Week 3 Pickups: John Brown needs to be added everywhere, immediately

The NFL season is just two weeks old and fantasy problems are piling up. Right now, there’s a decent chance that one (or all) of your running backs has been injured and/or suspended and/or holding out. But it’s only September, friends. Hope is not lost. Each week, we give you six priority pickups in advance of your waiver deadline, plus a lightly owned defense.

Let’s find a few quick-fixes, beginning with a receiver we all should have drafted …

Another week, another John Brown touchdown

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It’s absurd that Brown is still available in 75 percent of Yahoo leagues. Honestly, it’s a complete failure of the global fantasy guru hype machinery. We have let you down. Brown is currently the No. 12 receiver in standard scoring formats, yet he’s probably unattached in your league. He keeps doing stuff like this …

Brown has caught seven balls on the season for 136 yards and two scores. He was targeted 10 times against the Bengals in Week 2, catching four for 92 yards. Michael Crabtree might be the No. 1 receiver in Baltimore, but Brown is no worse than 1A. Go get him. He was a high-buzz player throughout the summer and now he’s roasting defenders in the regular season. Brown already has a 1,000-yard season on his resume, so he’s a proven commodity. Make the add. Now. Shoo.

Schedule, next three weeks: Den, at Pit, at Cle

FAAB bid: $19

Seriously, go add John Brown in your fantasy leagues, today. He is stunningly under-owned. Let’s fix this. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Seriously, go add John Brown in your fantasy leagues, today. He is stunningly under-owned. Let’s fix this. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Giovani Bernard returns to our fantasy plans

Joe Mixon is expected to be sidelined for 2-4 weeks following a knee scope, which leaves Bernard in the featured role for Cincinnati. The vet has averaged 4.2 YPC for his career (4.4 last season), so he’s not merely some replacement-level plodder. Bernard is a versatile, all-situation player who rarely fails to produce when given a significant workload. Check his December 2017 game-log for details (4.8 YPC, 2 TD, 24 REC). On projected volume alone, you want Bernard. He’ll rank as a must-start fantasy back in the weeks ahead. Rookie fourth-rounder Mark Walton will get some run for Cincy as well, but Bernard is the add to prioritize. He’s unattached in 72 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues.

Schedule, next three weeks: at Car, at Atl, Mia

FAAB bid ($100 budget): $25

Javorius Allen owns the goal line

Allen has failed to average 4.0 YPC in any season, and he’s gained just 25 yards on 10 carries so far this year. This pickup recommendation is not to be confused with a full endorsement of Allen’s rushing talent. To this point in his career, we have very little statistical evidence that he’s actually a good running back. But to Allen’s credit, he’s converted a pair of 1-yard TD plunges in the opening weeks, plus he’s caught 10 balls on 13 targets for 51 yards. Alex Collins was a revelation last season, yet it appears he’s now a committee member. Allen has out-snapped Collins this year, 72 to 69.

Adding Buck Allen to any roster is generally considered the death rattle of a fantasy team, but these are desperate times for many of us. Do what needs doing.

Schedule, next three weeks: Den, at Pit, at Cle

FAAB bid: $9

Ryan Fitzpatrick is the hero we need

Sometimes, an image argues more persuasively than any writer. This is one of those times. Behold …

Add this man, good people. No transaction will ever be quite as satisfying.

(Also worth noting: Fitzpatrick has opened his season with back-to-back 400-yard, 4-touchdown games, carving up the Saints and Eagles along the way. He’s dealing and the Bucs’ receiving corps is loaded. Jameis Winston is definitely not reclaiming the starting gig any time soon.)

Schedule, next three weeks: Pit, at Chi, bye

FAAB bid: $9

For those who like big plays, consider Antonio Callaway

Callaway hauled in three balls for 81 yards on Sunday at New Orleans, including a game-tying deep-strike touchdown. The rookie is an electric athlete, as talented as any receiver in his draft class. (He also has a complicated/troubling off-field history, which is why he fell to the fourth round.) Josh Gordon is no longer in the team picture, in case you hadn’t heard, so Callaway is going to have a significant role. Rashard Higgins saw more targets (7) than Callaway in Sunday’s loss, but the rookie is unquestionably the more explosive receiver.

Schedule, next three weeks: NYJ, at Oak, Bal

FAAB bid: $9

Welcome to the fantasy season, Calvin Ridley

Promises were made about getting Ridley more involved in the gameplan, and the Falcons followed through on Sunday. Doubt Steve Sarkisian at your own peril, fantasy owner. (JK. You should doubt him every waking moment.) Ridley caught four passes for 64 yards and an early TD on five targets, and he was on the field for 35 snaps. Atlanta’s offense should be productive enough to support more than one fantasy relevant receiver, so Ridley deserves a look, particularly in deeper formats. He’s a decent Plan B if you miss out on Brown.

Schedule: NO, Cin, at Pit

FAAB bid: $7

For at least a week, Cleveland’s defense can help

The Browns currently rank first in the league in takeaways (8) and fourth in sacks (7), which is plenty impressive when you consider the quality of the offenses this team has faced (Pit, at NO). This week, Cleveland has Sam Darnold on the schedule. For all his obvious talent, Darnold has had a few notable rookie moments (3 INTs, 5 sacks). There’s no need to commit to the Browns beyond Week 3, but this defense does have a few playmakers and the upcoming schedule is friendly.

Schedule, next three weeks: NYJ, at Oak, Bal

FAAB bid: $2

Also recommended: QB Derek Carr (at Mia), RB Austin Ekeler (at LAR), RB Corey Clement (vs. Ind), RB Jordan Wilkins (at Phi), RB Nyheim Hines (at Phi), WR Dede Westbrook (vs. Ten), WR Chris Godwin (vs. Pit), WR Geronimo Allison (at Was), WR Phillip Dorsett (at Det), WR Ted Ginn Jr. (at Atl), TE Austin Hooper (vs. NO), TE Jesse James (at TB), K Dan Bailey (vs. Buf)

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