As you rigorously prepare and research leading into each week of DFS, injuries are always going to change the landscape. “Next Man Up” is a series that examines players who are now being propelled into the starting role (thus creating a larger opportunity for that player), whether it be via injury, or simply a change to the depth chart. 

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Kamar Aiken — WR, Baltimore Ravens

 

The Ravens got their first win of the season against the Steelers last week, but it came at a price — a back injury to Steve Smith Sr. Now Joe Flacco’s top (and almost only) option is banged up after posting monster numbers to begin the year.

No doubt Smith is going to want to return to the field ASAP (especially in his final season), but while he’s still sidelined/limited, Flacco’s going to have to find a new option to lean on.

Kamar Aiken is going to be that option by default.

Ravens fans are still awaiting the debut of Breshad Perriman, but according to his coach, the rookie has one of the “all-time slowest healing strained PCLs ever.” He went on to say it’s not Perriman’s fault, but that’s definitely not something you want coming out of your coach’s mouth.

Aiken has been very matchup dependent so far this season, combining for one catch for negative yards in two games against solid defenses (Denver/Cincy). But he managed to go off for 10 catches, 166 yards and a touchdown against two opponents with sketchy secondaries (Oakland/Pittsburgh). Also, keep in mind that Aiken’s TD did come against the Steelers after Smith had been injured — a good sign for his relationship with Flacco moving forward.

I’m not going to tell you that Aiken is the most talented WR in his price range on DraftKings ($3,800), but he should have the most opportunities for as long as Smith is out. This week he’ll be facing a weak Cleveland defense that has been unsuccessful against the pass so far this season, leaving him a chance to get things started on the right foot as the WR1.

Even with Smith in the lineup, as long as he’s not at 100%, Aiken is going to see a boost in targets — especially considering the injuries the Ravens are battling at the tight end position as well.

Baltimore never wanted it to come to this, but Kamar Aiken is being throw into the spotlight. We’ll need to see how he responds when given the chance, but he’s going to have a big opportunity to be the featured weapon on a Ravens team that’s playing angry.

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