Another week, another full slate of injuries. This is why you draft depth on your fantasy football roster, right? With bye weeks not yet in play, hopefully, you’re not forced to go to the waiver wire to plug in a fill-in option to your starting lineup.
Looking for ALL of the news in one location? Our NFL and Fantasy Player News Tracker gives you an edge over your competition. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some bench players you have the green light to play should you have a hole to fill in your starting lineup.
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Fantasy Football Injury Replacements: Quarterback
Matthew Stafford at the Cincinnati Bengals
Matthew Stafford is approaching 55,000 passing yards for his NFL career, and this season — a season starting without his All-World receiver — is the first of his career that has opened with consecutive 300-yard games.
The Cincinnati Bengals have surrendered top-10 performances to both Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson to open the season, showing limited resistance in the process. Even when things were going better last season, Cincy still allowed the seventh most passing yards per game.
With a little luck in the touchdown department, Stafford could be a top-15 option at the position and is a nice strategic play that buys you the most time possible to get clarity on the status of Joe Burrow (currently questionable – I’m making alternative plans if rostering a Monday Night Football backup option is not a choice).
Joshua Kelley at the Minnesota Vikings
Scar tissue is a thing in fantasy sports. It shouldn’t be, but it’s human nature. Joshua Kelley was a plug-and-play option last week for anyone who had him rostered once Austin Ekeler was ruled out, and he gave you all of 3.9 fantasy points (fewer points than Rico Dowdle and Salvon Ahmed).
“Should I Trade Joshua Kelley” was a real train of thought this week, as some fantasy managers were looking to move on from him after the disappointing Week 2. Relax. Take a deep breath. This is a new week.
The Minnesota Vikings gave up the third most yards per play a season ago, and after getting lit up by D’Andre Swift in Week 2 (28 carries for 175 yards and a touchdown), they certainly aren’t an intimidating matchup. Kelley handled over 72% of the running back carries for the Bolts last week, a role worth targeting in this spot.
With this game holding the highest projected point total on the board, I want all the exposure I can get, and that includes the starting running back for both teams. Don’t let a down Week 2 cloud your judgment.
Alexander Mattison vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Like I said, I want anyone tied to this game. Alexander Mattison hasn’t been efficient, and based on the questions I’ve gotten on Twitter, in our PFN Fantasy Discord, and in the comments section of our PFN Fantasy YouTube Channel – you guys are nervous about the addition of Cam Akers.
Remember, we play a weekly game. Yes, looking at the long-term matters when it comes to roster construction, but don’t lose track of the short-term. Sure, Akers could make this a complicated situation down the road, but for Week 3, reports are that he will not be active.
Through two weeks, Mattison has 81% of the Viking running back opportunities and gets a Los Angeles Chargers defense that is seemingly allergic to consistently slowing opposing ground attacks. Say what you will about Mattison – I’ll happily bet on this profile in this matchup.
Jaylen Warren at the Las Vegas Raiders
Since the beginning of last season, we have been talking about the worst red zone defense in the league. The sheer scoring equity for a player who had 12 chances last week (six carries and six targets) makes him an interesting option, and the fact that he could take over this backfield gives him true sleeper appeal.
Most yards after catch this season…
Puka Nacua – 111
CeeDee Lamb – 103
Justin Jefferson – 103
Bijan Robinson – 95
Jaylen Warren – 94 pic.twitter.com/5izwqvr4gb
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) September 20, 2023
Playing Jaylen Warren certainly comes with some risk, but in a plus matchup on a team missing one of their primary playmakers in Diontae Johnson, his upside profile is more interesting this week than it was in either of the first two.
Rashid Shaheed at the Green Bay Packers
He’s a big-play threat, and all players with that profile get lumped into the same bucket. That’s the Gabe Davis bucket. The Marvin Mims bucket. The “I like the upside but can’t consistently bet on you” bucket. I’m not so sure Rashid Shaheed deserves that treatment.
He has caught 84.1% of his career targets while averaging 17.3 yards per grab. That’s difficult to understand, but with a 40-yard catch in five of his past seven games, the NFL as a whole has yet to find a way to solve his speed.
The Packers have talent on the defensive side, but they were vulnerable downfield last season, and I’ve yet to see evidence of any correction.
Jahan Dotson vs. Buffalo Bills
Jahan Dotson saw seven targets in the opener and failed to come through for fantasy managers. He was targeted heavily early last week before disappearing and again disappointing fantasy managers. That’s why he appeared on the wrong side of the Jason Katz’ Fantasy Week 3 WR Start/Sit piece. I am ready to get hurt again.
Tre’Davious White figures to spend plenty of time in Terry McLaurin’s zip code, leaving Dotson in a spot to shine. We saw him maximize his looks as a rookie (1.83 points per target), and in a game where the Washington Commanders are going to have to score to remain competitive, he’s a reasonable roll of the dice.
Elijah Moore vs. Tennessee Titans
Betting against the Tennessee Titans pass defense is a fine way to fill out your starting lineup most weeks, and this one is no different. With Nick Chubb out for the season, my expectation is for the Cleveland Browns to lean more on the passing game than they were prior, and this is a good spot to do so (worst pass defense last season, fifth-worst through two weeks this year).
If Elijah Moore gets the eight targets per game that he is averaging, he’s a good bet to finish the week as a top-35 receiver, and that’s all you can ask for as you look to piece together your Week 3 lineup.
Drake London at the Detroit Lions
Week 2 saw Desmond Ridder complete more passes (19) than he attempted in the opener (18) and against a Detroit Lions team that has averaged 32.9 PPG at home since the beginning of last season, I’m expecting a game script that looks similar to what we saw last week against the Green Bay Packers.
Say what you will about Drake London’s fantasy stock through 19 career games, but he’s proven capable of earning targets, and that holds value against a team like the Lions.
Due to the offense he is a part of, the floor is low, but if there is ever a good time to take a chance on a talent like London, it’s in a spot like this where points are going to be required.
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