David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Giovani Bernard
- Ryan Collinsworth breaks down his best fantasy football waiver wire targets for Week 3 of the 2018 NFL season, from handcuffs to top streaming quarterbacks and more.
- Giovani Bernard could challenge for fantasy RB1 status with Joe Mixon (knee) sidelined, while Blake Bortles reminded us why he was the No. 4 fantasy QB in 2015.
- There's also a plethora of low-ownership players with high upside to stash, including Jaguars WR Dede Westbrook.
In the immortal words of Ron Burgundy: “Boy, that escalated quickly.”
Week 2 of the NFL season was wildly entertaining. Patrick Mahomes has taken the league by storm, throwing for 10 touchdowns in only two games. Vontae Davis retired in the middle of the Bills’ loss to the Chargers. Ryan Fitzpatrick did his best Conor McGregor impression.
And oh yeah, Josh Gordon was traded to the Patriots. I think we actually got footage of Gordon leaving the Browns facility on Monday night.
Of course, we also suffered some unfortunate injuries to fantasy stalwarts such as Joe Mixon and LeSean McCoy.
But not to worry — each week I break down top waiver-wire targets to help your fantasy team navigate injuries, suspensions, running-back committees and probably some relationship problems along the way.
Every week, I highlight players who are owned in fewer than 50% of ESPN fantasy leagues. I also recommend an auction price (in parentheses) for each player for leagues using a Free Agent Acquisition Budget system (which I highly recommend, by the way). All recommendations are made based on a $100 FAAB budget.
Notable Week 3 Injuries
- RB Dalvin Cook (hamstring): Questionable
- RB Darren Sproles (hamstring): Questionable
- RB Joe Mixon (knee): Out
- RB Kenneth Dixon (knee): Injured Reserve
- RB LeSean McCoy (ribs): Questionable
- WR Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring): Questionable
- WR Mike Wallace (ankle): Out
It’s Cuffing Season
In life there are few absolute certainties: Death, taxes and fantasy-football injuries. In this section, I highlight players to target on waivers when top players inevitably get hurt or suspended.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals ($25)
Mixon aggravated his knee in the Bengals’ win over the Ravens and has undergone minor arthroscopic surgery to repair it. He is reportedly going to miss around four weeks of action, which leaves Bernard as the Bengals’ No. 1 running back in the interim. Much like Tevin Coleman, Bernard consistently has a high fantasy floor due to his receiving upside, but he could challenge for fantasy RB1 status while Mixon is out.
Javorius Allen, RB, Baltimore Ravens ($15)
Kenneth Dixon was placed on Injured Reserve following a knee injury, re-opening the door for Buck Allen to see an extended run in the Ravens backfield. Resident No. 1 RB Alex Collins has seen limited touches in the first two weeks — albeit mostly due to game script — and the backfield looks like a committee so far. Allen offers season-long FLEX upside due to his receiving volume and touchdown-poaching ability in the red zone. He boasts the 24th-best median projection and 25th-best ceiling projection among running backs for Week 3.
Antonio Callaway, WR, Cleveland Browns ($8)
The departure of Flash Gordon paves the way for Callaway to secure a starting role in the Browns receiving corps. In Week 2, the rookie speedster hauled in three receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown. He ran underneath a 47-yard bomb for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter against the Saints, showing off his impressive straight-line speed in the process. While he might battle with Rashard Higgins for snaps over the next several weeks, Callaway offers nice late-season upside for early season investors.
Top Streaming Quarterback Options
Each week, I highlight top quarterback streaming options for Late Round QB-truthers. These quarterbacks are week-to-week options and are not necessarily viable long-term.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars ($4)
Bortles exploded against the Patriots in Week 2, posting a 377-4-1 passing line while adding 35 yards rushing. He consistently flies under the radar as a runner, although he possesses sneaky rushing upside each week. He has an advantageous matchup against the Titans in Week 3, and he boasts the 11th-best median projection and sixth-best floor projection among quarterbacks. I know it might sound farfetched, but don’t forget that Bortles finished as the No. 4 quarterback in fantasy in 2015…
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins ($2)
Speaking of rushing upside, how about Tannehill’s 44 rushing yards against the Jets? He posted a mediocre passing line of 168-2-0, but his rushing total helped him crack the top 20 fantasy quarterbacks for Week 2. Next up, he takes on the Raiders and boasts the ninth-best floor projection among quarterbacks. If you miss out on Bortles, or if you’re just looking for a conservative play this week, Tannehill is your guy.
Buy and Hold
The following players with season-long upside deserve immediate roster consideration.
Keelan Cole, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars ($28)
Cole broke out against the Patriots in Week 2, catching seven passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. He also made a beautiful one-handed catch along the sideline that has “catch of the year” written all over it. He has separated himself as Jacksonville’s No. 1 receiving threat and should provide stable fantasy WR2 production this season. He boasts the 19th-best median projection and 18th-best ceiling projection among wide receivers for Week 3.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers ($17)
His Week 1 production was no fluke. After earning 23.6 PPR points in the season opener, Ekeler followed up with an 11-77-0 rushing performance and 3-21-0 receiving line against the Bills. We witnessed the Chargers increasingly utilize Ekeler down the stretch last season, and he looks like he’s secured a steady role in the offense. He remains an excellent FLEX option from week to week, and would inherit colossal rushing volume if Melvin Gordon misses any time this season due to injury.
John Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens ($14)
Brown had another big day for the surprisingly adept Ravens offense, catching four passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. Most impressively, Brown garnered 10 targets from quarterback Joe Flacco. Brown has provided the Ravens with an all-important deep threat in their offense, and his target volume likely keeps his week-to-week floor reasonably high. He has the 39th-best median projection among wide receivers this week and is a good FLEX candidate, especially in standard formats.
Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions ($9)
I know that rostering Riddick isn’t the sexiest move on the planet, but you can’t ignore his incredible target volume. He was targeted a whopping 12 times in Week 2, hauling in nine of those targets for 47 yards. The Lions have not looked like a competent defensive team this season, which should continue to promote high-volume passing as the season progresses. Of all the Lions running backs, Riddick has the most stable usage and the highest floor as the season progresses.
Eric Ebron, TE, Indianapolis Colts ($7)
How long do I have to beat the Ebron drum before people actually start rostering this guy? For the second straight week, he delivered a receiving touchdown, and he is quickly becoming Andrew Luck’s go-to red-zone target. Ebron’s receiving volume wasn’t fantastic against the Redskins, but his touchdown upside makes him a borderline TE1 each week. He boasts the 12th-best median and ceiling projections among tight ends for Week 3.
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons ($6)
OK, fine, you don’t want to hear more about Ebron. I get it. Then maybe Hooper is more your speed. He flashed excellence this preseason and delivered a solid 5-59-1 receiving line against the Panthers. While Devonta Freeman remains out nursing a knee contusion, Hooper could see increased target share as a short-yardage and red-zone threat. He has the 13th-best ceiling projection and 14th-best median projection among tight ends this week.
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The Watch List
Every week, I highlight players who should be on your watch list — players to monitor who aren’t necessarily worth an add this week but who could develop into viable season-long options. Current ESPN ownership percentage for each player is in parentheses.
- Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons (37.0%)
- Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona Cardinals (3.6%)
- Corey Clement, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (22.6%)
- Dede Westbrook, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (9.7%)
- Geronimo Allison, WR, Green Bay Packers (25.7%)
- Ito Smith, RB, Atlanta Falcons (0.7%)
- Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts (9.9%)
- Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (1.1%)
One Final Note
The following five players are available in about 40% of ESPN leagues. If you’re in that 40%, the following players are must-adds this week:
- Matt Breida, RB, San Francisco 49ers (61.9%)
- Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets (58.0%)
- DeSean Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (61.1%)
- Phillip Lindsay, RB, Denver Broncos (61.6%)
- Quincy Enunwa, WR, New York Jets (56.8%)