Roundtable Week 3

Eavesdrop as various staff shares their views RB Injury Replacements, For Real-Fool's Gold, and the State of the Seahawks and Vikings.

It's the time of the year where fantasy owners aren't sure whom to trust among those out-performing pre-draft expectations. We also saw the annual fantasy injury apocalypse hit hard in Week 2. In addition to these topics, we examine two teams with a lot of fantasy question marks:


For Real-Fool's Gold

The earliest weeks of the fantasy season present the greatest potential for confusion about the true value of players. Here's a list of players who are performing well after two weeks.

The rankings referenced below are for PPR leagues:

  • Matt Forte: 59 touches, 264 yards, and 3 touchdowns. No.2 fantasy RB. 
  • Melvin Gordon III: 41 touches, 177 yards, 3 touchdowns. No.7 fantasy RB.
  • DeMarco Murray: 37 touches, 222 yards, 2 touchdowns. No. 4 fantasy RB.
  • Willie Snead IV: 14 catches, 226 yards, 2 touchdowns. No.3 fantasy WR.
  • Larry Fitzgerald: 14 catches, 162 yards, 3 touchdowns. No.4 fantasy WR.
  • Quincy Enunwa: 13 catches, 146 yards, 1 touchdown. No.17 fantasy WR.
  • Dennis Pitta: 12 catches, 134 yards, 0 touchdowns. No.7 fantasy TE.
  • Jacob Tamme: 11 catches, 126 yards, 1 touchdown. No.2 fantasy TE.

Explain why either they're "for real" or "fool's gold" and what you advise fantasy owners to do if they own one or more of them. Address as many as you care to.

Matt Forte

 

Chris Kuczynski: For real. His usage and effectiveness against two "should be good" defenses show that he has not lost a step at age 30. The preseason talk of Bilal Powell splitting carries with him was completely false.

Forte has earned 25-plus touches in each game and has been used extensively in the red zone, which means lots of opportunities for TDs. Powell has merely been a change of pace back.

I expect Forte's workload to decrease slightly just to keep him fresh. With a difficult schedule coming up, he may be less effective as a runner, but he will still be used in the passing game if the Jets need to play catch-up. Owners should be confident he will be a solid RB1 going forward.

Dave Larkin: For real. There is no doubt that the Bears are ruing the release of Matt Forte as they flounder at 0-2. The 30-year-old running back has been sensational the first couple of weeks.

Running back is an attritional position, and Forte could suffer an injury at any time, but the Jets are going to ride him until that happens. Bilal Powell, as Chris correctly stated, is not a viable threat. Forte simply offers more in this pass-heavy Jets attack, and his nuanced running between the tackles has not lost any of its craft or ingenuity.  

John Mamula: For real. After 2 weeks, there is absolutely no sign of an RB committee in New York. The Jets paid Forte a 3-year, $12 million deal and if the first 2 weeks are any indication, the Jets want to get their money's worth. Forte will continue to be a workhorse unless he goes down with an injury.

Alex Miglio: For real.  It's too bad Matt Forte has been so good; he has made Bilal Powell completely irrelevant. The Jets are going to lean on Forte as long as he's upright, and he has been a particularly durable running back over the years. 

Andrew Garda: For real. I love me some Bilal Powell, but for the foreseeable future, this is all Forte in the Jets backfield. His combination of receiving and running ability is what the Jets missed last year.

My one concern is for later in the season—if the Jets are contending—will they use Powell more to keep Forte fresh? Right now there is no sign of this, but the amount they are paying Powell, along with Forte's age, makes me cautious even though I am optimistic. That said, being able to keep defenses honest with Forte as receiving threat makes him the real deal.

Matt Waldman: That was surprisingly unanimous. I'll add that the Jets have the firepower to pose a true threat to the Patriots in this division—even when Tom Brady returns. 

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DeMarco Murray


Chris Kuczynski: Fool's Gold, but...I am split on whether to classify Murray as the real deal or fool's gold. 

Murray is "splitting carries" with Derrick Henry, and neither is getting a lot per game. The Titans are passing the ball a lot more than expected and Murray's target counts are decent. Another thing working in Murray's favor is the Titan's schedule. It doesn't feature many tough defenses. 

But moving forward I see Henry getting more of the carries. I also expect Tajae Sharpe and Rishard Mathews to pick it up. Murray won't be leaned on as much for lack of pass options.

This might be an opportunity to sell high. Otherwise, Murray may become more of a match-up play in your lineups. 

Andrew Garda: Murray is splitting time with Derrick Henry and I don't see that changing. He's getting targets, as Chris points out, but I think that will shift as the receivers get more comfortable.

There are a lot of new faces in Tennessee and it's going to take time. I agree that this is a sell-high situation and sometime in the next three weeks Murray will drop off. Ride him if you can, but find someone to buy him.

Alex Miglio: For real. This comes with a caveat -- I always thought DeMarco Murray would bounce back this season. He has proven to be back in rushing champion form, albeit on a far worse team. Still, the Titans are feeding him the ball, and he has shown the ability to break big runs once again. 

Matt Waldman: I'm siding with Alex and the pro-Murray part of Chris' analysis. I think Murray quit on the Eagles and the fact it became publicly known that he spoke with upper management about the situation says volumes about the issues in Philadelphia last year.

The fact that Mike Mularky and his Titans staff only studied Murray's Cowboys tape should also speak volumes about them knowing enough about what happened in Philadelphia that they could write it off as an aberration. Murray's burst still looks strong, his finishing power has been on-point, and I like the design of the Titans ground game.

I'm also not buying the idea that the Titans' passing game will pick up enough steam to render Murray's receiving value irrelevant. If anything, I expect Murray's value in the passing game to remain steady.

While I prefer to handcuff Derrick Henry to Murray on my fantasy squads, I might be one of those takers trying to sell high. If I could get the Murray owner to agree that his rest-of-season fantasy value is closer to top 15 at his position, I'd give up a top-5 TE or WR2 for him. If I had depth at the other positions and needed a running back, I'd give up both if I could get the owner to part with Henry as part of a package deal.

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Willie Snead IV


Alex Miglio: Fool's Gold. Didn't most of that production come in one game? Working in the New Orleans offense means the threat of a fantasy supernova on any given Sunday, but Saints skill players have bamboozled fantasy owners plenty over the years. Snead will have some big games and a lot of duds.

Chris Kuczynski: For Real, but...

Drew Brees is really good and the Saints defense is really bad. This is a recipe for a lot of pass attempts every game, and Brandin Cooks and Snead will be the main targets because Coby Fleener has been disappointing so far.

The caveat I put on my "for real" distinction is the fact that he played against the Raiders Week 1—a defense that gave up 500-plus yards two weeks in a row. How much of that was the Saints offense and how much of that was the Raiders secondary unable to cover anybody? 

Snead follow-up to his career game was a 5/54/1 effort in a matchup that produced only 29 total points. Most were expecting 80-plus. Snead will be in the WR2 conversation and you're keeping him in your lineup until he gives you a reason not to but his stats were wildly inflated from Week 1.

Matt Waldman: Chris, you've got this caveat technique down. Let me try it...Willie Snead IV is 'For Real, but...' it's because he's a great match for the system in New Orleans and not your garden-variety high-end fantasy receiver.

Snead does a lot of things well. He can tell a compelling story as a route runner, he understands how to find openings against zone defenses, his hands are excellent, and he makes strong plays against tight coverage.

But ask Snead to beat press-man coverage from a top cornerback or become a consistent threat after the catch and you've got the wrong guy. Put Snead in Atlanta with Kyle Shanahan's system, and he's an afterthought.

New Orleans is a perfect fit because Snead is playing with one of the best quarterbacks in this history of the game and the head coach is arguably the best offensive mind in the NFL. The Saints do creative things to get Snead 15-30 yards downfield and into open zones and the offense does it well because Brees can read and adjust better than most quarterbacks in the game. 

While what I envision a fantasy WR2 to look like doesn't meet my expectations when I imagine Snead's skills outside the context of his team, I'm comfortable with him as such because of Drew Brees and the Saints. 

Dave Larkin: For Real and I'll piggyback on what Matt said about rapport. The Brees-to-Snead connection is flourishing and the two seem to have a mind meld when they are on the field together.

Brees trusts Snead to be exactly where he should be. Isn't this what Aaron Rodgers is always harping on with young receivers that have more athletic ability than Snead but aren't as polished?

More often than not Snead delivers for his quarterback and a positive feedback loop is developing here. The ineffective Coby Fleener may continue to struggle, so Snead and Brandin Cooks are the players to own in the Saints passing attack. 

Andrew Garda: Sure, most of Snead's yards came in one game, but he's scored in two straight. We saw enough last year; he is a reliable receiver for Brees.  He was nearly a 1,000-yard receiver last season, and I think he'll continue to produce consistently.

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Larry Fitzgerald


John Mamula: Ummmm... 

Andrew Garda: For Real...

Alex Miglio: For Real... 

David Larkin: For Real. Do we even need to discuss this one?

Matt Waldman: Hey, I was wondering this very thing all summer long when a lot of folks made Arizona's passing game the Michael Floyd-John Brown show with Late Night Larry stuck in a corner like Meryl Streep at a leading ladies event chosen by a panel of writers at Teen Magazine. I should have qualified For Real-Fool's Gold with "Fitzgerald as a fantasy WR1." 

Dave Larkin:  Ha! I suppose we should—if only to acknowledge the greatness of the future Hall of Famer. The Cardinals passing attack was humming against Tampa Bay, and that should be the pattern moving forward.

Fitzgerald made some sick catches last week and seems to produce at least one circus grab a week. He is still the apple of Carson Palmer's eye and should remain a WR1 the rest of the season as he continues to exploit lesser defensive backs in favorable matchups. 

Alex Miglio: Fitzgerald has been a monster thus far and finally getting targeted like an elite No. 1 receiver should be targeted. Even if his target rate dips a bit, he looks every bit as dominant as he was in his prime. It doesn't hurt that the touchdowns are finally flowing.

Andrew Garda: As Alex pointed out, Larry Fitzgerald has been targeted like a No.1 receiver and produces like one. I feel as though Carson Palmer will continue to feed him the ball in an offense that will throw a ton. It means Fitzgerald will continue to produce. I do worry a tad about Mike Floyd, but there should be enough work to go around for them both.

John Mamula: This guy is the real deal. Many expect Fitzgerald to fall off but he continues to get it done.

The Patriots provided a blueprint on how to take away the deep pass during Week 1 and the Bucs copied it last week. While John Brown and Michael Floyd have struggled to get open, Fitzgerald feasted on underneath coverage. Expect Fitzgerald to continue to get it done and expect to see him in Canton in the not too distant future. 

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Quincy Enunwa

 

Andrew Garda: As a Jets guy, I was pounding the table hard for Enunwa this preseason. The lack of a tight end and Enunwa's big body looked like a great combination for some numbers.

He will keep it up, but with Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall, he may prove inconsistent. Both of the other guys are banged up though, so he might serve a more prominent role while they heal.

Still, I think his fantasy production will be a bit streaky. So I think he's going to put up some good numbers, but he's a better WR3 or WR4 in fantasy - or a flex - because week-to-week he might not be consistent enough.

Alex Miglio: It has been a nice couple of weeks for Quincy Enunwa, but he is the fourth-best option on his own team. That has translated to great production through two games, but the fantasy cup will run dry if the offense sputters against tougher defenses.

John Mamula: Fools gold. I agree with Alex, Quincy Enunwa is fools gold due to the amount of offensive options in New York. As long as Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker stay healthy, Enunwa is the fourth option in the passing game behind Marshall, Decker, and Forte. 

Dave Larkin: For Real. His coming-out party on a national stage against the Bills was quite something to behold. Ryan Fitzpatrick enjoyed one of the finest games of his career, and Enunwa's leaping ability and strong hands played a big part in that.

The rangy Enunwa looks the part physically—he always has—but now he seems to have found that extra refinement in his technique to put all the pieces together.

The injury to Brandon Marshall may not keep the veteran out of the lineup, but he will definitely not be as effective. Enunwa could take advantage and stake a claim as a fixture of this passing game for the foreseeable future.  

Daniel Simpkins: Previously unknown to all but die-hard Jets fans, deeper dynasty owners, and Chad Parsons, Quincy Enunwa is the real deal and isn’t going away. The Jets passing game is dominated by Decker and Marshall, but Enunwa is serving a very valuable and much-needed role by operating out of the slot.

Remember, this offense lacks a real receiving tight end and Ryan Fitzpatrick is wisely not one to try to fire it deep down the field very often. Enunwa presents a physical mismatch, especially when you consider that he is often being covered by a team’s third-best corner.

Matt Waldman: I think Daniel's point about Enunwa's role in this offense is a compelling one. Brandon Marshall described Enunwa as a mix of a tight and receiver. I believe this had more to do with Enunwa's role in the offense than Enunwa's physical characteristics.

He's definitely a receiver and not some Niles Paul-Nebraska association game. Enunwa is much closer to a young Brandon Marshall than he is a tight end. But the Jets don't have a consistent threat in the passing game at tight end.

While I understand John and Alex's point about targets and his priority in the offense, I've never been one to believe in the "not enough mouth's to feed approach." Of course, those offenses that I use to support my arguments are headed by great quarterbacks. Fitzpatrick is a pretty good quarterback capable of QB1 production with his coordinator and skill talent but can he post elite production?

Conveniently, it's a question I may not have to answer with Enunwa in mind for at least a few more weeks because of Brandon Marshall's knee. Even so, I'll say 'For Real' because I want to believe that strong skill talent and a good coordinator can help a QB like Fitzpatrick supports 4-5 fantasy options.

Chris Kuczynski: For Real and for much of what Dave and Matt brought up. A TE was sorely missing from the Jets offense, and Enunwa provides that big-bodied WR/TE role for the team.

Fitzpatrick has picked up where he left off last year, the offense has great balance, and it can score plenty of points. Marshall and Decker are still the top options but the two of them getting most of the attention from defenses.

With Marshall potentially ailing, a difficult schedule forcing the Jets to throw the ball to keep up, and Enunwa earning one-on-one coverage from a defender mismatched against him, he'll succeed. He should be viewed as a WR3 with upside based on matchups.

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Jacob Tamme

 

Daniel Simpkins: Jacob Tamme is fool’s gold for a couple of reasons. The game scripts have called for Atlanta to pass heavily and none of the teams they have played thus far are especially good at defending the tight end.

Austin Hooper’s playing time jumped notably from game one to game two, more than doubling from just nine snaps to twenty. Hooper has played well on limited time and I look for his efforts to be rewarded with increased snaps and opportunities each game. The trend suggests that Tamme will eventually not see as much usage over the course of the season.

Fool’s gold has value in that you can sometimes trick people into thinking it’s the real thing and sell it to them for a high price. If you own Tamme and someone hard up at tight end wants him, deal him for someone you like and feel a big wave of relief that you got that big piece of tight end pyrite off your roster.

Another positive about this nugget of pyrite is that Tamme is in line for a decent week three. The Saints aren’t especially good defending the tight end position. If you can’t sell him this week, try again next week.

Andrew Garda: Tamme faces some brutal defenses after the Falcons meet the Saints, including the Panthers, Broncos, Seahawks, and later on,the Eagles, Cardinals, and Packers. His production won't last. Like DeMarco Murray, I echo sell high.

Alex Miglio: The Falcons have played two awful defenses to start the season. Anyone not named Julio Jones out of Atlanta should be taken with a grain of salt in the fantasy realm.

Matt Waldman: I'll take Mohamed Sanu, unsalted.

Chris Kuczynski: So will I, Matt but I agree with Alex that Tamme is Fool's Gold. See my point above about the Raiders defense giving up 500-plus yards to the Falcons. As was the case last season, the Raiders are still notoriously bad covering TEs. Atlanta took advantage of this by running a lot of 2 or 3 TE sets because Oakland seems to have no answer for it.

Tamme earned 6 catches for 51 yards Week 1 and 5-75-2 Week 2, which makes him look appealing from the basis of target consistency but I don't expect the yardage to be this high when there are so many mouths to feed in an offense with Julio Jones, Sanu, Freeman, Coleman and even the rookie Hooper.

If Tamme is in your starting lineup it's out of desperation—I'm guessing Gronk or Eifert is your main tight end on your roster. 

Matt Waldman: I'm not sure if the mouth's to feed argument applies to Atlanta as much as the likelihood the Falcons' offensive line and defense aren't good enough to support a balanced attack. But that's a for another time, I suppose. 

John Mamula: Chris nailed it with his analysis. Tamme benefited from the soft matchup versus the Raiders. If you are streaming TEs, you are targeting the Raiders or Colts defense this season. 

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Dennis Pitta


Andrew Garda: I want to believe in Pitta but I doubt he gets the targets he did last week. I don't trust him and I don't know I trust much of this offense overall.

Alex Miglio: Let's not get carried away, here. Pitta is a great story, but he will be dealing with Crockett Gilmore soon enough.

John Mamula: I'm somewhere in between with Pitta. He will have value this season, especially in PPR leagues. As long as you do not expect 12 targets with 9 receptions for 100+ yards on a weekly basis, you will not be disappointed. Expect Pitta to average 6-8 targets per week and be a semi-reliable TE option in PPR leagues. 

Chris Kuczyinski:  For Real, but...

Matt Waldman: There you go again...

Chris Kuczyniski: Pitta is establishing himself as the starting TE over Crockett and Williams, and he had a great Week 2 against Cleveland. But should that be taken with a grain of salt?

I'm not sure how likely it is for Pitts to be targeted 12 times in a game. Since he seems to be past his injury issues, I feel confident he will remain a big part of the offense, but the question is how good will that offense be?

Pitta, Steve Smith, Wallace and Perriman should have their good games and bad games, so it might be hard to predict which player will have a good week. Will Pitta have more games resembling Week 1 where he went 3-39? He is a solid TE2 and based on upcoming byes, or next time the Ravens play the Browns, he could be a good start in your lineup.

Dave Larkin:  Fool's Gold. The Flacco to Pitta connection was alive and well against Cleveland, but how likely is it, as Chris stated, that Pitta is targeted 12 times a week? I would bet against this trend continuing, despite the strong chemistry the two have.

Pitta's performances are being slightly inflated due to the dearth of viable options at tight end this year. Can he be a streamer option for you? Absolutely; just don't expect a 100+ yard performance every week. 

Matt Waldman: I'll bite on the potential pyrite and stake my claim that Pitta is 24-karats of fantasy tight end gold off the waiver wire. His rapport with Joe Flacco as a zone specialist and a red zone weapon are exactly why he'll be a top-two option with targets on this team.

The fact that the Ravens held onto the veteran this long despite drafting Maxx Williams and adding free agent Ben Watson is a big sign that this team understands what a healthy Pitta can bring to the team. While I like Crockett Gillmore as a mid-round talent capable of good production for a reserve, Pitta at his best is the superior blocker, zone receiver, and red zone option. 

The only areas where Gillmore looks better than Pitta is after the catch and getting off the bus. Considering that Breshad Perriman has no established history with Flacco and the team is still figuring out what it has with Steve Smith, I think Mike Wallace is the only option who will routinely be ahead of Pitta in the pecking order.

If you need an RB, WR or QB and you have a stud TE, I'd consider adding Pitta and waiting another week to see if I'm right. If so, you could roll with him and sell that stud for other needs. 

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Melvin Gordon III


Dave Larkin: For Real. The difference between Gordon of 2015 and Gordon of 2016 is pretty obvious on film. He seems much more decisive and comfortable running a variety of plays and should see a larger role in the passing game with Danny Woodhead set to miss the season.

The Chargers moved up in the draft to take Gordon in 2015, so they believe in his talent. A year of seasoning and taking his lumps seems to have done him good. He is the lead dog for the Chargers, who should score plenty of points despite the losses of Keenan Allen and Woodhead. 

John Mamula: For real. Melvin Gordon III will have every opportunity to shine in San Diego with the loss of Danny Woodhead for the season. If Gordon stays healthy, he will finish as a low-end RB 1 simply due to volume.  

Andrew Garda: Gordon got most of the work with Danny Woodhead out (RIP) and that will continue. The Chargers wanted him to be the bell cow anyway and there is nobody else there who can carry the load. Gordon needs to stay healthy, but as long as he is, he's going to get all the work he can handle and then some. 

Matt Waldman: Despite like Dexter McCluster's match for this system—especially with Philip Rivers at the controls—I think there's more than enough room for Gordon to be for real even if McCluster finally landed in a location where he can be useful as a consistent fantasy threat. 

Chris Kuczynski: For Real. With Keenan Allen done, many believed Danny Woodhead would be one of the main beneficiaries in the offense. Now Woodhead's gone, too.

Purely based on volume, Gordon should be a quality RB2, as long as the game script doesn't abandon the run if the Chargers are behind. Keep him in your lineup until we see if the offense struggles without Allen and Woodhead, or Dexter McCluster proves a good fit.

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State of The Seahawks

Seattle looks a lot like it did this time last year: great defense, good skill players, and a struggling offensive line. But within 6-8 weeks, the Legion of Doom emerged from the Predictions of Gloom. 

What is the state of the Seahawks and the fantasy implications associated with them? 

  • Can Tom Cable get this offensive line into shape like he did with last year's raw clay? 
  • Does Seattle even need more than a functionally capable line due to Russell Wilson's improvisational mastery? 
  • Where were you on Tyler Lockett's fantasy prospects pre-draft and where do you stand now? 
  • Is there a lead dog with this ground game? Will there be? Who has fantasy value moving forward? 
  • Which Seahawk, if any, do you feel most and least confident having on your fantasy team? 
  • Any sleepers of note? 

Daniel Simpkins: I believe that the Seahawks are on a similar trajectory to last year. They’ve had some difficulties related to injury and free agency turnover, but we can be reasonably sure that they will round into form in the latter part of the year. Cable did tremendous work with the offensive line last year and I am confident that he can make this unit functional.

John Mamula: I have to agree with Daniel, the Seahawks will peak during the second half of the season. Until Russell Wilson recovers from his high-ankle sprain, most of the Seahawks playmakers (Wilson, Baldwin, Lockett) will be match-up plays.

The Rams were a difficult matchup because of the pressure that they were able to apply. If the Seahawks are playing a less formidable defense, I have no issue starting Wilson, Baldwin, or even Lockett. Fortunately, the Seahawks have the 49ers next on the schedule! Expect the Seahawks to bounce back, at least next week. 

Dave Larkin: It is easy to pile on the Seahawks when they're down—and their problems on the offensive line are disconcerting—but it is still far too early in the season to panic. If there is one offensive line coach out there who can turn a hodge-podge unit of questionable players into a cohesive, functioning quintet, it is Tom Cable. His track record suggests it is something that is possible but takes time. 

Andrew Garda: I think we might have finally hit the point where I think Cable's smoke and mirrors fail and mostly because Marshawn Lynch isn't there covering the issues with his outstanding yards-after-contact average. On top of that, Russell Wilson isn't as mobile as he used to be because of injury. We're not in panic mode yet, no, but it's a concern. I never count the Seahawks out this early but they are still worthy of concern. is

John Mamula: I agree with Andrew that neither Thomas Rawls nor Christine Michael has the same elite skill-set as a Marshawn Lynch. This ground game smells like an RB committee all season. Not to mention that Lynch was running behind a better offensive line during his time in Seattle. I will be avoiding both Rawls and Michael moving forward. 

Dave Larkin: Something didn't look right with Thomas Rawls against the Rams, but Michael's fumble will leave a bitter taste for the coaching staff. My gut feeling is Michael will get the first crack; he has played better of the two backs in the first couple of weeks. Handicapping the relative value of the two players for the rest of the season is not easy, but I would give a slight edge to the healthier player, Michael.  

Daniel Simpkins: Christine Michael may not be the lead in terms of starting status, but I do think that he is the one to continue to look to in fantasy. He has made sound decisions and looked much more athletically impressive on his touches than Rawls to this point. Rawls also sustained a leg contusion in Sunday’s game. While it’s not likely to sideline him, it is one more injury hurdle that Rawls must clear.

Chris Kuczynski: On the running game I'm with John here: I don't think either RB will distinguish himself enough to get a bulk of the carries. We will either see a hot hand or a full-time split.

Rawls doesn't seem to be fully healthy. As one of the staffers who was very skeptical of Rawls all offseason because of his inflated stats from last year (he really only two huge games that made up half of his production), I'm avoiding both Rawls and Michael.  The uncertainty of their workloads is enough reason for me. Unless someone is out and the other one becomes a feature back, I'll pass.

Andrew Garda: I'm also in with a few of the other guys here—I don't like this backfield. For some reason, it seemed like folks felt the next back would just walk right into Marshawn Lynch numbers. I don't know if that's not enough credit for what Lynch did or too much credit for others (Rawls in particular), but we seem to have forgotten how much Lynch did after contact. I trust Rawls more long term, but it would be a while before I started him as more than a flex option. 

Chris Kuczynski: When Russell Wilson is healthy he is locked into your lineup regardless of matchup. With that said, he is not healthy, and there are about 20 QBs worthy of starting in your lineup. Wait patiently until Wilson is back to his normal self.

I'd also feel great about Doug Baldwin. I think he is a solid WR2, and the offense will come around. Jimmy Graham looks ok, but I wouldn't have drafted him in the first place. If he's on your roster you are probably starting someone else and waiting for him to make you regret benching him that week, which I don't think will happen often.

John Mamula: I am most confident in Doug Baldwin on my fantasy teams. Wilson looks comfortable relying on Baldwin as his go-to receiver. Baldwin received 11 targets Week 1 and Wilson looked his way 3 times during the game-winning TD drive. Lockett is a solid flex option but has the potential for more of a boom-bust stat line. 

Andrew Garda: I wasn't incredibly high on Lockett preseason, and he's still not someone I feel great about despite last week. Right now, he's too inconsistent, and I suspect it will remain that way until Wilson is healthy and/or the offensive line starts giving Lockett time to finish deep routes. I agree with the flex start thoughts other have—he's a boom or bust guy. I don't have confidence in Lockett as an every-week guy but I might roll the dice with him as a match-up play.

If I want anyone on my team, I am with the others who have named Wilson (when healthy) and Baldwin. If I have two decent but not great options, I might even try to acquire Wilson before he is healthy. When he returns, he should put up some nice points.

Daniel Simpkins: Wilson’s high ankle sprain clearly limited him against the Rams. He wasn’t extremely mobile and the Seahawks were calling plays designed to get the ball out quickly so that he would not take additional punishment. If Wilson can avoid an aggravation of his injury, his numbers should steadily return to normal. His ability to extemporize will once again shine forth and lift all pieces of the sagging offense. 

Alex Miglio: I'm with Daniel, the biggest issue is Russell Wilson's health. All that ankle sprain does is shine a spotlight on the offensive line woes, and it doesn't seem likely that unit will get fixed overnight. Hopefully Wilson can get healthy soon, otherwise, it might be a long first half of the season for his owners, not to mention anyone starting Doug Baldwin or any other pass catchers.

Dave Larkin: Russell Wilson's mobility is a massive part of his game, and the aforementioned line struggles combined with his injury were just too much to overcome against a ferocious Rams front seven playing for their lives. The high ankle sprain has often been labeled as one of the most difficult to play with; former NFL players have even gone so far as to say they would prefer to have a broken bone in their leg than a high ankle sprain. Wilson may struggle over the next few weeks, but he is a resourceful quarterback who is an excellent improviser; all in all, I am not too concerned. 

As Andrew noted, Tyler Lockett will take a slight hit due to the line problems. Deeper passes and longer developing routes will not be as much a realistic option. To dismiss him entirely would be foolish and tempering expectation is the right play here. Make him a flex-play or low-end WR3 until further notice. The caveat being that he could go off for 150 yards and two touchdowns any week. 

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RB Injury Landscape

The Fictitious Board of Fantasy Football Advisers declared a state of emergency for the running back position after the injury-bug swarmed NFL stadiums in Week 2 and led to panic in the streets.  

Share your advice to fantasy owners about these players, their current replacements, and their potential replacements laying back in the cut: 


Adrian Peterson's Replacements


John Mamula:  Until Adrian Peterson returns, Matt Asiata and Jerrick McKinnon both have minimal upside. McKinnon will do more to move the chains between the 20s and Asiata is the classic "goal-line vulture." 

The schedule over the next three weeks (Panthers-Giants-Texans) is unfavorable. Carolina and Houston are two of the top rush defenses in the league and the Giants are not far behind.

McKinnon has some value in PPR leagues if you are desperate at RB2 or your flex position. Asiata could break out for one of his classic multiple TD performances, but I wouldn't bet on it.      

Andrew Garda: That may be my favorite intro question ever. Peterson missing time for surgery sucks, but really he wasn't looking so hot before the injury. Some of that was definitely the sub-par blocking the line was doing but you always have to wonder if Father Time has caught up with an older back—even a freak like Peterson.

The offense will probably be better balanced without Peterson and personally, I have long thought the team would be "better" without him. That sounds crazy on the surface, but Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata are so much better on passing downs.

Chris Kuczynski: Sam Bradford and Diggs have been playing well, so with Peterson out of the lineup, the offense may be more balanced instead of the usual force feeding to the RB. 

Andrew Garda: I like what Chris mentioned here because you can have them on the field and never tip your hand offensively even if neither of them is in Peterson's league overall and they'll split carries. On top of that, you still have to be worried about the offensive line issues.

I'd say either one could be an RB3 or flex-play, but Asiata is the one who gets you touchdowns more frequently. McKinnon is likely to be a better source of PPR points. Neither is a great play week to week, but both will probably be worth spot starts.

Alex Miglio: There is simply nothing to see here. Matt Asiata is going to go off one time when everyone least expects it and he'll average 2.8 yards per carry while doing it. Jerrick McKinnon will continue to be an utter disappointment, though he is worth a look in PPR leagues if you are desperate. 

Chris Kuczynski: It is hard to gauge how well McKinnon will play or how much of the load he will carry. Our last glimpse in 2014 when AP was suspended, McKinnon only had about 500 yards and 2 TDs compared to Asiata who had close to 600 yards and 9 TDs.

I'd probably choose McKinnon because Asiata is totally TD-dependent even if it lowers McKinnon's chances at scoring. I think McKinnon is worth a hold on your bench, but not worth putting in your lineup until he puts up a big performance. Asiata should be ignored.

Matt Waldman: McKinnon has 1000-yard upside as a talent but not within this scheme, this depth chart, or this offensive line. Despite strong yard-per-carry averages during his first two seasons, I'll be surprised if his output climbs above four per carry due to the factors above. 

Even so, I think his combined yardage and catch totals give him RB2 upside and if you play in leagues with a flex option, I'd consider him—even gambling with as much as 30 percent of my FAAB to land him in those situations. 

I would watch out for Ronnie Hillman. He has the scatback talents—and just a little bit more—to surprise in a scheme that doesn't require him to overthink before the snap. I think Denver's offenses probably demanded more from Hillman than what he could conceptually handle. I won't be claiming Hillman this week, but I will monitor what kind of news is printed about him as the season progresses. 

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Doug Martin's Replacements           


Alex Miglio: Sims is particularly valuable in PPR leagues, but you already knew that. You should have no business picking up Peyton Barber—let alone starting him—unless you play in a whacky 20-team league.

Andrew Garda: Sims is a definite RB2 play. The Rams have allowed an average of 108.5 yards per game over two games, so it's not an awful matchup, and I think he'll add good yards receiving as well.

Chris Kuczynski: Sims quickly becomes a strong RB2 option with upside because of his receiving ability and history of being heavily targeted. Depending on the severity of the hamstring issues, Martin might be eased in with more of a time share.

So far, Martin has looked less like his 2015 self and more like the underachieving back we saw following his promising rookie season. Barber probably doesn't have value in redraft leagues.

Matt Waldman: I think Sims will struggle as much as Martin. The issue is the offensive line, not the backs. Remember, Dirk Koetter was the coach who lobbied hard for Martin when he arrived in Tampa Bay last year. Koetter knew that Martin was hurt and the offensive line was an issue.

The Buccaneers not only kept Martin, the team named him the starter less than a week into training camp despite drafting Charles Sims high enough that many observers considered Sims the favorite for the job. So color me skeptical about Sims as anything more than a good PPR option.

Sims is a decent player but he's not going to render Doug Martin an afterthought upon Martin's return. The Buccaneers wouldn't have signed Martin to a new deal in 2016 if the organization thought that Sims was ready to perform as well, if not better, than Martin.

While I agree with Alex that Barber is not a guy to own now, he's a Spencer Ware-like back in style who is worth monitoring—especially if Sims struggles or gets hurt.

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Arian Foster's Replacements

 

Alex Miglio: Who had Week 2 in the Arian Foster injury pool? Jay Ajayi was the presumed heir to Lamar Miller's half-constructed throne before Arian Foster came and stole his inheritance. Ajayi pouted his way to a healthy scratch in Week 1—not exactly a great sign for him even with Foster out of the picture for a few weeks.

Isaiah Pead seemed to be resurrecting his career with a solid preseason, but a bad hammy has kept him out the first couple of weeks. Drake and Williams are purely PPR darts. In the end, Ajayi is the safest bet to see the most touches, at least in Week 3. 

John Mamula: Kenyan Drake is the target here if you have a deep bench (18-plus roster spots in most cases) and you have the room to stash him. If—or should I say WHEN—Arian Foster misses multiple games this season, I do not have confidence in Jay Ajayi to take over as the primary RB. Drake should have an opportunity to showcase his talent at some point during the second half of the season.

Matt Waldman: I think Drake is raw as green grass caked with green paint from the Canton grounds crew. Sure, he's fast and he has agility. But he doesn't know what to do with it. Of the long line of Alabama running back prospects, beginning with Mark Ingram II, Drake is the only player during that time that never had a between the tackles role and was used mostly as a space player. 

It's not a coincidence, nor is it a statement about how special Drake was in the open field. It's because Drake didn't understand how to set up blocks and the Crimson Tide knew it could benefit from Drake's superior athletic ability at the college level that won't be so superior in the NFL. 

Until Drake learns more about the mental side of his position, he'll be an exciting boom-bust option with a stronger chance than average of suffering a soft-tissue injury because his lack of polish makes him reckless to his own detriment. 

I'm worried this ground game will remain a major weakness. If I don't already own Foster or Ajayi, I might monitor Damien Williams or Isaiah Pead because they catch the ball well and it might get bad enough in Miami that they're viable. 

Daniel Simpkins: I am still high on Ajayi from a skills standpoint, but in the vein of Christine Michael of old, there have been some problems with Ajayi from the maturity standpoint that give me pause. I spent much of this offseason beating the Jay Ajayi drum, only to have Foster sign late in the offseason.

“No problem,” I said to myself, “he’ll beat him out in competition and Foster will end up on the injury report before week one.”

When Ajayi was being out-played by a physically diminished Foster in their preseason timeshare, I had an intuitive feeling that something wasn’t quite right. Ajayi should have been running circles around this guy. 

The missing piece to the puzzle came just before Week 1. Coaches were upset because Ajayi reportedly sulked through the offseason because of Foster’s addition, culminating in Ajayi being left behind in Miami while the team competed in Seattle.

Ajayi having paid the penalty, the coaching staff promoted him back to the active roster in Week 2 against the Patriots. Predictably, Foster experienced yet another soft-tissue injury.

The door is open for Ajayi, but has he learned his lesson? Has he absorbed the fact that nothing is given in the NFL and that he will have to fight hard to keep his post?

Or has he fallen into the trap that ensnares so many young players—thinking that his superior athleticism will make up for his lack of sober-minded focus and preparation? We need to see some evidence of a turn-around on the mental side of things before we can trust Ajayi in our lineups.

Andrew Garda: I don't love the Miami offensive line right now, and certainly am not excited for Arian Foster. I also cannot say I am shocked he's hurt already. This has always been my concern with him— can he withstand the rigors of a whole year?

I think the answer was always no and we'll see that born out. Aside from that, I echo the disappointment with Ajayi and his sulking. Hopefully, he can get his act together because I really think he could be very productive, even behind this line. Since we aren't sure if he'll pout his way out of a job.

Drake is the guy to keep an eye on and snatch if you have room on your bench.

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Jonathan Stewart's Replacements     


John Mamula: The Panthers RB situation is a true committee and one that I am avoiding. You could get a random TD or decent game (ie. Fozzy Whittaker this past week) but it is very difficult to predict when it will happen. The Panthers offense runs through Cam Newton at the goal line.                 

Chris Kuczynski: Jonathan Stewart has never been the shining example of health and he is getting older, so expectations for him should not have been really high. Cam Newton and Mike Tolbert steal goal line carries as it is and now Kelvin Benjamin is establishing himself as a true WR1.

There is definitely a cap on what he can achieve between the 20s even when healthy. Whittaker performed well in week 2, so he might take this opportunity to force more of an RBBC when Stewart is back to 100 percent. Whittaker should be picked up in any league besides those with a short bench. Tolbert, as mentioned, is more of a touchdown vulture who won't produce consistently for fantasy purposes.

Artis-Payne has not been used at all to this point. He might suit up for games Stewart is forced to miss, but he won't contribute more than the occasional change of pace. He should sit on the waiver wire.

Andrew Garda: RBBC, which for me means 'no thanks' unless I am desperate. Due to losing four backs at once in one league, I might very well be.

In which case, Whittaker and Tolbert are your coin-flip backs.  The Artis-Payne Hype Train is boarding again, but count me out unless you have deep benches.

I think this is a mess and week to week any one of the guys there could go off. Tolbert has the best track record, but as we saw last week, that means very little.       

Alex Miglio: Stewart hasn't been active for more than 13 games since 2011, so getting knocked out for a few weeks was always in the cards. He has always come back the workhorse, though, so don't expect him to share the load with his backups upon his return.

It seemed like Cameron Artis-Payne was ready to make a bit of a leap with a good preseason, but then he was inactive for the first two weeks to make room for special teamers. That doesn't bode well for his touch count in Stewart's absence.

Fozzy Whitaker, meanwhile, had a pretty decent game in relief of Stewart, but it came against the 49ers. Ron Rivera has indicated it'll be a committee with Stewart out, but Whitaker could run away with the touch count based on how he's played.

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Ameer Abdullah's Replacements


Andrew Garda: Theo Riddick will get a lot of work, but he'll still split time. That said, I love him in PPR leagues. I like Washington to get more of the carries than Zenner, but the best these two will be is a flex-play. Choosing between the two will be quite a dice-roll. 

Alex Miglio: Theo Riddick already had a huge game this season in Week 1, and we could see more of that in Abdullah's absence. Riddick isn't a traditional running back, though, so he will probably give way to Dwayne Washington and Zach Zenner more often on running downs. The Zenner Truthers will be salivating to see him on the field, but I don't think either of Riddick's running mates will be fantasy relevant with any sort of consistency.

John Mamula: With or without Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick has value as an every week RB in PPR leagues. Riddick has a very high floor in PPR leagues due to his reception totals.  

Daniel Simpkins: It’s a no-brainer that Theo Riddick will absorb most, if not all, of the passing game work. This makes him the value in PPR leagues.

In non-PPR formats, I believe we will see Dwayne Washington and Zach Zenner split the between-the-tackles and goal line work. I doubt one of those two emerges to be a reliable weekly fantasy option for us; but of the two, I like Zenner’s skills just a bit more. Getting valuable experience the previous year before going down with an injury only helps his case.

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Danny Woodhead's Replacements


John Mamula: Gordon is going to be the bell-cow in the Chargers running game. If the Chargers are playing from behind, Dexter McCluster will have a few receptions but not to the point where I am running out to pick him up on my teams. 

Andrew Garda: Without a doubt, Gordon gets the workload. McCluster earns touches as a receiver. While that sounds exciting in general, McCluster has disappointed in that role many times before, so I might add him just in case but my expectations are low.

Alex Miglio: As others have said, Melvin Gordon III is the workhorse and the man to own in that backfield. Dexter McCluster might reprise Danny Woodhead's role in the passing game, but he has always been a massive disappointment despite his promise in PPR formats.

Matt Waldman: Gordon is the man, but I thought Gordon would be the man before Woodhead got hurt because Woodhead's usage would lean heavier towards the slot. I think it's safe to have a conservative approach on McCluster, but I'm not ruling him out at all. 

Unlike Tavon Austin or Cordarrelle Patterson, two players who embody the lack of complete skills at either the running back or wide receiver position to earn a title other than "gadget player," Woodhead and McCluster are "hybrids." What's the difference you ask?

A hybrid is a player with the skills of both positions and capable of performing well in both spots but is even better when used in a less defined role. Aaron Hernandez blocked well enough at the line of scrimmage to be a full-time tight end. His blocking and running skills from the backfield were good enough for him to be a fullback—a modern day Larry Centers. And he could have easily fit a Marques Colston-like role with better ability after the catch.

Woodhead is equally good as a runner and a slot receiver but it took a team like the Patriots to show that he was even better in a role where his flexibility and versatility was highlighted. The key for Woodhead wasn't so much the offense as it was the quarterback running it. I don't think McCluster has ever had this kind of opportunity. Now he does with a master strategist at the line of scrimmage like Philip Rivers

It's a swing for the fences play to consider McCluster but I'm keeping my eye on him in PPR leagues—and adding him at the end of my requests for squads with multiple flex options and weak at running back.


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State of the Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings were a dark horse candidate for a deep playoff run before Teddy Bridgewater suffered a freak injury. When the Vikings paid a first-round pick to acquire the Sam Bradford, a beneficiary of the NFL's previous rookie salary system, the move was widely panned by the media. Bradford was a top pick but he never panned out in St. Louis. Despite moments of putting it together for the Eagles, Philadelphia's Doug Pederson elected to start fresh with a rookie than keep the incumbent. 

What were your thoughts on the Bradford deal to Minnesota and did Sunday night's game change your mind at all? Are people writing off Bradford too soon?

Other questions that come to mind? 

  • How does Bradford's presence impact Stefon Diggs' season-long fantasy outlook? 
  • Does Kyle Rudolph continue to be a fantasy factor or will the struggling pass protection force Rudolph back to the trenches to protect the immobile Bradford? 
  • How does Adrian Peterson's short-term absence help or hurt the fantasy outlook of the Vikings' passing game? 
  • Are there other offensive skill players on the Vikings to monitor or add to your rosters? 

Will Grant:  I admit it, I wrote off Bradford after he bottomed out in Philly, and was one of many people who looked at Minnesota dropping a 1st rounder for him and immediately asked, 'what were they thinking?'

When he was taken to the locker room with the hand injury, I thought 'wow, their season is imploding right before our eyes'. But to his credit, Bradford came back, hung tough and finished with a solid game.

Chris Kuczynski: When I heard about the Bradford trade I thought it was a major overpay. But with more thought, what were the other options? Sign Sanchez, trade a second for McCown or slightly less for a Geno Smith type?

At that point, they might as well roll with Shaun Hill. I get it, Bradford is serviceable and this might (have been) the last solid year they have from Peterson before he declines or retires.

They made the playoffs last year with Bridgewater when he only threw 14 TDs. With the strength of their run game and defense, this offense—more than any other in the league—just needs a QB who won't make mistakes and lose the game for you. I do question what their long-term goals are with this trade. 

I get they want to do everything they can this year, but Bridgewater is their QB going forward. I don't see there being a QB controversy, so at the cost of a first-round pick for one year of Bradford, it's hard to fully support.

Maybe the team thinks that if Bradford plays well enough they can flip him again? I don't feel strongly either way toward Bradford, and this Week 2 performance doesn't influence that either.

John Mamula: Initially, I thought the trade was a win-win for both teams. Philadelphia was not in a hurry to start Carson Wentz. The rookie was the QB of the future and expected to hold the clipboard for Bradford this season.

But along came Minnesota with an offer that was too good to refuse and Philadelphia accelerated the time frame with Wentz. In Philadelphia, the future is now!

I still think the trade is a win-win for both teams as Minnesota would be looking at a wasted season and a likely non-playoff team with Shaun Hill at QB. Minnesota has a top-5 defense in the league and if they get just average QB play from Bradford this season, they will make the playoffs. 

Daniel Simpkins: When the deal initially happened, I, like most everyone else, was shocked. I couldn’t believe that the Eagles managed to squeeze so much value out of Bradford with such a large contract all the while knowing that the Eagles were invested long-term in Carson Wentz.

As I continued pondering the move, I realized how truly desperate the Vikings must have been feeling. The medical future of franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is murky at best. Adrian Peterson has been a world-class talent for a long time, but his storied career is nearly at an end. Though he possesses veteran smarts, the limitations of Shaun Hill's arm at this point in his career are well-known. In their minds, the window to win had slammed shut and the only way to crack it back open was to trade for a functional quarterback talent.

When considering these factors, the trade made sense in theory but I had serious doubts about whether or not it would work out in practice. Would Bradford be able to adjust quickly to a complex Norv Turner offense? Would a line that was primarily built for run blocking protect a mostly immobile and injury prone Bradford? Would all the other critical pieces of the team stay healthy?

Some of those questions have been at least partially answered. Bradford seemed fairly comfortable in his first start against Green Bay. Smarts and comprehension of an offense have never been the problem for Bradford and I think he will only get better at learning the nuances of Turner’s schemes.

As for the line play, we saw moments where Bradford took some scary sacks and big hits after barely getting the ball away. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him miss time this year with those dynamics and his injury history.

Yes, the Vikings kept hope alive because of its trade, but it wouldn’t take much to fracture their Super Bowl aspirations beyond repair.

Dave Larkin: Like most of the others, I criticized the move by the Vikings when it happened. Upon closer analysis, however, I started to see the logic behind it. They did not want to simply punt the season, and their belief that Sam Bradford could do a respectable job for them certainly looks good after his performance in prime time.

I never like to get too high or too low on a player based on one game, so I am on the skeptical side about Bradford long-term. I believe he can be a solid player who will have his ups and downs, but the Minnesota offensive line will need to work on their pass protection in order to keep Bradford in the line-up. 

A lot of Bradford's best passes against Green Bay came off play action. As ineffective as Peterson was, he still provides a viable threat that defenses have to be aware of at all times. The Packers linebackers and safeties played well at times, but against play action they struggled.

The absence of Peterson could make defenses more aggressive at the line of scrimmage, challenging the likes of Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon in pass protection. The passing game may take a bit of a hit as a result; Bradford is not the type of player you want dropping back 35-plus times a game.

Bradford, as he showed, will give playmaker Stefon Diggs every opportunity to attack the football in one-on-one coverage—even against double-teams. It is heartening for Vikings fans and fantasy owners of Diggs to see their connection appearing to be so far along despite its nascent state.

Diggs will bail Bradford out of many tough spots, so until further notice, he is a high-end WR2. Kyle Rudolph should probably be deployed more as an in-line blocker if the Vikings offensive line struggles continue - and I wouldn't bank on him being much of a fantasy factor even if this wasn't the case.

Will Grant: Diggs was a solid player last year, and I drafted him in a couple of my leagues. looking for him to build on last season. I don't think Bradford improved Digg's fantasy value as much the loss of Adrian Peterson did. It forces the Vikings to play a more balanced attack, and that can only benefit a guy with the kind of skills that Diggs has. 

Andrew Garda: Add me to the Diggs brigade. I think once Bridgewater went down I cooled too much on him and I never adjusted once Bradford came on the scene.

I still say they paid too much for Bradford but as pointed out, the Vikings had Sam Bradford and a lot of yams to choose from. Overpaying might have been the play. I think having Bradford's strong arm enhances Diggs' value a ton, and with Adrian Peterson hurt, offensive coordinator Norv Turner is going to open the offense.

I actually think this offense will be better and more effective without Peterson, even ignoring how badly he played the first two games (prior to his injury). Between Turner's desire to run the ball with Peterson as much as possible and Peterson's relative weakness in pass protection and receiving, the offense was limited in its options and would tip its hand when Peterson was on the field. You knew 9 times out of 10 if he was on the field, he was running the ball or, worst case scenario, you had to be aware of a play action.

Chris Kuczynski: I will admit right now that I may have been wrong about Diggs going into the season. I thought with Diggs only having a string of a few good games last season then disappearing the second half of the year was a sign he was a flash in the pan. Bridgewater's low yardage and TDs, along with the run first offense and drafting Treadwell to be the primary led me to believe that Diggs would be the forgotten man.

With Bradford at the helm and Adrian Peterson missing time, the offense will be more balanced, or dare I say it lean towards passing because the scheme will no longer run through Peterson and force feed him the ball. Going forward, I agree with my colleagues Diggs can be a WR2, especially since I'm not scared about any of his matchups within the division. 

Alex Miglio: Ditto on being wrong on Stefon Diggs. Granted, that might be an overreaction to one game, but he was terrific against the Packers. He has some rather nice statistics through the first year-plus of his career to back up his promise.

John Mamula: Like Chris, admit that I was wrong about Diggs this season. This past week versus the Packers changed my opinion on Diggs. He showed instant chemistry with Bradford. Diggs will have value as a WR2 for the immediate future. 

Adrian Peterson's short term absence will help balance the Vikings offense. I anticipate Diggs to continue to be the main target with McKinnon not to far behind. McKinnon will lose value in the red-zone as Matt Asiata is the classic goal-line vulture. 

Daniel Simpkins: Adrian Peterson’s injury is unfortunate but not insurmountable. Casual fans don’t realize what a talent the team has behind Peterson in Jerick McKinnon. He’s a metric freak who is clearly better in space but has shown competence working in between the tackles as needed.

He’s also a better-than-average pass-catcher out of the backfield, which may serve to open up this offense if he is utilized often in that capacity. When things become congested in short-yardage situations or at the goal-line, the team can turn to Matt Asiata to get those tough yards.

Chris Kuczynski: I think Peterson's absence is kind of a wash for the pass offense. He wasn't playing particularly well even before he got hurt, and as I mentioned before, the Vikings probably won't feel obligated to stick to the run so they might have a more balanced offense and obviously see less stacked boxes. I really feel Diggs is the only startable player on the Vikings offense.

Treadwell is a long-term hold that shouldn't be used until he shows something. I know there's a lot of hype surrounding McKinnon, but I think he is an above-average player that will only be effective in lineups if we see him get a feature back's volume of touches, which I just don't see happening. I would either wait and see with him on my bench or if you are desperate he can be a what the heck flex option.

Kyle Rudolph, however, will not be a fantasy factor. He's always been a better football player than a fantasy contributor. He will likely get red zone TDs, but only a handful of catches and maybe 40 yards. I could see him being used as a blocker more than a receiver and I'm not sure I'd even want him as my TE2.

Andrew Garda: Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata aren't as good as Peterson at his best, but both are far better in pass protection and receiving. I believe the Vikings will actually see less stacked boxes with one or both in, because the moment you go all in on blasting into the backfield, one of the two will run a short bubble screen or get open for a dump pass and then it's open season.

I would use either one as a flex, with Asiata getting more burn in TD-heavy leagues and McKinnon more love in PPR. And I think their presence only helps Diggs, and also Kyle Rudolph who will see more open space once the backs catch one or two passes in the flat. Sure, they may have Rudolph block on occasion, but I would expect more two tight end sets, with a guy like Rhett Ellison or MyCole Pruitt kept in to block and Rudolph running a delayed route.

Will Grant: When Bridgewater went down, I really felt like Rudolph would be the main beneficiary. He's got good skills and he can make the tough catch. He takes a lot of hits, though, and can't seem to stay healthy.  Like Garda pointed out, I think Minnesota has other options to help protect Bradford, and I think they continue to use Rudolph as part of their passing game.

For now, you have to wait and see what the new offense looks like. Diggs and Rudolph are the guys I'd want from the receiving side, but that doesn't mean someone like Laquon Treadwell can't emerge as the season progresses. I'd keep an eye on him or Adam Thielen to see if they become more involved. This team still plays Detroit and Chicago twice this season.

John Mamula: I'm more inclined to agree with Chris about Kyle Rudolph. He will continue to be an inconsistent option in the passing game. His value comes mainly from TDs. If you can predict when Rudolph will find the end-zone, then sure you can do worse at the TE position. Until Rudolph shows a track record of in the target department, he will continue to be an avoid for me.