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Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups: RBs To Target After Christian McCaffrey & Saquon Barkley Injuries

Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups: RBs To Target After Christian McCaffrey & Saquon Barkley Injuries article feature image

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images. Pictured: Dion Lewis.

Editor’s note: A lot of news has broken since we published this article, including that the Giants signed Devonta Freeman and that Christian McCaffrey’s high-ankle sprain will sideline him for four to six weeks.

Read Sean Koerner’s takes on Freeman and other popular running backs on the waiver wire this week.

After the litany of injuries during a rough Sunday slate, there may never be a more popular waiver wire than Week 3.

Several viable tight end options have emerged, along with backup running backs such as the Giants’ Dion Lewis, Rams’ Darrell Henderson, and a rejuvenated Jerick McKinnon in San Francisco.

Who should you prioritize in Week 3? I give you my long list that covers 26 players.

Let’s take a look at who should earn your top waiver spots and highest percentage of FAAB.

Note: We’ve limited their recommendations to players owned in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues. All data as of Monday.

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Week 3 Waiver Wire Pickups

Running Backs

Joshua Kelley,  Chargers

Ownership: 39%

The UCLA rookie has not only solidified his role alongside Austin Ekeler, he is now a legitimate weekly Flex play.

Kelley carried the ball 23 times and tallied 113 total yards in the Chargers’ 23-20 overtime loss to Kansas City.

The UCLA rookie is clearly the Chargers’ short-yardage and goal-line back with growing passing game potential.

Kerryon Johnson,  Lions

Ownership: 38%

Johnson started the game and quickly converted the opening drive touchdown. He finished with eight rushes for 32 yards and no receptions.

However, with the touches are still very much split three ways with Adrian Peterson and rookie D’Andre Swift, Johnson should be avoided until an injury provides increased opportunity.

[Get Real-Time Week 3 Fantasy Rankings Until Kickoff]

Darrell Henderson,  Rams

Ownership: 31%

With Cam Akers leaving the game early (rib) and Malcolm Brown limited (finger), Henderson made the most of a great opportunity.

The second-year Memphis product exploded for two receptions, 121 total yards, and a touchdown in the Rams’ dominant 37-19 win at Philadelphia. He is worth strong consideration with upcoming games against the Bills and Giants.

If Akers misses extended time, Henderson could be a weekly low-end RB2.

Chris Thompson, Jaguars

Ownership: 22%

Thompson could see his role increase after totaling three receptions, 20 yards, and a late touchdown in the Jaguars’ attempted comeback at Tennessee.

In a shallow depth chart behind rookie James Robinson, monitor Thompson’s usage in future weeks for a potential PPR bye week Flex replacement.

Jerick McKinnon,  49ers

Ownership: 22%

It was great to see the athletic McKinnon back on the field making a fantasy impact.

Subbing for the injured Raheem Mostert, McKinnon totaled 77 rushing yards and one touchdown in San Francisco’s 31-13 win at the Jets. If Mostert misses significant time, McKinnon is a viable replacement who still hasn’t shown his elite pass-catching ability.

With upcoming games against the Giants, Eagles, and Dolphins, McKinnon is a viable PPR RB2 play for at least the next three weeks in Mostert’s absence.

Jerick McKinnon
Sarah Stier/Getty Images. Pictured: Jerick McKinnon

Dion Lewis, Giants

Ownership: 5%

As a result of pending news of a season-ending ACL tear for Saquon Barkley, Lewis now finds himself as the lead running back in New York.

In a 17-13 loss at Chicago, Lewis produced four receptions, 56 total yards, and a touchdown.

With a matchup against San Francisco coming up in Week 3, keep an eye on the 49ers’ injury report to determine whether or not Lewis is worth adding and playing.

Gus Edwards, Ravens

Ownership: 1%

Edwards is not worth a waiver claim, but it is worth noting he carried the ball 10 times for 73 rushing yards

The 229-pound running back was used as the closer in Baltimore’s 33-16 win at Houston.

With Mark Ingram and rookie J.K. Dobbins clearly ahead of Edwards, he is only usable if an injury occurs.

Mike Davis, Panthers

Ownership: 1%

Christian McCaffrey left the Panthers 31-17 loss to Tampa Bay in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. While it is unlikely McCaffrey misses time, it’s worth noting that Davis is the clear backup in Carolina.

The 28-year old veteran caught eight passes for 74 receiving yards as the Panthers were in comeback mode.

While not worth a pickup, Davis clearly defined himself as the most important handcuff in fantasy football.

Wide Receivers

DeSean Jackson, Eagles

Ownership: 48%

Jackson fell below the 50% ownership threshold on Yahoo after a disappointing Week 1. The Eagles still have offensive line issues, which have affected Carson Wentz in the pocket.

However, Jackson led the Eagles in targets (nine), receptions (six), and receiving yards (64). With Philadelphia hosting the Bengals in a must-win game, Jackson is still worth a look as your WR3 or Flex play in Week 3.

DeSean Jackson
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: DeSean Jackson

Allan Lazard, Packers

Ownership: 47%

Green Bay’s 42-21 win over Detroit was dominated by running back Aaron Jones (232 total yards, three touchdowns). But with wide receiver Davante Adams missing the second-half with a hamstring injury, Lazard has a chance for a huge increase in opportunity share.

His pedestrian three receptions and 45 receiving yards may keep savvy fantasy owners away from the now de facto WR1 in Green Bay. With two potential upcoming shootouts at New Orleans and against Atlanta, Lazard is worth a waiver claim in all formats.

Corey Davis,  Titans

Ownership: 42%

Corey Davis assumed the Tennessee WR1 role with A.J. Brown out but only produced 36 receiving yards. He finished behind Jonnu Smith, Adam Humphries, and Andrew Firkser in yardage despite the Titans’ 33-30 win over Jacksonville.

Davis did catch a first-quarter touchdown and would be WR3 consideration against Minnesota if Brown does not suit up for Week 4.

Golden Tate, Giants

Ownership: 36%

Tate made his season debut for the Giants, catching all five of his targets for 47 yards. After missing Week 1 with a hamstring injury, Tate has a chance for a big target increase after Sterling Shepard left Week 2 with a toe injury.

The loss of Saquon Barkley could trigger more passing attempts, placing Tate as a viable WR3/Flex option moving forward.

Mecole Hardman, Chiefs

Ownership: 36%

Hardman had no receiving production in the first half but finished with two receptions, 30 receiving yards, and a two-point conversion in Kansas City’s 23-20 overtime win at the Chargers.

When fellow wideout Sammy Watkins left the game with a concussion, Hardman became a factor on offense.

Adam Glanzman/Getty Images. Pictured: Mecole Hardman

The Chiefs have a tough Week 4 matchup at Baltimore, but Hardman is worth Flex consideration if Watkins misses time.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling,  Packers

Ownership: 36%

Valdes-Scantling is the clear deep threat for Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. His 6-foot-4 frame and 4.37 speed produced over 20-yards per reception in Week 2.

Already a viable WR4/Flex option, Valdes-Scantling would be worth a WR3 fantasy start if Davante Adams misses time.  Green Bay’s upcoming schedule at New Orleans, Atlanta, a bye, and then at Tampa Bay is as fantasy-friendly as a wide receiver could imagine.

Jalen Reagor, Eagles

Ownership: 35%

The Eagles first-round rookie wideout saw an increase in snaps from 46 to 61, en route to four receptions and 44 receiving yards.

Philadelphia continues to struggle to protect quarterback Carson Wentz, which provides a waiver opportunity for Reagor. His 4.47 speed gives hope to future opportunities.

Next week against the Bengals is the best chance for fantasy production, with games against San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore on the horizon.

N’Keal Harry, Patriots

Ownership: 27%

Harry entered Week 2 with a “questionable” injury tag and left as a top waiver wire pickup for Week 3.

The second-year wide receiver saw a team-leading 12 targets and produced eight receptions for 72 yards.

In a game in which quarterback Cam Newton totaled 397 passing yards, Harry was clearly the WR2 behind veteran Julian Edelman.

Harry will have plenty of opportunities to make plays with upcoming games against the Raiders, at Kansas City, and home to Denver before their Week 6 bye. He should be a priority add in all formats.

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Russell Gage,  Falcons

Ownership: 21%

Gage had another strong fantasy performance with six receptions, 46 yards, and a touchdown catch. He also could have tallied a 46-yard touchdown pass if not for a Julio Jones drop.

The Atlanta slot receiver is now worth a pickup in all formats. He has seen 21 targets through Atlanta’s first two games.

Gage has one of the most fantasy-friendly schedules for wide receivers over the next seven weeks. The Falcons face Carolina twice, Minnesota, and Detroit during that stretch. He is a viable WR3 until further notice.

Laviska Shenault,  Jaguars

Ownership: 17%

One of the most popular rookies in the fantasy community, Shenault followed up his Week 1 touchdown performance with another three receptions and 35 receiving yards.

Shenault is a weapon both as a receiver and runner, seeing five rushing attempts for 37 rushing yards. He has become a Swiss Army knife player for offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.

With a favorable upcoming schedule of Miami, at Cincinnati, at Houston, and home to Detroit, Shenault is a nice bench stash as a bye week WR4 play.

Chase Claypool, Steelers

Ownership: 5%

The rookie from Notre Dame caught an 84-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger on his way to a three-reception, 88-yard day.

At 6-foot-4 with 4.42 speed, Claypool has found a home in an offense that loves to take deep shots down the field.

However, with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and James Washington all competing for targets, Claypool is best left on the waiver wire watch list.

Keelan Cole, Jaguars

Ownership: 3%

The 27-year old Kentucky Wesleyan product now has a touchdown in each of the first two weeks. He has a combined 12 targets, 11 receptions, and 105 receiving yards, ranking ahead of D.J. Chark in targets and receptions.

The Jacksonville upcoming schedule includes Miami (Thursday night), at Cincinnati, at Houston, and home to Detroit before its bye week.

Cole is a reasonable WR4/Flex play during those next four games.

Keelan Cole
James Gilbert/Getty Images. Pictured: Keelan Cole

Tight Ends

Logan Thomas, Washington

Ownership: 32%

If Logan Thomas appears in this column next week, it’s by mistake.

The preseason fantasy community favorite was targeted nine times, totaling 17 over the first two weeks. The quarterback-turned-tight end is the second-most productive receiving option behind wide receiver Terry McLaurin.

Thomas has favorable matchups before Washington’s Week 8 bye, including Cleveland and the Giants. Thomas should be rostered in all fantasy formats.

Tyler Eifert, Jaguars

Ownership: 10%

Eifert saw a big usage in Week 2 for Jacksonville, with three receptions, 36 receiving yards, and one touchdown on six targets.

This usage could be a sign of things to come, as Eifert has a connection with offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.

Eifert is a bench stash in two tight end formats, with possible bye week starting upside if his usage trends continue.

Jordan Reed, 49ers

Ownership: 7%

Reed posted a monster performance in the absence of George Kittle, tallying seven receptions, 50 yards, and two touchdowns.

This is a very simple waiver decision. If you think Kittle won’t play Week 3 against the Giants, make Reed a top priority. If you think Kittle returns, he’s best left on waivers.

Dalton Schultz, Cowboys

Ownership: 2%

After a disappointing number of drops in Dallas’ Week 1 loss, Schultz responded in a huge way with nine receptions, 88 receiving yards, and a touchdown in the Cowboys’ 40-39 miracle comeback against the Falcons.

While Week 3 will be a tough matchup against Seattle safety Jamal Adams, his following three games (all home) against Cleveland, the Giants, and Arizona make him a viable streaming option.

Mo Alie-Cox, Colts

Ownership: 1%

Filling in for the injured Jack Doyle, the former VCU basketball player produced a mammoth five receptions and 116 receiving yards on six targets.

If Doyle remains out, Alie-Cox faces a Jets team at home that just allowed two touchdowns to the aforementioned Jordan Reed. He’s a decent option in two tight end formats.

Drew Sample, Bengals

Ownership: 1%

Sample did a fine job replacing starting tight end C.J. Uzomah, who is now lost for the season with a torn Achilles.

The former second-round pick saw nine targets and converted seven receptions to 45 receiving yards.

Most of that production came in a late fourth-quarter push by the Bengals, so he remains below the other options on this list in terms of priority.

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