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Fantasy Playbook: How Should Fantasy Players Navigate Patrick Mahomes’s Injury?

It’s the time of year when several quarterbacks are out, leaving fantasy players scrambling. Here’s how you can stream signal-callers like a pro.

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The NFL season is a battle of attrition, and not even rules-protected quarterbacks are immune. Injuries at that already-thinned-out spot continued to pile up this week, with both Patrick Mahomes (dislocated kneecap) and Matt Ryan (ankle) joining the list of sidelined starters that includes Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, and Nick Foles. Ryan, who was seen with a boot on his foot after the Falcons’ 37-10 loss to the Rams, seems likely to miss some time, and Mahomes is slated to remain on the shelf for a few more weeks, at least. Combine those injuries with untimely Week 8 byes for top fantasy signal-callers like Dak Prescott and Lamar Jackson, and in fantasy, one thing has become abundantly clear: We’ve reached peak quarterback streaming season. But if your fantasy squad has found itself suddenly shorthanded at that spot, don’t despair: Whether you’re looking for a short, one-to-two-week placeholder or hoping to find a solid rest-of-season replacement at QB, there should be a few options available on the waiver wire to get you through these dark times.

Let’s start with the short-term Band-Aid options. If you’ve been relying on Ryan (or Jackson or Prescott) this year, there’s a surprising number of quality stream-worthy quarterbacks heading into weeks 8 and 9. Kirk Cousins is rostered in 63 percent of Yahoo leagues, but with back-to-back 300-yard, four-touchdown games and a tasty matchup at home against the feeble Washington pass defense (which is surrendering the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks), he’s a must-add if he’s still out there on the wire. Cousins has posted 20-plus fantasy points in three straight games (with 10 touchdowns and one pick in that stretch) and the Vikings offense is firing on all cylinders. He’s startable in Week 9 against a bad Chiefs defense, too.

Lions quarterback Matt Stafford (rostered in 57 percent of Yahoo leagues) is next on the list. The veteran passer is fresh off a big, 28.6-point game (364 yards, four TDs) on Sunday against the Vikings and draws a much easier opponent next week at home in a struggling Giants defense. With the Lions’ play-action passing game opening things up for its pass catchers downfield, Stafford should have no trouble picking apart a New York unit that is giving up the fifth most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Stafford is a good option in Week 9 as well against a Raiders squad that gave up six total touchdowns to Aaron Rodgers on Sunday.

Jaguars signal-caller Gardner Minshew II (53 percent) is another solid streaming option in Week 8 as Jacksonville hosts the Jets. The rookie posted a stinker in Week 6 against the tough Saints defense (with just 4.6 points), but bounced back Sunday against the Bengals with 255 yards and one touchdown passing plus 48 yards on the ground to notch 21 fantasy points. Minshew has been surprisingly consistent as a fantasy starter this year, scoring 16-plus points in six of the seven games he’s played (an average of 18.4 per game). Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (48 percent) is another potential placeholder: Brissett tossed four touchdowns in Indy’s 30-23 win over the Texans on Sunday en route to 27.6 fantasy points, and while he draws a hounding Denver defense in Week 8, the Colts are as well-coached a team you’ll find in the NFL. Brissett has tallied 20-plus-point games in three of his past four starts.

Past that, assuming Drew Brees waits another week to make his return, Teddy Bridgewater (16 percent) has one of the most favorable QB matchups of the week, with the Saints hosting the Cardinals, whose defense is surrendering the third most points to opposing passers. And new Tennessee starter Ryan Tannehill (5 percent) acquitted himself well in the team’s 23-20 win over the Chargers on Sunday, netting 312 yards, two touchdowns, and one pick for 19.2 fantasy points. The Titans will host the Buccaneers next week, whose defense is giving up the sixth most points to opposing passers, making Tannehill worth a look. And if you’re in a league full of quarterback hoarders and none of those guys are on the wire, Steelers backup Mason Rudolph (6 percent) is set to return to the lineup and draws the Dolphins defense at home. I’m assuming I don’t need to explain in detail just how bad that Miami squad has been. Oh, and speaking of the Dolphins, you could always roll the dice and grab Ryan Fitzpatrick (3 percent). The Dolphins have a tough schedule ahead (at the Steelers, vs. the Jets, at the Colts, vs. the Bills) but they don’t call him Fitzmagic for nothing: He’s never very consistent, but as we saw for part of last year and again on Sunday, the veteran gunslinger can score fantasy points in bunches (he grabbed 20.6 points, notching 282 yards and one touchdown passing with another TD on the ground).

If you’re looking for a longer-term solution at the quarterback spot, though, there’s one quarterback waiver wire add that I’d rank above all the rest. On the heels of a strong 20-point outing against the Cowboys last week, Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (33 percent) is set to benefit from what should be an incredibly easy slate of opposing defenses down the stretch. Darnold and the Jets face off against a stout (but Jalen Ramsey–less) Jacksonville squad in Week 8, but from Week 9 through Week 14, New York draws the Dolphins (who are giving up the most points to opposing QBs), Giants (fifth most), Redskins (eighth most), Raiders (12th most), Bengals (fourth most), and Dolphins again. As his performance against the Cowboys illustrated, Darnold’s star is rising, and with one of the softest remaining schedules imaginable, the second-year pro has a decent shot to finish as a rest-of-season QB1.

OK, on to the rest of the happenings around the league.

Risers and Sliders

Riser: RB Chase Edmonds, Cardinals

With David Johnson active only in spirit nursing back and ankle injuries (he finished with one carry for 2 yards), Edmonds took control of Arizona’s backfield and had himself a day. The second-year pro sliced up the Giants defense, carrying the ball 27 times for 126 yards and three touchdowns while adding a pair of catches for 24 yards. Edmonds’s 35.0 PPR points is tops among all running backs pending Monday Night Football and represents his third straight double-digit fantasy outing. Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury played coy with Johnson’s status all week, and as a result Edmonds was left sitting on a whole lot of benches. But Johnson’s status shouldn’t completely sway sit/start decisions. Edmonds has top-tier potential if Johnson is out; and even when Johnson does return, he maintains plenty of flex appeal after earning himself a bigger piece of the backfield pie in Arizona. If he’s still somehow on the waiver wire in your league (he’s 48 percent owned in Yahoo leagues), go pick him up.

Sliders: WR Tyler Boyd and RB Joe Mixon, Bengals

There’s really no other way to put it: The Bengals offense is in shambles. Andy Dalton posted his fourth atrocious outing in his past five games, tossing three picks while leaving just about everyone on his team’s offensive unit off the fantasy radar this week. Boyd failed to post double digits for the third time in four games, reeling in just five of his 14 targets for 55 yards in the 27-17 loss to Jacksonville. Meanwhile, Mixon salvaged a downright awful 10-carry, 2-yard line on the ground (yes, he averaged 0.2 yards per carry) by grabbing a 2-yard touchdown reception―and even with that managed just 7.4 PPR points. Whether you’re talking Auden Tate, Alex Erickson, Boyd, or Mixon, Cincy’s skill position players are, at best, a fantasy roll of the dice. Look elsewhere if you have the option.

Riser: QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers

Rodgers exploded for the second-best fantasy day of his illustrious career, finding the end zone six times (five passing TDs and one rushing) en route to a whopping 43.8 points―the top score among all players heading into Monday. Most impressively, he did it all without the services of top wideout Davante Adams, distributing the ball to pass catchers like Marquez Valdes-Scantling (two catches, 133 yards, 1 TD), Jimmy Graham (four catches, 65 yards, 1 TD), Jake Kumerow (two catches, 54 yards, 1 TD), Allen Lazard (three catches, 42 yards), and Geronimo Allison (four catches, 33 yards). It was a vintage performance for Rodgers, who gets a soft Kansas City pass defense next week.

Slider: QB Daniel Jones, Giants

The shine has quickly come off of Jones after his dazzling early-season start, with the rookie passer struggling again on Sunday despite drawing what should’ve been an advantageous matchup against the porous Cardinals defense. Jones finished 22-of-35 for 223 yards with one touchdown, one pick, and two lost fumbles, adding four rushes for 35 yards to net a disappointing 10.4 fantasy points. In his five starts this year, Jones has certainly flashed at moments, but with seven interceptions and five fumbles lost, he’s still making too many mistakes to be a trustworthy fantasy option.

Riser: WR Marvin Jones, Lions

Jones went absolutely off on Sunday, reeling in 10 passes for 93 yards and four touchdowns to add his name to a list of just three wideouts in league history (the other two being Sterling Sharpe and Jerry Rice) with multiple four-touchdown games. That performance comes in stark contrast to his two-catch, 17-yard outing last week, and also came at the expense of Kenny Golladay, who registered just one catch for 21 yards. Jones won’t post massive games like he did on Sunday every week, but he’s similar to Will Fuller in that he will always bring big-play potential to his fantasy squads. Detroit’s deep-passing attack has been clicking this year and that should benefit Jones, who continues to be a low-floor, high-ceiling fantasy option.

Slider: TE Mark Andrews, Ravens

Andrews came into the week as the overall TE3 and while he’s not likely to lose his role as one of Lamar Jackson’s top targets, the second-year pro certainly hurt fantasy squads this week with a trio of ugly drops, including one in the end zone. Andrews’s miscues were likely partially rain-related and not an actual case of the yips, but here’s to hoping it doesn’t turn into a regular issue.

Riser: WR John Brown, Bills

Brown continued his strong start to 2019 with a five-catch, 83-yard, one-touchdown line in the Bills’ 31-21 win over the Dolphins. Brown’s established himself as the clear top target in the team’s passing game and has now posted double-digit points in five of his six outings this season.

Riser: TE Gerald Everett, Rams

After just missing on what would’ve been a 52-yard touchdown late in the team’s loss to the 49ers last week (Jared Goff overthrew him), Everett found pay dirt in L.A.’s blowout win over the Falcons on Sunday, continuing his ascension within the tight end ranks with four catches, 50 yards, and that score on a team-high 10 targets. The Rams are making it a point to get Everett involved in the passing attack and he’s proving to be a dynamic playmaker. He’s posted double-digit fantasy points in three of his past four games.

Slider: RB David Montgomery, Bears

Montgomery posted the worst day of his rookie campaign Sunday in the Bears’ 36-25 loss to the Saints. The powerful back managed a meager 1.9 fantasy points on the day, carrying the ball just twice for 6 yards while adding a pair of catches for 13 yards. Montgomery was a victim of a negative game script; with the Bears trailing for most of the day, play-caller Matt Nagy leaned instead on the passing game, and Chicago finished the afternoon with just seven rushes as a team, the fewest in franchise history.

Riser: WR Corey Davis, Titans

Davis was one of the main beneficiaries of the team’s switch to Tannehill at quarterback, notching 20 fantasy points in the team’s win over the Chargers with a six-catch, 80-yard, one-touchdown line. A matchup with the Buccaneers’ pass defense next week gives Tannehill and Davis a chance to build on a nice start.

Cutting Up the Pie

The Darrell Henderson Breakout Game Will Have to Wait

With Malcolm Brown out with an ankle injury, the Rams split running back duties between the banged-up Todd Gurley and rookie Darrell Henderson in the team’s win over the Falcons. Gurley led the way with 18 carries for 41 yards, adding his first touchdown catch since Week 8 of last season on a 13-yard wheel route. Henderson, meanwhile, logged 11 carries for 31 yards and one catch for 8 yards. Overall, though, the Rams mostly struggled to get things going on the ground, with both backs finishing south of 3.0 yards per carry. Goff got the team’s only rushing touchdown, with a 1-yard sneak in the third quarter.

Tevin Coleman Leads the 49ers’ Committee

San Francisco leaned on Coleman as their lead back in ugly, slick conditions in Washington, with the veteran back logging 20 carries for 62 yards on 42 snaps in the team’s 9-0 win. Matt Breida, who left for a spell with an eye injury, tallied eight carries for 35 yards on 17 snaps, and Jeff Wilson notched five carries for 20 yards on eight snaps. It’s tough to draw too much from such a sloppy game, but Coleman has looked like the team’s “lead” runner in the past three games with Breida as the change-of-pace slasher and Wilson as a situational north-south bruiser.

Chargers Stick With Run/Pass Role Split

L.A. split backfield duties between Melvin Gordon III and Austin Ekeler again on Sunday, with Gordon dominating touches on the ground (16 carries for 32 yards to Ekeler’s five carries for 7 yards) and Ekeler playing a bigger role through the air (seven catches for 118 yards and one touchdown to Gordon’s two catches for negative-3 yards). Ekeler’s been far more effective and dynamic of the duo, and Gordon didn’t help his cause by fumbling the ball away at the 1-yard line late in the fourth quarter to thwart the Chargers’ comeback attempt. We’ll have to wait and see whether L.A. starts to lean more heavily on Ekeler going forward.

The Injury Report

QB Matt Ryan, Falcons: Ryan was sacked in the fourth quarter, leaving the game with an ankle injury. He hobbled badly into the locker room and was seen wearing a boot after the game. There’s no official prognosis yet, but it seems likely he’ll miss some time. Veteran Matt Schaub is the team’s backup and shouldn’t be on the fantasy radar.

WR Adam Thielen, Vikings: Thielen injured his hamstring making a touchdown catch in the first quarter and did not return. The Vikings pass catcher expressed optimism after the game about playing in the team’s matchup against the Redskins on Thursday, but one report notes the team fears Thielen will be less day-to-day and more week-to-week. His status for Week 8 is very much up in the air.

WR Will Fuller, Texans: Fuller injured his hamstring in the first quarter and did not return. We’ll have to wait to hear about the severity of the injury, but the oft-injured receiver is likely to miss some time.

RB Kerryon Johnson, Lions: Johnson injured his knee in the first quarter and did not return. He rode a stationary bike and returned to the sideline with a knee brace before being declared out for the game. If he’s forced to miss some time, that gives a boost to Ty Johnson (10 carries for 29 yards) and J.D. McKissic (five carries, 29 yards).

RB Ito Smith, Falcons: Smith was carted off with what was initially described as a head/neck injury in the Falcons’ loss to the Rams, but he reportedly escaped with just a stinger.

Smash the Add Button

We’ve already talked about the must-add quarterbacks this week. Here’s a few other players to target on this week’s waiver wire.

RB Chase Edmonds, Cardinals (Rostered in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues): See above. If Johnson is forced to miss any time, Edmonds has mid-RB1 upside. And even if Johnson does come back to action next week, Edmonds may have earned a much bigger role in the team’s offense.

WR Corey Davis, Titans (41 percent): Again, see above. Davis has been quiet so far this year but talent has never been the question. If Tannehill can continue to spark the Tennessee passing game, Davis stands to benefit. If Davis isn’t on the wire, grab A.J. Brown (17 percent owned), who grabbed six of eight targets for 64 yards.

RB Ty Johnson, Lions (1 percent): Johnson’s an explosive rookie back who impressed in the preseason, and if Kerryon Johnson misses time with a knee injury, Ty stands to inherit a major role in the backfield. He’s a priority add this week.

WR Kenny Stills, Texans (12 percent): If Fuller misses time to a hamstring injury, Stills could take on Fuller’s role as the team’s field-stretching deep threat. The former Dolphins wideout caught four of five targets for 105 yards on Sunday.

WR Olabisi Johnson, Vikings (zero percent): With Thielen on the sideline for much of Minnesota’s win over the Lions, Johnson filled in, catching four of eight targets for 40 yards and a touchdown. If Thielen misses time, Johnson slots in as the team’s no. 2 behind Stefon Diggs.

RB Mark Walton, Dolphins (21 percent): Walton got the start at running back for the second straight week for Miami, logging a team-high 14 carries for 66 yards. With Kenyan Drake (six carries, 21 yards) trade rumors swirling, Walton could be in line for an even bigger role as the season goes on.

The Watch List

Here’s a couple of players to add to your waiver-wire watch list. Be ready to pounce.

WR Andy Isabella, Cardinals (1 percent): Isabella nabbed a pair of catches on the team’s opening drive on Sunday … then promptly disappeared for the rest of the game. The second-round rookie has been slow to integrate into the team’s offense so far this year, but he has speed to burn and incredible upside in the Cardinals’ high-volume passing game. If he can start to put it all together, he could earn a bigger role in the offense and warrant a spot on your roster.

WR Keelan Doss, Raiders (zero percent): With Tyrell Williams sidelined with plantar fasciitis, Doss came in and led Oakland receivers in targets (five), catches (three), and yards (54) in the team’s loss to Green Bay. The passing game still flows through tight end Darren Waller, but with Williams’s outlook up in the air and Zay Jones’s role still uncertain, Doss could be one to watch.