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.
Nick Foles, QB, Rams
This is aimed primarily at the set of fantasy owners who lost Romo last week. Andy Dalton should be your first priority, but if he isn’t available, Foles can help you in the short term. He threw for just 150 yards and a touchdown against Washington last week, but that defense might be a lot better than anyone expected. It also held Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins in check in Week 1. The Rams get a Steelers team in Week 3 that is going to force opposing offenses to throw the ball a whole lot. The Steelers essentially had their Week 2 game with the 49ers in hand by halftime, but Colin Kaepernick still threw for 335 yards and two touchdowns. Foles is a perfectly acceptable stream play this week.
Matt Jones, RB, Redskins
Jones looked like one of the best players on the field in Washington’s 24-10 win over St. Louis in Week 2. He surprisingly got 19 carries, racking up 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 23 yards, and while he lost a fumble, he seemed to have the trust of the Washington coaching staff. He got one more carry and target than Alfred Morris, and was clearly the superior runner between the two. Morris turned his 18 totes into just 59 yards, a paltry 3.3 yards per carry. Jones, meanwhile, was at 6.5 yards per carry. He had two runs of at least 25 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown, and also got six carries in the red zone, converting one into a 3-yard score. He totaled a ridiculous 4.68 yards before contact per carry, showing how good this Washington line could be. Remember, this line helped Morris to a big game against the Dolphins in Week 1. We knew Jones would eventually have a role in the Washington offense, but few expected it to be this large this soon. Make him a priority add this week.
David Johnson, RB, Cardinals
Johnson was on the waiver wire radar last week after Andre Ellington suffered a knee sprain that is expected to have him out for at least another week or two. Chris Johnson got the start, and the lion’s share of the carries, against the Bears in Week 2, but David Johnson was the Arizona back who actually did some damage. He returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and found the end zone again on a 13-yard run in the third quarter. David Johnson got just five carries, but he ran for 42 yards and a score. Chris Johnson, meanwhile, picked up just 72 yards on his 20 carries. Expect to see more of the former in the gameplan in Week 3. When Ellington returns, it’ll be the rookie out of Northern Iowa who holds onto a significant role in the Arizona offense. He has too much upside to take backseat to Chris Johnson, or Ellington, for that matter, all season.
James Starks, RB, Packers
Eddie Lacy left last Sunday night’s game against the Seahawks with an ankle injury, though it sounds like he avoided any serious damage. Initial X-rays came back negative, and an MRI taken on Monday revealed just a minor sprain. There’s even a chance that Lacy plays against the Chiefs on Monday night. That, however, feels like a long shot and that’s where Starks enters the equation. He’s a known commodity who can ride the reliable volume of the Green Bay offense to RB2 value while Lacy is on the shelf. The Packers didn’t alter their gameplan at all after Lacy’s injury, feeding Starks 20 carries and four targets. He totaled 106 yards from scrimmage, including 95 on the ground. On top of that, Starks isn’t going to have to deal with much competition while he’s atop the depth chart. John Kuhn may steal a touchdown if the Packers get the ball down on the goal line, but it will otherwise be the Starks show.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons
This is for all you shallow-league players who can feasibly grab a player of Freeman’s caliber off the waiver wire. Tevin Coleman will be out a few weeks after fracturing multiple ribs in the Falcons win over the Giants on Sunday. That means the team will turn to Freeman, who shouldn’t have much, if any, competition while Coleman is out. Freeman hasn’t been much of a threat this season, running for just 43 yards on 22 carries, but opportunity and volume will be his best friend for the next few weeks. Coleman has rushed 29 times for 112 yards and a score, and those are carries that will mostly go to Freeman for the time being. The second-year player out of Florida State has been good as a receiver, catching seven passes for 63 yards, so there’s a chance he could be a three-down back while Coleman is on the mend. The Falcons next two games are against Houston and Washington, both of which could be tough tests for Freeman, but he’ll get the Saints in Week 5. Even with those challenging defenses on the schedule in the near term, Freeman’s role in a very good offense makes him an easy player to add in leagues where he’s available.
Travis Benjamin, WR, Browns
Johnny Manziel may have the first go-to receiver of his career. The first drive of the season with Manziel on the field ended in a 54-yard touchdown pass to Benjamin. The pair picked up right where it left off, with Manziel and Benjamin hooking up for a pair of deep scores against the Titans in Week 2. The first one was a 60-yard strike in the opening quarter, while the second one was a mere 50 yards, and put the game on ice in the fourth. Those bookend touchdowns showed what Manziel and Benjamin can do together this season. Benjamin is in his fourth year in the league, and the one thing he has been able to do consistency is take the top off the defense. He got just 46 targets last year, and 19 of those were on passes that traveled at least 20 yards in the air. Benjamin hauled in seven of those passes for 193 yards and a touchdown. Benjamin’s 36.8% catch rate on deep balls was better than that of John Brown, Steve Smith and Andre Johnson, who all had a similar number of deep targets. Taking volume out of the question, Benjamin’s deep catch rate was better than Alshon Jeffery’s, Calvin Johnson’s and Jeremy Maclin’s. Benjamin can, and will, be a weapon for Manziel. He’ll provide great depth for fantasy owners, especially with bye weeks looming.
Rishard Matthews, WR, Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill threw for 359 yards in Week 2, putting up the first of what should be many strong performances this year. Someone other than Jarvis Landry is going to have to be on the receiving end of a lot of those passes. Many, myself included, thought that guy could be Kenny Stills, but he seems to be just a bit player in this offense. Greg Jennings has three receptions and eight targets in two games. DeVante Parker is easily the most talented receiver in Miami, but he’s still rounding into form after off-season foot surgery. How about Matthews? He caught six of his seven targets for 115 yards against the Jaguars last week, and found the end zone in Miami’s win over Washington in Week 1. For now, he has to be considered the No. 2 receiver in Miami, and that’s a slot that should produce, at worst, a top-40 fantasy season. Parker may become that guy in the next few weeks, but Matthews is in that role for the time being.
Eric Ebron, TE, Lions
Ebron scored a touchdown for the second consecutive week, and is starting to show why the Lions grabbed him with the 10th overall pick in the draft last year. In two games this season, Ebron has nine catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns. He also has 15 targets, including 10 that came in the Lions loss to the Vikings last week. The tight end position is as deep as ever, and Ebron is one of the many options that fills out the back end of the TE1 class. He may have more upside than that though, especially if the Detroit run game continues to sputter. Joique Bell has all of 16 yards on 10 carries, and the Vikings held Ameer Abdullah to nine yards on six carries in Week 2. This team may lean on Matthew Stafford even more than it has in recent years, and Stafford could rely on his tight end, now that he seems to have one worth his trust.
Crockett Gillmore, TE, Ravens
In Week 1, Tyler Eifert carved up the Raiders for nine catches, 104 yards and two touchdowns. Last week was Gillmore’s turn. The second-year player from Colorado State had the best game of his young career to date, catching five passes for 88 yards and a pair of scores in the Ravens’ 37-33 loss. There’s a chance that this says more about the Raiders than it does about Gillmore. They’ve now allowed 14 receptions for 192 yards and four touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season, so the takeaway might be that you want to play tight ends against them all season. At the same time, Gillmore flashed enough talent to warrant being a waiver wire target this week. The Ravens are desperate for playmakers in the passing game, with Steve Smith finally starting to submit to Father Time and Breshad Perriman still injured. There’s a near total lack of speed on the outside for Baltimore, and that could play into Gillmore’s favor. From Todd Heap to Dennis Pitta to Owen Daniels, tight ends have had success playing with Joe Flacco. Gillmore could be the next entry in that line of succession.
Photos: Andy Lyons/Getty Images (Dalton), Jon Durr/Getty Images (Johnson), Jason Miller/Getty Images (Benjamin)