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.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks didn't get anything going in the loss to the 49ers on Sunday, finishing with three catches for only 18 yards. To Cooks' credit, the entire team fell victim to the smothering 49ers Defense, and while it was good to see him back in the lineup after suffering a concussion in Week 5, it was a disappointing performance, to say the least. The veteran will look to get back on track against the struggling Falcons in Week 7.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (quad) suffered a quad injury late in the Week 6 game against the Los Angeles Rams. Samuel had just three grabs on five targets for 18 yards prior to exiting. The rookie played in 60 percent of snaps on Sunday, which has been his normal range, so the severity of the ailment is unknown. With wideout Dante Pettis starting to dominate snap share and the Niners leaning heavily on their running game, Samuel is fading as a fantasy factor. Hell be a bye week WR5 filler in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins.
Coming off a bye week, Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake seemed finally set up for success in Week 6, with the Dolphins facing a Washington Redskins Defense that was allowing over 400 yards of offense per game. However, Drake only set his owners up for another dud, rushing 10 times for forty yards in a 17-16 Miami loss, and failing once again to score for the first time in 2019. He was slightly more valuable in PPR leagues - catching six balls for 30 yards - but was also out-gained by backup Mark Walton totaling 75 yards on 11 touches. Drake may have been drafted as an RB3, but he isn't giving his owners any reason to start him going forward, particularly facing a tough Buffalo defense in Week 7, and seemingly in a partial timeshare with Walton.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff played miserably in the loss to the 49ers, finishing with just 78 yards on 13-for-24 passing, and while he didn't throw an interception in this one, he did fumble twice on the day. The 24-year-old had a day to forget for sure, and though Goff has an abundance of weapons on the offensive side of the ball, he continues to struggle. The good news for Goff, however, is that he has a chance to turn things around in Week 7 against the struggling Falcons. Goff should continue to be started in deeper formats, especially if Todd Gurley (thigh) is back in the lineup.
Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell made his only field goal attempt and all three extra points in Sunday's 24-17 win over the Chargers. Boswell hasn't missed a kick in 23 attempts this season, which makes him an extremely reliable fantasy option. However, on bye in Week 7, Boswell can be dropped this week. You can pick him back, up as a streamer, for a Week 8 contest with the Miami Dolphins, where he should have plenty of opportunities to continue his solid start.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate scored his second touchdown of the year during a division battle against the Panthers Defense overseas in London, England. Jameis Winston did spread the ball around a bit more during this contest but still looked for Mike Evans or Chris Godwin on nearly every drop back. Brate caught two of his four targets for 47 yards, and Winston's only touchdown pass of the day. This is encouraging, but he is still a touchdown-dependent player on a talent-heavy team. The Bucs are on a bye Week 7 and will return Week 8 to face the Titans Defense in Tennessee. Brate is a TE2 for that matchup and can be used in an emergency.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard finally made an exciting play during the Bucs Week 6 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Since the start of the season, Howard has been relegated to nothing more than a blocking tight end. However, during a 30-yard reception and near touchdown against the Panthers Defense, you can still recognize the immense talent he possesses. Howard finished the day with two receptions for 35 yards. He is unfortunately still an afterthought in this offense, which makes him a TE2 with upside when the Bucs face the Tennessee Titans in Week 8, after their bye.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin continues to dominate the NFL. Jameis Winston force-fed Mike Evans all day with 17 total targets during the Week 6 London game against the Panthers Defense; however, Godwin was the more efficient receiver, finishing with 10 receptions on 12 targets for 151 yards. He did not catch a touchdown for the first time in three games, but it has been a career year so far for Godwin, nonetheless. Week 7, the Bucs are on a bye, but Godwin will be a low-end WR1 when he returns to face the Titans Defense in Week 8.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson hauled in both of his targets for just 14 yards in Sunday's 24-17 win over the Chargers. The rookie had 14 receptions over his previous three contests, but this one was definitely disappointing. However, it's important to note that quarterback Devlin Hodges heavily favored check-downs to James Conner in his first career start. As the Steelers go on bye in Week 7, it will be important to pay attention to who is starting at quarterback for the team's Week 8 game against the Miami Dolphins.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans was a target-hog versus the Panthers Defense, receiving a total of 17 looks from Jameis Winston. He did drop a ton of catchable balls but still ended with nine receptions for 96 yards. After his three-target, zero-catch performance last week, this was an over-correction on the Bucs part to get Evans more involved. The Bucs essentially have two No. 1 wide receivers, with Evans and Chris Godwin, who both can take over a game at any time. The Bucs don't play again until Week 8 after their bye against the Titans Defense.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald caught his sole target for just five yards in Sunday's 24-17 win over the Chargers. McDonald and the rest of the Steelers' pass-catchers got phased out of the offense, thanks to a 21-0 lead before halftime. This was one of the 29-year-old's worst games since the Steelers traded for him in 2017. It's important to note that Nick Vannett logged 37 snaps to McDonald's 39 in the contest, so the team clearly will look to utilize two-TE sets. Pittsburgh is on bye in Week 7 before welcoming the Dolphins in Week 8, however, McDonald is nearing drop status, unless he sees an uptick in usage once Mason Rudolph (concussion) returns.
The Pittsburgh Steelers Defense held the LA Chargers to just 17 points, while also scoring a touchdown on a fumble, and intercepting two passes in their 24-17 win on Sunday. Rookie Devin Bush was a man on a mission in Week 6, returning a recovered fumble for the team's first score before intercepting a Philip Rivers pass on the very next drive. After trailing 24-0, the Chargers were able to make it closer by scoring two touchdowns in fourth-quarter garbage time. Its worth noting that Stephon Tuitt (pectoral) left in the first quarter and did not return. With a bye in week 7, this surging defense should be considered the top streaming defense in Week 8 when they welcome the Miami Dolphins for Monday Night Football.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner took 16 carries for 41 yards and a score, while also catching seven passes for 78 yards and another score in Sunday's 24-17 win over the LA Chargers. The third-year back was the offensive MVP in Week 6, but was again dependent on scoring touchdowns. It's also important to note that Benny Snell Jr. rushed for 75 yards on 17 carries. It's possible that was all up to game script, but to see the rookie outperform Conner on the ground might make you raise your eyebrow. The Steelers are on bye in Week 7, before hosting the Dolphins for Monday Night Football in Week 8, where Conner can be viewed as a low-end RB1 in what should be a positive game script.
Pittsburgh Steelers Running back Benny Snell Jr. took 17 carries for 75 yards in Sunday's 24-17 win over the Chargers. This was the largest workload to date for the rookie from Kentucky. While his usage was likely game script dependent, it was interesting to see him out-rush James Conner who totaled just 41 yards, but did score a touchdown. Snell Jr. is still just a stash candidate for the event of a Conner injury, but keep in mind that Jaylen Samuels will be returning in a little over a month. Pittsburgh is on bye for Week 7, so you might be able to scoop up Snell for cheap.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster caught just one of his four targets for seven yards in Sunday's win over the Chargers. Considering Devlin Hodges was starting at quarterback and with Pittsburgh getting out to an early 14-0 lead, the gameplan quickly shifted towards the run game. However, this is two clunkers in the last three games for Smith-Schuster, and he's quickly becoming a touchdown-dependent fantasy option. While the team is on bye in Week 7, a matchup with Miami the following week would be a good game for the USC product to bounce back.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges finished 15 of 20 for just 132 yards with a touchdown and an interception in Sunday's win over the Chargers. The Steelers jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, thanks to two takeaways by the defense. The big advantage allowed the offense to emphasize the run with James Conner and Benny Snell Jr. However, the Samford product threw for his first NFL touchdown in the second quarter on a dump-off to Conner. With the Steelers on bye in Week 7, there is a strong likelihood that Mason Rudolph will be ready to go for a Week 8 matchup with the Miami Dolphins.
Michael Thomas hauled in 8 catches for 89 yards on 12 targets in Sunday's 13-6 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jalen Ramsey wasn't active in Week 6, and Thomas went to work exposing the Jags secondary. Teddy Bridgewater didn't take many deep shots, and when he did, they mainly fell in Ted Ginn Jr.'s direction, which kept Thomas's ceiling capped. Thomas's stranglehold over New Orleans' target share won't be changing anytime soon, so expect him to continue dominating in the weeks to come.
Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley (quadriceps) has a chance to return in Week 7, and the team hasn't ruled him out. However, the injury is on the same leg as his troublesome knee, which doesn't allow for a lot of stability.
Fantasy Spin: The Atlanta Falcons have been good against the run, and Gurley would be a high-end RB2 if he's fit to go. Malcolm Brown would be a flex option in either event.
Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper (thigh) was diagnosed with a thigh bruise, which can be painful, but isn't considered serious.
Fantasy Spin: Cooper was knocked out of the game after just one catch for three yards. He'll have a superb matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, and he'll return to WR1 status.
Atlanta Falcons WR Mohamed Sanu caught three of his four targets for 29 scoreless yards in Week 6 versus the Arizona Cardinals.
Fantasy Spin: Sanu had established himself a nice fantasy WR3 floor over the previous three weeks, so owners counting on him for another five or six catches and about 60 yards came away disappointed. Making matters worse is Matt Ryan threw for 356 yards. Nevertheless, Sanu makes for a decent floor play in the flex in Week 7 against the Los Angeles Rams.