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Targeting weekly waiver picks is a completely subjective business,
but this column hopes to point out some obvious and not-so-obvious
selections to help your team from week to week while you strive
to collect fantasy wins, reach your league playoffs and win the
elusive title that your friends say is out of your grasp. While
I’m a big proponent of making trades to bolster your roster,
the waiver wire can be an almost limitless resource when it comes
to discovering fantasy value in strange places. Each week, I’ll
highlight some of the popular (and not-so-popular) players who can
help your squad and may still be available in your league.
Dalton, CIN – He’s still available in about 20-25 percent
of fantasy leagues, and he’s already thrown eight TD passes this
a season after a 383-3-1 performance in a comeback win over the
Ravens. I’ve always been a huge Dalton fan, and I just don’t understand
why he’s still out there on even shallow-league waiver wires.
He’s a solid QB1 option facing the Chiefs in Week 4.
Mariota, TEN – Okay, so even though he’s not necessarily
a shoo-in for Canton, the 367-2-2 performance shows he can and
will throw the ball when he needs to. Both of the picks he threw
against Indy were costly, but he’s in command of the Titans offense
and his mobility should improve as he recovers from a minor ankle
UPDATE:Reports out of Tennessee
have the Titans brass “torn” about Mariota’s
role as a rusher, since he’s having so much success in the
pocket. He’s a legitimate dual threat and has huge upside
once his legs are under him in the NFL. He’s playing better
than Colin Kaepernick, who scouts compared him to during his days
at Oregon for his straight-line speed and quick-twitch ability.
He’s on a Week 4 bye.
Taylor, BUF – Convinced yet? Taylor now has 714-7-3
through three games and is sporting a 116.1 QB rating. He’s only
owned in about 50-70 percent of fantasy leagues and offers as
much upside as any QB you’ll find on the wire.
Vick, PIT – With Ben Roethlisberger (MCL sprain) out
for at least the next four weeks, the Steelers turn to Vick –
though he’ll mostly be asked to deliver short, accurate passes
to Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown and let them carry the offense.
Still – yards after the catch count as passing yards, and if you
lost Big Ben, Vick (0-5 percent owned) might be the highest-upside
option available in your league.
injury also contains a bone bruise, and his timetable is leaning
more toward the six-week figure. Vick isn’t going to be
asked to replicate the starter’s style, according to Mike
Tomlin. There’s still some big-play upside, but turnovers
are a legitimate concern and Vick is more of a QB2 facing the
Ravens in Week 4.
Carr, OAK – Carr completed 20-of-32 for 314-2-0 in
the win over Cleveland. In the right matchup, he’s a serviceable
QB2 with upside.
Bortles, JAC – If it wasn’t garbage time, Bortles 242-2-1
line would have looked a lot worse. While there’s a possibility
for a decent game against the Colts dinged-up secondary next week,
Bortles is too unpredictable to trust in season-long fantasy.
Bridgewater, MIN – With Adrian Peterson carrying the
load vs. San Diego, Bridgewater (121-0-1) took a back seat and
wasn’t a fantasy factor.
Manziel, CLE – McCown started – and lost, relegating
Manziel to another week in limbo.
UPDATE:Even with McCown’s
hand “a little swollen,” the Browns don’t expect
to start Manziel in Week 4. Of course, this could all change amid
the dysfunctional web of misfiring synapses that characterizes
the Cleveland braintrust.
Weeden, DAL – Weeden was called on to game manage rather
than QB, but completed 22-of-26 pass attempts for 232 yards and
no scores. He threw a second-half INT and made some bad second-half
throws. There’s plenty of room for improvement against the struggling
Saints next week.
McCown, NO – Speaking of the Saints, the offensive
line played well enough to give McCown all kinds of time and plenty
of chance to rack up yardage on short throws (310-0-1), but he
just doesn’t have the ability to make teams pay. He’ll likely
be more aggressive facing the Cowboys on Sunday.
UPDATE:An optimistic Drew
Brees is testing out his injured shoulder this week and if the
“strength and functionality” has returned, he could
play against the Cowboys. Stay tuned.
Williams, BUF – Williams (about 50 percent owned) could
be one of the top adds this week after a third straight game with
a TD. He added 12 carries for 110 yards in the win over Miami.
With LeSean McCoy still nursing a hamstring injury and open to
the possibility of resting for a week or two, Williams could see
an increased workload and more scoring opportunities in the next
couple of weeks (vs. NYG in Week 4; @TEN in Week 5).
UPDATE:Early reports have
McCoy “unlikely” to play in Week 4 against the Giants,
giving Williams entry into RB1 consideration facing a weak defensive
front seven. If you’re struggling at RB and Williams is
available, this could be your week.
Sproles, PHI – He’s not available in too many league
(10-15 percent) and is tough to trust, but when the game plan
involves Sproles (17 rushing yards, TD; 6-19-0, PR TD, he’s an
explosive fantasy contributor with enormous upside. He’ll continue
to split time with Mathews as long as DeMarco Murray (hamstring)
Johnson, ARI – Only 65-75 percent owned despite locking
down the starting job after Week 1, Johnson is experiencing a
second life in Arizona. He racked up 110 yards and two TD on 22
carries in Week 2 against the 49ers.
Mathews, PHI – Mathews looked better in Week 3 than
Murray did in the previous two games, and the Eagles notched their
first win of 2015 behind a solid performance from Sproles and
108 rushing yards from Mathews.
UPDATE:While Chip Kelly must
answer for the huge contract he gave Murray and will likely continue
to give him the most carries when he’s healthy, Mathews
has earned more work going forward and is an effective weapon
in the Eagles’ system.
Andrews, TEN – He was behind the enigmatic Bishop Sankey
and Dexter McCluster on the depth chart, but played a big role
(49 rushing yards, TD) during Week 3. Andrews (0 percent owned)
is worth adding in 12-team leagues.
Williams, NYG – I’m back on the Williams (25-35 percent
owned) bandwagon after he saw most of the snaps in the win over
Washington. Although he tallied just 29 yards on 14 carries, he’s
getting goal line carries and is a much more complete back.
Rawls, SEA – Rawls (about 1 percent owned) saw most
the word after Marshawn Lynch (calf) left with what is being described
as a minor hamstring injury, rushing for 104 yards on 16 carries.
With Lynch’s injuries piling up and Fred Jackson long in the tooth,
we could see a lot more of Rawls in the coming weeks as the Seahawks
plan for the future.
UPDATE:Lynch underwent an
MRI on his hamstring and will be re-evaluated later this week.
He’s considered day-to-day but has an extra day of rest
heading into Monday night’s tilt with Detroit. Rawls is
worth a pickup in all formats, as we really don’t know the
extent of Lynch’s soft-tissue injury.
Dunbar, DAL – After a 10-100-0 game in Week 3, Dunbar
needs to be owned in all 12-team PPR leagues. He’s a reliable
option for Weeden and he was involved even before Tony Romo got
hurt. Pick him up and utilize him as a high-floor flex option
in PPR leagues.
Jones, WAS – Another lost fumble on Thursday night
may mean the big bruiser (6-2, 231) loses some touches back to
Alfred Morris. Jones’ touches were cut in half during the Week
3 loss to the Giants.
UPDATE:Jay Gruden told reporters
this week that Jones’ ball security issues won’t make
the team “shy away” from giving him carries, but that
the rookie is working on protecting the ball by holding it tighter.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? Jones is worth a look as a flex
option this week facing the Eagles, even if his upside is slightly
Starks, GB –UPDATE:Eddie Lacy (ankle) still got the start, but Starks rushed
17 times for 32 yards and caught a pass for 19 yards in the win
over Kansas City. Lacy actually gained more yards (46) on fewer
touches and Starks remains largely a handcuff with Lacy healthy.
Crowell, CLE – He managed just 36 yards on 10 carries
versus the Raiders, but remains a viable risk-reward flex option
in deeper leagues.
McCluster, TEN – McCluster’s lone meaningful contribution
was a 35-yard reception. He ran five times for 7 yards against
Freeman, ATL – I don’t think anyone expected Freeman
to run the ball 30 times against the Cowboys, let alone rack up
141 rushing yards and 3 TDs on the ground. Tack on 5-52-0 and
you have the biggest fantasy output of 2015 thus far.
Ball, FA – Ball remains unsigned following the third
week. It’ll obviously take a few more big injuries to necessitate
someone taking a shot on the 24-year-old Wisconsin alum.
Vereen, NYG – Thursday was a disappointing night for
Vereen, who rushed six times for 23 yards and was held without
a catch after a drive-killing drop during the second half.
Powell, NYJ – Even with Chris Ivory nursing groin and
quad injuries, Powell couldn’t get much going on the ground (10
carries, 31 yards) against the Eagles tough front seven, though
he did pile up 7-44-0 receiving with the Jets trailing and in
passing mode. He’s still fantasy relevant, even if he’s a low-ceiling
UPDATE:Todd Bowles expects
Ivory to be “good to go” against the Dolphins, which
lowers Powell’s prospective value this week.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
Wright, TEN – Believe it or not, Wright is still available
in about 15-20 percent of fantasy leagues (and was only started
in about 25 percent of leagues in Week 3) and has a high ceiling
as a fantasy WR3. He caught 7-95-1 on a team-high 12 targets Sunday
and Mariota seems to trust him implicitly as a third-down option.
UPDATE:Wright is on a Week
4 bye, which means if you don’t have immediate concerns,
he could be a sneaky snag this week.
Randle, NYG – He hauled in 7-116-1 on Thursday and
remains just 25-35 percent owned in fantasy leagues. Eli Manning
has looked much better following a terrible preseason and the
Giants offense will need to rely on Randle and TE Larry Donnell
with Odell Beckham Jr. seeing consistent double coverage.
Britt, STL – The Rams didn’t take advantage of the
Steelers’ weak secondary, but Britt did manage 7-102-0 on 10 targets
from Nick Foles in Sunday’s loss. He and fellow WR Tavon Austin
will have a difficult time against the Cardinals in Week 4, but
the schedule looks a lot easier after the team’s Week 6 bye.
Jones, CIN – Jones (5-94-1 on eight targets Sunday)
is a tough nut to crack from a fantasy perspective, because he’s
got game-breaking ability and sometimes explodes for monster stat
lines. He’s owned in just 25 percent of leagues and is wildly
inconsistent, but offers some upside when he’s in the game plan.
Montgomery, GB –Davante Adams re-injured
his ankle early on and didn’t make it back into the game
Monday night, with Montgomery (10-15 percent owned) assuming No.
3 WR duties behind Randall Cobb and James Jones. It was nice to
see the young WR haul in a TD pass, but after a couple costly
penalties on the rookie, he wasn’t targeted as much. Stil,
Aaron Rodgers likes to spread the ball around and Montgomery is
worth adding in 12-team leagues.
Barnidge, CLE – Universally available in all formats,
Barnidge came out of nowhere with 6-105-1 on 10 targets Sunday
to lead the hapless Browns. With Dwayne Bowe a healthy scratch
and the entire offense looking for a viable identity, Barnidge
supplies as much hope as any player aside from Week 2 standout
Clay, BUF – Clay’s upside is somewhat limited, and
his usage against the Dolphins could have played a bit too perfectly
into the narrative of the Bills stealing him away from his old
team – but his 5-82-1 performance (seven targets) shows the Bills
consider him a useful weapon and the offense looks more explosive
than it has in years. Just 20-30 percent owned, he’s a solid TE2
with marginal upside who’s caught TD passes in two consecutive
Robinson, JAC – The Patriots game-planned to stop Robinson
and it worked. The big, physical and athletic WR caught four of
nine targets for 68 yards and no scores in the loss to New England.
Smith, SF – Arizona stuck Patrick Peterson on the veteran
and he was held catchless in Week 3’s biggest blowout. The 49ers
are lost offensively and will struggle against good defenses.
Boldin, SF – Boldin showed his age with a 2-16-0 performance,
though Colin Kaepernick had the worst performance of his career
on Sunday (16.7 passer rating).
Crabtree, OAK – After a big Week 2, Crabtree was relatively
quiet on Sunday with 4-36-0. He remains a WR3/4 with upside.
Baldwin, SEA – Baldwin caught all three targets for
3-35-0 in the win over the Bears.
Hankerson, ATL – The Falcons ran a lot, and Hankerson
finished with 3-45-0 and a couple bad drops. He’s still a better
fantasy option than Roddy White for now.
Heyward-Bey, PIT – with Le’Veon Bell back, DHB’s usage
decreased and he caught just 3-19-0 in win over the Rams. Losing
Roethlisberger is going to hurt his value.
Woods, BUF – Woods secured 4-38-0 on five targets in
the win over Miami, and if Sammy Watkins (calf) misses time, he
could see 3-4 more targets per game.
Brown, CAR – His lone touch came on the game’s first
offensive play – a 12-yard rush. Even after a productive Week
2 and with Jerricho Cotchery out, the Panthers don’t seem enamored
with Brown right now.
Matthews, MIA – Matthews had a monster Week 3 with
6-113-2 on 10 targets from Ryan Tannehill. There are plenty of
passing options at Tannehill’s disposal, but he seems to prefer
Matthews on the edge and as a deep option, with Jarvis Landry
handling the middle of the field.
Gillmore, BAL – Gillmore had a quiet game (3-40-0,
3 targets), as it became the Steve Smith/A.J. Green show in the
UPDATE:Gillmore missed practice
Monday and played just 31 of 75 snaps during Sunday’s game.
He’s looking more like a TE2 with some upside in the right
matchup, rather than a low-end TE1.
Fasano, TEN – Fasano hauled in just 1-26-0 with Delanie
Walker back as the Titans No. 1 TE.