Injuries were the major theme in week 2 of NFL action. Below we sort out the carnage to find the best waiver wire adds for all fantasy football leagues.
Larry Donnell (owned in 21 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Prior to 2014, Larry Donnell had only made three receptions in his NFL career. Now in his third professional season with the Giants, the 6-foot-5 tight end has become relevant, both in reality and fantasy. Over the first two games of the year, Eli Manning has sent 17 targets to Donnell, connecting on 12 for 168 yards and a touchdown. With Victor Cruz at an even 6-foot-0, and an unproven running game, Manning and the G-men will need all the red zone help they can get.
Jonathan Dwyer (owned in 9 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Cardinals running back Andre Ellington has been limited through two weeks, garnering only 17.0 touches per game. While the starter continues to heal his nagging foot injury, Jonathan Dwyer will bear some value as a flex option. Against the Giants on Sunday, Dwyer came in for nine rushes, 31 yards, and a score. He’s created 59 yards of offense through two weeks, but it’s his goal line work that make him worth a look until Ellington hits 100 percent.
Knile Davis (owned in 18 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is indisputably one of the three most valuable running backs in fantasy football. Myfantasyleague.com lists Charles as the second highest player taken in 2014, after ranking fifth the previous season. Last year, the three-time Pro Bowler ranked second among running backs in total yards (1,980), and fourth in receptions (70). Charles has a mild high ankle sprain, and may miss around four to six weeks. Running backs with either of Andy Reid or Alex Smith are guaranteed high volume. Davis is worth rostering for the immediate future. Playing week two in relief, the backup produced 105 total yards and two touchdowns from his 28 touches.
Kirk Cousins (owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Robert Griffin, III will be sidelined for six to eight weeks with a dislocated ankle. His MRI showed no fracture, which means he can still likely return this season. In the meantime, Kirk Cousins will step to the plate and prove what he can do. A lot has been made of Cousins’ role on this team, since he was taken with the 102nd overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft — the same year that Griffin was selected at second overall. On Sunday against Jacksonville, Cousins managed to complete 22 of 33 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns. That was good enough for a 109.4 passers’ rating and a 41-10 rout of the Jaguars. Cousins will have considerable value moving forward in this pass-happy Jay Gruden offense, and could even force more difficult decisions with more great performance.
Donald Brown (owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues)
San Diego’s offense is short on weapons, with the aging tight end Antonio Gates and second-year receiver Keenan Allen as cornerstones. The backfield runs through Ryan Mathews, who last year was given 311 touches for 1,444 total yards and seven touchdowns. In week two’s surprising victory over Seattle, Mathews left early with a sprained MCL in his right knee. That leaves Donald Brown and Danny Woodhead to split the work. Brown is more experienced between the tackles, while Woodhead thrives as a passing back. Each are worthy of consideration, as Mathews is going to miss the next month of action.
Danny Woodhead (owned in 49 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Philip Rivers is at it again, compiling great on-field stats after many wrote him off a couple years ago. After two seasons with a passers’ rating below 90, the five-time Pro Bowler has a rating of 100.4 this year, while completing 67.1 percent of his passes for four touchdowns and one interception. Among all running backs in 2013, only Pierre Thomas caught more receptions (77) than Danny Woodhead (76). Darren Sproles made a name for himself as a receiving back with Rivers, and Woodhead is the new guy. The 5-foot-9 halfback put up those numbers last year while Ryan Mathews was healthy. Now Woodhead will have at least four weeks to produce without the starter dominating touches.
Shonn Greene (owned in 37 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Rookie running backs are often overhyped in fantasy drafts, like Ryan Mathews was at 19th overall in 2010. Bishop Sankey was the first rookie taken this year, with an average draft position of 67. For a man who’s never played an NFL down, that’s still a high price to invest. Learn the lesson all over again. For both of the Titans’ first two games, Shonn Greene has been the leader of this running back committee. So far, the starter has 20 touches for 111 yards, with second place going to Dexter McCluster at 15 touches for 85 total yards. Sankey actually sits in fourth in total yards (28) after Leon Washington (34). None of them own a single touchdown yet, but that’s certain to change. Greene remains the lead horse, for owners in need of a flex play.
Andrew Hawkins (owned in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Jordan Cameron is nursing a sprained shoulder, and Josh Gordon will likely remain suspended until Week 11 at the earliest. The team still has some winning to do, as they demonstrated Sunday before the hometown Dawg Pound. Cleveland and Believeland and everyone on the Dum Dog was in attendance for a great home opener surprise over the 0-2 Saints. Johnny Manziel even made a cameo, throwing one incompletion. Brian Hoyer threw 71 passes for 434 yards, two scores and no interceptions en route to a 26-24 win. Those passes have to make their way to someone, and through two weeks, that guy has been Andrew Hawkins. The fourth-year receiver leads the team with 22 targets for 14 receptions and 157 yards. Even when Cameron returns, the Browns will need help on the outside. Give Hawkins a chance. There’s something different in Cleveland this year.
Owen Daniels (owned in 12 percent of Yahoo leagues)
After two games, Owen Daniels leads all Ravens with two touchdown catches. Steve Smith, Sr. has one, and the rest of the receivers have combined for zero. Starting tight end Dennis Pitta has caught 13 passes for 113 yards, while Smith has 13 grabs for 189 yards. Though Daniels only has nine receptions for 62 yards, those scores are enough to raise an eyebrow. With Ray Rice off the roster, and the team in need of red zone help (see Giants, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs), the quarterback will need a reliable veteran presence to get the ball into the end zone. Daniels has started 97 games in his nine-year career, amassing 394 catches for 4,679 yards and 31 touchdowns. The two-time Pro Bowler, formerly of the Texans, could become a valuable asset for Joe Flacco.
Niles Paul (owned in 4 percent of Yahoo leagues)
The leading receiver in Washington is not DeSean Jackson. It’s not Pierre Garcon or the injured Jordan Reed. With 15 targets, tight end Niles Paul has made 12 receptions for 185 yards and a touchdown, all of which lead the team. Paul came into the league as a wide receiver and certainly plays like it. Starting tight end Reed is still battling an injured hamstring, and Jackson left Sunday’s game with a bruised AC shoulder joint. Add to these uncertainties the fact there’s a new starting quarterback, and the opportunities are abundant for the four-year vet. He could be a nice fill-in for the many owners struggling at tight end.
Stats and data from pro-football-reference.com, myfantasyleague.com, and espn.com.
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