Just like Oprah with her giveaways, the football gods certainly gave us a lot of injuries to have to deal with in football and also to deal with in fantasy football. That is what this post is for though, to figure out the treats from the tricks (yeah, yeah, it was late but it still works).
Firstly, we are dealing with the season-ending injury of a consistent fantasy football contributor and one of the best wide receivers to ever play the game. Steve Smith Sr. went down on Sunday with a torn Achilles and is out for the season. Arguably the only wide receiver/tight end worth owning in Baltimore, the task will fall onto a rag-tag bunch of misfits. Now, whether or not the Ravens actually go out and try to acquire a wide receiver before the trade deadline on November 3rd is another story. But for the time being, considering who is there… it’ll be hard to figure out who will pick up the slack. But when Smith down with his back injury before, Kamar Aiken was the one who seemed to be the biggest beneficiary of Smith’s absence. He had two straight weeks of 75+ yards (Week 4 and 5) receiving and saw the most targets of any Ravens wide receiver during that span. He is immediately thrust into an inconsistent WR3 zone that owners need to grab, as first round pick Breshad Perriman does not seem like he will be playing this season. Aiken may not be worth playing right away, but he deserves to be on benches for those who are lacking wide receiver depth.
Benjamin Watson (yes, THAT Benjamin Watson) has had a touchdown reception in three of the past four weeks and also 100+ yards receiving in two of the last games as well. He has seen 27 targets over the past three weeks, including two of those weeks with 10+ targets. He may not be the tight end that everyone had picked to be the Jimmy Graham replacement in New Orleans, but he seems to be the tight end that has produced the most by far and continues to be a favorite of Drew Brees. He is worthy of a bench spot in 12 & 14 team leagues as a TE2, who could end up coming through as the season progresses if his role continues to be around the same as it has been.
As of this writing, Le’Veon Bell has been ruled out for the rest of the season with an MCL injury. Tough blow to those who drafted him, despite his two game suspension, and now they have to deal with this. Because of this injury, DeAngelo Williams has to be the number one waiver wire add this week, as he will be used in a prominent role going forward (like he was when Bell was out originally at the beginning of the season). Williams is averaging 4.92 yards per carry and had eight carries for 71 yards after Bell went down against a tough Bengals defense. He also had four receptions for 39 yards, trying to make up for the receiving production as well that Bell provided. In the two weeks that Bell was out, Williams topped 20 carries in both games, had at least 77 yards in both, scored three touchdowns in one game, and ran for 127 yards in the other. He has brought new life to his career after signing with the Steelers in the offseason considering how he left Carolina. He is an immediate RB2 with the ability to have RB1 weeks. Grab him and start him while you’re at it.
Another top running back went down on Sunday with what appears to be an MCL injury. Matt Forte left in the third quarter and did not return. Early reports as of this writing indicate that Forte escaped injury to his ACL, but again, was dealing with an MCL injury. When Forte went down, Jeremy Langford stepped in as their every-down back and did not do too bad considering the stout run defense the Vikings had, going 46 yards on 12 attempts, but did have a critical drop on his lone reception. The Bears are slated to play next week on Monday Night Football, giving Forte more time to rest. But for Forte owners, Langford needs to be picked up as a handcuff and stashed on the bench in the event that Forte can’t play. San Diego has been horrible against the run and Langford could have a top-25 weeks if Forte sits. He may not be worth owning past Week 9, but for this upcoming week, Langford has to be one of the top fantasy football waiver wire adds and stashes on a team’s bench.
Who’s the player, that as of this writing, was still available in a 1/3 of Yahoo! fantasy football leagues and has garnered good stats on the season? Rishard Matthews is on pace for 101 targets on the season and since the coaching change to Dan Campbell, Matthews has had no fewer than 62 receiving yards (three games). He has caught 16 of the 21 targets he has gotten (good enough for seven per game over current span) and continues to operate at no worse than the number two target in Miami. In the three games since Campbell took over as coach, Matthews has gotten 21 targets, 16 receptions, 222 yards and one touchdown. In a season-long span of 16 games, that would accumulate 112 targets, 85 receptions, 1184 yards, and five touchdowns. Not to say he can put up this kind of pace, but Matthews is clearly going to put up stats in Miami and needs to be owned on teams as a strong WR3/FLEX option every week.
Another tight end that has appeared out of nowhere to put up some decent stats in the past few weeks is Jacob Tamme. Since being inactive in Week 4, in the four games since, Tamme has gotten 33 targets (good for a little over eight per game), 24 receptions (good for six per game) 265 yards (good for 66 yards per game), and one touchdown. He had an explosion of a game on Sunday where he had 12 targets, 10 receptions, 103 yards and a touchdown in a tightly contested game where Matt Ryan relied on Tamme heavily to move the chains. Part of it had to do with Leonard Hankerson being inactive, but Hankerson is dealing with an injury with little clarification on how long it’ll take to heal. There are worse TE2 options to have on your bench going forward and Tamme may not be a bad add if you hit and miss on some of the other tight ends this season.
Finally getting the shot to come back in week nine after being on the IR all of the regular season, David Cobb may be worthy of getting a bench spot in most leagues. De facto lead running back Antonio Andrews has accumulated 202 yards rushing on 54 attempts, good enough for only 3.74 yards per carry. Cobb looked impressive in the preseason, rushing for 4.2 yards per carry and also having receiving ability in the backfield as well. Coming off a serious calf injury, Cobb will now be 100% going into Week 9 and have the chance to take over the job before even playing a snap in the regular season. Considering Marcus Mariota is slated to return the same week as of right now, and his running ability, it could only help Cobb in the running game, as it could open up more chances. Treat him as a RB4 to stash on your bench for now, but he could be worthy of FLEX consideration sooner rather than later.
Since being fully healed from his preseason hand injury (started in Week 6), Michael Floyd has caught a touchdown pass in every game and has accumulated at least 50 yards receiving with 20 targets over that span as well. John Brown was active but did not play a snap, so Floyd was thrust into the #2 role. Going into a bye week, Brown will have time to heal, but with the high powered offense that Arizona has, even a #3 receiver has its perks. Floyd is worth keeping on benches (and grabbing if he is available) as a low-end WR3 with a very high ceiling. His role should only continue to grow from here and is arguably one of their best red zone targets, making him even more appetizing as someone with weekly touchdown appeal.
In San Francisco, the running back situation is even more of a mess than it was to begin with on week one. Carlos Hyde is out indefinitely with a foot injury, Reggie Bush is done for the season with a knee injury, and Mike Davis is out indefinitely with a hand injury. Jarryd Hayne was waived on Saturday, but was signed on Monday night to the practice squad after clearing waivers. The 49ers also signed Shaun Draughn on Monday as depth, and probably won’t be much more than a change of pace back in San Fran. Kendall Gaskins had an uninspiring five rushes for six yards and two catches for 17 yards as the only other running back to have any touches on the day besides Davis. Gaskins appears to be the de facto starting running back for the 49ers, but would be nothing more than a low-end RB3 because of volume if that is the case, even with the report potentially of Colin Kaeparnick being benched for Blaine Gabbert (yikes…). Keep an eye on if Jarryd Hayne is signed to the active squad this week, as he is by far the most talented of the running backs healthy. But Reggie Bush can be dropped obviously going forward.
Chargers announced on Monday that start wide receiver Keenan Allen would be out for “some time” with a kidney issue. Now, internal organ issues are not to be taken lightly, and we could be looking at an extended period of time with Allen being out. In his place, Malcolm Floyd went for 92 yards receiving and two receiving touchdowns and would slide into the #1 wide receiver role for San Diego. He becomes a high-end WR3 considering how well Philip Rivers has done this season and the lack of consistency in the Chargers’ run game. Only owned in 20% of Yahoo! fantasy football leagues as of this writing, Floyd is one of the best wide receivers to grab this week on the waiver wire and view as a solid FLEX play going forward.
Michael Crabtree is still available in 40% of Yahoo! leagues and he should be owned in 100% of leagues. He is averaging almost 10 targets a game (68 targets in seven games) and has only seen under five receptions in two of his seven games this season. He continues to be in a heavy targeted role opposite emerging star Amari Cooper and will keep having solid weeks as he has also only had under 50 yards receiving in two of his seven games this season as well. Not only is he worth having on your bench, but deserves weekly WR3/FLEX treatment in his role. Derek Carr is vastly improving as a quarterback and will continue to pepper Crabtree with targets galore. Lastly, speaking of Derek Carr, he has been quite the fantasy football this season. He has thrown for eight touchdowns in his past three games as opposed to only one interceptions during that time span. He also happened to have thrown for 333 yards and four touchdowns against one of the toughest secondaries in the game in the Jets. On the season, Carr has thrown for 15 touchdowns, three interceptions, and 1793 yards passing as well. That is good for a weekly average of 256 yards, 2.14 touchdowns, and .43 interceptions. That is good for 17.94 fantasy points per week, which is back-end QB1 numbers. Considering his hot streak as of late, Carr may be worth grabbing as a flier for week nine facing a weak Pittsburgh secondary. At the very least, he is a high-end QB2 who will put up low-end QB1 weeks for the most part. If you need a back-up quarterback going forward, Carr may be your guy.
That’ll do for it this week. I’m expecting your trick or treating candy in the mail soon. That’s my payment, right?
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