Fantasy football isn’t an exact science; if it was, it wouldn’t be as exciting, and waiver wire pickups would be easy. Saying Ryan Fitzpatrick and Patrick Mahomes are the top two fantasy scoring quarterbacks through three weeks of this season also wouldn’t blasphemous in the offseason, too, under that circumstance.
Both Fitzpatrick and Mahomes are now owned in over 50 percent of ESPN leagues, so those looking to get a kick out of finding an under-owned gem on the waiver wire will have to look somewhere else. Here are 10 recommendations for that.
10. Taylor Gabriel – Chicago Bears WR (2.3% owned in ESPN)
Taylor Gabriel saw his snap count dip to 55 in Week 3 after averaging 61.5 snaps in the first two weeks of the season, but he still got the lion’s share of targets in last Sunday’s 16-14 Chicago Bears road win over the Arizona Cardinals. He was targeted 10 times by Mitchel Trubisky and finished the game with 34 receiving yards on six catches. Gabriel hasn’t topped 47 receiving yards in a game, but the attention he’s getting from Trubisky is an encouraging sign, especially for his value in PPR leagues.
9. Chris Ivory – Buffalo Bills RB (5.1% owned in ESPN)
Chris Ivory’s fantasy value is heavily dependent on the availability of LeSean McCoy, so it follows that the 30-year-old veteran acted like a boss in Buffalo’s Week 3 27-6 road win over the Minnesota Vikings. In that game, Ivory savored the absence of McCoy due to a rib injury and got fed with 20 rushing attempts for 56 yards. He also added 70 receiving yards on three receptions.
Of course, McCoy can return to action as soon as this Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers, but even if he does, his health will be a question mark going forward. In case McCoy misses the Packers game, McCoy is looking for a hefty workload against a team that ranks 27th against the run with 124.3 rushing yards allowed per game.
8. Baker Mayfield — Cleveland Browns QB (6.8% owned in ESPN)
It’s safe to say that the Baker Mayfield Era in Cleveland has begun. Although Browns head coach Hue Jackson has yet to name the team’s starting quarterback for Week 4, he’s not going to earn new fans in Cleveland by not starting Mayfield this Sunday against the winless Oakland Raiders.
Mayfield sent Browns nation into a frenzy last week when he stepped in for the ineffective and concussed Tyrod Taylor and delivered 201 passing yards on 17-of-23 completions in a 21-17 comeback win over the New York Jets. Mayfield is not yet starter quality, but he has a significant upside in becoming a must-have quarterback.
Additional exposures and improved confidence should work well with the former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback, who’s worth reserving a fantasy spot on the bench.
7. Ricky Seals-Jones — Arizona Cardinals TE (9.6% owned in ESPN)
Ricky Seals-Jones pulled in just one catch out of three targets in Week 3’s 16-14 defeat at the hands of the Bears, but he scored a touchdown to appease fantasy managers who started him. Seals-Jones’ fantasy appeal this season has mostly rested on the lack of positional competition in Arizona.
He has seen no lower than 84 percent of snaps among Cardinals tight ends in each of the team’s first three games this season, and even though Jermaine Gresham’s return last Sunday ate into some of his chances, Seals-Jones is going to be featured a lot in Arizona’s passing attack.
6. Tyler Boyd – Cincinnati Bengals WR (23.7% owned in ESPN)
Things are looking up for the few Tyler Boyd fantasy owners. Just owned in less than 25 percent of ESPN leagues, Boyd put up yet another strong case for why he should be taken off waivers, making six catches for the second week in a row while finishing with a game-high 132 receiving yards to go with a touchdown in a 31-21 loss to the Carolina Panthers last Sunday.
Boyd capitalized on the absence of teammate A.J. Green, who exited the game due to a groin injury. If Green misses any time, the Bengals’ second-round pick last year is primed for a tasty workload in Week 4 against a Atlanta Falcons defense that is allowing the 10th most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers thus far this season.
5. Geronimo Allison — Green Bay Packers WR (34.2% owned in ESPN)
The pecking order in Green Bay’s receiving corps still has Davante Adams and Randall Cobb as No. 1 and No. 2, but Geronimo Allison isn’t having problems producing solid numbers despite being the No. 3 wide receiver option for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
In last Sunday’s loss to the Washington Redskins, Allison got a season-low four targets and hauled in only two of those, but he converted them into a season-high 76 receiving yards and a touchdown – his second of the year. It helps Allison’s fantasy and real-life value that Green Bay has a pass-heavy offense directed by Rodgers. He has WR3/Flex value in most league formats.
4. Mike Williams — Los Angeles Chargers WR (33.1% owned in ESPN)
After racking up 81 receiving yards and two touchdowns on four receptions and seven targets against the Los Angeles Rams last week, it shouldn’t take too much convincing to get Mike Williams from the waivers. He’s gaining the trust of quarterback Philip Rivers downfield and in the red zone in particular, as the former Clemson Tiger has converted two of his three red-zone targets into a pair of touchdowns this season.
Williams has established himself as a big scoring threat in the Chargers’ offense that’s currently ranked eighth in the league in red zone touchdown scoring percentage. In other words, he’s going to be man to watch whenever the Chargers are in a prime position to end a drive with a touchdown.
3. Chris Godwin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR (37.7% owned in ESPN)
Chris Godwin had another big week in fantasy football, as he reeled in five of 10 targets for 74 yards and a touchdown in a 30-27 home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday. He dropped what could’ve been another touchdown in the first half, but his owners should still be happy with his Week 3 production.
There’s a possibility the Bucs will turn to Jameis Winston as their starting quarterback moving forward after serving a three-week suspension, so that’s one aspect that could change Godwin’s fantasy outlook, but based on his performance this season, the Penn State product is worth an add and a flex spot at least.
2. Calvin Ridley – Atlanta Falcons WR (40.8% owned in ESPN)
Calvin Ridley is going to be a problem. The rookie wide receiver had his coming-out party last Sunday, as he caught seven of eight targets for 146 receiving yards and three touchdowns. He is excellently taking advantage of the opportunity he’s getting playing alongside fellow Crimson Tide Julio Jones, who’s been drawing most of the focus of opposing defenses.
Ridley is fast becoming the most trusted red zone target of quarterback Matt Ryan. Whereas Jones is 0-for-2 on red-zone catch completions this season, Ridley is a perfect 3 of 3. Get Ridley now.
1. John Brown — Baltimore Ravens WR (47.9% owned in ESPN)
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco continues to feed John Brown downfield, and why shouldn’t he? Brown has been delivering for Baltimore’s passing attack, and in Sunday’s 27-14 win over the Denver Broncos at home, he had 86 receiving yards on five receptions.
Even more encouraging is the fact that he’s been targeted 19 times in the Ravens’ last two games. Only Michael Crabtree has seen more targets than Brown on the team, with the latter getting more looks in the red zone than the former this season to the tune of a 3-1 count.
Brown should draw plenty of looks again in Week 4 against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ faulty secondary.