It's never a good week in fantasy football when your first overall pick leaves the game with an injury. That is just what happened to a lot of people in Week 2 when Vikings RB Adrian Peterson left the game with an apparent knee injury and didn't return. On Monday we found out he tore his meniscus cartilage and is all but ruled out for Week 3.
Week 2 also produced injuries to Lions RB Ameer Abdullah (foot, time unknown), Browns QB Josh McCown (shoulder, multiple-week injury), Chargers RB Danny Woodhead (torn ACL, done for season), Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder, multiple-week injury), Broncos LB DeMarcus Ware (broken forearm, out 4-5 weeks), Bucs RB Doug Martin (tweaked hamstring, time unknown), and Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart (hamstring, out 2-3 weeks).
To say injuries changed the landscape of fantasy football teams across the board is an understatement. The waiver wire is going to be busy this week, and you need to make the smart decisions to gain an edge on the other members of your league. Let's take a look at the top players you should target as we head into Week 3.
Fozzy Whittaker – Panthers: Whittaker took over for Stewart in the first quarter, and managed 100 yards rushing on 16 carries, and 31 yards receiving on 3 receptions against the 49ers. Obviously the 6.25 YPC he averaged on Sunday isn't going to be the norm, but the Panthers have a great running scheme that should give him solid value against the Vikings in Week 3.
Jerick McKinnon & Matt Asiata – Vikings: McKinnon will be the lead back in Minnesota with Peterson out, but Matt Asiata will be the goal-line back. Word is the split should be around 65-35 in favor of McKinnon, but I think the fantasy advantage goes to Asiata since he severely outscored McKinnon in 2014 when Peterson missed almost the whole year. Let someone else grab McKinnon while you steal the TDs with Asiata.
Dennis Pitta – Ravens: There was no injury that forced Pitta into action in Baltimore, but when a TE is sitting on the waiver wire and goes off for 9 catches and 102 yards, he needs to be owned. With Rob Gronkowski looking like he is going to just sit out until Tom Brady returns, and the best fantasy TE (Greg Olsen) is just 6-7 points ahead of the #2 guy (Jacob Tamme), owners are scrambling to find points at the thinnest position in fantasy football. Pitta and Joe Flacco have a great rapport, and it showed on Sunday. Go grab him now!
Tyrell Williams – Chargers: When Keenan Allen went down in Week 2 with a torn ACL, a lot of people hit the waiver wire and grabbed second-year WR Tyrell Williams for the Chargers. Williams is still a little raw, but he was able to haul in 3 of 6 targets for 61 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against the Jaguars. With Woodhead now out for the season, Williams will be counted on even more than he already was. He is worth adding in all formats and league sizes.
Theo Riddick – Lions: Riddick isn't likely to be available in many leagues, since he is the Lions' preferred passing-down back already. But with the injury to Abdullah, Riddick will be thrust into an every-down role. Rookie RB Dwayne Washington will also see an increased role, but he is more likely to see around 10 touches and maybe a goal-line series or two.
Charles Sims – Buccaneers: Last, but not least, we have Charles Sims. Sims did little to make me WANT him off the waiver wire this week, finishing with 9 carries for 24 yards against the Cardinals in Week 2. In Week 3 he draws a slightly softer Rams defense, but Sims looks like a good fit for a back-p RB job in the NFL, and a "start only in case of emergency" role in fantasy football. If Sims is in your starting lineup for Week 3, you have a REAL problem at RB!
Matt Ryan – Falcons: Ryan and the Falcons hit the road in Week 2 to take on the Raiders, and he put on quite a show in Oakland. Matty Ice finished the game with 396 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 interception. Had Julio Jones not been dealing with a strained calf, Ryan very well could have gone deep into the 400s for passing yards this week.
Ryan will be a GREAT play against the Saints in Week 3.
Derek Carr – Raiders: Carr had another QB1 week in fantasy football, completing 34 of 45 passes for 299 yards, 3 touchdowns, and with no interceptions. The reality is the defense has more to do with his production than the offense. How can that be, you ask? Well, with the defense giving up TONS of yards and touchdowns through the first two games, Carr has become a shootout QB who is throwing to keep his team in the game.
As long as that continues, he will be worth QB1 consideration.
Matt Forte – Jets:Forte had one of "those" nights on Thursday, lighting the Bills up for 100 rushing yards and 3 TDs on 30 carries. Forte has 59 touches through the first two games, which puts him on a ridiculous pace of 472 touches for the season.
Forte looks like a man on a mission to prove the Bears were wrong to move on from him this offseason, but health will become a concern as the season goes on with this usage rate. I would toss his name out there in trade talks and see what names come back.
LaGarrette Blount – Patriots: Blount was a chain mover on Sunday for the Patriots, finishing the game with 29 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown. The loss of Garoppolo only solidifies his role in Week 3 against the Texans, where I expect him to see around the same carries yet again.
He isn't a factor in the passing game, but he will get enough carries to be considered a high-end RB2 in Week 3.
Isaiah Crowell – Browns: Crowell was solid in Week 1, finishing with 78 total yards (62 rushing, 16 receiving) and a touchdown. This week he was able to add 133 rushing yards and 15 receiving yards against the Ravens. The thing to remember about Crowell is 85 of those 133 yards came on a single run, where he took a run to the house from deep inside Ravens territory.
He did put up monster totals for Week 2, but the season outlook got much bleaker when the Browns lost McCown to a nasty shoulder injury. I'd sell high on Crowell if at all possible.
Stefon Diggs – Vikings: Diggs has started the season with back-to-back 100-yard games, this week hauling in 9 receptions for 182 yards and a touchdown to help upset the Packers at home. Diggs gets a big boost in value with Sam Bradford under center, but you can be sure defenses will bring safety help over the top from this point on to prevent him from those big gains he had against Packers CB Damarious Randall this week.
Diggs is more of a fantasy WR2 than a WR1, but he is trending upward if he can keep up this bond with Bradford.
Travis Benjamin – Chargers: Benjamin reeled in 6 of 6 targets this week for 115 yards and 2 TDs against the Jaguars. With Allen out for the season, the Chargers needed Benjamin to move into the WR1 role, and he did just that this week. It remains to be seen if he can keep this up, but he is certainly someone fantasy owners love to own this week.
With the Colts and Saints up in Week 3 & 4, Benjamin is at minimum a WR2 with WR1 upside.
Jacob Tamme – Falcons: Tamme has put up back-to-back solid games for a fantasy TE, finishing Week 1 with 6 catches for 51 yards, and Week 2 with 5 catches for 75 yards and a touchdown. Tamme did this to us last year too, putting up solid games then disappearing off the fantasy radar. However, this season it looks like he is a part of the Falcons passing plan, making him someone you want to own if you need a TE or bye-week filler.
Tamme draws the Saints in Week 3, putting him atop the streamer options for those who need help at TE.
Baltimore Ravens defense: The game started out ugly for the Ravens, falling behind by 20 points in the first quarter. But the Ravens reined in the defense and shut the Browns down for the final 3 quarters of the game, finishing with 20 points allowed, 3 sacks, and 2 INTs on the day. Because of their final 3 quarters of play, the Ravens finished Week 2 as a top-10 fantasy defense.
Andrew Luck – Colts: Luck was nothing short of abysmal in Week 2, finishing the game 21 of 40 passing for 197 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. It really could have been worse considering he was 5 of 15 passing for 53 yards at halftime! The Broncos defense sacked Luck 5 times for -27 yards, and it wasn't until Ware broke his forearm that Luck got anything going.
Chalk this one up to one of the worst games of his career, and move on.
Jameis Winston – Buccaneers: The Cardinals absolutely embarrassed the Bucs in Arizona on Sunday, leaving Winston owners licking their wounds. Winston managed to bring his TD:INT ratio down to 1:1, which is amazing considering that he threw 4 TDs and 1 INT in week 1. Against the Cardinals, Winston finished 27 of 52 passing for 243 yards, 1 TD, and 4 INTs.
I've long said Winston is NOT a fantasy QB, and this just proves why. He is a QB2 with great WRs, but limited athletic ability to make plays on his own.
Arian Foster – Dolphins: It was really only a matter of time before Foster hurt something that would keep him out of action, and this time it happened to be his groin. Foster managed just 3 carries for 9 yards before exiting in the first quarter.
While Dolphins Coach Adam Gase isn't ruling Foster out for Week 3 yet, it would take some doing to get the oft-injured 30-year-old RB ready to face the Browns this week.
Adrian Peterson – Vikings: Peterson is a physical specimen, and will certainly be in the Hall of Fame someday. But 2016 is going down as one of his worst starts ever as he put up 31 yards in Week 1 and 19 in Week 2 before exiting with a torn meniscus. His 1.6 YPC average is a major concern, one that is leaving fantasy owners wondering if they should cut bait right now.
I'll say this… I'm in the same boat as you all with Peterson. I'm not going to cut him just yet; but, when he comes back, if I don't see the old AD out there, I will be.
Doug Martin – Buccaneers: Martin is a fantasy RB that I never own, despite his high preseason ranking by those big-box websites. This week he tweaked his hamstring, which is one of the most frustrating injuries to a RB because of its lingering nature. Martin gained just 23 yards on 7 carries before leaving in Week 2.
The thing to know about hamstring injuries is if you return before they are 100 percent healed, it is very easy to cause more damage than you originally did. The Bucs will call him day-to-day, but I look at him more as week-to-week.
A.J. Green – Bengals:The Steelers shut Green down this week, holding the stud WR to 2 catches (on 8 targets) and 38 yards in Week 2. Both of Green's catches came in the first half, and he was only targeted twice after halftime despite Andy Dalton throwing the ball 27 times in the second half. Green is a stud, but the Bengals passing game is going to struggle without Tyler Eifert in there, and Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd still getting into the groove of things.
With the Broncos up in Week 3, I'd sit Green if you have the ability to do so.
Antonio Brown – Steelers: Brown was peppered with his usual number of targets (11) this week, but he managed to catch just 4 of them for 39 yards. The problems on Sunday had more to do with Ben Roethlisberger than Brown, but his fantasy owners suffered nonetheless. Brown is easily the #1 WR to own, so chalk this week up as a fluke and move on.
Next week he gets a helpless Eagles secondary, so look for a huge bounce-back game from Big Ben and Brown in Week 3.
Coby Fleener: Fleener is going to be a fantasy bust this season, and not even Drew Brees can save him from that fate. Up to this point, Fleener has shown little to no chemistry with Brees, and finished Sunday with a total of 2 receptions for 29 yards.
At this point, I really do wonder if the Saints won't just hand the starting TE job to Josh Hill when his ankle is healthy enough to put him into action. Fleener shouldn't be owned in any league at the moment.
Oakland Raiders defense: The Raiders have been burnt for 819 passing yards and 7 passing TDs through two games, and this week managed just 3 hits on Matt Ryan, resulting in 1 sack. What's more amazing is the complete absence of Khalil Mack (6 solo tackles, 5 assisted tackles), who Raiders fans are considering putting on a milk carton if he doesn't show up in Week 3!
The Raiders finished Week 2 as the 2nd-worst fantasy defense thanks to their 35 points allowed, 1 sack, and 1 INT against the Falcons. They take on the Titans in Week 3, and are not a recommended streaming option until Mack and the rest of the defense figure out things.