Week 3 waiver wire pickups: Top replacements for injured stars originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The main storyline from Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season was injuries, and this outcome will have a major impact on fantasy football leagues.
It all starts at running back, where several superstar players went down.
Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants suffered a season-ending ACL tear. He was a top five pick in just about every fantasy league. The No. 1 pick in most fantasy leagues was Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers, who suffered a high ankle sprain that reportedly will keep him out four to six weeks. McCaffrey is tied for the league lead with four rushing touchdowns.
The waiver wire will be more important than usual over the next few days. Here are the best pickups entering Week 3.
Herbert made his first career start in Week 2 when veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor was unable to play because of injury. The No. 6 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft played pretty well, too, completing 67 percent of his passes for 311 yards with one touchdown and one interception against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. If Herbert becomes the full-time starter, he's a decent option as a bye week replacement.
Mike Davis, RB, Carolina Panthers
Davis is likely the next man up atop the Panthers' running back depth chart while McCaffrey is sidelined. He ran the ball only once for a single yard in a Week 2 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the 27-year-old veteran did make an impact In the passing attack with eight receptions for 74 yards. Davis is a must-own if he's the starter, especially in PPR leagues.
Dion Lewis, RB, New York Giants
The Giants don't have one running back who's a must-start in fantasy leagues with Barkley out for the season, but Lewis is a decent flex play. He carried the ball 10 times for just 20 yards against the Chicago Bears in Week 2, but he did find the end zone once. Lewis' real value comes as a receiver. He caught four passes for 36 yards on five targets versus Chicago. He's a good pickup in PPR leagues. Giants running back Wayne Gallman also is a name to monitor. He could fill some of Barkley's role, too.
Gaskin hasn't put up huge stats, but he's getting the most touches of any Dolphins running back so far, and that certainly has value for fantasy owners. He's totaled 86 rushing yards (5.4 per carry), as well as 10 receptions for 62 receiving yards through two games. He's a good depth pickup.
Tre'Quan Smith, WR, New Orleans Saints
Smith was targeted only once in Week 1, but Saints quarterback Drew Brees looked his way often Monday night against the Las Vegas Raiders. He caught five passes for 86 yards on seven targets. The only Saints player who was targeted more was running back Alvin Kamara.
Fantasy owners should expect Smith to remain the top wide receiver in the Saints offense for as long as Michael Thomas remains sidelined due to injury. Smith is even a better option to start than veteran Emmanuel Sanders, whose only reception in Week 2 came at the end of the fourth quarter.
N'Keal Harry, WR, New England Patriots
Harry gave his best performance as an NFL player in the Patriots' Week 2 loss to the Seahawks. He set career highs with eight receptions and 72 receiving yards.
The second-year wideout tallied 12 receptions for 105 yards in seven games as a rookie, and he's already surpassed those totals with 13 catches for 111 yards in the first two games of the 2020 campaign.
Patriots quarterback Cam Newton seems to have a lot more confidence in Harry than his predecessor, Tom Brady, and it wouldn't be surprising if that connection continues to improve throughout the season. And it's not like the Patriots have many options at wide receiver. They need Harry to be involved and take some of the pressure off Julian Edelman.