Who are the best free agents for you to pick up off the waiver wire for your fantasy-football team as we prepare to enter Week 3?
Based on the action from Week 2, there were several key developments that will have an impact on fantasy-football rosters and require owners to stay on top of what is going on around the league.
There are some waiver-wire pickups that could be added for Week 3 to address some immediate needs on your fantasy team, but there are also some adds that could be made with an eye towards the near future.
Some of these recommendations include a "what-if" scenario, with the idea that you might be in a position to gamble with the last player or two occupying the final spots on your fantasy team's bench.
Since this comes out on Friday morning, we will pass over the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers, as they have already played their Week 3 game.
Some players have been very popular waiver-wire pickups for Week 3 and are now owned in such a high percentage of leagues that it doesn't make sense to feature them in this presentation. Examples would be St. Louis Rams WR Danny Amendola, Philadelphia Eagles TE Brent Celek, the Green Bay Packers defense/special teams and Washington Redskins RB Alfred Morris. These were all hot adds this week at ESPN.com, but they're now owned in too many leagues to appear on many waiver wires.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel has been up and down so far in 2012, having thrown three touchdowns and three interceptions on the young season. He is currently ranked No. 24 in passer rating and is also ranked No. 23 at ESPN.com for Week 3 action.
But check out Cassel's Week 3 matchup. He is going up against the New Orleans Saints, who are off to a very rough start this year. The Saints' defense is ranked No. 32 in the NFL, and it is tied with the Kansas City Chiefs' defense for giving up the most points per game this year, allowing 37.5 points per game.
The Saints are allowing 275 passing yards per game, and their rush defense is the worst in the NFL, allowing 186 yards per game on the ground.
Either Jamaal Charles or Shaun Draughn should be able to have a solid game on the ground, and Cassel will be looking to mix in passes to Jonathan Baldwin and Dwayne Bowe to produce a solid effort in Week 3 for your fantasy team.
Due to the nasty ankle injury that Aaron Hernandez suffered in Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals, who exactly is going to benefit from his absence from a fantasy-football perspective? There is going to be a redistribution of touches in the New England Patriots' offense while he is out of the lineup. But the question is whom are they going to go to, and which player(s) will benefit the most?
New England is being tight-lipped as usual, so it is hard to know for sure how long Hernandez will be out of commission. Hernandez has been an integral part of the Patriots' offense ever since he joined the team, so replacing him overnight won't be easy to do. I imagine that the redistribution impact will mean a few more touches for the key fantasy players that currently serve as the Patriots' stars on offense.
As for Week 3 waiver-wire options, players that stand to touch the ball more are Danny Woodhead and Julian Edelman. In addition, the Patriots signed two free agents in WR Deion Branch and TE Kellen Winslow Jr. While neither of them is ready to assume a big role in the New England offense today, monitor what they do in Week 3 to see if they make sense for a future add to your team.
To recap for Week 3, if you lost a WR or a flex player to injury, consider adding Edelman or Woodhead. Each of them will be in position to help pick up the slack for Hernandez for the next three-to-four games.
Michael Bush will be getting a bunch of carries in the next month
If for some reason Chicago Bears running back Michael Bush is still sitting there on your waiver wire, you need to grab him ASAP.
Starting running back Matt Forte will be missing game action due to a sprained ankle, and Bush will be asked to carry the load.
Drilling down deeper in the talent pool, the Bears just signed free-agent running back Kahlil Bell to serve as a backup, but your league would require a larger number of owners to be interested in Bell.
For now, target Michael Bush.
Not only will Bush be generating plenty of touchdown opportunities in the red zone all season, but he will also have the chance to rack up some serious fantasy points for however long Forte is sidelined.
Scott Chandler gives Ryan Fitzpatrick a big target to throw to
Buffalo Bills TE Scott Chandler seems to be having even greater chemistry this year with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick than they did in 2011.
In the 2011 season opener against the New York Jets, Chandler came out and caught four passes for 38 yards and a touchdown. He followed that effort up in Week 2 by catching one pass for a 43-yard gain before coming up with a 10-yard touchdown catch. In the red zone, it is clear that Chandler is a favorite target of Ryan Fitzpatrick.
At 6'7" and 260 pounds, Chandler provides the Bills and Fitzpatrick with a large, dependable target to throw the ball to in the red zone and in the middle of the field. Chandler also has the ability to break some tackles, and he's just getting better with every week while starting in the NFL.
While St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson sits out practice with his groin injury, the Rams continue to give reps to his backup, rookie Daryl Richardson.
In Week 2, Richardson gained 83 yards on 15 carries, including one rush that went for 53 yards. To be accurate, we need to include that Richardson did fumble once against Washington in that game, so that is something he will need to correct if he is going to be getting a number of touches every week.
We don't know yet how well Jackson can play through his groin injury this Sunday against the Chicago Bears. If you own Jackson and are concerned about the running-back depth on your team, you should consider handcuffing Richardson to Jackson for as long as it takes him to heal from the groin injury.
Anthony McCoy had a nice game in Week 2
If you own Aaron Hernandez and don't see very many attractive alternative free-agent choices at tight end in your league, you might want to consider taking a flier on Seattle Seahawks TE Anthony McCoy.
We aren't stating that McCoy is going to generate Hernandez-type production, but he is at least the main tight-end target right now in Seattle while Zach Miller heals from a foot injury.
Russell Wilson threw the ball to McCoy five times in Week 2, and McCoy caught all five passes, totaling 41 yards and a touchdown. Quarterbacks look for players that will continue to catch the ball, so it will be interesting to see how many more targets McCoy receives in Week 3 against Green Bay in the Monday-night contest.
Let's say that you lost one of your first two fantasy contests this season by a point or two. On top of that, you also happen to own a kicker such as Rob Bironas, Sebastian Janikowski, Josh Scobee or Dan Bailey. We thought you might want to check out the production of Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker to give you an alternative option.
So far, Tucker has drilled six field goals and seven extra points for a total of 25 points on the season. You could take the combined efforts of any two of the above four kickers so far this year, and Tucker will have scored more points than each duo.
This is a testament to the Ravens' improved offense that they have demonstrated in 2012, and we see no reason to believe that it will be slowing down anytime soon.
If you have a running back on your roster that is just taking up space and doesn't offer any real production to speak of, you should consider adding Detroit Lions running back Mikel Leshoure.
Leshoure hasn't generated any stats yet in his NFL career because he has never played in an NFL game before. This Sunday will be his debut against the Tennessee Titans. Based on the lack of production from anybody else the Lions have tried out at running back in the recent past, it shouldn't take very long for Leshoure to take over as the starter in Detroit.
While we wouldn't advocate starting him in Week 3, it does make sense to plan ahead. If you wait for him to have a breakout game first, you might never have the chance to add him to your team, depending on where you are in your league's waiver-wire pecking order.
So in conclusion, if you have a spot on your bench that you can afford to take some degree of a calculated risk with, strongly consider adding Leshoure while you still can.
Now in his third year in the NFL, Sam Bradford has seemingly jumped up a level in his play in 2012. To date, Bradford has completed 71.7 percent of his passes this season, throwing for 254 yards per game. Bradford has four touchdown passes to only one interception, so his ratios are all trending in the right direction.
Perhaps you got caught up in all of the excitement of rookie Russell Wilson or were duped into thinking that Mark Sanchez was an elite quarterback after Week 1. If you are unhappy with your quarterback situation on your fantasy team, Bradford is only owned in just 56.9 percent of all ESPN leagues.
If you need any more convincing, Bradford is currently ranked as the No. 3 overall QB in the latest passer ratings, coming in with a mark of 112.4. He trails only Matt Ryan and Alex Smith, which tells you that he is playing at a much higher level than you would have expected based on his earlier years in the league.
There is a very strong likelihood that Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Donnie Avery is still available on your waiver wire (available in 90 percent of ESPN leagues).
As for what Avery can do for your fantasy-football team, consider that after two games of serving as a receiver for Andrew Luck, Avery has caught 12 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown.
Avery has been able to step up since Austin Collie went down with a concussion. Collie will eventually return, but Avery will still be involved in personnel packages that call for three wide receivers.
As we prepare for Week 3, Luck has only targeted three Colts players with at least 10 passes so far. Reggie Wayne leads the team with 25, followed by Avery with 18 and rookie tight end Coby Fleener with 14. So based on the smaller sample size, Avery is on target for 144 passes from Andrew Luck in 2012.
If your flex position is weak on your fantasy team, you might want to consider taking a whirl with Avery.
Brandon Myers is putting up some production at tight end
You probably wouldn't have found many fantasy-football analysts predicting that tight end Brandon Myers would be leading the Oakland Raiders in receiving after two games, but that is the reality of the Raiders' offense right now.
Myers has basically caught everything thrown his way so far, catching all 11 passes that Carson Palmer has thrown to him. Myers has totaled 151 yards to date, but he has yet to score a touchdown.
Not only has Myers proved to Palmer that he can be a reliable target, you also have to take into account that the Raiders' running attack is really hurting right now, so Palmer is required to throw early and often.
Since Pierre Garcon wasn't able to play in Week 2, you might be interested to know that there two Redskins players that led the team with five targets apiece from Robert Griffin III. They were tight end Fred Davis and WR Josh Morgan.
The numbers on Morgan aren't exactly overwhelming—six catches for 71 yards and no touchdowns—but whoever winds up developing great chemistry with RG3 is probably in for a very strong fantasy season. I also recall how delighted head coach Mike Shanahan was when the Redskins signed Morgan in free agency.
We are awaiting word to see if Garcon is coming back for Week 3 action, but it is noteworthy that RG3 looked for Morgan more than he did for Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson or Aldrick Robinson.
The latest on Garcon is that it will probably be a game-time decision announcing whether he will play or be declared inactive.
If you have a shaky flex option for Week 3, you might want to consider targeting Morgan.