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Fantasy football fill-ins to cover early season injuries
Allen a useful option to replace hurt quarterbacks
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen looks to pass during a game against the New York Giants on Sunday, Sept. 15 in East Rutherford, N.J. - photo by Adam Hunger

There’s nothing that derails a fantasy football team’s season (or a real football team’s for that matter) like bad luck with injuries, and 2019 has not been kind on that front.

Veteran quarterbacks Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger went down with serious, surgery needing injuries last week, and Panthers QB Cam Newton will also miss at least one game with a foot ailment. Several fantasy relevant skill position players got hurt last week as well, such as DeSean Jackson and Damien Williams, and that’s without mentioning the loss of Antonio Brown for disciplinary reasons.

Suffice to say, fantasy owners everywhere are panicking as core members of their team drop like flies less than a quarter of the way through the year. And while losing high draft picks is never a positive, Week 3 is still too early to really start despairing, especially when there are still several sneaky starts still unclaimed in many leagues.

Here are a few options for playable fill-ins that might be on the waiver wire for those dealing with the early season injury blues:

Josh Allen — Quarterback — Buffalo Bills

Allen has never thrown for more than 300 yards in a game in his career, and has reached three passing touchdowns only once. But his fantasy value is tied much more to his legs than his arm.

He has rushed the ball 17 times in two games this season — second most among quarterbacks — and he leads all signal callers with two rushing scores on the year. Running the ball is the key to a consistent floor as a fantasy quarterback, and only Lamar Jackson has run it more than Allen so far this season. The offseason additions of John Brown and Cole Beasley provided the second-year Bills QB major upgrades in his receiving threats, and a revamped offensive line has given him plenty of time to deliver the ball accurately.

If you were stuck with Newton, Roethlisberger or Brees as your only quarterback, you could do a lot worse than Allen this week against a Bengals defense that’s giving up more than 19 points per game to quarterbacks so far this year.

Darwin Thompson — Running back — Kansas City Chiefs

Scarcity at running back has been an issue for a few years now, and if one or more of your top options are out with injury, chances are your RB situation is looking pretty dire. Why not take a chance on Thompson, who will have a chance to claim a share of the backfield on the NFL’s most potent offense this weekend?

With Damien Williams already declared out for the game and LeSean McCoy hobbled with an ankle sprain, Thompson has a chance to pick up plenty of work in a matchup against the Ravens that projects as a shootout. Thompson looked electric any time he touched the ball during the preseason, and doubled his snap count from Week 1 to Week 2.

Even if you aren’t going to play him, Thompson is absolutely worth a speculative add ahead of this week, just in case he blossoms into an every week starter at running back, a rare find on the waiver wire.

Devin Smith — Wide receiver — Dallas Cowboys

What happens when an apparently unstoppable force meets an extremely moveable object? We will find out this weekend when the red hot Cowboys take on the Dolphins, who proudly sport the NFL’s all-time worst defense through two weeks of a season.

Dallas QB Dak Prescott leads the league in completion percentage and touchdowns, and is fifth in passing yards, and No. 2 wide receiver Michael Gallup will miss this week’s game against Miami with injury.

Smith should slide into his spot, and be the immediate beneficiary of being the second option in an offense that is projected to score at least 30 points this week.

Vernon Davis — Tight end  — Washington Redskins

Washington tight end Jordan Reed is going to miss this game, giving Davis at least one more contest as the starting tight end for the Redskins. And while he hasn’t been the most exciting option at the position through two weeks, he has been serviceable.

The Bears are not an ideal matchup, but Washington is likely going to have to throw to stay in the game, and Davis is as good a red zone threat as the team has. If you’re stuck with no other options at tight end, Davis has as good a chance as any waiver wire option to score, and even if he doesn’t, he should provide a decent floor.

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