One thing we know is going to happen in fantasy football is injuries. Aaron Hernandez owners, we all know how you are feeling today. There is nothing you can do when you lose a player like Hernandez except to head to the wire and look for a replacement. Thankfully, the TE position is the best place to find capable backups, since most leagues require you to start only one each week, so most of you should be able to grab someone to help you muddle through. If you are an Ahmad Bradshaw or Steven Jackson owner, and you don’t have a capable backup, you will have to decide how much you will need to spend to secure their new handcuffs, since Andre Brown and Daryl Richardson weren’t expected to fill those roles. While Week 1 is always populated by surprise names, who often never reach those heights again, Week 2 can sometimes provide better long-term answers at much more reasonable prices. We will try to touch on as many names as possible to accommodate leagues of all sizes meaning in addition to highlighting the popular adds we’ll try to touch on some players who may have been dropped as well as some you may want to target in trades. As always, if there are players you like that we don’t mention, or you just want some advice on who to drop, the comments section is at your disposal.
Alex Smith, SF –Here is what I wrote about the 49’ers QB prior to the season for The Fantasy Football Guide’s writer’s poll: “Alex Smith is my choice as the QB who will have the biggest breakout this year. Always an afterthought, he showed glimpses last year of turning the corner. A full off-season this year will make the difference as he turns in a Top 15 performance, which means he'll be starter material many weeks.” After two weeks, I am feeling pretty good about this prediction right now, as Smith has looked like a different player this year, much more confident and in control. He is working within the offense and has turned in two straight 2 TD/0 INT performances. The only downside is he isn’t going to have a lot of monster games with the conservative offense. Still, he absolutely needs to be owned in all leagues at this point as a rock solid QB2.
Matt Cassel, KC – The Chiefs defense is awful, and that means lots of garbage time stats for Cassel. He is even worth a spot-start this week heading into New Orleans, as the Saints are giving up big chunks of yards through the air.
Sam Bradford, STL – Bradford rebounded after a lackluster Week 1 performance to torch the Redskins for 310 yards and 3 TD’s, which will likely put him back on the radar in shallow leagues. While it’s nice to see him show glimpses of the player he was in his rookie season, he’ll face some very tough defenses the next three weeks.
Brandon Weeden, CLE – Weeden put his disastrous debut behind him and showed he can produce against mediocre defenses and his big week will likely see him scooped up in some leagues. While I liked what I saw (I am a Browns fan after all), he has some brutal matchups the next three weeks and just can’t be trusted after one good game.
Week 2 Update:
Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow, NYJ – Sanchez followed up his stellar Week 1 performance with a stinker against the Steelers. To be fair his WR’s dropped a bunch of balls, but there is no denying he opened the door back up for Tim Tebow. I still think Sanchez can be a useful bye week QB2, but Sunday illustrates that he may not hold onto the job long enough. Those of you in deep leagues with a roster spot to play with could do worse than speculate on when Tebow will take over.
Andre Brown, NYG – After Ahmad Bradshaw left this week’s game with a neck sprain, it was Brown not first-round pick David Wilson who took over as the feature back. He looked good plowing his way to 71 yards and a TD on 13 carries. Coach Tom Coughlin has already hinted that Brown will likely get the bulk of the carries this week against the Panthers, since it is likely Bradshaw won’t be ready to go by Thursday. Brown will no doubt be one of the most added players this week, and if you are desperate for RB’s, or just need to get a W, then Brown does have good value this week if he’s starting. But, if you aren’t in the former category, I say pass on Brown. David Wilson won’t be in the doghouse forever, and the Giants will eventually work him back into the mix, probably as soon as this week. The smart play is to hold onto Wilson if you have him, trade for him where you can or hope that someone gets impatient and cuts him this week for Brown so you can scoop in and grab him. He’ll pay off down the road. Brown is likely a one or two week fill-in.
Daryl Richardson, STL – We tabbed Richardson last week as a deep-league speculative add, after it was clear after Week 1 that he had passed Isaiah Pead on the depth chart. Hopefully you grabbed him on the cheap last week as it’s clear he’ll be Jeff Fisher’s first option if Jackson misses time. Jackson looks like he may be ready to play this week however. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and add Richardson if he’s still available in your league, it just means don’t go overboard with your bids as he might not start this week and the upcoming schedule isn’t the friendliest for RB’s anyway.
Pierre Thomas, NO – Yeah, I know deep-leaguers, Thomas isn’t on any of your waiver-wires, but trust me he is still on plenty of shallow wires this week. That will change after tallying 143 total yards against the Panthers. He’s doing more with less than just about anyone in the league and a tasty matchup with Kansas City makes him a great flex play for those that have had him on the bench to start the year. He is still in a three-way timeshare so know what you are buying here folks.
Mikel Leshoure, DET – Leshoure is owned in every league I am in, but he deserves a mention since his two-game suspension is up, paving the way for him to stake his claim to the starter’s job in Detroit. If he is somehow on your wire, he should be your top target this week as the Lions will give him every chance to be the feature back over the injury-prone Kevin Smith.
Rashard Mendenhall, PIT – The veteran back got a mention in my write-up on Jonathan Dwyer last week and after the former failed to do much against the Jets in Week 2, it seems even more likely the Mendenhall will resume his role as the lead back when he returns to the lineup, which at this point still looks like after the Steelers Week 4 bye.
Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL – A good friend of mine obtained Rodgers as a throw-in in a 5 player deal that saw him trade Wes Welker and Vic Ballard for Mark Ingram, Rodgers and Greg Little. My friend drafted both Matt Forte and Ahmad Bradshaw, and felt he had to take a shot at a couple of RB’s with upside. When I talked to him, he mentioned that he really thought Rodgers was the better back for the no huddle offense the Falcons say they want to use, and after seeing Turner plod through the first two games, I have to say I agree with that assessment.
Bilal Powell, NYJ – I drafted Powell in a couple leagues late after he beat Joe McKnight for the third down back role in pre-season. I am not a Shonne Greene believer and I surmised it was only a matter of time before the speedy Powell earned even more playing time. Greene left Sunday’s contest after a nasty helmet-to-helmet collision, giving Powell a chance to show what he can do. While he didn’t light up the stat sheet, he was still better than Greene. Trust me, Rex Ryan noticed.
Jackie Battle, SD –Battle took advantage of the blowout against the Chiefs to punch in two fourth quarter touchdowns to cap off a solid day filling in for Ryan Matthews. Matthews is back this week, so Battle goes back to the bench. We advised in Week 1, to keep an eye on Battle, and his performance may just push Ronnie Brown into retirement. If you have Matthews, Battle is a must-grab handcuff this week.
Mike Goodson, OAK – Goodson seems to have overtaken the more popular Tawain Jones as the likely backup should Darren McFadden miss time again in 2012. If you are looking to improve your RB depth, Goodson is worth a look this week.
Lamar Miller, MIA – Miller’s performance on Sunday was justifiably obscured by Reggie Bush’s monster game. Still the rookie took advantage of Daniel Thomas’ concussion to likely cement his place as the number two back going forward.
Chris Ogbonnaya, CLE- Ogbannaya caught six passes for 73 yards in a backup role to Trent Richardson. Brandon Jackson was a healthy scratch. I personally don’t think any of the Browns backups are worth owning, and that comes from someone who owns Richardson in three leagues.
Bryce Brown, PHI – Brown looks to have supplanted Dion Lewis as LeSean McCoy’s handcuff so feel free to make the switch.
Bernard Pierce, BAL – Like Brown above, Pierce is the backup to an explosive back. If you made the investment in Ray Rice, you’ll want to add Pierce if you can afford the roster spot.
Armando Allen, CHI – Allen is a depth grab for deep-leaguers only. But he will be the number two back for the Bears as long as Matt Forte is sidelined.
Week Two Update:
Alfred Morris, WAS – Morris didn’t disappoint anyone who grabbed him last week as he once again was the feature back for Mike Shanahan. I wrote that he was a guy I would try to trade sooner than later if I had him and I’m sticking to that. The fact is that if Shanny keeps giving him a starter’s workload, he will only bring that much more when you peddle him around.
Danny Amendola, STL – I gave Amendola a pretty good push last week, and I hope you grabbed him ahead of his huge game on Sunday, because he will be the top add in any league he is available in. While I love what he brings to the table, I’m not sure I would break the bank for him outside of PPR leagues.
Donnie Avery, IND – Avery is likely the best name potentially lingering in deeper leagues this week, coming off his nine catch, 111 yard game against the Vikings. It’s true that Austin Collie is slated to return soon (maybe this week), and that would cut into Avery’s time and production. If Collie doesn’t make it back (and with concussion symptoms, you never know), then Avery could be a nice surprise all season. He gets a bump up from last week’s deep-league recommendation.
Brian Hartline, MIA – Hartline will be a popular add this week as he has emerged as Ryan Tannehill’s favorite receiver so far this year. He’s a workmanlike WR, but he clearly can be an asset in deeper leagues, particularly PPR formats.
Julian Edelman, NE – Wes Welker owners were cursing his name as he emerged as the starter last week and played in most two –receiver sets. The Hernandez injury opens up more playing-time making Edelman a PPR target with upside should Welker actually be on the trading block.
Greg Little , CLE – It’s possible someone dropped Little after Week 1. If that’s the case feel free to scoop him up and add him to your bench. He’s still the best bet to emerge as Brandon Weeden’s favorite target.
Golden Tate, SEA – He sent Braylon Edwards to the bench last week, and while he didn’t post big numbers, he made his presence felt on the field. Just ask Dallas’ Sean Lee. He doesn’t have great upside in Seattle’s conservative offense, but those in deeper leagues can still speculate.
Brandon Gibson, STL – That’s two touchdowns in two weeks for Gibson, which bumps the cagy veteran up the charts a bit.
Ashlon Jeffery, CHI – Jefferey might get cut by someone this week after coming up empty in Week 2. If so, my advice is to take advantage if you have the space. I still love Jefferey’s upside in this offense and Matt Forte’s injury can only help get him more involved.
Week 2 Update:
Stephen Hill, NYJ – Hill didn’t pay off for anyone who broke the bank on him last week. I hope you heeded my advice and let someone else overpay for his services. The Jets passing offense just can’t be trusted.
Kevin Ogletree, DAL – Ogletree’s week two was equally disappointing. If you bought him, you can hang on at least another week to see if he rebounds. But unless one of the names ahead of him gets injured, you’ll never be able to guess when his next big game is going to happen.
Andrew Hawkins, CIN – Hawkins got a mention last week as a PPR target. He showed more playmaking ability in Week 2 and looks like he’ll have some staying power as a match-up flex play.
Dennis Pitta, BAL/ Martellus Bennett, NYG – I profiled Pitta and Bennett last week, and they are both likely rostered in deeper leagues. However, the injury to Aaron Hernandez makes them the first names you should look for in shallow leagues when looking for a replacement. Pitta followed up a solid Week One with a 15 target game last week and is very well still available in shallower formats. Bennett was a popular sleeper and showed that he could be on the verge of a major breakout. I actually like him more than Pitta, but he’s not available in any of my leagues. If you can swing a deal for Bennett, that’s the way to go. Your other options could be my poster boy Kyle Rudolph, Scott Chandler, Heath Miller or Dustin Keller.
Brandon Myers, OAK – For those of you in deeper leagues, hopefully you already have a capable backup for Hernandez on the roster. If not Myers could be the best option left. He isn’t that exciting, but he is starting for the Raiders.
Dante Rosario, SD – Rosario scored three TD’s last week filling in for Antonio Gates. Gates should be back this week, but if he isn’t he could fill in for another week.
Dallas Clark, TB – Clark is a desperation play, but the veteran is slowly getting worked into the offense more.
Arizona Cardinals – The Cards defense showed what they are capable of by holding the Patriots to 18 points last week. The Eagles turned the ball over multiple times against the Browns in Week 1, and the Cardinals are a solid home team. Even if you don’t use them this week, grab them in anticipation of their upcoming games against the Rams and the Dolphins.
Justin Tucker, BAL – He was my pick last week and he gets the call again. This will be your last chance to get him. He has the leg and the offense to keep this up all year.