As happy as we were to have football back and get our fantasy leagues up and running, Week 2 was soul-crushing for many of us, as there was a litany of injuries to key players across the league.
Don’t worry, I’m here to provide you with a glimmer of hope by highlighting some players who could step into those valuable roles and give you some return on investment for your injured stars. If you’re one of the lucky ones who dodged any significant injuries and want to ensure your playoff spot, go ahead and grab these players off waivers and free agency to secure league dominance!
The most notable and gut-wrenching injury, Saquon Barkley tore his ACL against the Chicago Bears and is done for the season. Considering he was THE focal point of both the Giants offense and your fantasy roster, it’s time to hit the waiver wire and free-agency to pick up his replacements. The Giants are likely to roll with a committee for the foreseeable future and will split touches until an alpha emerges.
Wayne Gallman was a forgotten man on the Giants roster this year, only managing one reception in their season opener against the Steelers, and was a healthy scratch last week against the Bears. With Barkley’s injury, he could be in line to take over the early-down work. It’s important to remember that, when he received a similar opportunity in 2019, he totaled 108 yards from scrimmage with a rushing and receiving touchdown in his first game as the lead back.
Dion Lewis will also see an increase in his touches and surely remain as the third-down back for the Giants, as he is the superior pass-catcher. Look for him to be a viable flex play for the remainder of the season, especially in PPR leagues.
Lastly, nobody can assure you that Devonta Freeman will automatically take over this backfield. Despite his $3 million price tag, he has less than a week to learn the Giants offense and hasn’t played a snap of professional football since last December. As high as Freeman’s ceiling is, if everything goes right, he could end up in a veteran bench-warming position like Jay Ajayi was for the Eagles last year.
Misery loves company, so of course, the consensus number-one fantasy pick in Christian McCaffrey goes down the same week as Barkley. Although his high-ankle sprain isn’t season-ending, it will sideline him for at least 4-to-6 weeks and hamper his ability to produce at a high level if he isn’t 100% healthy the rest of the season.
Mike Davis emerged as the immediate replacement for Christian McCaffrey and will be a serviceable RB2 while McCaffrey is sidelined. He has the size and skillset to be a factor on all three downs, demonstrated by his eight receptions for 76 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He comes with the potential to see 15-20 touches as a starter and some touchdown upside as he will definitely be getting the goal-line work.
If Davis isn’t available in your league and you’re getting desperate, Curtis Samuel could be a sneaky pickup. He got four rushing attempts last week and lined up out of the Panthers backfield on a couple of occasions. He has the speed to break off an 80-yard house call at any moment and could steal some receiving work from Davis. After all, he is listed as the third wide receiver on their depth chart.
Now that we’ve covered the injuries to the top-two running backs, let’s tackle the injury to the second-best fantasy wide receiver in Davante Adams. Hamstring injuries are always hard to predict how much time the player will miss, if any, so the fantasy impact is pretty much unknown.
However, if Adams isn’t able to suit up, both Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling represent great flex options for their match-up against the Saints on Sunday night. Adams represents 31.7% of the Packers’ targets, so it’s reasonable to predict both of them seeing double-digit targets if Adams isn’t good to go. Lazard has played on 86% of the Packers offen’sive snaps to Valdes-Scantling’s 59% so far this season, but M.V.S. has 13 targets to Lazard’s nine. Lazard is more of a possession receiver and Valdes-Scantling is more of a deep-threat. This whole situation is a toss-up, and to make things worse, Aaron Jones’ receiving work sky-rocketed last year when Adams was out with turf-toe, so there’s another thing to consider.
After missing Week 1 with a shoulder injury, Courtland Sutton picked up right where he left off last season as the Broncos’ number-one receiving option. Right as he made a great downfield grab to get fantasy owners’ hopes up, he leaves the game with a knee injury and is now done for the season with a torn ACL. With Jerry Jeudy’s drops and backup quarterback Jeff Driskel set to lead the Broncos for the next couple weeks, Noah Fant is officially the player to own in the Broncos offense. He is currently ranked as the second-best fantasy tight end, and Sutton’s injury will only force this offense to feed him the ball even more. The Broncos have already shown their intent to utilize him in every situation possible. He has two deep targets, three red zone targets, and is second among tight ends with 77 yards after catch, proving his effectiveness over the entire length of the field. Whether he’s miraculously still available on waivers, or you can take advantage of somebody trying to sell him based off Denver’s quarterback situation, ROSTER NOAH FANT.
Raheem Mostert / Tevin Coleman
What better way to end our disheartening injury list than to highlight multiple injuries to a crowded San Francisco 49ers backfield. Both Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman are out with an MCL sprain and a knee sprain, respectively. Jerick McKinnon is in line to be the starter for the 49ers, but he’s not alone. Jeff Wilson, Jr. is still rostered and Kyle Shanahan will definitely stick to his committee approach. Wilson, Jr. presents a decent flex play, based solely on touchdown upside as he scored five touchdowns on a mere 30 touches in 2019. Mckinnon’s upside will come from his usage in the passing game and increase in rushing opportunities. This week, he’s taking on a Giants defense that’s currently listed as the 23rd-ranked run-stopping unit in the NFL. Considering McKinnon is the RB18 on the year as the third running back on the 49ers’ depth chart, he could be in line to single-handedly win you your matchups the next few weeks as a fringe RB1. Not bad for a running back… claimed off waivers.