After two weeks worth of generally low-scoring games, we finally got a taste of better offensive production league-wide in Week 3. In turn, more unheralded players have emerged as solid play-makers, much to the delight of fantasy football owners.
That being said, here are the top 10 waiver wire pickups heading into Week 4.
1. Alex Smith – Kansas City Chiefs QB (43.5% owned in ESPN)
It’s amazing that Alex Smith remains owned in less than half of all fantasy leagues despite being ranked as a top-five quarterback through three weeks. Smith has shed his “captain checkdown” image this season by taking more risks downfield, all the while keeping his usual efficiency intact. He’s already thrown seven touchdowns without an interception, making him a viable starting option yet again in Week 4’s matchup against the Redskins.
2. Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears RB (40.4% owned in ESPN)
Following Week 2’s lackluster performance, Tarik Cohen saw his stock instantly plummet. However, the fourth-round rookie re-emerged with a bounce-back game against the Steelers, gaining 78 yards on 12 carries. Although Jordan Howard remains Chicago’s lead back, Cohen gives the Bears the explosive burst from the backfield that Howard lacks, as evident by his two rushes of over 25 yards on Sunday. The 22-year-old is a must-add should he somehow be found in the waiver-wire pool this week.
3. Sterling Shepard – New York Giants WR (32.3% owned in ESPN)
The acquisition of veteran wideout Brandon Marshall has not panned out well for the Giants. Alternatively, second-year receiver Sterling Shepard proved in Week 3 why he was the No. 2 option in the passing game last season, hauling in seven catches for 133 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. With the G-Men set for a clash against a Buccaneers team that just surrendered 494 passing yards to Case Keenum, Shepard is a solid WR3/flex play in Week 4.
4. Detroit Lions D/ST (16.5% owned in ESPN)
Defensive production in fantasy is as fickle as they come, but the Lions defense is well-worth a look following yet another remarkable performance. Detroit’s D managed to pick off the high-flying Falcons three times on Sunday, with one of those interceptions returned for a score. The Lions D/ST now has three-straight games with a defensive touchdown and no less than double-digit fantasy points.
5. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints RB (11.4% owned in ESPN)
Although rookie running back Alvin Kamara had just two carries for 37 rushing yards this past weekend, he did secure his first-career NFL touchdown on one of those plays. The Saints’ running game is still quite a mess, but the rookie out of Tennessee is still providing value for his team via the pass, making him a nice pick-up for PPR leagues. Kamara has at least three receptions in each contest thus far, with his 13 targets for the season trailing only Michael Thomas among all New Orleans players.
6. Devin Funchess – Carolina Panthers WR (11.2% owned in ESPN)
Following Kelvin Benjamin’s knee injury on Sunday, Devin Funchess finally got more looks from Cam Newton, finishing with 58 receiving yards on four catches and a career-high 10 targets. Already without the services of star tight end Greg Olson, the Panthers need all the help they can get out of their receiving corps, and the third-year receiver will likely benefit from his team’s depleted arsenal. Funchess is worth stashing on the bench right now and could even be considered as a nice flex play should Benjamin be ruled out of Week 4’s game in New England.
7. Robert Woods – Los Angeles Rams WR (4.8% owned in ESPN)
There’s no question that Sammy Watkins is still the Rams’ top receiver. However, Watkins’ former teammate in Buffalo, Robert Woods, displayed in Week 3 that he can just as well deliver some huge plays. The USC product finished with six receptions for 108 yards last Thursday against the Niners, with two of his catches going for over 25 yards. For as long as Watkins draws the majority of the attention from opposing defenses, Woods should get a good number of opportunities from Los Angeles’ passing attack with a gradually-improving Jared Goff at the helm of the offense.
8. Benjamin Watson – Baltimore Ravens TE (3% owned in ESPN)
Like the running back position, viable tight ends are hard to come by this fantasy season. As such, Baltimore’s Benjamin Watson is worth a flyer for those in desperate need of a TE. Watson found the end zone during the Ravens’ lone scoring drive in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Jaguars, giving him two touchdowns in as many games. Count on Joe Flacco to rely on the 14-year veteran in the passing game, as he’s known to do in season’s past with his previous tight ends.
9. Geronimo Allison – Green Bay Packers WR (0.4% owned in ESPN)
Another wideout who benefited from an injured teammate is Geronimo Allison, who finished with six catches for 122 yards on eight targets Sunday (all career-highs), including a dazzling 73-yard gain to put the Packers in great position to seal the victory in overtime over the Bengals. As Randall Cobb continues to deal with a chest injury, Allison should continue to get a decent amount of reps in Green Bay’s prolific passing game. Thursday night’s divisional showdown in Lambeau against the Bears also puts the third-year receiver in good position to somewhat replicate his performance in Week 3.
10. Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens RB (0.2% owned in ESPN)
Running back Alex Collins could very well be this week’s diamond in the waiver wire rough. The 23-year old out of Arkansas led the Ravens backfield this week with his nine carries for 82 rushing yards, and also had a decent outing in Week 2 with seven carries for 42 yards. Collins’ upward trend might not be a fluke either, considering Terrance West’s gradual decline in touches and Javorius Allen becoming more of a pass-catching option in Baltimore’s offense.