Week 3 Waiver Wire: Top Pickups at Every Position
Breakout performances and devastating injuries are an every-week reality in fantasy football. The highlights and the carnage have begun in earnest as we put Week 2 in the rear view mirror and look ahead to Week 3 and beyond.
Who are the best or the sneakiest pickups at each position this week? Click ahead to find out.
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A week after wearing Darren McFadden out with checkdown passes, Carson Palmer found a bit of a stride in the sweltering Miami weather.
It did not lead to a lot of points for the Raiders, but Palmer wound up second only to Eli Manning's 510 passing yards with 373. Having Denarius Moore back in the lineup certainly helped.
If he was dropped in your league in favor of a flavor of the week—someone like Mark Sanchez, who was like a strawberry-flavored lollipop with an earwax center—take a good look at Luck.
His Week 2 tally looked more like what a No. 1 overall pick should look like; he threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns against the Vikings.
Luck's schedule is not too inviting the next few weeks against the Jaguars, Packers and Jets, but he gets the Browns and Titans after that.
He might not be lighting up fantasy scoreboards, but Alex Smith has had a solid start to his 2012 campaign.
The former first-overall pick has surpassed 200 yards and thrown two touchdowns in each of his first two games, both against good teams. The Packers made Jay Cutler look silly in Week 2, making Smith's Lambeau dismantling that much more impressive.
He could be a valuable asset in two-quarterback leagues.
A sleeper heading into Week 2, Cassel could become a solid backup or QB2 for your team. The Chiefs look rather terrible on defense, meaning Cassel could be playing catch-up quite a bit this year.
He has some solid weapons in Dwayne Bowe, Dexter McCluster, Jon Baldwin and even Tony Moeaki.
Others to Consider
The rookie bounced back from a rough NFL introduction to rush for a touchdown and toss another in Miami's big win against the Raiders. With Brian Hartline back to full-time duty and Reggie Bush an ever-present threat in the backfield, Tannehill could be a nice deep-league stash.
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The Saints currently employ Cerberus in the backfield, and we do not know which head will take a prominent role on a weekly basis. Week 1 belonged to Darren Sproles, who garnered the vast majority of playing time because the Saints fell behind early.
In Week 2 all three backs—Sproles, Thomas and Mark Ingram—posted good fantasy numbers, but that is more aberration than convention.
Thomas has proven to be the most complete back in that backfield on a consistent basis, however, and that could earn him more playing time as the season wears on.
The dreaded ankle sprain struck Matt Forte last week, though there are questions about whether the sprain is "high" or not.
Bears coach Lovie Smith said Matt Forte DOES NOT have a high ankle sprain. His status for Week 3 remains uncertain, but this is good news.— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) September 17, 2012
That is good news for Forte owners, but he could still miss some time. Michael Bush has run well in his stead thus far, making him valuable in his own right.
If you are a Forte owner and Bush is available, you must pick him up as a handcuff.
Speaking of high, the two-week suspension is over for Leshoure as he makes his way back to the Lions, who are licking their wounds after a road loss to the 49ers.
Word on the street says Leshoure could be taking over the starting gig sooner than later. This could just be fretful speculation; Kevin Smith ran into a buzz saw in San Francisco after playing well in Week 1.
Smith is also an injury waiting to happen, and Leshoure would reap the big benefits.
If you had Week 2 in your office pool for "week Ahmad Bradshaw gets injured," congratulations are in order—enjoy your Papa John's coupon leaflet.
The surprise here involved the workload for Bradshaw's backup, and his name was not David Wilson.
Andre Brown ran well in Bradshaw's absence, racking up 71 yards and a touchdown while stiff-arming Wilson for playing time.
The extent of Bradshaw's injury is unknown, but he received an x-ray on his neck, not a toe or forearm. Brown could be a great spot starter if Bradshaw is out, and he is a decent handcuff for the oft-injured Giants back.
Has Steven Jackson landed in Jeff Fisher's doghouse or in the Northview Village nursing home?
Father time is nipping at Jackon's heels (or, in this case, his groin, though that might elicit a groan from your mind's eye), and Richardson is taking full advantage of the opportunities given. He easily overtook Isaiah Pead as the team's backup running back, and he played well enough to ward off Steven Jackson's return to action in Week 2.
Others of Note
Reggie Bush was busy slicing through the Oakland defense like a cheese knife through brie, but his new backup did some damage of his own. Miller rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown himself, likely surpassing Daniel Thomas permanently as a result.
If Bush goes down with injury, Miller will be a hot pickup. At the rate Miami is rushing the ball, he might be a viable flex in deeper leagues regardless.
The news that Jamaal Charles was taken out of Kansas City's game against Buffalo because of knee pain is rather disconcerting for anyone who took a chance on him this season. Peyton Hillis would get a massive bump if Charles misses any time, but the man who has looked like Charles on the field is Shane Draughn.
Draughn is averaging over 7.1 YPC in limited duty. Pick him up if you are a worried Charles owner.
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How is he owned in so few leagues?
Well, his stone hands are a big reason, but having a rookie quarterback is a close second.
Brandon Weeden improved upon his horrific 5.1 passer rating from Week 1 against the Bengals last weekend. Playing the Bengals defense helped, but Little was a big beneficiary.
He is always a threat to go Keyser Soze on you, but he is the No. 1 receiver on his team. That has some value.
The St. Louis receiver is one of those sleepers that nobody really owns. It's safe to say that will change this week.
Sam Bradford's favorite target went off against the Redskins in Week 2, racking up nine catches in the first quarter and 15 for the game, amassing 160 yards and a touchdown in the process.
This line is more indicative for Amendola than for a guy like Kevin Ogletree, who is the fourth or fifth option for Tony Romo in Dallas. Amendola is the No. 1 receiver and Bradford's primary target.
He will be hard-pressed to keep this pace, but he should easily surpass 100 catches and 1,000 yards on the season if he can stay healthy.
This has been brewing for weeks, but it is time to pick Hartline up.
He is not exactly Calvin Johnson, but the Dolphins' receiver is atop the depth chart and has quickly developed a rapport with rookie Ryan Tannehill after missing much of the preseason with injury.
Hartline eclipsed 100 yards receiving against the Raiders, a touchdown away from a fantastic fantasy day. More days like that are in store, though he might get stranded on Revis Island this week.
Aaron Hernandez's injury opens the door for other receivers in New England. While the stalwarts will likely see a bump in targets and production, one man who could reap the benefits in an unexpected way is Edelman.
He actually played more snaps than Wes Welker in Week 2, and he could be on the field more often while Hernandez is out.
Others of Note
After dropping a goose egg in Week 1, Hankerson caught a couple of passes for 61 yards and a long touchdown. Once Pierre Garçon returns from his injury, Hankerson could be relegated to fantasy obscurity, but he is a talented, second-year receiver that was on some sleeper lists during the offseason.
The Vikings could sure use a second receiver to take some of the pressure off Percy Harvin. They will get that when Simpson returns from a suspension, but not for another week.
Simpson showed a great rapport with Christian Ponder during the preseason. If you need some receiver depth, it might be a good idea to jump the gun on adding Simpson.
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This may seem elementary, but Celek is owned in just 63 percent of ESPN leagues and 75 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
He has clearly become a trusted target for Michael Vick. While he has yet to find the end zone this season, Celek has become one of the more consistent performers at tight end. He might not be putting up Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski-like statistics, but he is good for at least a few catches on a weekly basis.
If he is somehow available in your league, run to get him.
Perhaps a change of scenery was all Bennett needed after all.
His Week 1 output might have been chalked up to chance, but he has now had two good fantasy weeks in a row. The question is whether Week 2 can be attributed to Eli Manning's explosion, or has the Super Bowl MVP come to trust Bennett in the passing game?
This has become "pick up a Dolphin" week in the fantasy realm.
Fasano caught Ryan Tannehill's first NFL touchdown pass in Week 2, putting the icing on the cake that was a bounce-back victory against the Raiders.
The veteran tight end has been underutilized for years, but Ryan Tannehill is warming up to the big man.
Others of Note
Fred Davis suffered a concussion against the Rams, and he simply has not been the wideout he was a year ago. Paul is a converted wide receiver, so he might not be on the field as often as Davis despite the injury.
It was one week, but Myers apparently broke what seems like a multi-year fantasy slump for Oakland Raiders tight ends. Can he do it again?