Welcome back FAmily, we are three weeks into the season and if your team is struggling this isn’t a great week to reach for improvements aside from maybe one or two running backs. It’s pretty barren out there on waivers. If Alexander Mattison was scooped up prior to Week 3 then he may not be out there. If he is still floating around on waivers then he’s the top priority although there’s a realistic chance,Dalvin Cook suits up this week and we see Mattison relegated to backup duties once again.
Regardless there are some names to take note of, but if you went the conservative route and saved that top waiver priority or your FAAB bid, then I wouldn’t argue with that strategy. I’m back from vacation so I will be in the NFL Seasonal Discord from 8:00pm-10:00pm ET and who knows, I might even stay on a little later to compensate for missing last week. Like I said, the options are thin this week but here are the names on my radar!
Kirk Cousins (MIN; FAAB Bid: 5%) This week I’m mostly focusing on quarterbacks rostered in less than 50% of leagues. Cousins leads off as you can see. He’s thrown eight touchdowns through the first three games and he’s offering the best combination of volume and efficiency by completing 73.9% of his 119 pass attempts. The schedule is a bit more difficult in Week 4 against Cleveland, but Cousins is available in over 60% of ESPN leagues and if he averages over 35 pass attempts each week he could finish as a top 12 quarterback come season’s end.
Derek Carr (LV; FAAB Bid: 5%) Carr perhaps offers a little bit more volume, but not quite the efficiency of Cousins. In each of his three games on the season he’s thrown for at least 380 yards and two touchdowns in each game. He hasn’t even gotten into any AFC West shootouts yet, although matchups against Denver could be somewhat concerning. I’ll note that you should really ride Carr while he’s hot and hope he keeps this up for most of the season. I would try to have a backup plan in place because the Raiders play the Browns, Broncos, and Colts in Weeks 15-17.
Sam Darnold (CAR; FAAB Bid: 4%) Darnold’s a little risky in that he is a little touchdown dependent. But we’ve already seen him find the end zone with his legs three times this season including twice last week against Houston. If Christian McCaffrey misses multiple games going forward then perhaps we see Darnold vulture a couple more touchdowns on the ground. Plus, he’s been throwing it enough to offer upside through the air and he draws the Cowboys and Eagles in the next two weeks. Those two teams can be scored on.
Teddy Bridgewater (DEN; FAAB Bid: 3-4%) Bridgewater didn’t light up the scoreboard on his own in Week 3 because he simply didn’t need to. The Broncos were content letting the defense shut the Jets down while running the ball 37 times as well. So Bridgewater only attempted 25 pass attempts. If you played him last week, sure that sucks, but better matchups are ahead for Denver where he’ll be more involved. Bridgewater can offer a solid 20-point floor going forward.
Chuba Hubbard (CAR; FAAB Bid: 15-20%) If there was a running back to pay up for it’s likely Hubbard. The Panthers are NOT putting Christian McCaffrey on IR and it sounds like he could return by Week 5 or 6, which would be incredibly early and present a very high risk of re-injury. We saw Mike Davis excel as McCaffrey’s replacement last season and Hubbard came in to rush for 52 yards on 11 carries while catching three passes for 27 yards. If you’re running back core is depleted, or if you’re the CMC owner you should probably go up to 25%. Assess how much you need the depth here and use your best judgment for your FAAB bid. But I would say he’s certainly worth the use of your top waiver wire pick this week. If you can’t get Hubbard, then Royce Freeman could be worth a stash in deeper leagues, but we’ll need to see how the work between him and Hubbard is divided up this week.
Zack Moss (BUF; FAAB Bid: 12-15%) Moss has played in two games and has found the end zone three times already. This is a frustrating offense because we know Josh Allen will vulture touchdowns on the ground when they get in the end zone. We can also infer that the Bills like Moss more than Singletary based on Moss’ usage over the team’s final games in 2020 and he was more involved in the offense this past week.
Peyton Barber (LV; FAAB Bid: 6-7%) I don’t love Barber, but he has to be discussed. Without Josh Jacobs, the Raiders are left with Barber and Kenyan Drake as their primary running backs. Neither are necessarily good, but Barber touched the ball 26 times last week and he found the end zone. Jacobs has missed the Raiders last two games but the team is hopeful he’ll be able to practice and appear in this week’s game against the Chargers.
Kenneth Gainwell (PHI; FAAB Bid: 3-4%) You know it’s a bad week for waiver wire running backs when I’m here mentioning Gainwell for the second time this year when he’s coming off a bad game against the Cowboys. Truly the Eagles were horrendous at running the ball Monday night. They couldn’t get anything going with Sanders (who only touched the ball five times) and Gainwell was hardly a blip on the radar. But I still think his usage improves and an injury to Sanders would be huge for Gainwell’s value. Also, the matchup in Week 4 against the Chiefs could be nice for both Sanders and Gainwell. It would be difficult to start him outside of a deep league, but I do think he could be worth a stash this week.
Christian Kirk (ARI; FAAB Bid: 8-10%) As discussed previously (seriously, as recent as last week) the WR2 in Arizona could change weekly. But I still think we get more WR2 weeks out of Christian Kirk than Rondale Moore and/or A.J. Green. Kirk has 15 catches on 17 targets through three weeks with some potentially difficult matchups coming up. But if defenses scheme accordingly for DeAndre Hopkins, then that could open things up for Kirk. This is one of the best offenses in the league and while Moore will have some big weeks due to his big play upside, I still prefer Kirk.
Cole Beasley (BUF; FAAB Bid: 6%) I don’t value wide receivers on the waiver wire as much as I do running backs, but Cole Beasley has been great so far and he’s had just two fewer targets than teammate Stefon Diggs on the season. Even in a blowout last week, the Bills were still throwing it plenty. Beasley saw 13 targets, catching 11 of them for 98 yards. He could be a little tough to trust on a week-to-week basis since he did only have four targets in Week 2, but if he’s going to have this much of a target share in one of the league’s best offenses then he’s worth rostering. Now if Beasley is unavailable, then you can easily pivot to Emmanuel Sanders for a similar FAAB bid. Sure, he’s seen ten fewer targets than Beasley but he scored twice in Week 3 and has at least six targets in each of the team’s first three games and the air yards have been there for him.
Tim Patrick (DEN; FAAB Bid: 5%) The injury to KJ Hamler might boost Patrick’s value a little bit, but truthfully he’s already proven to provide a good enough floor for fantasy football anyway. His big 6’4” frame makes for an ideal end zone target and I’m not worried that he’s only seen 13 targets through three games. Maybe he sees a few more against Baltimore with Jerry Jeudy still sidelined.
Quintez Cephus (DET; FAAB Bid: 1-2%) Cephus disappeared in Week 3, but let’s not forget that he had seven targets in each of the team’s first two games. That hasn’t translated to a wealth of fantasy success, but still noteworthy. He only had one target last week, but with some divisional matchups coming up we can hopefully assume the passing attack will be more prevalent.
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (TEN; FAAB Bid: 0-1%) Westbrook-Ikhine benefitted from an injury to A.J. Brown and Julio Jones was sidelined late in the game for load management since Tennessee had control of the lead. Westbrook-Ikhine caught all four of his targets for 53 yards and a touchdown. He’s not a must add by any means, but if A.J. Brown’s injury forces him to miss a game or two, combined with the nature of Julio Jones’ injury history, then Westbrook-Ikhine has some appeal. At the very least, have him on your radar.
Tyler Conklin (MIN; FAAB Bid: 3%) Any low-owned tight end that is coming off a solid game will likely always make the waiver wire column. That’s just the nature of the tight end position. It’s a thin group and most fantasy managers will always be looking to improve at the position. And sometimes we’ll be chasing points at the position and it may not work out. Conklin caught seven passes on eight targets for 70 yards and a touchdown. Is he likely to repeat this performance? No, but we did note earlier that Kirk Cousins is offering volume and efficiency. Last week we were looking at K.J. Osborne after he had 15 targets through two games, and he gave us a dud in Week 3. But if you’ve been getting duds at the tight end position through three weeks you need to start making some changes.
Dawson Knox (BUF; FAAB Bid: 3%) I mentioned Knox two weeks ago in the waiver article as someone I liked based on Buffalo’s treatment of the tight end position: they failed to trade for Zach Ertz and they cut Jacob Hollister prior to Week 1. So there aren’t many options at the tight end position at the moment and Knox could finish top ten at his position. Most of the targets in this offense will go to Diggs, Beasley, and Sanders. However, the Bills face the Texans next week who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
New Orleans Saints – If the Saints are available I’d certainly give them a look. They’re favored by a touchdown and the over/under is among the lowest on the slate at just 43.5 points. Despite a few injuries on defense the Saints have continued to collect sacks and turnovers in bunches and they now host the Giants who have a suspect offensive line and we know Daniel Jones has issues with fumbles. They’re likely only available in shallow leagues this week, but worth a look regardless.
Cincinnati Bengals – I don’t particularly love this D/ST, but over their last two games they’ve shown up and returned value. They’ve forced seven sacks and three turnovers in that span while allowing a total of 24 points. They’ll host the Jaguars on Thursday night on a short week. Trevor Lawrence has thrown seven interceptions through three games and the Jaguars have routinely been dominated in time of possession. The over/under opened at 49.5 with the Bengals favored by just 4.5 points but it’s since dropped to 46 total points and the Cats are now favored by 7.5 points.
Tennessee Titans – This isn’t a great defense by any means, but they’re playing the Jets who are prone to turnovers. The Titans secondary is pretty bad and this will be a home game for the Jets. But if you can stomach just getting a few points out of your D/ST then I would look at Tennessee. The over/under opened at 48.0 but has dropped to 46 and the Titans are currently favored by a touchdown.