The injury bug has already struck the NFL, as the second week of the 2020 regular season has provided many low points in a high-scoring week. Big-time names to budding stars experienced losses in some form this past week, making your fantasy football teams look quite sparse heading into the third game of the year.
Early enough in the season, your fantasy football team has just been able to find its footing, and you were able to iron out some roster kinks seeing ball distribution and playmaking roles for your players. But this long list of injured players, who either are missing a few weeks or are out for the remainder of the season, is going to dictate how the next month-plus of your season goes, so you got to try and right the ship before it tips over.
Here are some key fantasy football waiver wire pickups for Week 3 of the season (all projections/rankings are based upon a full-point PPR league format).
7. Mike Davis, Carolina Panthers
Consensus top overall selection in most fantasy football drafts this season, Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is a workhorse, something may have finally come back and got him on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In Tampa, CMC produced his normal 20+ point fantasy football performance, but his high ankle injury is projected to keep him out for four to six weeks, which is a huge portion of your fantasy slate. Losing the weapon that you invested the top overall pick in for four to six contests is not an easy pill to swallow, and you have to try and fill that gap as well as you can.
And while this offense will most likely take on a hugely different look with CMC out, backup running back Mike Davis stepped in and filled that role as best as he could.
While only rushing for one yard on a lone carry, Davis was able to showcase his abilities in the passing game, hauling in eight catches from Teddy Bridgewater for 74 yards, a 9.3 yard per catch average. For Davis, his lack of carries was caused by game style, as the Panthers were forced to play catch up a good chunk of the game, meaning that Davis touched the ball in passing situations almost exclusively.
Not owned in many fantasy football leagues at all, putting Davis at the top of your waiver priority list is something you should for sure do, even if you are not a CMC owner. Davis has the potential to step in and produce at RB15 levels with CMC out, something that you typically cannot find out on the waiver wire.
6. Dion Lewis, New York Giants
Similar to the type of impact that CMC has on fantasy football drafts, as does Saquon Barkley, as he commonly slots in behind the former Stanford running back as the second overall player most often selected. And while his injury on Sunday places a ton of pause on any sort of efficiency in the New York Giants’ offense, the fact that it is season-ending takes on a whole different tone.
With Barkley’s injury being confirmed as a torn ACL on Monday morning, any hope of him returning later in 2020 is completely gone, giving teams that used the second overall selection on him a big-time negative on the return on investment for drafting him in fantasy football.
Behind Barkley in New York, both Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman hold some value. Gallman was the guy who filled in for Barkley last year on a few occasions when he went down, but with the offseason addition of Lewis, the former Patriots and Titans scat back seems to hold a bit more value in Jason Garrett’s offense, as seen in the carry breakdown after Barkley went down.
Lewis is worth a moderately-high fantasy football waiver wire investment, and Gallman is at least a look in deeper leagues, but this backfield can be looked at as more of a ‘wait-and-see’ situation until the breakdown between the two is better determined.
5. Devonta Freeman, Free Agent (just agreed to deal with Giants)
The former Atlanta Falcons running back has been looking for a team this entire offseason, and with the recent rash of injuries piling up, Devonta Freeman finally secured a job.
Joining the Giants represents the best opportunity, with both Lewis and Gallman’s fantasy football value now decreasing substantially.
Freeman is the best fantasy football option out on the free agency market for teams, and he was already slated to visit the Philadelphia Eagles this week, but the G-Men were smart to snap him up.
Investing a high waiver fantasy football claim on a current free agent is a very uncommon move, but luckily there’s no uncertainty with the deal being agreed to on Tuesday. Now that he’s on a team, his value will rise exponentially, so this is the time to grab him.
3(t). Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins, and Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions
For both Myles Gaskin and Adrian Peterson, these two players are members of a healthy three-headed grouping at running back for their respective teams, commonly relying on game script and score to justify their weekly usage.
For Gaskin, he has been splitting time with both Jordan Howard and Matt Breida, a very unappetizing combination on the surface. But after Gaskin has showcased his pass-catching abilities, he was able to produce considerably better fantasy football results than both Howard and Breida.
His seven carries and six catches show how he is being used in the offense in multiple ways, and with the Dolphins facing off against the Jaguars on Thursday night, Gaskin should minimally be rostered in fantasy football, even if he just becomes a bye week option.
For Peterson, he has been the bell cow back on the ground for Detroit, but both De’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson have been vulturing touches from him, making him tough to trust in a fantasy football context. 95% of his production comes on the ground (as the other backs are more receiving-geared), so Peterson is best suited for early-game action and only if Detroit is winning, something they are not very good at.
2. Darrell Henderson Jr., Los Angeles Rams
Similar to both Gaskin and Peterson, Darrell Henderson Jr. of the Los Angeles Rams finds himself in a three-back combo, as both Cam Akers and Malcolm Brown are taking attention away from Henderson.
But with Akers (ribs) and Brown (finger) both facing some injuries, Henderson was able to use that to the tune of 121 total yards and a rushing score. Moving forward, with the uncertainty of both his competition and HC Sean McVay’s willingness to rely on one back over the other, Henderson is going to be a delicate play but a player that should be rostered in fantasy football nonetheless.
1. Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers
The last player on this list is one of the more interesting options – Joshua Kelley. The former UCLA back has fought his way into the running back ranks for the Chargers, beating Justin Jackson on the depth chart and providing a power option alongside Austin Ekeler’s multi-faceted approach.
While a clear-cut role for Kelley seems to still be developing as the season goes on, he has made a clear impression on the coaching staff to justify him earning snaps early on. Even if you do not have Ekeler on your fantasy football roster, Kelley is worthy of a stash option in case the team that rosters Ekeler comes calling.