Chiefs' backups Jones, McCluster offer little return for loss of Charles
Neither Thomas Jones nor Dexter McCluster will produce close to Jamaal Charles
Ben Tate is likely to remain busy for Texans even after return of Arian Foster
David Nelson will remian a threat for Bills playing opposite Stevie Johnson
It feels crass to look at the ending of a promising young player's season from a fantasy football perspective, but since this is a fantasy football column and that's what everyone did on Twitter anyway, let's go ahead.
Jamaal Charles is out for the year after planting his knee funny (and then crashing into the Lions' mascot, Roary). It's sad for him and sad to a lesser extent for fantasy owners of the Chiefs running back. It's the second major fantasy injury this season, after Peyton Manning, and dejected owners who have both can probably pack it in this season.
The guy to target this week is Thomas Jones, who has rushed 13 times for 43 yards this season. He has the most carries on the team this year, and the Chiefs can't be down by 30 every week, can they?
Another interesting option is Dexter McCluster, who's eligible at either wide receiver or running back depending on what league you're in. He's rushed 12 times this year and been targeted for 10 passes. He's too small to get a full workload, so he's not a great RB option, but if he continues to get a bunch of carries and targets he's a useful third or fourth wide receiver.
Neither guy is going to put up great numbers, certainly not as good as would have been expected from Charles. Here's the rest of the waiver pickups for Week 2.
Cam Newton, Panthers (79 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues): If your league doesn't use a waiver system (and it should), Newton is probably gone. But he was left unprotected in a lot of leagues on the advice of many cautious people (including myself) and managed to throw for more yards against the Super Bowl champions than he did in his debut (432-422). He also threw a bunch of picks, but, two weeks in, he is one of the top fantasy quarterbacks. Might as well grab him now if he's still available.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills (64 percent): He put up almost identical fantasy point totals last Sunday as his first week, and against a better defense. The Bills' blocking looks good, and although the schedule gets harder, if you're stuck looking for a quarterback in Week 2, Fitzpatrick is likely to be the best one available.
Cut bait on: Donovan McNabb, Vikings. Some thought he was a decent late-round flier. Some were wrong. While he looked better on Sunday -- he surpassed his Week 1 total of 39 yards in the first half -- there is almost certainly a better option on the waiver wire for your league, even as a backup.
Ben Tate, Texans (64 percent): Arian Foster returned to the Texans lineup and Tate still got 23 carries (Foster re-aggravated his hamstring injury). The Texans drafted Tate high; they're going to run him even if Foster is healthy. He won't keep rushing for over 100 yards once Foster gets closer to 100 percent but he's looking like a good flex option.
DeMarco Murray, Cowboys (11 percent): Felix Jones separated his right shoulder on Sunday; if he can't go this weekend, Murray is the likely starter. Tashard Choice, owned in 10 percent of leagues, is another option. Neither back did much against the 49ers; Murray carried six times for 21 yards while Choice had five carries for five yards. If you're stuck with Jones it might be worthwhile to handcuff Murray to him.
Roy Helu, Redskins (23 percent): Helu won't end up in your lineup that soon, but the fourth-round pick from Nebraska has already worked his way into Mike Shanahan's lineup and is an intriguing bench stash for later in the season. He carried 10 times for 74 yards and was targeted on four passes; if he continues to get more work, it's conceivable he could be the No. 1 guy eventually. If you have a spare roster spot, it's worth thinking about.
Cut bait on: Nobody. It's Week 2, and running backs are a valuable commodity. DeAngelo Williams owners ought to be concerned, though, and should grab Jonathan Stewart (owned in 58 percent of leagues) if he's on the waiver wire.
David Nelson, Bills (7 percent): If Buffalo's offense is as high-octane as it looks, Nelson is an interesting play as the Bills' No. 2 wideout. He was targeted 13 times on Sunday and caught 10 passes for 83 yards and the game-winning score. Stevie Johnson draws all the attention, so Nelson may have a few more big games.
Eric Decker, Broncos (19 percent): Decker's fantasy owners have reaped the benefits of a banged-up Broncos receiving corps, but the second-year man was expected to be worked into the offense more this season regardless. After Eddie Royal went down with an injury -- and with Brandon Lloyd out on Sunday and Demaryius Thomas out for a while -- Decker caught five passes for 113 yards and two scores on nine targets. He might get squeezed eventually, but not if he keeps up this play.
Nate Washington, Titans (11 percent): The Titans stunned the Ravens on Sunday; Washington was targeted 11 times. He caught seven of those passes for 99 yards and is the clear No. 2 in Tennessee.
Devery Henderson, Saints (65 percent): Most of Henderson's yardage in Week 2 came on a 79-yard touchdown catch from Drew Brees; he was only targeted three times. If you're in need of a third wide receiver for a spell, he'll continue to get big-play opportunities.
Cut bait on: Lee Evans, Ravens. Evans has only 45 yards this year and an injured foot could keep him out a few games. Put him on the injury list if your league has one, but if not he's probably a safe drop. There are most likely better options available.
Fred Davis, Redskins (21 percent): More owners actually have Chris Cooley (32 percent) than Davis, which is ridiculous considering the stats (191 yards and a score for Davis to 21 yards for Cooley). Cooley's staying in to block and Davis is running downfield routes. He had six catches for 86 yards for a score Sunday. Swap him for Cooley if you have him.
Scott Chandler, Bills (36 percent): The Buffalo tight end had a touchdown on Sunday, his third score of the year, but was only targeted four times. He's didn't play too many snaps, but he's a clear red zone option. He had another pass play stopped at the 1-yard line.
Cut bait on: Cooley, for the reasons stated above.
Jason Hanson, Lions (21 percent): Detroit's offense looks pretty mighty through two games. Hanson's a reliable kicker. If the Lions are a 9-to-10 win team, Hanson's going to get plenty of opportunity for points.
John Kasay (22 percent): Kasay struggled in preseason after Garrett Hartley got hurt, but he's 5-for-5 on field goals this year and is the kicker for a high-powered offense for a few more weeks. You can always pick up Hartley when he returns.
Dallas (69 percent): That's two strong performances from Rob Ryan's crew. They're going fast, so grab them while you can.
San Francisco (57 percent): The 49ers' pass defense might be a mess, but they still don't have a hard schedule and they've been forcing fumbles and getting picks.
Atlanta (45 percent): The Falcons gave up a decent amount of points in their first two games -- 30 to Chicago (one was an INT return) and 31 to Philadelphia -- but they've forced a bunch of turnovers, returning an interception for a touchdown against the Bears and picking off another pass against the Eagles. Atlanta also forced three fumbles in both games, recovering two of Vick's on Sunday night. Fumble recoveries are essentially random; they could start falling on those fumbles eventually. Just avoid them if your league penalizes a lot for giving up points.