Fantasy Football Week 3: Waiver Wire Pickups After Injuries Ravage the NFL
Week 2 injuries in the NFL will change your plans going forward. Fantasy managers must find a long-term replacement for Saquon Barkley, streamer options for Christian McCaffrey and perhaps an immediate fill-in for Raheem Mostert.
As a workhorse running back, Barkley isn't easy to replace in the RB1 spot. You're not going to come across a top-10 player at the position on the waiver wire following Week 2 action.
However, managers in point-per-reception leagues can start the streaming process and take advantage of matchups. A No. 2 running back with a good target share can pay significant dividends.
You can also upgrade a running back from the flex position to the RB slot and add a wide receiver who's primed for a big week.
Let's take a look at seven of the best waiver wire adds for Week 3, players who could carve out a long-term spot on your roster. All suggestions listed below are available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues.
QB Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans (46 Percent Rostered)
Running back Derrick Henry isn't the only fantasy-relevant player on the Tennessee Titans offense. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has jumped out to a good start this season, throwing for 488 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions through two games.
In Week 2, Tannehill threw four red-zone touchdown passes, which is notable because that's usually where Henry takes over and plows through defenders for scores. He also spread the ball around. Corey Davis, Adam Humphries and Jonnu Smith all logged touchdown receptions.
Wideout A.J. Brown, the Titans' top receiver from the 2019 campaign, missed Sunday's contest because of a bone bruise in his knee. Yet Tennessee's aerial attack kept rolling against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Tannehill lists as the preferred pickup option over a quarterback such as Gardner Minshew II because of his steady play. In Week 2, the latter started to rack up numbers after falling behind 24-10. Furthermore, the former hasn't thrown an interception yet.
The Minnesota Vikings defense has allowed 71 points through two games and experienced issues in coverage and on the ground. The Titans could rack up a 30-plus-point game as Tannehill produces another strong line.
Free Agent Budget (FAB): $3
RB Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers (39 Percent Rostered)
Joshua Kelley has been productive in the offense with both Tyrod Taylor and rookie first-rounder Justin Herbert under center, so the starting quarterback situation shouldn't drastically affect his production outlook.
Running back Justin Jackson missed Week 2 because of a quad injury, and it seems Kelley has a stronghold on the No. 2 spot behind Austin Ekeler.
In Week 1, Kelley logged 12 rush attempts for 60 yards and a touchdown. He followed up with 23 carries for 64 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs. On one hand, you want to see a higher yards-per-carry average (2.8), but managers can feel comfortable with the rookie running back's volume.
In Week 2, Kelley also caught two passes for 49 yards, which included a 35-yard gain. That's a plus for managers in PPR leagues. For the most part, he's taken on goal-line duties as well, which gives him scoring upside.
The Chargers offense has scored just 36 points in two games, but Kelley's prominent role brings hope in a matchup against the Carolina Panthers who have allowed 65 points through two weeks.
RB Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers (22 Percent Rostered)
Managers must keep their eyes on the injury report. Running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman suffered knee injuries in Sunday's win over the New York Jets.
The 49ers operate a run-heavy offense that's recorded 54 rush attempts for 305 yards and two touchdowns through Week 2, so managers should stock up on healthy running backs in San Francisco's backfield. Right now, that leaves Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson Jr.
Wilson has two carries for three yards, while McKinnon has accumulated 121 total yards and two touchdowns.
McKinnon already had a role in the offense. With Mostert and Coleman sidelined, he'll take a bigger piece of the backfield pie. In Week 3, the 49ers play the New York Giants, who have allowed an average of 138 rushing yards through two weeks.
RB Dion Lewis, New York Giants (5 Percent Rostered)
The New York Giants may rely on a running back by committee for the remainder of the season after Saquon Barkley tore his ACL on Sunday.
If that's the case, managers can look to the next man up for the Giants. Dion Lewis handled the majority of touches out of the backfield after Barkley exited the contest in the second quarter. He finished with 14 touches for 56 yards and a touchdown.
The Giants can also activate Wayne Gallman, who listed as a healthy scratch for Week 2. Still, managers in PPR leagues should focus on Lewis first. He played three seasons with the New England Patriots while head coach Joe Judge served as the club's special teams coach (2015-17).
Judge's familiarity with Lewis, who signed with the team this offseason, will likely secure the dual-threat tailback's spot in the primary pass-catching role among the running backs. He should touch the ball 12-15 times per contest even with Gallman in the mix.
If Devonta Freeman's COVID-19 testing check out, he'll sign with the Giants, per NFL Network's Mike Garafolo. Managers in PPR leagues should grab Lewis for this week and monitor his role going forward.
RB Mike Davis, Carolina Panthers (3 Percent Rostered)
Managers who selected Christian McCaffrey with the first pick need an emergency plan. He'll miss multiple weeks of action because of an ankle injury.
When McCaffrey exited late in Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mike Davis filled in for him. He only logged one carry for a yard but caught all eight of his targets for 74 yards.
Barring a free-agent addition, Davis will likely handle the majority of touches while McCaffrey nurses his injury. He's a decent replacement. In 2018, the sixth-year veteran recorded 728 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns with the Seattle Seahawks.
In Week 3, the Panthers will face the Los Angeles Chargers, who rank 17th against the run, allowing an average of 123.5 rushing yards through two weeks. Davis has a chance to make a strong first impression as a starter. He'll rise to the top of the adds list, so you'll have to spend a little more to acquire him.
WR Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans (42 Percent Rostered)
Until A.J. Brown returns, Corey Davis will serve as the Tennessee Titans' lead wide receiver. He caught three passes for 36 yards and a touchdown as quarterback Ryan Tannehill spread the ball around to Adam Humphries and Jonnu Smith as well.
Yet Davis had five targets and none of the Titans pass-catchers saw more than six, so he's still a major part of the passing offense.
Davis will match up against a Minnesota Vikings secondary that struggled against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1, allowing 364 yards and four touchdowns. The unit tightened up against Philip Rivers on Sunday, but he completed 76 percent of his passes.
With Brown sidelined, Davis should continue to see ample opportunities downfield. As the team's lead receiver in yards (137), give him a shot in the flex position while Tannehill has the hot efficient hand in the pocket.
WR N'Keal Harry, New England Patriots (27 Percent Rostered)
In Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins, quarterback Cam Newton took over the show on offense, logging 15 rush attempts for 75 yards and two touchdowns. He only made 15 completions for 155 yards. We saw a different approach from him Sunday.
Newton put together a strong pocket performance against the Seattle Seahawks, completing 30 of his 44 passes for 397 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also ran the ball 11 times for 47 yards and two scores.
Julian Edelman recorded eight catches for a career-high 179 yards. Clearly, he's the lead receiver, though Newton targeted N'Keal Harry a team-high 12 times.
Harry finished with eight catches for 72 yards. The 2019 first-rounder seems to have carved out a role in the aerial attack, which is what the Patriots needed to take some pressure off Edelman. Because of his size (6'4", 225 lbs) and target share, he's an intriguing option on the waiver wire.
Harry could become one of the hottest pickups with another strong outing. In Week 3, he'll see a Las Vegas Raiders pass defense that features rookie cornerback Damon Arnette and second-year starter Trayvon Mullen on the boundary. In Week 1, the Silver and Black allowed 388 total yards to the Carolina Panthers' revamped offense with rookie head coach Matt Rhule at the helm.
WR Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons (21 Percent Rostered)
Buy Russell Gage's fantasy stock while he's still rostered in fewer than 75 percent of leagues. He's earned quarterback Matt Ryan's trust, which is the key to the wideout's upside in a pass-heavy offense.
Gage lists second in targets (21) and third for receiving yards (160) on the team. Although tight end Hayden Hurst found his groove within the offense Sunday, logging five catches for 72 yards and a touchdown, the third-year wideout had one more target (nine).
Wideout Julio Jones struggled with a hamstring injury throughout the outing with the Dallas Cowboys. Ryan only targeted him four times. On multiple occasions, he served as a decoy to draw coverage away from Gage and Hurst.
Jones' injury could create more scoring opportunities for Gage. Even with the star wideout on the field, the Falcons' slot receiver has become a viable threat in the passing game.
With top Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller on the boundary, Ryan can avoid him and look to Gage for a big game in the slot next week.