Week 3 Do Not Drop List - Don't Panic Yet

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We now have two games of data to examine as we make our decisions of who is or isn’t expendable ahead of the upcoming round of waivers. While a pair of duds to open the season is sure to make a fantasy owner nervous about any player, I’ve compiled a list of guys who I believe still have hope to turn it around. If you were one of the owners who dropped Derrick Henry after Week 1, you might appreciate the idea that some of the best moves are the ones you don’t make.

Some of the names on this list appeared here last week as well (spoiler alert: the list begins with the same two guys at the top) as I’m doubling down on my optimism from a week ago, some names bounced back nicely from a Week 1 disappointment, and some names have fallen by the wayside and have played their way out of my inclination to defend them.

As with last week’s installment, owners in ten-team leagues can take this list with a grain of salt. If Chris Carson is available in your league, you might have a difficult decision on your hands. For those of us in deeper leagues, however, I want to plead the case for some underachievers who you should keep on your roster.

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Do Not Cut - Quarterbacks

Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins

Let me preface this by saying that I could build a case for dropping Kirk Cousins. The Redskins changed their identity on offense in Week 2 by hammering away with the running game and the results were favorable, after being extremely pass-heavy in 2016. While it’s fair to wonder if Washington’s preseason woes in the passing game will persist to the extent that they scale back Kirk Cousins’s duties to something more closely resembling a game manager, I’d caution that he shouldn’t be downgraded to the streamer class just yet. This is the third season in a row that Kirk has started slow and we should have expected an adjustment period as he continues to get used to his new weapons in the passing game. Moreover, Rob Kelley may have suffered a fractured rib in Week 2’s contest so there’s no guarantee that the Redskins will have the luxury of carrying the ball 39 times again at any point this season, let alone next week.

 

Do Not Cut - Running Backs

Bilal Powell, New York Jets

Perhaps we should have seen this coming. The Jets spent the offseason seemingly actively setting up for a tank job in 2017. Despite that appearance, Bilal Powell was a consensus top-100 pick in fantasy leagues as he was expected to take on the lion’s share of running back duties. After two weeks, he’s posted pedestrian fantasy lines in consecutive games and taken a back seat to 31-year-old Matt Forte during a road contest against the Raiders. Tough run defenses on the road and negative game script had a lot to do with the poor results thus far, but the schedule takes a slightly more favorable turn over the next three weeks as the Jets take on Miami and Jacksonville at home followed by a road date against Cleveland. Owners need to hold on at least one more week to see if Powell has a bigger role in more competitive contests.

Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts

After a nice professional debut, in an embarrassing effort from his team as a whole against the Rams, Marlon Mack was a clear backup to the ageless wonder that is Frank Gore in Week 2. It should be noted, however, that rumblings heading into Sunday’s game suggested that Mack was a real threat to Gore’s starting job in 2017. I’d still bet against the 34-year-old Gore remaining healthy and effective for the entire season and fantasy owners need to keep in mind that a scenario in which Mack is the feature RB in an Andrew Luck offense is still in play for the latter part of 2017. With the byes still a few weeks away, Mack should be held for a bit longer.

Matt Breida, San Francisco 49ers

Carlos Hyde looks the part of a bellcow so far in 2017, but Matt Breida finally got a chance to contribute in Week 2 at the Seahawks. Granted, we only saw a glimpse of the talent that fed the preseason Breida hype machine, with four carries for 35 yards, but it was encouraging to see his role expand even if it was a modest uptick in work. Prior to the season-opener Hyde said he expected he and Breida to form a new “thunder and lightning” tandem in the backfield. While it’s true that it will likely take a Hyde injury for Breida to be started with confidence, the fact that Hyde has missed 12 games over his last two seasons points to Breida still being one of the most valuable handcuffs in fantasy football. The deep league owners who drafted him should continue to hold.

 

Do Not Cut - Wide Receivers

Sammy Watkins, Los Angeles Rams

Through two weeks, it’s not looking great for Watkins, but the Rams traded quite a lot for him, he’s new to the offense, and he’s working with a head coach that helmed the #3 passing game in the league a year ago. We need to take a long view with Watkins as he simply hasn’t been in LA long enough for us to expect him to have reached his peak performance just yet. I expect some owners to cut bait in shallower formats, but I would hold tight or look to add him if he appears on your league’s waiver wire.

Jamison Crowder, Washington Redskins

See Cousins, Kirk. Crowder was on virtually everyone’s sleeper list entering the season and I’m not ready to buy into the idea that the Redskins will be a low-volume passing game. His leash got a little shorter this week, but remember, some of this underwhelming production could be attributed to the hip flexor injury he was nursing heading into Week 1. Hold Crowder.

Ted Ginn, New Orleans Saints

Two games, two flops, it’s hard to have any confidence in Ted Ginn as a fantasy starter as of right now. That said, he is the quintessential boom or bust player at the WR position and all it takes is a play or two to change the outlook in any given game. I’m giving him at least one more chance in a revenge game at Carolina against his former team on tap for Week 3.

 

Do Not Cut - Tight Ends

Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks

Although his first two games in 2017 have been even worse, it’s worth noting that Graham only caught four of five targets for 53 yards through two games in 2016 as well. Over Graham’s next six games in 2016 he caught 34 passes for 492 yards and three touchdowns. Russell Wilson is once again off to his yearly slow start for fantasy purposes and Graham’s box scores have suffered along with him, but I’d take a hard look at his season line from a year ago (65 catches, 923 yards, 6 TDs) before I did anything hasty.

 

Players To Add - Waiver Wire Pickups