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.
The Los Angeles Chargers placed wide receiver Travis Benjamin (quadriceps) on Injured Reserve on Thursday and signed defensive tackle T.Y. McGill in a corresponding move. Benjamin can return later this year, but he should be dropped from all fantasy rosters in deeper leagues. The 29-year-old had just six catches on 16 targets for 30 scoreless yards in five games this year. With Dontrelle Inman also on IR, Geremy Davis figures to be the team's No. 3 wideout behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. He won't be fantasy relevant unless there's an injury ahead of him.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' (ankle) injury is a legitimate injury. Sources are saying that the injury is worse than most people think it is, and head coach Andy Reid said it's something that has bothered the quarterback since Week 1. Mahomes aggravated the ankle each of the last two weeks. He has been very reluctant to flee the pocket and has seen his completion percentage drop as a result. Opposing defenses have switched to play man coverage recently with Mahomes ailing. Denver's defense doesn't often play man coverage, but it remains to be seen how they defend the start quarterback Thursday night. The Broncos D has been playing much better in recent weeks and this is no easy matchup, but Mahomes remains a must-start in fantasy.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen) missed another practice on Thursday. The Eagles were optimistic about Jackson playing this weekend for the first time since Week 2, but that's looking like more of a long shot if he can't get on the practice field. A notoriously slow healer, D-Jax might be more likely to come back in Week 8 against the Bills on the road. The Eagles desperately need Jackson's deep-threat abilities to open up their offense. If he sits out again, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins will continue to operate in three-wide sets on Sunday night against the Cowboys.
New York Giants running back Wayne Gallman (concussion) practiced in full on Thursday. After missing last Thursday's contest, Gallman looks to be on track to return in Week 7 against the Cardinals. However, Saquon Barkley (ankle) is also practicing in full and should be able to return after a two-game absence. Gallman will be a little-used backup for the Giants if Barkley is starting and playing his normal allotment of snaps. Gallman would only be on the RB2/3 borderline if the Giants play it cautious and hold Barkley out for another week. With Barkley healthy, Gallman is strictly a handcuff for Barkley owners.
Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson (toe) remained sidelined at practice for the second straight day Thursday. It's looking unlikely that Thompson plays in Week 7 against the 49ers while dealing with a minor case of turf toe. Adrian Peterson should see another heavy workload this Sunday, but it might not matter against San Fran's strong defensive front. If Thompson is inactive this weekend, expect Wendell Smallwood to handle most of the pass-catching duties out of the backfield. He'd strictly be a desperation RB3/flex in deep PPR leagues.
New England Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett (hamstring), who missed last Thursday's game, was moving around well at practice on Thursday. Dorsett is on track to play on Monday night against the Jets. It's welcomed news, too, as Josh Gordon (knee) is questionable to play after getting injured last Thursday. It's looking like Julian Edelman and Dorsett will be New England's top two receivers for this week. Dorsett will have sneaky flex appeal for fantasy owners in a good matchup if Gordon doesn't play.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle) will not practice again on Thursday. The Bengals aren't rushing their No. 1 receiver back, and he's highly unlikely to play in Week 7 against the Jaguars. With Cincy's bye coming in Week 9, it's possible that Green doesn't make his season debut until Week 10 against the Ravens. The Bengals (0-6) have no reason to rush the veteran at this point in a lost season. With Green still sidelined, Tyler Boyd will have WR1 upside this weekend against a Jaguars Defense that just traded their top cornerback in Jalen Ramsey. It's a great week for Boyd to bounce back from his clunker in Week 6. Auden Tate also has flex appeal at home in this matchup.
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy said that quarterback Mitch Trubisky (shoulder), who practiced in full on Wednesday, is "feeling good." All signs point to Trubisky returning in Week 7 to face the Saints after missing the London game in Week 5. If that happens, backup Chase Daniel will go back to holding the clipboard. The Saints allow the 11th most fantasy points per game (24.1) to signal-callers, but Trubisky and Chicago's passing game has been wildly mediocre through five games in 2019. It's best to treat Trubisky as a low-upside, midrange QB2 if he returns to action in Week 7.
Dallas Cowboys wide receivers Amari Cooper (ankle, quadriceps) and Randall Cobb (back) both missed practice for the second straight day on Thursday. Both players are on the wrong side of questionable right now for Sunday night against the Eagles. Until further notice, plan on being without both of them. That would put Michael Gallup as the No. 1 receiver with Tavon Austin in the slot and Cedrick Wilson out wide in three-receiver sets. Gallup is the only viable option for starting lineups outside of much deeper leagues. The good news is that offensive tackles Tyron Smith (ankle) and La'el Collins (knee) both returned to practice, so Dallas' offensive line might be near full strength to face Philly's strong defensive front. Tight end Jason Witten should see more targets as well if Cooper and Cobb sit out.
New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon (knee) and tight end Matt LaCosse (knee) were not at practice on Thursday. Gordon was injured last Thursday night and didn't return to the game. He's in serious danger of sitting out on Monday night against the Jets, and he's even more difficult to trust with the game being on Monday. With Phillip Dorsett also banged up, it could be Julian Edelman, rookie Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski in three-receiver sets for the Pats. Edelman would obviously be a must-start, while Meyers would simply be a dart throw as a flex in deeper formats. LaCosse will miss at least a few weeks. Ryan Izzo should perform as the team's primary tight end, but he should be faded in fantasy.
Buffalo Bills running back T.J. Yeldon has served as the Bills' No. 2 running back behind Frank Gore since Week 3, after the team lost Devin Singletary (hamstring) to an injury. Singletary is looking likely to make his return in Week 7, which is bad news for Yeldon. Yeldon had a season-high 10 touches in Week 3, then had a total of 10 touches the next two games. If Singletary is active, Yeldon may not see the field more than a few times this week. Even if Singletary is inactive, Yeldon still won't get enough opportunities to warrant starting him. He should be on waivers in all leagues.
Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore has received at least 16 touches in four straight games. This week, he faces a Dolphins Defense that just allowed Adrian Peterson and the Redskins to run all over it. Gore has a fantastic opportunity to rack up around 100 rushing yards with a good chance to score, making him a high-end RB2 this week. The team's No. 2 running back Devin Singletary (hamstring) is looking likely to make his return this week, which could cost Gore a few touches, but nothing significant enough to warrant benching Gore.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley has 27 catches through five games this year, a sturdy total for PPR leagues. This week, Beasley and the Bills have a favorable home matchup against the Dolphins. Beasley should be able to get open at will, making him a solid candidate for around six or seven catches. The team's No. 1 receiver John Brown (ankle) is currently questionable for the game. If Brown sits, Beasley could be a low-end WR3 or flex option in non-PPR leagues, but if Brown is in, Beasley should be considered for PPR only.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen has had a bumpy start to the year with seven interceptions and a lost fumble over five games. This week, however, he has an ideal matchup at home against the Dolphins. He has a good chance to put his turnover woes to rest and deliver some solid yardage through the air and on the ground. He should be able to contribute at least two touchdowns on the day as well. He's a fantastic, low-risk QB2 in two-quarterback leagues and a low-end QB1 option in one-quarterback leagues.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown (groin) was a limited practice participant on Wednesday and is currently questionable for Week 7. Assuming he's able to practice in full before Sunday and take the field, he is a solid high-end WR3 or flex play in a favorable home matchup against the lowly Dolphins. Brown has caught at least five passes in all but one game this year and leads the Bills with 390 receiving yards. As long as he is active in Week 7, he should be able to catch about five or six passes for around 70 yards with a chance to score.
Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith (knee) said he'll warm up and see how he feels on Sunday, but he's also planning to take it slow with the team's bye coming in Week 8. Smith is unlikely to play in Week 7 against the Seahawks. The 31-year-old has yet to play this year and his absence has been a big reason why Baltimore's defense as a whole hasn't played up to expectations. Marlon Humphrey has played his part, but the rest of the secondary has been extremely vulnerable and also lost Tony Jefferson for the year. It's why the Ravens just traded for cornerback Marcus Peters, and they're hoping he can help shore up their pass defense moving forward. The Ravens Defense/special teams shouldn't be on the streaming radar with Seattle on deck and Russell Wilson playing at an MVP level.
Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary (hamstring) was a full practice participant on Wednesday. Even though he is still listed as questionable for Week 6, he appears to be on track to take the field and make his first appearance since Week 2. The Bills have an excellent matchup at home against the Dolphins, which makes Singletary enticing as a start option, but it's hard to know just how involved he'll be in a game the Bills should win handily. The team's No. 1 running back Frank Gore will no doubt shoulder the workload while Singletary will likely see around five touches.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams (foot) is dealing with plantar fasciitis in his foot, a condition that has kept him off the field since Week 4, according to head coach Jon Gruden. Its not getting much better, Gruden said. Williams didn't practice leading up to the London game and hasn't practiced yet this week. He leads the team's receivers with 17 catches for 216 yards and four touchdowns in four games this year. All other Raiders receivers have combined for 28 catches for 225 yards and one score. Plan to be without Williams again this weekend if you own him. The Raiders will likely roll with rookies Hunter Renfrow and Keelan Doss and recently acquired Zay Jones in three-receiver sets against Green Bay if Williams misses another game. Expect Oakland to lean heavily on running back Josh Jacobs and tight end Darren Waller.
The Miami Dolphins have had trade talks with teams centered around running back Kenyan Drake, and they would trade him if the right offer presents itself, according to sources. Drake has had no extension talks with Miami since training camp and would welcome a change of scenery. He's been the team's lead back this year, but it hasn't amounted to much for production for a tanking team. Drake has carried the ball 41 times for 153 yards (3.7 yards per carry) and also has 19 receptions for 137 yards. He has yet to find the end zone and has become an unappealing RB3/flex in deeper leagues, especially with the Dolphins looking to get Mark Walton more involved of late. There's no guarantee that a trade would make him more attractive to fantasy owners.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not looking to trade tight end O.J. Howard this year, according to sources. The former first-round pick had high expectations for him in head coach Bruce Arians' offense in 2019, but so far he's looked more like a glorified fullback, but that doesn't mean Tampa will try to trade him as the deadline nears at the end of October. The 24-year-old has been a huge disappointment to fantasy owners, catching just 13 passes (18 targets) for 176 scoreless yards. Receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have been dominating the aerial targets, while tight end Cameron Brate has also vultured a few touchdowns. Until something changes, Howard will be a touchdown-dependent TE2 in fantasy. Maybe Tampa will look to get him more involved coming out of their Week 7 bye.