We thought Week 2 of the 2019 season was strange when Jets quarterback Sam Darnold came down with mononucleosis and injuries knocked out Drew Brees for five weeks and Ben Roethlisberger for the season.
Here’s the list of players who fell prey to the Week 2 Curse, at least one possibly for the season:
- Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, the No. 1 pick by average draft position, suffered a high ankle sprain after scoring a fourth-quarter touchdown against the Buccaneers and could miss four to six weeks.
- Giants running back Saquon Barkley, No. 2 by ADP, sustained a season-ending ACL tear early in the second quarter against the Bears.
- The injury gods weren’t done punishing the Giants, who also lost wide receiver Sterling Shepard for the second half of the game.
- Injuries walloped the 49ers, who saw quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo leave the game with an ankle injury and running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman with knee injuries. And their defense took a huge hit with serious knee injuries to Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas.
- Injuries also hit the Broncos, with a shoulder injury to quarterback Drew Lock, who could miss two to six weeks, and a season-ending ACL tear for go-to receiver Courtland Sutton.
- Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor experienced chest pains and bowed out mere moments before kickoff.
- Packers receiver Davante Adams tweaked his hamstring and ankle and the Packers played it safe and sidelined him with the game against the Lions well in hand. Adams' injuries didn’t appear serious initially but keep Marquez Valdes-Scantling on your watch list just in case.
- Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins took a hit to the head from Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman, and while Chiefs coach Andy Reid did “presume” Watkins would enter the NFL’s concussion protocol, he wasn’t immediately certain.
- Colts receiver Parris Campbell was carted off the field, but may have avoided a major knee injury (so wait and see before picking up Zach Pascal).
Got all that? It’s going to be a busy week on the waiver wire. Let’s get started.
Jonnu Smith, TE, Titans
Jonnu Smith was rostered in 67% of Yahoo leagues as of Sunday, but had been claimed in only 39% of ESPN leagues.
If he’s still available, put your claim in for Smith immediately and stream him as a flex if you need to. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill looks even better as a passer than he did last season, and he and Smith already have connected on three touchdown passes through two games.
Jordan Reed, TE, 49ers
Jordan Reed had a monster day — seven catches on eight targets for 50 yards and two touchdowns — but his run could be short-lived. George Kittle could return and hog most of the targets.
However, with all the injuries the 49ers have had early this season, it’s conceivable Reed could be used even with Kittle in the starting lineup.
Popular wisdom when the 49ers signed Reed in August was he would give them more two tight end-looks to create mismatches against secondaries and take pressure off the underperforming wide receiver group.
Consider the 49ers' options: Deebo Samuel is on injured reserve until at least Week 4, Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman suffered knee injuries, and three receivers — Kendrick Bourne, Brandon Aiyuk and Trent Taylor — combined for eight catches on 98 yards.
If he can stay healthy (and that’s a big if), there’s room for Reed.
Mike Davis, RB, Panthers
Mike Davis is next in line if Christian McCaffrey misses time.
Coach Matt Rhule said earlier this month that Davis had a “tremendous” training camp.
“He’s not one-dimensional,” Rhule said via the Charlotte Post. “To me he’s another guy who becomes a threat. He’s not a ‘hey, if we need him, we can use him.’ He is a guy who we want to get in the game. We’ve been upping his reps in practice and he’s been doing a great job.”
The Bears committed $3 million in guaranteed money to Davis, but rarely used him last season before cutting him in November to gain a compensatory draft pick. The Panthers claimed him on waivers.
Maybe Davis has been a victim of circumstance where younger backs made him expendable with the 49ers (Matt Brieda), Seahawks (Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny) and Bears (David Montgomery), or perhaps his limited speed caps his potential as a starter.
Davis profiles as a good short yardage runner and pass catch specialist. He had only one carry against the Buccaneers but averaged 9.3 yards on eight catches.
Rhule said the Panthers won’t change their offense now with Davis taking over for McCaffrey. Davis is a “starting tailback in the National Football League and was ready to play. He will play well in Christian’s absence.”
In any event, Davis' volume should provide a safe floor for fantasy managers with potential to pad his stats with red-zone scores.
Dalton Schultz, TE, Cowboys
The good news: Dalton Schultz made his first start in place of Blake Jarwin (ACL) and had nine catches for 88 yards and a score. The bad news: While Schultz saw 10 targets, when is Dak Prescott going to throw 47 passes again?
Another downer: Schultz has to compete with a long list of pass catchers, including Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb — and even running back Ezekiel Elliott.
But when the matchup dictates the Cowboys go to the tight end, Schultz should deliver.
Mitch Trubisky, QB, Bears
Oh, ye Guardians of the Fantasy Universe, please don’t smite this humble fantasy columnist for what he is about to say: It’s time to roster Mitch Trubisky.
Trubisky threw two touchdowns against the Giants in Week 2 and has five on the season, joining the ranks of Patrick Mahomes and Ben Roethlisberger. Temper this glorious news with the knowledge that most formats punish quarterbacks for interceptions, and Trubisky had two Sunday.
Don’t look now, but next on the schedule are the Falcons, that fantasy gift that has given quarterbacks 35.8 points per game, according to FantasyData.com. Trubisky may not be in Dak Prescott’s class as a passer (450 yards, 1 TD vs. in Week 2), but he’s a bigger threat as a rusher, and Prescott had three rushing touchdowns against the Falcons.
And there’s this: Would you rather replace Jimmy Garoppolo with Nick Mullens?
Darrell Henderson, RB, Rams
You just knew this was going to happen, didn’t you?
After Malcolm Brown became the darling of the waiver wire after two touchdowns in Week 1, you just knew he would be a fade in Week 2.
Because Sean McVay.
Cam Akers left the Eagles game with a rib injury and Darrell Henderson left Brown (47 yards) in the dust, rushing 12 times for 81 yards and a touchdown and adding two catches for 40 yards.
By the same token, you don’t want to get too high on Henderson. The Rams backfield is far from settled and it’s not safe to use any of them as more than a flex.
Russell Gage, WR, Falcons
I’m still not completely convinced Russell Gage is going to be a consistent contributor, but you can’t ignore 15 and 13 fantasy points in consecutive weeks.
“He was always a guy that we thought had a lot of talent,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “He had the opportunity to being behind Mohamed Sanu for a year and a half which to me I think really helped him develop and learn. Mohamed was a really good tutor for him at the slot position.”
At least Gage’s usage seems to be secure. The Falcons have had a lot success with 11 personnel sets with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Gage on the field at the same time, and Gage has been played in almost 70% of snaps, according to FantasyData.com.
That said, he seems tailor-made to be a bargain DFS flex.
Scott Miller, WR, Buccaneers
“Scooter” was a very popular waiver wire pick-up on NFL.com and other sites heading into Week 2, but Scotty Miller failed to capitalize on Chris Godwin’s absence, catching just two passes for 11 yards.
Still, don’t dismiss Miller based on one underwhelming performance. Tom Brady likes to spread the ball around, and true to form he targeted nine receivers in Sunday’s win over the Panthers. Strange as it may be, Leonard Fournette saw more looks (five) than Miller and that’s not going to happen every week.
It has been established since training camp that Miller is one of Brady’s favorites, perhaps even his new Julian Edelman.
Miller’s worth a claim in deep PPR leagues in case he develops a more defined role in Bruce Arians' pass-happy system (68% through two games).
Jeff Driskel, QB, Broncos
Among Week 2′s emergency quarterbacks, Jeff Driskel probably had the best fantasy day — 256 yards, a touchdown and an interception — unless sacks count against quarterbacks in your scoring format (he was sacked six times).
The former Lions quarterback was middling, good and ugly against the Bears, Cowboys and Washington in three November games last season. As a Bengal in 2018, he had a five game-streak with at least one touchdown pass in each, but topped out with 236 yards against the Broncos.
Now in Denver, he could be missing Courtland Sutton and Philip Lindsay for at least the short term, but Driskel still is supported by Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant and Melvin Gordon.
Cardinals defense/special teams
They’re available in more than half of ESPN and Yahoo leagues, and still have the Lions, Panthers and Jets coming up.
Justin Herbert, QB, Chargers
Starter Tyrod Taylor (ribs) experienced chest pains and was hospitalized, leaving coach Anthony Lynn little choice but to turn to the rookie Justin Herbert on short notice.
“I think he thought I was joking,” said Lynn, who found out about Taylor’s status after the coin toss.
“He just told me five or 10 seconds before kickoff,” Herbert said of Lynn. “It caught me by surprise a little bit.”
Herbert put in an incredible effort under the circumstances, completing 22 or 33 attempts for 311 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Lynn said Taylor is still the starter if he’s healthy enough to play in Week 3. But if Herbert’s ascension to the starting lineup seemed inevitable before Sunday, it looks even more pressing now.
Fantasy managers who rostered Taylor in deep leagues — or have weak quarterback depth — should stash Herbert without delay.