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Football Daily Dose

Injuries Dominate Sunday's Matchups

by Lauren Carpenter
Updated On: September 21, 2020, 2:05 pm ET

Week 2 has been quite the roller coaster. Sunday’s games had high scoring offenses, some surprise returns to fantasy relevance, and a boatload of injuries to big-time starters.

The New York Giants at the Chicago Bears had the distinction of having the lowest-scoring game of 13 to 17 as the Bears advanced to 2-0 and the Giants fell to 0-2. Broncos at Steelers, Vikings at Colts and Chiefs at Chargers were the only other games that did not have at least one team scoring 30 or more points.

Welcome back to the NFL TE Jordan Reed and RB Jerick McKinnon. The 49ers’ tight end, Reed, stepped in for the injured George Kittle and posted seven receptions for 50 yards and two touchdowns. It’s his first time back on the field since 2018 when he was often injured on the Washington Football Team. McKinnon, Reed’s teammate, is getting involved in the offense this year scoring a touchdown in each of his appearances. He has not seen the field since 2017 when he was Minnesota Viking and scored three touchdowns the whole season. With a host of injuries to the 49ers (and all around the NFL), this won’t be the last time we see Reed and McKinnon as well as some surprising fantasy stars over the next several weeks. 

Cowboys Make a Comeback and Chargers Start Rookie QB

The Cowboys looked terrible to start the game, giving up a whopping four fumbles in the first quarter and losing possession on three of them. The Falcons took advantage of the turnovers with two touchdowns and two field goals gaining a 20 to zero lead heading into the second quarter. RB Ezekiel Elliott then rushed in a one-yard touchdown, but the Falcons answered back with a TD to WR Calvin Ridley, his second on the day. Each team exchanged field goals and the Falcons went into halftime leading 29 to 10.

Sound familiar? 

It was almost surreal watching QB Dak Prescott put the entirety of the Cowboys’ offense onto his shoulders, scoring two touchdowns by himself in the third quarter. The Falcons pulled away slightly with a touchdown pass to WR Russell Gage and another field goal, but a victory was not meant to be. Prescott stepped up again with a touchdown pass to TE Dalton Schultz. After an odd two-point conversion attempt failed, Prescott mounted another drive and rushed in his third touchdown to bring the game within two points. A field goal by Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein snatched the victory away from the Falcons.

I think it's time start taking Prescott seriously and consider paying the man a decent contract. The win was also a welcome sigh of relief for new HC Mike McCarthy who was able to avoid answering some uncomfortable questions if Atlanta had continued to steamroll Dallas at home.

The Falcons at Cowboys game wasn’t the only nail-biting, field-goal-finish of the day. QB Tyrod Taylor was experiencing chest pain and shortness of breath during pregame warmups. Of all of the surprising gameday starts, this one takes the cake. After the coin toss, backup QB Justin Herbert was told he would be the starter for Week 2. Herbert was facing no easy task making his NFL debut against the reigning Super Bowl Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Unlike the Falcons at the Cowboys matchup, the afternoon game in Los Angeles was a surprisingly low scoring affair given QB Patrick Mahomes’ penchant for gunslinging. In fact, it was Herbert who led the Chargers to a 14 to 6 lead into halftime after running in a touchdown in the first quarter and connecting later with WR Jalen Guyton

The third quarter saw field goals exchanged between the two teams in an eerie foreshadowing, and Mahomes connected with WR Tyreek Hill for possibly one of his best touchdown passes yet. After another set of field goals by each team, the game went into overtime tied at 20 apiece.

The Chargers started off with the first possession of OT. WR Mike Williams nearly converted a fourth down but came up one yard short. The Chargers then elected to punt the ball, instead of trying for it on fourth and one. I am surprised HC Anthony Lynn made this call. It’s never a good idea to give the Super Bowl MVP the ball in overtime if you plan on trying to win the game. 

In overtime rules, the Chiefs didn’t need to score a touchdown to win. Kicker Harrison Butker came up big, not once, not twice, but three times to finish the game. The first attempt, which was good, was negated by a false start penalty that tacked on an additional five yards to make it a 58-yard attempt. The second attempt, also good, didn’t count since the Chargers called a time out to ice the kicker. The third attempt was good again and officially ended the game. Butker was hoisted above his cheering Chiefs teammates with much fanfare.

Who said kickers don’t matter? If you’re curious, he finished with 13 fantasy points behind Justin Tucker and Younghoe Koo with 15 points. 

Even though the Chargers did lose the game, Herbert looked very good considering the nature of his start. He made some rookie mistakes, including an interception where he could have easily run for a first down. He was able to shake off the error and lead Los Angeles into overtime. Like the Bengals, Chargers fans should be very excited by what they see in their rookie QB. 

The Sunday night game was a rematch (of sorts) of Super Bowl XLIX between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks. If you haven’t heard “Let Russ Cook” yet, get familiar with it because you might be hearing it a lot more from now on. Perhaps it will alter a bit to “Let Russ Keep Cooking”. He had an incredible game against the Patriots, finishing with five touchdown passes in a 35 to 30 victory over New England. 

Patriots’ QB Cam Newton rushed for 47 yards and two touchdowns on top of 397 yards passing and a touchdown pass to the fullback Jakob Johnson. Newton dominated the run game for New England with RBs Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead combining for 13 carries and only 21 yards. RB James White was a surprise inactive after learning his father had just passed away in a deadly car accident while his mother remained in critical condition. His absence was keenly felt on both sides of the ball. White was a teammate with Wilson during their days in Wisconsin. 

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Trade Targets

AWAY

Joe Mixon (RB - CIN)*

Mark Ingram (RB - BAL)*

Robby Anderson (WR - CAR)

Stefon Diggs (WR - BUF)

Mike Evans (WR - TB)

FOR

A.J. Green (WR - CIN)

Austin Ekeler (RB - LAC)

Joshua Kelley (RB - LAC)

David Johnson (RB - HOU)

JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR - PIT)

This week is going to be a mess in terms of trades. My list of trade targets is not exhaustive, especially if you have any of the players or the backups from Sunday’s injury list. 

Bengals’ RB Joe Mixon tops the trade away list with an asterisk. He has been ineffective so far in Cincinnati’s offense and Burrow has been slinging it all over the field. If you can get a decent trade for Mixon now, it may be in your best interest to take it if you need to replace a piece on your offense. However, I recommend holding onto him until he has a decent game. His trade value will be much higher and you will have better options. But, desperate times call for desperate measures, so if he is your only tradeable piece, I get it.

The Baltimore backfield is no clearer after Week 2 so I have another asterisk after RB Mark Ingram’s name. Honestly, if you have Ingram, J.K. Dobbins, or even Gus Edwards, you have some decent trade value. After scoring two touchdowns last week, Dobbins carried the ball only two times for 48 yards while Gus Edwards led the team in carries with 10 for 73 yards. However, it was Ingram who saw the endzone this time with nine carries and 55 yards. I do not like that this offense is so unpredictable. Trading those RB pieces for depth at other positions may be the best option instead of trying to predict who will get the carries or see the goal-line work. 

WRs Robby Anderson, Stefon Diggs, and Mike Evans round out my trade away targets. These are not players that you necessarily should trade away, but rather players who you could trade away. Again, if you are hurting at other positions, you may need to move someone in order to get a quality replacement. The waiver wire will likely be a ghost town after this week and a trade may be your only option. Anderson, Diggs, and Evans are on offenses that have other talented pass-catchers. They have seen excellent production so far in 2020 but that is not guaranteed each week. (Evans may be your exception until Godwin returns.) They have a ton of value and their stock is high, giving you an opportunity to fill needs on your roster without having to settle.

Remember that you win a trade when you can get a good player when their stock low. WR A.J. Green is at the top of my trade for list. Green has been a heartbreaker for fantasy this season. He’s seen a total of 22 targets for only eight receptions and has yet to score a touchdown. While this is disheartening, there is a very bright silver lining. Burrow is trying his best to target the veteran receiver, but they just haven’t been on the same page, yet. Burrow needs a few more reps to get his timing down and Green is too talented of a receiver to be forgotten in the offense. It’s only a matter of time before Burrow and Green start connecting. When that happens, watch out. Until then, you can target fantasy GMs who are getting fed up with the disappointment.

Unlike the Ravens backfield, the Chargers running backs are beginning to level out. This week, Austin Ekeler was finally involved in the passing game with five receptions for 55 yards while still rushing 16 times for 93 yards. Josh Kelley was also involved, but his identity is becoming more defined as Ekeler’s ground-and-pound counterpart. After scoring a touchdown last week, Kelley rushed 23 times for 64 yards. If you have the opportunity to get one of these running backs on your squad, I would take it, preferably Ekeler in PPR and Kelley in non-ppr formats.

Sticking with the running back position, Houston’s David Johnson predictably struggled against the Ravens’ defense and a negative game script. He rushed 11 times for only 34 yards. Johnson will face a daunting Pittsburgh defense next week and could be held to a poor performance once more. If the league mate with Johnson is unwilling to trade yet, give it a week. The matchup against the Steelers may just provide the necessary push to complete the trade. After the Steelers, the Texans have a more favorable schedule facing Minnesota, Jacksonville, and Tennessee.

Speaking of the Steelers, it was WR Diontae Johnson who shined in this week’s matchup against the banged-up Denver Broncos. The WR position is seeing some notable injuries this year such as Kenny Golladay, Chris Godwin, Michael Thomas, and Courtland Sutton (just to name a few). If you need some depth at wide receiver, try going for JuJu Smith-Schuster. Rookie WR Chase Claypool looks like the Steelers’ shiny new toy. Let your league mates be preoccupied with Johnson and Claypool while you go for the WR1. 

Major Injuries 

Even with some exciting comebacks and storylines throughout the day, nothing dominated the headlines like the plethora of injuries to big-time starters around the NFL. Sunday was indeed a painful day.

Giants’ RB Saquon Barkley sits atop the lengthy list of injured players with a possible torn ACL. It’s a devastating loss to the Giants and for fantasy GMs who now have to pivot for the rest of the season. Carolina’s RB Christian McCaffrey suffered an ankle injury, but that luckily happened after he rushed for 59 yards and two touchdowns. 49ers’ RB Raheem Mostert also had a decent fantasy day before leaving with a knee injury. Sticking with the 49ers, QB Jimmy Garopollo suffered an ankle injury, so backup Nick Mullens is the next man up. 

Denver’s QB Drew Lock left early with a shoulder injury and WR Courtland Sutton was hurt with a knee injury and cramping after just returning from a sprained shoulder. RB Phillip Lindsay is still sidelined with turf-toe and Denver’s fantasy stock is looking bleak. It will be up to backup QB Jeff Driskel to offer any hope for WR Jerry Jeudy and TE Noah Fant.

After a huge performance last week, Packers’ WR Davante Adams suffered a hamstring injury after only three receptions for 36 yards in Green Bay’s victory over the Detroit Lions. This will lead to questions as to which wide receiver will step up in his absence with Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling next in line.

Minor Injuries

Rams’ RB Cam Akers is questionable with a rib injury. … Colts’ WR Paris Campbell leaves game early with a knee injury. … Jets’ WR Breshad Perriman suffered an ankle injury and WR Chris Hogan suffered a rib injury. … Chargers’ QB Tyrod Taylor was sent to the hospital Sunday after experiencing shortness of breath prior to the game. He has since been released. … Giants’ WR Sterling Shepard questionable with a toe injury. … 49ers’ RB Tevin Coleman suffered a knee injury. Fellow RB Raheem Mostert is also questionable with a suspected mild MCL sprain. … Bills TE Dawson Knox suffered a concussion. … Colts WR Parris Campbell is questionable with a knee injury, it is unlikely it is an ACL tear, and will have an MRI. … Chiefs’ RB Darrel Williams suffered an ankle injury and WR Sammy Watkins suffered a head injury and left Sunday’s game early. … Patriots’ RB James White inactive against the Seahawks after the devastating news that his parents were involved in a deadly car crash. His father has passed away from the accident and his mother in critical condition in a Florida hospital.

Lauren Carpenter

Lauren Carpenter (@stepmomlauren) is a St. Louis native, graduate of the University of Missouri's Journalism school, and all-around fan of sports. She is a fantasy football analyst and writer who enjoys communicating about sports and fantasy football, but will not inflate your vanity or listen to condescension. Let's all be kind to one another.