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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.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: How much will Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game?

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: How much will Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game?

Mark Carman, Scott Merkin and Chris Bleck join Kap on the panel. Jon Lester looks to get back on track against the Pirates? Should he still be the Cubs Game 1 starter in the playoffs?  Len Kasper joins Kap to discuss.

 

How much will Mitch Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game? And will Carlos Rodon end up being the White Sox’ best starter?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

How aggressive will the Bears' offense be? 'That's our attitude'

How aggressive will the Bears' offense be? 'That's our attitude'

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Matt Nagy provided a defining quote for his offense when a reporter observed that Mitch Trubisky was continuing to take shots downfield instead of checking down during practice. 

“That's never going to stop,” Nagy said. “Not in this offense.”

For a team that had neither the personnel nor scheme to be successful on offense over the last few years, that one quote felt like a breath of fresh air. Not in this offense would the Bears be conservative, plodding and predictable. What’s never going to stop is the aggressive mentality Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich have worked to instill in this group during the installation phase of preseason practices. 

“That’s our attitude every time we come out on the field, is to be aggressive, to go full speed and it’s to execute all our assignments,” wide receiver Anthony Miller said. 

Just because Trubisky has frequently hucked the ball downfield over the last few weeks of practice doesn’t mean this offense will go from one of the worst to one of the best in the NFL. There’s plenty of work still to be done, a large chunk of which falls on the shoulders of Trubisky. The coaching staff will begin paring things down next week, when a dress rehearsal of gameplanning begins leading up to Aug. 25’s meeting with the Kansas City Chiefs. 

But while that week of gameplanning surely will lend itself to less reflexive aggression, that overall approach isn’t going away. Not when the Bears are confident in Trubisky and the multitude of weapons surrounding their franchise quarterback. In a more narrow scope, Nagy said Trubisky's arrow is pointing up after back-to-back days of quality practice against the Broncos here in Colorado. 

"It wasn't one good day, one bad day. It was two good days," Nagy said. "That's what his expectations are. That's what he knows that we want. He's done that and we're not gonna stop him." 

For some perspective, last year Trubisky only attempted 30 passes of 20 or more yards, according to Pro Football Focus. Meanwhile, 41 percent of Trubisky’s attempted passes traveled 0-10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage; drilling down further, 21 percent of his attempts were 0-10 yards and over the middle, representing most frequent “zone” to which he threw the football. Not all of those were check-downs, of course, but plenty of them were. Only nine percent of Trubisky’s throws traveled 20 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage. 

This was, of course, partly a personnel issue — Josh Bellamy was the most-targeted receiver on deep balls (eight), while guys like Dontrelle Inman (six), Kendall Wright (four), Deonte Thompson (three), Markus Wheaton (three) and Tre McBride (three) weren’t reliable downfield targets, either. But then again, Tarik Cohen was only targeted twice on deep balls — the first one, Cohen had a step on an Atlanta Falcons linebacker, but Mike Glennon’s pass was slightly under thrown an broken up in the end zone; the other was a 70-yard completion from Trubisky against the Carolina Panthers. 

The point being: Not only did the Bears lack the personnel to create mismatches and be aggressive, but the conservative nature of the offense meant there wasn’t much opportunity within it to do so, either. 

The Bears can be aggressive now in part because of the nature of the offense, and in part too because of the personnel they now have. If an opposing team wants to double anyone — Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Anthony Miller, Taylor Gabriel, Cohen, etc. — that’ll open up a mismatch somewhere else on the field, which lends itself to aggressiveness. 

“The biggest thing I’ve learned about this offense (is), just, there’s a lot of answers,” Trubisky said. “We’re not always going to have the perfect play call for the perfect coverage or whatever. But there’s always somewhere to go with the ball, pass to run, run to pass, there’s a lot of kills, options — there’s a lot of things we can do.”

Said Burton, who’s put together a strong preseason to date: “That’s why (Ryan) Pace and Nagy brought all those guys here, to win the one-on-one matchups. I know we’re all looking forward to those whenever it’s our time, we gotta take advantage of it.” 

Exactly how aggressive the Bears’ offense will be will become apparent in the next week and a half. While the Bears will still hold some things back against Kansas City to keep them off tape, the overall tenor of the offense will be more readily apparent on Aug. 25 than in the team’s other preseason contests. 

And if all goes according to plan, not only will this offense be aggressive — it’ll be aesthetically pleasing to everyone watching, too. 

“We’re going to keep taking shots,” Trubisky said. “We’re going to keep being aggressive because it opens up everything else when you can hit those shots. The key is just to be consistent with them, hit them and then it really stretches the field and opens up the run game and opens up the intermediate throws as well. So we’re going to continue to be aggressive, which I love.”