Week 3 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Travis Homer & More
Week 3 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Travis Homer & More
Thankfully, we were able to get out of Week 3 without more cataclysmic injuries to first-round fantasy football picks! This is a more relaxed week in FAAB bidding and a great week to churn the back end of your roster. If you think that there is a third-string running back who is closer to playing than the likes of Eno Benjamin or Bryce Love, this is a fantastic opportunity to throw out $1 bids. We should have more injury clarity on the likes of Chris Carson, Raheem Mostert, and Christian Kirk before bids go through, but this piece is a great starting point for both your home leagues and deeper formats like the FFPC Main Event.
As a holistic strategy, I am looking to be fairly conservative with bids this week (especially after largely missing out on Mike Davis and laughing at the people who spent 70% of their budget on Devonta Freeman). Perhaps it makes a little more sense than usual to throw a few extra dollars at our DST or kicker streamers this week as they will be a larger focus of our competitors.
Each week, we will look at three tiers of players: the “must adds” or players that we expect will be picked up in every league and in every format, the “borderline” tier, and the deep-league darts. The focus will be on 12-team PPR leagues as our frame of reference and as always, if you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me on Twitter @DavisMattek or in the Daily Roto NFL Slack channel.
All players referenced in the Fantasy Football Waiver Wire column are under 50% owned in Yahoo! Fantasy Football Leagues. It is possible these players might be owned in your league.
Absolutely Should Be Owned In Every League But You Will See There Name In Other Fantasy Football Waiver Pieces: CeeDee Lamb, Joshua Kelley, Dallas Goedert, Mecole Hardman, Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel, Logan Thomas, Preston Williams, N’Keal Harry, Jerick McKinnon
POTENTIAL DIFFERENCE MAKERS (THESE ARE PLAYERS WORTH > 25% OF YOUR FAAB, OR THE #1 OVERALL WAIVER CLAIM) FROM THE FANTASY FOOTBALL WAIVER WIRE
Travis Homer/Carlos Hyde
As of this writing, it is unclear exactly what happened with Chris Carson’s knee on Sunday against the Cowboys. Tom Pelissero reported that “An MRI confirmed RB Chris Carson’s ligaments are intact and it’s just a minor knee sprain, source said. In fact, he’s got a chance to be ready for this week’s game at Miami.” However, it is our general strategy to bet against injury optimism. While it is good news that Carson doesn’t have a torn MCL or ACL, the idea that he will return after one week seems unlikely to me.
Homer came in immediately in relief for Seattle while they were still trying to score. Homer was a solid pass-catching back at Miami (37 receptions in two seasons) and ran a 4.48 at the combine while weighing in at 201 pounds. Hyde is much more of an early-down plodder and not someone I would personally be willing to invest FAAB money in, even if Carson was out for the season. With the idea that Carson is likely going to be out 2-3 weeks at the max, we can cap our Homer bids at 25% and hope that is enough to get him.
We knew that rookie wide receivers were going to be the biggest impact players in fantasy this year. We thought that guys like Jalen Reagor and Laviska Shenault would lead the charge, but obviously, one of the key tenets of investing is rookies is: we don’t know. Jefferson was a stud at LSU but really only did it for one season with the best college football QB any of us have seen. In his final season at LSU, Jefferson had 1,540 receiving yards and 18 (!!!) touchdowns and was drafted by the Vikings to replace Stefon Diggs.
After starting the season behind Olabisi Johnson, Jefferson broke out in a major way on Sunday with 7-175-1 with Tajae Sharpe inactive. He played 51 snaps after playing less than 70 in the Vikings first two games. He also had nine targets, which was the most of any Vikings player yet this year. With absolutely NO competition outside of Adam Thielen, I actually think Jefferson is set up very similarly to how we projected Jalen Reagor, and aggressive bids are justified this week. We have to acknowledge on many weeks, the Vikings just aren’t going to pass that often, but it is no unreasonable for Jefferson to project for 18-20% of the Vikings targets moving forward.
Copy and past everything we said about Jefferson with Aiyuk. While Aiyuk was higher in our pre-season rankings and a more trendy target, his pre-season hamstring injuries caused him to start a little slower than we imagined. The absence of Deebo Samuel thrust Aiyuk into a more central role against the 49ers, and he produced. He played 54 snaps on offense (second–most amongst 49ers receivers), was targeted eight times, and also carried the ball 3 times while scoring a rushing touchdown.
Aiyuk was a first-round draft pick, the same as Jefferson, and landed in a spot uniquely suited to his talents. Much like Deebo in college, Aiyuk did well near the line of scrimmage and excelled in the return game. Return production in college has a strong correlation to NFL production for wide receivers, so we should not be surprised to see Aiyuk used successfully on screens and end-arounds. Those are similar skills to what we would expect from great punt and kick returners. Given the sorry state of the 49ers pass-catching options, aggressive 30% bids on Aiyuk are justified this week as well.
I am beating myself up for not being more into Higgins on the waiver last week with my personal high stakes teams in the FFPC Main Event and NFFC Silver Bullet. Higgins is, again, a classic case of buying into the theory but not into the specific player. Higgins is definitely slow for the position (4.59 40 yard time). Still, at 6’4, 214 pounds, is probably a better fit for the very specific role that the Bengals use their outside wide receivers than someone like Laviska Shenault or KJ Hamler, who were other second-round NFL draft picks.
Higgins led all Bengals wide receivers in snaps and scored two touchdowns, including an endzone look, which we know correlates well with future fantasy point production. John Ross was a healthy scratch, Drew Sample was uninvolved as a receiver, and AJ Green looked closer to the nursing home than a WR1 role in the Bengals offense. Given how pass-heavy the Bengals have been through three games, it isn’t hard to see a 100+ target season for Higgins. My thoughts for FAAB bidding is to make similar claims for Jefferson, Aiyuk, and Higgins and to be happy to secure any of their services.
Jeff Wilson Jr.
Wilson ran hotter than the sun to score two touchdowns against the Giants, but then again, that was the thesis behind the play. Jerick McKinnon was the clear lead back through three quarters but left the garbage time to Wilson as he scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. With Tevin Coleman out for several weeks, Raheem Mostert’s status for the next few weeks up in the air, and McKinnon always on the verge of breaking, Wilson might be a little underrated in fantasy circles. Jamycal Hasty barely played at all (6 snaps), and if Mostert is not able to come back next week, Wilson will have another chance against a terrible Philadelphia team to handle the mop-up work. McKinnon looked fantastic and has scored in three-straight games, so we aren’t projecting Wilson to take over this backfield, but he does have a valuable fantasy role.
BORDERLINE STARTERS (THESE PLAYERS LIKELY ARE COMING OFF A GOOD GAME BUT DO NOT PROJECT AS MULTI-WEEK STARTERS, WORTH LESS THAN 25% OF YOUR FAAB) FROM THE FANTASY FOOTBALL WAIVER WIRE
Greg Ward Jr./Alshon Jeffrey
We have seen this movie before as every pass-catcher in Philadelphia starts to accumulate injuries. DeSean Jackson hurt his hamstring on Sunday against the Bengals, while Dallas Goedert is expected to miss multiple weeks with an ankle injury. The coaching staff said JJ Arcega-Whiteside is also nursing an injury, but I don’t believe them; I think they think he just stinks, and they can’t play him. As a result, the Eagles starting wide receivers are probably Greg Ward Jr., John Hightower, and life-long practice squader Deontay Burnett. Richard Rodgers is their replacement tight end candidate.
As a result, Ward is basically the last man standing and coming off an 11 target + a touchdown game. We saw Ward have real fantasy value last season with 9, 9, 5, and 7 targets to close the season after the injuries descended up on the Eagles. I would much rather any of the rookie WRs than Ward, but there is no denying he is a decent stopgap PPR option. Alshon is supposedly still trying to get back active this year, but following the AJ Green spoiled milk principal, I think the odds of him being a WR2 or better this season are quite low.
Rex Burkhead/Damien Harris
While Sony Michel had his first 100-yard game since the AFC Conference Championship in 2018, he did it on only nine carries, and 38% of the Patriots snaps. JJ Taylor played 22% of the Patriots snaps, and Rex played 46% of the Pats snaps while scoring 3 touchdowns and recording a whopping 10 targets. For the rest of the season, I would rather have both Rex and Damien instead of Sony and James White. That is probably unfair to James White, who is away from the team for reasons out of his control, but it appears that Rex is both a favorite of Cam (16 targets in Weeks 2 and 3) and also Bill Belichik, which we always have sort of known.
The real upside in this backfield, though, would come if Damien Harris returned from his stint on IR and just took over all of this work. White, Rex, Taylor, and Michel are all “fine” for the Patriots’ current purposes. I would suppose that Belichick does want to have an RB who doesn’t telegraph what sort of play call is coming the way that White and Michel historically have, and that is why Rex is playing so much. Harris, at least theoretically, offers a more explosive version of what Rex does. However, as long as James White doesn’t play, you can start Rex in 12-team PPR leagues.
What I wrote last week about Hamler was: “Hamler did not run at the combine due to injury but is rumored to run in the 4.3’s and in fact in college, returned a kickoff for a touchdown in under 10 seconds; do the math on that. If any of these players are likely to make a fantasy difference, it will be Hamler.” While Hamler only had 3-30 in the passing game, he leads all Broncos WRs in snaps, and due to his big-play ability, if I was going to start a non-Noah Fant Broncos pass-catcher this season, it would be Hamler. Tim Patrick might be a deeper bid in 14+ team leagues, but with Drisekl/Rypien/Bortles throwing the ball, our expectations for any of these players is very low.
WE ARE VINDICATED! The Andy Isabella truthers who have been waiting for him to have a crack in the starting lineup got to see our boy play 40% of the Cardinals snaps, reel in all four of his targets, and score two touchdowns. Isabella looked like he was playing at a different speed than the Lions defenders. Despite being out-targeted by KeeSean Johnson (with 3 of those targets coming on the final drive), we have to feel good about Isabella’s performance. The key thing about this game for Arizona is that Isabella showed that he isn’t just a one-trick pony. There is no reason he can’t be in a real WR2 rotation with Christian Kirk moving forward. Get him on your fantasy teams, and thank me later.
With Tarik Cohen done for the season, the best replacement for his role is not Ryan Nall or Artavis Pierce (who is on the Bears practice squad) but actually Cordarelle Patterson. With Cohen leaving the come-from-behind victory early, CP played 11 snaps at running back and recorded four carries. You don’t need to go nuts with your FAAB to get him (10% at most should do it in most leagues), but given how profitable that Cohen role has been and how explosive Patterson has been on offense in the past, I am making him a priority churn target.
The injury to Diontae Johnson is putting steam in an engine that was already pulling away from the station. Claypool played 76% of the Steelers snaps on Sunday against the Texans after 30% and 37% in the first two weeks. This absolute athletic menace actually out-snapped James Washington on Sunday, which is a huge deal for his fantasy value moving forward.
That 4.42 speed helped him scored an 84-yard touchdown in Week 2, but no one expected him to lead all Steelers wide receivers in snaps this early, but here we are. Claypool fits the same dynamic mold as Aiyuk, Jefferson, and Higgins with a similar draft capital invested. The difference was Claypool had a more difficult path to playing time. With those obstacles removed, it is time to get him on our teams.
DEEP LEAGUE TARGETS AND BENCH STASHES FROM THE FANTASY FOOTBALL WAIVER WIRE
With Julio Jones out and Russell Gage banged up in-game, the UDFA out of Virginia stepped up against the Bears and recorded six targets and played 79% of the Falcons snaps. If Jones and/or Gage were slated to miss more games, Zaccheaus would have a starting role on the most pass-happy offense in football. I wouldn’t add the former collegiate offensive weapon (79 carries+35 kick returns) in shallow leagues, but if you can hold 16+ skill position guys, he is worth a roster spot.
Reggie Bonnafon + Anthony McFarland + Jordan Wilkins + Tyler Ervin
All of those players have now reached “guy behind the guy” status and should be replacing injured players and retreads at the RB position on your deeper teams. In the FFPC Main Event and other high stakes formats, I expect all of them to be claimed this week, and they are all worth cursory $1 bids. If you have a different third-string running back you feel has a possibility to be THE GUY if a few injuries were to shake the order up in front of him, put him on this list.
Wow, how original, another rookie wide receiver. With John Brown standing on the sidelines with an injury for much of the Bills game against the Rams, Davis played 74% of the Bills snaps though Cole Beasley outproduced him. Beasley might be worth a $1 bid as well given how prolific Josh Allen has been as a passer this season, but Davis was a pretty productive college player with a 100% catch rate through 3 games and has way higher upside than Beasley.
Look Ahead Defense Bids (5% of FAAB or less): Arizona Cardinals (Playing against the worst offense in football, the New York Jets, in Week Five), Houston Texans (Vikings at home this week then the Jaguars at home in Week Five)