Another week, another reshuffling of the fantasy landscape. As usual, we have a fresh collection of unfortunate injuries to manage around, so let’s get to work. Every player listed below is available in a majority of Yahoo fantasy leagues and approved for immediate use.
Nick Chubb’s ugly knee injury was the worst of Week 2’s various horrors. Just brutal. He’s an irreplaceable talent, one of the very best to play his position in the history of the league. Ford has been running as Chubb’s understudy this season and he’s clearly headed for a jump in usage moving forward. He scored an easy 3-yard touchdown immediately following the injury on Monday night.
Ford was an elusive, impressive runner at the college level at Cincinnati, gaining 1,539 scrimmage yards for a 13-win team in his final season. We can assume the Browns will add to their backfield in the days ahead — it’s worth noting that Kareem Hunt remains unattached — but there’s no obvious scenario in which Ford isn’t heavily involved.
FAB: Potentially a lot (most? all?) depending on your circumstances.
It’s more than a little surprising that Hill remains a candidate for this feature, yet he’s somehow still available in over 50% of Yahoo leagues. Hill broke the plane twice in opening week and he gained 53 yards on 14 touches on Sunday against the Bengals. We heard plenty of offseason noise about the Ravens actually throwing to their running backs in 2023, so it feels notable that Hill caught three balls in Week 2. Hill and Gus Edwards are the full RBBC for Baltimore at the moment, so both players deserve to be rostered in any competitive league.
Johnson announced his presence with authority in his regular season debut last week…
He was Chicago’s lone bright spot in an otherwise shameful loss to Green Bay, gaining 55 bruising yards on 11 touches and reaching the end zone late in the fourth quarter. Johnson’s opening week performance helped him move up a spot in the team’s backfield hierarchy, as D’Onta Foreman was a healthy scratch for the Week 2 matchup with Tampa Bay. Johnson was quiet yet efficient on Sunday, gaining 42 yards on six touches, catching both of his targets and playing 22 snaps while Khalil Herbert saw 32.
If you’re not trying to go out of your way to get additional shares of Chicago’s offense … well, we completely understand. Just please note that Johnson is a talented all-situation back headed for a beefier role.
Saquon Barkley just dragged your fantasy team to a win with a 6-catch, 2-TD performance against the Cards, but he suffered an ankle injury in the process that’s expected to sideline him for three weeks. The Giants are traveling to face the Niners on Thursday night, so Barkley’s backup is looking at a significant workload this week, albeit in a brutal spot. Breida is a perfectly capable runner and receiving threat who can be safely used in Weeks 4-5, when New York gets the Seahawks and Dolphins.
RBs on the wire:
Tyjae Spears gained 55 yards on 10 touches in Sunday’s win and he’s been on the field on 45% of Tennessee’s offensive snaps so far;
Tony Jones Jr. is back in our fantasy lives, at least for a week or two, following an unexpected multi-touchdown game on Monday night;
Latavius Murray is still running behind James Cook, but he’s ahead of Damien Harris in the backfield hierarchy and appears to be a preferred option inside the 10-yard line;
Craig Reynolds would be flex-worthy against Atlanta in Week 3 if David Montgomery is sidelined with a quad issue he said would take a few weeks to heal.
Wide receivers and tight ends
Tank Dell, Houston Texans (5% rostered)
Dell is an undersized receiver with live-wire quickness who plays bigger than his official dimensions (5-foot-10, 165). He was ludicrously productive at the collegiate level, catching 199 passes for 2,727 yards and 29 TDs over his final two seasons at Houston. He was a preseason hero for the Texans, too. Dell simply cooked the Colts on Sunday, finishing with seven catches, 72 yards and one score on a team-high 10 targets.
Here’s a look at his after-the-catch ability:
This is a case in which training camp hype aligns perfectly with regular season results. Don’t leave him on the wire if you have a need at receiver.
Recommended bid, assuming $100 budget: $14
Understandably, fantasy managers have focused their attention on Puka Nacua and Kyren Williams as the breakout stars in Sean McVay’s offense. But let the record show that Atwell, a speedy third-year receiver, has drawn 17 targets over the Rams’ first two games, catching 13 balls for 196 yards. He went unnoticed during the Nacua waiver frenzy last week, but he’s clearly going to remain a useful fantasy option — at least until target-magnet Cooper Kupp returns to action.
Twelve of Atwell’s 13 receptions this season have resulted in first downs, as he’s generally seeing high-yield downfield chances (13.4 ADOT). Even if his weekly targets decrease as the season unfolds, he’s likely to retain fantasy relevance as a higher-variance receiver with big-play potential.
The Broncos happen to have a rookie burner with 4.38-speed who only rarely plays. But when he’s on the field, he can do stuff like this:
Hat tip to Russell Wilson for a gorgeous throw right there.
Mims averaged 19.5 yards per catch over three collegiate seasons at Oklahoma, so these field-flipping plays are nothing new for him. He finished with 113 yards in the breakout performance in Week 2, though he played only 16 snaps. Denver doesn’t really have an abundance of talent in the receiving room, so their second-round receiver has a clear opportunity to earn a substantial role moving forward.
While the Jordan Love era has not been entirely flawless, he’s managed to deliver back-to-back 3-TD passing performances and his team has put 62 points on the board. So that’s not too shabby. If you’d been expecting more, you are presumably a Packers shareholder spoiled by decades of Hall of Fame quarterbacking. Love has pretty clearly demonstrated that he can keep his receivers viable for fantasy purposes.
In Sunday’s narrow loss at Atlanta, rookie Jayden Reed caught a pair of touchdown passes from Love, ultimately finishing with four catches for 37 yards on eight targets. Reed was a serious playmaker at Michigan State, a contested catch wizard, and he’s been no less impressive in the early weeks of his pro career:
Christian Watson’s absence (hamstring) has given Reed a clear path to early-season touches and the rookie has delivered. He’s definitely a player to stash, if not to immediately start.
Other priority receiving options:
Zach Ertz currently leads all tight ends in targets (18), which makes him an automatic add at this dreadful position;
Josh Reynolds scored a pair of touchdowns in Detroit’s loss to Seattle, catching five balls on six chances and playing 80% of the offensive snaps;
Skyy Moore was no doubt rage-dropped in thousands of leagues after his opening week dud, but he rebounded with 70 yards and a spike in Sunday’s win at Jacksonville;
K.J. Osborn has drawn six targets in each of Minnesota’s first two games and he basically never leaves the field;
Robert Woods has seen 19 targets already for the Texans, snagging 12 for 131 yards;
Jake Ferguson hasn’t exactly been a yardage machine to this point, but he made a house call on Sunday, he’s been targeted 11 times and he’s played two-third of the offensive snaps for Dallas.
Let the record show that some of us tried to tell you Mayfield was the strongest possible candidate to be this year’s Geno Smith, if anyone was gonna do it. He’s been competent in the past and he’s now the guy who gets to throw to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Mayfield was dealing on Sunday, completing 26 of 34 throws for 317 yards and one score. He’s headed into a matchup with Philly, a defense with an excellent rep that also happens to have allowed 300-plus passing yards to the first two quarterbacks on the schedule (Mac Jones and Kirk Cousins). If you’re looking for a streaming option, Mayfield can help.
As we mentioned last week, Stafford is looking curiously like the early-career version of himself. We fretted all summer about his elbow, but arm strength definitely hasn’t been an issue in the opening weeks. Don’t let this man step into a throw:
Stafford has turned Puka Nacua into a September star and he’s almost single-handedly made the Rams a brutal matchup for any team (San Francisco included). He’s topped 300 passing yards in each of his first two games this season. Next week, he travels to Cincinnati for a Monday night matchup with a Bengals defense that hasn’t exactly shut anyone down in the opening weeks.
Additional QB pickups:
Sam Howell has given us a pair of touchdowns in each of his first two games this season and his rushing upside is well-established;
C.J. Stroud isn’t exactly out there game-managing, as he attempted 47 passes on Sunday, finishing with 384 yards and a pair of scores; it just wouldn’t feel right to recommend various Texans receivers without mentioning the team’s lightly rostered QB.
Kansas City Chiefs, D/ST (39%)
Chris Jones and friends are hosting a dysfunctional Bears offense this week, so KC might very well rank as the consensus No. 1 fantasy D/ST. Expect multiple turnovers and 4-5 sacks, with a reasonable shot at a defensive TD. This game could be an absolute massacre, an all-time coaching mismatch. KC’s defense might very well be the week’s most impactful add, so spend the extra $1.