We all should’ve known the New England Patriots would be fine, and they will be going forward. Especially for fantasy football owners. Head coach Bill Belichick, on the fly, went with young Tom Brady when Drew Bledsoe went down and we all know those results. Then, when Brady was hurt in 2008, Belichick started Matt Cassel and the Patriots still largely excelled. Belichick’s made his Hall of Fame career by making contingency plans, and he had months to prepare Jimmy Garoppolo.
The third-year quarterback became the top trend on Twitter during Week 2’s first batch of Sunday games. Supporters dubbed him “Jimmy G” with a titular hashtag, and while there’s still time to work on the nickname, Garoppolo lit up a Miami defense that went toe-to-toe with Seattle last week, and he went for 234 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.
Then, Garoppolo started trending for the wrong reason. He injured his throwing shoulder late in the second quarter, but Belichick just sent out rookie Jacoby Brissett, who later led a five-play, 68-yard touchdown drive.
It was Brissett’s second NFL drive and New England would win 31-24, while the team (not one player) became the top trend of social media and the NFL.
So even if Garoppolo is down for the next couple of games, fantasy owners shouldn’t be worried about any of their Patriots. New England should continue to hum no matter who’s under center, so if you’re thinking of letting any Patriot starter go for any of Week 3’s trendy waiver wire picks, think again.
The Patriots are now assured of a .500 or better record when Brady's expected to return in Week 5, and players like Julian Edelman, Martellus Bennett, Danny Amendola, LeGarrette Blount, or James White will not be losing their short or long-term value anytime soon.
If you’re thinking of dropping any Patriot because Brissett might be under center, be sure he’s worth letting go in the long haul. That’s how owners should look at the fantasy season. Like Belichick, way down the road. It could be a cut that may haunt you later in the season.
With that in mind and to help make your decisions prior to Week 3 easier, here are our early waive-wire picks following the first wave of games. Keep in mind, others can emerge and injuries will likely happen later in Week 2, but give these guys a close look.
Martellus Bennett, TE, New England Patriots
In his nine years in the NFL, Bennett’s catch rate percentage has dipped below 60 percent just once, and since 2012 that rate has reached as high as 70.3 percent and he’s been targeted at least 80 times per season in that span. Bennett’s now part of a New England offense, famous for their twin tight end sets, that found him in the end zone for the first time this season. His one drawback is, of course, Rob Gronkowski, but there’s no reason to doubt Bennett’s chances of being that No. 2 tight end for an offense that will only get stronger as the season progresses. He’s gettable too, owned in only 67.4 percent of ESPN leagues, though on Yahoo it's 80 percent.
Cole Beasley, WR, Dallas Cowboys
A week after allowing Dak Prescott to throw 45 times, the Cowboys called for a pass 18 times in first half against Washington. Dallas clearly believes the rookie can contribute a great deal to the offense and Beasley’s a good tool of Prescott’s to own. Beasley followed up a solid eight-reception, 65-yard Week 1 (off 12 targets), with five receptions and 75, and right now he’s the Cowboys No. 2 receiver. Right now, on your team, he’s a WR3 or FLEX2, but Beasley gives Prescott another threat on check-downs and even downfield. There could be a big run on Beasley this week since he’s owned in just 10 percent of Yahoo leagues and 7.3 percent on ESPN.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland Browns
Crowell exploded for 115 yards in the first half against Baltimore, averaging better than 12 yards a carry. After scoring a touchdown in Week 1, that’s going to improve Crowell’s ownership rate from 61 percent on Yahoo and 72.1 on ESPN leagues, but owners should consider Crowell still gives up carries to Duke Johnson. Also, last season Crowell averaged five yards or better per carry in only four games, and three yards or worse in 11. He also had only 18 yards in the second half once Baltimore's defnese woke up.
Others to monitor: Fozzy Whittaker, RB, Carolina Panthers; Anquan Boldin, WR, Detroit Lions; Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns; Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots; Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens