In the aftermath of Week 2, the news wires dropped injury bomb after injury bomb. And the list of the wounded in action continued to grow as Monday rolled around. Deuce McAllister, Kellen Winslow, Todd Heap, Julius Jones, Edgerrin James and Priest Holmes were the biggest names to be affected by the carnage. The depth in the ranks of the injured means the waiver wire will be a busier place than usual this week. As the dust settles from the storm of injuries, here's a look at the top players to target this week:
Vinny Testaverde, Dal –23-for-35, 322 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT
I can only endorse Testaverde for leagues in which there are no penalties for interceptions. If you watched the Dallas/Cleveland contest on Sunday, you understand why. On three consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter, Testaverde threw a pick. And two of those INTs were of the ugliest variety – balls that had no business being thrown. But you can't argue with the yardage numbers that Vinny has posted – 677 yards in two games – which is nearly 100 yards more than anyone else in the league. And with RB Julius Jones out for a couple months with a broken shoulder blade, I no longer harbor hopes that the Cowboys will be able to shake the ground-game doldrums. It appears that Testaverde will have to continue airing it out. Until he gets hurt, he certainly warrants being added as a backup to fantasy rosters.
David Carr, Hou –23-for-35, 322 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT
Carr makes for a nice addition this week. He's coming off a 300-yard performance against Detroit in Week 2 and will travel to Kansas City this week, where the Chiefs' defense is in shambles. While K.C. gets hurt most by the opposition's ground game, its secondary has allowed the two Jakes (Plummer and Delhomme) to combine for five TD passes. Thus far, the Chiefs have been one of the five worst fantasy defenses against opposing quarterbacks. If you have a Chad Pennington, Tom Brady or Jake Delhomme on a bye this week, consider Carr for a spot start and possible long-term insurance policy.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pit –12-for-20, 176 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
Roethlisberger's debut in Week 2 was fairly impressive when you consider it came against, arguably, the NFL's most staunch defense. Replacing an injured Tommy Maddox (who's out six weeks), Roethlisberger touched Baltimore for two TD passes and 176 yards through the air. Given the circumstances, we'll forgive his two INTs. But any feelings of good will towards Roethlisberger should be put on hold for at least a week as he travels to Miami this Sunday. The Dolphins have given up just one TD pass and an average of 110 passing yards through two weeks. Cleveland follows Miami on the schedule, and the Browns have also proven to be tough in pass defense. So, it would behoove owners to take a watch-and-see approach with the intriguing Roethlisberger.
Aaron Stecker, NO – 15 carries, 41 yards, 6 receptions
A strained ankle ligament is expected to sideline Deuce McAllister until late October, at the earliest. Stecker and Ki-Jana Carter are in line to fill Deuce's shoes. And while head coach Jim Haslett has stated that the two players will platoon, it's safe to assume that Stecker will receive the bulk of the non-goal line carries. Carter simply doesn't have the speed anymore to be a factor in the middle of the field. In fact, the team cut him twice this season before bringing him back on Monday. Stecker, meanwhile, put up a determined effort last Sunday, showing that he isn't one to be tackled without a fight. He also hauled in six passes. While McAllister rehabs, expect a consistent 80 to 100 yards from scrimmage from Stecker but a minimal amount of TDs.
Derrick Blaylock, KC – Backup to Priest Holmes
Many fantasy owners incorrectly assumed on draft day that Larry Johnson was Priest Holmes' backup. So while Johnson was being handcuffed to Holmes in drafts, Blaylock was largely ignored. Now that Holmes has sprained his left ankle and is questionable to play this week, his fantasy owners will be forced to scramble to the waiver wire for Blaylock, who will start in the event that Holmes can't. The word on Holmes is that he could miss practice all week and still play on Sunday. Fantasy owners will likely need to wait until Sunday to make this lineup decision. But if Blaylock ends up getting the call, it will represent a big one-week opportunity for fantasy owners, as the Chiefs face an underwhelming Houston defense.
Dominic Rhodes, Ind, RB –Backup to Edgerrin James
The wise Edgerrin James owners have already secured Rhodes. The rest will have to sweat the waiver wire this week in hopes of landing Rhodes, who could start in Week 3 if James, who's listed as doubtful, can't overcome a hamstring strain by Sunday. Rhodes rushed for 1,100 yards and nine TDs in 10 starts while filling in for an injured James in 2001. If he gets the call on Sunday, the Colts aren't likely to see much of a drop-off in their running game. The same can be said for fantasy teams, as well.
Drew Bennett, Ten –7 catches for 85 yards
Given the large percentage of leagues that Bennett is available in this week, it's clear that fantasy owners overreacted to his lackluster Week 1 numbers and prematurely cut him loose. That was a mistake. Bennett rebounded in Week 2 with seven catches for 85 yards to reaffirm many pundits' beliefs (including myself) that Bennett is a nice sleeper this season. Bennett has great size and hands, which should yield a good number of red-zone looks in the coming weeks. For now, however, he is nursing some sore ribs, so you'll have to stay abreast of that situation should you choose to place a waiver claim on him this week.
Terry Glenn, Dal – 6 catches for 90 yards
Through two weeks, Glenn sits among the top 10 wideouts in fantasy production. He followed up an 84-yard, one TD performance in Week 1 with 90 yards on six catches this past Sunday. Given the state of the Dallas running game and the fact that the team's strength is in its receiving corps with Glenn, Keyshawn Johnson, Antonio Bryant and tight end Jason Witten, the Cowboys are likely to continue to emphasize the passing game. Glenn will never put a fantasy team on his back, but he should offer consistent yardage totals to help teams in a pinch.
Keary Colbert, Car – 3 catches for 46 yards, 1 TD
Colbert was the buzz player of the preseason, leading all receivers in yardage (277) and TDs (3). In his first NFL start on Sunday, he added to his professional TD total by hauling in a third-quarter scoring toss from Jake Delhomme. Colbert won't play in Week 3 with Carolina on a bye, but the word on Colbert is out and it is likely that you'll need to add him now if you hope to use him in Week 4 and beyond.
Reche Caldwell, SD –4 catches for 67 yards, 1 TD
For the second consecutive week, Caldwell hauled in four passes for 60-plus yards and a touchdown. His efforts have landed him among the top 10 fantasy receivers for the season. While he's unlikely to hold that position, he's worth a flyer for those fantasy teams struggling with receiver problems. Caldwell is a former second-round pick from Florida and playing in his third season – the season when receivers traditionally come into their own.
Dante Hall, KC –Backup to Eddie Kennison
Hall is a threat to take it the distance any time he touches the ball, which makes him an intriguing pickup this week should Eddie Kennison be forced out with a hamstring pull. Hamstrings are a tough injury to overcome in one week, so expect the doubtful Kennison to sit. That would allow Hall to fill a starting role against a Houston defense that has been one of the league's worst in fantasy at stopping opposing wideouts. Rolling the dice on Hall this week is a gamble, but it could pay big dividends.
Daniel Graham, NE – 2 catches for 21 yards, 2 TDs
You have to love what Graham has done this season, unless you're a Corey Dillon owner. By hauling in two touchdowns on Sunday, Graham now has three red-zone scores on the season, squelching Dillon's TD opportunities. After a solid Week 1 effort, Graham was a popular pickup, but he can still be had in roughly a third of all Yahoo! default leagues. Consider yourself blessed if you reside in one of those leagues.
Jason Witten, Dal – 6 catches for 82 yards
Dallas head coach Bill Parcells molded Mark Bavaro and Ben Coates into stars. Witten has the skills to be the Tuna's next stud tight end. Witten hauled in six catches last Sunday and showed off his power in plowing his way through defenders for 82 yards. With injuries to Kellen Winslow and Todd Heap in Week 2, the tight-end position is going to see a waiver run this week. Witten should be at the top of the wish list. He has big-time skills.
Eric Johnson, SF – 5 catches for 60 yards
Johnson hauled in eight catches for 86 yards and a TD in Week 1 and followed that effort with a solid five catches for 60 yards on Sunday. Obviously, Johnson has been involved in the 49ers' passing game and part of the allure of Johnson is that he's a former Yale wide receiver. As a tight end with receiver skills, Johnson offers promise for fantasy owners. And judging by the first two weeks, he's starting to make good on that promise.
Erron Kinney, Ten – 6 catches for 45 yards
Kinney has the task of replacing longtime Tennessee favorite Frank Wycheck. He's a massive tight end with good receiving skills. His size makes him a nice goal-line weapon, and he was employed on a one-yard TD toss in Week 1.
- Priest Holmes
- Edgerrin James