Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Week 3: Injuries Create Opportunities For Mike Davis, Jerick McKinnon

By Matt Citak

(CBS Boston) — Week 2 was not kind to fantasy football owners. Numerous key players went down with serious injuries, starting at the very top.

Giants star running back Saquon Barkley was lost for the season after tearing his ACL, while Panthers back Christian McCaffrey will miss the next 4-6 weeks due to a high ankle sprain. Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton was also lost for the season because of a torn ACL, while players such as 49ers RB Raheem Mostert and QB Jimmy Garopolo, Colts WR Parris Campbell, Broncos QB Drew Lock and Giants WR Sterling Shepard, along with many others, could miss at least the next few weeks with various injuries.

Injuries to one player opens up the door for another, so it should be a busy week on the waiver wire. Let’s jump right into it.

QB Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans: Many people believed Tannehill’s performance last season was an aberration, as he had never come close to his 70.3 completion percentage in any of his first six NFL seasons. But we are now two games into the 2020 season, and the veteran QB has completed 70.1 percent of his passes to go with an impressive 6-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The Titans will always be a run-first team, but Tannehill is bringing some balance to their offense by proving he can lead them down the field with his arm rather than depending on Derrick Henry to carry them. With over 22 fantasy points in each of his first two games, Tannehill should be the top add for anyone in need of a QB.

Gardner Minshew II #15 of the Jacksonville Jaguars throws a pass in the first half of a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on September 20, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Gardner Minshew (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

QB Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars: Minshew Mania is back and better than ever! The second-year quarterback has enjoyed a strong start to the season. In the season opener, Minshew completed a whopping 95 percent of his passes while throwing for three touchdowns and 173 yards. Going up against the Titans this past week, the second-year QB had a completion percentage of nearly 67 percent and threw for 339 yards and three touchdowns. With the Jaguars likely to be trailing in most games this season, the offense will have to rely on the arm of Minshew early and often. He’s worth an add for any team desperate for a QB.

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RB Mike Davis, Carolina Panthers: You likely hadn’t heard of Mike Davis prior to this week, but due to the high ankle sprain suffered by McCaffrey on Sunday, Davis is this week’s top waiver wire add. I should preface this by saying Davis is not McCaffrey. He simply cannot be expected to produce even close to what fantasy’s top running back produces. However, fantasy football is all about opportunity, and Davis is likely to get a lot of that over the next month. Davis saw some action with Seattle back in 2018, taking 112 carries for 514 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and four touchdowns while adding 34 receptions for 214 yards and an additional score. Davis could be worthy of a spot in your starting lineup with McCaffrey out, making him certainly worthy of the top add on the waiver wire.

RB Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers’ backfield is a mess. Mostert is likely to be sidelined a few weeks, while Tevin Coleman left Sunday’s game with a knee injury. At the time of this writing, there is no word yet on the severity of Coleman’s injury. If he misses any time, McKinnon could become a strong fantasy play. The 49ers could be without Jimmy G for the foreseeable future, making Nick Mullens the starting QB. This likely means SF will lean even more heavily on the run game, which could catapult McKinnon and maybe even Jeff Wilson into fantasy relevance. Keep an eye on the 49ers’ injury report this week. If Coleman joins Mostert on the sideline, then McKinnon and possibly Wilson should get consideration on the wire.

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) hands the ball to Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson (27) during the game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles on September 20, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA.

Darrell Henderson (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

RB Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams: Talk about another confusing backfield situation. Henderson entered Week 2 as the Rams’ third running back, but following injuries to both Cam Akers and Malcolm Brown, it was Henderson on the field closing out the Week 2 victory for LA. Henderson rushed the ball 12 times for 81 yards (6.8 yards per carry) and a touchdown against the Eagles in Week 2, adding two receptions for 40 yards. It has yet to be reported how long Akers and Brown will be out, if they will miss time at all. But if even one of them is sidelined, Henderson becomes an intriguing play. Henderson offers the pass-catching ability that Brown lacks, and could be in for a significantly increased role if Akers misses time as expected.

WR Marquez Valdez-Scantling, Green Bay Packers: MVS didn’t do much in his first two seasons in Green Bay, which makes me hesitate slightly from rushing to add him on waivers this week. However, the third-year receiver has shown some encouraging signs through the first two weeks of the 2020 season. MVS began the season with a solid outing against the Vikings, catching four passes for 96 yards and a touchdown. He followed that up with three catches for 64 yards against the Lions. But what has me encouraged is his target share. MVS led all Packers wide receivers with seven targets, one behind RB Aaron Jones for the team-lead. Davante Adams was forced out of this game with a hamstring injury, and while it doesn’t appear to be serious, it could open the door for a higher target share for MVS. The young Packers receiver has burned fantasy owners in the past, but I’d be willing to roll the dice on him one more time here.

WR Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs: Sign me up for as many pieces in the Chiefs offense as possible. Following a solid rookie campaign, in which he totaled 538 yards and six touchdowns, Hardman hasn’t done much in the first two weeks of the season. He’s caught three passes (on four targets) for 36 yards, hardly an impressive stat line. But veteran Sammy Watkins left Sunday’s win over the Chargers with a head injury after taking a hard hit and could be sidelined for the next few weeks, paving the way for a larger role for Hardman. We saw his big-play capabilities in limited action last season, and with Patrick Mahomes looking like a strong MVP bet, there’s no reason to believe Hardman won’t be able to do the same this year if given the chance.

Russell Gage (83) of the Atlanta Falcons looks for an opening after catching a pass during the NFL Week 1 game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks on September 13, 2020 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

Russell Gage (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

WR Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons: I, for one, believed Gage’s Week 1 performance was an outlier after he caught nine of 12 targets for 114 yards. But after his outing in Week 2, I am no longer sure. Gage was targeted another nine times in Week 2, catching six of those passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. He also threw a perfect pass to Julio Jones that should have been caught for a 50-yard TD, but Jones let it slip through his hands. The Falcons defense is not good, meaning the offense could be chasing points more often than not. It’s hard for an offense to support three wide receivers for fantasy purposes, but it appears as if that could be the case with the Falcons this season. Jones and Ridley, who is enjoying a breakout start to his season, will remain the top two options in the passing game, while tight end Hayden Hurst seems to have carved out a nice role for himself as well. But don’t let that scare you away from Gage, who seems to have gained the trust of QB Matt Ryan.

TE Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans: Smith entered the season as an underrated breakout candidate, and through the first two games, he has lived up to the bill and then some. Smith has been targeted 12 times total in the Titans’ first two games, catching eight of them for 120 yards and an impressive three touchdowns. The fifth-year tight end is a great athlete and looks to be the perfect fit for the Tennessee offense, which has been firing on all cylinders thus far. As we all know, the tight end position can be very shaky when it comes to fantasy football. However, Smith appears to be a safe bet as a solid TE1 option moving forward.

TE Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins: Talk about a blowup performance. Following a quiet Week 1, in which he caught just three passes for 30 yards, the former Penn State tight end exploded in Week 2. Gesicki reeled in eight of 11 targets against Buffalo’s tough defense, finishing with a team-high 130 receiving yards and a touchdown. Not only did Gesicki lead the Dolphins in receptions, but he also received the most targets from QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw for 328 yards and two touchdowns. The Dolphins have been using Gesicki out of the slot a lot so far this season, allowing him to run more downfield routes than most tight ends. With this sort of usage, Gesicki should easily become a fantasy TE1.

Matt Citak is a contributing writer for CBS Local. Follow him on Twitter here for all things fantasy football, New York Giants and more.