Week 3 Waiver Wire: Early Pickups and Breakout Fantasy Football Candidates

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2021

Week 3 Waiver Wire: Early Pickups and Breakout Fantasy Football Candidates

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    Don Wright/Associated Press

    This year, managers may have to adjust their perspective about a quarterback who hasn't generated much fantasy buzz in about five years.

    While wins and losses don't factor into fantasy scoring, pay attention to teams off to a strong start. Why have those clubs been successful for the first two weeks of the season? If you can point to the offense and a specific player, target him on the waiver wire.

    A quarterback with a hot hand or a receiver who's racking up catches and yards can help you rattle off early wins.

    Starting with a quarterback who deserves more fantasy spotlight, we'll highlight four potential breakout players who are rostered in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo leagues as of 8 p.m. ET Sunday.

Week 3 Waiver-Wire Pickups

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    Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rondale Moore
    Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rondale MooreRoss D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears (51 percent rostered)

    Derek Carr, QB, Las Vegas Raiders (26 percent rostered)

    Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys (53 percent rostered)

    James White, RB, New England Patriots (42 percent rostered)

    Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants (57 percent rostered)

    Darnell Mooney, WR, Chicago Bears (45 percent rostered)

    Rondale Moore, WR, Arizona Cardinals (33 percent rostered)

    Jared Cook, TE, Los Angeles Chargers (43 percent rostered)

Derek Carr, QB, Las Vegas Raiders (26 Percent Rostered)

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    Don Wright/Associated Press

    Over the past few seasons, Derek Carr has steadily improved under head coach Jon Gruden and may still have more room for growth—even from a fantasy perspective. He's thrown for 817 yards, four touchdowns and an interception in two contests without much help from the ground attack.

    In years past, Carr benefitted from an effective run game. Now, he's taken charge of the offense and led the Las Vegas Raiders to a 2-0 start with his arm. More importantly, the eighth-year veteran spread the ball around against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, so he didn't rely solely on tight end Darren Waller. Henry Ruggs III, Hunter Renfrow and Kenyan Drake all logged five catches.

    Next week, Carr will face the Miami Dolphins, who gave up 35 points to the Buffalo Bills, which included a pair of passing scores.

    Though the Dolphins still field a solid defense, the Raiders may need Carr to carry the offense while running back Josh Jacobs recovers from toe and ankle injuries.

James White, RB, New England Patriots (42 Percent Rostered)

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    James White isn't the New England Patriots' featured running back, but he's maintained his role as the primary pass-catcher out of the backfield.

    White has caught six passes in each of the first two weeks for a total of 94 receiving yards. As a reliable target in the short passing attack, he's a viable flex option in points-per-reception leagues.

    Rookie quarterback Mac Jones isn't stretching defenses over the top, so White should have a solid role for at least the next few weeks. The 29-year-old running back tied wideout Jakobi Meyers in targets (six) and led the Patriots in receptions (six) and receiving yards (45) against the New York Jets on Sunday.

    In his next matchup, Jones will go up against the New Orleans Saints, who gave up 305 yards and two scores to Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold on Sunday. White could extend his streak of at least six catches to three games.

Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants (57 Percent Rostered)

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    Steve Luciano/Associated Press

    Sterling Shepard falls slightly below the 60 percent threshold, so fantasy managers won't see him on the potential breakout list much longer.

    Though the New York Giants signed wideout Kenny Golladay to a four-year, $72 million contract during the offseason, Shepard has become quarterback Daniel Jones' go-to option, catching 16 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown in the first two weeks.

    Golladay didn't seem happy with Jones last Thursday, so he could see an increased number of targets in Week 3. However, against the Atlanta Falcons' porous pass defense, Shepard may still have a strong outing for a third consecutive week.

    Shepard will likely top the list of waive-wire pickups in Week 3, so move him up on your priority list. He's a solid WR2 play in a favorable matchup against the Falcons, who've allowed eight passing scores in two weeks.

Rondale Moore, WR, Arizona Cardinals (33 Percent Rostered)

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    Darryl Webb/Associated Press

    Rondale Moore topped a solid pro debut (four receptions for 68 yards) with a breakout Week 2 performance, hauling in seven passes for 114 yards and a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings.

    Even more encouraging, Moore led the Cardinals in targets (eight), which means he's earned quarterback Kyler Murray's trust.

    Moore caught a deep ball for a 77-yard touchdown reception late in the second quarter. While he has blazing speed, the rookie second-rounder can also stretch defenses for big plays over the top.

    In most weeks, wideout DeAndre Hopkins will command a bulk of the targets, but Moore has carved out a role for himself in the Cardinals' high-powered aerial attack. In Week 3, he'll line up against a vulnerable Jacksonville Jaguars defense that's surrendered a pair of passing scores in each of the first two weeks.


    Maurice Moton is an NFL and Fantasy Football columnist for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.