Fantasy Football: 12 waiver wire targets for Week 3


Fantasy Football: 12 waiver wire targets for Week 3

We haven't even kicked off Week 3 of the NFL season and there's already been a full year's worth of surprises.

You don't have to look any further than survivor pools for proof. There have been so many upsets that some survivor pools are already over and others are not far behind.

There has been no shortage of shocks in the fantasy world, either.

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Between huge injuries to key players (Dez Bryant, Tony Romo, Drew Brees, Eddie Lacy, DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Jason Witten, Mike Evans) and ineffectiveness from top picks (DeMarco Murray, C.J. Anderson, Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, Andrew Luck, Jeremy Hill, Lamar Miller, Melvin Gordon, Jimmy Graham, Frank Gore), it seems as if no team can escape a bout of bad luck right now.

Things will start to even out, of course. They always do.

But two weeks into the season, the waiver wire starts to become an important aspect to any team's success. You need to pick up guys to absorb the loss of key players and to possibly plug in for those disappointing "stars."

We've got 10 guys you should target on your waiver wire this week:

1. Matt Jones, RB, WSH  

Jones is owned in less than 17 percent of ESPN leagues, but that number will obviously jump up after his 123-yard, two-tuddie performance against the Rams in Week 2. I've been all about Jones since the preseason (I still believe he will end up outperforming Alfred Morris) and he has another very good matchup against the Giants this week. He's a rookie, so expect some inconsistency, but you can easily make the case for Jones to be the No. 1 pickup this week. (Tony Andracki)

2. David Johnson, RB, ARI

He's scored a rushing, receiving and return touchdown in the first two weeks of his NFL career. Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said he wants to get him the ball more. That backfield is wide open with Andre Ellington hurt and Chris Johnson being...well...Chris Johnson. The younger Johnson is a great pick up this week. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

3. Dion Lewis, RB, NE

Lewis lost a fumble to the Bills but still didn't find himself in Bill Belichick's doghouse. That should tell you all you need to know about how the Patriots and Belichick view Lewis. LeGarrette Blount returned from suspsension and received just two carries while Lewis had seven carries and nine targets. Of course, there is plenty of concern about consistency given Belichick's history of utilizing RBs, but Lewis is a must-own right now, especially in PPR leagues. (Andracki)

4. Derek Carr, QB, OAK

I'm not a big believer in Carr in actual football, but in fantasy he's starting to look like a pretty good option. The Raiders offense flashed some real potential against the Ravens defense on Sunday and Carr was the main factor in their explosion. He's got two great weapons to throw to in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. If you were a Tony Romo or Jay Cutler owner, Carr is your guy to go after on the waiver wire. (Professor)

5. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, MIN

With all the QBs going down, Bridgewater is a perfect guy to go out and claim as at least a temporary fill-in. I think he can be even more, though. Many expected Bridgewater to take a big leap forward in his second NFL season and he disappointed in Week 1. But he turned things around against the Lions last week, going 14-for-18 with 153 passing yards and a tuddie through the air plus 21 rushing yards and a tuddie on the ground. You're going to want to sit him Week 4 against the Broncos and he has a Bye Week 5, but other than that, Bridgewater has solid matchups all the way through Week 12, which should help absorb the loss of Romo or Brees. (Andracki)

6. Ronnie Hillman, RB, DEN

How is he owned in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues? For two straight games, Hillman has been the most productive back on the Broncos, even though he has just seven fantasy points total in PPR leagues. C.J. Anderson looks rough right now and the Broncos will get the running game going. Plus, Hillman has a nice matchup against the Lions this week. Go get him. (Andracki)

7. Michael Crabtree, WR, OAK

Shoutout to CSN Bay Area Raiders Insider Scott Bair for calling this one before the season. Crabtree was a target monster on Sunday with Derek Carr in the game and performed extremely well. Crabtree is out to prove he's healthy and worthy of a new contract next year and that's always something that helps motivate a player. If you're desperate for a receiver, he's a nice get. (Professor)

[MORE: Fantasy Football: 11 waiver wire targets for Week 2]

8. James Starks, RB, GB

Perhaps this is our fault - the experts' - but Starks as a handcuff for a bruising running back like Eddie Lacy makes too much sense. True, Lacy has missed just one game in his 2+ seasons in the NFL, but he was bound to get dinged up at some point, which he did Sunday night against the Seahawks. Starks responded with 20 rushes for 95 yards and four receptions. He did fumble, but the takeaway here is that Starks, much like a Ryan Mathews, becomes a top-5 back if his starter goes down. Lacy may miss Monday night's tilt against the Chiefs, making him a surefire pick-up. And even when Lacy is back, Starks deserves to be owned in more than 8.7 percent of leagues. If you've got a spot to fill, grab him. (Mark Strotman)

9. Tyrod Taylor, QB, BUF

Taylor looked solid in Week 1, but he exploded on the fantasy scene in Week 2 with 242 passing yards, three passing tuddies, 43 rushing yards and a rushing tuddie. He did throw three picks and fumbled twice (though didn't lose either), but it was against a Patriots defense that has historically shut down inexperienced QBs like Taylor. His fantasy production on the ground is an added bonus but he's proving to be a capable passer and is a very solid injury fill-in or matchup play. (Andracki)

10. Travis Benjamin, WR, CLE

Holy crap. A Browns player worth owning in fantasy? Well, sort of. Benjamin has been an electric playmaker for the Browns in Week 1 and especially Week 2. If you were to name the Browns top WR at the moment, it'd be Benjamin. It's hard to put trust into the Browns offense but he's clearly got something going with Johnny Football, who should probably (hopefully) start next week. (Professor)

11. Doug Baldwin, WR, SEA

I got to witness firsthand Sunday night Doug Baldwin's improved play in Year 5. He was Russell Wilson's go-to target, racking up a team-high eight targets (catching 7 for 92 yards and a touchdown) while Green Bay limited Jimmy Graham to one catch on two targets. Quietly, Baldwin now has 14 receptions on 17 targets this season. Graham is far from a bust in Seattle, and Jermaine Kearse is still lurking, but Baldwin has been fantastic through two weeks and should be on your radar. Especially with a date against the Bears looming in Week 3. I'd consider him a solid add and start in 12-team leagues this week. (Strotman)

12. Rishard Matthews, WR, MIA

Deep waiver wire pickup alert. Tannehill has frustrated me like crazy the first two weeks. He put up great numbers on Sunday but outside of Jarvis Landry, there were some odd names at the top of the receiving list: Rishard Matthews led the team in receiving and Damien Williams and Jake Stoneburner caught the only two touchdowns. That's frustrating for owners who had guys like DeVante Parker or Kenny Stills. Matthews might be the play now with the Dolphins, although I'm still not high on that unit at all. (Professor)

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

USA Today Sports Images

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”