13 waiver wire targets for fantasy football in Week 2

Take a look at the top targets on the fantasy football waiver wire in Week 2.

Just like that, the first week of fantasy football has come and gone.

It was a pretty wild opening weekend for fantasy managers. There were some explosive performances from the studs across the league while we also encountered some surprises along the way.

With rosters and roles settling, the waiver wire will be a much less chaotic place. However, that doesn’t make it any less valuable. In fact, working the waiver wire is from where league champions emerge. Drafting is great for setting a team’s foundation, but the real work comes through the waiver wire.

It’s best not to overreact to all of the Week 1 hoopla. However, we do need to take note of certain storylines, especially when it pertains to usage. Volume drives fantasy points, so that’s one of the aspects we should be looking for on the waiver wire.

We’ll be taking a look at the top available players rostered in ESPN leagues, using the 75% mark as the threshold. If you have any questions about prioritizing a certain player over another, don’t be afraid to hit me up on Twitter (@KevinHickey11). Your questions, comments, and roasts are always welcome!

Regardless of whether you won or lost, here are 13 players to target on the waiver wire for fantasy football in Week 2:

2022 NFL draft: The top 11 running backs

Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar analyzes the top 11 running backs in the 2022 NFL draft class.

Yesterday, Mark Schofield kicked off this year’s draft position rankings for Touchdown Wire with his Top 11 quarterbacks. Now, it’s time to get into the 11 best running backs in this class. And before we even start analyzing these backs, a few words on the “Running backs don’t matter” thing you hear all the time.

First of all, only a Sith deals in absolutes. Don’t be a Sith.

Second, there are all kinds of running backs for all types of schemes, and this particular class is as deep and varied as any I can remember in recent years. Each one of the 11 backs profiled here, and several others who just missed the cut, have the opportunity to “matter” in the NFL as they did in college.

When we say “Running backs don’t matter,” what we’re generally insinuating beyond the bumper-sticker sloganeering is the idea that it’s unwise to spend too much draft capital or free-agent money on any running back, because the position is fungible with very few exceptions. While that may be true for the rank and file, tell the Tennessee Titans that Derrick Henry doesn’t matter. Tell the Indianapolis Colts that Jonathan Taylor doesn’t matter. Once their coaches are done laughing, come back and we’ll continue.

At any level of football, running backs are like insurance. They don’t necessarily matter until they do, at which point, they REALLY matter.

When Henry missed nine games for the Titans last season due to injury, per Sports Info Solutions, Tennessee’s Offensive EPA dropped from 0.08 to -0.1, their Passing EPA went from 0.15 to -0.11, and their Rushing EPA plummeted from 0.03 to -0.09. The mere threat of Henry on the field changed the structure and complexion of the Titans’ offense, and how defenses dealt with that offense. Tennessee went with a lot more 11 personnel with Henry off the field, the favored 12 personnel packages went out the window, they faced fewer stacked boxes, and the reliance was more on quarterback Ryan Tannehill than it obviously would have been for the team’s actual field-tilter on that side of the ball. Henry also covered any gaps in the quality of Tennessee’s offensive line, and that’s another attribute common among the best backs throughout pro football history.

Henry, Taylor, and that rare ilk represent the true franchise-defining backs, and there are never more than a small handful at any given time, but the point is that such players still do exist, and even the best role-players in committees make differences well ahead of the norm.

Each of the 11 backs profiled in this year’s rankings has something special to offer, so let’s get down to extrapolating their best, and most questionable, traits to the NFL.

(All advanced metrics courtesy of Pro Football Focus and Sports Info Solutions unless otherwise indicated. All testing data comes from the 2022 scouting combine, with percentile per position, courtesy of MockDraftable.com). 

Know your foe, Oklahoma State: Which Cowboys could give Notre Dame issues

These Cowboys won’t make life easy for the Irish

The day is finally here, after waiting over a month, the Irish hit the field on New Year’s day to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Big XII runners-up will be a challenge for Notre Dame, who has a current 7-game winning streak. They haven’t faced a ranked team since their only loss of the season, to College Football Playoff participant Cincinnati, so the quality of opponent will be much different. Find out below which Cowboys could give the Irish issues in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.

3 key defensive players to watch for the Oklahoma Sooners versus Oklahoma State

Here’s three key defensive players to keep an eye on for the Oklahoma Sooners as they travel to take on Oklahoma State in Bedlam.

Oklahoma enters Bedlam feeling great about itself defensively. The Sooners smothered Iowa State for the most part. OU recorded seven sacks, 11 tackles for loss and created three Cyclones turnovers.

As the stage is set for Bedlam with an Oklahoma offense that has been limping in of late, the impetus for that type of defensive performance to continue is at a fever pitch.

At least going in, it feels like the Sooners need to come close to matching last week’s defensive showing.

So, let’s take a look at which Oklahoma defensive players need to step up in order for the Sooners to punch their ticket into the Big 12 championship game.

Woodi Washington, cornerback

It’s uncertain whether or not sophomore cornerback D.J. Graham will be available for Oklahoma on Saturday. Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley had this to say on Graham’s status earlier this week.

“Questionable right now. But I would say questionable. Yeah, we’ll see how the week progresses,” Riley said.

Assuming Graham can’t go, that means how redshirt sophomore cornerback Woodi Washington plays is all the more important. If Graham is out, expect Washington to get the bulk of the responsibility covering the Cowboys’ top receiving target, Tay Martin.

The senior wide receiver has 54 grabs for 765 receiving yards with six receiving touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver Brennan Presley has 35 receptions for 422 yards and five touchdowns in his own right, so he’s someone Oklahoma will have to worry about as well.

Still, if Graham is sidelined and Washington assumes the coverage responsibility on Martin, then how well that matchup goes for Washington will help decide who wins Bedlam.

Washington finished tied with the team-high in tackles in the Sooners’ 41-13 win over the Cowboys last season with his eight stops.

DaShaun White, linebacker

It’s a massive day for the linebackers in general. Let’s highlight senior linebacker DaShaun White. If things go south for Oklahoma, this could be White’s final Big 12 game in a Sooner uniform.

White is eligible to return with an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID season if he so chooses. Right now, that’s uncertain. Certainly, White doesn’t want his final statement in Big 12 play to be a disappointing one.

Oklahoma State junior quarterback Spencer Sanders has been intercepted just once in the Cowboys’ past five games. That’s due in large part thanks to its outstanding defense and what senior running back Jaylen Warren has been able to provide in the ground game.

Warren has carried it 220 times for 1,078 rushing yards for Oklahoma State and he’s found the end zone 10 times.

Oklahoma needs to be sound in the run game and force Sanders to have to make throws in the passing game. In order to do so, White and redshirt junior linebacker Brian Asamoah both need big days stuffing the Cowboys’ rushing attack.

“Yeah, I just see guys getting movement. I think when you look at the running game, as much as anything, guys use the term winning the line of scrimmage, and you just make note of that as you watch it on film. You’re seeing, you know, the opposite color jersey from the defensive standpoint going in the wrong direction and the offense going kind of like a wave going down field, and obviously the tailback is doing a great job of finding the crease and kind of making you pay for it. And so it’s just a downhill style running,” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said of Oklahoma State’s running game.

Isaiah Thomas, defensive lineman

When Oklahoma has been at its best defensively, redshirt senior defensive lineman Isaiah Thomas has been at his individual best.

Just look at some of the Sooners’ best halves or games of defensive football this season.

Against Texas, Thomas had a sack and a pair of tackles for loss to help spark the Sooners’ Red River rally. In Oklahoma’s blowout win over Texas Tech, Thomas directly influenced a pair of turnovers and finished with a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. Then, last week versus Iowa State, Thomas recorded a pair of sacks and two more tackles for loss.

It’s no secret. The Sooners need that to be the case from Thomas again versus the Cowboys.

The other part of the defensive pressure puzzle is this: Cowboys quarterback Spencer Sanders has been sacked just once in Oklahoma State’s past four games. He’s also thrown just the lone interception over OSU’s last five games.

If Oklahoma wants to create turnovers, they need to make Sanders’ evening uncomfortable. That hasn’t been the case for him of late. That starts up front with Thomas being a hunter.

“And we use the term hunt at times. We need to go hunt. We’ve got to go hunt that football. We can’t be okay getting blocked,” Grinch said.

Contact/Follow us @SoonersWire on Twitter, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Oklahoma news, notes, and opinions.

Wild weekend leads to movement in Big 12 power rankings after Week 8

After a crazy Week 8 of Big 12 games, how does the Big 12 stack up in this week’s power rankings?

The Oklahoma Sooners’ matchup with the Kansas Jayhawks was one example of the wild weekend of football in the Big 12. Oklahoma State lost its first game of the season, and West Virginia slowed the high octane TCU Horned Frogs to pick up their first conference win.

Baylor and Texas, who had bye weeks before their big Central Texas showdown next Saturday, got to sit back and watch the madness happen.

Let’s take a look at how the Big 12 teams stack up after Week 8.

Studs and duds from Texas’ loss to Oklahoma State

It was hard to find studs on this one.

If we are being honest, there is little to be positive about from the Texas perspective. The first quarter was a positive, as it was against Oklahoma, but after that, it was rough.

The ‘All Gas, No Brakes’ mantra is coming to an abrupt end. When it seems that Texas has control, they let up in the second half.

Steve Sarkisian needed this win in order to control Texas’ destiny in terms of the Big 12 title. Their fate is now out of their hands. Where do they go from here?

Sarkisian will have a tough decision to make in terms of the quarterback position going forward.

Here are the studs and duds from Texas’ loss to Oklahoma State

Recapping the Big 12 Weekend that was

Oklahoma got the big win against Kansas State. But how did the rest of the Big 12 fair?

The Oklahoma Sooners got another close win to remain undefeated on the year, defeating Kansas State for the first time since 2018, 37-31. However, this win may have been the Sooners’ most complete performance of the season.

Spencer Rattler played great, throwing more touchdowns (2) than interceptions (1) for 243 yards as the offense scored on seven of its eight drives. While some may look at the 37-31 box score and worry about another one-score win, Oklahoma continues to improve to remain ahead of surging Big 12 foes Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Texas.

Utah State Football: Players to watch on Offense and Defense in 2020

The players to keep a close eye on in 2020 for USU.

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Contact/Follow @SamMcConkie & @MWCwire

Who will stand out and elevate the Aggies?

With the 2020 season (hopefully) coming up on its opening date, Aggie fans have plenty to look forward to in terms of on-field talent being displayed. I expect many of the players on this list will flourish compared to where they were last year. Some are in their final years of eligibility, and others have much to prove after being sidelined for various reasons.

Without further ado, here is my list of the top players to watch on offense and defense for the 2020 edition of the Utah State Aggies.

Defense

1. CJ Pollard, S

USU hit the jackpot with portal transfers this off-season. Pollard comes in as a graduate transfer from USC with one year of eligibility remaining. For a young defense that needs all the help it can get, Pollard is a greatly needed addition to bolster the defensive backfield.

With the Trojans, Pollard totaled up 30 career tackles, 3.5 for a loss and 0.5 sacks in three seasons. Though these numbers are modest, Pollard was nonetheless a very highly rated prospect coming out of high school. The physical talent and measurements are certainly there to succeed in Utah State’s scheme. His presence in the backfield will greatly help out senior Shaq Bond as the defense looks to do better than its 86th rank in 2019 for 238.6 passing yards allowed per game.

2. Hale Motu’apuaka, DL

The sophomore defensive lineman recently made it back to the team after an off-season hiatus. As a freshman in 2019 for the Aggies, Motu’apuaka tallied 13 tackles (5-solo, 8-assist), which included 0.5 tackles for loss, to go along with one quarterback hurry. He red-shirted in 2018.

With the Aggies abandoning the 4-3 base defense in favor of the 3-4 scheme they have traditionally run, this player is ripe to make a jump in production for the team. He has excellent size and measurements and he’s certain to be a key part of the defensive line rotation along with SR players Soni Fata and Caden Andersen.

Even if he doesn’t get a ton of tackles or make flashy plays, Motu’apuaka will be able to take up blocks and clog the middle against opposing rushers with ease. His natural fit in USU’s traditional scheme will significantly bolster the rush defense, which gave up a dismal 201.9 ypg in 2019.

3. Eric Munoz, LB

Aggie fans no doubt remember Munoz’s memorable heroics in a slugfest vs the Pokes in 2019. Though it was just his first career start, Munoz made the most of it as he recorded a career-high 13 tackles, including 0.5 tackles for loss, and nabbed two interceptions, including the game-winner. After the game, he opened up on his struggles to find playing time at different schools and how he finally broke through for the Aggies.

Making the story even sweeter, Munoz earned a scholarship within a week after the Aggies retained the Hawkin rifle trophy against their Mountain division rival.

With the switch over to the 3-4 scheme, Munoz will have an excellent opportunity to put his stamp on this year’s defense along with fellow SR Kevin Meitzenheimer. He’ll be afforded more opportunities to blitz opposing QBs and more chances to ensure his final year of eligibility ends with a bang. His emotion is as refreshing as it is inspiring.

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Offense

1. Jaylen Warren, RB

My regular readers know how high I am on this senior running back. Nonetheless, I don’t think it can be overstated just how important Warren is to the rushing attack this season. If he were to go down with an injury, it would be a savage blow to a position group that struggled previously struggled to establish genuine consistency. Ranking just a modest 73rd in 2019 with 152.2 ypg, USU’s run game needs to do better this year if they want to improve on their 7-6 record.

When Warren is healthy, he’s a load to tackle and he runs angry. He’s also a legitimate pass-catching threat as well, so it helps stifle any temptation opposing defenses have to stack the box against him. Warren carried the ball 112 times for 569 yards (5.1 ypc/47.4 ypg) and five touchdowns last year. Those are strong numbers in a vacuum, and they will get better if he avoids the injury bug in 2020. His spot on the 2020 Doak Walker Award watchlist is well justified and he may just be the best offensive weapon USU has going forward.

2. Jason Shelley, QB

With Henry Colombi transferring to Texas Tech, the Aggies desperately need strong leadership at the QB position to calm the team waters. Fortunately, Jason Shelley may be just what the Aggies need to succeed in 2020.

Shelley is a true dual-threat QB, which is very much in line with the QBs Andersen has recruited to USU in the past. Combined with the run-heavy emphasis the Aggies will be relying on this year, his skillset is naturally-attuned to this offensive scheme. Shelley earned five starts at QB for the Utes and overall produced 1,428 yards of total offense, combining 1,205 passing yards and 223 rushing yards. If runners like Warren ease the pressure on him, don’t be surprised to see this QB turn into an All-league talent by season’s end.

3. Justin McGriff, WR

USU’s passing game last year was good, but it nonetheless left something to be desired. The recent addition of JUCO transfer Justin McGriff will hopefully boost the passing offense closer to where it was in 2018.

He is the third-highest rated commit in Utah State history, according to the 247 sports composite ranking. In his one year at ASA Miami, Justin pulled in 25 receptions for 360 yards and 8 touchdowns, some very solid numbers. In terms of size, he’s quite similar to former Aggie star receiver Ron’quavion Tarver. With McGriff’s presence on the field, the Aggie offense will have a chance to be multi-dimensional again. McGriff can also win the jump ball battles USU often failed to get in 2019.

No disrespect to senior receivers Savon Scarver and Jordan Nathan, but they’ll produce more for the team with McGriff’s services, which makes him a player that both fans and opposing teams will need to keep a close eye on.

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