Week 3 was easily the best, most exciting week of the 2017 season. But when it came to fantasy, it played most closely to script, which means this will likely be the slowest, quietest week on the waiver wire. Still, there are a handful of names fantasy owners should be thinking about as they start their waiver-wire process leading into Week 4.
Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers
Funchess had a relatively quiet game against the Saints in Week 3, catching four passes for 58 yards. Kelvin Benjamin, however, left with a knee injury, and it looks like he’s going to join Greg Olsen on the shelf. Funchess racked up 10 targets from Cam Newton on Sunday, the first time in his career he got double-digit targets in a game. If Benjamin is indeed out, Funchess won’t have to wait nearly as long for his second career 10-target game. There is some palpable, justifiable concern with Cam Newton’s play after another lackluster performance, this one against a soft Saints defense, but Funchess is going to have plenty of opportunity as the de facto No. 1 receiver in Carolina’s offense. Christian McCaffrey will pick up the slack as well—he caught nine of his 11 targets for 101 yards on Sunday—but Funchess is going to get more than his fair share of looks.
Branden Oliver, RB, Chargers
Oliver handled much of the work out of the Chargers backfield in the second half of their loss to the Chiefs in Week 3 with Melvin Gordon nursing a knee injury. Gordon was questionable with the injury heading into the game, so it’s entirely possible that he misses time. If he does, Oliver will be on the RB2 radar as the replacement starter. He ran for just 16 yards on eight carries, though by time he was on the field the game script was working against the Chargers rushing attack. He also got six targets, catching four of them for 18 yards. Oliver is more dangerous as a receiver than Gordon, and the Chargers have not been shy about throwing the ball to their usual starter over the last two seasons. Oliver could get even more work as a pass-catcher, making him more attractive in PPR formats than he is in standard leagues. Still, with Gordon possibly ticketed for the sidelines for a few weeks, Oliver has to be claimed in all leagues.
Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants
After catching nine passes for 67 yards in the Giants first two games of the season, Shepard broke out in Week 3. He reeled in seven of his 10 targets for 133 yards and a touchdown, which came from 77 yards out, in the Giants 24-21 loss to the Eagles. Shepard is going to have to battle with Evan Engram for targets in the middle of the field, but there’s no doubt that the receiver is the more explosive player of the two. For what it’s worth, the Giants offense finally found a rhythm for the first time this season once Eli Manning started targeting Shepard and Odell Beckham almost exclusively. An 0-3 team that played some of the worst offense in the league over the first two weeks of the season will certainly take notice of something finally clicking. It also shouldn’t come as a surprise that Shepard’s life got a whole lot easier once Beckham proved he was healthy, forcing the Eagles to treat him like the superstar he is. Targets could always be a struggle with Beckham the dominant No. 1 receiver, and Engram and Brandon Marshall in the mix, but Shepard has enough upside to warrant a waiver claim in all formats.
Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement, RB, Eagles
Darren Sproles broke his arm and tore his ACL on the same play in Week 3, knocking him out for the rest of the season. Smallwood and Clement will step into the breach, making both intriguing players on the wire this week. The former got 12 carries on Sunday, the same amount as LeGarrette Blount, and picked up 71 yards, four more than the nominal starter. Clement got 22 yards on six carries, but he looked good on an impressive 15-yard touchdown run, the first score of his career. Both have to deal with the re-emergence of Blount, who had his best game in an Eagles uniform in Week 3, but there is plenty of room for one or both of them to carve out a meaningful fantasy role. As well as Blount played in the win over the Giants, he is far from in command of the Philadelphia backfield. For now, Smallwood looks like the priority add of the two
Jamaal Charles, RB, Broncos
Charles had his best game as a member of the Broncos in Week 3, running for 56 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. He got the same number of touches as C.J. Anderson despite playing 28 fewer snaps, and outgained the starter by 14 yards. The Broncos didn’t report any injury for Anderson, so it appears Vance Joseph and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy were simply more comfortable with the way Charles was running the ball against the Bills. Devontae Booker is set to return from a wrist injury next week, but Charles has earned his status as the No. 2 back in Denver. This situation could get murky with Booker back in the fold, but Charles is worth an add with bye weeks on the horizon, making depth all the more important.
D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texans
Lamar Miller’s snap rate by week, according to the invaluable snap app from our partners at 4for4: 81%, 74%, 70%. Foreman’s snap rate by week: 3%, 26%, 24%. This is not to suggest that Foreman is going to overtake Miller as the starter any time soon. It is, however, to point out that the rookie’s role in the offense is taking shape, and is making him relevant in all fantasy formats. He got 10 touches in Week 3, making his biggest impact as a receiver where he posted 34- and 31-yard receptions. There’s plenty of room for Foreman to have a meaningful spot in the offense alongside Miller, similar to what we’re seeing the Bears do with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. With DeShaun Watson potentially elevating the Houston offense as a whole, Foreman is worth a look in all leagues.
Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints
When the Saints finally admit the Adrian Peterson experiment is a failure, Kamara is going to see his workload increase. While Mark Ingram deserves to be treated like an RB1, despite the Saints inexplicable resistance to the idea, Kamara has shown what he can do in flashes. In the team’s Week 3 win over the Panthers, that flash resulted in a 25-yard touchdown run. Kamara got just two carries and five targets, and no back is going to make a consistent impact with that few opportunities, but the clock has to be ticking quite loudly on the Peterson experiment. Kamara could turn out to be one of the most valuable stashes of the season.
Duke Johnson, RB, Browns
Johnson is just barely above the ownership threshold we typically use as the cutoff for the waiver-wire column, but he’s too good, and too close to that cutoff, to ignore. Johnson pulled the reverse Ty Montgomery, and is now a running-back-in-name-only. He reeled in six of his seven targets for 81 yards in the Browns Week 3 loss to the Colts, and is now up to 11 receptions, 18 targets and 160 receiving yards. Johnson has more receiving yards than Jordy Nelson, Odell Beckham and Terrelle Pryor, and while that obviously won’t hold up all year, it goes to show just how the Browns are featuring him as a receiver in their offense. If he’s still available in your league, you should be making an aggressive move for him this week.
Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars
Lee and Hurns remain widely available two weeks after Allen Robinson tore his ACL. With bye weeks beginning next week, both will provide valuable depth for any owner wise enough to scoop them up. Hurns caught a touchdown in the Jaguars 44-7 throttling of the Ravens in London, but it was Lee who once again led the team in catches (four), targets (seven) and yards (65). He’s the WR1 in Jacksonville, and the priority add between these two. Lee didn’t get a target in Week 1, but he has 11 catches on 19 targets for 141 yards in the Jaguars last two games. He projects as a season-long WR4, and will carry WR2 potential most weeks.
Paul Richardson, WR, Seahawks
Richardson scored for the second straight game in Week 3, making him the only player on the Seahawks with multiple touchdowns. His numbers don’t jump off the page—he has eight catches for 108 yards, in addition to the two scores—but there’s a lot to like here circumstantially that can make him a valuable depth piece during the bye-week portion of the season. He has at least five targets in all three of Seattle’s games, and is up to 19 looks from Russell Wilson on the season. Wilson also took a couple of shots deep to Richardson in the team’s Week 3 loss to the Titans, and while they didn’t connect on either of them, it’s encouraging to see him stretching the defense. You likely won’t want to be in a position where Richardson is a starter when your team is at full strength, but with bye weeks beginning in Week 5, he can be a spot starter a handful of times over the next two months.
Travis Benjamin, WR, Chargers
Benjamin has posted double-digit standard-league points in two of his three games this season. In Week 1, he caught three passes for 43 yards, highlighted by a 38-yard touchdown. In Week 3, he netted eight targets from Philip Rivers, catching five of them for 105 yards. With Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Melvin Gordon, Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates all in the mix, there are going to be plenty of quiet weeks out of Benjamin this season. Given the potency of the Chargers offense and Benjamin’s ability to take the top off a defense, though, he’ll have his fair share of upside every game he plays. Like many of the players listed in this column, that makes him an attractive depth piece with bye weeks on the horizon.
Charles Clay, TE, Bills
The non-elite tight end class is largely touchdown dependent. That means if you don’t own someone like Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce, you want to go hunting for tight ends with the most touchdown upside. Through three weeks, Clay looks like he’s one of those tight ends. He has scored in two of Buffalo’s three games, both of which came on plays that started inside the 10-yard line. That’s the money zone for any player, especially a tight end who doesn’t boast big-play ability. Clay looks like Tyrod Taylor’s favorite pass-catcher once the Bills get deep into the red zone, and that will keep his touchdown upside high all season. He also has at least six targets in both of Buffalo’s victories this year.
Cameron Brate, TE, Buccaneers
Brate has more competition for targets in Tampa than Clay does in Buffalo, notably in the red zone where Jameis Winston is always going to look for Mike Evans. Still, he has identifiable touchdown upside, which came through in the Buccaneers Week 3 loss to the Vikings. Brate caught all four of his targets for 33 yards and a touchdown in the loss, with the score coming from 15 yards out. He’s a more explosive athlete than Clay and plays in a better offense, but he doesn’t have the same inside track to target share. Both are worthy low-end TE1 types, especially with all the injuries at the tight end position in the early part of the season.