Week 2 saw a rash of injuries that forced many owners to scour the waiver wire in search of replacements. Normally the waiver wire is something we all keep an eye on, but don't typically use until the bye weeks hit. We found out this week that all that changes when injuries hit your running backs and your depth isn't as spectacular as you thought it was when you were running Jamaal Charles or Adrian Peterson out there in your RB1 slot!
Believe it or not, leagues are rarely won in the draft. No, they are often won on in-season free agent (FA) moves or trades. Sure, the draft is important to give you a good base to work from, but all it takes is one major injury or a few minor nagging injuries to really cut into your fantasy point production and force you to make some moves. I'm going to go over a few RBs you should not only consider adding, but in some cases starting.
Knile Davis: Jamaal Charles is out with a high-ankle sprain, which means Davis will step in and start for the Chiefs this week. Coach Andy Reid's scheme is built for a RB to succeed, and Davis has already shown he can produce with 79 yards and 2 TDs in week 2.
Donald Brown: Ryan Mathews could miss 4-5 weeks with a sprained MCL, which means Brown should absorb most, if not all, of the touches Mathews had. Did you know that Brown finished 2013 as a top 25 fantasy RB? I bet you didn't.
Khiry Robinson: Robinson gets a chance to make some noise with the Saints high-powered offense thanks to Mark Ingram suffering a broken hand. Ingram had two screws inserted into the hand, but Coach Sean Payton is talking like Ingram will be back sooner than the one month initially thought.
Matt Asiata: With Peterson out, Asiata is again the starting RB for the Vikings. Chances are he isn't available in your league, but where he is available you should remember that he had 84 total yards and a touchdown in week 2.
Just a word to the wise, don't forget that Wes Welker is back this week and eligible to play. You'll see more about him later, but those who have been waiting for him should remember that he is back.
Jay Cutler – Bears: Cutler had the ugliest, most beautiful game a fantasy QB could have in week 2, which may cause a lot of owners to rethink playing him in week 3. Consider this; the Jets are giving up an average of 23.3 fantasy points per game (PPG) to QBs this season. Cutler has possibly the best WR tandem in the NFL to throw to, with possibly the best pass-catching RB in the backfield. See where I'm going with this? Cutler should have a HUGE game this week in fantasy terms.
Russell Wilson – Seahawks: It's not often that I tell you to play anyone on the Seahawks other than Marshawn Lynch and their defense, but Wilson is a nice looking play this week against the Broncos. The Seahawks are at home, and then there is always a danger of Peyton Manning getting loose and running up the score, forcing Wilson to throw more to keep up. The danger here is that the Seahawks defense could have something to prove after losing to the Chargers in week 2. I think it is worth the gamble playing Wilson as a QB1 this week and hoping the score is upwards of 50 points total.
Knile Davis – Chiefs: As I've already said, the Chiefs offensive scheme is RB dependent, so Davis should have every chance in the world to put up RB1 numbers. I think at worst he finishes with RB2 numbers and he is a nice surprise for those who got him off the waiver wire for free and played him in the flex. Truth is, I have him in my personal RB1 rankings this week and am playing him as such in the leagues I've got him in.
Doug Martin – Buccaneers: Martin has practiced with the first team offense over Bobby Rainey this week, and despite the questionable tag, I think he plays. The Falcons give up the most fantasy points to RBs this season, so I view Martin as a RB2 with upside into the RB1 rankings if his knee doesn't act up.
Marques Colston – Saints: Colston wasn't even targeted in week 2, making fantasy owners wonder what in the world was going on with the Saints No. 1 WR. I'll be honest and say I'm not sure why Drew Brees barely looked his way considering Joe Hayden wasn't covering him. No matter, I think Brees makes up for it in the Saints' home opener and Colston puts up some WR1 numbers this week. I'd play him as a WR2, but I could easily see WR1 numbers from him.
Sammy Watkins – Bills: I hate to do this because I have such a bad feeling about it, but the numbers say Watkins is going to finish with WR2 numbers this week. The Chargers give up the 6th-most fantasy points to WRs this season at 24.1 PPG, and Watkins is targeted 31 percent of the time. In contrast, Robert Woods is targeted just 19 percent of the time, and Mike Williams 13 percent of the time. The chances are in Watkins' favor if E.J. Manuel can keep himself from going all E.J. Manuel this week.
Zach Ertz – Eagles: Quick, name the Eagle' top 3 leaders in receiving yards this season. If you said Darren Sproles you'd be right. If you said Jeremy Maclin you'd also be right. But how many of you said Zach Ertz right after Sproles and before Maclin? That's right; Ertz is currently #2 with 163 yards, just 3 yards behind Sproles for the lead. Despite being tied for 4th in targets with 11 on the season, Ertz has managed to turn those into a 7-163-1 line and a top-10 fantasy ranking at TE. Don't sleep on Ertz any longer as he is owned in 92.7 percent of NFL.com leagues, but started in just 35.0 percent of them.
Houston Texans defense: There are few things better than playing the New York Giants these days. Eli Manning is showing his age at 34, the O-Line is little more than turnstiles spinning and stopping no one, and the WR corps is regressing right before our very eyes. The Texans have a better line than they do a secondary, but the Giants are leaning heavily on the run these days and the Texans are right in the middle of the pack with 18.0 PPG allowed to fantasy RBs this season. The Texans could finish as a top-5 fantasy defense this weekend, and are available in nearly 40 percent of NFL.com leagues.
Tony Romo – Cowboys: I was all over Romo this preseason because the Cowboys offense is pretty loaded when you look at it as a whole. The problem is the Cowboys are leaning heavily on the run so far. Through two games this season Romo is ranked 27th on NFL.com for QBs. Even though the Rams aren't a stellar defense by any means (28th ranked on NFL.com), I wouldn't put any more faith in Romo until either DeMarco Murray gets dinged up, or the coaching staff decides to even out the fantasy points just a little.
Cam Newton – Panthers: Newton was pretty solid in his first game, throwing for 281 yards and a TD. But Newton's whole passing offense is built around one man, Kelvin Benjamin. Benjamin was plagued by drops at Florida State and that problem followed him into the NFL. If the Steelers can keep Benjamin in check, Newton has only one other real option, Greg Olsen. Things could get ugly for Newton in a hurry if things don't go right from the start.
Matt Asiata – Vikings: The Vikings reversed course on Adrian Peterson and put him on the NFL's exempt/commissioner's permission list until his child abuse case is resolved. That means Asiata is back in as the starting RB, a role in which he put up 84 yards and a TD last week. With that being said, the Vikings take on the Saints this week and I think this game is going to get out of hand early on. Asiata's value is going to come in the passing game this week, but I have him as a flex play, whereas those fantasy websites out there are putting him in a RB2 role.
Chris Johnson – Jets: I knew there was a problem with CJ2K when the Titans thought they were better off without him. That being said, Johnson has managed just 89 yards rushing to Chris Ivory's 145 yards rushing. Johnson just isn't the back he once was and while the Bears defense too isn't what it once was, I have more faith in them than I do Johnson. Somebody please explain to me why Johnson is owned in 98.1 percent of NFL.com leagues, and started in 77.0 percent of them while being ranked 27th for RBs. There are 26 better options out there and he is putting up flex numbers, yet he is started in the RB slot in 3/4 of the fantasy leagues on NFL.com.
Wes Welker – Broncos: 93.0 percent of people own Welker on NFL.com, and you know they are all salivating at the thought of Welker coming in fresh in week 3 and handing the Seahawks their next loss of the season. The problem with that theory is Welker hasn't been allowed at the team facility this season, so the Broncos have no idea where his conditioning is at right now. And, Welker will have plenty of rust to knock off before Manning and he are on the same track. I'd consider sitting Welker down until we see exactly where he is.
Steve Smith – Ravens: Smith has been a pleasant surprise this season for fantasy owners, but I think that could all come to an end this week if Joe Haden gets the call to cover him. I'm just not buying the early success by a 35-year-old WR who has two good years in the last five years, and is on a team where the running game has been focused on more than the passing game in the past few years.
Jason Witten – Cowboys: Much like Romo, Witten is a victim of the newly-found commitment to the running game. So far this season he has only managed to total 48 receiving yards and no touchdowns. If you look at the hierarchy of the Cowboys offense, Witten has the 2nd-most targets with 13 this season. The problem is he has only managed to haul in 6 of them for a measly 7.7 YPC. I'm not sure I would drop Witten just yet, but I know I wouldn't be playing him right now either.
Denver Broncos defense: Truth be told, I wouldn't start either defense in this game. But, with the Seahawks being at home, I've got to give them the slight edge when it comes to making the sit list. Look, I think this game is going to be high scoring and both defenses will take a fantasy pounding. Seattle is at home and that gives them an edge, and Denver has Manning and that gives them a chance to put points on the board on any given play. With 95.6 percent of people owning the Broncos and 99.2 percent owning the Seahawks on NFL.com, I think there will be a LOT of people wishing they had used the Texans this weekend!
Question of the week
Q: I lost Mark Ingram over the weekend and wanted to know who you like between Doug Martin, Donald Brown, and Khiry Robinson. (Casey Ohmer)
A: I think Robinson holds the most short-term value. Plus, he would allow you to go right from Ingram to Robinson, then Robinson back to Ingram if he gets his job back. Martin I am not sure gets his 3-down job back, but he did take all the first team reps this week. I am SLIGHTLY worried that the coaching staff liked what they saw in Bobby Rainey last week. Brown is underrated as he finished as a top 25 fantasy RB in 2013. But, I'd take Robinson over him if I had to pick between them because the Saints offense is higher powered than the Chargers and Bucs.