So, you're three weeks in. How's your fantasy football team looking? Feeling good now that you've started Chris Johnson for three straight weeks, traded Jamaal Charles for C.J. Spiller before this week, and trusted Michael Vick as your QB? In the grand scheme of things, three weeks is nothing. In the average 10-person league where four teams make the playoffs, eight wins is usually around the cutoff for a playoff birth. Starting out 0-3 in a fantasy league just means that you're going to have to win about 80% of your games the rest of the way to make the playoffs. Piece of cake, right?
It can be if you make the right waivers pickups. Fortunately, we're here to help. Let's lay some ground rules for this waiver pickups article: I'm only talking about the guys who are going to be available in the majority of leagues. Are you in the 6.1% of leagues where Alfred Morris is still available? I'm sorry to hear that your entire league has been stranded on an island in the middle of the Pacific without Internet the past two weeks. Miss the train on Danny Amendola, who is now owned in 82.5% of ESPN leagues? Don't come crying to me. This is for guys who are owned in less than half of ESPN leagues, the guys you should focus on picking up right now. May the most strategic fantasy player win.
Top 7 Fantasy Football Waiver Pickups for Week 4
RB Andre Brown - New York Giants
Week 3 Fantasy Points: 24
Leagues Owned: 41.7%
Just for fun, I'm going to start with the exact same name that I started with last week. If you didn't listen to me last time, consider yourself Amanda Bynes and me an L.A. cop: be thankful for your second chance. The main concern with Andre Brown last week was whether he would be a one-and-done name once Ahmad Bradshaw returned to the lineup, but having one of the best Giants rushing performances in over five years is an easy way to help ease those concerns. In addition, Bradshaw did not practice on Monday and was instead sent to receive more testing on his neck injury. Tom Coughlin told the media, "There are still issues, yeah." Does that sound like somebody who has confidence in his running back to come back and play? Against an Eagles defense that allowed the Cardinals' Ryan Williams to quintuple his career rushing total on Sunday, there will be holes for some Giants back to go through. I would bet good money that Brown will be seeing more of them than Bradshaw will.
RB Mikel LeShoure - Detroit Lions
Week 3 Fantasy Points: 19
Leagues Owned: 35.9%
I held off on including LeShoure in this list last week for one simple reason: I was unsure how the Lions would distribute the workload. The Lions' offense has historically been very pass-heavy anyway, a trend that did not necessarily change on Sunday as the Lions ran the ball only 39% of the time. Silly me: LeShoure managed to touch the ball an infinite number of times more than previous starting back Kevin Smith - LeShoure had 26 carries while Smith had zero. I'd say that's a good indication of where the Lions are looking to go with the running attack. I don't yet think the sky is the limit for LeShoure: the Titans defense he faced is one of the worst in the entire NFL, and the Lions' 92 plays run on Sunday is over 37% more than their previous highest total plays run. However, as the clear #1 back in a system, he's absolutely worth picking up for heavy use later on down the road. He is already rated as numberFire's #21 back this week.
RB Bilal Powell - New York Jets
Week 3 Fantasy Points: 6
Leagues Owned: 1.0%
Hey you, really hurting due to injury and the first two guys on this list already gone? Then you're scraping the bottom of the barrel for running back choices, and there are not many guys worth a long-term pick up. Tashard Choice is an option with C.J. Spiller injured, but his -0.32 NEP per rush last season is a turn-off and Fred Jackson appears to be ahead of schedule to come back, if not this week than the week after. Willis McGahee left Sunday's game with an injury, but Lance Ball looked ineffective and both Knowshon Moreno and Ronnie Hillman still loom as options. I'm not a fan of Danny Woodhead at all, as I'll explain later today in my one-hit wonders article. That doesn't leave many options, especially with staying power. If you really want to take a flier, however, why not Bilal Powell? The victor of the training camp battle for Jets' #2 RB over Joe McKnight, Powell has received at least nine carries in each of the past two Jets games. With Shonn Greene struggling at only 2.8 yards per carry. Powell looked good in his 10 rushes against a tough run-defense in Miami; his 45 yards rushing actually led the team. The early word out of New York is that he may be entering platoon-status with Greene, which should give him the opportunity to shine. The immediate schedule isn't easy with San Francisco and Houston the next two weeks, but facing the Colts, Patriots, Seahawks, and Rams in the middle of bye week hell makes him an interesting filler-status candidate down the road.
WR Kendall Wright - Tennessee Titans
Week 3 Fantasy Points: 2
Leagues Owned: 11.9%
If you thought the running backs dropped off after the top two, you probably shouldn't take a look at the wide receivers. The talent available for this group this week is U-G-L-Y-You ain't got no alibi-You're UGLY. More than anything, it's a ton of one-off receivers (hello there T.Y. Hilton and Cecil Shorts!), guys who were in shootouts (how could I choose among you, Nate Burleson and Titus Young?), and players that are entirely dependent on the injury status of teammates (here's looking at you, Ramses Barden). But if you take a closer look, there is some value available. Ignore the two fantasy points against the Lions for a second, and you'll see that Kendall Wright actually led the team with seven receptions and tied with Kenny Britt with 11 targets. That's not out of the ordinary; Wright led the Titans with eight targets in week 2 against the Chargers and caught five passes on six targets week 1 against the Patriots. Especially since it looks like the Titans will be airing the ball out early and often while CJmaybe.4K continues to struggle on the ground, Wright starts to not look half bad. Now only if he could put it all together for one big week... perhaps it's a good thing that after playing Houston this week, the Titans face off against four straight defenses that numberFire has ranked in the bottom half of the league.
WR Brian Hartline - Miami Dolphins
Week 3 Fantasy Points: 4
Leagues Owned: 23.7
I advocated for him last week in this space as well as in a number of other articles, so I'm not going to go over the main reasoning again. He may have only had one catch against the Jets, but those nine targets indicate that the Dolphins still trust him.
WR Golden Tate - Seattle Seahawks
Week 3 Fantasy Points: 18
Leagues Owned: 1.3%
Need the easiest way to make your Packers' fan friends angry all over again? Go pick up Golden Tate! The excruciating last touchdown aside, Tate did exactly what I predicted he'd do when I named him one of my deep sleepers for week 3: he became Russell Wilson's go-to guy. The reception numbers aren't great; he was the only receiver under six catches among the top five highest-scoring fantasy receivers in week 3. But when you compare his targets to his teammates, it is clear who Wilson's favorite target was. Wilson only threw the ball 21 times, but seven of those throws went Tate's way, three more than any other play. By comparison, the supposed number one target entering this week, Sidney Rice, only had one pass his way. Those seven targets for Tate equals 33% of all balls Wilson threw, the highest proportion of targets that any single Seahawks receiver has had in a game so far this season. And if Wilson throws the ball more in coming weeks, expect to see Tate's average numbers skyrocket.
TE Brandon Myers - Oakland Raiders
Week 3 Fantasy Points: 5
Leagues Owned: 1.1%
There is a tight end out there who has led his team in receiving yards in two of the three games his team has played. This tight end is fourth on his team in overall targets, but he's second in receptions and very close to first. This team's #2 receiver just received a nasty injury this past weekend, so his QB will likely be throwing his way a lot more. Oh, and did I mention, this tight end has caught literally every single pass thrown his way through three weeks, a perfect 15 for 15 catch rate. And this tight end is probably available in your league. If you read the bolded part up top, you already know that I'm talking about Oakland's Brandon Myers. Myers was taken out of this past weekend's game against Pittsburgh due to injury, and he still ended up leading the team with 55 yards receiving. The only time he didn't lead the team in yards was week 1... when he finished second behind Darren McFadden. He is currently listed as questionable, which is something to monitor throughout the week. But if you missed on your Aaron Hernandez replacement, or just don't like the way Witten or Tamme's seasons have been going, Myers is available at a low cost.
Who I would pick up this week, in order (with auction waiver $, assuming a $100 spending limit)
1. LeShoure ($8)
2. Brown ($5)
3. Hartline ($4)
4. Tate ($4)
5. Wright ($3)
6. Myers ($2)
7. Powell ($1)