Another week down in the NFL season, and yet another string of injuries has struck the league. Finding fantasy football replacements for star players that have gone down never gets easy, but that is what this list is for.
There are certainly players out on the waiver wire that can help you get by for a few weeks while your stars heal up, something that you may need to fight for. All below projections and rankings are based on standard point-per-reception league formats.
10. Jordan Reed & Ross Dwelley, TE
San Francisco 49ers
1.6 & 0.0 percent rostered
The San Francisco 49ers were already decimated by injuries coming into last week’s divisional contest against the Seattle Seahawks, but they left the game considerably worse than they had entered it.
Down went running back Tevin Coleman and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (more on him later), but star tight end George Kittle could very well be lost for the remainder of the season with a fractured bone in his foot, a serious blow to an offense that was already down considerable weapons, like Deebo Samuel and Raheem Mostert.
Having Kittle go down puts an early nail in a season that has been a struggle to put it lightly for head coach Kyle Shanahan, but there are some competent reinforcements that could easily step in at the TE position – Jordan Reed and Ross Dwelley.
The former Redskins playmaker (Reed) stepped in when Kittle missed time earlier this year, put up 9/73/2, a very respectful line across a two-game span. With Reed still working his way back from a knee injury (currently he is on the injury reserve but has been practicing and has been designated to return), Dwelley hauled in his lone catch of their loss from Sunday for a TD, showing that is a viable fill-in with Kittle out.
Reed is the bigger name here and has gotten a bigger role when Kittle was out previously, but his health could make Dwelley the main factor if the knee flares up again. With a short fantasy football week upcoming with Thursday Night Football on the docket against a beatable Green Bay defense, keep an eye on the injury report for Reed’s status. If Reed is activated for the game, he is the pickup of the two.
9. Nick Mullens, QB
San Francisco 49ers
0.4 percent rostered
As talked about previously with the SF tight ends, the 49ers have a real bad case of injuries striking their team, something that has hit the QB room yet again.
Nick Mullens will be tasked with taking on the Packers on a short week, and with their run-heavy attack hindered with Coleman going down, Mullens will be asked to pull the load this week in a game that surely will test the mettle of GB’s defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s game preparedness.
Mullens has shown up well this season in relief, having thrown for 238 yards and two scores in relief of Garoppolo Sunday. He also put up 343 yards and one score against the Giants in Week 3, and while he has shown no real mobility outside of the pocket, Mullens certainly has the ability to lead this team for a short stretch of games while Garoppolo recovers.
If you have a bye week QB on your fantasy football roster, Mullens will be sitting out there for you, but pick him up with semi-low expectations.
8. Nyheim Hines, RB
34.9 percent rostered
Taking work away from rookie back Jonathan Taylor is never a good thing, especially against a susceptible Detroit defense. But when an unnoticed injury (according to HC Frank Reich after the game) shifted the game plan, it was Nyheim Hines that took the majority of the work and ran with it.
While his rushing abilities are not suited for high-volume output, his receiving skills were on full display, as he hauled in three catches for 54 yards and two scores, scoring on 22-yard and 29-yard passes. Hines certainly has a safer floor between him and Jordan Wilkins (who also factored in) which helps give Hines more credibility, but with an upcoming game against the Ravens, Hines should be added with a lower ceiling in mind.
He should see his usual receiving work, but should be treated as a lower-ceiling flex option that could be plugged in if needed.
7. Kendrick Bourne, WR
San Francisco 49ers
5.6 percent rostered
The fourth – and final – 49ers player on this list is probably the most volatile in terms of projectability, as Kendrick Bourne has gone from WR1 out of camp to WR3 to WR2 with some upside, and that positive look should continue this week, even with the offensive question marks.
Mullens found Bourne for four catches and 63 yards back in Week 3, and even though Bourne only has one score on the season, he has been a consistent weapon that should be able to break out a bit with Samuel out and rookie Brandon Aiyuk the other starting WR.
Bourne’s ability to be a WR3 hinges on the health of GB’s Kevin King, who has missed time lately. If he is out again, then Josh Jackson/Chandon Sullivan get Bourne, something that would bode well for Bourne’s fantasy football relevance.
6. Darnell Mooney, WR
3.7 percent rostered
Allen Robinson came in after clearing concussion protocol and produced like he commonly has this year, but both Anthony Miller and Tulane rookie Darnell Mooney produced in a game that was crazy from start to finish.
Mooney hauled in his second score of the year and caught 5/69, his highest catch/yardage output of the season to date – with a matchup with a below-average Titans’ secondary coming up this week, followed by the Vikings, Mooney is a sneaky WR4 play that could hold some value in two games that could become offensive shootouts.
5. Josh Reynolds, WR
Los Angeles Rams
1.3 percent rostered
Josh Reynolds’ impact all hinges on the tests done on Cooper Kupp’s wrist, which is producing some concern that it may be fractured – if so, the time that he would miss immediately boosts Reynolds’ stock moving forward.
After LAR’s Week 9 bye, the Rams face the Seahawks, Buccaneers, 49ers, Cardinals, and Patriots, games that would see Reynolds as the WR2 alongside Robert Woods. With the Rams having a decently-balanced offense this year, Reynolds would not be able to fully match Kupp’s production, but he certainly could be a solid WR2/3 option with Kupp out.
4. Russell Gage, WR
16.8 percent rostered
Julio Jones looks to finally be back to his full form, but now Calvin Ridley is hurt – let us reintroduce Russell Gage into fantasy relevancy.
With Ridley’s ankle injury looking non-serious in nature but one that could see him miss at least one game, Gage becomes the WR2 on this team, something that could be an underrated value against the Broncos in Week 9.
The Falcons will be hosting Denver this week in a game that could turn into a dome shootout (even with the DEN defense), something that would bode well for Gage, even though he is the third target on this team behind Jones and Hayden Hurst.
Gage holds WR3 fantasy football value if Ridley is out (unconfirmed), so confirm with injury reports that Ridley is not suiting up before adding Gage this week.
3. Tyler Ervin & Dexter Williams, RB
Green Bay Packers
0.1 percent & 0.0 percent rostered
Starter Aaron Jones has missed the past few weeks while nursing a calf injury, which gave him the injury estimation of ‘limited’ starting this week, and with it being a short week, it looks like that puts him on track to suit up on Thursday.
But, in the event that Jones yet again misses time, the Packers have a real issue on their hands for their running back room. Rookie AJ Dillon has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list after a confirmed positive test that was brought to light Monday morning, and with fellow RB Jamaal Williams having been identified as someone who was in close contact with him, he has also been added to the injury report as more of a technicality at this point.
If this trend continues, Jones, Williams, and Dillon could all miss Thursday’s game, which puts Tyler Ervin and Dexter Williams as the top guys in the backfield for GB, not a good look for this team that needs to bounce back from their home loss to Vikings.
As with SF’s tight ends, keep an eye on the injury reports closely – Ervin fits more of the scatback option while Williams is the power guy, and both could serve valuable roles for GB in Week 9.
2. Curtis Samuel, WR
37.1 percent rostered
Three consecutive double-digit PPR scoring outputs certainly has put Curtis Samuel on the bottom half of fantasy relevancy lately, something that should continue in Week 9 for the Carolina Panthers. And even with Christian McCaffrey slated to return as early as this week, Samuel’s value still holds in this volatile offense.
Samuel has taken some backfield work alongside Mike Davis with CMC’s injury, and while Samuel would revert back to his WR-only snaps when CMC would return, his value is certainly an asset in Joe Brady’s offense.
In what projects as a shootout, taking a flyer on Samuel does no harm, especially since the Panthers will be playing catch-up most of the game to the Chiefs.
1. Damien Harris, RB
New England Patriots
31.3 percent rostered
Volume driven or not, Damien Harris is the best running back not named James White on the New England Patriots. And while the weather paved the way for a run-heavy attack that gave Williams 16 carries, the Pats have a strong weapon to help control the clock moving forward with Harris.
He pairs well with Cam Newton in terms of giving the offense multiple rushing options, while acting as the polar opposite of White in how he has little to no receiving abilities – something that obviously hinders him in PPR formats.
Harris gets the Jets, Ravens, Texans, Cardinals, and Chargers the next five weeks, all opponents that (besides the Ravens) could provide healthy rushing numbers for the former Alabama Crimson Tide running back. He should be your top waiver wire priority this week.