Week 4 was uncommonly ugly in terms of injuries, even by NFL standards. Early-season standouts Dalvin Cook (knee) and Chris Carson (ankle) are likely lost for the year, while Marcus Mariota (hamstring), Julio Jones (hip), Ty Montgomery (ribs), Davante Adams (concussion) and Jordan Matthews (thumb) went down as well. Brutal. Let’s hit the wire, looking for short and long-term replacements.
Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints, 45%
It’s been abundantly clear for the past four weeks that Alvin Kamara is the most dynamic running back on the Saints roster, a fact that isn’t lost on Sean Payton. Kamara received a season-high 15 touches in Sunday’s win over Miami, with 10 catches included. He converted those opportunities into 96 scrimmage yards and one touchdown. Mark Ingram out-snapped Kamara on Sunday, 46 to 26, but it’s not as if any of you are playing in a point-per-snap league. Both backs received similar workloads, as Ingram handled 18 touches, and Kamara finished with a significant edge in total yards (96 to 62). Adrian Peterson played only six snaps for New Orleans, carrying four times for four yards. If AP barely sees the field in a game his team wins 20-0, then he’s just never gonna play.
Kamara easily leads all Saints backs in yards per carry (5.5) and he’s second on the team in every key receiving stat — catches (20), targets (28) and yards (147). He really needs to be universally owned, particularly in PPR formats. He was a committee runner at the collegiate level, lacking the visibility of workhorse backs like Fournette, McCaffrey and Cook. But Kamara was a high-volume receiver at Tennessee, catching 74 passes over two seasons, and he was an 83rd percentile SPARQ athlete at the combine. He’s no fluke. Go get him.
Schedule, next three weeks: bye, Det, at GB
FAAB bid: $35
Latavius Murray, RB, Minnesota Vikings, 16%
Dalvin Cook was going to challenge for the NFL rushing title as a rookie. As of this writing, his 354 rushing yards rank third in the league. So the loss of Cook is simply huge for Minnesota, another significant setback for one of this offense’s young foundational players. Latavius Murray figures to handle most of the early-down carries for the Vikings for the remainder of the season. He missed much of his team’s offseason program following ankle surgery, and Cook’s excellent play made him an afterthought.
Murray certainly isn’t the game’s most explosive runner, though he did reach the end-zone a dozen times for Oakland last season and he topped 1000 yards the year before. He did nothing of note in Cook’s absence against Detroit on Sunday (nine touches, 29 yards), but, in fantasy, running back is a volume-over-everything spot. There’s little question that Murray will get the first crack at the lead-runner role. Jerrick McKinnon will see work as well, typically as a receiving option, but we should note that he twisted an ankle late in the team’s Week 4 loss. Murray is the preferred add.
Schedule, next three weeks: at Chi, GB, Bal
FAAB bid: $20
Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy, RBs, Seattle Seahawks, 29% and 18%
Carson’s injury puts an abrupt end to one of the better underdog stories of the young season. He was the 31st pick in the draft’s final round, 249th overall, yet he managed to earn the featured rushing role in Seattle. Early reports on his injury suggest a fracture and high-ankle sprain, meaning his season is likely finished. Eddie Lacy carried 11 times for 52 yards on Sunday night, dominating backfield work after Carson’s departure. Rawls was actually inactive in Week 4, a healthy scratch, but it sounds like he’ll be a big part of the team’s plans moving forward…
Pete Carroll on @710ESPNSeattle: “We’ll just turn that page & get going with Thomas” Rawls. C.J. Prosise should be able to play Sun at Rams
— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) October 2, 2017
For obvious reasons, this is not a backfield for fantasy owners to embrace. Rawls and Lacy will compete for early down work, C.J. Prosise remains in the mix, and practice squader J.D. McKissic gained 65 yards on Thursday night. And, again, Carson outperformed all these guys in the preseason. But with Carson sidelined, his workload is up for grabs.
Schedule, next three weeks: at LAR, bye, at NYG
FAAB bids: $18 and $17
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers, 10% owned
Jones carried the ball 13 times for 49 yards and one score on Thursday night, playing in relief of the injured Ty Montgomery. Green Bay’s second string back, Jamaal Williams, also suffered an injury (knee) in the Pack’s win over Chicago. Montgomery’s injury reportedly isn’t as severe as we initially feared, although he’s no lock to play in Week 5 — and even if he does play, we shouldn’t assume he’ll have his usual rushing workload. Jones has a clear shot to carve out a meaningful supporting role in Green Bay’s backfield.
Montgomery had seen nearly every offensive snap in his first season as a full-time running back, so the Packers need to identify a bankable second option. Jones was a fifth-round selection from UTEP who gained a ridiculous 2006 scrimmage yards in his final collegiate season, then crushed the pre-draft combine (37.5-inch vertical, 6.82-second three-cone). He’s a solid Plan E for fantasy managers who don’t land Kamara, Murray, Rawls or Lacy.
Schedule, next three weeks: at Dal, at Min, NO
FAAB bid: $8
Will Fuller V, WR, Houston Texans, 31%
If you were at all worried about a lack of chemistry between Fuller and rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, just check this highlight and this one. Rapport does not appear to be a problem. Fuller had missed nearly all of August and September with a fractured collarbone, but he returned in the noisiest way possible on Sunday, scoring twice and catching four of his six targets. He’s a burner, a terrific vertical threat to complement DeAndre Hopkins. Fuller caught 47 balls for 635 yards as a rookie, and he’s likely to top those numbers in his second season, even after missing Houston’s first three games. Add wherever you need receiving help.
Schedule, next three weeks: KC, Cle, bye
FAAB bid: $9
Geronimo Allison, WR, Green Bay Packers, 15%
We don’t yet know how much time Davante Adams will miss after he was concussed on Thursday night (by an appalling cheap-shot from Danny Trevathan), but we can say with relative certainty that Allison is the next man up. He caught six balls for 122 yards on eight targets two weeks ago against Cincinnati, when the Packers were without Randall Cobb. Allison has good size (6-foot-3) and he’s technically sound, if not uncommonly fast or athletic. If Adams can’t go in Week 5, which seems like a strong possibility, then Allison could have a significant target share in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense. No need to overthink this.
Schedule, next three weeks: at Dal, at Min, NO
FAAB bid: $5
Buffalo Bills, 12%
So it turns out this defense wasn’t merely a one-and-done fantasy add. Buffalo was featured in the opening week edition of this pickups piece, ahead of a matchup with the Jets. As it turned out, that was just the first of four straight useful performances. The Bills D has allowed just one touchdown pass on the season while picking off six throws. No quarterback has passed for more than 259 yards against this team. Andy Dalton and the Bengals are on deck, so it’s not unreasonable to expect another takeaway or two, along with multiple sacks.
Schedule, next three weeks: at Cin, bye, TB
FAAB bid: $2