With the fantasy football season approaching the quarter mark, the major injuries just keep piling up, which makes the waiver wire an important factor in the middle of the bye weeks.
Obviously, the biggest news of the week is the loss of Aaron Rodgers. One of the league’s best quarterbacks left with a broken collarbone, which might cost him the rest of the season. All of a sudden, the NFC playoff picture looks vastly different, and this will have rippling effects in fantasy football, as well.
Without Rodgers, the Packers’ offense couldn’t do much in a loss to the Minnesota Vikings, losing the division lead in the process. Brett Hundley might be OK with time to prepare, but he had no chance coming in cold against the Vikings’ tenacious defense. Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Randall Cobb will all see their fantasy value drop, while Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones remain a big question mark in the backfield. In the meantime, Rodgers’ owners are stuck with downgrades everywhere. It’s a bad situation all around.
Rodgers wasn’t the only big injury of Week 6, though. Jameis Winston suffered an AC joint sprain and he’s not a given to play next week. Emmanuel Sanders went down with a sprained ankle and Golden Tate hurt his shoulder, which could both be multi-week injuries. Leonard Fournette also tweaked his ankle, which needs to be monitored given his long history of ankle injuries in college.
Oh, and we’re still in the middle of the bye weeks. At least there are only two teams on bye this week, so let’s check the players not available.
Houston Texans: QB Deshaun Watson, RBs Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman, WRs DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, TE Ryan Griffin
Detroit Lions: QB Matthew Stafford, RBs Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick, WRs Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Kevin Golladay, TE Eric Ebron
So yeah, it’s going to be a busy week on the waiver wire. With all that out of the way, here are my top five options owned in 50 percent or less of Yahoo! standard leagues.
1. WR John Brown, Arizona Cardinals (43 percent)
It’s good to see Brown back in form. He had the makings of a breakout start two years ago, but sickle cell issues badly derailed his 2016 season and he was slow to start 2017, missing two games early on. But now Brown is back healthy and wrangled the No. 2 receiver job away from Jaron Brown and J.J. Nelson, scoring a touchdown in back-to-back games. Browns’ health will always be a week-to-week proposition, but when he’s on the field he’s a locked-in WR3 in all fantasy formats.
2. RB Orleans Darkwa, New York Giants (10 percent)
Maybe Ben McAdoo just needed to get out of his own way? He quietly gave up playcalling duties this week, which most people didn’t know until the Sunday Night Football crew brought it up. Not coincidentally, the Giants’ offense finally came to life, led by Darkwa’s season-best performance. He lit up a Denver Broncos defense that’s been shutting down the run game all season, finishing with 117 yards on 21 carries.
Darkwa has teased potential before without really following it up, but this is certainly an attention-grabbing game from him. We’ll see if he can repeat it against a Seattle Seahawks defense that’s been vulnerable on the ground.
3. QB Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (46 percent)
Aaron Rodgers owners, step right up. Here’s a slightly used QB2 who’s rarely exciting, but typically productive. The turnovers will always be a concern, but Dalton has settled down after his horror show start to the season. Coming off the bye, he’ll have a road matchup with a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that just shut down Alex Smith, but Dalton with a healthy A.J. Green is usually a safe bet. When it comes to bye weeks and Rodgers replacements, you could do a lot worse.
4. RB Alex Collins, Baltimore Ravens (31 percent)
Collins seems like the only thing actually working on this Ravens defense. He had his best game yet in Week 6, carrying the ball 15 times for 74 yards. Through six games, Collins already has 335 yards and averaging 6.4 yards per carry, showing way more burst and explosiveness than he ever did in Seattle. The only knock on his fantasy ceiling is the presence of Buck Allen, who renders Collins a non-factor in the passing game. Still, Collins’ early-down role is secure and he’s worth keeping in 12-team leagues.
5. Eddie Lacy (28 percent), Thomas Rawls (23 percent)
Here we go again. Lacy and Rawls are in an eternal committee with Chris Carson done for the year, and Week 5 gave us zero clarity — Lacy had 10 touches for 28 total yards, while Rawls had 10 touches for 35 yards. Perhaps the Seahawks figured something out during the bye week, but the return of C.J. Prosise and the emergence of J.D. McKissic complicates things even more. Whomever leads the backfield here is only a low-end flex against the Giants.