The first quarter of the 2013 NFL season has nearly come to an end already, and things are becoming much clearer with regards to which players are for real and which aren't. With that in mind, it is of the utmost importance to pounce on any capable waiver wire players that are still available in your league.
Due to injuries and unexpectedly poor play from some players, several guys stepped up in Week 3 and proved that they are fantasy worthy. It's debatable whether or not there are any starting-caliber players to be had right now, but there are definitely some available players who can make some sort of fantasy impact moving forward.
Here are three waiver wire gems in particular that you should make a run at immediately provided they aren't currently owned in your league.
The Green Bay Packers' running back situation is one of the most maddening things in fantasy football right now, and it has been that way for the past few years. It's difficult to blame head coach Mike McCarthy as he hasn't really been able to find a guy he can trust. He has already run through several different options this year including rookie Eddie Lacy as well as James Starks. With both men ailing, however, McCarthy handed the reins to rookie Johnathan Franklin.
Lacy is currently dealing with a concussion, while Starks left Sunday's game with a knee injury, so Franklin is the last man standing. Franklin was excellent against a stout Cincinnati Bengals defense in Week 3 as he rushed for 103 yards and a score on just 13 carries, along with three receptions for 23 yards. The only downside is that a late fumble ultimately cost Green Bay the game, but Franklin was spectacular other than that. Even so, NFL Network's Michael Fabiano believes fantasy owners should proceed with caution.
Jonathan Franklin looking good, but he's not a waiver-wire lock. Packers are off in Week 4, and Eddie Lacy expected back in Week 5.— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) September 22, 2013
Although the Packers' running back situation promises to be muddled again in two weeks, Franklin did enough to earn another look. The fumble was definitely disconcerting, but his upside is the biggest takeaway from Sunday's contest. Lacy has looked like a plodder when on the field, but Franklin was dynamic. He is the best fit for the Packers' offense, and he stands a good chance to receive the bulk of the carries moving forward.
New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes has long been one of the most sure-handed pass-catchers in the league, but his fantasy value has been non-existent over the past couple years due to injuries and the presence of Mark Sanchez. It seems as though the Jets may finally have a competent quarterback on their hands, though, as rookie Geno Smith threw for more than 300 yards in a win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Holmes was the main beneficiary with five grabs for a 154 yards and a score.
Holmes seemed to be working his way back into action slowly over the season's first two weeks after spending much of the preseason on the physically unable to perform list. Holmes threw caution to the wind on Sunday, though, and he was arguably the Jets' best offensive player. Not only did Holmes serve as a reliable target for Smith, but he made dynamic plays down the field. As NFL Network's Ian Rapoport puts it, Holmes appears to be back.
Think Santonio Holmes is back.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 22, 2013
One thing to take into consideration is that Holmes torched a depleted Buffalo secondary that was without starting cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin. Even so, Sunday's showing will be huge for his confidence as well as Smith's. Young quarterbacks tend to find a favorite target and stick with them, and Smith may have finally found his on Sunday. Holmes is owned in less than 8 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues, but he is an ideal bye week replacement who should unquestionably be on your roster.
Aside from Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten, Jordan Cameron and a small handful of others, the tight end position is extremely difficult to figure this season. There are plenty of guys who could potentially become fantasy starters, but inconsistency makes it difficult to pinpoint them. In terms of pure talent, Indianapolis Colts tight end Coby Fleener could become a special player. All he needed was an opportunity, and now he appears to have it as Dwayne Allen is out for the year with a hip injury, according to Fabiano.
Dwayne Allen needs season-ending hip surgery. Coby Fleener now has TE2 value.— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) September 18, 2013
Which potential waiver wire gem will have the best 2013 season?
Fleener is now fantasy relevant, although inconsistency will continue to plague him. Fleener was great in Week 2 without Allen stealing targets as he hauled in four passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. Things weren't quite as fruitful in Week 3 against the San Francisco 49ers, though. Fleener had just two receptions for 13 yards as Indy focused on the running game instead. Fleener can be excused for a sub-par game against an elite defense, however.
The main issue moving forward is that there are a lot of mouths to feed in the Colts' offense, including Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Ahmad Bradshaw and the newly-acquired Trent Richardson. Fleener should be a great red-zone target, though, and he has a rapport with quarterback Andrew Luck due to their time together at Stanford. Fleener is worth taking on as a backup tight end who has the potential to become much more as the season progresses.
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