Fantasy Football Waiver Wire, Week 3: Tank Dell Breakout
For the most part, I will only be including players who are rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo fantasy football leagues in this article. I’ll make a few exceptions for players close to 50 percent who should be approaching 100 percent. A player’s roster percentage will appear in parentheses next to their name. I will also make FAAB recommendations when necessary. The lists within each position will be roughly ordered by how much of a priority each player is on waivers. Denny Carter is mercifully handling the kicker portion of this article which will be added Monday evenings. Updates from Monday Night Football will be added on Tuesday mornings.
Matthew Stafford, Rams (35%)
Stafford’s Week 3 matchup on the road versus the Bengals isn’t as appealing as it is for the next two quarterbacks, but Stafford may be the only long-term option for fantasy purposes. Before Monday Night Football’s doubleheader, the veteran passer ranks third in the NFL in passing yards on the back of the second-most attempts. He has been making do with Puka Nacua as his top receiver and could get Cooper Kupp back in Week 5. Stafford isn’t my favorite streamer for Week 3 but is a better long-term bet than Desmond Ridder or Kenny Pickett.
Desmond Ridder, Falcons (5%)
After an uninspiring performance in Week 1, Ridder bounced back versus the Packers on Sunday. He tossed one score while averaging 7.4 yards per attempt and added 39 yards plus another touchdown on the ground. Removing a single kneel-down, he logged nine rush attempts. In Week 3, Ridder gets a Detroit defense that ranks 26th in passing yards per game allowed and 22nd in EPA per dropback allowed. Given their defensive struggles last year, it’s safe to say they are a positive matchup for opposing quarterbacks in 2023. Ridder is a low-volume passer but can get there against a weak Detroit defense via efficiency and rushing production.
C.J. Stroud, Texans (10%)
Kenny Pickett was originally on this list as a streaming option in a good matchup with the Raiders. However, I added the caveat that he needed to not implode versus the Browns on Monday Night Football. Implode may be an exaggeration, but 22 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception aren’t getting the job done in most weeks. Pickett now ranks last in EPA per dropback on the year.
Stroud, on the other hand, dropped 382 yards and two scores on the Colts. His game was far from perfect as he still took six sacks, but from a clean pocket, Stroud has been good. Pro Football Focus has him graded as their No. 12 passer when not under pressure. He ranks top-10 in yards per attempt without pressure as well. Currently sitting at third in total pass attempts, Stroud is a volume play with some efficiency upside in Week 3 against the Jags.
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Jerome Ford, Browns (16%)
Nick Chubb went down with a gruesome knee injury on Monday night. He was immediately ruled out and it’s hard to imagine him playing again this season. Ford was the only backup to see a carry in Week 1 or Week 2. He also left college with a strong receiving profile, giving him three-down potential as Chubb’s replacement. It’s possible the Browns bring in a free agent or trade for someone who could eventually start over Ford, but he currently has a clear path to RB1 usage.
Zack Moss, Colts (52%)
Moss is rostered in just over half of leagues, but he’s worth checking on if you need a running back. Moss was the only Colts running back to see a snap in Week 2. He logged 18 carries and four catches. Moss is the top pickup across all formats and has bell-cow potential until Jonathan Taylor returns (if he returns to the Colts at all).
Matt Breida, Giants (1%)
For most leagues, Breida will be the top pickup. Saquon Barkley suffered an ankle injury in Week 2 and will likely miss multiple weeks, though the injury isn’t believed to be major. Breida served as the clear RB2 to Barkley in the preseason and was listed as the backup on the team’s depth chart.
Week 2 RB Fantasy Usage (no SNF/MNF)— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) September 18, 2023
1 Tony Pollard (32.8 exp half PPR)
2 D'Andre Swift (24.9)
3 Derrick Henry (22.3)
4 Kyren Williams (21.5)
5 Saquon Barkley (19.6)
6 Kenneth Walker (18.9)
7 Bijan Robinson (18.1)
8 Joe Mixon (17.2)
9 Rachaad White (16.8)
10 CMC (16.6)
Now in the starting role, Breida will be swimming in expected fantasy points. Barkley ranks ninth in Hayden Winks’ expected fantasy points model after two weeks (before Monday’s double-header) and finished top-five in the metric in Week 2.
Roschon Johnson, Bears (38%)
Johnson scored fewer points in Week 2 than in Week 1, but his snap share rose slightly in the wake of D’Onta Foreman being healthy scratched. Johnson’s share of the running back carries in Chicago lept by 10 percent in his second NFL game. After two weeks, the rookie is also leading the Bears’ running backs in routes and pass-blocking reps. Fantasy managers should wait to throw him into their starting lineup, but his role is trending in the right direction and his skill set is that of a three-down running back.
Justice Hill, Ravens (44%)
Hill’s ownership number spiked last week, but he remains available in over half of leagues. He took the field for 57% of the Ravens’ snaps on Sunday and saw 11 carries plus three targets. Gus Edwards remained involved and saw 10 carries, one of which he turned into a touchdown. Hill appears to be the leader in his backfield for both carries and targets, though his edge over Edwards is far from massive. Hill isn’t likely to be a breakout star by any stretch of the imagination, but he should return RB3 fantasy numbers as Baltimore’s top option between the tackles.
Tyjae Spears, Titans (17%)
As expected, Spears’ snap share fell in a Week 2 win for the Titans, though he remained surprisingly involved in the offense. Spears earned a 37 percent snap share, eight carries, and two targets. His eight carries accounted for a quarter of Tennessee’s running back rush attempts. He was the only backup running back to touch the ball for the Titans. Spears isn’t a starting option in most fantasy formats, but he is an obvious hold based on his role as the clear RB2 behind the league’s highest usage running back.
Skyy Moore, Chiefs (49%)
Moore’s route rate jumped from 64 percent in Week 1 to 73 percent in Week 2. His counting stats also lept from … zero catches versus the Lions to three receptions for 70 yards and a score against Jacksonville. Moore got dropped by a swath of fantasy managers after his Week 1 dud only to see his role grow in Week 2. He runs a lot of routes and his quarterback is Patrick Mahomes. Has this formula ever failed before?
Tutu Atwell, Rams (25%)
Atwell will be overshadowed by Puka Nacua’s mind-bending pair of games to start his career, but the shifty Louisville alum shouldn’t be overlooked. He has run a route on 94% of the Rams’ dropbacks through two weeks and has a 20 percent target share. Atwell ranks 25th in yards per route run and 16th in Pro Football Focus receiving game. Even if he isn’t the Rams’ WR1, Atwell is the real deal.
Tank Dell, Texans (5%)
The Texans put Noah Brown on injured reserve last week, opening up the team’s WR3 role for Dell. The rookie wideout made the most of his increased reps with a 7/72/1 receiving line.
He ran a route on 82 percent of C.J. Stroud’s dropbacks. The undersized receiver also played both out wide and in the slot. He had an average target depth of 9.2. Dell was an extremely productive prospect who is now playing a full-time role and isn’t limited by the biggest knock on his profile coming out of college: his 5’8/165 frame. Dell is a clear buy heading into Week 3 and is the best bet of the widely available options for a long-term breakout. He will rightfully earn FAAB bids of 30 percent or more on the upcoming run of waivers.
Jayden Reed, Packers (10%)
Reed has been heavily involved in the Green Bay passing attack when on the field so far. The rookie has earned a target on 29 percent of his routes. For reference, Romeo Doubs has only been targeted on 20 percent of his routes. The only downside is that his route rate sits at a modest 67% after two performances. To be more than a low-end FLEX option, Reed will need to earn a larger share of the snaps going forward, but that trend is typical of rookie receivers. His pair of touchdowns in Week 2 won’t hurt his case for more reps either. He is a priority stash in all formats.
Robert Woods, Texans (9%)
Woods caught six balls for 74 yards and paced the Texans in routes. He doesn’t have the season-long upside to match his teammate Dell, but Woods should be overshadowed by other options on the waiver wire this week. He should provide more than his fair share of FLEX-worthy games this season and will go for less than five percent of most FAAB budgets.
K.J. Osborn, Vikings (9%)
Osborn has seen snap shares over 90 percent in both weeks to start the year. He has six targets for three catches in consecutive outings. Like Woods, Osborn isn’t an exciting pickup and the flashier receivers on his roster will out-produce him in the long run. However, both players can get fantasy managers through the upcoming bye weeks in a pinch and won’t break the FAAB budget.
Marvin Mims, Broncos (23%)
Mims ran six routes in Week 2 and was targeted twice. Those numbers put him deep on the Denver depth chart, but it’s possible he did enough on the limited reps to earn more routes in Week 3 and beyond. Mims caught two passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. He added one carry for 10 yards.
Marvin Mims reached 20+ mph on 3 of his 4 touches in the first half, becoming just the third player to do so in a half since 2018.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 17, 2023
Mims gained +70 receiving yards over expected on 2 receptions, adding +31 punt return yards over expected on his lone return.
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Given his weak role through two games, I would not recommend starting him in Week 3. He makes sense for fantasy teams that can afford to burn a roster spot for a few more weeks.
Jalin Hyatt, Giants (12%)
Hyatt has only been on the field for 33 percent of the Giants’ dropbacks this season. Like Mims, he is nothing more than a stash. Still, the rookie went for 89 yards on a pair of receptions versus the Cardinals. He is the only Giants receiver averaging more than 1.2 yards per route run and he is sitting north of three. His efficiency should earn him more reps as the season progresses.
Zach Ertz, Cardinals (10%)
Eight quarters of football later and Zach Ertz is your target share leader among tight ends. Joshua Dobbs has looked his way on 31 percent of his attempts. Ertz also ranks second in air yards share and targets per route run. He has a dozen catches to his name so far. He will sit at the backend of the TE1 range in my Week 3 rankings.
Dawson Knox, Bills (21%)
Knox only has six catches for 35 yards so far, but he has run a route on 70 percent of Josh Allen’s dropbacks. He has still run more routes than first-round rookie Dalton Kincaid. Knox has a quarter of the Bills’ end zone targets and was heavily involved on play-action reps last week, both of which help his touchdown potential going forward. Knox is an easy way to get access to the Buffalo offense at a position that requires one touchdown to earn a top-12 finish for the week.
Kicker (Presented by Denny Carter)
Brandon Aubrey, Cowboys (7%)
Many are saying I should have recommended Aubrey in last week’s waiver column. Others agree. I also agree.
Aubrey, who’s made all seven of his field goal tries this season, will be an every-week fantasy option on a Dallas team that generates as much neutral and positive script as any team in the league. The Cowboys are cooking on offense -- and defense, for that matter -- and lead the league in red zone possessions. Anecdotally, Mike McCarthy doesn’t seem too terribly worried about finishing those possessions with touchdowns. That’s good news for Aubrey. He needs to be picked up this week by anyone who doesn’t have an elite kicker option.
Aubrey’s Week 3 prospects are tremendous. Dallas is a 10.5-point favorite against the Cardinals.
Brett Maher, Rams (3%)
The Bengals being 7.5 point favorites against the Rams doesn’t reflect the possibility that Joe Burrow (calf) could be sidelined. Even if Burrow plays, who would believe Cincinnati can run away from any NFL team right now? It could not be me.
The Rams offense has marched up and down the field without Cooper Kupp in the early going. LA is averaging 3.5 red zone possessions per game. We want our kickers attached to productive passing attacks, and that’s what we have with Maher. The Bengals have allowed nearly ten fantasy points to kickers through two weeks.
Chad Ryland, Patriots (1%)
One thing I love to do is tout a rookie kicker with one field goal through two games. So here we go with Ryland, who should benefit from neutral or positive game script against the unfathomably down-bad Jets.
No team has allowed more field goal tries (8) than the Jets through two weeks, thanks largely to the New York defense stopping opposing offenses in the red zone 64 percent of the time -- the seventh-best rate in the league through Week 2. Ryland is a viable process play.