If you're in, say, a 10- or 12-team league, this is not a bad week to be looking for waiver-wire talent. This week's "Fantasy Ticker" includes some players I was surprised to find so widely available. The suggestions below are a function of matchups, expected opportunities and other factors. As a general rule, we will focus only upon players available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
Titans QB Jake Locker (owned in 38 percent of leagues) — If you’re planning for the bye weeks ahead and want to upgrade your QB depth, Locker’s a solid addition. The Titans emphasized the pass in Week Three, and Locker responded with career-highs in completions (29) and yards (378). He also tied a career-high with two TD passes, both of which went for more than 60 yards. Locker’s mobility is also a plus; he’s racked up 67 yards on just eight carries this season.
Chiefs QB Matt Cassel (17 percent) — He’s averaging 269.0 passing yards in three starts this season. He should be owned in more leagues than this.
Vikings QB Christian Ponder (13 percent) — He’s thrown for a pair of TDs in consecutive games. What’s more, he rushed for 33 yards and a score in the Week Three win vs. San Francisco. Ponder’s scrambling ability is a nice little bonus for fantasy owners.
Lions QB Shaun Hill (2 percent) — While Matthew Stafford’s leg injury doesn’t appear to be serious, fantasy owners who are dependent on the Lions’ starting quarterback might want to claim Hill and keep him on the roster nonetheless. The Lions’ offense is strong, and Hill is one of the game’s top reserves, as he showed in a sparkling relief performance at Tennessee. If Hill starts in Week Four vs. Minnesota, he very much merits starting consideration in all formats.
Eagles QB Nick Foles (1 percent) — Let’s suppose you have Michael Vick in a big fantasy league. Ask yourself: is it better to pick up Foles now or to roll the dice and assume Vick starts to play better? If you have the roster space, it may be best to claim Foles as an insurance policy now rather than to wait. Action trumps reaction here, I say.
Cardinals RB Ryan Williams (37 percent) — After rushing for all of 22 yards on 18 carries and losing a pair of fumbles in the first two games, Williams racked up 83 yards on 13 carries in the Cardinals’ impressive win vs. Philadelphia on Sunday. Williams has more carries and yards than Beanie Wells (31-105, compared to 29-76 for Wells) through three games.
Dolphins RBs Daniel Thomas (14 percent) and Lamar Miller (three percent) — Thomas would likely get the bulk of the work in Week Four at Arizona if Reggie Bush (knee) can’t go. The speedy Miller, who’s shown promise this season, would also get some work, too. Thomas might be the Dolphins’ back for fantasy owners to start if Bush is out, but Miller also has some value, too. Both are recommended pickups.
Bills RB Tashard Choice (11 percent) — Choice was featured after C.J. Spiller left with a shoulder injury in Week Three, racking up 99 yards on 22 touches. With Fred Jackson (knee) potentially returning in Week Four, and with Spiller not completely ruled out for Sunday’s game vs. New England, Choice’s fantasy value is to be determined. At present, he’s a recommended claim for owners who are depending on either Jackson or Spiller, considering that both backs have sustained injuries in the first three weeks.
Chiefs RB Shaun Draughn (10 percent) — Peyton Hillis suffered an ankle injury in Week Three, and Jamaal Charles comes off a 33-carry, six-reception game.
Colts WR Donnie Avery (33 percent) — The Colts have their bye in Week Four, so Avery won’t appeal to owners looking for a quick fix at the WR position. However, he’s been targeted 27 times in three games, and hard-luck Austin Collie will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Bengals WR Andrew Hawkins (26 percent) — Hawkins’ nine-target, eight-catch game in Week One attracted the interest of many fantasy owners. A touchdown of at least 50 yards in each of the next two weeks rewarded their faith. While Hawkins has had only seven targets in the last two weeks, he's a threat to break a big play every time he touches the ball. If he starts to be targeted more, look out.
Lions WR Nate Burleson (26 percent) — You know what you’re getting with him. He’s a complementary part of the Lions’ offense, but he has fantasy value in this pass-heavy attack. In three games, Burleson has been targeted 23 times, and he’s caught 17 passes for 149 yards and a TD. He also has the Lions’ lone two-point conversion.
Chiefs WR Jon Baldwin (13 percent) — After not being targeted in Week One, Baldwin had a combined 10 passes thrown his way in Weeks Two and Three, catching 6-98-0. Dwayne Bowe is the only must-start among the Chiefs’ pass catchers, but Baldwin does have some upside, and owners who can be patient might want to give him some look.
Broncos WR Brandon Stokley (2 percent) — Peyton Manning trusts him. In three games, Stokley has 11 catches for 126 yards and a TD (albeit on a deflection) in 16 targets. He’s not a bad addition in super-sized leagues.
Bengals WR Armon Binns (1 percent) — He’s making the most of his chances as a starter for Cincinnati, catching 12-of-13 passes thrown his way for 157 yards and a touchdown.
Eagles WR Damaris Johnson (0 percent) — With Jeremy Maclin out in Week Three, Johnson was on the field for 88 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps, leading the Eagles in targets (11), catches (five) and yards (84). Johnson’s fantasy value for Week Four will take a hit with Maclin expected to return, but the rookie from Tulsa could merit a pickup all the same in big leagues.
Steelers WR Heath Miller (41 percent) — He has as many TDs in three games this season (four) as he had in 30 regular-season games in 2010-11. In addition, he’s third on the Steelers in targets (20). I’m going to keep mentioning him until he’s on the majority of fantasy teams.
Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (40 percent) — Rudolph has three of the Vikings’ four TD catches this season, and he’s second on the club in targets, catches and yards.
Raiders TE Brandon Myers (4 percent) — How’s this for earning a quarterback’s trust? Myers has caught all 15 passes from Carson Palmer this season, racking up 206 receiving yards. Fantasy owners, take note.