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Fantasy Football: 11 waiver wire targets for Week 3 and beyond

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Fantasy Football: 11 waiver wire targets for Week 3 and beyond

Well it appears we have another injury-riddled fantasy season on our hands this fall.

Studs like David Johnson and Greg Olsen are already down while Odell Beckham Jr. has missed a game and made almost no impact in the one contest he did appear in. Then on the other hand, Ezekiel Elliott has had hardly any positive effect on fantasy even though he's surprisingly been active for the first two weeks.

All told, it's a mess.

When three of the consensus Top 6 picks in a perfect, suspension-free world (Johnson, Elliott, Beckham) are struggling or injured to this magnitude, no doubt the waiver wire comes into play in a far more impactful way than usual at this time of year (aka, pre-Bye weeks).

Here are 11 guys to target entering Week 3 and beyond:

1. Chris Carson, RB, SEA

Carson may be the Tarik Cohen of Week 3, as a must-add pick of the week. (Note: If Cohen is somehow available in your league, make sure to rectify that immediately. Dude is a stud and a huge part of the Bears offense.) Carson is owned in less than 10 percent of ESPN leagues, but it appears all the hype he generated in preseason is legit. This is no Christine Michael/Robert Turbin situation in Seattle with guys who had a big preseason and failed to make a fantasy impact. Carson had 21 touches in the Seahawks' win over the Niners last week while Eddie Lacy was a healthy scratch and Thomas Rawls (5 carries) continues to nurse an injury. C.J. Prosise did not get a carry and looks to be a factor only in passing games. Carson — a 7th-round rookie — is the only Seattle back with his arrow pointing up and he could take the job and run with it — literally.

2. J.J. Nelson, WR, ARI

Most fantasy owners know who Nelson is and I would bet some have even owned him or thought about picking him up in the past. The third-year speedster is certainly worthy of a spot on your roster now, possibly even as a starter moving forward. With John Brown out in Week 2 and Larry Fitzgerald looking like Father Time is catching up to him, Nelson exploded for 5 catches on 7 targets and a TD. He has caught 10-of-13 targets this season with a TD in each game and has been the Cardinals' most worthwhile player in fantasy this season, to the surprise of everybody but maybe Nelson's mom. 

3. Coby Fleener, TE, NO

With Olsen going on IR with a broken foot, fantasy owners need to replace him STAT. Unless you had a backup tight end on your roster (which typically isn't the best strategy, you guys), Fleener should be available, as he's only owned in about 31 percent of ESPN leagues. He's scored a TD in back-to-back weeks and is a good bet to do so again in Week 3 given he scores basically every week the Saints are without Willie Snead (who's suspended until Week 4). But even when Snead returns, Fleener is clearly a factor in this Saints offense that will have to THROW every single week. I was apparently a year too soon on Fleener's big breakout.

4. Chris Thompson, RB, WAS

Thompson is owned in 70 percent of fantasy leagues, but that should be 100 percent, especially in PPR. He has 3 TDs this year and is a dynamic, consistent force in a Washington backfield that still has some question marks. His coach is talking about expanding his role, but be warned, Jay Gruden also said he doesn't want to give Thompson 20-25 carries a game because he's too small to take the beating.

5. Samaje Perine, RB, WAS

Owned in only 2 percent of leagues, Perine went from a goose egg in Week 1 to 22 touches in Week 2. The 4th-round rookie was expected to make an impact at some point this season, but after the first week of action, nobody thought it'd come to this level in Week 2. Rob Kelley still received 12 carries and averaged 6.5 yards per carry (compared to Perine's 3.2), so the situation is muddled right now. But Perine should be owned and stashed, at the very least.

6. Chris Johnson, RB, ARI

With David Johnson out, many turned to Kerwynn Williams immediately as a fill-in. But Williams was ineffective early in Week 2 and Chris Johnson — who was released by ARI before the season started and signed immediately after David's injury — took over and had 11 carries in Week 2. He's 31 and hasn't been a fantasy factor in two years, but Chris Johnson could be the Cardinals back worth owning in David Johnson's absence.

7. Rashard Higgins, WR, CLE

Higgins was a complete unknown to the fantasy world 72 hours ago. But after playing 54 of the Browns' 71 snaps in Week 2 and garnering 11 targets with 7 catches and 95 yards, the second-year receiver is one of the hottest adds on the waiver wire this week. Corey Coleman is likely headed to injured reserve for the second year in a row and Higgins is now listed as a starter in Cleveland and clearly has some rapport with DeShone Kizer. Higgins sure looks like the top Cleveland receiver to own right now. The best news? He's owned in just 0.4 percent of fantasy leagues. 

8. Marqise Lee, WR, JAC

Allen Robinson went down and Marqise Lee stepped up. Lee had 7 catches for 76 yards, corralling a team-high 12 targets. Allen Hurns had more yards (82) and scored but only had 7 targets. There's still much to be decided in the Jacksonville passing game, but Lee is the best bet to receive the top share of targets right now and he actually had 851 yards and 3 TDs last season, so he's already been a low-end fantasy factor for a little while now. 

9. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, NYJ

More Olsen insurance. ASJ returns from a two-game suspension this week and will immediately slot in as one of the only weapons on the Jets offense. He's still only 24 and has flashed enormous fantasy potential in the past. It's worth taking a chance if you're in desperate need for a TE.

10. Jermaine Kearse, WR, NYJ

Kearse's trade from Seattle to New York was one of the more under-the-radar moves of the preseason, but he's been a factor with the WR-thin Jets already  15 targets, 11 catches, 123 yards, 2 TDs in two games. Kearse could be a good target for those Jordy Nelson owners looking for a one- or two-week option or any fantasy team needing a low-risk long-term option.

11. D'Onta Foreman, RB, HOU

Let's end this week's waiver picks with a strictly long-term option on the market. Right now, Lamar Miller is the guy in Houston, but he's had 18 games in a row without much of an impact and all the whispers have turned into a roar suggesting the Texans need to make a RB change. It's looking like a near-certainty Foreman unseats Miller at some point this season and that point could even be in Week 3. The 235-pound rookie back only had one carry in Week 1 but had 12 carries in Week 2 and clearly ate into Miller's touches in a game Houston won, so consider it a harbinger of things to come. Scoop Foreman now with the possibility of him making an impact at some point this fantasy season, possibly as early as Week 3.

Can the Bears make enough plays to beat the Carolina Panthers?

Can the Bears make enough plays to beat the Carolina Panthers?

Everything changed for the Bears after going up 17-3 last week against the Baltimore Ravens. Mitchell Trubisky’s 27-yard touchdown to Dion Sims was immediately followed by Bobby Rainey running a kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown, then the offense was bogged down with three fumbles (two lost) on three consecutive possessions. 

But Adrian Amos seemed to seal the game with his 90-yard pick six — that is, until Michael Campanaro ran Pat O’Donnell’s punt back 77 yards for what wound up being a game-tying touchdown after a two-point conversion.

The point is the Bears should’ve cruised to a comfortable win last week; a few critical mistakes didn’t allow that to happen. The Bears haven’t led at the end of the fourth quarter this year, a pretty strong indicator they haven’t played a complete game yet despite having two wins. 

The Carolina Panthers have road wins over the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots this year, and only lost to the Philadelphia Eagles by five points last week (despite Cam Newton throwing three interceptions). The bet here is the Bears keep things close on the backs of a strong defense, but either can’t make enough plays or make too many mistakes to win. 

Prediction: Panthers 20, Bears 16

Three and out: What Ron Rivera likes about Mitchell Trubisky played out this week

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Three and out: What Ron Rivera likes about Mitchell Trubisky played out this week

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera saw a lot of Mitchell Trubisky last year, with the North Carolina quarterback on TV quite a bit in the Charlotte area. The Panthers, set with Cam Newton, weren’t in the market for a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft, but Trubisky nonetheless stood out to the seventh-year Carolina coach and former Super Bowl-winning Bears linebacker. 

For Rivera, more than Trubisky’s arm strength and athleticism jumped off the screen. 

“Leadership,” Rivera pointed to. “When you watch him when he was playing — I love watching guys that either get on their teammates when they’re not doing it or they take accountability when they make a mistake. And you saw that with him.

“… We think the young man has got what it takes. We like who’s he’s gonna become. We do. We think the future can be bright for him. We are big fans here.”

Trubisky took accountability for both of his turnovers against the Minnesota Vikings: The interception Harrison Smith baited him into was certainly his fault, but his sack-strip fumble was more the result of Everson Griffen jumping the snap and blowing past left tackle Charles Leno. Against the Baltimore Ravens, Trubisky also lost a fumble on a sack-strip when cornerback Lardarius Webb hit him and dislodged the ball.

Trubisky’s explanation of that fumble was that he moved off his first read too quickly, causing him to miss Webb making a beeline for him in the backfield. But according to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, that fumble wasn’t the quarterback’s fault. 

“That’s because he’s a stud,” Loggains said of Trubisky taking responsibility for it. “We screwed the protection up. We should have been sliding to the guy. The guy should not have been coming free. That’s Mitch taking a bullet that he doesn’t need to take. The reality is he saw the guy coming and tried to get over to the check down quickly but we got to do a better job up front protecting him.”

But that Trubisky was willing to say he was at fault for that fumble plays into why he quickly gained the respect of the Bears’ the locker room. That’s what a quarterback should be doing when speaking to the media after the game — accepting responsibility and deflecting off his teammates, even if he’s not at fault. That kind of stuff doesn’t go unnoticed. 

Stopping Superman

Pernell McPhee offered this goal up for his fellow defensive teammates this week: Make sure Newton stays as Clark Kent on Sunday. 

“He’s a very talented guy, but the only thing I told the defense is let's make him be Cam Newton, not Superman,” McPhee said, referring to Newton’s signature touchdown move. “We don't want him opening up the cape.”

So how does a defense stop Newton from being Superman?

“He’s a very versatile quarterback,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “Obviously his running the ball, whether it be through his improvising with scrambling on called pass plays, or the called running plays they do have for him, that’s a strength for him. We can’t just focus on stopping that. We’ve gotta stop Cam Newton the passer and the runner. They’ve got good running backs they’re handing it off to and receivers and running backs he’s throwing it to, so you’ve got a total offense to stop.”

One point to note here: Newton threw three interceptions last week against the Philadelphia Eagles and had been picked off eight times this year. A Bears secondary that intercepted Joe Flacco twice last week could have some more shots at takeaways on Sunday. 

High praise

Sunday will mark Thomas Davis’ 156th game in the NFL, with the linebacker playing every one of those with the Carolina Panthers. He played for John Fox from 2005-2010. But where we’re going here is what he had to say about how the Bears run their offense with a rookie quarterback:

“I think this is probably the best running game that we’ve seen from an offense with a rookie quarterback,” Davis said. “You look at some of the other rookies that come in. Teams want to run the ball. But when you look at the physicality and the style of play that this team plays with, I think that really makes the job a lot easier for a young quarterback. So I definitely feel like that physicality in their running game is definitely going to help him out.”

The Bears ran the ball 50 times against a Baltimore Ravens defense that played a lot more Cover-2 than expected. With star linebacker Luke Kuechly out for Sunday, the Bears may try to use a similar strategy, even if Carolina loads the box more than Baltimore did (a little more than once one every three runs by Jordan Howard). 

But if the Bears’ offense is going to have success, it’s going to be behind Howard, Tarik Cohen and an improving offensive line. Maybe Davis’ comments are hyperbole, but he’s also played a lot more football than you and me.