Free-agent finds for Week 3
Waiver-wire news changes fast and furious throughout the week, as injuries and depth chart shenanigans overtake us. So be sure to follow me on Twitter, @CHarrisESPN, and I'll keep you updated as news warrants. Let's get to Week 3's best fantasy roster additions:
Standard ESPN League Finds
James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers (owned in 6.2 percent of ESPN.com leagues). Do I feel good about Starks being the week's No. 1 waiver add? I don't, particularly. He did just submit the Pack's first 100-yard rushing game since the Truman administration (OK, not quite), but most of his damage came with Sunday's game completely out of reach. Yet rookie Eddie Lacy is concussed, and, as of this writing, there was no word on his availability for the Week 3 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. It would be thoroughly unsurprising if Lacy missed multiple contests. And that puts Starks squarely in Green Bay's starting lineup. I've seen this movie too many times to be a pie-eyed optimist, but, as I've noted in my full-throated endorsements of Lacy, there just really is nobody else. If ever Johnathan Franklin were going to get a look, you'd have expected it last week late in a blowout. Didn't happen. So Starks will carry the mail for now.
Eddie Royal, WR, San Diego Chargers (18.4 percent). Royal is now on pace for 40 TDs this season. I believe he'll fall short of this mark. However, with Danario Alexander already out for the season and Malcom Floyd likely gone for multiple games because of a scary neck injury, Royal is the obvious favorite for catches in San Diego. And he already has grabbed 10 of 14 targets. As I say, it's highly unlikely that half his receptions will continue to go for TDs, not least because he's primarily a slot player. But folks can add Royal with the idea that, to this point, he's been a more reliable player than Vincent Brown or Keenan Allen.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers (34.0 percent). Do I believe Rivers can keep making magic with his receiving corps growing ever thinner? No. Am I willing to bet the mortgage on that sentiment? I'm not. In Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt's new offense, Rivers has scored 22 and 29 fantasy points while taking the fewest deep shots (I'll define "deep" as 30 or more air yards on a throw; he has two of those so far in two games) of his career. This might change as Brown and Allen are forced into more prominent roles, but, at the moment, Antonio Gates is Rivers' best downfield threat, and he looks slow. These are warning signs, for sure. But outside a couple of terrible late Week 1 tosses, Rivers has thus far avoided the kind of obviously horrible, too-late, poor-arm-strength throws that have plagued him the past two seasons. If you want to take a chance on him as a new bench QB, I can dig it.
Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans (50.8 percent). The Titans promised they'd get Wright more involved in Week 2, and they did: He went from four targets against the Pittsburgh Steelers to 11 against the Houston Texans. As Kenny Britt falls further out of favor and Nate Washington serves as a situational deep threat, Wright looked like Jake Locker's clear favorite target, and he made a nice end zone grab from well inside the red zone. I'd have a difficult time starting Wright in a standard-sized fantasy league at this point, simply because I don't particularly trust Locker. But Wright has upside (especially PPR upside) if the Titans get more consistent on offense. He can be a dangerous player in the open field.
Aaron Dobson, WR, New England Patriots (6.7 percent). Yeah, I know. Adding Dobson after his monstrosity of a performance Thursday is akin to feasting on 3-week-old egg salad. And I agree, you shouldn't consider starting Dobson in any league just now. But the fact remains that Tom Brady needs receivers. Julian Edelman will be his top target, maybe Rob Gronkowski will return soon, but one of the rookies is going to stay involved as an outside target. Kenbrell Thompkins saw seven targets against the New York Jets (he's owned in 39.4 percent of leagues) and Dobson saw 10. Dobson dropped three passes and made other mental mistakes, but he has an awful lot of raw ability.
Donald Brown, RB, Indianapolis Colts (1.3 percent). I know. I know. I'm sorry for even suggesting it. But how long do you expect Ahmad Bradshaw's delicate feet and ankles to survive getting 18 touches per game, with Vick Ballard on the shelf? For his part, Brown got seven carries Sunday against the Miami Dolphins and showed good power in that limited action. If I'm sitting on Bradshaw in a standard-sized league, I'm probably considering adding Brown as an insurance policy, in the unlikely event the guy ever figures it out.
Other solid waiver adds, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Bilal Powell, RB, Jets (38.0 percent); Justin Blackmon, WR, Jaguars (15.6 percent); Andre Roberts, Cardinals (36.0 percent); Marlon Brown, WR, Ravens (4.9 percent); Heath Miller, TE, Steelers (6.9 percent).
Deeper League Finds
Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants (6.1 percent). Ick. Gosh, it's been fun sorting through the RB retreads in this column the past couple of weeks. Jacobs is officially the Giants' short-yardage runner, injecting chaos into what was supposed to be a three-down job for David Wilson. Unfortunately, Jacobs got stuffed twice on the 1-yard line last week before scoring on his third try -- and did nothing else.
Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals (0.3 percent). Ellington was on my Super-Deep Sleeper list to begin the season, and has already injected himself into Bruce Arians' game plan. Sunday, Ellington got six touches and scored on a wide-open wheel route out of the backfield. He might be slightly small to be a pure feature back, but he's really the only game-breaker the Cards have available in their backfield. Deep-leaguers could consider him someone to hold on to.
Jason Snelling, RB, Atlanta Falcons (0.4 percent). Oy. Here's another guy a good fantasy team probably shouldn't own. But Steven Jackson's Week 3 status is unknown, and Jacquizz Rodgers is already owned in most ESPN leagues. Snelling had six touches for 60 yards in Jackson's stead Sunday to go with a rumbling TD run, and Quizz had 15 touches for 45 yards. Rodgers is probably a better fantasy bet if Jackson's leg injury lingers, but Snelling likely would be the goal-line back.
Stephen Hill, WR, New York Jets (1.9 percent). Hill muscled up impressively Thursday against the Patriots, assuming the title of Geno Smith's No. 1 WR. Of course, Smith probably isn't ready to sustain any fantasy-relevant targets, but Hill has all kinds of raw physical ability.
Robert Woods, WR, Buffalo Bills (4.7 percent). Despite catching a short TD, Woods wasn't heavily involved in Week 1, but that story changed against the Carolina Panthers in Week 2. EJ Manuel sought him out six times and gave him a handoff. I have doubts that Manuel will keep Steve Johnson in fantasy pay dirt all year, let alone Woods. Still, deep-league PPR players looking for an answer can give the rookie a try.
Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs (17.5 percent). Smith is a longtime nemesis of mine; I just don't consider his milquetoast, play-not-to-lose act particularly enticing. But I can't pretend he hasn't scored 16 and 21 fantasy points in his first two games in K.C. He shapes up as a non-terrible bye-week option in deep leagues.
Kerwynn Williams, RB, Colts (0.1 percent). Remember how I wrote about Donald Brown up there near the top of this article? Yeah, that was great. The thing is: I don't believe in Donald Brown at all. Sure, he's capable of looking good here and there, but it seems he'll always commit a mental mistake that gets him in hot water. That's why Williams, a rookie seventh-rounder out of Utah State, gets a mention here. Williams is a small speedster who ran third-fastest of any RB at this winter's combine. I strongly believe that if Bradshaw gets hurt, Williams will find himself involved.
Coby Fleener, TE, Colts (7.9 percent). As long as Dwayne Allen sits, Fleener becomes a fantasy option. He scored a short TD Sunday and would've had another except for a Reggie Wayne illegal shift. Allen is battling a multiweek hip injury, so Fleener has some short-term appeal.
Charles Clay, TE, Dolphins (0.8 percent). Clay has 10 grabs for 163 yards, plus he ran in a vulture score from the 1 on Sunday. Certainly, he's no Dustin Keller, but he's playing that role for Ryan Tannehill and creating mismatches in the middle of the field. It would be tough to justify starting him just now, but he probably deserves to be ranked among the top 20 TEs.
Other solid waiver adds for deep-leaguers, players about whom I've written in previous weeks: Terrelle Pryor, QB, Raiders (22.4 percent); EJ Manuel, QB, Bills (12.2 percent); Daniel Thomas, RB, Dolphins (11.3 percent); Kendall Hunter, RB, 49ers (9.3 percent); Danny Woodhead, RB, Chargers (11.7 percent); Da'Rel Scott, RB, Giants (2.3 percent); Harry Douglas, WR, Falcons (3.7 percent); Jerome Simpson, WR, Vikings (8.2 percent); Nate Burleson, WR, Lions (5.0 percent); Kenny Stills, WR, Saints (4.3 percent); Kellen Winslow, TE, Jets (6.2 percent).
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