So much for the idea of handcuffing your fantasy starters with their real-life backups.
Here’s the latest on these and other situations from ESPN’s NFL Nation:
Don’t count out CJ2K:Kerwynn Williams was named the Cardinals’ starter in the wake of Johnson’s wrist injury. But the Cardinals also re-signed veteran Chris Johnson, who has much more experience being a workhorse back.
Williams is probably the one worth speculating on for now, in case he takes the opportunity and runs with it. But ESPN Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Chris Johnson pick up more of the workload late in Sunday’s game at Indianapolis or in the next few weeks. Williams is smaller, at 5-foot-8 and 198 pounds, as compared to 5-foot-11 and 203 pounds for Johnson — and he has never carried the ball more than 53 times in a season.
Third-down back Andre Ellington also is in the mix. So the best advice is probably to stay away from Arizona’s backfield entirely.
Lee the Jaguars WR to own: Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee said he knows the pressure is on him and fellow fourth-year pro Allen Hurns to step up in the wake of Robinson’s injury, but he insisted, “This is what we prepare for.”
ESPN Jaguars reporter Mike DiRocco doesn’t expect huge numbers from either, particularly because Jacksonville would like to lean on the running game. But DiRocco said Lee would be the one he would add to his fantasy team first because of his big-play ability.
“Matching what he did last season [63 catches for 851 yards] would be a good year, but I do think he improves on the three TDs from last year — maybe in the six to seven range,” DiRocco said.
Boost for Allen, Campanaro: ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley told ESPN fantasy analyst Mike Clay in this week’s Insider column that he thinks running back Buck Allen might get more touches than Terrance West, even though West is officially the starter. West should be the top goal-line option, but Allen is the more dependable pass-catcher, which was Woodhead’s primary role.
Believe the breakouts?
• Yes, ESPN Chicago Bears reporter Jeff Dickerson said, rookie runner/receiver Tarik Cohen deserves a spot in your fantasy lineup. Even though the 5-foot-6, 181-pounder flew in under the radar, the Bears have been fired up all summer about his versatility.
“Well, the secret’s out,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said after the Bears used Cohen as a running back, inside receiver, outside receiver, downfield threat, punt returner and even as a quarterback in the Wildcat formation in Week 1.
Dickerson said he doesn’t think Cohen will be a threat to RB Jordan Howard‘s status as a fantasy starter. They play different roles, and the Bears need both of them — particularly because they’re so thin at receiver in the wake of injuries to Cameron Meredith and Kevin White. But Howard is nursing a shoulder injury this week, so Cohen’s role could be bigger than usual.
• ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter Jeremy Fowler was kicking himself for not predicting tight end Jesse James‘ two-touchdown performance in Week 1. But hey, there are an awful lot of playmakers to spread the ball around to in Pittsburgh.
That’s why Fowler is preaching cautious optimism with James, whom he described as a “sizable over-the-middle target with good hops, slightly below-average speed and eagerness to break through in Year 3.” Most important, though, Fowler pointed out that James and QB Ben Roethlisberger got a ton of reps together in goal-line work this summer.
• ESPN New England Patriots reporter Mike Reiss said Mike Gillislee‘s usage (and his three touchdown runs) solidified his standing as LeGarrette Blount‘s replacement as New England’s power back of choice.
• Rookie Kenny Golladay didn’t have a flawless performance in his NFL debut, and he’s still the Detroit Lions‘ No. 3 receiver, behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. So ESPN Lions reporter Mike Rothstein has continued to preach realistic expectations for the 6-foot-4, 213-pounder. However, Golladay displayed his size, speed and catch radius with two impressive touchdown grabs, while proving he was worth all that preseason hype.
• ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter Pat McManamon expects some highs and lows from rookie QB DeShone Kizer this season. Yet he couldn’t help but notice Kizer all the way down at No. 26 in ESPN’s weekly projections, and he thought it was worth stressing that Kizer has been “really impressive” for a rookie. McManamon said pre-draft concerns about arrogance have been the exact opposite of the balance and poise Kizer has shown so far, and he wrote that Kizer has continued to show that he “gets it.”
• Tennessee Titans reporter Cameron Wolfe thinks DeMarco Murray‘s projections for Week 2 are a bit low (12 carries, 50 yards, 16th among running backs). Wolfe said there has been a lot of focus in Tennessee this week about getting back to the running game, and Murray remains the leading man, ahead of Derrick Henry (though Henry could earn more touches if he becomes the hot hand).
• ESPN’s David Newton continues to think projections are too low for Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (11 carries, 49 yards). Newton has been high on rookie runner/receiver Christian McCaffrey all summer, but he has continued to insist that Stewart will still have a big role in the offense. He was right in Week 1, when Stewart had 18 carries for 65 yards and two catches for 17 yards and a touchdown.
• Los Angeles Chargers reporter Eric Williams isn’t necessarily predicting the over on tight end Hunter Henry‘s projection of three catches and 36 yards. But Williams wrote about how neither Henry nor offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt seemed too concerned after Henry received zero targets in Week 1. That also happened in Week 16 of Henry’s breakout rookie season in 2016.
• I’m ESPN’s New Orleans Saints reporter. And I can’t offer too much optimism to Adrian Peterson‘s fantasy owners, because it’s pretty clear the circumstances need to be just right for Peterson to get a steady number of touches (that is, not playing from behind, which could be a problem on Sunday against the Patriots). However, I will take the over on the rushing projections for both Peterson (seven carries, 30 yards) and Mark Ingram (eight carries, 38 yards). That’s a pretty low bar that the Saints earned for themselves with an ugly rushing performance in Week 1.