I will mostly be featuring players who are rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo fantasy football leagues in this article. I'll make a few exceptions for players close to 50 percent who should be rostered in every league. A player’s roster percentage will appear in parentheses next to their name. I will also make FAAB recommendations for the biggest names of the week. Players within each position will be roughly ordered by priority off the wire. Denny Carter is mercifully handling the kicker portion of this article which will be added Monday evenings. Updates from Monday Night Football will be added on Tuesday mornings.
C.J. Stroud, Texans (19%)
It’s a tough week on the waiver wire for quarterbacks. Matthew Stafford and Russell Wilson are rostered in just over half of leagues, but check for both quarterbacks just in case. Wilson gets a Chicago defense that ranks last or nearly last in every pass-defense metric.
Moving on to players who should be available in your league, Stroud has been quietly impressive through three games. The rookie ranks top-20 in EPA per play and completion percent over expected. He is inside the top 10 quarterbacks in yards per attempt and adjusted yards per attempt. This is all while attempting the third-most passes in the league. His combination of solid efficiency and absurd volume has him pushing for low-end QB1 numbers.
Mac Jones, Patriots (20%)
Speaking of passing volume, Jones is one of the two quarterbacks with more throws than Stroud this year. The reason he comes in behind Stroud on the list is efficiency. In the advanced metrics, EPA per play and CPOE, Stroud narrowly has the edge. In the more basic metrics, yards per attempt and adjusted yards per attempt, Jones is being blown out of the water. Jones’s passing volume—plus nearly 18 yards per game on the ground—is putting him at the top of the weekly QB2 conversation. He will need to improve his efficiency to chase down Stroud.
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De’Von Achane, Dolphins (45%)
Achane’s Week 3 breakout—18 carries for 203 yards and two scores plus four catches for 30 yards and two more scores—is one of the greatest performances by a rookie in NFL history. It was the sixth-most PPR points by a rookie ever and the most by a rookie in their first three games. Achane is one of fewer than 40 players in NFL history to average more than 10 yards per touch in a game where he saw more than 20 touches.
— Bobby Shouse (@B_Shousejr) September 24, 2023
We aren’t blowing the FAAB budget on him because of his role. Raheem Mostert out-targeted and out-snapped him. However, we are blowing the FAAB budget on Achane based on how confident we can be in his efficiency. Mike McDaniel’s offense puts speedy players in positions to make game-breaking plays every week. Even if Achane is regularly topping out at 15 touches, he will make more of those looks than any other back in the league. Fantasy managers should feel comfortable spending well over half of their FAAB budget on Achane. It's fine to leave only a few dollars for streaming options later in the season if you are desperate at running back.
Matt Breida, Giants (30%)
Breida saw just as many carries and targets (four each) as his backup Gary Brightwell in Week 3, but that split is misleading. Breida was on the field for 82 percent of the Giants’ snaps, got the team’s only red zone carry, and served as the primary back in the two-minute drill. Breida gets a more favorable matchup at home versus the Seahawks this week. He will rank as a high-end RB3 for me.
Roschon Johnson, Bears (48%)
This looks like the last week Johnson will get to be on my waiver wire column as he is about to cross the 50% threshold. Johnson has seen his snap share and carry share rise in each of the past two weeks. Khalil Herbert also coughed up a fumble in Week 3. Johnson remains on the fantasy periphery as a viable FLEX play, but if his role keeps growing, he will be on a breakout trajectory by midseason.
Tyjae Spears, Titans (24%)
Week 3 marked the second time Spears out-snapped Derrick Henry. He has run a route on 46 percent of Ryan Tannehill’s dropbacks and has a 13 percent target share. As the primary passing-downs back on an 0-3 team going nowhere quickly, Spears could pile up a few PPR points each week. Should anything happen to Henry, he will be in line for an elite workload.
Melvin Gordon, Ravens (1%)
It’s hard to recommend a Ravens running back off the waiver wire after seeing five instances of a Baltimore back get a 40 percent snap share while scoring no more than 12 PPR points this season. They have lost J.K. Dobbins, Justice Hill, and now Gus Edwards to various injuries. Still, if Hill and Edwards are out in Week 4, Gordon will be the next man up. He served as the backup running back last week and logged a 41 percent snap share as a result of Edwards’ concussion. He also paced the team in routes. Gordon will rank as an RB4, but there are at least a few fantasy rosters in need of that for the upcoming week.
Tank Dell, Texans (31%)
Dell played a part-time role in Week 1 but took on a larger job once Noah Brown went on injured reserve. He has run a route on 83 percent of Stroud’s dropbacks in the past two weeks. Dell has earned a 24 percent target share and a 37 percent air yards share in his previous two games.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Zay Flowers, Quentin Johnston and Jordan Addison won’t be the only WR’s drafted
So let’s talk about some of the things Tank Dell could bring to an offense
▪️Hits his top speed QUICK
▪️Lines up anywhere
▪️gets DB’s head up on routes pic.twitter.com/Fz9PIJR3rN
— . (@LordDontLose) April 1, 2023
Dell was an extremely productive prospect coming out of Houston and has backed that up with his play at the next level. He is the best pickup at receiver of the week and is worth unloading 30 percent of the FAAB budget on for teams that aren’t in need of a running back.
Adam Thielen, Panthers (47%)
After a slow Week 1, Thielen has come alive in the past two weeks. He has a 27 percent target share and a 30 percent air yards share over that span. Andy Dalton also looked like an upgrade over Bryce Young in his first start. Carolina's offense could get him under center for one more game if the Panthers are cautious with Young's return from his ankle injury. Thielen doesn’t have the season-long upside that Dell does, but he will be much cheaper to acquire and should put up WR2/3 numbers for at least a few more weeks.
Romeo Doubs, Packers (41%)
Much like the previous two receivers, Doubs’ role in Week 1 left a lot to be desired. He was still dealing with an injury and had his routes limited. Since then, he has run a route on 78 and 86 percent of Jordan Love’s dropbacks. Doubs has been responsible for 20 percent of the Packers’ targets and 30 percent of their air yards. His target share may take a hit when Christian Watson returns, but Doubs is making a case to be ranked as a WR2 whenever Watson can’t suit up.
Quentin Johnston, Chargers (32%)
Johnston hasn’t logged a snap share over 27 percent this year. Brandon Staley has been reticent to let the raw rookie get too involved, but Mike Williams’ season-ending ACL tear could change that. Taken in the first round, Johnston posted a 60/1,069/6 receiving line as a junior in 2022. He can take the top off defenses or do damage after the catch. If his route share starts to climb, he could be a steal off waivers.
Josh Downs, Colts (2%)
Downs set season-highs in route share (84 percent) and target share (27 percent) in Week 3. The rookie has been used primarily as a check-down option for both Anthony Richardson and Gardner Minshew, but that will still allow him to rack up PPR points in what some would call a scam-like fashion.
Marvin Mims, Broncos (27%)
Mims is averaging 7.6 yards per route run and has seen a target on a third of his routes. He currently leads the Broncos in receiving yards and house-called a kick in Week 3.
Marvin Mims with a huge TD to cut the lead to 43 pic.twitter.com/5DYwPCIPYx
— alex (@highlightheaven) September 24, 2023
Inexplicably, Mims has yet to run a route on even 30 percent of his team’s dropbacks in a single game. Mims is an electric playmaker and his elite production on a limited number of routes should eventually translate to more opportunities.
Joshua Palmer, Chargers (2%)
The less interesting option to fill Mike Williams’ role in LA is Palmer. Palmer has run over twice as many routes as Johnston this year and put up solid numbers when Williams missed time in 2022.
— Jared Smola (@SmolaDS) September 25, 2023
If you’re looking for an immediate starting option in the wake of Williams' injury, Palmer is the boring but correct answer.
Austin took over for Diontae Johnson midway through the Steelers’ opening game and hasn’t looked back since. He has run more routes than Allen Robinson in each of his past two outings and has a 38 percent air yards share with Johnson sidelined.
Luke Musgrave, Packers (18%)
Musgrave ranks 11th in targets and third in air yards among tight ends. He has run a route on over 80 percent of Jordan Love’s dropbacks each week. Love ranks third in EPA per play and ninth in adjusted yards per attempt. He is playing an elite role on an offense that has been stunningly
effective through three games. Musgrave should be rostered in every league and is worth 10-15 percent of the FAAB budget.
Zach Ertz, Cardinals (38%)
There is a big gap between Musgrave and the second-best pickup at tight end. Ertz would be closer to him, but his route rate fell to 66 percent in Week 3. He only saw two targets in the Cardinals’ first win of the season. Despite the slow week, Ertz still ranks fourth in targets among tight ends. Expect a bevy of dump-offs in Week 4 as the Cardinals battle from behind against the 49ers.
Kicker (Presented by Denny Carter)
Brandon Aubrey, Cowboys (46%)
I don’t know what I must do to compel folks to pick up Aubrey. He’ll continue to be a great process-oriented fantasy option week in and week out as the Cowboys will generate neutral and positive game script required for ample field goal opportunities.
Aubrey has made all ten of his field goal tries this season and has multiple attempts in each game. He’s a solid option in Week 4 with the Cowboys listed as seven-point favorites against the Patriots.
Chris Boswell, Steelers (12%)
The Boz has five field goal attempts over the past two games thanks largely to the Steelers offense stalling out in the red zone. We’ll take it. The Steelers enter Week 4 as three-point favorites against an exploitable Texans defense allowing nearly four red zone possessions per game, one of the highest marks in the NFL this year.
Wil Lutz, Broncos (6%)
Denver’s offense hasn’t been half bad through three weeks. It’s their defense that has been stunningly awful, undermining the game script Lutz needs to attempt field goals throughout the game.
Maybe, just maybe, the Denver defense can keep it close against Justin Fields and the lifeless Chicago offense this week. The Broncos are somehow three-point favorites and the Bears are allowing 4.1 red zone possessions per game. You could do worse than Lutz in Week 4.