Sat Sep 21 11:36am ET
By CHARLIE WIEGERT
The big news, and the advice you’re probably looking for, is what to do at quarterback. With injuries and changes, there are at least six new quarterbacks to choose from. The biggest two are the season ending injuries to Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the six-to-nine week injury to New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees. First, I must go on record as stating I’m not a fan of rookie quarterbacks and history tells us not to have big expectations.
If you’re going to claim a quarterback on the waiver wire this week, here is how I rank the candidates.
Mason Rudolph would be my first choice. With Big Ben out for the year, the job is his to keep and he’ll be given a bigger leash than the other candidates. He gets an interesting game to start with, although he played most of last last Sunday’s game. I expect a shootout with San Francisco with the home team prevailing in the end. The 49ers defensive strength is stopping the run, so James Conner, if he plays, will have tough going. Keeping the chains moving will be the passing game and lucky for Rudolph, he has a full complement of receivers ready to go, so I’m predicting 250-plus passing yards with two touchdowns.
I’m not a Teddy Bridgewater fan, but the job for next six-to-nine weeks appears to be his. I think Taysom Hill could be a better quarterback, and if Bridgewater falters, he could get a chance. I also expect to see him more involved in gadget plays. Seattle’s secondary leaves a lot to be desired and Michael Thomas can make a quarterback look good, so he could be fine this week.
Daniel Jones has replaced Eli Manning in New York, but it doesn’t change how bad the Giants are. He will bing some new enthusiasm, but his receivers are hurt and weak. He can’t throw every pass to Evan Engram, and the Tampa Bay defense must have a plan to stop him and Saquon Barkley. My guess is he struggles as you’d expect a rookie would.
Luke Falk. Seriously, I feel sorry for him and his debut could be really ugly. The Jets are hurting and the Patriots defense is playing at a high level. Granted, it was the Dolphins last week. Don’t expect anything from Falk and if you have to play him, I’m sorry for you and your team!
Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew showed he could be a respectable addition from his showing Thursday night. He started well with two touchdown passes in the first quarter, and the Jags seemed to coast from there. Otherwise, he could have put up bigger numbers. But in a pinch and with the right matchup, he could be serviceable.
You’ll need to check Sunday morning, but there’s a good chance Kyle Allen will be playing in place of the injured Cam Newton. I don’t think it will be that much of a downgrade if he plays, and he has a solid group of receivers. The Cardinals defense has been vulnerable the first two weeks and Christian McCaffery will keep them off balance, so Allen will have time to succeed. Here’s a good sleeper if he plays.
Speaking of quarterbacks, this is the week Jameis Winston should show coach Bruce Arians he’s his man. After two weak games, he gets a Giants defense that can’t seem to stop anyone. He is my second sleeper. I expect him to have a really big day.
And it appears Josh Rosen will be replacing Ryan Fitzpatrick in Miami. Sorry Josh, I hope you don’t get hurt.
Quarterbacks: The game of the week has to be a Baltimore at Kansas City. Lamar Jackson is going against Patrick Mahomes. If this is the shootout everyone expects, both quarterbacks will put up huge numbers. My other picks to click are Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen against Cincinnati and Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott against the woeful Miami Dolphins. Play all your Cowboys in a blowout. They’ll all get a share of the fun.
Running Backs: Of course it starts with “Zeke” against the Dolphins, I don’t need to tell you that. And the next four are all household names, Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Dalvin Cook and Austin Ekeler (Who needs that Gordon guy?). All have great matchups against teams who have not been able to stop the run this year.
Here’s a couple sleeper plays if injuries open up a start for them. Jaylen Samuels could be a great pick if James Conner (he did practice in full Thursday) can’t go for Pittsburgh at San Francisco. And Darwin Thompson will get the ball a lot in Kansas City if LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams can’t answer the bell. Although most of Thompson’s production will come by way of the pass as Baltimore is hard to run on.
Keep an eye on Indianapolis because Marlon Mack has come up lame in practice this week. Jordan Wilkins would be the man and should have some success against the Falcons.
Another running back who has something to prove this week is Devonta Freeman. He’s been outplayed by Ito Smith in the first two games, but the Colts defense should give him room to roam.
Wide Receivers: The Eagles passing defense is 31st, so who is Matthew Stafford going to be throwing to? I think Kenny Golladay has a big day, and Danny Amendola will see his share of targets, too.
Adam Theilen should torch the Oakland defense, especially if the Vikings open things up a little bit. This is a great opportunity for Kirk Cousins to prove he can get the job dob done. The Giants pass defense can be exposed, and Jameis Winston is the guy who will do it. Both Mike Evans, who needs to show he’s a No. 1, and Chris Godwin should break the century mark in this game.
And of course, all Dallas receivers against Miami. This could be a Randall Cobb breakout game, and Devin Smith with Michael Gallup out.
Tight End: As mentioned above, Jason Witten could have a field day as the Dolphins are averaging 100 yards allowed and eight receptions to tight ends so far this year. This also is the week that Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson plays like he did in Week 1 and makes you forget his Week 2. He is a rookie, so inconsistency should be expected.
Streaming Defense: Dallas at home against Miami and the Patriots at home against the Jets are the two best bets. But the move you might want to make is picking up the Chargers defense now, so you have them for the Dolphins next week.
Have a great week 3!
Charlie Wiegert was the sixth person to be inducted in the Fantasy Sports Hall Of Fame in 2001. He is a founder of CDM Fantasy Sports and Fantasy Sports Trade Association. He has been playing and winning fantasy baseball leagues since 1984. If you have any questions for Charlie, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GFFantasySports.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee (ankle) and tight end Geoff Swaim (ankle, concussion) have both been ruled out for Week 7 against the Bengals. Neither Lee nor Swaim have moved the fantasy needle this year for the Jaguars offense. If Dede Westbrook can't give it a go, it'll be either C.J. Board or Keelan Cole as the team's No. 3 wideout behind D.J. Chark and Chris Conley on Sunday. With James O'Shaughnessy on Injured Reserve, rookie Josh Oliver will become the team's primary tight end if he can make his season debut. Stay away from the tight end position in Jacksonville, however.
New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz could be in for a tough game against the Chicago Bears in Week 7. Lutz has been excellent, ranking eighth in the league among kickers with 54 fantasy points this season. Unfortunately, the Bears Defense ranks third in the NFL in fantasy points against kickers. In what could end up being a low-scoring game, Lutz may not see enough red-zone chances to put up fantasy points. Given how good he's been, he's still a start in this one, albeit a risky one.
Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said he's considering major changes on offense after the blowout loss to the Chiefs on Thursday night, but moving away from quarterback Joe Flacco is not one of them. The main reason is that current backup Brandon Allen wouldn't be a realistic solution. However, rookie Drew Lock is nearing a return from his injury and will be a viable alternative later in the year if Flacco continues to look terrible under center. The 34-year-old has shown that he has basically nothing left. He's gone over 300 yards passing in a game just once this year and has six touchdowns and five interceptions in seven games. Flacco is a low-end QB2 with pretty much no upside.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook (shoulder) is listed as questionable for Week 7 against the Bengals. We still expect Westbrook to play, but you'll need to check the Sunday morning inactives just to be sure. Against a Cincinnati team missing their starting cornerbacks, Westbrook will be a high-end WR3 if he's active. If he's ruled out, D.J. Chark and Chris Conley will operate as quarterback Gardner Minshew's top two wideouts.
Despite missing practice on Friday, Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker (ankle) is likely to play in Week 7 against the Chargers. Walker has been playing through an ankle injury and should do so again this weekend. He's been extremely unproductive lately, though, and it may be a combination of his injury and the team's inept offense under quarterback Marcus Mariota. The good news is it'll be Ryan Tannehill under center this Sunday, but that may not be much of an upgrade. Treat Walker as a TE1/2 in this run-first offense. He has more volatility as long as he continues to play injured.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich has ruled out rookie wide receiver Parris Campbell (abdomen) for Week 7 against the Texans. It'll be Campbell's second straight missed game. The rookie is strictly a stash in dynasty/keeper leagues at this point. In his absence, it'll be Zach Pascal, Deon Cain and Chester Rogers fighting for more playing time behind T.Y. Hilton. All three are merely dart throws in DFS in deeper leagues in this run-first offense, although Houston's secondary is known to give up big plays through the air.
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook (ankle) is currently questionable to suit up for Week 7 against the Chicago Bears after missing two consecutive days of practice. If he does play, Cook gets a stingy Chicago Bears Defense that is surprisingly susceptible to opposing tight ends, ranking 23rd in the league in points allowed to the position. Cook has yet to go over 50 receiving yards in a game but has found the end zone in back-to-back games. He's a risky TE1/2 because of the injury tag and the fact that quarterback Teddy Bridgewater may struggle with accuracy against the Bears defense.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Chad Henne (ankle), who broke his ankle in training camp, is "getting close," according to head coach Andy Reid. "Hes getting there. Hes been working his tail off. I havent taken him out there and thrown with him and done all that so I cant tell you how all that is gone," Reid said. Patrick Mahomes (knee) is expected to miss at least three weeks with a dislocated kneecap, so Henne could become an option to start games in the near future if Matt Moore isn't getting the job done. Even with options around them in the offense, neither Moore nor Henne would be much more than desperation options in two-QB leagues.
Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said wide receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling (ankle, knee) and Geronimo Allison (chest, concussion) have 48 hours to "see if they come around" for Week 7 against the Raiders. The Packers are holding out hope, but MVS and Allison are extremely risky flex options in deeper leagues. MVS hasn't really taken advantage of Davante Adams (toe) being out the last couple weeks. If MVS and Allison are out on top of Adams, it'll be Jake Kumerow and Allen Lazard as quarterback Aaron Rodgers' top two receiving options. Kumerow and Lazard will be DFS sleepers and flex plays in deeper leagues, but the Packers will likely continue to lean heavily on the run.
Cincinnati Bengals cornerback William Jackson (shoulder), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) and defensive end Carl Lawson (hamstring) have all been ruled out for Week 7 against the Jaguars. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap (knee) is also doubtful. The bad news continues for the 0-6 Bengals. Cincy actually hasn't been that bad against opposing wideouts this year, but not having their top corners for this one will make Jaguars receivers D.J. Chark and Dede Westbrook pretty appealing for fantasy purposes. Stay far away from Cincinnati's defense/special teams.
Los Angeles Chargers left tackle Russell Okung (heart) said that he could return as early as Week 7 against the Titans. Currently on the Physically Unable to Perform list, Okung has yet to play this year. It's great news for a Chargers offensive line that hasn't been giving quarterback Philip Rivers much time to stay in the pocket and deliver accurate passes. It still seems unlikely that Okung returns this quickly, but it's certainly something for Rivers and the Chargers offense to look forward to.
Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur has ruled out wide receiver Davante Adams (toe) for Week 7 against the Raiders. It'll be Adams' third straight missed game while dealing with turf toe, and he'll be questionable for Week 8, at best. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers' fantasy luster hasn't been as strong without Adams in the lineup, and he could also be missing Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison this Sunday as well. Consider Rodgers more of a high-end QB2 this weekend with all the injuries to his receiving corps.
Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said that the team won't trade cornerback Patrick Peterson. "Why trade a player in his prime at one of the hardest positions to find for a maybe or a couple maybes? Love what Pat brings to the locker room, love what he brings to the field," Keim said. Peterson is returning from a six-game suspension to face the Giants in Week 7. The Cardinals have been one of the worst at defending opposing wideouts so far this year, so his return should help them in that department. However, the Cardinals Defense/special teams still can't be trusted in fantasy.
The Cincinnati Bengals suspended left tackle Cordy Glenn for one game on Friday for internal disciplinary reasons. Glenn and the Bengals are at odds over the handling of his concussion, and he got into a heated argument with team officials on Wednesday. Glenn has yet to play this year and won't return until at least Week 8. It's more bad news for an offensive line that's been one of the worst in the NFL through the first six weeks. It's part of the reason they're 0-6. Quarterback Andy Dalton will face a Jaguars Defense without cornerback Jalen Ramsey this Sunday, but he's still a mostly unappealing QB2 for however long A.J. Green (ankle) is out.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen) isn't expected to play on Sunday night against the Cowboys. Jackson is improving, but it looks like the Eagles aren't ready to throw him out there just yet despite the important divisional battle against Dallas. D-Jax hasn't played since Week 2, and his absence as the team's deep threat has affected the offense. Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins will continue to work in three-wide sets, with Jeffery being the only real fantasy asset for starting lineups. There's a better chance that Jackson will return in Week 8, but it's not a guarantee.
Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott said that rookie running back Devin Singletary (hamstring) is trending in the right direction to play in Week 7 against the Dolphins. Miami's defense is as good of a matchup you'll find in the NFL, but Singletary will likely play second fiddle to veteran Frank Gore if he returns to action this Sunday. Still, with a matchup this nice, Singletary will have RB3/flex appeal in deeper leagues if he's active. Running back T.J. Yeldon will move back to the bench if Singletary returns.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion) will not be cleared to play in Week 7 against the Cardinals, according to sources. Week 8 is also an uncertainty for Shepard as the Giants take caution with his head injury, the second concussion he's suffered in a four-week span. You can remove Shepard from your fantasy lineups now, and he'll be questionable, at best, for next weekend. With Shepard out another game, it's good news for Golden Tate as a high-end WR3 out of the slot. The Cardinals will be getting cornerback Patrick Peterson back, but he's unlikely to work the slot. Tate's upside won't be as high with tight end Evan Engram and running back Saquon Barkley returning, but he should still be able to put up decent fantasy numbers in a great matchup.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Evan Engram have been cleared for Sunday's contest against the Cardinals and appear to be set to return to their full workloads. Both should immediately be inserted back into lineups with elite matchups against an over-matched Cardinals Defense. Engram's return does knock Golden Tate's value a bit for this week, and Barkley's return means Daniel Jones will be asked to throw the ball much less; however, this is great news overall for the Giants offense and perhaps the defense as well since the Giants will be able to sustain drives and give their defense a rest.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (knee) suffered a right patellar dislocation in the second quarter during a QB sneak on Thursday night against the Denver Broncos, according to a source. He is undergoing an MRI exam on Friday to determine if there is any ligament damage, but the best-case timeline for Mahomes "would be around three weeks." Mahomes has been in good spirits about the injury, but he's definitely expected to miss some time. He had also been playing through an ankle injury he suffered in Week 1. Backup Matt Moore took over and went 10-for-19 for 117 yards and a touchdown. He has weapons around him but will be a low-end QB2 for however long Mahomes is out. You'll obviously need to stash last year's MVP on your bench and hope for a quick return.
Dallas Cowboys wide receivers Amari Cooper (ankle, quadriceps) and Randall Cobb (back) are both expected to return to practice on Friday and play against the Eagles in Week 7 on Sunday night, according to sources. The same can be said for offensive tackles Tyron Smith (ankle) and La'el Collins (knee). Cooper and Cobb were trending towards not playing, but it looks like both receivers will give it a go. With that said, both could be extremely limited, making them both risky fantasy plays this weekend despite the excellent matchup. Expect them both to be listed as questionable for this divisional tilt. Either way, Michael Gallup has an opportunity for a big game this Sunday.