If there’s anything that Week 2 of the fantasy football season taught us, it’s not to overreact to one week when it comes to player performance and waiver wire pickups.
There were quality players getting dropped left and right after underperforming in Week 1, and some of those players bounced back in big ways to make their previous owners look silly.
Of course, there were also players with huge long-term upside that were dropped. I found myself being guilty of giving up too early on one of those, and he has vaulted into one of the top spots on this week’s list.
Here are the best Week 3 waiver wire pickups.
Bonus Pickups: Josh Allen (QB, Buffalo Bills), Teddy Bridgewater (QB, New Orleans Saints)
ESPN ownership: 30.0 percent (Allen), 0.2 percent (Bridgewater)
Waiver wire pickups usually center around running back, wide receiver, and tight end. Well, this week, there are two significant quarterback situations that must be discussed.
Drew Brees is out at least six weeks, which puts Bridgewater in an interesting spot as the starter for a high-powered offense. Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger is out for the season, and that makes Mason Rudolph the starting quarterback for the Steelers. His situation is nowhere near as ideal as Bridgewater’s, especially with the Pittsburgh offense struggling without Antonio Brown.
However, Allen is the best quarterback pickup if you had Brees or Roethlisberger. Allen is still going to have games where he throws interceptions, but he makes up for it with his ability to pick up yards on the ground. He has 59 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns through two games, plus three of his next four games are against the Bengals, Titans, and Dolphins.
If you’re having to choose between these two for a starting spot on your roster, Allen is the best option at this point.
But stashing Bridgewater (or even Rudolph) on your bench in deeper or two-quarterback leagues is fine if you want to see how the offense performs moving forward.
10. Deebo Samuel (WR, San Francisco 49ers)
ESPN ownership: 12.8 percent
Some people are willing to take the risk that comes along with jumping on high-potential rookies early in the season. Samuel only had three catches for 17 yards in Week 1, but he caught five of seven targets for 87 yards and a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2.
Keep in mind that the Niners have played two bad defenses thus far, but Samuel is a rookie worth stashing on your bench due to his breakout ability.
9. Raheem Mostert (RB, San Francisco 49ers)
ESPN ownership: 10.6 percent
There’s a jumbled backfield in San Francisco with both Matt Breida and touchdown vulture Jeff Wilson Jr. being involved. Well, there was still enough production to go around against the Bengals, with Mostert having 13 carries for 83 yards to go along with three receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown.
No one loves backfield by committee situations, and the upcoming schedule isn’t great (next three games are vs. Steelers, vs. Browns, and at Rams).
But there’s a decent enough workload here to suggest that fantasy football owners should give Mostert a look as a bench stash.
8. Jaylen Samuels (RB, Pittsburgh Steelers)
ESPN ownership: 25.5 percent
James Conner is dealing with a knee injury, and while he’s confident that he’ll play in Week 3, there is some value in having Samuels on your roster. Benny Snell Jr. may get more involved than he was in Week 2 should Conner be sidelined, but Samuels is likely the better pickup.
Again, there are just too many unknowns with this offense right to be confident about playing anyone in it, but Samuels is available if you want to take a chance on him.
7. DJ Chark (WR, Jacksonville Jaguars)
ESPN ownership: 21.5 percent
There’s nothing sexy about the Jaguars offense aside from Gardner Minshew’s mustache. However, Chark has now caught touchdown passes in back-to-back weeks while reeling in 11 of his 13 targets on the season.
It’s hard to be confident in this offense putting up four touchdowns or anything like that, but Chark is clearly going to be a factor moving forward with Minshew under center.
6. Terry McLaurin (WR, Washington Redskins)
ESPN ownership: 38.0 percent
Those in ESPN leagues listened to last week’s advice on making McLaurin a priority pickup, and they weren’t disappointed with his performance on Sunday. The rookie from Ohio State had five receptions on nine targets, and he turned that into 62 yards and a touchdown.
With 40 fantasy points through two weeks, he’s an obvious addition on an offense that lacks consistent playmakers.
5. Frank Gore (RB, Buffalo Bills)
ESPN ownership: 16.4 percent
Fantasy football is all about matchups, and both Gore has the best one there is in Week 3. The Cincinnati Bengals have given up the most fantasy points to running backs of any team in the NFL through two weeks, making Gore a worthy option.
He’s only averaging 2.9 yards per carry, but he has 30 carries to Singletary’s 10 carries thus far. And with Singletary dealing with a hamstring injury, Gore is going to be the workhouse in what figures to be a great matchup.
4. Darwin Thompson (RB, Kansas City Chiefs)
ESPN ownership: 19.9 percent
Raise your hand if you were among the 19 percent of people who dropped Thompson prior to Week 2. You can’t see it, but I’m raising my hand. Why did I do it? “Because he’s clearly the No. 3 back behind Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy.”
It was an accurate statement a week ago, and somehow I became so intrigued by New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead that I sent Thompson to the waiver wire. Like everyone else, I blame the Miami Dolphins.
But the problem is that Williams exited late against the Oakland Raiders with a knee injury, and McCoy is dealing with an ankle injury.
So, Thompson could be immediately thrust into a valuable role in the NFL’s best offense depending on the injury situation at running back.
3. Mecole Hardman (WR, Kansas City Chiefs)
ESPN ownership: 34.0 percent
We expected Hardman to play a role in the offense at some point, and he showcased his talent against the Raiders by grabbing four receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown.
There’s another Chiefs receiver that may be a better option if you can get him (we’ll get there), but if you can’t, Hardman is an easy choice with Patrick Mahomes slinging the rock.
2. Nelson Agholor (WR, Philadelphia Eagles)
ESPN ownership: 4.4 percent
The injury bug hit the Eagles in their loss to the Atlanta Falcons, as both DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery suffered injuries. That resulted in Agholor getting a ton of looks, which he capitalized on with eight catches for 107 yards and a score.
It appears that Jeffery is dealing with a calf strain and could potentially miss some games from it, while the extent of Jackson’s injury is still unknown (update: Jackson is expected to miss two weeks).
If Jeffery and/or Jackson are indeed sidelined, Agholor becomes a must-play in all fantasy football formats since the targets will be there.
1. Demarcus Robinson (WR, Kansas City Chiefs)
ESPN ownership: 1.0 percent
Where did that come from? Robinson went off against the Raiders in hauling in all six targets for 172 yards and two touchdowns. We knew that there were going to be players that had opportunities to take advantage of their roles during Tyreek Hill’s absence, and Robinson is doing just that.
Sure, it was against the Raiders, but like with Hardman, this Chiefs’ passing offense is so good that you want as much of it as you can get in fantasy football.