Welcome back to another season of Ultimate Fantasy Team! A new season means that we’ll be experimenting with a new setup: biweekly recap articles of players trending up in the fantasy scene, trending down, and waiver wire players who you should consider picking up.
In typical 2020 fashion, the NFL season has been anything but kind so far to star players—and their fantasy owners—like running backs Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley, quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Drew Lock, and receiver Phillip Dorsett II. However, this didn’t deter injury-ridden teams such as the 49ers from blowing out a leaky Jets run defense and Cowboys from staging an impressive comeback after trailing the Falcons 29-10 at halftime. How do these developments affect your fantasy team?
QB: Cam Newton, NE
It seemed like Newton was too risky for teams because of his nagging shoulder problems underwhelming performances. Bill Belichick was wise to overlook those nonstarters—since starting for the Patriots, Newton has rushed for 122 yards on 26 attempts and scored four touchdowns by himself. He’ll continue a 30-fantasy point streak against the Raiders this week.
RB: James Robinson, JAX
Jacksonville’s running back corps took a big hit when veteran Leonard Fournette was released, but Robinson’s performance so far has proved they were wise to ride with the rookie. He’s rushed for 164 yards and a touchdown on top of four receptions for 46 yards. Miami will have trouble containing Robinson at home on a short week, and in prime time, no less.
Honorable Mentions: Miles Sanders (PHI), Melvin Gordon (DEN), David Montgomery (CHI)
WR: D.K. Metcalf, SEA
Metcalf had an absolute beauty of a touchdown on a 54-yard bomb from should-be MVP candidate Russell Wilson against the Patriots last week. This should be more than enough reason to silence his critics and earn him a starting spot. It’s also encouraging to know that the Cowboys defense, now without starting cornerback Chidobe Awuzie to a hamstring injury, has allowed 215 yards and three touchdowns for the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers.
Honorable Mentions: Allen Robinson (ATL), CeeDee Lamb (DAL), John Brown (BUF)
TE: Jonnu Smith, TEN
Smith has become Ryan Tannehill’s favorite goal-line target and it shows. As the reigning top-scoring tight end in the fantasy realms, Smith has tallied three scores and 120 yards over the past two weeks. The Vikings have been slightly better than average at keeping fantasy tight ends at bay, but for now, Smith looks almost invincible on his throne.
D/ST: Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers gave Kansas City a run for their money, keeping Patrick Mahomes and company within a score all the way to OT. They’ll have a favorable matchup against the Panthers at home, as opposing defenses have scored an average of 9 fantasy points per game against Carolina. Have faith that Joey Bosa and Chris Harris, Jr. can continue the streak.
K: Harrison Butker, KC and Justin Tucker, BAL
A matchup between two of the league’s best kickers belonging to two of the league’s most dynamic offenses will surely be spectacular. Third time’s the charm for Butker’s 58-yard game-clinching boot in OT, while Tucker leads all kickers in the league with 23 fantasy points. The ice in these two veterans’ veins is evidence enough to make them automatic starters.
The past two weeks have been anything but a comeback campaign for Wentz after a concussion in last season’s NFC Wild Card game against Seattle. He’s completed less than 60% of his passes for a rating of 64.4, which is second only to Kirk Cousins at 61.9. Until Wentz’s offensive line and receivers come back to full strength, he should be on the bench.
RB: Mark Ingram II, BAL
Baltimore’s backfield is as crowded with talent as ever, but this doesn’t bode well for fantasy owners given Lamar Jackson’s affinity for the run. Most of Ingram’s 55 yards and one touchdown came on a single 30-yard play. Ingram will have to share the bulk of his snaps with teammate Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins, so expect his floor to progress linearly, if at all.
(Not-So) Honorable Mentions: Todd Gurley (ATL), Malcolm Brown (BUF), Dion Lewis (NYG)
WR: Emmanuel Sanders, NO
The Saints were stunned so badly in the inaugural game of Allegiant Stadium that HC Sean Payton pushed back the team’s flight back to New Orleans by over three hours. Sanders was supposed to be the next man up to replace Thomas. His three targets on Monday proves that he’ll be largely overshadowed by Tre’Quan Smith and Deonte Harris in the coming weeks.
(Not-So) Honorable Mentions: David Johnson and Will Fuller (HOU), Darius Slayton (NYG)
TE: Evan Engram, NYG
Big Blue will have to adjust their tactics around the loss of Saquon Barkley, who will be sidelined for the rest of the season due to an ACL injury. A matchup against the 49ers, tied with the Patriots for the second-toughest fantasy defense against tight ends, will render Engram practically invisible as the Giants figure out how to proceed without a key piece of their offense.
D/ST: New Orleans Saints
Don’t worry, New Orleans has woes on the defensive side of the ball, too. They just conceded three touchdowns and 282 yards to Derek Carr for a passer rating of 120.7. It won’t get any better this week when the Saints host Green Bay, who is currently the highest-scoring offense at 42.5 points per game. It’s best to save this defense for a rainy day in the near future.
K: Joey Slye, CAR
Slye has redeemed himself with three straight field-goal attempts since missing his first PAT of the season, but it looks like his kicking opportunities will be limited with running back Christian McCaffrey out with a high-ankle sprain. On top of that, the Chargers have only allowed 16 fantasy points to kickers over the past two weeks. Hold onto Slye for a better matchup.
QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick, MIA
Fitzmagic is a bit of an anomaly around here—his fantasy ceiling can be astronomically high as it is abysmally low. His Week 1 performance was less than stellar, but he bounced back against the Bills with a convincing 328-yard, two-touchdown performance for 28 fantasy points. Fitzpatrick is a good backup to have with upcoming games against the Jaguars and 49ers.
RB: Mike Davis, CAR
Davis should be the waiver wire addition of the highest priority, especially for fantasy owners with Christian McCaffrey on their roster. He will likely be the workhorse even though Carolina could split carries between their crowded backfield consisting of Curtis Samuel, Trenton Cannon, and Reggie Bonnafon. Definitely consider Davis as a backup RB in all leagues.
Honorable Mentions: Jerick McKinnon (SF), Devonta Freeman (NYG), Myles Gaskin (MIA)
WR: Russell Gage, ATL
Though Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are ahead of him on Atlanta’s depth chart, Gage has made himself a good case as a waiver wire pickup. Gage tallied one touchdown on 20.4 yards for an average of 16 fantasy points per week. He’s also proven himself highly versatile: if Jones had caught the pass, Gage would’ve thrown a nearly 50-yard touchdown last week.
Honorable Mentions: Mecole Hardman (KC), N’Keal Harry (NE), K.J. Hamler (DEN)
TE: Jordan Reed, SF
Reed had an impressive showing as George Kittle’s replacement against the Jets last Sunday. He scored two touchdowns on seven receptions for 50 yards. Kittle has been limited in practice for the past several days, so consider picking up Reed in the off chance that Kittle might not be able to suit up due to some unresolved knee issues.
The Colts had a field day hosting the winless Vikings at home last week. Kirk Cousins was picked three times and limited to an alarming passer rating of 15.9. Their next opponents are the also-winless Jets, who are down to only Chris Hogan, Braxton Berrios and Josh Malone as their receivers. The Colts will be a nice pickup solely because of this favorable matchup.
K: Mason Crosby, GB
It’s astonishing how Crosby is still available in 57% of PPR leagues when he’s part of the highest-scoring offense in the league. Crosby only had double-digit performances three times last season, but he’s already done it in each of his past two games. An outing against the Saints defense, who’ve conceded 10 points last week to Daniel Carlson, is enough to start Crosby.
Image Credits - COVER: The Charlotte Observer - AP Photo/John Froschauer - Icon Sportswire via Getty Images - Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports