With all the injuries we witnessed in games last week, there were two more surprises for fantasy owners on Sunday morning as running backs Arian Foster and Bernard Pierce were both deactivated prior to the 1 o’clock games, which created an opportunity for players previous not on the fantasy radar to shine. This shows the importance of making sure all your players are active prior to the start of the Sunday games.
Most of the week 3 games are over and it’s time to start looking ahead to week 4. As many of you know, week 4 in the NFL is the start of the bye weeks, which makes the waiver wire even more important as you will have to make sure there are no holes in your roster. With the Broncos, Seahawks, Bengals, Browns, Rams, and Cardinals off next week, there will be many teams without their star players and they may have to use the waiver wire to fill up their starting line-up. We provide a list of 10 players that should help you with your early season bye-week woes.
If you took the time to read pre-draft articles this year, you were told to avoid rookie WRs. However, if the first three weeks of play are any indication of things to come, it’s fair to assume that the Pros were wrong and that taking a chance on a rookie WR could return a handsome dividend for those who were willing to take the risk. Prior to week 3 we have already seen Sammy Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin and Brandin Cooks turn in big games. In week 3 there were several other rookie wide-outs who joined this list and are considered some of the best waiver wire options this week.
10 Alfred Blue, RB – Houston Texans (0.4% Owned)
If you drafted Arian Foster, you knew the risk. Foster has struggled with his hamstrings regularly over the last few seasons. Foster was limited in practice all week, however it still came as a surprise that he was inactive for the Texans week 3 tilt against the Giants. With Foster inactive, Alfred Blue stepped into the starting role and managed to put up 78 rushing yards and 10 receiving yards. While he didn’t tear it up this week, it is still a respectable stat line for a RB2. If you didn't scoop him up before this week and own Foster, the wise thing to do would be to pick him up as a handcuff as he should be able to provide solid fantasy numbers if Foster is forced to miss any more time.
9 Allen Robinson, WR – Jacksonville Jaguars (0.2% Owned)
Robinson is the first rookie wide-out to make the list. Allen Robinson saw a team-high 10 targets in the Jaguars week 3 match-up against the Colts of which he hauled in 7 for 79 yards. It should also be noted that Robinson was able to collect 75 yards in his week 2 game against the Redskins. The Jaguars aerial attack got a shot in the arm when Blake Bortles entered the game at the start of the 2nd half, and the good news is that Bortles will be the starting QB for the Jaguars from here on out. This increases the value of Robinson as well as the other Jaguars pass catchers.
8 Miles Austin, WR – Cleveland Browns (4.9% Owned)
Miles Austin is beginning to carve out a role for himself in the Cleveland offense. Though it is unlikely that Austin will ever return his 2009 form in which he finished 2nd among WRs, he will be a serviceable WR4/5 until Josh Gordon returns from his suspension in Week 11. Austin has now caught TDs in back to back games and compiled 95 yards over that span. Though you can’t expect Miles Austin to score a TD on a weekly basis, if he can continues to make the most of his opportunities, he is well worth a roster spot.
7 San Diego Chargers Defense – (2.8% Owned)
With the Bengals, Seahawks, Cardinals and Broncos all on bye at the same time, there will be many teams looking for a short-term Defensive/Special team replacement. If you are one of these managers, go pick up the San Diego Chargers Defense who face the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 4. Defensive teams facing the Jaguars have performed well thus face this season, and the Colts were no exception in week 3 as they caused 3 turnovers (1 returned for a TD) and had 4 sacks.
6 Eddie Royal, WR – San Diego Chargers (1.3% Owned)
Eddie Royal has come on strong over the last two weeks, where he has been targeted 16 times. Last week against the Seahawks ,Royal was able to accumulate 69 yards and he followed up that performance with 42 yards and 2 TDs in Week 3 against the Bills. It should be noted that Keenan Allen has not been overly involved in the offense this year and when he gets going, it will likely cut into Royal’s targets. That being said if you need a WR to fill in for the bye week, given the Chargers match-up against the Jaguars, Eddie Royal can be picked up as a boom or bust type play. Also, with the season ending injury to Danny Woodhead, Royal will be relied upon heavily for the underneath passing game.
5 Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB – Baltimore Ravens (0.1% Owned)
If you own Bernard Pierce, you should put in a waiver for Taliaferro immediately. The rookie RB’s value will be based solely on if Pierce is forced to miss any more time. If Pierce plays in Week 4, Taliaferro’s value drops significantly. If you missed it, Taliaferro rushed 18 times for 91 yards and a TD in Baltimore’s victory over the Browns. If you currently have Pierce as a starter, your best bet would be to pick up Taliaferro as a handcuff and start the player that is in line for the start next week.
4 Blake Bortles, QB – Jacksonville Jaguars (2.1% Owned)
It took only two and a half weeks for Blake Bortles to take over for the struggling Chad Henne. The Jaguars turned to Bortles for answers at the start of the 2nd half of their game against the Colts. In a half of work, Bortles threw for 223 yards with 2 scores, 2 INTs and rushing for 30 yards. While this is a pretty impressive stat line in the fantasy world for one half, you should remember that a large portion of these points were put up in garbage time. Bortles may not be anything more than a QB2 this season; however given his upside he is worth picking up and starting on a match-up basis if you are thin at QB.
3 John Brown, WR – Arizona Cardinals (1.3% Owned)
Another rookie who impressed in week 3 was the Cardinals John Brown. Brown totalled 59 yards and a TD in his first two weeks of play. In week 3, he lived up to all his pre-season hype as he made 4 catches for 52 yards, taking 2 of those catches to the house for TDs. The Cardinals boast one of the best receiving trios as Brown has to battle Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald for targets throughout the season. Brown will be a boom or bust play and has WR5 value. Pick him up and stash him.
2 Travis Kelce, TE – Kansas City Chiefs (11.6% Owned)
The 2nd year tight-end continues to provide consistent production early on in the 2014 season. Kelce found the end-zone for his first score of the season this week while adding 36 yards. While Kelce isn't a superstar fantasy TE, he is a reliable fantasy option that could easy fill a void during the bye week crunch with the potential to become a weekly starter. Kelce is outperforming many TEs that were drafted as starters in the fantasy world. As such, if you own Rudolph or Pitta, both of who left their respective games with injuries, you should go out and put in a waiver for Kelce.
1 Jordan Matthews, WR – Philadelphia Eagles (2.9% Owned)
The third rookie WR to find his way onto this list plays for the high-flying Eagles offense and was a big part of it this past Sunday. Matthews had 8 catches on 9 targets which went for 59 yards and 2 scores. Matthews struggled in the first two weeks of the season but looked great in the Eagles win over the Redskins. He is well worth picking up and stashing as it looks like he is on his way to surpassing Riley Cooper as the Eagles WR2 behind Maclin. Given the fast paced nature of the Eagles offense, you should pick up Matthews as he has the potential to play at a WR3 level by mid-season.