Your lungs are burning as you bend over to catch your breath. Snot trickles to your upper lip and the icy wind whips around causing it to freeze almost instantly. We’ve been hiking for 2 weeks but it already feels like an eternity. As the blood rushes to your forehead, you wonder how this seemed like a good idea 6 months ago while surfing the internet in your posh apartment in the city.
Of course, you know it’s too far to turn back, but the end is nowhere in sight. All that can be done is to make the best of the journey and put one foot in front of the other. The crunch of the snow betrays me as I saunter over and remind you “The next checkpoint is getting close where we can add some RBs for the week ahead.” Blinking, you stand up and look over the trail where the ridge meets the sun and feel a glimmer of hope. There’s fight left in you.
Each Tuesday, as your Waiver Sherpa, I will list intriguing players owned in no more than 30% of leagues per ESPN. For a primer on additional roster management and waiver wire principals read this. At the end I will also point out some players that can be safely dropped for a better option.
Priority will be classified in 4 ways:
HIGH – immediate starter on most teams and trade bait at worst; be aggressive!
MEDIUM – probable FLEX-level starter right now; add if you have need at the position.
LOW – still a lottery ticket, but showing signs of growth; add if you have bench room.
FREE – likely can add post-waivers without using FAAB or priority if your league allows.
Players with “PPR+” designation mean they will be extra useful in formats that reward receptions.
Snap rates courtesy of Jared Smola (@SmolaDS) who was tweeting them out Monday morning!
First Aid Kit
Players set to inherit a bigger role due to injury
Mason Rudolph, QB, PIT (priority HIGH in multi-QB leagues) – Ben Roethlisberger left Sunday’s game at halftime with a non-contact elbow injury. Any QB who inherits a starting job is relevant for 2QB and superflex leagues. Rudolph is in his 2nd year out of Oklahoma State where he led an explosive offense and enjoyed a 97th percentile yards per attempt of 10.7. We don’t have much to go on at the pro level but Rudolph would have quality weapons at his disposal and is worth a bench add in leagues were multiple QBs are viable. UPDATE – Surgery for Big Ben, season over.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, NO (priority HIGH in multi-QB leagues) – Drew Brees left Sunday’s game with a hand injury, but it must have been significant as the game was well within reach when he was ruled out. Bridgewater was very unexciting in his time, failing to unlock his weapons Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. This isn’t the first time he has disappointed under center for the Saints. In 2018 he started week 17 and recorded only 118 passing yards on 22 attempts. Somehow, despite the team context, I find myself less excited about Bridgewater than I do Rudolph. UPDATE – Brees will miss 6 weeks at minimum, surgery confirmed on ligament in his throwing thumb.
Jaylen Samuels, RB, PIT (priority HIGH pending James Conner’s status) – After James Conner left in the 4th with a knee injury, Samuels was the first man up. Last season when Conner missed 3 game Samuels averages 18 touches a game and finished as a high RB2 in each contest. We know he is versatile and can function well as a receiver, but despite limited college experience carrying the football he was 24th in true rush yards per carry in 2108. If Conner’s injury is serious, Samuels makes for a break-the-bank type acquisition and is a quality RB2 immediately. Benny Snell is lurking but he is not a dynamic runner and I think this would be mostly Samuels’ backfield. UPDATE – Initial reports after further tests say the injury is “not serious.” That is encouraging to Conner owners and may lower the cost for Samuels, but Ill be adding him.
Darwin Thompson, RB, KC (priority MEDIUM pending Williams and McCoy’s status) – The box score will show that Darwin Thompson got 1 carry Sunday, the last play of the game. More importantly, this was because Damien Williams and Lesean McCoy left with knee and ankle injuries, respectively. You don’t need me to tell you how significant this is, but should Darwin slide into meaningful touches he is an immediate starter for your fantasy team. Even if just one of the KC backs miss time, Darwin is an add as he should presumably get 10+ touches. If they both miss time, plug-and-play Thompson and log off. UPDATE – McCoy underwent an MRI on his ankle but results are not known at press time.
Nelson Agholor, WR, PHI (priority HIGH pending Jeffrey and Jackson’s status) – Shocking to see Alshon on the sidelines with a soft tissue injury, isn’t it? He left the game with a calf and Desean Jackson missed most of the contest with a groin so Nelson Agholor stepped right in and consumed 11 targets for an 8-107-1 line. The clear lead Eagles WR by default, he immediately jumps into a WR2/3 role for your fantasy team if the other WRs miss time.
Devin Smith, WR, DAL (priority LOW) – Late breaking news out of Dallas is that Michael Gallup will have meniscus surgery and miss the next 2-4 weeks. Smith would likely be the next man up in the new look Cowboys offense. His college yards per reception was an astonishing 28.2, but has yet to be healthy since being drafted in the 2nd round by the Jets in 2015. I am treating Dallas like I used to treat New Orleans where I just want any piece of the pie. Smith could be a fantasy WR3/4 while Gallup is out.
J. J. Arcega-Whiteside & Mack Hollins, WR, PHI (priority FREE) – These 2 are intriguing should Jeffrey and/or DJax miss games. Hollins is a size/speed specimen with a 90th percentile speed score who has yet to live up to his measurables. JJAW was a #draftTwitter darling, a rare prospect who pops from both film and metrics perspectives. Hollins got the most immediate run snagging 5 of 8 targets for 50 yards, but I would rather take a cheap stab at JJAW. Either is worth an end-of-bench pickup to watch and see.
High calorie options to grab for a boost
Josh Allen, QB, BUF (priority MEDIUM) – Whatever you think about his actual quarterback talent, there’s no denying Allen is an exciting fantasy asset. So far he has improved his biggest deficiency by completing 64% of his passes through 2 games. Allen will give you 4 turnover games like he did in week 1, but he can also make up for it with his running and YOLO downfield attitude. To put this add in context, I would start Allen over Cam Newton right now.
Raheem Mostert & Jeff Wilson Jr., RB, SF (priority LOW) – We knew the 49ers backfield would be a committee and Kyle Shanahan did not disappoint! Three backs got at least 10 carries with both Mostert and Wilson also receiving 4 targets each. Breida is the leader, but his size prohibits a true feature role so this split will continue. Mostert takes priority given his 47% snap share on Sunday, although it was a blowout. Wilson was pretty unimpressive on a per touch basis but was given goal line work, making him a desperation RB3 until Coleman is back.
Terry McLaurin, WR, WAS (priority HIGH) – He comes in slightly above the 30% ownership threshold but why is he less owned than James Washington!? I wouldn’t be a good Sherpa if I didn’t strongly demand that you add him. Yes, you. Right now. After finishing as the WR13 in his first professional game, Scary Terry showed us that he is for real in week 2. Despite drawing Dallas’ best cornerback, he led his team in targets and scored another touchdown on a beautiful back shoulder snag at the goal line. He looks to be a solid WR2/3 option for the rest of the season.
Deebo Samuel, WR, SF (priority MEDIUM) – Looks like Dante Pettis may finally be #cancelled. After boasting that his groin injury was behind him, Pettis played 49% of the snaps but received 0.0 targets. Playing less snaps (40%), Deebo led the team with 7 targets good for a 5-87-1 line. While old for a prospect at 23, he is a strong athlete with an 86th percentile SPARQ score. It appears that in the early going, SF will rotate WRs in different packages but I’m happy to take their target leader off the wire. This should be a good offense, and while George Kittle is a mainstay, the second option in their passing game can slide in as a WR3 for you.
Demarcus Robinson, WR, KC (priority MEDIUM) – Another Sunday, another secondary KC pass catcher with a week-winning score. DRob toasted Oakland for 6-177-2, but waiver points don’t count and he is only rostered in 1% of ESPN leagues. While Robinson is certainly an add, he was third on the Chiefs in targets despite playing 91% of the snaps. This is still going to be the Kelce/Watkins show until Tyreek Hill returns. Think of Robinson as a premium WR3/4 for boom weeks when you need a fill in.
Preston Williams, WR, MIA (priority LOW) – I make no promises that you will ever feel comfortable starting Williams, but the facts are he has 9-87-1 in 2 games as a professional after going undrafted. The reports all along have been that he was not undrafted due to a lack of talent, as he posted a massive 45% hog rate at Colorado State. The Dolphins are bad… I mean reallllllly bad, and Williams may be the most exciting garbage time all-star in 2019 before it’s all said and done.
Chris Conley & DJ Chark, WR, JAX (priority LOW) – The Gardner Minshew era got off to a rocky start on the road but he acquitted himself well and looked to these 2 WRs often. While all the buzz heading into 2019 was on Dede Westbrook, his old breakout age and low SPARQ score (19th percentile) kept my expectations low. Now through 2 games he has turned 11 targets into a 6-33-0 line. But this isn’t a Westbrook OR a Minshew blurb! Conley and Chark both own exciting athletic ability and have each scored a TD so far in 2019. If you need a solid bench WR4 as bye weeks come up, take a look at either of these two big pay WRs.
Diontae Johnson, WR, PIT (priority FREE) – I was [this close] to recommending a Moncrief drop last week after his abysmal Sunday Night Football game, and he followed that up with a bench-worthy performance in week 2. Enter 3rd round pick Diontae Johnson who turned 4 targets into 1 catch for 17 yards. Of course those stats don’t move the needle but the fact that there is a potential opening on the outside for the Steelers should move it a little. He’s an end of bench stash WR5 for now, but could develop with an organization known for their WRs.
Leave these guys behind, it’s time to move on
Mike Davis, RB, CHI – After a promising week 1, Davis took a major backseat to David Montgomery in week 2. He tallied 3 carries for one yard and didn’t see a target. To be fair, it was tough sledding all around for Chicago backs and Montgomery didn’t exactly light it up. But DMont got 19 touches and scored on his goal line carry. Personally, I am comfortable dropping Davis now, but I can understand holding him as a handcuff.
Justin Jackson, RB, LAC – He played 27% of the snaps in a slow, close game and lost out on a 1 yard TD plunge to Austin Ekeler. The thought heading into the season was this would be a 50/50 committee with Ekeler more of the receiver but Jackson has only seen 13 carries to Ekeler’s 29. In a deep league, JJax is a nice handcuff stash but for most leagues he’s probably droppable now.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, ATL – He has seen 13 targets in 2 games but turned them into 73 scoreless yards. Sanu is clearly the 3rd or even 4th option for Matt Ryan with Ridley clearly taking over the WR2 spot. I like my bench with high upside players and I just think you can do better, friend.
Keke Coutee, WR, HOU – The additions of Kenny Stills and Duke Johnson have really dampened Coutee’s prospects. Due to his short routes, he would need large volume to be relevant even in PPR and I don’t see that happening without an injury (or 2) ahead of him.
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