Less than 24 hours before the first Sunday of the 2020 NFL Season dominos are starting to fall as information on injured players are being released. Now, very quickly fantasy football team managers must make a move to replace these players to avoid watching one of their starters put up zero points because of limited options and potentially go 0-1. Fortunately for the team managers who have the skill players who are or may miss this week when a player sits out another opportunity for another player opens up on their team.
Here are which players to consider adding to your roster or put into your lineup to replace a star that could miss Week 1.
Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Though Miles Sanders is the latest member to join this list, he was the highest-drafted out of everyone on this list in a majority of leagues which is even bigger of a deal that he is missing Week 1. Sanders has been ruled out of the Week 1 matchup against the Washington Football Team due to a hamstring injury. In 10 Team Leagues Sanders was drafted between the end of the first round and the beginning of the second round. This makes him a low-end RB1/high-end RB2. Losing a player drafted within the top 15 picks for Week 1 is stressful. But there are some options fantasy owners can plug into their lineup in order to fill his void.
If a Sanders owner drafted running back heavy, they do not have much to worry about. They can just plug in their third running back into their lineup and put their best bench skill player in as their flex. However not every fantasy player is that fortunate. If a Sanders owner focused on other positions early in the draft and lack depth at the running back position the best player to pick up and put into their lineup is Boston Scott. At the time of this article, Scott is owned in 39.9% of ESPN leagues and 4.8% of NFL.com leagues.
Scott is the backup to Sanders in Philadelphia, but he does have stand-alone value because of the fact that Doug Pederson’s offenses have featured running back committees since he became the Eagles head coach in 2016. Due to multiple injuries along the Eagles offense, Scott saw an increased role last year at the end of the season. During the last five weeks of the 2019-20 season, Scott was a top 20 running back scoring 59 points and averaging 11.8 points a game during that span. That type of production is enough to put him right into RB2/flex territory.
In week 1 versus the Washington Football team, the Eagles are expected to dominate Washington. If that is the case Scott could see over 20+ touches as the Eagles try to run the clock out against Washington in the second half. He also has the upside to score over 30 points in Week 1 as he did in Week 17 against the Giants in an expanded role last season.
Other Standard League Options: Antonio Gibson vs Philadelphia, James Robinson vs Indianapolis
Deep League Options: Jerick McKinnon vs Arizona, Jalen Richard vs Carolina, Nyheim Hines vs Jacksonville
Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Good news about Mike Evans came out Saturday. His status for Sunday’s game versus the New Orleans Saints has upgraded from doubtful to probable according to the team’s injury report. Evans has been dealing with a soft issues hamstring injury. The Buccaneers may play it cautious with Evans because a hamstring injury is what put Evans on the IR to end last season. Also because these kinds of injuries can linger over the course of a season. This is concerning to fantasy owners because this is not what they want to hear from a player they took with their second or third selection (depending on the size of the draft).
Though it may be hard to bench Evans, fantasy owners may want to evaluate their options and see if they have the depth to replace Evans for this week and just watch how involved he is in the Buccaneers’ new Tom Brady-led offense. This is only recommended in shallow leagues like an eight-man or fewer. In standard leagues, it could be hard to imagine an upgrade over Evans if he plays. But if Evans becomes a late inactive In a last resort option to plug into your lineup in standard leagues is DeSean Jackson. At the time of this article, Jackson is owned in 64.5% of ESPN leagues and 55.9% of NFL.com leagues.
The Philadelphia Eagles have one of the most confusing receiving cores to figure out in the league. After Zach Ertz who will be the next highest targeted option on offense. Is it Alshon Jeffrey, First Round Pick Jalen Reagor, or third-year tight end Dallas Goedert? The answer is Jackson. The 33-year-old wideout may not be a reliable fantasy option week in and week out, but it seems like every season Jackson shows his elite ability to stretch the field and scores a 70+ yard touchdown every first week of the season.
Last year week 1 against Washington Jackson had eight catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns. He was the third-highest scoring wide receiver in fantasy football with 27.4 fantasy points. Jackson won’t likely have this kind of production every week, but with Jeffrey out and Reagor coming off an injury he could see a massive target share and similar stats to what he did a season ago. Then a week or two from now Jackson could likely be dropped for the next hot waiver wire pick up.
Other Standard League Options: Parris Campbell vs Jacksonville, Cole Beasley vs New York Jets
Deep League Options: Scotty Miller vs New Orleans, James Washington vs New York Giants
Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions
One of the biggest names to join the injury report this week is Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay. Unlike Mike Evans, who is expected to play but in a limited capacity Sunday, Golladay is not as he is listed as doubtful for the Lions game against the Chicago Bears with a hamstring injury. This would be a crushing blow to the Lions’ offense because Golladay is considered their best-skill position player. It would also a crushing blow to fantasy teams that have Golladay because he is low-end WR1/high-end WR2 in standard leagues.
It is much easier to replace wide receivers in a starting lineup because most flexes in standard fantasy leagues are wide receivers because of the abundance of talented players at the position. If a person is comfortable enough with their depth they could replace Golladay with their flex wide receiver and insert their next best skill position player as their flex. But there may be a better wide receiver waiting on the waiver wire to fill the void left by Golladay. That wide receiver’s name could be Anthony Miller. Miller is owned in 38.4% of ESPN leagues and 46.1% of NFL.com leagues at the time of this article.
The number two wide receiver for a Mitch Trubisky led Chicago Bears does not sound like an appealing fantasy option. However, during a stretch in the middle of last season, Miller was flirting with wide receiver one territory. From Week 11-15 last season, Miller had 55.1 fantasy points which ranked him twelfth among wide receivers during that span. Four of those five weeks Miller had at least six catches and 50 yards. Two of them Miller had nine catches for over 100 yards.
The Detroit Lions secondary may have big names like Justin Coleman, Desmond Trufant, and third overall pick Jeff Okudah. But their secondary may be more name values than production on the field. It shouldn’t intimidate fantasy owners from playing Miller Week 1 as this game could come down to the wire. Miller is also more than a one-week pick-up. Fantasy owners can keep Miller on their bench and use him when injuries or byes occur because he has season-long value.
**Also if you own Marvin Jones Jr. in your fantasy league and Golladay doesn’t play, he is a WR2 or must start flex this week. From Weeks 3-12 Jones scored 107.8 fantasy points which made him the 4th ranked wide receiver in fantasy during that time. He had five games with over 70 yards including Week 7 versus the Minnesota Vikings where he had 10 catches for 93 yards and four touchdowns. There were also two weeks where he had at least six catches for 100 yards and a touchdown.**
Other Standard League Options: Emmanuel Sanders vs Tampa Bay, Henry Ruggs vs Carolina
Deep League Options: Robby Anderson vs Las Vegas, Danny Amendola vs Chicago
Courtland Sutton, WR Denver Broncos
In fantasy football, it rarely gets worse than when a starting-caliber fantasy player’s status is in question for a Monday night game. That is happening this week to Courtland Sutton. Fantasy owners must decide if they are willing to take a risk on playing a limited Sutton versus the Tennessee Titans or find another wideout to fill their second receiver spot. Though Sutton played extremely well last season his fantasy owners should punt on playing Sutton this week regardless if he is active or not and leave him on the bench. It is too risky to play a big wide receiver recovering from an AC joint sprain in his shoulder. Sutton will likely play a small number of snaps if active and even then the matchup is not very favorable against the Tennessee Titans.
One player who may have the opportunity to emerge as a reliable fantasy option early in the season is Hunter Renfrow of the Las Vegas Raiders. Renfrow is only owned in 11.9% of ESPN leagues and 21.6% of NFL.com leagues After being drafted in the fifth round Renfrow emerged as a starting receiver and reliable slot receiver for Derek Carr. Renfrow didn’t necessarily fill the void left by Antonio Brown, but he did have a lot of targets in the Raiders’ offense a season ago.
Between weeks 8-11 last season, Renfrow was a top 20 fantasy wide receiver with 37 points during that span. He averaged 4.75 catches and 62.5 yards per game between those weeks. After returning from injury in weeks 16 and 17 Renfrow had back-to-back 100-yard games which combined for 32.9 fantasy points and made him the second-highest scoring receiver during that time. In each of those games, he had at least 6 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown.
Fantasy owners shouldn’t expect a 30 point game out of Renfrow, but in Week 1 versus a weak and unproven Carolina Panthers’ secondary, he has an extremely high floor and moderate ceiling. After Tyrell Williams’ season-ending injury it is unclear who is the Raiders’ number one wide receiver and best receiving option behind Darren Waller. Since Renfrow has the most experience with Carr he seems to be a safe bet to be one of the team leaders in targets early in the season.
Other Standard League Options: Bryan Edwards vs Carolina, Steve Sims Jr. vs Philadelphia,
Deep League Options: Laviska Shenault vs Indianapolis, Allen Lazard vs Minnesota, Tim Patrick vs Tennessee
Deebo Samuel, WR, San Fransisco 49ers
After breaking his foot in the offseason Fantasy owners were able to draft Deebo Samuel at a premium since his status to begin the season on the PUP list or not was unclear. However early in the week, it was announced that there was a chance that Samuel could start the season on time. But yesterday news broke that Samuel will actually be starting the year on the IR. This means that Samuel will be out for the first three weeks of the season. That is not devastating news to fantasy owners in standard leagues because Samuel was drafted to be a WR4 or 5 based on his ADP.
In standard leagues owners of Samuel should move him to the IR spot and add someone off the waiver wire who could possibly contribute early and be a big name to pick up off the waiver wire come Tuesday morning. Samuel owners in deeper leagues may be affected by this news because he may be a WR3 or flex or possibly a starting receiver in the deepest of leagues. But for those in standard leagues, a player who to pick up on the waiver wire is Preston Williams. Williams is owned in 69.5% of ESPN leagues and surprisingly only in 37.1% of NFL.com leagues.
One of the few pleasant surprises that the Miami Dolphins had last season was the emergence of undrafted free agent rookie Preston Williams breaking into the starting lineup. During his first season, the rookie out of Colorado State averaged 4 catches and 53.5 yards a game. During his last three weeks before tearing his ACL, Williams scored 29.6 fantasy points which made him the 13th highest scoring wide receiver during that span. Williams was having a career game before he tore his ACL with five receptions for 72 yards and two touchdowns.
The Miami Dolphins may not have the most explosive offense, but Williams has the potential to emerge as their number one receiver if DeVante Parker were to regress or if Williams can pass Parker on the depth chart and see an increase in targets. That upside is the reason to stash Williams on your bench if you have a spot available thanks to Samuel.
Other Standard League Options: Michael Pittman Jr. vs Jacksonville, N’Keal Harry vs Miami
Deep League Options: Chase Claypool vs New York Giants, Kendrick Bourne vs Arizona,
Deeper League Options: Trent Taylor vs Arizona, Willie Snead vs Cleveland, Bisi Johnson vs Green Bay