While there were a number of surprise individual performances in Week 2, fantasy football owners have to be wary of fool’s gold. Only pick up players who will truly help you for the rest of the season.
We saw players like Darrius Heyward-Bey and Leonard Hankerson come through with good games on Sunday, but they might not be trustworthy on a weekly basis. Even Travis Benjamin with his 29 points in standard leagues is worthy of a top waiver pick because of his inconsistency as a big-play threat. You can add him if you have a spot, but don’t expect his production to keep up at this pace.
Here is a look at players you should be targeting on the waiver wire, using only those available in more than 50 percent of ESPN leagues.
James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers
According to Tom Silverstein of the Journal-Sentinel, the X-rays came back negative for Eddie Lacy‘s injured ankle, although the starting running back could still miss some time. If that is the case, James Starks immediately becomes a top option in fantasy leagues.
Starks did a good job of filling in for Lacy against a tough Seattle Seahawks defense, earning plenty of admirers, such as Mike Clay of Pro Football Focus:
The backup ended up with 95 yards on 20 carries, which could be a baseline for his production going forward. He should have no problem getting around 15-20 touches per game with no other competition on the roster, and there will be plenty of room to run with opposing defenses more focused on stopping Aaron Rodgers.
Starks totaled 493 rushing yards on 5.5 yards per carry in 2013 while spelling Lacy, and he should keep up the efficiency this time around.
Opportunity is the key to success in fantasy football, and Starks has a great one in front of him for the next few weeks.
Matt Jones, RB, Washington Redskins
Many were expecting Matt Jones to eventually showcase his ability, but no one thought a breakout performance would come so quickly against an elite St. Louis Rams defense.
The rookie finished with 19 carries for 123 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He also added 23 receiving yards on three catches in the winning effort. While incumbent starter Alfred Morris isn’t going away just yet (18 carries for 59 yards), Jones was clearly the more effective runner in Week 2.
With that said, Jones isn’t going to completely take over the carries going forward. Head coach Jay Gruden admitted there will be a timeshare and that things can change each week, per Gabe Hiatt of the Washington Post:
Some games will be different. Today we just controlled the clock and were able to get the running game going and get both some good touches. There will be some games where maybe it won’t happen like that. But our plan is to keep both backs fresh, so I intend on them both getting plenty of touches. [Running Backs] Coach Randy Jordan does a great job with the substitution pattern. I don’t really care who’s in there. They’re both very, very good football players as long as they’re fresh.
The upside is there for a big year, but you might want to see some more consistency before immediately putting him into your lineup.
Michael Crabtree, WR, Oakland Raiders
After we only saw a small glimpse of the Raiders’ passing attack in Week 1, a healthy Derek Carr returned in Week 2 for an impressive showcase of what this team can do.
There is obviously a lot of hype for rookie Amari Cooper, but Michael Crabtree had an excellent performance with nine catches for 111 yards on 16 targets, all of which were team highs. He also scored a 29-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
The Raiders trust Carr to throw the ball, as evidenced by his 351 yards on 30-of-46 passing. Even as a rookie last season, the quarterback averaged over 37 attempts per game. Somebody is going to catch those passes, and it won’t be only Cooper.
Crabtree has a good chance to keep these types of numbers going in a pass-heavy offense.
Eric Ebron, TE, Detroit Lions
Even after San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde tore up the Minnesota Vikings defense in Week 1, the Detroit Lions seemingly forgot how to use the run. Ameer Abdullah led all running backs with just six carries for nine yards.
This was a terrible game plan to try to win the game, but fantasy owners now know they can trust the Lions’ passing attack to remain active. Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate had strong performances, and even Eric Ebron has gotten more involved with 10 targets. He finished with five catches for 43 yards and his second touchdown in as many weeks.
Jeff Risdon of RealGM believes the numbers could have been even better:
One problem with evaluating tight ends in fantasy football is the fact that their success is so heavily tied to touchdowns. Production can be fluky, which means you shouldn’t just chase those who scored the week before. This is especially true with Ebron getting his touchdown in the final minutes with the game arguably already in hand.
Despite this fact, Ebron has gotten more involved in the offense all over the field and should be more consistent on a weekly basis.
He is not Rob Gronkowski just yet, but he has a lot of upside for the rest of the season.
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