It was a tough Week 2 for some fantasy owners, as top draft pick Jamaal Charles was lost for the season. I guess it isn’t the Kansas City Chiefs’ year when their best player tears his knee up by slipping on a yard marker.
With Charles sidelined and a lot of other prominent fantasy players dealing with injuries, the waiver wire becomes all that more important. In between wondering why Tony Sparano still has a job and how I can score the most points in my league after two weeks and end up 0-2, here are my thoughts on potential waiver wire pickups:
Dexter McCluster, RB/WR, Kansas City – With Charles out for the year, McCluster will take center stage in the Chiefs offense.
There isn’t much to like about Kansas City so far this season. The Chiefs offense has been dreadful through two games and, if it’s possible, the defense has been even worse. Still, while things go from bad to worse in Kansas City, McCluster is the one guy who could be a fantasy gem.
The Chiefs are a bad football team. Forget about last season, this is 2011 and after two games Kansas City is the worst team in pro football. That means the Chiefs will be playing from behind a lot and McCluster should be the beneficiary as he gets the ball on draws and short dump offs.
I’m not too worried about Thomas Jones. He’ll get his touches but Jones is made for when the Chiefs have the lead, which won’t be often. Plus, McCluster is listed as both a running back and wide receiver in a lot of leagues, giving you flexibility to start him at different positions. If you lost Charles, McCluster is clearly the guy you want to target this week.
The Final Call: If McCluster is on your waiver wire he should be one of your top priorities this week, whether you lost Charles or not. He’s the one Chief who could shine for fantasy owners the rest of the way.
While Hightower is still going to be a fantasy factor, it took Mike Shanahan just two weeks to muddy up the waters. Helu got 10 carries against Arizona, compared to Hightower’s 20. However, Helu gained 74 yards and also caught three passes; not a good sign for fantasy owners depending on Hightower.
The problem for Hightower owners is that Helu is a perfect fit for Shanahan’s offense and, to be honest, he has more physical tools. I’m not expecting Hightower to lose his starting job any time soon but get used to seeing Helu touch the ball 10-15 times a game.
The Final Call: Helu isn’t going to start for your fantasy team right away but last week was likely a sign of things to come. Helu is a talented runner with upside, so grab him and stash him if you have the room.
Delone Carter, RB, Indianapolis – Carter is supposed to be the Colts’ short yardage back. The only problem so far is the Colts are never near the goal line, so it’s hard to tell which back will get the carries.
Carter got some run this week against Cleveland, getting 11 carries compared to Joseph Addai’s 14, so it was basically an equal split. At this point Addai is a much better pass protector than Carter, and the Colts’ offensive line needs all the extra pass protection they can get. This is the main reason Addai isn’t going anywhere soon.
Still, Carter is getting more involved in the offense, and once the Colts start seeing more scoring opportunities, Carter could find the end zone. It’s just hard trusting any player on the struggling Colts offense right now.
The Final Call: I would pass on Carter for now. I can’t see a scenario where the Colts don’t struggle on offense all year long, and while Carter’s playing time may increase there isn’t a lot of fantasy potential coming out of Indianapolis. Boy, I never thought I would write that sentence.
Dane Sanzenbacher, WR, Chicago – I posted on Twitter during the preseason that I liked the look of Sanzenbacher but I wasn’t really sure where he fit in with the Bears.
On Sunday, with Roy Williams out because of an injury, Sanzenbacher caught three passes for 33 yards and a score. Now it wasn’t a groundbreaking performance but let’s look at the Chicago receivers a little closer going forward.
Earl Bennett has been a major disappointment and his time is about to run out. Johnny Knox is more of a vertical deep threat, while Williams runs hot and cold. There’s a chance Sanzenbacher can carve out a role as a slot receiver in offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s offense.
It’s still a reach and we need a larger sample size from Sanzenbacher. However, the Bears could really use a possession receiver to work the middle of the field. Perhaps Sanzenbacher will be that guy.
The Final Call: I don’t think Sanzenbacher is worth a roster spot at this point. Having said that, if he continues to get looks next week, it will be time to pounce on the former Buckeye.
David Nelson, WR, Buffalo – Nelson has become the possession receiver on an emerging Bills offense.
Through two games, Nelson has 14 receptions, including 10 this past week against Oakland. The Bills have some nice pieces in place on offense, and while Nelson isn’t a superstar he does have a role in Buffalo.
When I see Nelson play he kind of reminds me of the St. Louis’ Danny Amendola. Nelson grabs a lot of short passes but doesn’t gain a ton of yards of yards after the catch, making him more appealing in points per reception leagues than standard scoring formats.
Nelson will get some attention after his 10-catch, one-touchdown performance on Sunday. However, if your league’s scoring is based more on yards and touchdowns, Nelson won’t be a huge help to you. He’s purely a reception guy at this point.
The Final Call: If you play in a deeper points per reception league, Nelson is worth a spot on your bench should you have the room to add a player. In standard scoring leagues, take a pass.
Denarius Moore, WR, Oakland – Moore went from not catching a pass in Week 1 to looking like the second coming of Randy Moss against Buffalo. Luckily, the guy I played this week had a “hole” at his third receiver spot and started Moore. You really have to hate fantasy football sometimes, don’t you?
Moore showed a lot of ability against the Bills. A couple of those catches were no fluke, like the 50-yard touchdown pass where he went up between two Buffalo defenders to pull down the ball. Trust me, I didn’t like watching it at the time but this kid can play.
The Raiders are dying for a receiver to step up and give quarterback Jason Campbell a legitimate option every week. Sure, Moore did this with Darrius Heyward-Bey and Jacoby Ford injured but those guys aren’t No. 1 receivers anyway. I saw more from the rookie out of Tennessee on Sunday than I’ve seen from Heyward-Bey throughout his entire career.
Moore isn’t going to put up 30 fantasy points every week but he has the looks of a future star. Now we just have to hope the Raiders see what the rest of us see and stop trying to kid themselves that Heyward-Bey can be their No. 1 guy.
The Final Call: Moore should definitely be one of your top waiver wire targets this week. He has all the looks of becoming the Raiders’ No. 1 receiver and a possible fantasy stud.
Eric Decker, WR, Denver – We tabbed Decker as a guy to watch three weeks ago. On Sunday, he rewarded our faith in him by catching five balls for 113 yards and two scores.
Unlike some of the other players listed here Decker is already owned in more competitive leagues. Although, according to fleaflicker.com, Decker is still available in close to 80 percent of fantasy leagues. I don’t understand that personally but if Decker is still available on your waiver wire you should gobble him up right away.
Once Brandon Lloyd is healthy Decker’s production will dip but in my opinion but he’s clearly passed Eddie Royal as the second option in the Broncos’ passing game.
The Final Call: Decker is emerging as a nice spot-starter if you have a bye week or are dealing with injuries. He should be owned in most 12-team leagues at this point. I would make Decker your top priority this week.
– I figured with all the injuries the Cowboys are dealing with that it would be easier to talk about them in one category.
So, following Week 2, Dez Bryant is dealing with a thigh bruise, Tony Romo apparently has at least one cracked rib, Felix Jones has a separated shoulder and Miles Austin pulled his hamstring. Other than that the Cowboys offense is doing just fine.
Now as this goes to print reports are both Romo and Jones could play next week and Bryant should return as well. The big injury here is Austin, who is expected to be out of action until after the Cowboys’ Week 5 bye.
There really isn’t another great receiving option in Dallas outside of Bryant and Austin, as we saw this week. Kevin Ogletree is the Cowboys’ third receiver but he only caught two passes for 50 yards on Sunday. The darkhorse is former reality show winner Jesse Holley. Holley hauled in three balls for 96 yards against the 49ers, including the big 77-yard reception in overtime.
At the end of the day though I don’t believe any of those receivers will be viable fantasy options. More than likely the players who will benefit most from Austin’s absence are Bryant and Jason Witten.
If you own Jones, the decision comes down to DeMarco Murray and Tashard Choice. Murray has more value in a points per reception league but if Jones is out for any period of time this will be a pure committee situation with both backs seeing touches. Also, expect Dallas to throw the ball more without Jones.
This is a tough situation to gauge at this point so make sure you stay updated on all the injury news coming out of Dallas throughout the week.
The Final Call: Right now I would pass on picking up a Dallas receiver until someone out of the group emerges. If Murray is on your waiver wire, he’s the most attractive pickup this week given Jones’ uncertain status for Monday night.
You can read Thomas Casale’s column ‘The Fire Sale’ every Tuesday on SI.com. Also, you can follow him on Twitter or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org for more fantasy advice.