Tony Romo owners will searching through the waiver wire this week, hoping for a suitable replacement for the Cowboys QB, who's set to miss eight weeks with a broken collarbone. Luckily, there are still a few serviceable quarterbacks who they can get their hands on. Somehow, there is one in particular who has turned in top-10 performances in both weeks this year and yet remains available in far too many leagues. That guy kicks off our look at the players, (quarterbacks and otherwise), to grab off the waiver wire heading into Week 3.
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals
I don’t feel that I have to spend too much time on this one. Dalton is still available in about 70% of leagues. He already has 483 yards and five touchdowns against zero interceptions this season. He has a cache of weapons nearly any quarterback would trade for in a heartbeat, as well as a line that has played very well through two games. If you just lost Romo, or if you just need another quarterback, Dalton should be right at the top of your list.
There are a few weeks in every NFL season that get totally off track and never recover. Week 2 was the first instance of such a week in the 2015 season. The Buccaneers went into New Orleans as 10-point underdogs and were in complete control from start to finish in their win over the Saints. Oakland, Jacksonville and Washington knocked off Baltimore, Miami and St. Louis, respectively, as home underdogs. Johnny Manziel looked like one of the most dangerous deep passers in the league. Jeremy Hill fumbled twice and was benched for Giovani Bernard. DeMarco Murray had negative rushing yards until late in the fourth quarter. Like I said, it was a weird Sunday. Let’s get to some of the most noteworthy performances in the Week 2 Sunday Superlatives.
The Best Connection in the League
Week 2 eventually went off the rails, but it started in a very familiar way. Namely, with Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski making secondaries look helpless. Brown torched the 49ers for nine catches, 195 yards and one touchdown. He entered the week with a 33-game streak with at least five catches and 50 yards. He extended that by the midpoint of the second quarter. Up in Buffalo, Gronkowski did his thing, hauling in seven passes for 113 yards and a score of his own. He’s riding an impressive streak of his own, hitting paydirt in eight straight games, including the Patriots' run to the Super Bowl last season. Brown now has 18 catches for 328 yards and two touchdowns this year, while Gronk is up to 12 receptions for 207 yards and four end zone trips. Brown’s currently on pace for 2,624 yards and 16 touchdowns. Gronk is on pace for a measly 1,656 yards, but 32 touchdowns. They’ll both probably slow down, but it’s always fun to play around with on-pace stats early in the season. Brown and Gronk are unquestionably the best players at their respective positions. The question for us, however, is which connection—Ben Roethlisberger to Brown or Tom Brady to Gronkowski—is more potent?
It took all of one week for the injury bug to bite some of the NFL's most valuable players. The receiver position was hit especially hard, with Dez Bryant (foot), T.Y. Hilton (knee), and DeSean Jackson (hamstring) all set to miss time after suffering injuries last week. Add that to the usual Week 1 surprises, from disappointing no-shows to breakout performances, and the fantasy community is looking at an active week on the waiver wire. Below are the top players you’ll want to target this week.
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals
Even though one-quarterback leagues are still the norm, it’s surprising that Dalton was so available heading into Week 1. That’s not going to be the case after what he did against the Raiders. Dalton’s numbers—269 yards and two touchdowns—would be enough to catch anyone’s eye. What’s more impressive is that he did it getting a subpar game from A.J. Green. The Bengals' offense is loaded, and Dalton is right at the center of it all. We know he’s going to have a stinker or two at some point, but his owners will be able to live with those games this season. With all the weapons around him in Cincinnati, the good is going to be way more frequent than the bad.
Fantasy Fact or Fiction is back for the 2015 season. A lot happens every week during the NFL season, and it’s hard to catch everything, especially when much of it can be anomalous. We’re here to remove that shroud of uncertainty, and shine a light on some of the most substantive developments from the previous week, determining which are for real, and which can be fairly dismissed.
With that, the first fact of the season concerns a certain back who rose to fantasy prominence over the last few years, but just might be better off with a new coaching staff this season.
The first Sunday of the 2015 NFL season is in the books, which means it’s time to for our favorite yearly PSA: No matter what happened this week, good or bad, do not overreact. It feels like everything that took place this week was huge because it represents 100% of the season right now. Ultimately, however, it will be 6.25% of a 16-game campaign. Allen Hurns had two touchdowns in Week 1 last year. Jake Locker threw for 266 yards and two scores en route to a top-10 quarterback week. Remember that before you blow your FAAB budget on Nick Foles this week.
But we’re not here only to remind you that, even in a 13-week fantasy regular season, there’s room for patience. Allow me to introduce one of our new weekly staples for this year: the Sunday Superlatives. Every week, this column will highlight five of the standout performances from the day’s games. Most will be good, some will be bad. All will have an eye on how you can apply what happened this Sunday to the Sundays to come for the rest of the season.
The season may not have started yet, but there are still gems available on the waiver wire. Things can change awfully fast in the fantasy game, and while you may have just had your draft one week or one day ago, you may not have made the same choices you did then knowing what you know now. You can rectify that already by turning to the waiver wire.
You’ll find our waiver recommendations every single Monday night and Tuesday morning throughout the season. All players who appear in the weekly waiver wire column will be available in at least 50% of fantasy leagues. In future weeks, when there’s reason to start burning FAAB dollars, every player will also have a recommended bid amount. Until then, you can still pick up players for free in most formats. Some of the most attractive players who are available in more than half of all leagues are below.
Just like the NFL is a copycat league (remember when everyone had a wildcat package?), so, too, is the fantasy football world. When a large group of fantasy owners finds a new strategy or tactic that works, many others ascribe to the same notion. Such is the case with the zero-RB strategy, which I first saw postulated by Michael Salfino of Yahoo and the Wall Street Journal a few seasons ago. Zero-RB strategy has gained traction over the last couple years, and for good reason. When the conditions for it are ripe and it is carried out correctly, it works.
What is Zero-RB?
Zero-RB is the strategy borne of the fantasy football player market shifting in the direction of wide receivers. As Isaac Newton could tell us if he were still alive today, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. When receivers started flying up draft boards, it had to come at the expense of another position. More often than not, that position was, and still is, running back. The emphasis on wide receivers, and equal declination in the importance of running backs, gave rise to the zero-RB movement.
The zero-RB strategy rests on the foundation of three ideas, some of which have a better track record than others.