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Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 3

By Matt Schauf | Updated on Wed, 20 Sep 2023 . 10:54 AM EDT

Waiver Wire Targets 

 

Shallow Leagues

Jerome Ford, RB, Cleveland Browns

Cleveland’s new lead back should be picked up in all leagues this week, across formats. More on him in the next section.

Tutu Atwell, WR, Los Angeles Rams

Will he stay fantasy-relevant once Cooper Kupp returns to the field? We’ll see. At the moment, though, Atwell sits 16th among WRs in PPR points and tied for 16th at the position in targets – even with Puka Nacua dominating work.

Bet on the Rams continuing to sport plenty of passing volume. And bet on QB Matthew Stafford continuing to be good at football.

That’s really all we need for Atwell to make sense as a fantasy WR3 the next two weeks.

Adam Thielen, WR, Carolina Panthers

If you’re looking for something exciting, move on to another player.

If you’re looking for a guy with access to meaningful targets every week, then Thielen can help.

His 9 targets tied for 15th among WRs in Week 2 and accounted for 27.3% of QB Bryce Young’s total attempts. Thielen had 5 receptions vs. 3 combined for the rest of the team at halftime. And he caught the team’s lone TD (from 3 yards out) in the loss to the Saints.

Thielen has been a red-zone favorite for as long as he’s been an NFL starter and sets up as the most reliable option for a rookie QB. You could do worse at a WR4 or low-WR3 spot.

Hunter Henry, TE, New England Patriots

Through two weeks, only two tight ends have more receptions than Henry. And no QB has more completions or pass attempts than Mac Jones.

Both of those things are likely to change. But Henry’s clearly a central component of a passing offense that’s much improved over last year. That has produced TD receptions in each game so far, an area in which Henry has always performed above average.

Henry makes sense as a low-end TE1 and insurance in case your higher-drafted TE has started sluggishly.

New England Patriots DST

The Patriots are rostered in 65% of Yahoo leagues as of this writing. If that doesn’t include your league … 

GRAB THEM. Zach Wilson’s next.

You won’t want to use the Pats at Dallas in Week 4, but they might be worth holding through that for a Week 5 home date with the Saints and then a visit to the Raiders.

Kansas City Chiefs DST

Welcome to this week’s edition of “whoever’s playing the Bears.” The Chiefs also have already found a home in more than half of Yahoo leagues, though.

Need an option not listed here? Check our Week 3 DST rankings.

TIP

Our Free Agent Finder will highlight the top waiver wire options available in YOUR specific league, with lots of different sorting options to fit what you need.

 

12-Team Leagues

All of these players sit available in more than 65% of Yahoo leagues, as of this writing.

Jerome Ford, RB, Cleveland Browns

Rostered: 11% of Yahoo leagues
Blind-bid recommendation: 30-85%

Ford is THE pickup of this week and one of the highest-upside options you’ll find all year. Think Kenneth Gainwell from a week ago, minus any D’Andre Swift waiting behind him.

Ford worked in for 1 carry before Nick Chubb went down early in the second quarter Monday night. After that, he beat Pierre Strong 15-2 in carries and 4-1 in targets. And it’s worth noting that Strong’s only two rushing attempts came from the 1-yard line immediately after Ford’s 69-yard scamper fell just short of the goal line (and left Ford understandably winded).

We’d bet on Cleveland adding another RB. But we’re also betting on Ford leading this backfield going forward. He stands 5’11, 210 pounds and runs a 40 time of 4.46. That gives Ford an 84th-percentile speed score for the position.

After toiling as an Alabama backup to start his college career, Ford averaged 6.3 yards per rush and 9.3 per catch across two seasons at Cincinnati. His final campaign included 214 carries and 21 receptions.

Ford’s starting run with the Browns opens against a tough Tennessee run defense. But even that’s not enough to keep him out of our top 24 in the Week 3 RB rankings.

Craig Reynolds, RB, Detroit Lions

Rostered: 0%
Blind-bid recommendation: 5-10%

Take a giant step down from Ford to the rest of this week’s options.

Reynolds climbs into usable territory because of the quad injury that’s expected to cost David Montgomery at least a couple of games. He split carries 3-3 with Jahmyr Gibbs after Montgomery left late in the third quarter of the loss to the Seahawks.

We wouldn’t bet on Reynolds challenging Gibbs’ receiving role as much as Montgomery has so far. But if Reynolds takes nearly all of the rushing, he’ll have TD upside.

Lions RBs have scored the 10th most PPR points through two weeks. Atlanta has played the run better early this year than it did last season. But the Falcons aren’t a matchup to avoid.

Matt Breida, RB, New York Giants

Rostered: 2%
Blind-bid recommendation: 4-8%

If you’re desperate for a Week 3 RB option, then Breida looks like the best bet to lead a Giants backfield that’s expected to miss Saquon Barkley (ankle). But that doesn’t make him a good option.

Breida hasn’t reached 10 carries in an NFL game since December 2020. He spent the last two full seasons playing under Giants HC Brian Daboll, first with Buffalo and last year in New Jersey. Breida reached 10 touches in a game just three times over that span.

Two of those came in the final two weeks of last season, the latter of which found the Giants resting starters (including Barkley). Even in that game, Breida carried just four times while catching seven passes (for 12 yards).

The point: He’s not very good.

He’s just the next guy up. But Breida’s not getting a Barkley workload. Expect him to lead a committee of sadness, into a terrible matchup with the 49ers.

Let someone else in your league “win” Breida on waivers. Consider throwing a dollar, instead, at rookie Eric Gray. We at least haven’t had a chance yet to see whether he’s as limited as Breida and Gary Brightwell.

Tyjae Spears, RB, Tennessee Titans

Rostered: 17%
Blind-bid recommendation: 4-8%

If you’re not desperate for a Week 3 starting option and instead are seeking actual upside, this should be your move.

Spears has already carved out a role in Tennessee’s offense, to a much greater degree than any previous No. 2 RB behind Derrick Henry. That’s not really what we’re buying here, though.

We’re buying a rookie who has the highest Pro Football Focus rushing grade through two weeks, albeit on just 11 carries.

That supports the electricity of a guy who averaged 5.3 yards per carry this preseason and 6.8 per rush across his college career. Spears added 11.8 yards per reception.

Should Henry go down – or get traded – Spears would immediately become the hottest name on waivers that week. And he could challenge for top-12 fantasy upside.

Stash him now.

Ty Chandler, RB, Minnesota Vikings

Rostered: 5%
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

Speaking of stashes, Chandler is a good reaction to Alexander Mattison’s lackluster start.

The Vikings’ new lead back ranks ninth-worst among 48 qualifiers in the league in Next Gen Stats’ rush yards over expected per carry. If that doesn’t pick up, Minnesota could go looking for a runner with more juice.

It’s quite possible that’s not Chandler. He ranked 81st among 87 RBs this preseason in yards after contact per carry, according to PFF. but he arrived with 4.38 speed at 204 pounds. That’s a tad faster than Mattison’s 4.67.

Don’t make any big bets on Chandler. But a no-risk stash has a shot to pay off.

Tank Dell, WR, Houston Texans

Rostered: 5%
Blind-bid recommendation: 4-8%

Noah Brown’s injury allowed Dell to lead the Texans in targets in Week 2.

His 10 narrowly edged Nico Collins and Robert Woods (9 apiece), but that’s all the opportunity the third-round rookie needed. Houston clearly liked him in preseason, and Dell looked electric when given opportunities.

Now he should see regular chances in an offense that has ranked above average in pace and pass rate through two weeks.

It’s too early to trust Dell as a weekly fantasy starter. But this might be your last chance to grab him and see where he goes.

Josh Reynolds, WR, Detroit Lions

Rostered: 12%
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

Reynolds is 28 and in his seventh NFL eason. He has never finished a year with more than 3.3 catches per game, and only once exceeded 2.7. So he’s probably not starting a breakout campaign.

But he is coming off a pair of top-30 fantasy finishes. And Reynolds has led Lions WRs in routes each week so far.

Add an offense that ranks 10th in scoring and third in total yards, and you have enough upside to make for a solid-to-good fantasy WR4.

Detroit still has four more games before WR Jameson Williams is eligible to return from suspension.

Robert Woods, WR, Houston Texans

Rostered: 9%
Blind-bid recommendation: 0-2%

Woods sits tied for 34th in PPR points among WRs so far, without scoring a TD.

He has benefited from a pass-leaning offense, which ranks third in attempts through two weeks. Woods’ solid 20.8% target share has produced 12 catches, tied for 12th-most among wideouts.

The veteran remains primarily a short-range receiver. But his 10.9 yards per catch so far marks a rebound of 1.0 vs. last year. And his 9.1-yard average depth of target is his highest since 2018, according to Pro Football Reference.

Woods doesn’t bring an exciting fantasy ceiling, but he can be a solid weekly PPR producer.

Zach Ertz, TE, Arizona Cardinals

Rostered: 10%
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

It might just be a fluky start with a new QB, but Ertz leads all TEs in targets through two weeks and has caught 6 passes in each game.

His mere 6.4 yards per catch sits more than 2 yards short of last year, which fell 2 yards short of his career average. But Ertz’s 7.2-yard ADOT sits right in line with his career rates.

Perhaps most importantly, WR Marquise Brown is the only teammate who has seen at least 40% of Ertz’s total targets to date.

At a position with so many disappointing performers, Ertz looks like a comfy PPR play.

Luke Musgrave, TE, Green Bay Packers

Rostered: 25%
Blind-bid recommendation: 2-3%

Musgrave doesn’t look quite as attractive this week as he did after Week 1. That game found him just missing on a couple of catches that would have catapulted a decent start into a big game.

Week 2 found Musgrave garnering just 3 targets as QB Jordan Love went merely 14-of-25 passing. Throw in a Week 3 matchup with New Orleans that has stifled TEs for several seasons, and it’s OK to pass on Musgrave in this run.

Beyond this week, though, sit the soft pass defenses of Detroit and Las Vegas. And despite his dearth of targets so far, Musgrave led all Packers in Week 2 routes.

Consider stashing him on the cheap if you’re in a spot where that makes sense.

  

Deep Leagues

Kendre Miller, RB, New Orleans Saints

Rostered: 13% of Yahoo leagues
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

Jamaal Williams sustained a hamstring injury on Monday night and didn’t return. That led to 12 carries for Tony Jones; 9 for Taysom Hill.

Miller sat out Week 2 with a hamstring, but it sounds like he’ll have a chance to return for Week 3 at Green Bay. If he does, the talented Round 3 pick could push for double digit touches – at least in the short-term.

Alvin Kamara (suspension) is due back for Week 4.

Latavius Murray, RB, Buffalo Bills

Rostered: 1%
Blind-bid recommendation: 0-3%

Murray beat Damien Harris in Week 2 snaps (18 to 14) and touches (8 to 7). 

Perhaps the Bills blowout played a role. But even with the game close, Murray saw goal line snaps in relief of James Cook. Through two games, Murray’s already handled 4 carries inside the ten yard-line, per Pro Football Reference.

If Cook or Harris miss time, Murray would enter the fantasy-starter conversation.

Pierre Strong, RB, Cleveland Browns

Rostered: 1%
Blind-bid recommendation: 0-1%

Strong handled 3 touches following Nick Chubb’s season-ending injury.

Sure, Jerome Ford projects as the clear lead back over Strong, who joined the team in late August. But barring a veteran addiiton, Strong will move forward as Cleveland’s RB2 (and the Ford handcuff).

UPDATE: The Browns signed Kareem Hunt on Wednesday. Pass on Strong for now.

Kareem Hunt, RB, Free Agent

Rostered: 1%
Blind-bid recommendation: 0-1%

Nick Chubb’s injury opened up another potential landing spot for Hunt. And sure enough, Tuesday afternoon brought reports of Hunt visiting his old team.

Even if that reunion doesn't work out, Hunt seems likely to join a team at some point. Consider stashing him before that happens, if you get a chance. 

UPDATE: Hunt signed with Cleveland on Wednesday. It's a one-year deal worth up to $4 million. He'll slide into the backup role behind Jerome Ford.

Jayden Reed, WR, Green Bay Packers

Rostered: 10%
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

Reed scored twice on a team-high 6 targets in Week 2, despite running only 18 routes. That type of efficiency won’t continue going forward, but it was encouraging to see Green Bay scheme up touches for him.

We’ll see if Christian Watson (hamstring) makes it back for Week 3. Reed has a shot to be the team’s season-long WR2 regardless.

Jalin Hyatt, WR, New York Giants

Rostered: 12%
Blind-bid recommendation: 0-2%

Hyatt’s Week 2 usage suggests he has some ground to make up. His 14 snaps and 12 routes run both ranked a distant fourth among Giants WRs.

Hyatt saw 2 targets on the limited action, though. And the 21-year-old showed his high-end speed with a pair of catches for 89 yards.

It’s easy to see Hyatt’s role grow as he gains more experience.

Darius Slayton, WR, New York Giants

Rostered: 3%
Blind-bid recommendation: 0-1%

Slayton tied or led Giants WRs in snaps, routes run, and targets on Sunday.

The loss of Saquon Barkley could shift extra work to the passing game in the short term. Just note the tough Week 2 matchup at San Francisco (on Thursday night).

 

Week 3 Streaming Options

Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams

Stafford sits just 17th among QBs in fantasy points through two weeks (depending on your format). Blame his mere 1 TD pass alongside the league’s third-most passing yards.

Stafford threw for 334 in the Week 1 win over the Seahawks but gave way to three RB rushing scores in that game. He threw for another 307 against the 49ers last week, with 1 TD and 2 INTs.

This week brings a visit to Cincinnati, to face a defense ranked just 25th in pass DVOA and 29th overall.

Stafford’s rostered rate of 35% on Yahoo makes him available in plenty of places, in case you might be missing Joe Burrow or are merely wary of trusting Daniel Jones.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Need a deeper option? Mayfield ranks third in the league in PFF passing grade through two weeks.

He still posted a limited 173 yards (plus 2 TDs) in the Week 1 win at Minnesota. But Mayfield pushed the ball a little further downfield in Week 2 and wound up with 317 yards in the win over Chicago.

Now comes a home date with Philadelphia, which has allowed the league’s most QB fantasy points through two games. Mac Jones and Kirk Cousins have each finished second among QBs in fantasy scoring in matchups with the Eagles so far.

Jacksonville Jaguars DST

If either fantasy defense we mentioned higher in this article sits available in your league, pounce on it. If not, the Jaguars carry upside into their clash with the Texans.

Jacksonville limited the Chiefs to 17 points last week and has forced six turnovers through two games.

Houston has moved the ball and avoided INTs so far. But the Texans have also allowed a league-high 11 sacks and scored the fourth-fewest points.

 

Drop These Guys

If you’re going to pick someone up, then you probably need to drop a player as well. That’s who we’ll highlight in this section each week.

Injury Drops

Nick Chubb

Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams

The Rams made Akers a healthy scratch ahead of Week 2. Now, it sounds like there’s a decent chance he’s traded ahead of the October 31 deadline.

Maybe he lands somewhere as an RB2. Either way, it’s hard to see Akers delivering in fantasy going forward.

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

Through two games, McKinnon’s tallied 1 carry and 4 receptions. His 5 targets rank behind seven other Chiefs.

Sure, we can expect McKinnon to pop for a big game here and there. It might even come on Sunday (vs. Chicago) with Kansas City implied for 30.5 points.

Ultimately, it’ll be tough to pinpoint McKinnon’s usable weeks, especially if the team continues using a three-man rotation. In Week 2, McKinnon “lost” 9 routes and 2 targets to Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Isiah Pacheco led the backfield with 12 carries – an 85.7% carry share.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, New England Patriots

Last week, Smith-Schuster said his troublesome knee was “100%.”

Well, after playing fewer snaps than rookie Kayshon Boutte in the opener, Smith-Schuster was again limited in Week 2. He ran 27 routes, second behind DeVante Parker’s 45 but only slightly ahead of Kendrick Bourne’s 26.

Mike Gesicki ran 37 routes and matched JuJu in targets.

Remember, the Pats signed JuJu to a three-year deal with $16 million guaranteed… 

The former Steeler might post a few WR3 lines. But we’re not worried about missing out on anything special here.

  

Grab This Guy

This weekly section will highlight a lower-level player who's more of a speculative add ... with significant upside.

Jonathan Mingo, WR, Panthers

Rostered: 12%
Blind-bid recommendation: 0-2%

Mingo’s slow start (5 catches for 43 yards) shouldn’t surprise anyone. A one-year college producer, the 22-year-old lacked polish on tape.

But what if we told you his 13 targets actually lead the Panthers? His 14.1-yard average depth of target also shows his ability to work downfield.

While the fantasy results haven’t popped, consider this a reminder to play the long game.

Carolina’s WR corps includes Adam Thielen, D.J. Chark, Terrace Marshall, and Laviska Shenault. A couple of injury risks and a pair of underperformers.

As Bryce Young settles into the offense, Mingo will be a candidate to rise in value.

 

Week 3 Waiver Wire Talk

For more on the top Week 3 waiver wire picks, check out this video ... 

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