We're entering Week 4 of the 2012 NFL season, which means that fantasy football owners will be sent scrambling to the waiver wire to acquire replacements as the bye weeks kick in and many players take one-week vacations.
This week the byes hit the wide receiver position pretty hard even with only two teams off, so if you're a fantasy owner of Reggie Wayne of the Indianapolis Colts or Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace of the Pittsburgh Steelers, here are a trio of waiver-wire wideouts worth targeting this week.
Jerome Simpson, Minnesota Vikings
The bye weeks may be robbing fantasy owners of a number of wide receivers, but at least one will be making his 2012 debut, as Jerome Simpson of the Minnesota Vikings will take the field for the first time after serving a three-game suspension stemming from an offseason marijuana arrest.
The 26-year-old, who joined the Vikings in free agency after catching 50 passes for 725 yards and four touchdowns with the Bengals last year, will immediately slide into the starting lineup opposite Percy Harvin for the Vikings, but Simpson told Joe Oberle of CBS Sports that he's just glad to be able to rejoin the team after their watching their big win over the San Francisco 49ers as a spectator.
“Waiting for (the game) to hurry up and get over,” Simpson said of watching the Vikings game at home. “I was happy that we got a win, but I was more happy that it was the end of my suspension.”
Simpson's return couldn't come at a better time for fantasy owners in need of help at the wideout position, as the Vikings face a Detroit Lions team this week that was just carved up for well over 300 passing yards by Jake Locker of the Tennessee Titans.
Ramses Barden, New York Giants
With starting wide receiver Hakeem Nicks sidelined by injury in Week 3, fourth-year wide receiver Ramses Barden was thrust into the starting lineup for the New York Giants. Barden came through in a big way, reeling in nine catches for 138 yards, but according to Sean Brennan of The New York Daily News, the 26-year-old isn't about to let one big performance go to his head.
“I just wanted to express my appreciation and gratitude for Eli’s trust and faith in me throughout the game, to keep coming my way,” said Barden, 26. “I like to think that if he’s going to give me a chance, I want to do my best to help him with what he’s trying to achieve. If he trusts me enough to throw my way, I need to do my job and come down with it.”
This one's something of a speculative pickup given that Nicks has stated his intention to play in Sunday night's matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles, but even should Nicks suit up, he could easily be limited, which would mean more targets for Barden.
Or, Nicks could miss the game altogether, making fellow wide receiver Victor Cruz the focal point of the Eagles' game plan defensively and opening things up significantly for Barden.
Jeremy Kerley, New York Jets
Although it's gone largely unnoticed, Jeremy Kerley has quietly gotten off to a solid start for the New York Jets in 2012, with the second-year pro hauling in eight passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns so far this season.
Kerley, who became the first player in Jets history to score a touchdown on a reception and a punt return in the same game in the team's season opener, is enjoying his increased role on offense, according to a report earlier this month from Zach Schonbrun of The New York Times.
“When all 11 are on the same page, we’re explosive,” Kerley said. “That’s what we brought today. Today [against Buffalo] was the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Kerley said. “Everything just came through today.”
The 23-year-old could be in for his biggest game of the season Sunday, as the Jets will likely be without rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill due to a hamstring injury and their opponent, the San Francisco 49ers, are very hard to run against.
That means the Jets will have to take to the air to move the ball, which should mean an increase in targets and opportunities for fantasy production for the youngster, making him a viable fantasy plug-and-play for fantasy teams hurting at wide receiver.