Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Once your NFL fantasy draft is over and the season has begun, the most difficult decisions are rarely who to start...most lineups can be run by "autopilot." No, the decisions which frequently determine winners and losers is making the correct waiver claims.
It's knowing who will thrive in a new role, who will take advantage of an opportunity.
Just last week we saw a couple of examples.
The smart fantasy owner picked up Denver wideout Eric Decker after seeing Brandon Lloyd join the ranks of the injured alongside Demaryius Thomas. Decker came through in a big way catching five of nine targets for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
Decker was a preseason deep sleeper pick (fantasyfootballnerd.com rank 244 in August) in many experts' opinions and this one came to fruition in just a couple of weeks. The second-year receiver out of Minnesota should continue to produce even if Lloyd returns this week now that Eddie Royal will be sidelined for 2-4 weeks with a groin strain.
Another receiver who stepped up was Oakland wideout Denarius Moore. The former Volunteer had been the best Raiders' receiver in exhibition games, but was still going to have to wait his turn behind Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy and Jacoby Ford. Injuries to Heyward-Bey, Ford, Murphy and tight end Kevin Boss left the short-handed Raiders no choice but to rely on the rookie and he came through with flying colors. Moore was targeted a team-high eight times and hauled in five for 146 yards and a score.
And in New Orleans, where its almost impossible to know who Drew Brees will feature each week, owners were faced with a decision between likely free agents Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem.
Obviously, Henderson was the right call in Week 2 after he hauled in a 79-yard touchdown pass and totaled 103 yards for the afternoon.
This week's key decisions feature a choice of running backs in Kansas City for the injured fantasy first-rounder Jamaal Charles, a choice in Buffalo where both starting wide receivers may not play and another running back choice in Dallas.
In Kansas City you must choose between reliable, but on the downside of his career, Thomas Jones or second-year speedster Dexter McCluster. Neither will be an equal replacement for Charles, the No.3 or No.4 overall pick on Draft Day, but Jones should get the majority of the running workload while McCluster should be the third-down receiving back...at least for this week.
Buffalo's star receiver Steve Johnson had a solid week against Oakland, but re-injured his groin and along with the sidelined Roscoe Parrish leaves an opportunity with the suddenly high-scoring Bills. Most of the "early money" is on David Nelson to fill the void. He should be in the slot receiver role and in a Chan Gailey offense that's a highly-used asset. The other option is lightly-owned Donald Jones who has just six catches for 27 yards in the first two contests. We go along with the crowd and expect Nelson to be the best option.
Finally, in Dallas, Felix Jones is once again struggling with an injury - his shoulder. That's likely to cause down time which will open up a spot for either Tashard Choice or rookie DeMarco Murray. This one may not be valuable in Week 3, but down the road either Choice or Murray is sure to start at least one game this season. Choice was the first guy off the bench last week, but Murray has more ability to break a long run. If you have an open spot, I'd take a flier on Murray.