Waiver Wire: Week 3

John Daigle
Rotoworld

Welcome to the Week 3 edition of Waiver Wired for the 2019 season. Week 2 brought a myriad of injuries to the table including Ben Roethlisberger’s season-ending elbow surgery and Drew Brees’ torn thumb ligament. The trickle-down effect stemming from those two absences will be discussed in detail below. It’s also important to highlight the inevitable fallouts following Tyreek Hill’s (collarbone) absence, James Conner’s knee injury, Alshon Jeffery’s strained calf, and Devin Singletary's (hamstring) unknown status.

As a reminder, the drop list consists of players who are no longer must-roster assets, recommended adds are available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, the watch list contains in-depth notes on players who are worthy of roster spots if possible, and deep cuts includes player notes on those rostered in five percent or fewer of Yahoo leagues.

The Drop List
QB: Kirk Cousins, Philip Rivers, Sam Darnold, Derek Carr, Mitchell Trubisky
RB: Derrius Guice, Justice Hill, Mike Davis, Tevin Coleman, Darrell Henderson, Kareem Hunt
WR: Robby Anderson, Dante Pettis, Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder, Donte Moncrief, Devin Funchess, Keke Coutee
TE: Hunter Henry, Kyle Rudolph, Trey Burton

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O.J. Howard came close to qualifying, but it’s still too early to shed a premier athlete at tight end. Here’s to hoping he starts running (and getting targeted on) more routes soon. As mentioned last week, Coleman is dealing with a high-ankle sprain, which usually means a 4-6 week recovery timetable. Raheem Mostert's (expected) outburst obviously makes this situation a three-headed timeshare (rather than simply two-headed) whenever Coleman returns. I wouldn't drop him personally, but every roster (and league) is different, which may force the issue and make him expendable. With Sam Darnold reportedly eyeing Week 5, I'd attempt to hold both Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder, but understand it may not be feasible for every roster. Corey Davis has led all Titans in routes run (51), but his 15 percent target share is unusable as the third option on a sluggish offense. Hunter Henry's unknown timetable also makes him a drop (barring an I.R. spot in your leagues).

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Overall Top 5

1. Jaylen Samuels
2. Demarcus Robinson
3. Mecole Hardman
4. James Washington
5. Raheem Mostert

For those simply looking to roster the best player available regardless of position, the rankings above take into account every factor from the positional lists minus the actual positions. These are listed in the precise order I’d prioritize waiver claims in Week 3.

Handcuff Top 5
1. Giovani Bernard
2. Jaylen Samuels
3. Tony Pollard
4. Ty Montgomery
5. Chase Edmonds

For those refusing to stand pat and itching for an end-of-roster asset after starting 2-0 on the back of an obviously stacked lineup, the above list was carefully assembled to highlight league-winners in the event the player ahead of them misses any time. Presumed snaps, carries, targets, and the play-calling each are tied to have been factored in. This list could change weekly.

Quarterbacks
Jameis Winston rostered in 63 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 1 add if available.
1. Josh Allen
2. Mason Rudolph
3. Daniel Jones
4. Teddy Bridgewater

Running Backs
Rashaad Penny rostered in 60 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 1 add if available.
1. Jaylen Samuels
2. Raheem Mostert
3. Chris Thompson
4. Frank Gore
5. Carlos Hyde
6. Ito Smith

Wide Receivers
Terry McLaurin rostered in 51 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 1 add if available.
1. Demarcus Robinson
2. Mecole Hardman
3. James Washington
4. Deebo Samuel
5. D.J. Chark
6. JJ Arcega-Whiteside
7. A.J. Brown
8. Devin Smith
9. Geronimo Allison
10. Nelson Agholor

Tight Ends
1. Will Dissly
2. Jason Witten
3. Vernon Davis

Defense/Special Teams
Dallas Cowboys rostered in 70 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 1 add if available.
1. Green Bay Packers
2. San Francisco 49ers

Kickers
1. Joey Slye
2. Zane Gonzalez

QUARTERBACKS

1. Josh Allen, Bills – Rostered in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues (Suggested 7% FAAB Bid)
Allen’s been discussed weekly in this space and that won’t change heading into Week 3 against the Bengals. His 8.5 carries per game remain invaluable at the position, securing his spot as a weekly QB1 if only for the high floor. Cincinnati’s inability to cover downfield is a plus for Allen (and John Brown) in this prime streaming matchup.

2. Mason Rudolph, Steelers – Rostered in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues (4%)
Rudolph ranks highest among the newcomers to this list if only for his immediate exploitable schedule in an up-tempo matchup against the Niners in Week 3 then home for a divisional bout against Cincy’s secondary. A relative unknown, Rudolph at the very least will have his old running mate James Washington on the field for immediate rapport. The Steelers showed enough confidence in the 24-year-old to send their 2020 first-round pick to the Dolphins for Minkah Fitzpatrick (at 0-2 nonetheless).

3. Daniel Jones, Giants — Rostered in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues (3%)
Jones is admittedly a better athlete than Rudolph and could hit his ceiling earlier. But Sterling Shepard’s (concussion) and Cody Latimer’s (concussion) availabilities, not to mention Golden Tate’s ongoing four-game suspension, bring doubts to what Jones can accomplish in his first couple of starts. His presence is still a huge plus for Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley both short-term and down the stretch.

4. Teddy Bridgewater, Saints — Rostered in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues (1%)
Warren Sharp forecasts the Saints with the fourth-softest passing schedule from Week 3 on, logically setting Bridgewater up for success. The underlying question is how long of a leash Bridgewater has with do-it-all Sean Payton favorite Taysom Hill lingering on the sidelines. There’s a legitimate chance Bridgewater is taken off the field in red zone packages, limiting his ceiling in the six weeks Drew Brees is out.

Watch List: It sounds as if either Kyle Allen or rookie Will Grier will start in place of Cam Newton, who re-aggravated his preseason foot injury in Thursday's loss. No official starter has been named just yet, but whoever's under center would benefit from Arizona's league-high rate of opponent plays per game allotted...Luke Falk admittedly showed something in mop-up duty Monday night, but a road start against the Patriots isn't something you want to have stake in.

 

RUNNING BACKS

1. Jaylen Samuels, Steelers – Rostered in 35 percent of Yahoo leagues (Suggested 18% FAAB Bid)
James Conner (knee, questionable) is trending towards playing against the Niners, but his recent stint off the field showed exactly why Jaylen Samuels need be rostered across all formats. Once Conner exited against the Seahawks, Samuels played 21-of-23 offensive snaps, handling every backfield touch. A knee injury this early into the season only makes Samuels that much more pressing a player to roster. The Steelers hit their bye in Week 7.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues

2. Raheem Mostert, 49ers – Rostered in 16 percent of Yahoo leagues (12%)
It stands to reason that all three of San Francisco’s backs have FLEX value (at minimum) while Tevin Coleman’s (ankle) out. Mostert was a hot commodity for half the cost last week, but you should still fight to roster him following an (expected) 13/83 on the ground and 3/68/1 as a receiver. He would be the No. 1 option atop this list if Conner was deemed healthy, and can easily be dispersed alongside Matt Breida as a RB1/2 combo.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

3. Chris Thompson, Redskins – Rostered in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues (10%)
It was much of the same for Thompson in Week 2 as he carried the ball just a couple of times but walked away only one fantasy point shy (10.1) of Adrian Peterson’s total (11.2) due to his usage in Washington’s passing game. Thompson’s currently living on the high of Case Keenum being the No. 9 quarterback in fantasy (which isn’t expected to continue), but his shallow 1.2 average depth of target out of the backfield is safe even when rookie Dwayne Haskins inevitably gets the nod mid-season.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

4. Frank Gore, Bills – Rostered in 19 percent of Yahoo leagues (5%)
Gore was removed from the Drop List and added as a priority the moment Devin Singletary (hamstring) came up limping. The veteran won’t be used in the passing game — that role’s reserved for third-down back T.J. Yeldon — but a friendly game script at home projects Gore out-touching Yeldon as Buffalo likely ices this one late. You know what you’re getting if you bid on him.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

5. Carlos Hyde, Texans – Rostered in 43 percent of Yahoo leagues (5%)
Hyde’s admittedly looked great on 48.2 percent of Houston’s offensive snaps, averaging an outstanding 3.87 yards after contact per attempt, but there’s still only so much weight (and FAAB) you should put into a soon-to-be 29-year-old playing on his fifth team in the last two seasons. Bill O’Brien’s play-calling will keep Hyde as the early-down favorite in this backfield.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues and RB-desperate teams

6. Ito Smith, Falcons – Rostered in 19 percent of Yahoo leagues (1%)
Anyone who’s watched Devonta Freeman play this season should be chomping at the bit to make room for Smith at the end of their roster.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 14-team leagues

Watch List: With the likelihood Kenyan Drake’s shipped out of town soon, it’s worth noting Kalen Ballage is still available in 72 percent of Yahoo leagues. Make no mistake about it: Ballage is #notgood. But Drake’s inevitable departure would vacate 43/66 percent of Miami’s backfield carries/routes…Giovani Bernard was in line for starter’s run until Joe Mixon played through his ankle sprain for 11 carries (1.54 YPC). As shown in the Handcuff Top 5, Bernard’s an end-of-bench priority if you have a spot to burn since having passing downs all to himself is the only way he’ll return production behind this woeful offensive line. Otherwise he’s simply taking up space on your roster…Coach Bruce Arians openly stated Peyton Barber would remain Tampa Bay’s starter and be spelled by Ronald Jones, and that’s exactly what happened in the team’s Week 2 win. Barber was in on 67 percent of offensive snaps while Jones checked in with a backfield-low 12 percent…Justin Jackson’s 8.4 YPC against the Lions, albeit impressive, won’t move the needle as long as Hunter Henry (knee) is out. Los Angeles’ offense solely depends on Austin Ekeler being an every-down player in the interim, as proven by his 48 routes to Jackson’s 13 through two games…Justice Hill and Gus Edwards played 20 percent of Baltimore’s Week 2 snaps, respectively. They merely chipped away at each other’s production while Mark Ingram got 58 percent of the team’s snaps in a competitive contest…Tony Pollard’s snap rate (32.4% > 24.3%) and carries (13 > 4) unsurprisingly dipped against Washington with Ezekiel Elliott getting into shape…Le’Veon Bell took an entire year off, got 23 touches as a bell-cow back in New York’s season opener, received a shoulder MRI, then proceeded to handle 31 touches against the Browns. Odds are Ty Montgomery starts at least one game by Week 7...If you kept Darwin Thompson close to your vest, it may be time to unleash him with both Damien Williams (knee) and LeSean McCoy (ankle) on the mend. We’ll know more mid-week.

Deep Leagues: Jeff Wilson (10) finished behind Raheem Mostert (13) and Matt Breida (12) in total carries, but he was the preferred goal line option (at least for one week), punching in two touchdowns from only five yards out. That gig has value in this backfield if it sticksChase Edmonds got five touches during the chunk of time David Johnson (wrist) sat out against the Ravens, but didn’t sniff the field when the latter returned…Ty Johnson equaled C.J. Anderson in carries (5) as the Lions’ No. 2 back on Sunday…D’Ernest Johnson played 23 snaps sans third-down back Dontrell Hilliard (concussion) Monday night, earning six touches behind Nick Chubb. His third-down role makes him sneakily valuable at this time…Have no fear prioritizing T.J. Yeldon over Gore in PPR leagues if Singletary (hamstring) is ruled out. Note that Josh Allen has targeted running backs three percentage points (17%) below league-average (20%)…If Damien Williams (groin) and LeSean McCoy (ankle) do miss time, Darrell Williams would likely out-carry rookie Darwin Thompson (with the latter being more valuable for his work in the passing game).

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Demarcus Robinson, Chiefs – Rostered in 6 percent of Yahoo leagues (Suggested 15% FAAB Bid)
Robinson buoyed the second-most routes (48) among Kansas City’s wideouts sans Tyreek Hill (collarbone) into 6/172/2 and an official WR1 ranking in Week 2. His stunning 19.8 air yards per target make him volatile as a downfield threat (see Sammy Watkins’ performance against Oakland), but even his floor is worth accepting each and every week since the entire package now includes position-winning upside as the team's No. 2. Robinson gets the nod over Mecole Hardman if only because the former has already shown rapport with Mahomes as recently as last year, averaging 1.7/37.7/1 over the final three weeks of 2018.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues

2. Mecole Hardman, Chiefs – Rostered in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues (15%)
The No. 56 overall pick’s 4/61/1 from Sunday doesn’t tell the whole story as he had a 72-yard touchdown called back for offensive holding. I wouldn’t be able to stomach leaving Week 3 waivers without one of Robinson or Hardman no matter your receiving depth.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues

3. James Washington, Steelers – Rostered in 29 percent of Yahoo leagues (12%)
Washington is undeniably the direct beneficiary of Moncrief’s benching. Not only will he now be catching passes from former Oklahoma State teammate Mason Rudolph, Washington firmly ran the second-most routes (33) for Pittsburgh once he was inserted with the first-team Sunday. The duo previously connected for 198/4,016/33 in three collegiate years together.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues

4. Deebo Samuel, 49ers – Rostered in 13 percent of Yahoo leagues (10%)
There’s no denying who San Francisco’s No. 1 wideout is as Samuel has led all in targets (10), catches (8), snaps (88), and Pro Football Focus’ predictive Yards per Route Run metric (2.67) through the first two weeks. It’s best to get married to this offense early before all are coveted in October.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues

5. D.J. Chark, Jaguars – Rostered in 13 percent of Yahoo leagues (5%)
Rookie Gardner Minshew has somehow kept both Chris Conley and Chark afloat, but it’s the latter who supported a 27 percent target share (and 13.8 aDOT) in Minshew’s first career start. Lower priority as Dede Westbrook remains the team’s No. 1 option.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

6. JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Eagles – Rostered in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues (5%)
Alshon Jeffery’s (calf) and DeSean Jackson’s (quad) statuses heading into Sunday leave ample room for rookie Arcega-Whiteside to be involved immediately. JJAW was quietly in on 74-of-80 offensive snaps Sunday night and could be an every-down wideout if Dallas Goedert (calf) remains sidelined, too. The No. 57 overall pick notably led the Eagles in receiving (12/147/1) this preseason.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

7. A.J. Brown, Titans – Rostered in 24 percent of Yahoo leagues (5%)
Brown has certainly looked the part in leading Tennessee’s wideouts in targets (9) despite running the third-most routes (35) behind Corey Davis and Adam Humphries. His immediate NFL-readiness is what landed Davis on the Drop List in the first place. This offense can’t support three receiving options, but I don’t foresee Brown (6’0/226) being the one eliminated from opportunity.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

8. Devin Smith, Cowboys – Rostered in 0 percent of Yahoo leagues (4%)
It took Tavon Austin (concussion) being inactive to get Smith on the field in the first place, but this isn’t the first time this year the 2015 second-rounder flashed as he dominated the preseason with team-highs in targets (23), catches (14), and receiving yards (188). This is a bet on Smith’s proven downfield prowess being utilized properly (as he was on a slot mismatch prior to breaking free for a 51-yard touchdown) by progressive OC Kellen Moore.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

9. Geronimo Allison, Packers – Rostered in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues (2%)
The Packers did in fact ease back on their 12 personnel usage in Week 2, but it only got Geronimo Allison on the field (and thus in the slot) on less than half of the team’s snaps. He’s a buy only if you think this offense clicks (which they’re clearly not doing right now) in the next month.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

10. Nelson Agholor, Eagles – Rostered in 15 percent of Yahoo leagues (2%)
Agholor exploded from the slot on Sunday (10/118/1) and that excludes his drop to ice the game late. Getting planted lower on this list is merely an assumption he returns to his typical workload with a full week of practice under the belts of Philly’s ancillary pieces. Still, Agholor can be added (and started) in Week 3 if budgeting.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Randall Cobb’s floor is higher than Devin Smith’s, but his average 5.0 air yards per target make Dallas’ slot wideout a Cole Beasley clone as the primary chain-mover in this offense. To steal an analogy from Establish The Run’s Adam Levitan: you might as well wear two condoms if you’re picking up Cobb over Smith in season-long…The signs are there for DeVante Parker to explode soon given his 310 air yards (second-most among all skill players) and team-high 14 targets. The question is if those marks will actually lead to production with Ryan Fitzpatrick still at the helm…As expected, Keke Coutee’s return impacted Kenny Stills directly. Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins worked as Houston’s starters against the Jaguars while Stills’ routes sunk from 20 in Week 1 to 14 in Week 2. Either slot wideout needs to be inactive for the other to prosper…Rashard Higgins (knee) will return to every-down reps when healthy, but Damion Ratley will continue to be used as Cleveland’s No. 3 wideout until then… It was Andy Isabella who (unexpectedly) got axed in favor of Michael Crabtree on Sunday. But, rather than allowing sixth-rounder KeeSean Johnson to work ahead of their available veterans, Damiere Byrd stuck in three-wide sets to the tune of seven targets (6/45) on the second-most routes run among all Cardinals receivers. It’s not farfetched to consider the 26-year-old a pickup in 14-team leagues...Daniel Jones getting the nod is good news for Golden Tate if you can afford stashing a receiver for another two weeks.

Deep Leagues: No. 59 overall pick Parris Campbell spiked a 12-yard touchdown in Indy’s first game sans Devin Funchess (broken collarbone), but Deon Cain nearly doubled the rookie in routes run (21-11) in Week 2. Cain’s the forward-thinking pick to emerge as the Colts’ clear-cut No. 2 option…Preston Williams’ 11 targets and 167 air yards are both second only to Parker’s aforementioned marks through Miami’s first two games. It’s just too bad Ryan Fitzpatrick’s completed merely half his passes…Trey Quinn quietly leads Washington in total routes run, but is strictly a floor play as his 12 targets have averaged just 5.5 air yards per attempt. Paul Richardson is clearly the Redskins’ outside receiver opposite Terry McLaurin, but his target share (12%) is even lower than Quinn’s (16%)…Diontae Johnson is a name to keep in mind if James Washington sputters in his newfound role ahead of Donte Moncrief. The No. 66 overall pick worked with Pittsburgh’s first-team in offseason activities and impressed OC Randy Fichtner in camp…It depends how long he spends in the league’s concussion protocol, but Cody Latimer quietly leads the Giants in air yards (228) as the team’s entrusted deep threat.

TIGHT ENDS

1. Will Dissly, Seahawks – Rostered in 3 percent of Yahoo leagues
Dissly has run nearly as many routes as teammate Nick Vannett (33-31) through two games, but the second-year fourth-rounder was clearly Russell Wilson’s go-to target in the red zone Sunday, notching both of his touchdown catches inside the 20-yard line. He’s a confident low-end streamer if only because he’s shown past rapport with Russ, racking up 8/156/2 during the first month of the 2018 season before tearing his patella tendon in Week 4.

2. Jason Witten, Cowboys – Rostered in 15 percent of Yahoo leagues
His performance against Washington (4/25/1) was his ceiling at this point of his career, but his Week 1 outing against the Giants (3/15/1) was likely his floor as the primary receiving threat in any red zone pick-plays. For better or worse, the Cowboys continue using the 37-year-old pontoon boat on 71.6 percent of offensive snaps.

3. Vernon Davis, Redskins – Rostered in 29 percent of Yahoo leagues
Davis’ receiving line from Sunday (3/29) is unappealing if only because he left for a few series to tend to an eye injury in the locker room. But the fact remains Washington continues activating only two tight ends on game day, and the 35-year-old veteran has a respectable floor if you’re streaming in a pinch. He’ll be droppable if/when Jordan Reed (concussion) returns.

Looking Ahead: C.Z. Uzomah has out-snapped Tyler Eifert 92-56 on the year, but it’s the latter who holds more value as Andy Dalton’s safety blanket inside the five.

Deep Leagues: Gerald Everett’s five targets on Sunday were due in part to Tyler Higbee exiting early with a lung contusion. Neither are fantasy options if Higbee suits up, but Everett makes for an enticing deep league flier if his teammate’s out…The good news is Miami’s new regime has essentially morphed Mike Gesicki into a receiver, playing him in the slot or out wide on 51-of-68 (75%) offensive snaps. The bad news is it’s amounted to just eight targets and 42 yards through the first two games…Any doubts O.J. Howard eventually emerges in the Bucs’ offense should lead you down a direct path to rostering Cameron Brate, who quietly had two touchdowns negated for offensive penalties in Tampa Bay’s season opener…Ian Thomas will likely get on the field soon, but don’t expect him to be productive (or make an appearance at all) as long as Greg Olsen continues hogging 88.1 percent of Carolina’s snaps when healthy.

 

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

1. Green Bay Packers – Rostered in 17 percent of Yahoo leagues
You won’t get much volume in this one, but Green Bay’s top-eight pressure rate (26.4%) should be just enough to force Joe Flacco into a few costly mistakes.

2. San Francisco 49ers – Rostered in 18 percent of Yahoo leagues
It’s slim pickings if looking for a defensive streamer, but the Niners at the very least check all the necessary boxes in being a touchdown-plus favorite at home. Time will tell if Mason Rudolph clicks under center (and odds are he will), but being efficient on the road in his first career start is a tough ask.
 

KICKERS

1. Joey Slye, Panthers – Rostered in 12 percent of Yahoo leagues
Fantasy’s top-ranked kicker only won the job once Graham Gano was placed on injured reserve, but Slye has since responded with a league-high four attempts from 50-yards out and another two from inside the 30. The Panthers’ inability to punch it in only ensures the strong-legged 23-year-old ongoing opportunity.

2. Zane Gonzalez, Cardinals – Rostered in 3 percent of Yahoo leagues
Coach Kliff Kingsbury’s risk-averse red zone play-calling is all the reason to jump on Gonzalez before he’s rostered by the majority. The Cardinals’ offense has faced the third-most red zone attempts per game (4) thus far this year, but have shown no remorse in cowardly settling for three points inside the five-yard line. Gonzalez should be universally owned.

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