You can cheat death and you can hide for years without paying taxes, but you can never finish a fantasy football season without a key player getting injured. That’s why it’s always smart to be a bystander for waiver wire pickups.
Whether you’re looking for a replacement for an injured starter or aiming to boost your roster after going 0-2 in the first two weeks, the waiver wire is always your friend.
With that said, here are the 10 names who can help you in the coming weeks.
10. Tyler Boyd – Cincinnati Bengals WR (1.1% owned in ESPN)
For the first time since 2015, Andy Dalton and the Bengals started the season 2-0 when they took down the Baltimore Ravens back in Week 2, 34-23. And for the nth time since 2017, wide receiver John Ross has let Cincy down, as the second-year wide receiver caught just one pass on four targets for eight yards in the Baltimore game.
That poor performance by Ross, together with Tyler Boyd’s strong showing against the Ravens, both point to the latter’s increased role in Cincy’s passing attack. Against Baltimore, Boyd led the team with six receptions and tied A.J. Green for most targets with nine. He finished the game with a team-high 91 receiving yards and a touchdown.
This season began with Ross expected as the Bengals’ WR2, but him being out-snapped and outperformed by Boyd in each of the last two games are clear signs that Dalton has found a new favorite downfield target when Green is covered.
9. Chris Ivory – Buffalo Bills RB (3.2% owned in ESPN)
Chris Ivory, who scored the Bills’ first touchdown of the season when he rumbled into the end zone in last week’s 31-20 loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Chargers, should see a slight uptick in ownership with starting running back LeSean McCoy sustaining cracked rib cartilage.
While McCoy is reportedly going to try to brave through the injury against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3, he is currently deemed as questionable. That’s enough reason to scoop Ivory up from the waiver wire, as he could be Buffalo’s starter in case McCoy gets ruled out.
Ivory faces some competition from teammate and fellow backup Marcus Murphy, who earned more snaps and touches than him against the Chargers, though, Ivory seems to be the Buffalo’s running back of choice during goal-line situations sans McCoy.
8. Antonio Callaway – Cleveland Browns WR (3.7% owned in ESPN)
Even before the Browns’ decision to rid themselves of Josh Gordon by trading him to the New England Patriots, Antonio Callaway enjoyed the luxury of not having the problematic wide receiver around. When Gordon didn’t suit up in Cleveland’s Week 2 game against the New Orleans Saints, Callaway saw his snap count jump from 15 in Week 1 to 50, and he made sure not to waste the opportunity to shine by leading the team with 81 receiving yards to go with a touchdown to even the score in the final minutes.
Even more encouraging for Callaway’s prospect of an increased role is the fact that he had more snaps in the Saints game than Rashard Higgins, meaning that he can be viewed as the No. 2 wide receiver in Cleveland behind Jarvis Landry.
7. Dede Westbrook – Jacksonville Jaguars WR (9.7% owned in ESPN)
Dede Westbrook broke out with a huge 61-yard touchdown reception in last week’s 31-20 win over the Pats at home, but more than his big-play potential, it’s his enhanced role in the Jags’ passing attack that is exciting fantasy owners currently raiding the waiver wire.
Westbrook had 20 more snaps in Week 2 than in Week 1 and finished the New England tilt with 83 receiving yards on four catches and five targets. Keelan Cole also saw his role expand and Donte Moncrief is still a legitimate option downfield, but again, Westbrook’s penchant for turning touches into huge plays make him an enticing addition. Up next for Westbrook and the Jacksonville is the Tennessee Titans’ defense that is giving up the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers so far this season.
6. Javorius Allen – Baltimore Ravens RB (18.8% owned in ESPN)
Alex Collins owners were probably cursing Javorius Allen a lot for eating touches that could have been Collins’ instead, but there’s a way for them to learn to love the fourth-year pass-catching tailback: by adding him to their fantasy rosters.
Allen, in fact, has been in more snaps this season than Collins, though, the nature of the team’s first two games have had a considerable effect on the timeshare. In Week 1, the Ravens annihilated Buffalo in a 44-point win. In Week 2, Baltimore needed to air it out more as they trailed the Bengals the entire game, which necessitated the Ravens’ frequent use of Allen and his ability to catch passes out of the backfield.
That aside, it was also surprising to see Allen take the goal-line duty over Collins when he scored on a one-yard run against Cincinnati in the second quarter. It’s still early in the season, but the trend is in favor of Allen in terms of Baltimore’s backfield preference.
5. John Brown — Baltimore Ravens WR (24.0% owned in ESPN)
Another Raven that should be lighting up the blinking on the fantasy radars is John Brown, who put together solid back-to-back outings to begin the 2018 season. The 28-year-old wide receiver topped the Ravens with 92 yards with a touchdown on four catches and 10 targets – tied for most on the team with WR1 Michael Crabtree – in Week 2’s loss to the Bengals. Brown’s also been a big-play threat, making a 44-yard reception versus Buffalo in the opener and a 92-yarder a week after.
Browns is an early draft steal candidate of the season. Owned in fewer than 30 percent of ESPN leagues, there’s a big possibility that the former third-round pick is still available in your group’s waiver wire.
4. Ryan Fitzpatrick – Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB (31.4% owned in ESPN)
It’s Ryan Fitzpatrick’s world, and we’re all just renting in it. The Bucs’ 35-year-old quarterback exploded yet again in Week 2. For the second game in a row, he passed for over 400 yards and netted four passing touchdowns when he set the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense on fire and poured gas on it for the entire duration of Tampa Bay’s 27-21 win at home on Sunday.
That he put up such a performance against the Eagles’ defense speaks volumes about how “in the zone” Fitzpatrick is right now. Whatever it is that you know of Fitzpatrick based on his previous seasons in the league, it’s being rendered useless by this sudden surge from the Harvard-educated QB, who will next deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ wet paper bag defense that allowed six touchdowns to Patrick Mahomes last week.
Plug and play Fitzpatrick and watch the magic unfold on Monday Night Football.
Ryan Fitzpatrick's 72.3 fantasy points are the most through two team games by any player in the last 15 seasons. pic.twitter.com/N75QCLyv7n
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 17, 2018
3. Giovani Bernard – Cincinnati Bengals RB (39.4% owned in ESPN)
Joe Mixon owners’ world stopped right at the moment they heard that the Bengals’ second-year running back will be out for weeks to recover from a minor knee procedure. But those who have Giovani Bernard stashed on their bench got at least a tinge of excitement, as the veteran running back is in line for an ample increase in snaps and touches.
Mixon was in and out of the Baltimore game last week, which explained why Bernard shared the team leadership in snaps with him, with 39. Bernard then rushed for an unspectacular 27 yards on six carries, but obviously those numbers are bound to improve with Mixon temporarily sidelined and with the Bengals more prepared to operate minus the former Oklahoma Sooners star.
2. Austin Ekeler – Los Angeles Chargers RB (42.9% owned in ESPN)
The Chargers’ backfield is still Melvin Gordon’s kingdom, but #EkelerMentality is getting enough opportunities to warrant at least a look from owners eyeing to shore up their teams’ running back depth. Gordon sustained an injury in the Chargers’ 31-20 win over the Bills, and depending on its severity, Austin Ekeler may see more touches going forward.
Ekeler led the Chargers in rushing yards (77) and carries (11) in Week 2 and also had three receptions that he turned into 21 receiving yards.
1. Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers RB (45.6% owned in ESPN)
Aaron Jones gained a fantasy sleeper status in the offseason, and now, it’s time for him to wake up. With his suspension lifted, Jones is set to re-join the Packers’ backfield that endured two weeks of subpar play from Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery.
Jones will have an easier time to take over the lead running back role for Green Bay, which ranks just 25th in rushing yards per game thus far this season. Last year, Jones rushed for 448 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games. He also had a pair of outings in which he had at least 125 rushing yards and a rushing score.