On Sunday afternoon against the Chicago Bears, the absolute worst-case scenario unfortunately came into fruition for the New York Giants. According to multiple reports, starting running back Saquon Barkley will miss the rest of the 2020-21 season after tearing his ACL midway through the Giants’ Week 2 matchup against the Bears.
A torn ACL more often than not requires surgery in order to repair the damage as even an athlete like Barkley will be forced to the sideline until next season.
Although fantasy football is the last thing that should concern people when any player goes down with an injury, the show will go on in Barkley’s absence for the next 14 weeks. With the Giants now without the superstar rusher for the remainder of the year, fantasy football owners that selected Barkley in the early portion of the first round of 2020 drafts will suffer mightily moving forward.
If fantasy football owners are going to salvage their seasons despite the fact that Barkley won’t be suiting up for them again this time around, the waiver wire is definitely a good place to start.
Of course, a player like Barkley cannot simply be replaced, though attempting to fill the void will still need to occur for many.
5. Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears just signed running back Tarik Cohen to a three-year contract extension, which probably means that the once-heralded NFC North franchise plans to use him pretty heavily moving forward.
While Cohen always seems to get his touches no matter what is happening for the Bears, the veteran rusher might see even more time moving forward as fellow Chicago running back David Montgomery was banged up on Sunday afternoon against the New York Giants. Regardless of how much time Cohen sees as the possible go-to option in the backfield for the Bears, he will still see his fair share of touches via the passing game, which could help fantasy owners in PPR leagues.
If quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is going to succeed this season as he is quite literally playing for his job in the “Windy City” in 2020-21, Cohen will feature heavily as dumping the ball down to him is always a reliable option for a signal-caller.
4. Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers
Because the waiver wire will probably be slim pickings at this point in the campaign, taking a flyer on Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams might have to be an option for some owners that lost New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley on Sunday afternoon. With Williams playing alongside both the starter in Aaron Jones and a rookie in A.J. Dillon, he is obviously not an ideal option.
However, even playing alongside two other rushers, Williams has done well with the carries that he has received this year. Not only that, but he could get some cheap red zone carries along the way, which always helps the cause. Another positive in this scenario is the fact that the Packers’ offense looks pretty solid through two weeks as running the ball while up a bunch of points could come into play.
If this is the case for Green Bay, the Packers probably won’t want to risk injury to the aforementioned Jones as players have been going down left and right. This could give Williams some late work, but points are points in fantasy football regardless of when they are scored.
3. Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Rams
As it stands today, running back Malcolm Brown will be the starter in the backfield for the 2-0 Los Angeles Rams as the 2020-21 regular season progresses. With the team previously releasing current Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley, the Rams were seemingly going to employ a running back by committee approach this time around.
However, Darrell Henderson injured himself two weeks before the start of the year with rookie rusher Cam Akers getting hurt on Sunday afternoon against the Philadelphia Eagles. As a result, Malcolm Brown should receive the majority of the carries for the Rams with the veteran rusher looking pretty impressive thus far.
With the Rams a perfect 2-0 on the season and Brown running well, he is a must pick-up in any league.
2. Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers
Seemingly coming out of nowhere with Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler initially in line to handle the majority of the workload out of the backfield when the 2020-21 regular season started, former UCLA Bruins running back Joshua Kelley has since burst onto the scene in a big way.
With another Chargers rusher in Justin Jackson still sidelined with an injury, Ekeler and Kelley have shared time in the backfield as Kelley has impressed when called upon. Because both can run the football and catch it out of the backfield, there will be a lot of opportunities for Ekeler and Kelley alike as the presence of two running backs shouldn’t hinder this team’s fantasy value moving forward.
It is also worth noting that with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert now looking like the starter under center, he will no doubt look to dump it down to Ekeler and Kelley out of the backfield in the weeks to come, which could offer Saquon Barkley fantasy owners another potential option.
1. JK Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens
There is probably a slim chance that Baltimore Ravens rookie running back J.K. Dobbins is still available on your league’s waiver wire. However, on the off chance that Dobbins is currently available, he should immediately be picked up — whether that be by an owner of injured New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley or otherwise.
Although Dobbins is still technically slotted behind veteran Ravens running back Mark Ingram on the depth chart, the former Ohio State Buckeyes standout has already shown glimpses of brilliance early on in 2020-21. With Dobbins surely slated to receive more and more work as the weeks go on, he could quickly become Baltimore’s starter in the backfield alongside quarterback Lamar Jackson before all is said and done.
This is hardly a gamble, though, because Dobbins will continue to do well when he touches the football — with or without Ingram in the picture.