Each week, we identify six players to target on waiver wires, plus a lightly owned D/ST. These fantasy assets are all available in a majority of Yahoo leagues. Add as needed.
Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon, RBs, Minnesota Vikings, 1% and 23% owned
If you’d asked a Minnesota fan to write the script for the regular season opener at U.S. Bank Stadium, they would have authored something close to what actually went down on Sunday night, when the team edged division rival Green Bay — except of course for the part where Adrian Peterson was in terrible pain, unable to put weight on his right leg. Peterson’s injury was a frightening lowlight for the Vikings during an otherwise impressive win. The early reports on AP’s right knee are far from worst-case, but a torn meniscus could certainly be a multi-week issue. Fantasy owners need to develop a short-term replacement plan, however.
We’ve had a few Minnesota backfield fire-drills over the years, so everyone should already know how to proceed. Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata remain the backups to Peterson, and the pair will likely split touches as they have in prior seasons. McKinnon will do much of his work between the 10s, with Asiata claiming a greater share of the carries near the goal line. Back in 2014, when Peterson appeared in only one game, Asiata had the fifth-most carries in the league inside the 10-yard line (23). While Asiata is certainly not an efficient runner (3.5 YPC), his carries are generally more profitable than McKinnon’s for fantasy purposes. Both backs will clearly have value for however long Peterson is sidelined. McKinnon will generate the occasional highlight; Asiata should get the 1-yard touchdown plunges. The Vikings’ upcoming schedule isn’t particularly friendly — at Car, vs. NYG, vs. Hou — so don’t expect immediate fantasy dominance from either back.
FAAB bid: $18 and $15
Fozzy Whittaker, RB, Carolina Panthers, 3%
Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart was among the first victims of the plague of leg injuries that struck the NFL in Week 2, and head coach Ron Rivera acknowledged in post-game comments that he’s “a little bit” concerned about his team’s primary early-down runner. With J-Stew unavailable against the Niners, third-down back Fozzy Whittaker had an impressive day, carry 16 times for an even 100 yards and adding three catches for 31. Mike Tolbert had a rotational role for the Panters (9-25-0), while Cameron Artis-Payne was again inactive. Assuming Stewart misses time with his medley of injuries (hamstring, ankle), Whittaker and Artis-Payne figure to handle most of the backfield touches for this team. Cam Newton’s dominance at the goal-line limits the fantasy ceilings for each player, but both will likely rank as viable flexes, despite the tricky matchup on deck (vs. Min).
FAAB bid: $12
Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens, 8%
Not surprisingly, Baltimore’s two-man backfield committee has been fantastically unproductive. Justin Forsett and Terrance West have combined to average just 3.2 yards per carry, and neither back has found the end-zone. With two games in the books, this team’s longest run of the year belongs to Mike Wallace (11 yards). So yeah, it would be fair to say the Ravens are eager to get rookie fourth-rounder Kenneth Dixon in the mix. Dixon has missed the opening weeks with an MCL injury, but he has a clear shot to claim the top spot in this team’s backfield hierarchy. He was a terrific multi-purpose weapon at a collegiate back, topping 1500 scrimmage yards and 25 TDs in each of his final two seasons at Louisiana Tech, and his highlights are of the highest quality. He may not immediately ascend to the featured role in Baltimore upon returning, but it shouldn’t shock anyone if he has it by November. Add him now; beat the rush to the wire.
FAAB bid: $11
Josh Doctson, WR, Washington, 6%
Doctson only hauled in one pass for 57 yards on five targets in Sunday’s loss, so it would be a stretch to call him a must-add in fantasy. But Doctson is a first-round talent, a leaper who should excel on 50/50 balls and red-zone chances. Three of his five looks in Week 2 were end-zone opportunities, which is clearly a good sign. Unfortunately, Kirk Cousins has not exactly put on a quarterback clinic thus far, so no member of Washington’s receiving corps is thriving. Let’s just keep an open mind with Doctson, a serious talent who missed valuable camp reps with Achilles issues. Assuming he continues to serve as a featured target in goal-to-go situations, he’ll provide a few quality fantasy performances.
FAAB bid: $6
Cole Beasley, WR, Dallas Cowboys, 10%
Another week, another useful target total for Beasley. He’s up to 13 catches for 140 yards through two games. At 5-foot-8, Beasley is more of a chain-mover than a red-zone threat, but he should remain an asset in full-point PPR formats. Dallas will face Chicago’s generous defense on Sunday night in Week 3, and the Bears will be coming off a short week. Start your Cowboys, gamers.
FAAB bid: $5
Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens, 10%
Pitta has obviously bounced back in a big way from the career-threatening hip injury he suffered in 2014. On Sunday, he led all Ravens receivers in targets (12), receptions (9) and yards (102) in the team’s comeback win at Cleveland. Joe Flacco’s fondness for Pitta is well-documented, so there’s no reason to think the veteran tight end can’t continue to produce, assuming good health. Next week’s matchup at Jacksonville shouldn’t scare off fantasy owners; the Jaguars have allowed six passing scores and 32.5 points per game in the opening weeks.
FAAB bid: $8
Miami Dolphins, 6%
Miami was lit up by Jimmy Garoppolo and the Pats on Sunday, so let’s not pretend we’re talking about an upper-tier D. But the Dolphins are facing Cleveland in Week 3, and the Browns are already moving on to Plan C at quarterback, with both RGIII and Josh McCown injured. (This McCown situation doesn’t sound great, based on early reporting.) First-year QB Cody Kessler is expected to draw the start, and it’s tough to imagine this going well for Cleveland. Expect a turnover or two from the rookie, and perhaps an Orlovskian safety.
FAAB bid: $2
Additional names to consider: Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys, 46% (vs. Chi); Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins, 28% (vs. Cle); Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins, 27% (vs. Cle); Alfred Morris, RB, Dallas Cowboys, 22% (vs. Chi); Shane Vereen, RB, New York Giants, 19% (vs. Was); DeAndre Washington, RB, Oakland Raiders, 4% (at Ten); Quincy Enunwa, WR, New York Jets, 10% (at KC); Tyrell Williams, WR, San Diego Chargers, 48% (at Ind)
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