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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.

Even in a controlled gameplan, Mitchell Trubisky's playmaking ability shines through

Even in a controlled gameplan, Mitchell Trubisky's playmaking ability shines through

While the Bears praised Mitchell Trubisky’s operation of a controlled gameplan in his second NFL start, they’re not losing sight of the special kind of athleticism and playmaking ability the rookie quarterback possesses. Two plays in particular stand out — plays that led to anywhere from a five-to-10 point swing in the game. 

Trubisky’s 18-yard third down completion to Kendall Wright in overtime seems to looks better every time you watch it on film. Trubisky was pressured by two Baltimore Ravens pass rushers, but managed to wriggle free and slide to his right, only to find linebacker C.J. Mosley waiting in front of him. The blend of athleticism and aggressiveness Trubisky displayed in firing high over the middle toward Wright — who made a specular play of his own — is one of the many reasons why the Bears are so excited about him. 

“To be able to throw that ball with both hands in the air and changing your arm angle – that’s why you draft a kid second,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “Because of things like that.”

But there was another instinctual, athletic play Trubisky made that was just as impressive, and just as important. Cody Whitehair’s snapping issues cropped up at the Bears’ 13-yard line, with the center sailing a snap over Trubisky’s head and toward the end zone. 

If Baltimore recovered that ball, it would’ve tied the game; had Trubisky simply fell on the ball, it very well could’ve led to a safety that would’ve brought the Ravens within five points about a minute after the Bears took a 17-3 lead. Instead, Trubisky picked up the ball, scrambled to his right and threw the ball away — one of six throwaways he had on Sunday. 

“(That) was a critical, critical play at that time,” Loggains said. 

This isn't to say that two plays — only one of which gained yards — are enough to say the Bears' offense is in a good place. It's still a group that necessitates a controlled gameplan, similar to the one they used with Mike Glennon. But the difference: Trubisky can make plays. 

Briefly, on Whitehair

Since we’re on the subject of another poor snap by Whitehair, here’s what Loggains had to say on that topic: 

“He’s gotten better. We still had one too many. The thing and point I want to make with Cody Whitehair is, obviously wants to talk about the snap, but you’re talking about two weeks in a row of completely dominating. We’re an outside zone team that ran 25 snaps of inside zone because of what they were playing. It changed our game plan and Cody’s a big part of that. The last two weeks we’ve been able to move those guys inside. He’s a really good football player. 

“We’re going to battle through these snap issues. We’re cutting them down. He’s more accurate. He did have the one that obviously is unacceptable and no one owns that more than Cody Whitehair does. But he is a really good football player and let’s not lose sight of the 79 snaps where he really helped the team run the football and you can’t do that without a Cody Whitehair at center.”

Loggains has a point here — if Whitehair were struggling in the run game, against the defensive looks the Ravens were showing, the Bears wouldn’t have been able to run the ball 50 times with the kind of success they had. But the poor snaps nonetheless are ugly and have to be eliminated — imagine the uproar over them if Trubisky didn’t make that play in Baltimore. The Bears' offense won't always be good enough to overcome those kind of self-inflicted mistakes. 

Loggains and coach John Fox have praised Whitehair’s attention to the problem, and as long as Hroniss Grasu is still limited with a hand injury, Whitehair will have some time to work through these issues. One final thought: Who would’ve expected, back in May, that Whitehair would have the problems with snaps, and not Trubisky? 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What are Bears' chances against Panthers?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: What are Bears' chances against Panthers?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Laurence Holmes (670 The Score) and Phil Rogers (MLB.com) join Kap on the panel.

The crew discusses Bobby Portis’ suspension, Edzo’s return to the booth and the Bears' chances against the Panthers. 

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: