Dealing with injuries is something fantasy football managers know they will have to do eventually, but Week 2 is shaping up to be a problem. With stars from last week in Austin Ekeler, Aaron Jones, and Jakobi Meyers already ruled out and another handful of players iffy at best (Christian Watson, Puka Nacua, Diontae Johnson, and Amari Cooper to name a few), the odds are good that you need to tweak your lineup a bit ahead of lock.
Of course, hitting the Week 2 waiver wire rankings is an option, but you drafted depth for a reason. Here are some of my favorite options that you might currently have on your bench that you can pencil in either now or following the release of inactive.
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Fantasy Football Replacements | Direct Options
Here are some options that have seen their stock rise as this week has gone on due to injuries ahead of them. Maybe you’re replacing the injured star ahead of them, maybe not — in any event, these four players are higher in our PFN Consensus Rankings now than they were five days ago.
George Pickens vs. Browns (MNF)
George Pickens was inches away from another highlight play in Week 1, and if credited with that touchdown, likely, I’m not the only one of our rankers that has this explosive talent over a guy like Michael Pittman Jr.
As a rookie, Pickens had a 30-yard catch in both games against the Browns, and now the target expectancy is higher than normal due to the Diontae Johnson injury (Johnson: 28.6% target share in Week 1 before leaving).
The big-play threat surpassed 13 half-PPR points four times last season, something he could do this week to bail you out of an injury situation (13 points would have been WR21 last week).
Hunter Renfrow at Bills
I was in on Meyers this preseason, and a large part of that belief was the value of the slot role in a Jimmy Garoppolo-led offense.
We’re only one season removed from Hunter Renfrow racking up 103 catches with his precise route running. The per-catch upside is limited, but the projectable volume is interesting as Vegas is going to be asked to score and score often.
From a pure matchup perspective, Tre’Davious White could spend time on Davante Adams the same way Patrick Surtain II did last week, opening up Meyers for the big day. Renfrow may not be the most exciting of options, but his high percentage targets make him a viable Flex option in any league that rewards per reception.
AJ Dillon at Falcons
AJ Dillon was held to under five fantasy points in the season-opening win over the Bears, but I’m more looking at the 16 opportunities that he was given. Last season, Dillon was good for 0.67 fantasy points per opportunity, which would have made him a top-20 option at the position last week given his usage.
The 2023 version of the Packers wants to feature their running backs, and with Aaron Jones (hamstring) ailing, Dillon is worthy of an RB2 ranking. This game is projected to be tight throughout, further stabilizing his fantasy value.
For reference, I have him ranked ahead of Najee Harris, David Montgomery, and Raheem Mostert.
Joshua Kelley at Titans
No, he isn’t Austin Ekeler, and no, the Bolts aren’t going to ask him to be. Joshua Kelley won’t see nearly the involvement in the passing game as L.A.’s injured starter, but he does profile as the feature back in an offense we expect to put up plenty of points.
With his clear bell-cow role, I have Kelley ranked ahead of RBs who hold a similar role but play in a lesser offense. Kelley is my RB24, and I’m starting him over the Miles Sanders’ and James Conners of the world.
Fantasy Football Injury Replacements | Elevated in the Ranks
Here are some receivers that are in a good matchup and are thus ranked higher this week than most. All entered this week ranked at least 10 spots higher than I had them in Week 1, putting them much more in the Flex conversation if you’re scrambling to replace a weekly starter.
Jahan Dotson at Broncos
Last week, we saw what could be a trend in Denver games: opponent WR2 production. As mentioned, Surtain is that good, and if his attention is on Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson could assume the role of a target monster — something we’ve yet to see from the pride of Penn State.
Last week, Dotson saw seven targets, and much like my argument for Dillon, I’ll trust the per-chance production from last season over one underwhelming week. As a rookie, Dotson averaged 1.83 fantasy points per target. That rate isn’t sustainable, but it speaks to his upside.
And if we’re looking at another 6-8 target day, Dotson isn’t just my pick to be the best receiver in this offense — he’s my best DFS value of the week.
Deebo Samuel and Mike Evans are big names who required more draft capital this summer, and I’d play Dotson over both of them!
This is wild: #Saints QB Derek Carr told WR Rashid Shaheed to run a go route and win the team the game…
And he did just that!
“Hey, listen to me Shid… freaking run”pic.twitter.com/U1ww4IM3rS
— JPAFootball (@jasrifootball) September 12, 2023
Rashid Shaheed at Panthers (MNF)
These last two options are nice if you want to wait out Cooper’s status. Monday night injuries are a pain to deal with, but by having an insurance policy, you allow yourself to operate with as much information as possible, and that’s always a good habit to get into!
MORE: PFN Consensus Rankings
Rashid Shaheed ran a route on a team-high 71.4% of his snaps last week, a sign that the Saints identify him as a weapon they want to explore. From the clip above, it’s clear that underrated deep-ball artist Derek Carr has trust for this burner. That’s gold against a secondary that placed Jaycee Horn on injured reserve (IR).
If you’re hurting for Flex upside, Shaheed has “I came back from a big deficit on the final day of the week” potential, and that’s why you’re here — to locate the optimal way to set your lineup as you navigate injuries.
Donovan Peoples-Jones at Steelers (MNF)
With Cooper (groin) popping onto the Saturday injury report, DPJ’s stock is on the rise, but this is a reasonable spot for him, no matter the status of Cleveland’s WR1.
Donovan Peoples-Jones played 89.2% of Cleveland’s offensive snaps last week and pretty clearly has a stable role. If we tell the story of Deshaun Watson taking some deep shots, we have a nice opportunity to cash by way of DPJ.
The big-play threat has seen more than five targets 11 times in his career:
- 67.2 receiving yards
- 45+ yards in 10 of 11 occasions
I like him in the betting markets, and with his one-play upside, Peoples-Jones is among my favorite options for those with a Flex opening due to the array of injuries to fantasy assets.
*Remember that we will be LIVE on the PFN Fantasy YouTube Channel from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. to answer your last-second lineup questions. These names are ones to consider, but if your decision requires further analysis, check us out later this morning!
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