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Each week throughout the NFL regular season, we identify six players to target on fantasy waiver wires, plus a lightly owned D/ST. All are available in a majority of Yahoo leagues. Add as needed.
Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears, 23% owned
Jeremy Langford entered the season with only a precarious grip on the lead role in Chicago’s backfield, following a year in which he averaged 3.6 yards per carry. He didn’t exactly strengthen his hold on the job in the opening weeks, gaining just 85 yards on 28 carries in a pair of ugly losses and drawing criticism from his head coach. He then suffered an ankle injury in the Bears’ prime-time loss in Week 3, leaving Dallas in a walking boot. We don’t yet know the severity of Langford’s ankle issue, but we do know that his backup, Jordan Howard, has been a much more productive runner in his limited opportunities this season. The rookie carried nine times for 45 yards against the Cowboys on Sunday night, adding four catches for 47. Howard has averaged 5.6 YPC and 9.3 yards per reception through his first three games.
With Langford dinged, Howard is now looking at a potentially significant workload next week when the Bears host the Lions. Detroit’s defense ranks dead-last in the NFL in YPC allowed (5.1), so the matchup has plenty of appeal. Howard delivered back-to-back 1200-yard rushing seasons at the collegiate level for two different programs (UAB, Indiana), which tells us he’s a scheme-versatile player. He’s not a burner, but he’s a punishing and decisive runner with lead-back ability. Howard has a clear shot to displace Langford as Chicago’s starting back, so bid aggressively.
FAAB bid: $26
Terrelle Pryor, WR, Cleveland Browns, 22%
Pryor was the alpha receiver in Cleveland’s passing game on Sunday, except when Pryor himself was dropping back to pass. He had one of the more remarkable do-it-all games in recent memory. Pryor finished with eight receptions for 144 yards on 14 targets, four carries for 21 yards and one touchdown, and he completed three of five pass attempts for 35 yards. Oh, and he played a snap at safety, too. If only he could have kicked in place of Cody Parkey (3/6 FGA), things might have ended better for Cleveland. With Corey Coleman (hand) sidelined for 4-6 weeks, Pryor will continue to serve as a featured receiver for the Browns — and, considering this team’s general dearth of talent, he’ll no doubt continue to see non-receiving touches as well. He deserves a huge spike in fantasy ownership.
FAAB bid: $12
Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington, 16%
Washington’s passing attack has not been a clinic at all times this season, but you can’t say Kirk Cousins isn’t spreading the ball around. Four different players have seen at least 20 targets, with three tied for the team lead at 24. Crowder, a second-year receiver from Duke, currently leads Washington in both catches (16) and receiving touchdowns (2), and he hasn’t seen fewer than seven targets in any game. It’s well past time to add him. He has a matchup ahead with Cleveland, and it’s almost impossible for defenses to erase him while DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed are on the field.
FAAB bid: $10
Orleans Darkwa, RB, New York Giants, 1%
Darkwa carried 10 times for 53 yards and one score against Washington on Sunday, splitting touches with Shane Vereen and playing a substantial role in relief of the injured Rashad Jennings (thumb). On Monday, we learned that Vereen will miss the remainder of the season with a triceps injury, so there’s clearly a path for Darkwa to play meaningful snaps the rest of the way. Rookie Paul Perkins and vet Bobby Rainey suddenly have deep league appeal as well, but Darkwa is clearly running ahead of both backs.
FAAB bid: $10
Dwayne Washington, RB, Detroit Lions, 23%
Washington had a relatively quiet afternoon against Green Bay on Sunday, carrying 10 times for 38 yards and losing three yards on his only reception. But the important thing to note is that he saw a significant share of the backfield touches in the team’s first full game without Ameer Abdullah (foot, IR), splitting carries evenly with Theo Riddick. Assuming the committee arrangement continues in the upcoming weeks, Washington is likely to produce a few useful fantasy lines. He has a series of not-so-intimidating matchups ahead — at Chi, Phi, LA, Was, at Hou — and he’ll see plenty of goal-line touches. Not surprisingly, Washington was out-snapped by Riddick on Sunday, 45 to 25, but the team fed him the ball when he was in the backfield.
FAAB bid: $9
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2%
Brate is the unrivaled varsity tight end for the Bucs following the release of Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and he made plenty of noise in Sunday’s home loss to the Rams. Brate saw a career-high 10 targets, catching five for 46 yards and a pair of scores. He’s not necessarily the flashiest athlete, but, at 6-foot-5, he’s yet another gigantic option for Jameis Winston near the goal-line. It wouldn’t be much of a shock if Brate delivered another 5-6 spikes this season, assuming good health.
FAAB bid: $5
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens, 29%
Elite? Um, no — not even in an AFC North-only fantasy league. But Flacco is the guy who gets to face Oakland’s league-worst pass defense next week, so he belongs on a roster in standard formats as we prepare for the season’s first bye-week. The Raiders have allowed 340.0 passing yards per game and 9.5 per attempt thus far, so it’s not crazy to expect 300-plus and two scores from Flacco.
FAAB bid: $8
This is not to be taken as a full endorsement of Washington’s defense, which of course has not been stellar. But with Cody Kessler and the winless Browns coming to town, we’re almost guaranteed 3-4 sacks and a turnover (or two). Add for a week, then discard.
FAAB bid: $1
Additional adds to consider: Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys, 44% (at SF); Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles, 20% (bye); Wendell Smallwood, RB, Philadelphia Eagles, 1% (bye); DeAndre Washington, RB, Oakland Raiders, 11% (at Bal); Adam Humphries, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1% (Den); Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings, 41% (NYG); Detroit Lions, DEF, 4% (at Chi)