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Waiver Wired: Week 3

by Raymond Summerlin
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Welcome to the third edition of Waiver Wired for the 2015 season. As is always the case, this column will be your guide to the best players available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues. Some of those players will be plug-and-play options who could help this week while others will be stashes who may become useful in the future.

Each profiled player will come with a recommendation of what size league they should be owned. This does not mean they cannot be owned in shallower leagues, but they are not must-adds in the smaller formats. Also, a watch list will follow every position group. These are players who could be added if a roster spot were available, but they are not yet must own players. Now that the explanation is out of the way, let’s move on to the action.

A crazy week of action which left very few standing in survivor pools ended with several high-profile players set to miss significant amounts of time. Tony Romo, who suffered a broken left collarbone which could keep him out until after Thanksgiving, was the most notable of the bunch, but the injury to Eddie Lacy’s ankle may carry the most fantasy weight. With injuries to Tevin Coleman (ribs) and Jay Cutler (hamstring) and potential injuries to Drew Brees (shoulder), Matthew Stafford (ribs) and Lamar Miller (ankle) also affecting fantasy owners, Week 2 should be a busy one on the waiver wire. Here is who you should target.

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Quarterbacks
1. Andy Dalton
2. Tyrod Taylor
3. Alex Smith

Running backs
One-Week Rental: James Starks
1. Dion Lewis
2. David Johnson
3. Matt Jones
4. Ronnie Hillman
5. Duke Johnson
6. Chris Johnson
7. Devonta Freeman
8. Lorenzo Taliaferro

Wide receivers
1. Marvin Jones
2. Dorial Green-Beckham
3. Michael Crabtree
4. Leonard Hankerson
5. Rishard Matthews
6. Doug Baldwin

Tight ends
1. Ladarius Green
2. Crockett Gillmore
3. Eric Ebron
4. Richard Rodgers
*Jordan Reed owned in 67 percent of Yahoo leagues. My No. 1 pickup if available

Defense/Special Teams
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. New York Jets
3. Cleveland Browns
*Broncos owned in 54 percent of Yahoo leagues. My No. 1 pickup if available

Kickers
1. Brandon McManus
2. Josh Brown
3. Phil Dawson

 

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QUARTERBACKS
1. Andy Dalton, Bengals – Owned in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues
Andy Dalton proved again why he is criminally undervalued in fantasy circles with another stellar performance against the Chargers on Sunday. Dalton carved up the Chargers for 214 yards and three touchdowns on only 26 attempts, and he now has five touchdowns to zero interceptions and a 68.3-percent completion rate so far this season. Bad games will come as they always do for Dalton, but he will be a fantasy starter more weeks that not and has the weapons to carry weekly top-five upside. He needs to be owned and should be starting Week 3 against the Ravens.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues.

2. Tyrod Taylor, Bills – Owned in 15 percent of Yahoo leagues
A week after I questioned his weekly upside, Tyrod Taylor threw a four total touchdown, 26 fantasy point game in my face. I would be lying if I said it did not sting a bit, but there are some important things to remember. After looking like a star in a limited role Week 1, Taylor struggled somewhat when asked to take on more offensive responsibility against the Patriots. He held the ball too long, absorbed too many sacks and tried to force the ball into double coverage. More importantly, he was having a so-so fantasy day before scoring three garbage-time touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The Bills are unlikely to find themselves down by 24 points in the fourth quarter and they are unlikely to need 41 points to win again this season. Taylor needs to be owned in most leagues, but I still question how many times he will finish as a top-ten quarterback this season. I do think he is worth a look next week against the Dolphins’ beatable secondary.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

3. Alex Smith, Chiefs – Owned in 27 percent of Yahoo leagues
Smith showed why he is not a must-own quarterback with 191 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions against the Broncos Thursday night. Smith will very rarely throw two interceptions, but Thursday was the 12th time he has been held without a touchdown pass in his last 30 games. Smith is a streaming option who has a decent matchup next week against the Packers, who gave up 78 rushing yards to Russell Wilson on Sunday night. He could be a starter in deeper leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues.

Watch List: Derek Carr exploded for 351 yards and three touchdowns in a shootout with the Ravens. He could be added in deep formats, but I want to see it again before he gets shallow-league consideration. … Johnny Manziel has similar game script concerns at Tyrod Taylor and is not even guaranteed a starting job. He should be left on the wire. … Jameis Winston went into game-manager mode in the Bucs’ win over the Saints. A healthy Mike Evans could elevate Winston’s fantasy ceiling, but we need to see it. … Blake Bortles’ day looked better on the stat sheet than it did in real life. The weapons and running ability are there for him to be a fantasy factor, but it has not come together yet.



RUNNING BACKS
One-Week Rental: James Starks, Packers – Owned in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues
If you are looking for a one- or two-week rental, James Starks is the back for you. He proved last week what he can do when given a good run out, and throughout his career Starks has always performed when given a big role. In 20 career games with 10 carries or more, Starks has averaged 63.4 yards a game and 4.48 yards a carry with four touchdowns. The touchdown numbers are not great, but Starks can be relied on as a solid RB2 as long as Eddie Lacy (ankle) is sidelined. The problem is Lacy may only miss one week, and it is still questionable he misses that. If you need a back for this week, grab him, but the backs that follow are better long-term investments.

1. Dion Lewis, Patriots – Owned in 35 percent of Yahoo leagues
Another player who shoved my doubts right back down my throat was Dion Lewis, who out-snapped LeGarrette Blount 73-to-7 on his way to 13 touches for 138 yards Week 2 against the Bills. It was a good performance, and Lewis has proven he is not going anywhere this season. The doubts I have about him and anyone in the Patriots’ backfield, however, still remain. Despite dominating the snaps, Lewis saw just 16 opportunities in a game plan tailor-built for him. I feel confident predicting the Patriots will not throw the ball 44 times more than they run it again this season, and Lewis will have games where he cedes most of the running back work to Blount. Predicting when those happen will be a headache. Lewis has proven he needs to be owned everywhere and will be an RB3 against the Jaguars, but he still comes with concerns.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues.

2. David Johnson, Cardinals – Owned in 34 percent of Yahoo leagues
David Johnson is having himself one heck of a start to the season. The rookie has three touchdowns on nine total touches including a 55-yard reception Week 1 and a 108-yard kick return Week 2.  Three of his five rushes have gone for double-digit yards. The problem is he is still not the starter in Arizona, and with Andre Ellington coming back soon he may never be this season. That does not mean he cannot be effective. Ellington found himself in a similar situation in his rookie season, and he averaged just over 12 fantasy points a game playing second fiddle to Rashard Mendenhall over the final eight games of 2013. Johnson can have that kind of impact, and that is assuming Ellington can stay healthy once he gets back, which is not likely.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues.

3. Matt Jones, Redskins – Owned in 23 percent of Yahoo leagues
I wrote an ode to Matt Jones in the first Waiver Wired of the year, but I pulled back off him after Alfred Morris dominated the carries 25-to-6 in the season opener. That was a mistake. Attempting to institute a ball-control offense early in the season, Washington ran the ball 37 times against the Rams Week 2. Jones saw 19 of those carries and turned them into 123 yards and two touchdowns. Morris only managed 59 yards on his 18 carries. Morris is still expected to be the lead dog most games, but he is a liability in the passing game who could find himself on the bench if the Redskins get into negative game script situations. Jones is effective in the passing game and could dominate snaps if Washington falls behind. Both players are worthy of starting consideration moving forward, but Jones might have the most upside of the two.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues.

4. Ronnie Hillman, Broncos – Owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues
The entire Broncos’ running game has been a disappointment this season, but Ronnie Hillman has been less disappointing than C.J. Anderson. Hillman has averaged more than a yard better per carry than Anderson and has just two fewer offensive yards despite seeing eight fewer touches. Coach Gary Kubiak has already said Hillman will continue to get carries, and he could conceivably find himself on the larger side of a timeshare if Anderson continues to struggle. The Broncos’ offense seemed to find its feet in the second half against Kansas City, and that should mean good things for whichever back ends up running the football in Denver. Hillman is squarely in that conversation.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

5. Duke Johnson, Browns – Owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues
Duke Johnson surprisingly went another game without a target in the passing game, but he saw 12 carries and had two more snaps than Isaiah Crowell. Crowell was more effective against the Titans, turning 15 carries into 72 yards and a touchdown, but Johnson’s 12-43 line was not terrible and Crowell is just another fumble away from Mike Pettine’s doghouse. I am still betting on Johnson getting the better end of this timeshare at some point this season, and the Browns will have to run the ball if they hope to score. He should be owned in most leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

6. Chris Johnson, Cardinals – Owned in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues
Chris Johnson may not have had as great a day as David Johnson Week 2, but he did out-snap the rookie 34-to-17 and had 14 more touches though he managed just 72 yards on his 20 carries. David has more flash and upside, but coach Bruce Arians has been clear Chris will remain the starter as long as Andre Ellington is sidelined. For teams in need of a steady RB3, Chris Johnson is the guy, but I would rather invest in James Starks.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

7. Devonta Freeman, Falcons – Owned in 45 percent of Yahoo leagues

Tevin Coleman is expected to miss at least a couple weeks with a broken rib. That should leave Devonta Freeman as the Falcons’ starting running back. Under normal circumstances, a player becoming his team’s starter, even for just a couple weeks, would be cause for spending serious FAAB dollars, but the issue is Freeman has been downright bad with his carries so far this season. He has managed just 43 yards on 22 carries so far this year and has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry on 87 career attempts. On top of that, Terron Ward – who is worth a look in deeper leagues – could steal a decent chunk of Freeman’s workload. Freeman is good in the passing game and should get a big enough workload to be an RB3 while Coleman is sidelined, but the upside just is not there.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

8. Lorenzo Taliaferro, Ravens – Owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues
Sidelined for Week 1 with a sprained knee, Lorenzo Taliaferro stamped his authority on the backup job and perhaps more in Baltimore Week 2. Taliaferro saw just 14 fewer snaps than Justin Forsett overall and got three chances in the red zone, including the one he converted for a seven-yard score. Forsett is still the unquestioned lead in Baltimore, but Taliaferro could carve out a role as the short-yardage thumper and would have RB2 value if Forsett ever went down.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues.

Watch List: Karlos Williams is the handcuff to own in Buffalo. He is not going to get a touchdown every week, but he could return RB2 value if LeSean McCoy went down. … With Tony Romo (broken clavicle) out, the entire Cowboys’ offense is a mess. Lance Dunbar has been getting enough work to be worth a look in deeper PPR leagues, though. … Andre Williams keeps getting snaps and carries. … Carlos Hyde (thigh) appears to be fine, but it was clear Mike Davis is the handcuff to own in San Francisco. He played 41 snaps after Hyde left. … Theo Riddick out-snapped Ameer Abdullah and Joique Bell against the Vikings with the Lions in hurry-up mode. He is the clear passing-down back and is worth a look in PPR leagues. … Lamar Miller (ankle) sounds like he is going to be fine, but owners with a free bench spot should consider adding Damien Williams or Jonas Gray. … Jeremy Langford has established himself as Matt Forte’s handcuff and should get 5-10 touches weekly.



WIDE RECEIVERS
1. Marvin Jones, Bengals – Owned in 16 percent of Yahoo leagues
The day we have all be waiting for has finally happened. Marvin Jones has jumped Mohamed Sanu on the Bengals’ depth chart. After playing 11 fewer snaps Week 1, Jones out-snapped Sanu 53-to-27 and saw three more targets against the Chargers. Jones was not particularly effective with those targets, but he did get loose for a 45-yard touchdown against Brandon Flowers which brought to mind his 10-touchdown flourish in 2013. Andy Dalton is clicking right now, and Jones has proven upside. He is not worth starting yet, but he needs to be owned in most leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

2. Dorial Green-Beckham, Titans – Owned in 19 percent of Yahoo leagues
Like Marvin Jones, there are receivers below Dorial Green-Beckham on this list who have a more defined role, but in a week with few good wide receiver adds, it is important to emphasize upside. Green-Beckham is the epitome of that. A 6’5, 225-pound beast, Green-Beckham flashed in limited preseason action and beat Joe Haden for his first career catch and touchdown Week 2. After Harry Douglas had almost as many targets as yards against the Browns, it is time DGB gets more opportunities. That should hopefully begin this week.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues.

3. Michael Crabtree, Raiders – Owned in 23 percent of Yahoo leagues
Crabtree’s final stat line looked great with 9 catches for 111 yards and one touchdown, but the performance was not as spectacular. Crabtree only managed 18 yards after the catch and caught just 56 percent of his targets. Crabtree is clearly the No. 2 receiving option behind Amari Cooper, and he could have several big games with the Raiders’ secondary leaking yards. He will also have several 5 for 37 performances like we saw Week 1, however, and is more of a low-upside WR4 even in deeper leagues. He can be useful, but he is not someone to give away the farm to get.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues.

4. Leonard Hankerson, Falcons – Owned in 4 percent of Yahoo leagues
Leonard Hankerson’s 6-77-1 stat line on 11 targets Week 2 against the Giants was very surprising, but it was far more surprising that Hankerson’s big day came at the expense of Roddy White, who only saw one look on the day. Hankerson still played fewer snaps than Roddy, and he should play third fiddle in the passing game most weeks. Still, we saw what Hankerson could be if White was forced to miss any time, and the veteran wide receiver has not been a bastion of health the last couple years. That plus the tiny possibility Hankerson has passed White in the pecking order makes him worth adding in deeper leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues.  

5. Rishard Matthews, Dolphins – Owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues
Rishard Matthews has started and played significant snaps in each of the Dolphins’ first two games, compiling 10 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown over that span. Matthews has proven himself a quality wide receiver when given opportunities throughout his career, but the presence of Kenny Stills and especially rookie DeVante Parker, who saw his snap count grow from Week 1 to Week 2, makes Matthews a risky week-to-week play. If he can hold onto the No. 2 job, though, Matthews will have value all season.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues.

6. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks – Owned in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues
One of the most interesting early storylines is the passing offense of the Seahawks. Russell Wilson has attempted 30 passes or more in back to back games for just the third time in his career, and he had a career-high 41 attempts against the Rams Week 1. Baldwin has taken advantage of this new emphasis on the pass, corralling 14-of-17 targets for 127 yards and a touchdown through two weeks. Baldwin is the epitome of the 5-60-0 receiver, but he is useful in PPR formats as long as he is seeing 8 targets a game.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues.

Watch List: 
Aaron Dobson broke out with 87 yards on seven catches against the Bills. Despite the big day, it is important to note Dobson saw just one target the week before and has floated in and out of competency throughout his career. He is just a player to watch for now. … Brandon Coleman and Willie Snead both played the same number of snaps as Marques Colston. Snead led the trio in targets and is a favorite of Drew Brees. … All Allen Hurns does is catch 4-6 passes a game for around 60 yards. That is worth something in deeper leagues. … Tyler Lockett has six targets and 51 yards through two games. He has a lot of value in return yardage leagues, but he is best left on the wire at this point in standard formats. … The Giants and Eli Manning want Rueben Randle to be their No. 2, but it is just not happening right now. It may still in the future, but he can be dropped today. … Ty Montgomery played in the place of Davante Adams when he momentarily left with an ankle injury Sunday night. The injury appears to be nothing, but Montgomery would instantly become fantasy viable if Adams went down. … Kamar Aiken broke out with five catches for 89 yards, but he was out-snapped by Marlon Brown. I still believe Aiken can be a factor, but with Breshad Perriman on the way back he does not have to be owned anywhere. … Devin Funchess saw 12 more snaps Week 2 than Week 1. The Panthers’ receiver corps continues to be a disaster with Ted Ginn and Philly Brown starting and Jerricho Cotchery and Funchess rotating in, but Cotchery’s injured ankle could open the door for even more snaps for Funchess. … Ryan Grant played 44-of-72 snaps and hauled in three catches for 45 yards. A reliable receiver in a low-volume offense, Grant does not have a high ceiling, but he could offer something in deeper PPR formats while DeSean Jackson is sidelined. … Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts combined to catch 9-of-20 targets (45% catch rate) for 97 yards. I continue to want no part of the Texans’ No. 2 receiver spot. … Three of Travis Benjamin’s six catches have gone for touchdowns, and 164 of his 204 yards have come on those three catches. That will not continue. … Phillip Dorsett saw six targets with T.Y. Hilton (knee) struggling. He only caught one for 25 yards, but they took a couple shots to the speedy rookie.

TIGHT ENDS
1. Ladarius Green, Chargers – Owned in 49 percent of Yahoo leagues
He will remain at the top of this list until he jumps over the 50 percent threshold or Antonio Gates returns from suspension. His 5-47 line against the Bengals was disappointing, but his lack of success had more to do with the offense around him. He will once again be a TE1 this week against the Vikings.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues.

2. Crockett Gillmore, Ravens – Owned in 4 percent of Yahoo leagues
It is important not to overreact to one performance, especially considering how terrible the Raiders have been against tight ends this season, but there were reasons to like Gillmore before he caught five passes for 88 yards and two scores Week 2. The Ravens are desperate for playmakers in the passing game, and Gillmore is an above-average athlete at 6’6/270 who John Harbaugh talked up before the season. This one performance may end up being a mirage, but it is better to get in early and be wrong considering how much upside Gillmore’s potential role in the offense carries.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

3. Eric Ebron, Lions – Owned in 16 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Lions’ offense had a bad day overall on Sunday, but the best takeaway from a fantasy perspective is Eric Ebron appears locked in as the No. 3 passing-game option in Detroit. He admittedly saw more snaps than usual because of the absence of Brandon Pettigrew, but he had the second-most targets on the team for the second week in a row and converted another red-zone target into a touchdown. Matthew Stafford missing time would seriously hurt his value, but for now he is a weekly TE2 and potential starter in deeper leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues.

4. Richard Rodgers, Packers – Owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues
Richard Rodgers expected role in Green Bay’s red-zone offense finally materialized against the Seahawks. He was targeted twice inside the 10-yard line and converted his second look into a five-yard touchdown. He also converted the two-point conversion following the touchdown. Rodgers only has eight targets so far this season – his “rush” was really a backward pass into the flat – but he should have weekly touchdown upside in Green Bay’s stellar offense. That is worth a speculative add in deep leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 16-team leagues.

Watch List: Coby Fleener was not targeted Monday night, but he would be worth a look if Dwayne Allen’s ankle injury is serious. … I refuse to buy into Jared Cook as a fantasy relevant tight end, but he has 13 targets through two games. Those targets have been mostly empty, but they mean something. … Larry Donnell is a touchdown-or-bust TE2. Roster and start him at your own risk. … The Ravens drafted Maxx Williams to do what Crockett Gillmore did last week. We might not see it this year, but keep an eye on his snaps. … Antonio Gates is now two weeks away from returning from suspension. There are worse way to use a free roster spot.

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS
1. Pittsburgh Steelers – Owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues
Some of this recommendation comes down to the Steelers’ defense, who had a great game against the 49ers on Sunday. Ryan Shazier flew around the field and Pittsburgh’s front seven got almost constant pressure on Colin Kaepernick. It was a vintage performance. Despite the great game, the reality is this recommendation has much more to do with who the Steelers are playing. Pittsburgh travels to St. Louis Week 3 to take on Nick Foles and the hapless Rams’ rushing attack. Even with Todd Gurley active and playing a few snaps, the Steelers should have no problem shutting down the Rams’ running game just like Washington did this week. Unlike Washington, they should also get some pressure and force Foles into a few turnovers. The Steelers are a good streaming option.

2. New York Jets – Owned in 37 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Jets domination of the Browns Week 1 was not particularly impressive because it was against the Browns, but their performance against the Colts Monday night was impressive. New York forced five turnovers, hit Andrew Luck 10 times, and held the struggling offense to seven points. The Jets get another struggling offense at home Week 3 when the Eagles come to town. The Eagles’ struggling running game is unlikely to get going against the Jets’ stout defense, leaving Sam Bradford to prove he can move the football consistently through the air. He has not managed the trick yet this season, and I doubt he figures it out against New York’s secondary. 

3. Cleveland Browns – Owned in 18 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Browns will be a game-flow dependent defensive until all season long. If the offense can move the ball and force the opposition into passing situations, Cleveland has the secondary and scheme to disrupt the passing game and get pressure. If the offense does not put the defense in a great situation, teams will run the ball down the Browns’ throats all game long like the Jets did Week 1. At home against the Raiders this week, the Browns should be able to get in a favorable game-flow position. Though Derek Carr shredded the Ravens last week, it is not something I trust him to do on a weekly basis. I feel comfortable streaming the Browns this weekend.

KICKERS
1. Brandon McManus, Broncos – Owned in 41 percent of Yahoo leagues
This is the third week in a row McManus has been one of my top kicker pickups, and he will remain here until he passes the 50 percent threshold. Gary Kubiak-coached teams always attempt more field goals than average, and McManus has three makes from more than 50-yards out already this season. I always want a big-legged kicker who plays in Denver on my fantasy team, and that is exactly what we have in McManus. He needs to be owned in every league.

2. Josh Brown, Giants – Owned in 25 percent of Yahoo leagues
Brown has now attempted six field goals in two games, tied for tops in the league, and the Giants have shown no signs of getting any better in the red zone. This week New York gets a Washington defense which has given up touchdowns on just a third of opponent’s red-zone visits this season and is stellar against the run. Brown should get plenty of opportunities again on Thursday night and is a great streaming play.

3. Phil Dawson, 49ers – Owned in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Cardinals have given up the 11th most total yards this season but have only yielded three total touchdowns in part because of their 66-percent success rate at stopping teams inside the red zone. As a result of both factors, the Cardinals have had a league-leading seven field goals against through two games. This week Phil Dawson and the 49ers travel to Arizona. The Vegas total for the game is not as high as I would like, but Dawson gets to kick in a dome – or dome-like conditions if the roof is off – against a team who has given up a lot of field goals. It is a good spot to stream him. 

Raymond Summerlin
Raymond Summerlin is a football writer for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter at @RMSummerlin.