John Frascella is a published sports author and fantasy football analyst with over two decades of experience, and will be contributing a weekly fantasy sports column to Aaron Torres Online. Follow him on Twitter @LegendSports7 for all things fantasy football.
Remember how excited you were, right before Week 1 kickoff? Remember how you knew everything about fantasy football, and your team was going to win the championship with ease?
Well, Week 2 just happened, and it was a mini metaphor for the hell that has been 2020. Many fantasy hopes and dreams have been dashed, already. I will do my best to pull you out of the injury rubble. There’s no time to waste…
Major Injuries & Their Fantasy Replacements
Saquon Barkley (torn ACL): Sadly, the consensus No. 2 overall fantasy pick is now out for the season. Yes, I took him in my longest-standing league, and I subsequently changed my team name to “I Killed Saquon”. I have a checkered history of destroying 1st round picks. That team is now 0-2; to quote the late, great Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, “I teach this shit…I didn’t say I know how to do it.” But never fear, let’s take a look at the other options…
Replacement #1: Dion Lewis: The veteran quickly picked up 10 carries in Saquon’s absence, to go along with 5 targets in the passing game. He rushed for 1 TD and caught 4 passes netting 36 yards. Since leaving Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels and New England, Lewis has never quite been the player people expected; and yet, you kind of have to give him a look if Saquon is occupying your “IL” spot. He is a bit of a two-way threat – on the ground and through the air – and the Giants don’t have much depth at the running back position. He’ll be one of the most targeted players on the waiver wire this week, so be prepared to pay up in FAAB situations. Know your league mates and keep an eye on #2…
(Possible) Replacement #2: Devonta Freeman: He visited the G-Men yesterday, and this would put a real dent in Lewis’ pickup value. It becomes a game of cat-and-mouse, if Freeman ultimately signs with the Giants – you can’t overbid for Lewis, then. Once Freeman learns the playbook, he probably surpasses Lewis in touches in the long run. So, basically, just keep an eye on his free agent status in real life and fantasy. He’s worth a speculative add, especially for Barkley owners.
Christian McCaffrey (high ankle sprain): Speaking of consensus top picks, here’s the king of the hill. He couldn’t stay 100% healthy forever, right? Unfortunately, if you had the No. 1 overall pick, you basically had to take the plunge. You had to hope this wouldn’t happen; that “CMC” was some sort of real-life Superman. But, in the end, running backs get hurt. This is the nature of the beast. Fantasy football is heartbreaking. Let’s see who is next in line…
Replacement #1: Mike Davis: The big fella is a bowling ball – we know this about him. He’s a rumbler and tumbler. This is an old-school, smash-mouth kinda guy. And yet? He caught 8 of 8 passes as CMC’s replacement, as the Panthers trailed on the scoreboard (again) Sunday. Basically, Matt Rhule and Teddy Bridgewater used Davis like CMC, which was somewhat surprising to me. Now, we have to monitor the forthcoming situation with more RBs being activated. I think we’ll see both of the next two guys, so don’t overspend on Davis unless you are desperate in the absence of CMC…
Other Possible Replacements: Trenton Cannon and Reggie Bonnafon: I saw Cannon first-hand with my Jets, and I’d be worried he’d cut into Davis’ third-down and passing game work. He’s a quick little player. I always felt the Jets should have found creative ways to get him more touches. I don’t think he holds standalone fantasy value, but I do think he could be a bit of a problem for Davis, if utilized.
It was pretty shocking when Bonnafon didn’t make the team out of camp. Most of us believed he was the Panthers’ RB2; instead he’s been on the practice squad. I think he’ll be activated this week, and we’ll be looking at a trio committee of Davis, Cannon and Bonnafon.
Courtland Sutton (torn ACL): Sutton came in banged up, and the situation only got worse. Like Barkley, he is now done for the season. Long story short, this has quickly become a tank year for the Denver Broncos. Starting QB Drew Lock is out 3-5 weeks as well, with a strained right rotator cuff (his throwing arm).
Replacement: K.J. Hamler: Two rookies lead the way now: Hamler and the impressive Jerry Jeudy. JJ shouldn’t be available on your waiver wire, but if he is, scoop him up. Hamler, on the other hand, should be readily available for a very reasonable price, if nothing at all. He’s a quick, shifty slot man who should be third on the team in targets behind Jeudy and rising young TE Noah Fant. Hamler is worth a look in full-point PPR leagues. The Broncos should be playing from behind with Jeff Driskel at the helm, and in terms of targets, that bodes well for Denver’s remaining WRs and TEs.
Raheem Mostert (MCL injury): The length of Mostert’s expected absence is currently unknown, but the situation certainly isn’t as severe as Barkley’s, and doesn’t seem to be as severe as CMC’s. Still, it’s a shame because Mostert is a beast. Per ESPN, on his explosive touchdown vs. my hapless Jets this weekend, he reached an astonishing 23.09 MPH on the run – the fastest ball carrier speed in 5 years. This guy continues to thrive in Kyle Shanahan’s much-publicized family rushing scheme. Yet and still, Mostert is earning his money on his own. He plays his ass off and is a vicious downhill rusher.
Replacements: Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon: I prefer McKinnon, here. Obviously, we know about his pass-catching prowess out of the backfield, and Coleman appears to have lost a step. Coleman will still likely get the early down work, but McKinnon is more explosive and offers promise in full-point PPR leagues. I’m just not interested in Coleman this season. Keep Mostert and add McKinnon as insurance with possible standalone value (if currently available in your league).
Week 3 Daily Fantasy Plays
Safe: Russell Wilson $7,300 vs. DAL
Sleeper: Ryan Tannehill $5,900 @ MIN
Perfect Storm: Cam Newton $6,700 vs. LV
I can’t believe what Belichick and McDaniels have done with Newton; credit to Cam as well, of course. He’s leaner, meaner and totally locked in. The Pats are running everything through him. Newton presents much more of a challenge to the Las Vegas defense than Drew Brees did on Monday Night Football.
Safe: Ezekiel Elliott $8,300 @ SEA
Sleeper: Joshua Kelley $5,000 vs. CAR
Perfect Storm: Jonathan Taylor $7,000 vs. NYJ
Gotta like the game script for Kelley vs. Carolina; they should basically be mailing it in at this point. Chargers will pound the run game and drain the weak Panthers’ D, and Austin Ekeler and Kelley will get plenty of action. Kelley’s low salary is scrumptious.
Safe: Calvin Ridley $7,200 vs. CHI
Sleeper: Jerry Jeudy $5,000 vs. TB
Perfect Storm: DK Metcalf $6,500 vs. DAL
Julio Jones is questionable, and Ridley is as safe as they come in that matchup, anyway. Metcalf should feast vs. Dallas.
Safe: Noah Fant $5,400 vs. TB
Sleeper: Drew Sample $3,500 @ PHI
Perfect Storm: Zach Ertz $5,100 vs. CIN
Ya gotta think Ertz is gonna breakout in a major way vs. the lowly Bengals. The Eagles and Doug Pederson need this win, and Ertz is expected to shine.
John Frascella is a published sports author and fantasy football analyst with over two decades of experience. Follow him on Twitter @LegendSports7 for all things fantasy football.