Fantasy Fool: Time to go to your backup plan

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Minnesota Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon (21) runs for a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

Uh oh. Talk about putting a damper on the debut of your glossy new stadium…

Even though he was off to a poor start to the season, the sight of Adrian Peterson being dragged off to the locker room, unable to put any weight on his right leg, had to make Vikings fans — and his fantasy owners — throw up a little in the back of their mouths.

While we don’t yet know the full extent of his injury, Peterson seems assured of missing some games. Which means Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata will once again return to fantasy relevance.

One need only look to Pittsburgh and Kansas City to see how valuable the right backup in the right situation can be. DeAngelo Williams is currently the top RB in Fantasyland. Spencer Ware ranks in the top five. Both are expected to shift back to supporting roles once Le’Veon Bell and Jamaal Charles return, respectively. But until then, the backups are racking up the fantasy points.

Now it’s McKinnon’s turn. And Jay Ajayi’s. And perhaps Charles Sims’, too.

News will trickle in over the next few days on the severity of the injuries that befell a plethora of rushers, including Arian Foster (groin), Doug Martin (hamstring), Jonathan Stewart (hamstring), Ameer Abdullah (foot), Thomas Rawls (leg) and Danny Woodhead (knee). But fantasy players may need to act on incomplete information in the

Of course, the injury bug doesn’t feast only on running backs. Jets wideout Brandon Marshall suffered a knee injury on Thursday and could very well miss a game or

Jimmy Garoppolo and Josh McCown, backups themselves, were likewise bitten on Sunday. But their teams’ third-stringers have little, if any, fantasy relevance, beyond the impact they will have on their offenses in general, and their receivers in

Fantasy owners who assembled depth on their rosters during their drafts will be rewarded now. But it should be a very busy waiver wire this week, and there’s very likely a gem or two available who could pay major dividends in the short term, if not longer.


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here’s a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else’s lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings. Peterson’s owners were suffering enough watching their first-round pick get stuffed by the Packers, and the Titans before them. Now they’ll be scrambling to add McKinnon, who has played well in the past when called upon. Asiata is the battering ram with a history of goal-line vulturing, but McKinnon is the shiftier, speedier back who can rack up the yards and big plays.

Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Panthers. Famously fragile Jonathan Stewart pulled a hammy against the 49ers, leading to a career-best 100-yard rushing performance from third-stringer Fozzy Whittaker in his absence. But Artis-Payne, a healthy scratch on Sunday, is Stewart’s primary backup and should be the best option to step into his cleats.

Jay Ajayi, RB, Dolphins. Speaking of fragile backs…Arian Foster is hurt. Again. Ajayi is the next man up in the Dolphins’ struggling offense, for what that’s worth. He found himself in his coach’s doghouse in Week 1; but now he’ll get the chance to reclaim the starting gig he thought was his heading into the season, before Foster was signed.

Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers. Already owned in two-thirds of all fantasy leagues thanks mostly to his prowess as a receiver, Sims could be the team’s starting tailback if Doug Martin’s hamstring keeps him sidelined. All Sims has ever needed was a chance, and it could be coming as soon as Week 3.

Corey Coleman, WR, Browns. The rookie had his coming-out party on Sunday and is available in about a third of all leagues. Though he’s facing the possibility of playing catch with fellow rookie Cody Kessler, Coleman is a playmaker. And fellow Baylor wideout Josh Gordon will be back on the field in three weeks to take the pressure off.

Don’t be fooled

Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks. Thomas Rawls suffered a leg contusion on Sunday, giving Michael another chance to stake his claim to the lead rushing role. But Michael has flamed out too often for me to justify recommending him, and his offense has looked uncharacteristically lame over the first two weeks.

Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots. He benefitted from the absence of Rob Gronkowski, but the entire team could suffer with Jacoby Brissett (or a free agent signee) under center for the next couple of weeks. Amendola has a history of big games, followed by disappearances, followed by the inevitable injury. Don’t bother.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Lions. He reeled in his first TD as a Lion, and had another score nullified by a holding penalty. But he’s still the third wide receiver in this offense, and he will do more harm to Golden Tate’s value than he’ll add to your fantasy team.

Ladd Biro is a two-time winner and four-time finalist of the Football Writer of the Year Award by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (, on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).

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