UPDATE: 10:51 a.m. Saturday
The season started spectacularly for the Las Vegas Raiders with their thrilling victory over Baltimore on Monday night, but things are about to get dicier. Immediately.
Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (toe, ankle), who limped badly at various points against the Ravens, has been ruled out Sunday in Pittsburgh.
You might think that’s great for folks who have Raiders No. 2 RB Kenyan Drake. And you might be mistaken. Coach Jon Gruden announced Friday that No. 3 Peyton Barber will take some of the “lead back” load against a Steelers defense that played very well in their upset in Buffalo.
The dreaded “backfield by committee”? Sounds like it. There is also uncertainty with a couple of other backfields.
In Seattle, No. 2 RB Rashaad Penny (calf) is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game against Tennessee. The Seahawks will likely give all their rushing duties to starter Chris Carson on what is forecast to be a rainy afternoon. Expect to see almost endless doses of Carson and Titans titan Derrick Henry.
Detroit is already facing a daunting task Monday night in Green Bay, and both of the Lions’ top backs are banged up. D’Andre Swift (groin) and Jamall Williams (chest) are listed as questionable, though both are expected to play. But the Motor City Kitties are expected to be in their usual mode: Playing from far behind and throwing the ball.
Ruled out this week is Miami WR Will Fuller, for “personal reasons.” Four prominent receivers are currently listed as questionable: Baltimore’s Marquise Brown (ankle), the Jets’ Jameson Crowder (groin), and Indy’s Michael Pittman (ankle) and Parris Campbell (abdomen).
ORIGINAL POST: 11 a.m. Wednesday
A great man once said, it’s better to be lucky than good. And there’s no better time to get lucky in fantasy football than to have top waiver priority after the opening week of play.
We’re one of those fortunate souls. By random chance we have secured No. 1 priority for pickups this week, allowing us to claim the most sudden standout of Week 1. A player almost nobody drafted during the summer but is already being compared to last season’s revelation, the Jaguars’ James Robinson.
Say hello to the leading rusher in the National Football Conference: San Francisco rookie Elijah Mitchell.
The rookie from Louisiana was thrust into action after starter Raheem Mostert went down with a knee injury that will sideline him for the rest of the season. Mitchell rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown. And there could be plenty more in the coming weeks, for Mitchell, for the 49ers, and for your humble narrator’s fantasy team.
Mitchell won’t be the only Week 1 standout coveted by fantasy mavens this week. There are these fellows:
Latavius Murray (Ravens RB) — The former Viking got a touchdown in his first game with Baltimore on Monday night. He’ll be sharing the backfield with Ty’Son Williams, but the Ravens’ running game is always strong. We’re thinking Murray will be the back of choice near the goal line.
Mark Ingram (Texans RB) — While many thought he was long past his expiration date, Ingram ran 26 times for 85 yards and a touchdown in Houston’s win over Jacksonville. His rivals for touches, David Johnson and Phillip Lindsay, combined for a mere 12 carries for 65 yards. Ingram is worth grabbing, at least until he runs out of gas in a few weeks.
Mike Williams (Chargers WR) — Quickly becoming a favorite of phenom quarterback Justin Herbert, Williams was targeted 12 times Sunday against Washington. His eight catches for 82 yards and a touchdown are easily repeatable in the Chargers’ offensive attack.
Cole Beasley (Bills WR) — He has been in the headlines for his anti-vaccine stance but Beasley was in the spotlight Sunday, being targeted 13 times by Buffalo QB Josh Allen. He caught eight passes for 60 yards and will be a reliable receiver all season as defenses focus on stopping Stefon Diggs.
Jameis Winston (Saints QB) — New Orleans’ new quarterback only completed 14 passes Sunday, but a remarkable five went for touchdowns. The more remarkable number for Winston was his number of interceptions: zero. Coach Sean Payton just might be able to make Winston a star again.
Jared Goff (Lions QB) — The lesser half of the Matthew Stafford trade passed for 338 yards and three TDs, mostly because Detroit was playing catchup all day Sunday. But that is going to be the Lions’ natural state all season. If you’re a fan of garbage time statistical padding, you will just love the 2021 edition of the former No. 1 pick.
How long will it be until the Giants’ Saquon Barkley is again one of the NFL’s best running backs? It certainly won’t be Thursday night, so you might want to bench him against the Washington Football Team. … Same goes for Jacksonville RB James Robinson, who was a non-factor in the opener and will have even less room to run against Denver. … Kansas City’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire also had an unimpressive opener and should be no better vs. Baltimore. … Until Tennessee’s offensive line remembers how to block for him, you should keep QB Ryan Tannehill out of your lineup, including Sunday vs. the Seahawks. … And while you should always start former Vikings WR Stefon Diggs, he will have a tough go of it against Miami’s top-notch secondary.
Starting with Thursday night’s Washington-Giants game, there are two guys we especially like: WFT running back Antonio Gibson and Giants wideout Sterling Shepard. … Bad run defenses should be a boost for Denver’s Melvin Gordon (vs. Jaguars) and New England’s Damien Harris (vs. Jets). … Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield will bring the Texans back to reality after their surprising opener. … Justin Herbert and Dak Prescott will both post huge numbers in the Chargers-Cowboys matchup. … The Packers will bounce back fiercely after their Week 1 embarrassment, meaning big numbers for the usual suspects and WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling. … And now that Ja’Marr Chase has stopped dropping the ball, the Cincinnati rookie WR should post more good numbers against an overrated Bears defense.
While Mostert had the first season-ending injury of Week 1, Washington quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was not too far behind. His hip injury could end up costing him the rest of this season, elevating Taylor Heinicke to No. 1 for the WFT. … Denver wideout Jerry Jeudy suffered a high ankle sprain that looked much worse on video. He will be out four to six weeks, which will lead to more targets for Courtland Sutton and K.J. Hamler. … Dallas WR Michael Gallup (calf) could miss as many as five weeks, so Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb will keep posting huge numbers. Notables listed as questionable include Cleveland WR Odell Beckham Jr. and Philly tight end Zach Ertz.
THE DEEPEST SLEEPER
While most Minnesota fans would like to forget everything about the opening week loss in Cincinnati, the game was not a total loss. We know now who will likely be the Vikings’ No. 3 pass receiving option: second-year wideout K.J. Osborn. The former Miami Hurricane caught seven passes for 76 yards and earned raves from Vikings coaches. He could find himself open regularly as defenses focus their attention on Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. Pick him up, park him on your bench, and see if he blossoms.
THE THURSDAY PICK
Giants at Washington (-3):
Pick: Washington by 7
We’ll be updating our column, based on the latest injuries and innuendo, right up until Sunday’s kickoffs. Go to TwinCities.com/theloop.