The fantasy football season’s first two weeks were packed with star players being injured and obscure players being elite producers. Whether it be to add roster depth or to replace an injured starter, picking up valuable players from waivers and free agency is essential for success throughout the fantasy football season.
Many elite fantasy football players were injured in Week 1 and Week 2 of the NFL regular season: Steven Jackson, Ray Rice, Andre Johnson, et al. Additionally, many top fantasy football draft picks have significantly underperformed.
The following players are the 10 most valuable widely available players for Week 3 of the 2013 fantasy football season. Each player is owned in less than 60 percent of ESPN and NFL.com fantasy football leagues.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense/Special Teams (D/ST) is currently fifth in fantasy points.
With the help of the newly acquired elite cornerback Darrelle Revis, this unit was able to intercept two of Drew Brees’ passes in Week 2. They finished with 14 points (standard scoring) against the renowned Saints offense.
Fantasy owners that do not own an elite fantasy defense should pick up the Buccaneers D/ST now. Expect their fantasy ownership to rise significantly over the next few weeks.
Since the trade of Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns to the Indianapolis Colts, the Browns’ backfield has looked deficient of talent. That’s why the Browns brought 10-year veteran Willis McGahee in for a physical on Thursday, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.
The only healthy running back currently on the Browns' depth chart is second-year pro Bobby Rainey. If McGahee passes his physical on Thursday and proves to be in acceptable football condition, he is likely to become the Browns’ starting running back within the next few weeks.
McGahee has averaged 4.5 yards per carry over the past four seasons. If he is able to continue that level of productivity behind the improved Cleveland offensive line, he could be worth rostering in all fantasy formats.
Charles Clay has quietly become the ninth highest scoring fantasy tight end through Week 2 with 10 receptions and 163 receiving yards.
Since Dustin Keller was put on IR in the preseason, Clay has become Ryan Tannehill’s tight end of choice.
He has played the H-back, tight end, split end and fullback positions. This has allowed him to not only receive the ball, but also get goal-line carries (one rushing touchdown this season).
His mixture of speed and size (6’3”, 255 pounds) creates many mismatches in the middle of the field, and expect Tannehill to continue exploiting them for the rest of the season.
Clay is only worth starting at tight end in very deep fantasy leagues (16 or more teams) but has the potential to climb the tight end rankings throughout the season. With bye weeks beginning soon, Clay could be a very cheap pick-up to be used as a fill-in.
Despite his unimpressive rushing performances in the first two games, Da’Rel Scott is currently the 22nd highest scoring fantasy running back: 10 carries, 25 rushing yards, seven receptions, 81 reception yards and one receiving touchdown.
Clearly Scott’s fantasy value comes from his receiving abilities. Because the Giants currently lead the NFL in passing yards, this could be a good indicator that Scott can be a successful running back on this team throughout the season.
Considering coach Tom Coughlin’s distrust of David Wilson protecting the football, it’s reasonable to expect Scott and Brandon Jacobs to continue playing big roles in the Giants offense.
Scott is a reliable flex option for all standard-scoring leagues, and is a low-end No. 2 running back in points per reception leagues. Additionally, he is a valuable bye week fill-in and David Wilson handcuff.
Santana Moss is currently this season’s 32nd best fantasy wide receiver with eight receptions, 95 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown. This puts him ahead of other noteworthy wide receivers such as Dwayne Bowe, Cecil Shorts and Antonio Brown.
Pierre Garcon remains Robert Griffin III’s most dependable wide receiver (22 targets), and Santana Moss is a distant second in targets (14), according to ESPN statistics. As long as Moss continues to get this kind of work, he will be worth owning in all fantasy leagues.
He does not appear to have the big-play abilities that he previously had, but he will consistently get you high single-digit points every week.
Moss is a reliable flex option for deep leagues (over 12 teams), especially points per reception leagues. He is also an excellent bye week fill-in.
Coby Fleener had a dismal fantasy performance in the season opener: one target, one reception and seven receiving yards.
It appeared Dwayne Allen was Andrew Luck’s tight end of choice, so many fantasy owners dropped Fleener from their rosters before Week 2.
Fleener’s Week 2 production increased due to Allen’s hip injury, and he finished the week with 12 fantasy points: four receptions, 69 receiving yards and one touchdown.
With news that Allen is having season-ending surgery, Fleener will become Luck’s primary tight end. Pro Football Focus Fantasy projections (subscription required) have Fleener finishing the season with 48 receptions, 564 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns.
Fleener is now a starting-caliber tight end in most fantasy formats. Fantasy owners with struggling tight end(s), or owners wanting a nice bye week fill-in, should pick him up as soon as possible.
Marlon Brown has capitalized on his increased playing time following Jacoby Jones’ knee injury in Week 1. Brown is currently leading the Ravens in touchdown receptions (two), and is second in receiving yards (110).
Due to the Ravens’ poor tight end production in the passing game, Brown has become Joe Flacco’s red-zone target of choice. His 6’5” frame makes him ideal for end-zone jump balls.
Brown has averaged 11 fantasy points (standard scoring) per game this season and will be a good flex player for the foreseeable future. Even when Jacoby Jones returns, Brown will likely continue getting the a lot of the red-zone targets.
James Starks took over running back duties for the Green Bay Packers in Week 2 following the injury of Eddie Lacy during the first quarter. Starks performed well and finished tied for second among running backs for Week 2 fantasy points (22 points in standard scoring): 20 carries, 132 rushing yards, one rushing TD, four receptions and 36 receiving yards.
He looked more elusive as a runner in Week 2 than he has in the past. He finished the game with an impressive 6.6 rushing yards per carry and six missed tackles.
Enough though the bulk of his rushing yards came from running through daylight, he had three carries for over 10 yards as a result of missed tackles.
The majority of his carries occurred when the game was no longer competitive due to Green Bays’ significant lead, so it’s hard to predict how many carries Starks will have in Week 3 if the game is close.
Coach Mike McCarthy has announced Starks will be the starting running back in Week 3, and has not officially ruled out Lacy for the game. It’s likely that Lacy will need another week to recover from his concussion.
Week 4 is the Packers’ bye week, so Lacy should be expected back as the starting Green Bay running back in their Week 5 game against the Lion.
This gives Starks’ foreseeable fantasy value a short shelf life. However, Starks could score enough fantasy points in Week 3 to be worth the pick-up. He also makes a good handcuff for Lacy owners.
Following Rivers’ terrible 2012 fantasy season, fantasy football owners have all but forgotten him. Rivers finished that season as the 21st best fantasy quarterback and appeared to have lost a lot of his deep-ball accuracy.
However, Rivers has shown on numerous occasions that he can be a top fantasy quarterback. He finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in the 2008-11 seasons, and finished as high as the fourth best in the 2008 season, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Despite losing his top receiving talent of the past seven years, Vincent Jackson, Rivers has been playing like his old self again.
He is currently the fourth highest scoring quarterback in fantasy this season: 614 passing yards, 7 TD, 1 INT and a 69 percent completion rate. This production should appear even more impressive considering Rivers’ last game was against the stout Houston Texans defense.
Rivers is projected to finish the season as a top-15 fantasy quarterback, according to Pro Football Focus Fantasy projections (subscription required). This makes him a great pick-up in two-quarterback leagues, and he would be a very good bye week fill-in for all formats.
Brian Hartline finished the 2012 season as the Miami Dolphins’ leading wide receiver and has done the same through Week 2 of this season.
Hartline finished the 2012 season with 74 receptions, 1,083 receiving yards and 1 TD.
Through the first two games of this season, Hartline is tied as the 16th highest scoring fantasy wide receiver: 14 receptions, 182 receiving yards and 1 TD.
If he keeps producing at this pace, he will finish the season as the 34th best fantasy wide receiver, according to Pro Football Focus Fantasy projections (subscription required).
Hartline has quietly become a reliable fantasy wide receiver in all fantasy formats. Concerns about Miami’s addition of speedster Mike Wallace decreasing Hartline’s targets have been invalidated. He should be owned in all leagues.