Like any week in the NFL, Week 1 had drama aplenty but it only feels like now after two weeks of action that we are seeing the waiver wire heating up. We have seen some unfortunate injuries that make taking to the waiver wire essential heading into Week 3.
As we look ahead at our recommended waiver wire pickups, there are some things patently clear – Puka Nacua was not a one-week wonder – and other things that are not so clear – is Matt Breida really going to replace Saquon Barkley after his ankle injury against the Arizona Cardinals?
We haven’t included any New York Giants running backs in this article as it’s unclear what they plan on doing in the absence of their star running back – even if there was a clear plan, we would not be recommending picking up either Breida or Gary Brightwell.
Meanwhile, we are also staying away from the Baltimore Ravens running back situations. Gus Edwards is a better back than Justice Hill but the red zone work, the targets and the nature of Todd Monken’s offense means we can’t be entirely sure on either of the two options. It’s a true committee system that leaves us unsure on a weekly basis.
Kendre Miller looks like he could make his debut for the New Orleans Saints and while we can’t be sure what to expect from the rookie, Jamaal Williams has a hamstring injury and Miller could be saddled with a decent workload given the state of the Saints’ backfield. He’s only rostered in 13% of leagues so if you can pick him up and stash him, it might be worth consideration in the hope that he does ball out.
Check our our fantasy rankings and fantasy comparison tool if you’re in doubt about your lineup or a specific matchup going in to Week 3.
The quarterback landscape
It feels like some of the best fantasy football quarterbacks have gotten off to rocky starts. Joe Burrow has tweaked his calf and both he and the Cincinnati Bengals have looked like a shadow of themselves in the first two weeks. There is also trepidation over Anthony Richardson, who has been lights out while on the field but has left his first two games in the NFL early due to injury.
So here are some quick-fire stats on QB streamers or stash options in case Burrow doesn’t get his act together or one of the other quarterbacks drafted early is causing you some restless nights.
Jordan Love (rostered in 61%): The best coaching staff in the league has Love sitting as the QB2 through two weeks of the season. He has six touchdowns and no interceptions and his supposed top option, Christian Watson, hasn’t even played a snap yet this season. From Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers to Love, it looks like Green Bay have done it again.
Kirk Cousins (rostered in 86%): The Minnesota Vikings are 0-2 but Cousins continues to defy the odds with his impossible ambitious throwing efforts. He has 46.1 fantasy points through two games and has an impressive array of talent receiving the ball. There are some concerns over whether Alexander Mattison is the guy we thought he would be and the player who the Vikings need him to be. Until then, Air Kirk will continue to let it fly. If you’re in a 10 or 12-team league, there’s a chance Cousins falls outside the top quarterbacks and might be available and yet he’s QB1 so far in fantasy point rankings.
Russell Wilson (rostered in 51%): We knew Sean Payton was going to make Russell Wilson respectable, at the very least compared to what he became last season, which was the butt of the joke. Marvin Mims Jr. looks like a very real deep threat and the Denver Broncos will be more competitive in the coming weeks as Jerry Jeudy and co. get up to speed after some injury problems. Wilson is QB5 through two weeks and widely available.
Jerome Ford, Cleveland Browns
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 17%
The devastating injury to Nick Chubb left the NFL stunned. One of the purest runners in the game and an impossibly consistent player will miss the rest of the season. Ford finished the Pittsburgh Steelers loss with 15 carries for 105 yards and three receptions on four targets for 25 yards along with a receiving touchdown. He was inches away from another touchdown on the ground only for Minkah Fitzpatrick’s effort to chase him down at the goalline.
The plan is not clear yet for the Browns backfield as they come to terms with what Chubb’s absence means. They might sign a free agent although the list of potential candidates is far from inspiring. If they truly are in win-now mode maybe a run at Jonathan Taylor makes sense or a trade for Cam Akers? The Browns drafted Ford in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft as a potential successor to Chubb eventually. That process has just been sped up and based off what we saw on Monday night, he will be their number one running back for the foreseeable future.
Roschon Johnson, Chicago Bears
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 38%
The Chicago Bears have some big decisions to make at quarterback. They are 0-2 now and a tank towards Caleb Williams might be starting to look appealing, even if it turns into an unintentional tank. After a preseason filled with optimism and hope, the Bears are back to square one. The entire offense has gotten off to a strange start, but fourth-rounder Roschon Johnson has shown signs of being a significant fantasy contributor.
D’Onta Foreman was a healthy scratch on Sunday and it looks like they’ve whittled the options down to two backs. Johnson had a 42% snap share and a 36% route share in Week 2. He has eight catches so far on nine targets, which is tied for second on the team with DJ Moore. Only Cole Kmet (9) has more.
Johnson’s burn yards per route run and yards before contact remain high. He is averaging 5.78 yards per carry on nine carries. He is clearly the second running back behind Khalil Herbert but Johnson is also handling more of the receiving work.
No team in the league is targeting their running backs more than the Chicago Bears (32.85). Justin Fields’ well-thrown% is higher than expected but his average air yards is low. Expect Johnson to continue to get work in the passing game as the Bears muddle their way through another season.
Zack Moss, Indianapolis Colts
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 54%
Jonathan Taylor is out for at least another two games and we’re not even sure if he will wear the Colts jersey again once he is healthy. If the Colts can find a suitable replacement in-house, they might lower their demands for their star running back. There is an emerging market now for Taylor as injuries stack up and reality hits for teams who want to win now.
Moss, for his part, has done well in every facet of the game in Taylor’s absence. He finished the Houston victory with 18 rushes for 88 yards and caught all four of his targets for 19 yards after missing last week due to a broken arm during the summer.
Anthony Richardson is learning the hard way that he has to protect himself better or face a career on the injury report. It is up to Shane Steichen and his coaches to help him too. That will involve a healthy dose of Moss. If Gardner Minshew starts next week, it only increases Moss’s value given Minshew’s propensity to check down to his running backs.
Moss saw 98% of running back snaps for the Colts in Week 2. Only Christian McCaffrey had more (100%). Even if it’s just for two weeks, Moss should be considered a high-end RB2 on your fantasy team.
Additional RB notes: It’s hard to keep up with the Cam Akers drama in Los Angeles but it seems like he is on the outs again with the coaching staff after it was announced he would be a healthy scratch for the San Francisco 49ers showdown. Kyren Williams is rostered in just 63% of leagues and looks to be the featured back in a competitive Rams team. No running back has had more targets than Williams through two weeks (12). He also has 11 red zone carries — only Tony Pollard has more — and three red zone targets, which leads the league among running backs.
Jaylen Warren (41%) is the only other running back targeted as often as Williams this season. He finished the Steelers’ win over Cleveland with another six along with four receptions for 66 yards and another six carries. He has some stand-alone value but if anything were to happen to Najee Harris, this is a player with RB1 upside.
Craig Reynolds is available in your league too. David Montgomery will miss time with a quad injury and the Lions have proven they don’t want to burden Jahmyr Gibbs with too much of a workload. “I still see it being by committee if D-Mo can’t go, but certainly Gibbs is going to get more opportunities,” Dan Campbell said after the game when asked about his running back’s injury. Pick up Reynolds just in case this is a multiple week injury to Montgomery.
The Lions signed Zonovan Knight on Tuesday afternoon to beef up the backfield. He showed flashes for the New York Jets last season in the absence of Breece Hall. He finished his rookie season with 85 carries for 300 yards and a touchdown along with 13 receptions for 100 yards in seven games.
Marvin Mims Jr., Denver Broncos
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 23%
Before the season kicked off, we wrote about Mims as a rookie who could hit the ground running with the Denver Broncos. His 21.1 burn yards per target was the highest in college football last season for receivers with at least 200 routes run.
In Sean Payton’s first season with the Broncos, they moved up in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft to pick Mims. With the passing game in such trouble last season, Payton and Co. highlighted Mims as someone who could help Wilson and this offense get back on track.
Through two games, Mims’ 23.5 air yards per receptions is the third highest in the league. He has only caught the ball four times but he took his two receptions against the Washington Commanders for 113 yards and a touchdown. He is behind Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton now in the receiving depth chart but all he needs is a big play or two to catapult himself into the high WR2 category.
Tank Dell, Houston Texans
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 5%
Noah Brown is on IR and Tank Dell, another rookie on this list, took advantage of a lot more opportunities than he saw in Week 1. He was targeted 10 times and hauled in seven of those for 72 yards against the Colts. The Houston Texans will be playing from behind a lot this season and Dell will benefit greatly from the passing volume that comes with those situations.
C.J. Stroud is targeting his wide receivers on 70.6% of his throws, which is tied for third in the league. He is throwing the ball a lot too with 91 attempts so far through just two games — third in the league. This is a three-way wide receiving corps with Tank Dell seeing the greatest share of targets (10) followed by Robert Woods and Nico Collins, who both got nine in Week 2. It’s hard not to be optimistic about Dell and the budding partnership between himself and Stroud.
Dell’s 90% open rate is behind that of Woods and Collins but his depth of target is the lowest of the three and Stroud is looking for his fellow rookie whenever the ball over the top isn’t on.
Jayden Reed, Green Bay Packers
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 10%
The Jordan Love era has started well for the Green Bay Packers. Jayden Reed is another rookie we highlighted in the preseason as someone who could emerge as a ball magnet in a muddy wide receiving corps. Christian Watson is still out with an injury and while Reed hasn’t lit it up in terms of yardage, he did see eight targets on Sunday. That was double that of Dontayvion Wicks and five more than the more experienced Romeo Doubs. He also caught two touchdown passes, one on a flea-flicker that he turned into a score.
Matt LeFleur is trying to get the ball into the hands of a player who they have high hopes for. Reed has three red zone targets, which is just two behind league leader Tyreek Hill. Only two players have more red zone yards than Reed. The yardage might not jump off the page or the usage in terms of volume but he is getting the ball in the best areas of the field to make a big difference in fantasy football.
Josh Reynolds, Detroit Lions
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 13%
While we wait for Jameson Williams to return from suspension, we can rest assured that Josh Reynolds will be scripted into the Detroit Lions’ game plans. Reynolds caught five of six targets for 66 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 37-31 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Amon-Ra St. Brown leads the team with 16 targets through two weeks but Reynolds has 13. There is a balanced spread between WR, TE and RB targets on this team as Jamhyr Gibbs and Sam LaPorta both figure to see a decent amount of work in the passing game every week but Reynolds continues to be a Goff favorite even with the talent added to this offense since last year.
Goff has thrown the ball 70 times for 576 yards this season. They remain gung-ho and Reynolds is a solid if not spectacular option on the waiver wire this week and until Williams comes back.
Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 11%
The Cardinals are going to be involved in a lot of games where they will trail this season. We have them projected for just 6.1 wins. Joshua Dobbs has thrown 30 and 31 times in the first two weeks and Ertz has been the target on 18 of those, which leads the league among tight ends
No team in the league is targeting their tight ends more than the Cardinals (39%) and Ertz is TE7 through the first two weeks in PPR leagues. Granted, they are playing the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3, who are giving up the fewest fantasy points to tight ends so far this season. It might not be wise to start Ertz next week but the situation might call for even more Ertz than ever as they are expected to trail and find themselves looking for whatever they can get against the best defense in the league.
This might turn into a season to forget for the Cardinals but if Ertz can be the sole, consistent contributor we can rely on, then he is worth a stash at the very least.
Jake Ferguson, Dallas Cowboys
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 38%
Ferguson leads all tight ends with seven red zone targets. The Cowboys play the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3 and they are allowing 9.6 points to tight ends, that’s in the bottom 8 in the league. There is a lot of competition in Dallas for targets this season and CeeDee Lamb and Tony Pollard are both off to flying starts. There will also be a lot of red zone action and so far Mike McCarthy looks like he really wants to get Ferguson firing in that area of the field.
The tight end position has been disappointing so far this season with Travis Kelce injured and easing his way back into action and Mark Andrews struggling for take-off too. We suggest you bet on Ferguson’s upside and those red zone targets certainly look hopeful.
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