COVID-19 could rear its ugly head yet again as it slithered its way into the Atlanta Falcons’ organization. As of Thursday night, there had not yet been any reason to cancel their game against the Minnesota Vikings, but you never know with this virus. The biggest name in fantasy for Atlanta this season hasn’t been Julio Jones, it’s been Calvin Ridley. If this game is scrapped for the week, fantasy owners would sorely miss fantasy’s third-highest scoring receiver.
For now, there’s a strong chance the game is played as usual, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Keep an eye on these possible emergency replacements if Ridley and the Falcons can’t suit up this week. The same goes for any Indianapolis Colts or Cincinnati Bengals receivers, as that game is now in jeopardy as of Friday morning.
Chase Claypool (WR - PIT) | Started in 15% of leagues
The golden boy of this week’s waiver wire column returns to grace your screens yet again. Interestingly enough, I warned about overpaying for Claypool on Monday, but now with Diontae Johnson likely out for Sunday’s matchup against Cleveland, I’ve officially given into the Claypool hype. He gets a juicy divisional matchup against a Browns’ secondary that has given up the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season. On top of that, Claypool proved in his breakout game that he can and will likely be an integral part of the Steelers’ offense. It’s all a recipe for success, so promote Claypool to the starting lineup if you lose a starting receiver.
Jamison Crowder (WR - NYJ) | Started in 49% of leagues
Crowder may be too big of a name for this list, but that start percentage is alarming. He’s a machine in the slot, and unlike a real slot machine, Crowder is a gift that keeps on giving. He’s averaged 22.5 points and 11 targets per game. That’s money, especially when Joe Flacco needs an easy option to dump off to. Crowder has been the lone bright spot on the Jets’ offense, and maybe even the whole team. The Dolphins are nearly double-digit favorites in this game, which could mean a negative game script for New York and hence, more passes.
Justin Jefferson (WR - MIN) | Started in 46% of leagues
Obviously, if the Falcons game gets canceled, Jefferson can’t qualify as a replacement. But if it does go on as planned, it could be a high-scoring battle between the Vikings and the Falcons. And know what comes out of high-scoring games? Lots of fantasy points. As it stands, this game is looking to be one of those games—BetOnline has it at 54 projected points. That helps Jefferson, who was balling before a lackluster Week 5 performance. He’s the clear No. 2 behind Adam Thielen, which is an interesting situation to be in. I expect Thielen to ball out, but if the game does end up producing points, Jefferson could reap the benefits too. He’s the second-most targeted player on Minnesota and faces an Atlanta secondary that’s given up more than 45 fantasy points to opposing receivers all but once this season. He’s not a priority play, but if you need him, Jefferson isn’t a bad option to slot into your lineup.
Free Agent Options
Keelan Cole (WR - JAX) | Rostered in 14% of leagues
Why is Cole this available? He’s averaging 12.2 points and has yet to dip below eight points in a game. Consistency is a great asset to any fantasy owner, and Cole fits that bill. It gives you a much better idea of how a player will perform. Plus, the Jaguars face the Lions this week. Some stats: Jacksonville is tied for the fifth-most pass attempts and Detroit has given up 31.8 points per game. I guess the Jaguars could run the ball more if they go up, but they’ve led their opponents for just over 22 combined minutes this season. I’d expect them to still toss the rock, which bodes very well for Cole. D.J. Chark didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday, and Laviska Shenault was limited. As the team’s main slot receiver, Cole could now see more than his six targets per game.
Christian Kirk (WR - ARI) | Rostered in 45% of leagues
Kirk isn’t the most convincing pick this week, but he has some intrigue. Speaking of confidence, his fantasy owners seem to have little of it because Kirk is a starter in roughly 7% of leagues. After he was tabbed by many as a sleeper this season, Kirk has failed to live up to such expectations. However, he could still be a solid last-minute replacement. Over his last three games, Kirk has averaged 10.6 points, which isn’t great but it’s not bad, either. Kirk and the up-tempo Cardinals’ offense will face a very susceptible Dallas secondary Monday night. If he can see seven targets for the second-straight week, Kirk could put up double-digit numbers.