At the beginning of the NFL season, the waiver wire typically breaks down into two buckets: pickups who fill needs based on injuries (i.e., replacing David Johnson) and players who flex ability that may have been overlooked in the preseason (i.e. Tarik Cohen). One of the benefits of moving further along in the season is we have a larger sample size to filter out the latter category — in other words, are Week 1 stars merely a flash in the pan or are they here to stay? Week 2 gave us more game action to assess, helping to paint a clearer picture.
With more information, we have a more cogent view of their outlook. Same goes for those players who stepped in to fill an injury void (the Arizona backfield, for example), and other names who burst onto the radar following our second full week of action in 2017.
For this week, I’ve included a special section with tight end pickups to help those dealing with injuries at that position, along with streaming defense picks for the week ahead.
Without further ado, here are the players to consider picking up ahead of Week 3.
Backfields are often fluid, but through two weeks, Carson has been the best Seahawks running back … and it hasn’t been close. Eddie Lacy was a healthy scratch in Week 2 while Thomas Rawls handled just five carries (for 4 yards). Carson had 21 total touches for 100 yards in Week 2. He’s a powerful, decisive runner who looks ready to be the weekly starter. He’s a must-add.
Javorius Allen, RB, Baltimore Ravens (8.0 percent)
With Danny Woodhead on injured reserve, we knew a larger role was likely for Allen. But not only did he play more in Week 2, he caught a touchdown pass and led the Ravens in both rushes and snaps played among running back, easily outpacing Terrance West. He picked up 66 yards on 14 carries and had five catches for 35 yards. Baltimore was playing with the lead too, so it was good to see Allen earning these reps versus West, more of a power, clock-eating back. Allen has RB2 upside in Woodhead’s absence.
Samaje Perine, RB, Washington Redskins (1.6 percent)
When Rob Kelley departed Sunday’s win over the Rams, the door opened for Perine to earn extensive work. He rushed 21 times for 67 yards — an average output — but if Kelley cannot play this week because of injury, Perine immediately vaults into flex territory. A talented runner who was a star at Oklahoma, some have wondered if he would take over for Kelley at some point this season based off of his ability. He has better value in non-PPR leagues, as he’s not much of a threat in the passing game.
Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (45.1 percent)
A reminder: It doesn’t matter how you get your points in fantasy. Wentz has had a couple of 50-plus-yard passing plays that qualified as unlikely (in Week 1 it was a touchdown to Nelson Agholor, in Week 2 it was a tipped pass caught by Zach Ertz). The volume is undeniable with Wentz right now: He has 85 passing attempts through two games and 640 passing yards. Yes, he has QB1 upside. The Eagles continue to struggle to run the football, which should lend itself to more throwing for the second-year quarterback. He’s a viable weekly starter for anyone who is dissatisfied with his or her quarterback play (perhaps someone who has grown impatient with Russell Wilson) or worried about a particular upcoming matchup.
Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints (16.2 percent)
While Adrian Peterson‘s role in New Orleans continues to be a topic of discussion, Kamara’s should be, too: It’s a clear one. He’s playing more snaps than any other back on the team, and although he hardly carried the ball in Week 2 (just one attempt), he’s an obvious part of the Saints’ potent passing attack. He had seven targets against New England, including multiple vertical shots. The upside is too good to ignore in points per reception leagues.
Jermaine Kearse, WR, New York Jets (3.8 percent)
Kearse is clearly the Jets’ preferred passing game option, as he leads the team in targets (14) and catches (11) thus far in 2017. He found the end zone twice in Week 2, something that shouldn’t be counted on to necessarily happen again, but from a volume standpoint, there’s something to be said for being a primary option for any passing offense. In PPR scoring, Kearse will find room in a flex spot in a 12-team league or larger. Jeremy Kerley‘s presence didn’t cut into the volume for Kearse in Week 2, an encouraging sign.
Rashard Higgins, WR, Cleveland Browns (0.1 percent)
After an injury to Corey Coleman, Cleveland needs a No. 1 wide receiver (Kenny Britt has been a nonfactor thus far). Higgins, a 2016 fifth-round pick who tore up the college level in 2014 (consensus All-American at Colorado State after 17 touchdowns), was awesome in Week 2, catching seven passes for 95 yards on a team-high 11 targets. A talent-based add in 12-team leagues or larger, Higgins could stay busy in Cleveland.
With John Brown out, Nelson was bound to play a larger percentage of snaps in Week 2. And, boy, did he deliver. He caught five of seven targets for 120 yards and a touchdown (he had another toe-tapping touchdown overturned). Nelson has legitimate track-star speed, but the volume was the best part of what we saw in Week 2. For as long as Brown is out, Nelson represents an upside play in your flex in leagues with 12 or more teams.
Marqise Lee, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (30.2 percent)
My outlook remains about the same as last week for Lee: He’s a usable flex play in 12-team PPR leagues or larger, but there’s not a ton of upside given that Jacksonville wants to be a ground-control offense that limits Blake Bortles‘ attempts. But his 12 targets were a team high in Week 2, resulting in seven catches as Jacksonville picked up production in garbage time versus Tennessee.
Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (7.6 percent)
It’s hard to separate Lee and Hurns much, as either could lead this team in receiving yards in a game. Hurns plucked a fourth-quarter touchdown versus Tennessee. Like Lee, I’m not overly excited about his outlook. If you are in a deeper league and need a flex, Hurns is an option to consider.
D’Onta Foreman, RB, Houston Texans (4.7 percent)
If you have Lamar Miller and have not yet added Foreman, wait no longer. He’s a must-add. However, if you don’t have Miller, I’m still intrigued by Foreman. He looked good in Week 2, compiling 40 yards on 12 carries. I’m not saying Miller’s days as the starter are imminently in danger, but the thought of Foreman eventually taking over also has crossed my mind. I think he’s a really savvy add-and-stash back.
Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs (45.0 percent)
The Chiefs’ offense has been terrific so far this season and Smith seems to be a bit more aggressive with his throws through two games. He’s a smart add for anyone who is either looking ahead to their quarterback fill-in week or wants to add a second quarterback to play the matchups.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams (34.9 percent)
The Rams’ offense looks so much more buttoned up this season under a new regime led by head coach Sean McVay. Quarterback Jared Goff is a work in progress but is clearly making strides, and Kupp is already a reliable target. He is still clearly behind Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods from an overall utilization standpoint (he played 30 snaps compared to 45 apiece for his teammates), but Kupp is a nice stash in a deeper PPR league.
Atlanta looks to be flying high once again and the offensive volume works in Sanu’s favor. He’s up to 11 catches and 15 targets through just two weeks. He’s a trusted middle-of-the-field player for quarterback Matt Ryan. If you play in a PPR league of 12 or more teams, Sanu should certainly be on the flex radar. He may not be much of a touchdown maker, but he should challenge for 100-plus targets this season.
Kendall Wright, WR, Chicago Bears (8.2 percent)
The Bears are razor thin at wide receiver right now, especially until Markus Wheaton (finger) gets back on the field. Wright picked up 10 targets against Tampa Bay. He’s a name to keep on the radar if you play in a deep league with PPR scoring. The focus in Chicago is really about the two running backs (Jordan Howard and Cohen), but Wright is a serviceable flex option, especially in 14- or 16-team leagues.
Phillip Dorsett, WR, New England Patriots (0.7 percent)
Sometimes the best moves in fantasy football are the sooner-than-needed moves. Dorsett might not be a player you feel comfortable using anytime soon, but I’ve got my eyes on him as the Patriots work to integrate him into the offense more. He’s a former first-round pick with exceptional speed. They’ve already gotten creative with him (he had a Week 2 rushing attempt, for example) and Tom Brady seems to have taken to him quickly. He’s a deep-league stash add who could eventually become the team’s third receiver, pending the health of Danny Amendola.
Geronimo Allison, WR, Green Bay Packers (0.3 percent)
With Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb dealing with injuries, the Packers could be in need of a starting wide receiver in Week 3. Davante Adams is primed for a monster workload with Allison as the next man up. He saw five targets and three catches in Week 2. When you play with Aaron Rodgers, good things tend to follow. He would be a temporary flex option in 12-team leagues or larger if Cobb and Nelson sit.
Devin Funchess, WR, Carolina Panthers (5.4 percent)
With Greg Olsen (broken foot) out, the Panthers are going to need to redistribute his targets somewhere. Kelvin Benjamin will stay busy, but Funchess also has a chance to emerge. He’s a former second-round pick (and college tight end) who is a smart add in deeper leagues. He has flashed impressive athletic ability in the past.
Trevor Siemian, QB, Denver Broncos (10.4 percent)
Kudos to Siemian, who has been marvelous through two weeks. He has thrown six touchdown passes in two games and doesn’t have a particularly imposing schedule ahead. He’s a legit starter in two-quarterback leagues and, like Alex Smith mentioned above, a smart add to fill in for your quarterback in a bye week or when facing a difficult matchup. He can be a top-12 play in a handful of weeks going forward. The Broncos and Siemian deserve credit for great development.
Tight end fill-ins
Zach Miller, TE, Chicago Bears (1.4 percent)
With so few healthy bodies in the pass-catching group in Chicago, Miller will remain a prominent part of the offense. He had nine targets in Week 2. The reality is, few tight ends are a steady bet for seven or more targets per week. Miller is up to 15 through two games and is a usable tight end.
Coby Fleener, TE, New Orleans Saints (31.4 percent)
The Saints will be without Willie Snead for one more week, meaning the team will continue to rely on other players to pick up the volume for him. Fleener has found the end zone in consecutive weeks. Adding him and relying on him can be justified based on the quarterback he plays with and the volume of throws in New Orleans. He’s going to get looks at the end zone.
Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants (9.9 percent)
The Giants’ offense has had basically one highlight so far this season, and it’s Engram. The first-round rookie has caught four passes in each of the team’s two games and has the G-Men’s lone touchdown of the year. He’s an outstanding athlete who already seems to be emerging as a top two or three passing game option in a high-volume offense.
Benjamin Watson, TE, Baltimore Ravens (0.3 percent)
Wow, what a nice sign to see Watson haul in eight passes for 91 yards in Week 2, his first yards since the 2015 season (he missed 2016 with an Achilles injury). There is concern given that he had just one target in Week 1, but Baltimore has been one of the most pass-heavy teams in the league during the past two seasons. Watson will crack the tight end rankings for Week 3, as we’ve certainly seen him piece together productive seasons before.
Charles Clay, TE, Buffalo Bills (15.6 percent)
The Bills’ passing game is off to a slow start (just 349 yards in two games), but Clay has a chance to remain a focal point of it going forward. He has averaged seven targets during his past six regular-season games. That obviously dates back into 2016, but Clay looks likely to remain a trusted option for quarterback Tyrod Taylor. He is a talented dude.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, New York Jets (0.4 percent)
Seferian-Jenkins will make his 2017 debut after serving a two-game suspension. He’s a former second-round pick who has exceptional size and showed very well during the preseason. The Jets are devoid of established playmakers, but ASJ has a chance to carve out a role rather quickly.