By Alex Gregory
As injuries continue to pile up, the importance of the waiver wire grows. Here’s an overview of the key targets as we head into Week 3. Once again, this is a balance of long-term and short-term value, with an emphasis on opportunity, and, to slightly lesser degree, talent.
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Key Week 3 Waiver Wire Pickups
Chris Carson (RB, Seahawks) — The high knees and choppy steps certainly remind me of a former Seahawks RB now playing in Oakland. He’s not nearly the physical specimen of a Marshawn Lynch, but Carson looks like more of a volume play than a talent play, and that’s just fine for fantasy purposes. Expect the Seahawks offense to get back on track in the coming weeks. There’s a chance Thomas Rawls earns more touches as he gets healthy but he’s apt to get injured again and Carson is a clear No. 1 at this point, especially with Eddie Lacey looking closer to a retiree than starting RB.
Buck Allen (RB, Ravens) — Allen is another go-to waiver wire pickup this week. News came out this afternoon that the incumbent starter Terrance West was dealing with a “soft tissue” injury, which explains the mere 16 snaps worth of action on Sunday. That said, Allen is a more versatile player who might lose out on some TDs to West, but offers significantly more skill, explosiveness and receiving prowess. News of West’s injury tempers the excitement a tad on Allen but he is likely still worth a roster spot if you have room. Allen had already secured half of the Week 1 snaps.
Jermaine Kearse (WR, Jets) — Don’t expect two TDs every week, but there’s something to be said for being the go-to receiver, even on a team as inept as the Jets. Kearse also has serious garbage time potential as the Jets will likely be trailing early and often most games.
Worth a Roster Spot, Maybe…
Allen Hurns/Marqis Lee (WR, Jaguars) — Lee pops up on this list again after a much better showing in Week 2 (7 catches for 76 yards), while Hurns topped Lee again in overall production with 6 catches for 82 yards and a TD. Lee saw an inspiring 12 targets in Week 2 but a Blake Bortles-supported ceiling can only go so high. Take Lee in a PPR pinch and Hurns in standard scoring, but both are more long-term bets at this point. Neither look to be good starts next week against the Ravens.
Rashard Higgins (WR, Browns) — Higgins looks like the next man up for a Browns team that lost Corey Coleman to IR and should be trailing quite a bit this year. Kenny Britt has been a total non-factor and Higgins, despite looking like nothing more than a rotational player at the beginning of the year, appears to be the target of choice for both browns QBs.
Evan Engram (TE, Giants) — Engram has looked pretty good so far and is one of the few Giants who have contributed anything at all on offense this season. I certainly wouldn’t feel good about Engram as my starter, but he’s the kind of one-dimensional receiving tight end who’s probably good for 4 or 5 catches and an end zone target per game. The combination of pitiful offensive line play and an indecisive Eli Manning has led to a disastrous start for the Giants and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more quick-developing passing plays moving forward. Engram’s role should only grow. For those in a pinch due to injury (Greg Olsen) or injury plus incompetence (Tyler Eifert), Eric Ebron and Jared Cook are also options. Or, try to buy low on someone like Martellus Bennett through the trade market.
Derek Henry (RB, Titans) — Henry looked terrific against a talented Jaguars defense in Week 2, rushing for 92 yards and a TD on just 14 carries. Henry’s true value is tied to the availability of DeMarco Murray (hamstring). Henry is more of a long-term investment and vaults to RB1 status if Murray goes down for an extended period of time, a possibility given Murray’s age and injury history. Henry offers little through the air, however, and really needs touchdowns to provide star value.
Jalen Richard (RB, Raiders) — I used Richard as an example of a talented player to keep an eye on given his small sample size success last season. Lynch is the clear bell cow back, but given his age and likelihood of injury, Richard could be a very nice addition down the road. If you’re planning to start Lynch every week, you should prioritize Richard, who looked fantastic in Week 2, as opposed to wasting a roster spot on one week wonders like Nelson Agholor.
Ravens D/ST — If the Ravens are somehow still available in your league, they’re a must-start next week against the Jaguars.
Steelers D/ST — The Steelers again look to be a smart short-term defensive choice with a date next week against an underwhelming and turnover prone Bears team.
Patriots D/ST — The Patriots land a cushy matchup against the Texans in Week 3, a team that was seemingly disinterested in even trying to score last week against the Bengals. It got to the point where you half expected Coach Bill O’Brien to go for a field goal on 3rd down.
Popular Meh Pickups
JJ Nelson (WR, Cardinals) — Nelson’s an undersized deep threat who will compete with another undersized deep threat in John Brown throughout the year. Carson Palmer has also been dreadful thus far. You’re better off taking a chance on a good handcuff (Derrick Henry) or high upside youngster (Rashard Higgins, Connor Kupp or Kenny Golladay). In other words, you know who JJ Nelson is and you know he’s not going to thrive on your roster in the long-haul. If you need a spot start from the flex position, you’re better off with someone like Devin Funchess solely based on him going up against the historically bad Saints defense.
Chris Thompson/Samaje Perine (RB, Redskins) — Rob Kelley received good news on the injury front with Coach Jay Gruden declaring him day-to-day. Samaje Perine looks to be nothing more than a handcuff and possibly a late-week add if Kelley is deemed unfit to play later this week. Even still, Perine and Chris Thompson will likely split touches with Perine getting early down work and Thompson has a Hail Mary in PPR leagues. Thompson has been productive but to expect TDs (3 in 2 games so far) from him every game would be optimistic, to say the least.
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