The late-season injury bug came early this year with a healthy appetite—crucial players in the likes of Drew Brees and Michael Gallup are dropping like flies in the dust.
QB Ben Roethlisberger was put on season-ending Injured Reserve for an elbow injury, while an (un)healthy number of the Philadelphia Eagles’ supporting cast is sitting on the sidelines while their teammates attended a walkthrough in lieu of Wednesday practice. One key question looms high this week: should you start worrying about this injury bug?
QB: Matt Ryan (ATL)
Atlanta’s offense may be playing catchup, but Matty Ice has been red-hot with 624 yards and 5 touchdowns in his two games against the Vikings and Eagles. He’s up against the Colts defense this week, which gave up 3 touchdowns to Philip Rivers in Week 1 and one to Marcus Mariota in Week 2. Ryan’s streak qualifies him as a must-start across the board.
RB: Sony Michel (NE)
The Patriots are always favorited at home, and their upcoming match against the Jets is proves different. New England will likely favor a run-heavy offensive scheme that Michel—and by extension, his fantasy owners—will benefit from. He’s only had one touchdown, including one called back at the one-yard line, but Michel will see plenty of scoring opportunities this week.
Honorable Mentions: David Montgomery (CHI), Aaron Jones (GB), Carlos Hyde (HOU)
WR: Marquise Brown, BAL
“Hollywood” Brown has contributed greatly to Baltimore’s up-and-coming offense, nabbing 233 reception yards and two touchdowns in two games to average 23 fantasy points per game. The Ravens will likely be in a scoring competition when they visit Kansas City this week, and Brown will be a primary beneficiary of that contest.
Honorable Mentions: Larry Fitzgerald (ARI), Calvin Ridley (ATL), Tyler Lockett (SEA)
TE: Greg Olsen, CAR
Both tight ends who faced the Cardinals defense in the past two weeks have combined for 243 yards and two touchdowns, consequently earning the best fantasy tight end for each of their respective matchups. A seasoned veteran like Olsen should have no trouble adjusting to Cam Newton’s absence—should it happen—and make the most out of this upcoming game.
D/ST: Seattle Seahawks
Seattle will find it helpful how their upcoming opponents in the Big Easy are in a bit of a pickle in the quarterback department. The Saints have yet to name a replacement for Drew Brees, who will be out for several weeks with a thumb injury. It will take some time for a new quarterback to find his rhythm, and the Seahawks will surely capitalize on that.
K: Jake Elliott, PHI
Elliott has been a reliable point-scorer for the Eagles, which is more than they can ask from him given his difficulties with short-range kicks last season. He’ll be up against a Detroit defense that has generously allowed nine combined field goal attempts between Zane Gonzalez and Ty Long. Philadelphia’s offense is banged up, leaving room for Elliott to see some action.
QB: Baker Mayfield, CLE
The sophomore slump has caught up to Mayfield, who has thrown only two touchdowns but four interceptions against the Titans and Jets. He won’t fare any better against the Rams, whose defense has yet to allow a touchdown to opposing quarterbacks (see: Cam Newton and Drew Brees). Mayfield should be kept on the bench again this week.
RB: Adrian Peterson, WAS
Aside from a lucky touchdown early in the second quarter, Peterson had a stat line that seemed like he was sleeping through the entire game. Teammate Chris Thompson will likely see more snaps again this week, which means that Peterson likely won’t be scoring given a brutal Chicago run defense that has only allowed one rushing touchdown so far this season.
(Not-So) Honorable Mentions: Latavius Murray (NO), Joe Mixon (CIN), Tarik Cohen (CHI)
WR: Jarvis Landry, CLE
The Cleveland offense isn’t so hot and neither is Jarvis Landry. He’s only averaging 8.5 fantasy points per game and has yet to score a touchdown or break 100 reception yards. Like we mentioned for teammate Baker Mayfield, Landry will have an uphill battle against a Rams defense that is notoriously hard on the pass game.
(Not-So) Honorable Mentions: John Ross (CIN), Tyrell Williams (OAK), Josh Gordon (NE)
TE: Jimmy Graham, GB
Green Bay has been steadily chugging along, but it seems like Graham has been left behind. He started off solid with three receptions for 30 yards and a touchdown against the Bears, but was virtually invisible against the Vikings last week. It’s likely that Graham won’t be getting any more screen time against the Broncos this week unless he heads into the end zone.
D/ST: Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs
Any defense going up against a well-oiled, point-hungry offense is a must-sit, which includes the Chiefs and Ravens in their upcoming matchup. The two offensive powerhouses will duke it out for points, leaving little room for any defensive action, just like the Rams-Chiefs game last season. It’s a safe bet to leave these two defenses on the bench this week.
K: Chris Boswell, PIT
Boswell’s secret weapon is a well-rested and healthy Ben Roethlisberger at home. Unfortunately, he and the Pittsburgh offense will be without their star quarterback for the rest of this season. A road matchup against the San Francisco defense is the last thing Boswell needs heading into this week. It’s wise to leave him on the bench until Rudolph proves himself useful.
The Waiver Claims
QB: Jacoby Brissett, IND
Brissett had big shoes to fill in light of Andrew Luck’s replacement, but he has performed spectacularly so far with five touchdowns and only one pick. The Colts like to emphasize their run game, so Brissett won’t be generous with pass attempts, but keep in mind that the Falcons have given up multiple touchdowns to Kirk Cousins, Carson Wentz, and likely to Brissett as well.
RB: Raheem Mostert, SF
Mostert had a field day last week as the Niners’ replacement for Tevin Coleman against Cincinnati. He managed to rack up 191 total yards for one touchdown, averaging 14 fantasy points per game. Mostert is a waiver claim worth considering even though Matt Breida will likely see more touches simply because San Francisco knows what they’re doing in the rush game.
Honorable Mentions: Peyton Barber (TB), Frank Gore (BUF)
WR: D.J. Chark, JAX
It looks like Jacksonville is relying on rookie Gardner Minshew’s connections with his receivers to advance on the offensive front. D.J. Chark has performed consistently well with two scores and 201 reception yards, averaging 21 fantasy points per game. He’s a good backup receiver to keep an eye on for future BYE replacements or to be used as a FLEX option.
Honorable Mentions: John Brown (NYG), Michael Gallup (DAL), Tyler Boyd (CIN)
TE: Jason Witten, DAL
Witten is a living testament that veterans are crucial cogs in a well-oiled machine. He’s scored two touchdowns and averaged 11 fantasy points over two games against the Giants and Redskins. This week, Witten will find plenty of opportunities to shine against a miserable Miami defense that has allowed over 100 points to opposing offenses in just two weeks.
D/ST: San Francisco 49ers
The Niners’ defense has had an impressive showing these past two weeks against Tampa Bay and Cincinnati despite being on the road for both. They’ll have an upper hand over the Steelers offense, which will likely be rusty as Mason Rudolph makes his first away start in relief of the injured Ben Roethlisberger.
K: Jason Myers, SEA
Seattle hasn’t given Myers much wiggle room in terms of field goal opportunities, but he’s been laser-sharp with seven extra points. The Saints have just given up nine points to Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein in an otherwise dormant game, making Myers an appealing fantasy waiver option in relief of an injured kicker or in a multi-kicker league.
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