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.

[MORE: Get all your Fantasy Football coverage here]

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)

Prince Amukamara and CDW surprise teens at MSI event


Prince Amukamara and CDW surprise teens at MSI event

This past Saturday, Prince Amukamara provided a great surprise when he showed up during a graduation ceremony to honor high school seniors who had been a part of the Museum of Science and Industry's (MSI) "Welcome to Science" initiative.

Students listened to brief speeches from CDW Vice President of Networking, Digital Workspace and Security Solutions, Bob Rossi, a number of Bears employees and Amukamara. 

Students engaged in open discussions on how they can further their dreams with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  And through a donation from CDW’s Tech Fore! Kids program, students got perhaps the biggest surpise of all, as they were provided new laptops. CDW continues to help enable the MSI the opportunity to work with youth and further their interaction with STEM.

CDW Tech Fore! has done previous work with Chicago Bulls College Prep, and other schools and Boys and Girls clubs over time. The MSI's program looks to provide a diverse array of teens the chance to dive deeper into what it takes to have a career in science. On top of this, students are able to collect service leearning hours while simultaneously furthering their leadership and public speaking skills. 

Three compulsories loom as make-or-breaks for Mitch Trubisky Bears 'installation'


Three compulsories loom as make-or-breaks for Mitch Trubisky Bears 'installation'

The popular focus of the Bears offseason has been on a new offensive coaching staff phasing in a radically different system and playbook, integrating new “weapons” brought other teams and other schemes, and fusing them all together around a trigger/detonator in the person of quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

More than any of that, however, is Trubisky himself, the real linchpin “weapon.” All of the offseason additions, beginning with coaching staff, projects to make only marginal more impact than Dowell Loggains, Josh Bellamy, Dontrelle Inman and Kendall Wright if Trubisky himself is not much, much better than he was last season.

In three primary areas.

In figure skating and diving, the obligatory must-do’s were called “compulsories” – basic skills at which competitors were required to demonstrate proficiency. For Trubisky, improvements in three specific compulsories are the keys to this young quarterback’s development.

Trubisky is in his own molten state, still a raw, largely unknown with fewer NFL starts (12) than all but four projected starting quarterbacks (Jimmy Garoppolo, Pat Mahomes, AJ McCarron, Deshaun Watson) for 2018, but the poorest record (4-8) of any other anticipated starter, those four included. “Work in progress” is an understatement.

The Trubisky “installation” is in fact massive. Beyond the specifics of scheme, RPO’s and all the rest, Trubisky will go to training camp with precious little shared game experience with virtually any of his chief so-called weapons. Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel and Allen Robinson weren’t Bears last year. Kevin White worked chiefly with Mike Glennon and the No. 1 offense while Trubisky was primarily with the 2’s. Anthony Miller was in Memphis.

But the Trubisky developmental group – coach Matt Nagy, coordinator Mark Helfrich, quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone, backup Chase Daniel – has three chief points of attention with what was drafted to be the foundation of the franchise:

Rediscover accuracy

For all of the positives coming out of his abbreviated rookie season, Trubisky completed just 59.4 percent of his passes – not good enough for an offense based in significant part on ball control with the pass. Substandard receivers account for some of the accuracy issues for a quarterback who completed 68 percent in his one year as a college starter. But Mike Glennon completed two-thirds (66.4 percent) of his throws in his four games throwing to largely the same group.

More to a larger point, the Bears were 2-4 when Trubisky completed less than 60 percent of his throws. His completion rate is nothing short of pivotal in keeping possessions sets of downs and entire possessions on schedule, converting third downs and resting his defense.

Nagy dialed back the offense at one point during OTA’s, Trubisky played faster “and you saw completions out there,” Nagy said, “and that's what it's all about.”

Only the Carolina Panthers reached the playoffs with a quarterback (Cam Newton) completing less than 60 percent of his passes. Slightly better statistically, Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz (60.2) was leading the MVP discussion before a season-ending knee injury, and Blake Bortles (60.2) had Jacksonville a fourth-quarter away from the Super Bowl. But the Eagles and Jaguars were top-five in both scoring offense and scoring defense. And Nick Foles got the Eagles to a Lombardi Trophy completing 72.6 percent in the postseason filling in for Wentz.

Tom Brady completed 63.9 percent as a rookie and never below 60 percent in 17 years as a starter. Aaron Rodgers, never below 60 percent in 10 years as a starter. Drew Brees, 15 of his 16 seasons at 60-plus, including the last 14 straight. Ben Roethlisberger, 12 of 14 seasons at 60-plus percent. Peyton Manning, 15 of his 17 seasons at 60-plus percent. Those five account for 17 Super Bowl appearances.

Trubisky was drafted to be that echelon of quarterback. Reaching that level begins with completing passes.

Stay the ball-security course

Trubisky may not have been dominant in any area as a rookie, but he bought into the emphasis placed on ball security by John Fox and coordinator Dowell Loggains. He ranked 12th with a very respectable 2.1-percent interception rate. Of the 11 passers rated ahead of him, only Jacoby Brisset in Indianapolis failed to get his team to .500, and eight of those 11 were in the playoffs. Ball security matters.

And it is something to watch through training camp and preseason. Adam Gase made ball security the No. 1 objective with Jay Cutler when Gase arrived in 2015. Cutler went a dozen straight practices and his 33-pass preseason without throwing an interception. The carryover was obvious; Cutler had the best season (92.3) and second-best interception rate of his career in 2015.

The same is expected, and needed, from Trubisky for the new offense, and the “old” defense, to work.

“He had, I think was a three-to-one or maybe even a four-to-one touchdown to interception ratio in college,” Helfrich said. “That works. That’s a good thing. We need to continue that. We can’t put the defense in a bad situation, our team in a situation, because there’s times in the NFL they’re going to get you and I think a quarterback kind of has that innate ability to take care of the football versus turning it over when he, for lack of a better word, panics.” 

Trubisky lost two fumbles in the span of 12 games. Very respectable and a strong starting point for his year two.

Get the ball off on time

Trubisky in 2017 tied for fourth in percentage of pass plays sacked (8.6), a problem that might be laid at the feet of an offensive line forced by injuries into seven different starting-five combinations. Might, but far from entirely.

Nagy’s passing offense is rooted in timing. Receivers during practices have precision drilled into them, meaning being exactly where they’re supposed to be at precisely the instant they’re supposed to be there. Trubisky’s tutoring has stressed plays being on time.

Only the Buffalo Bills reached the playoffs with a quarterback (Tyrod Taylor, 9.9) taking sacks at a rate higher than 6.6 percent. Alex Smith went down at a rate of 6.5 percent running the Kansas City offense under Nagy and coach Andy Reid.

Trubisky’s mobility is an obvious asset for extending plays. But getting the ball out of his hands is the goal, and his decision-making and execution will be key in how long his line has to sustain blocks. Trubisky early on evinced a grasp of balancing the reward of rescuing a play under pressure against the risk of taking a sack.

“Ball security is very important so I'm just trying to take care of the football,” Trubisky said not long after taking over for Glennon last season. “But at the same time you want to stay aggressive and you could say the sacks are a result of that.”