What if I told you that two of the top three consensus fantasy players heading into the 2018 campaign would be ineffective through the first three games of the season?
Would you believe me?
Well, with Week 4 officially underway, here we are. Le’Veon Bell, the top player among many, has yet to play a down while Arizona Cardinals first-year head coach Steve Wilks hasn’t figured out how to use David Johnson yet.
Stunning. I know.
But what might be even more stunning is the fact that Todd Gurley isn’t even the top point-getter and he replaced Bell as the top player heading into drafts after the Pittsburgh Steelers running back didn’t show up early in the practice week for Week 1.
Nope, that title goes to Alvin Kamara. Behind only Ryan Fitzpatrick.
I have to stop and give a hat-tip to my brother, Jim, on Kamara. He was taking Kamara no matter where he drafted this year. That’s how much he believed in him.
He ended up taking him second overall, behind Gurley, in a draft with my friends from back home in New York. Now he’s 3-0 and has scored the most points in the league and I’ll never hear the end of it. At least until I play him Week 8.
But here’s the problem, and I sort of addressed this before. But with so many running backs either out to injury or ineffective, the waiver wire is so thin right now. You’re going to have to get creative.
In 10-team leagues, you might be lucky and find a guy like Jamaal Williams, Bilal Powell or Jordan Wilkins available. If any of them are, make the move now. As I’m writing this, I dropped Kelvin Benjamin for Williams. I’m a Buffalo Bills fan and Benjamin is the team’s “No. 1 wide receiver.” That should tell you all you need to know.
It gets tougher in 12-team leagues, however. You find someone like LeGarrette Blount, Ronald Jones or C.J. Anderson. None of these running backs bring huge appeal, but if I had to pick one of those three, I’d probably lean toward Jones. While he’s been a healthy scratch so far, he could carve a role out for himself down the road.
Must have: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
You’re going to see a theme here. The Bengals are facing a banged-up Atlanta Falcons team, especially in the secondary. Dalton is a legitimate starting option with guys like Cam Newton and Alex Smith on their byes.
Pass: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
If you haven’t given up on Prescott, props to you. But I’m not starting him this week. The Detroit Lions may not sound like a difficult matchup, but they are. They’re giving up the seventh-least points to quarterbacks so far.
Worth a shot: Eli Manning, New York Giants
The Giants offense has been underwhelming this season. But in a matchup against the New Orleans Saints, Manning will get some opportunities to air it out. He’s worth consideration in two-quarterback leagues.
Must have: LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
There’s a chance you’ll have McCoy on your bench this week. Don’t be foolish. McCoy is primed for a breakout game. He’s an RB2 in a matchup against the same Green Bay Packers defense that’s allowing close to 125 yards on the ground a game. Oh, and McCoy tweeted this on Friday: “Sunday can’t come fast enough.”
Pass: Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
Many projected Henry to have a breakout season now that he wasn’t stuck behind DeMarco Murray. That hasn’t happened yet and likely won’t again in a matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. Henry is a flex at best this week.
Worth a shot: Royce Freeman, Denver Broncos
Sit patient with Freeman. The former Oregon Duck is going to turn it around, and in a matchup against a bad Kansas City Chiefs defense, he’ll get that chance. The only question is whether or not the Denver defense can slow down Patrick Mahomes and Co. long enough for the Broncos to be able to run the ball a little.
Must have: Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals
Atlanta Falcons rookie Calvin Ridley was the hot name on the waiver wire this week, but that doesn’t take away from the appeal of Boyd. The Bengals No. 2 wide receiver has carved out a nice role for himself alongside A.J. Green. Feel comfortable starting Boyd as your flex in most matchups, including this week against those very Falcons.
Pass: Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
Lockett has filled in nicely while Doug Baldwin has been out. But in a matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, I’m trying to stay away if I can afford it. Not to mention, it looks like Baldwin will return to action this week. If that’s the case, Lockett will lose out on targets.
Worth a shot: Sterling Sheppard, New York Giants
After carrying the weight with Odell Beckham Jr. on the bench for most of the 2017 campaign, Sheppard hasn’t made much noise this season. That could change Sunday against the Saints. He’s a borderline flex play against the worst defense in the league against wide receivers.
Must have: Trey Burton, Chicago Bears
This call goes against my gut because I do believe that Burton is overrated. However, he’s facing the worst defense against tight ends, Tampa Bay. Burton is a startable tight end this week.
Pass: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
No Jimmy Garoppolo and a tough matchup, I’m trying my best to stay away.
Worth a shot: Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons
Hooper has been a borderline top-10 tight end this season. In a matchup the No. 28 defense against tight ends in the Bengals, that can continue.
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle