Each week, this article will take a look at some of the top waiver claims available in most leagues. We will go position by position, using the following rating system, with each player ranked against others at their position:
4 Stars: Must add player: likely to be a season long difference maker
3 Stars: Strong add: this player is likely to have value all season as a spot play
2 Stars: Short term add: this player could be a good short-term starting option
1 Star: Spot starter: matchups make this player a good spot start candidate
0 Stars: Don’t bother: this player is not worth adding
All players featured here are owned in less than 50% of Y! and ESPN leagues.
Most weeks I will not be able to include recommendations from the Monday Night games in the main column. I usually get to work by 7 AM EST, so I essentially have to choose between updating this column and sleep. Sleep will win out most Mondays, but be sure to check the comment section Tuesday evening for any additional recommendations.
QUARTERBACK – Tony Romo owners will need to look to the waiver wire this week since the Cowboys’ maestro will be out about 8 weeks. Back-up QBs are generally not necessary in standard leagues, but if you need to play the wire, there are a few decent options worth considering this week.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals: ★★★★
Andy Dalton was the 3rd best fantasy QB in 2013. Depending on how your league scores TDs and TOs, he is either 6th or 7th best so far this year. The fact that Teddy Bridgewater is owned in 69% of Y! leagues and Dalton is owned in just 29% is ridiculous. Let’s reverse those numbers people. Dalton is a borderline QB1 and the ideal target for Romo owners.
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders: ★★★
Amari Cooper looks really good and Carr was able to carve the Ravens up for 351 yards and 3 scores last week. His week 3 matchup against Joe Haden and the Browns is less than ideal, but Carr could produce high-end QB 2 numbers for the rest of the season, even though he may lack consistency.
Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills: ★★★
Taylor would be my third choice for a long-term Romo replacement, but I don’t like his matchup against the Dolphins in week 3. Even though the Dolphins defense has struggled out of the gate, this is shaping up to be a low scoring game.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets: ★
Fitzpatrick gets the week 3 streamer nod as his Jets face the struggling Eagles. Perhaps the only bright spot for Philly so far has been their ability to slow down opposing run games. Since the secondary has been non-existent and the offense is struggling to stay on the field, Fitzpatrick is a great bet to find the endzone a couple of times in week 3.
RUNNING BACK – Unlike last week, there are a couple must add studs to spend a large percentage of your FAAB dollars on. Happy bidding!
Matt Jones, Washington Redskins: ★★★★
If you have been reading my columns since August, you would not have made the mistake of dropping Matt Jones last week, but he is still available in 77% of Y! leagues. Jones is the heir apparent in the Redskins backfield and the changing of the guard could come sooner rather than later. Alfred Morris will continue to get the first crack and figures to be heavily involved, but Jay Gruden seems to prefer the versatile rookie. Jones will post some duds, but he flashed his elite upside in week 2 with 123 yards and 2 TDs on 19 carries. To put that into proper prospective, Morris totaled just 59 yards on 18 carries. Expect both backs to be heavily involved in week 3, but look for Jones to slowly wrestle control of the backfield away from Alfred Morris.
David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals: ★★★★
Johnson should have been universally owned before his week 2 breakout, and now he likely will be. He is an extremely dynamic player, now with 3 TDs despite just 7 total offensive touches. Expect the week 3 split between David and Chris to be closer to 50-50 and for David Johnson to emerge as the back to own in Arizona by the end of the season. I think Johnson has the stuff to overtake Ellington when he returns also.
Dion Lewis, New England Patriots: ★★★
Lewis’ success in week 2 against the Bills was somewhat predictable. The true test will be to see what his role looks like next week against a team the Pats feel they are able to run against. My bet is that Lewis’ role is limited next week as Blount takes over. Lewis makes for a great matchup play against strong run defenses, but he may frustrate owners looking for consistent weekly production. Also, keep in mind that Lewis fumbled for the second time in week 2. Belichick is not going to have much patience for that.
James Starks, Green Bay Packers: ★★
Eddie Lacy went down early in week 2 with an ankle injury and Starks responded well with 106 total yards. Lacy may be able to make it back in time for week 3 against the Chiefs, but he could also end up missing a couple of games. Starks is an RB2 for as long as Lacy is out.
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons: ★★
Freeman has not been good at all this season, but he still managed to notch 11 fantasy points in standard leagues last week despite averaging just 2.08 YPC. Now that Tevin Coleman appears likely to miss the next game or two, Freeman makes a nice short-term flex play, especially in PPR.
Lorenzo Taliaferro, Baltimore Ravens: ★★★
I am listing Taliaferro below the two star adds because I view him as lower priority even though his fantasy relevance could continue all season. He was given 10 total touches in week 2 against Oakland, but the fact that Baltimore appeared to prefer using him inside the redzone makes me think that he could be valuable enough to make a decent weekly flex option.
WIDE RECEIVER – Unlike at the RB position, there are not many WR adds that have me excited this week. Here are the best of the bunch.
Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders: ★★★
Crabtree totaled a whopping 16 targets on Sunday and parlayed them into 111 yards and a TD. The Oakland offense is likely to be a high volume passing attack all year and Crabtree looks like the second option. He will struggle to find consistency at times, but could emerge as a WR3.
Leonard Hankerson, Atlanta Falcons: ★★★
Matt Ryan is one of the better QBs in the league and Roddy White appears to be running on fumes. With defenses shifting more and more attention toward Julio Jones, Hankerson could be the biggest beneficiary. He converted 11 targets into 77 yards and a TD (almost 2) on Sunday.
Travis Benjamin, Cleveland Browns: ★★
After piling up 3 TDs on Sunday, Benjamin now has as many scores as the vaunted Eagles’ offense. Considering he has only been targeted 7 times this season, I am filing this under the fluke category for now, but I am willing to add Benjamin in leagues where I have an extra roster spot, just in case. He is likely nothing more than a boom or bust deep threat, but if he continues to build rapport with Johnny Football, he could continue to surprise in an offense with very little talent at the skill positions.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Pittsburgh Steelers: ★★
Heyward-Bey looks like a decent option until Bryant returns in week 5. He is a capable deep threat on one of the most prolific passing attacks in the NFL. If you are hurting at WR for the next 2 weeks, Heyward-Bey could be a decent plug and play. I like his chances to find the endzone next week in St. Louis.
TIGHT END – The way that tight ends have been playing across the league this year, if you don’t have a good one, you aren’t trying very hard. There are still a couple pretty solid options remaining on waiver wires, so take a look if you find yourself in need somehow.
Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions: ★★★
The tight end position looks very strong, but Ebron has the talent to be a top 10 option at season’s end. He has emerged as a large part of the Lions’ offense through two weeks with 15 targets and 2 TDs. Keep an eye on Stafford’s injury status before plugging him into week 3 lineups, but Ebron is worth owning in most leagues for now.
Crockett Gillmore: Baltimore Ravens: ★★
Gillmore jumped onto fantasy radars with an 88 yard, 2 TD outburst against the Raiders. While he did very little in week 1, the entire offense was stagnant so we cannot really hold that against him. I will be watching him closely over the next couple weeks to see if he is for real. If he continues to pile up red zone targets, he could be this year’s out of nowhere TE breakout.
DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS – Streaming defenses has become a very popular strategy for fantasy owners. There are not many high quality options this week, but here are a couple to consider.
New York Jets: ★★★
A week ago I would not have considered streaming a defense against the Eagles, but after watching how their offensive line was completely manhandled by the Cowboys, I think the Eagles may continue to struggle. The Jets are more than just a streamer play. While this matchup is certainly not without risk, there is plenty of upside for fantasy owners.
Washington Redskins: ★★
I don’t love the Redskins matchup this week, but they have been a highly competitive unit so far this year. If you have the bench space for a DST, the Redskins could be worth holding. 3 of their next 5 matchups look promising (vs. PHI, @NYJ, vs. TB).
Cleveland Browns: ★
The Browns are home against the Raiders in week 3. This matchup does not look quite as enticing after the Raiders hung 37 on the Ravens Sunday, but if the Browns are able to contain Latavius Murray, the entire offense could struggle.
KICKER – If you are streaming kickers, it is important to get one from a team likely to win. Favorable weather conditions are important also, although weather is usually not as great a concern in September.
Brandon McManus, Denver Broncos: ★★★★
McManus is still only 40% owned in Y!, but he has the look of an elite kicker. He has a big leg, plays half of his games in high altitude on a good team with a capable offense and a dominant defense. Week 3 in Detroit looks especially good.
Josh Brown, New York Giants: ★
The Giants offensive strengths match up well with the Redskins’ defensive weakness. They should be able to move the ball, but since Thursday games are generally fairly low scoring, Brown could see plenty of scoring chances.
Graham Gano, Carolina Panthers: ★
The Panthers draw the defenseless Saints at home next week. They should be able to put up some points and Gano will be one of many beneficiaries.
Need more waiver wire suggestions, football analysis, injury news, Start-Sit advice, positional breakdowns, etc.., head on over to Fantasy Rundown.