixon, Ravens, 9 percent
He’s a sneaky stash option. Dixon probably will sit one more week, though you never know. His real appeal is a few weeks away, but I see the Ravens backfield as being poachable at this point, and Dixon is the back with the most talent of the group. He should be owned in all 12-team leagues.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins, 29 percent
His schedule eases up going forward, and that coincides with getting DeVante Parker healthy. Tannehill is a good add in all leagues and is a strong play this week at home vs. the Browns.
Joe Flacco, Ravens, 29 percent
As I said last week, he plays a very favorable schedule. He also looks like he’s all the way back from his 2015 ACL injury. So add Flacco for this week’s game against the Jaguars or add him for the rest of the year in deeper formats. He works either way.
Carson Wentz, Eagles, 15 percent
He has a good schedule for the pass and he looks like a big-time player so far. Wentz has the gig and he has solid weapons around him at all the skill positions. He’s also a great athlete for a man his size and he will get some foot points on most weeks, and that raises his floor. I like adding him as a matchup option in deeper leagues.
Sam Bradford, Vikings, 8 percent
The Vikings are going to throw a bit more now that Adrian Peterson is on the shelf, and maybe for a while. Bradford looked good in his first outing and has plenty of good matchups the rest of the way — including some sweet playoff matchups. It’s never too early to plan ahead.
Tony Romo, Cowboys, 13 percent
In deep leagues go grab him now, but in typical leagues just know that he’s typically available and could be a high-quality add in a few weeks. Romo should be the starter by Week 8 — plenty of time to help you win a league this season.
Mike Wallace, Ravens, 59 percent
He’s developed a quick rapport with Joe Flacco, and he has a favorable schedule that includes a nice matchup at Jacksonville this week. Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman likes to throw, so the volume should be there most weeks.
Corey Coleman, Browns, 69 percent
He’s looking all the way back now after battling a hamstring injury for much of August. Coleman busted out for two scores in Week 2 and is on a team that will be playing from behind much of the time. It’s not a recipe for fantasy success, but the game scripts will be in his favor on most weeks, and the team is trying to develop with youth.
DeVante Parker, Dolphins, 67 percent
He has WR2 potential — even in smaller leagues, so he needs to be owned just for the upside. Check his availability in your league and go get him if you can.
Davante Adams, Packers, 12 percent
I always want to be in the Aaron Rodgers business, and Adams is playing almost all of the snaps when the Packers go three wide, and they do that most of the time, if you haven’t noticed.
Torrey Smith, 49ers, 39 percent
He’s really the only big talent they have on the outside, so he is going to have his good days. Smith should be owned in all leagues.
Phillip Dorsett, Colts, 42 percent
He has shown playmaking ability in the first two weeks, and his chemistry with Andrew Luck should continue to improve. Dorsett should be owned in all leagues right now.
Michael Thomas, Saints, 48 percent
He has looked very good, though the fantasy stats have not been there just yet. His routes are crisp and he’s showing an ability to make tough catches. He should begin to find fantasy success soon. They use three or more receivers in New Orleans, and the top three clearly are Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead and Thomas. The rest of the receivers and tight ends are of the complementary variety. Add Thomas if you can, because Drew Brees doesn’t waste talent very often.
Quincy Enunwa, Jets, 10 percent
As I said last week in this space, he has plenty of opportunity because he’s the slot receiver but also the team’s psuedo “move tight end.” He works the middle of the field and sometimes will bounce outside if the Jets move Eric Decker or Brandon Marshall inside on a particular play. He’s looked interchangeable with the two starts so far, and it’s clear the coaching staff trusts him as does the quarterback. Enunwa is looking like a weekly flex option in 12-team leagues.
Tyrell Williams, Chargers, 49 percent
He looked good again in Week 2, and his role should continue to grow now that he is locked in to one of the top three spots on the depth chart. He’s going to get red zone looks and he has the size and speed to make big plays from anywhere on the field. Williams needs to be owned in all leagues.
Victor Cruz, Giants, 37 percent
He is going to be playing nearly as many snaps as the starters, and he has a quarterback who will find him when he’s open. Cruz should have the best matchup most of the time with Odell Beckham always drawing the elite corners and Sterling Shepard taking most of the No. 2 corners. It’s a good situation for Cruz, who should be owned in all PPR leagues and 12-team non-PPR leagues as well.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings, 30 percent
On Sunday against Green Bay, Rudolph was targeted eight times for the second week in a row and scored his first touchdown of the year. He’s a top-12 tight end in seasonal leagues right now and it was good to see him clicking with Sam Bradford right away.
Clive Walford, Raiders, 17 percent
He responded to his Week 1 dud with a very solid all-around game. Walford’s role should continue to grow, and he should continue to get good looks in the middle of the field with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree drawing extra coverage. Add him now in all leagues if you need a tight end. He needs to be owned in all leagues with 12 or more teams.
Dennis Pitta, Ravens, 11 percent
He looked very good again, and you can ride him for as long as he stays healthy. He’s clearly picked up where he left off with his longtime quarterback, and he’s getting it done on the field. Pitta is back. He should be owned in most leagues.
Jesse James, Steelers, 25 percent
He’s seeing steady targets and he scored last week against the Bengals. James can help you in leagues with 12 or more teams, and he’s streamable in all formats.
Trey Burton, Eagles, 0 percent
This is more of a dynasty prognostication. He’s a young athletic tight end who could emerge as a regular weapon for Carson Wentz in time. He also could be a factor the next few weeks in really deep formats because Zach Ertz should miss another game or two.