With Week 3 here the waiver wire is becoming a barren wasteland of unwanted toys. This week the hot players were J.J. Nelson, Chris Thompson, Chris Johnson, Rashard Higgins, Trevor Siemian, and Chris Carson. While I do think guys like Siemian and Thompson have a spot on rosters, I also think fantasy owners are greatly overvaluing them based on early season success.
Thompson has had 13 touches through two games, meaning his fantasy points are coming off big plays, not steady action. And Redskins Coach Jay Gruden has already said that his role isn't likely to increase going forward, despite the fact that Rob Kelley is dealing with a rib cartilage injury. Be aware, and beware, with sticking Thompson in your lineups.
Siemian is the Broncos starting QB, there is no doubt about that this season. But he is a low 200's QB for passing yards, and only had big fantasy points this past weekend because the Cowboys couldn't stop anything the Broncos were doing on offense, or defense. His 4 touchdowns came on fairly easy plays with good field position. Siemian is MUCH more of a streaming QB, than a plug-and-play QB like people are picking him up to be.
I do have faith in Nelson, but fantasy owners need to remember he is the WR2 behind Larry Fitzgerald, and his big game in Week 2 came at the expense of Fitzgerald's production. Johnson is the lead back in a committee of running backs. Kerwynn Williams fell flat on his face, and Andre Ellington is the 3rd down passing back, nothing more. CJ2K may be the starter, but don't think you found the next Kareem Hunt off the waiver wire with him. Carson has to prove he is now the guy in Seattle. Until he does, he is a speculative add.
My super-duper sleeper on the waiver wire (I'm coining the phrase) alert goes to New York Giants RB Orleans Darkwa. Paul Perkins is sporting a robust 1.86 YPC average on his 14 carries; meanwhile Darkwa has managed to average 5.2 yards on his 6 carries. It is only 6 carries, but the Giants are 0-2 and Coach Ben McAdoo is looking to shake things up. He is worth adding if you are thin at RB.
Matthew Stafford – Lions: Stafford and the Lions are at home for what should be a moderately high-scoring affair with two generous defenses. The Falcons limited Mike Glennon to 213 passing yards and a touchdown in Week 1, but were roasted by Aaron Rodgers in Week 2 when he threw for 343 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Stafford obviously isn't as bad as Glennon, but he isn't as good as Rodgers, leaving his projection for me at around 280 yards and 2 TDs this week. He should finish with QB1 numbers for those of you struggling with Russell Wilson or Marcus Mariota at the helm.
Ben Roethlisberger – Steelers: Big Ben is going to strike loud and clear this weekend when he heads to Chicago and rings their secondary's bell. The Bears are as bad as any team in the NFL right now, and it is time for Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown to have their monster fantasy games. When they do, it will be because of Roethlisberger.
I'm going to say that Roethlisberger is a middle of the road QB1, with obvious upside into the elite QB1 rankings if the Steelers come into this game ready to play.
Mike Gillislee – Patriots: Gillislee is owned in all formats, but he is only started in about 65-70 percent of them. With Rex Burkhead, James White, and Dion Lewis also in the mix for touches, fantasy owners are finding it hard to play Gillislee out of fear that he could be a non-factor from week to week. However, I'm here to tell you to play him as a RB2 or flex every week.
Obviously Gillislee is touchdown-dependent, and he isn't likely to hit 100-plus yards more than once or twice due to depth in the backfield. Gillislee's role is going to be the new LeGarrette Blount, but with more overall talent. If you can get 65-75 rushing yards and a TD most weeks from a RB2 or flex player, I think you will take that and be happy with it. He's likely to get that, and possibly more, against the Texans at home this week.
Isaiah Crowell – Browns: Crowell has been a major disappointment through two weeks, racking up just 103 total yards on 29 touches. The problem he has is that Coach Hue Jackson has a bad habit of abandoning the run early and often. Crowell said he has talked to Jackson about getting more carries, making him a nice buy-low candidate with the Colts, Jets, and Texans in 3 of the next 4 games.
The Colts defense looks as inept as any in the NFL right now, and I think this is the week the Browns let Crowell loose. He is a RB2 with upside into the RB1 ranks.
Stefon Diggs – Vikings: Fantasy owners who invested a 10th-round pick in Diggs can breathe a little easier this week as Sam Bradford returned to practice on Wednesday, and is expected to play in Week 3. Without Bradford, Diggs was held to just 2 catches for 27 yards. But with Bradford under center, Diggs hauled in 7 receptions for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Bucs are fresh, but their front seven is far more feared than their secondary. Diggs is now going to be more of a big-play WR, and I see him doing some damage this week. Consider him a WR2 for Week 3.
DeVante Parker – Dolphins: Parker has shot up the WR rankings with gunslinger Jay Cutler taking over after Ryan Tannehill was lost for the season. In the Dolphins first game of the season, Parker reeled in 4 of 9 targets for 85 yards, and made it clear he is the big-play WR the Dolphins have been looking for.
A good plan of action this season is to troll the Jets and Bears defenses, and play whomever plays them from week to week. Parker isn't likely to be the stud WR of Week 3, but he is likely to give back WR2 value.
Eric Ebron – Lions: I've already told you the positives on playing [Matthew] Stafford this weekend, so it should come as no surprise that I am willing to give his TE, and my TE sleeper in the preseason, a play this week as well. Ebron came out of his shell in Week 2 by hauling in 5 of 5 targets for 42 yards and a touchdown against the Giants. It would have been more, but the Lions were comfortably ahead and ran the ball in the 2nd half of the game.
Tight end is a boom-or-bust position in fantasy football once you get past the two steady producers in Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce, so expect ups and downs from everyone else. This week should be an up for Ebron, and I am playing him as a solid middle of the road TE1.
Miami Dolphins defense: As I mentioned with DeVante Parker above, it is a good plan of action to find whatever defense is playing the Jets offense, and play them as your fantasy defense. This week, the Dolphins get the call against the rival Jets.
In their first action of the season, the Jets gave up 17 points and recorded just one sack against the Chargers in Week 2. That is to be expected with a Week 1 bye due to Hurricane Irma. This week they get an offense featuring Josh McCown, Bilal Powell, and Robbie Anderson. Needless to say, they should have more success this week.
Jameis Winston – Buccaneers: If you look at the Vikings fantasy points allowed to QBs, they have allowed the 10th-most in the NFL through two games. However, if you look at the context of the numbers you begin to understand that it is because they have faced Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger so far. It is hard for any defense to come out of those two games and still be considered an elite defense.
If you watched Hard Knocks, you surely have a new-found respect for Winston as a leader. But this weekend is where I think the Week 1 bye does more harm than good. The Bears were a nice warm-up game, but now they have to knock the rust off and face a tough front seven and stout secondary.
I see Winston as more of a QB2 than a QB1 streamer or starter this week.
Russell Wilson – Seahawks: Not much has gone right for the Seahawks offense this season, with Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, and C.J. Prosise running on 2 flat tires, while Paul Richardson, Tyler Lockett, and Jimmy Graham have been of little help in the passing game. The lone bright spot has been rookie Chris Carson, who had 93 yards on 23 carries in Week 2.
The Titans are a fairly average defense, but one that should find some success against a struggling offense like the Seahawks. Wilson needs to prove he can move the ball with Doug Baldwin as his only reliable weapon, and the Seahawks need to make the decision to move Carson into the starting role, and let Rawls or Prosise spell him. Until they do that, Wilson has to remain on fantasy benches where possible.
Chris Thompson – Redskins: As I mentioned in the opening, Thompson has just 13 touches in two games, but is currently a top-12 fantasy RB because of his 162 total yards and 3 touchdowns. The return on investment has been amazing thus far for anyone willing to play him, but you can't count on a running back that touches the ball 6 times per game to produce enough to justify playing him, unless you are absolutely desperate.
Thompson can be owned, but the truth is fantasy owners are drastically overvaluing him. He may have a big game now and then going forward, but he is far more likely to disappoint than amaze.
Jordan Howard – Bears: Howard was drafted in round 2 on average, making him a low-end RB1 in his owners' minds. The emergence of Tarik Cohen, coupled with the injury to Howard's shoulder, has left him on the outside looking in on the fantasy starting lineup.
If Howard does play in Week 3, which is questionable, he will be little more than a flex play dart throw against a Steelers defense that has allowed the 9th-fewest fantasy points to RBs this season. Cohen is healthy, and Howard is not. Coach John Fox knows that better than we do, and I expect Howard to see limited touches if he does play.
Eric Decker – Titans: Throughout his career, Decker has been a PPR WR that you can normally count on for about 80 catches, 1,000 yards, and near double-digit touchdowns. He was limited to just three games last season when he tore his rotator cuff, but those three games he accounted for 9 catches, 194 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Through two games this season, Decker has 6 catches for 42 yards, and no touchdowns.
The Titans passing attack hasn't been what I had hoped with Marcus Mariota not breaking 260 passing yards in a game this season. With Seattle's secondary hungry and talented, things aren't likely to get any better for the Titans in Week 3. I'd hold on to Decker, but I'm not playing him in any of the leagues I own him in.
Donte Moncrief – Colts: Speaking of things not getting better, the Andrew Luck-less Colts offense reminds me of a blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black cat, that isn't there! Donte Moncrief has caught just 3 of 12 targets through two weeks, racking up 68 yards, but no touchdowns. What's worse, Luck is being ruled out for the following week on Tuesday mornings. That means he isn't even close to returning to practice, let alone a game.
Until Luck is back and knocks off the rust, Moncrief has basically no fantasy value whatsoever. He might accidentally score a touchdown before then, but I wouldn't count on it. With no timetable for Luck's return, Moncrief should be glued to your fantasy bench.
Evan Engram – Giants: Engram stepped up in Week 2, hauling in 4 of 7 targets for 49 yards and a touchdown against the Lions. Because of that, fantasy owners are scrambling to the waiver wire to grab him in the hopes they will find fantasy gold. The problem is, he is a lot more like Chris Thompson than he is like Kareem Hunt.
Odell Beckham will get healthier with each passing game, meaning Engram's chances for success will go down with each passing game. Once OBJ is back to 100 percent, passing lanes will open for Brandon Marshall. When that happens, Engram falls to 4th or 5th on the progression chart for Eli Manning. Remember, one week does not a fantasy season make!
Houston Texans defense: On the flip side of the defensive theory, it is a good idea to find out whoever the Patriots play and avoid them like a two-star hotel. The Texans are on the road in Week 3, facing a Patriots offense fresh off a 36-20 shellacking of the Saints, a game in which Tom Brady threw for 447 yards and 3 touchdowns.
DL J.J. Watt is dealing with a dislocated finger, CB Kevin Johnson is out 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL, CB Johnathan Joseph's status is uncertain with a banged up shoulder, and their LB depth is thin with Brian Cushing suspended for 10 games. This game could get ugly fast for the Texans, so make sure you get them as far out of your lineup as possible. Look at the Steelers, Dolphins, and Jaguars as streaming options if you need one.