Week 3 Waiver Wire Report. Jerome Ford Becomes a Priority.
It’s time to churn our rosters against after another action-packed weekend.
However, based on social media, some of you don’t have any FAAB left to make adds this week. And it’s not like you were wrong to do it. Puka Nacua’s receptions through two games made history. But injuries will sideline multiple starters after Sunday. And we’ve still got a few months where we’ll need to keep our rosters fresh.
So, let’s review some of the guys who were hurt in Week 2 and then get to who benefits as we hunt for waiver wire targets for Week 3.
Be sure to stop by our Waiver Hub to get an in-depth breakdown of how each potential waiver claim grades out, from suggested FAAB% to league availability, and more!
- Nick Chubb (knee)
- Anthony Richard (head)
- Saquon Barkley (ankle)
- Davante Adams (head)
- David Montgomery (thigh)
- Cam Akers (life)
- Jerome Ford
- Jayden Reed
- Craig Reynolds
- Josh Reynolds
- Matt Breida
- Stash: Roschon Johnson
Matthew Stafford, Rams
Maybe Matthew Stafford should spend the offseason trying to connect with his young WRs more often.
Through two games, the Rams are fourth in EPA per dropback with the third-most yards per drive. And the offensive line concerns? Not much of a problem. Stafford has taken just one sack and has the ninth-lowest pressure rate.
Stafford travels to Cincinnati to face a Bengals’ defense who’ve allowed the sixth-most first downs and at least one passing TD per game. With the offense finding its groove as Puka Nacua and Kyren Williams continue to make plays, Stafford becomes a viable streaming target for Week 3.
Gardner Minshew, Colts
If you’re in a pinch (still looking for options after losing Aaron Rodgers), Minshew could be a floor play.
The legendary backup took over for Anthony Richardson early in the first half. Over the final three quarters, Minshew put together three scoring drives of 75, 76, and 56 yards. His 8.3 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) were greater than Brock Purdy’s (8.28), Patrick Mahomes (7.87), and Dak Prescott’s (6.47).
Minshew saw pressure on 28.0% of his dropbacks and yet didn’t take a sack. Instead, he had the 8th-highest scramble rate (but only for three yards).
Against the Ravens (who let Joe Burrow find some confidence in Week 2, Minshew has some potential in SF leagues.
Just In Case: Kyren Williams, Rams
Cam Akers’ post on Sunday morning wasn’t the best news for folks rostering him.
But the obvious beneficiary was Kyren Williams.
No other RB on the Rams got a carry.
Only CMC (96.2%) and Zack Moss (91.4%) ran more routes on a per-dropback basis than Williams (88.1%) of Stafford’s dropbacks, and the sophomore rusher had the sixth-highest target share of any RB in Week 2.
We can’t find usage like this on the waiver wire often. If Wiliams is there, don’t let your leaguemates get him.
Budget: 50%+ FAAB
Just In Case (Part II): Zack Moss, Colts
Yes, I realize Zack Moss burned us all when he was in Buffalo, but I’m willing to forgive and forget if he keeps getting this much work.
After a disastrous Week 1 for Deon Jackson, he didn’t even get a snap. Moss took all of the carries, and he was the only RB to run a route.
He’ll likely be playing with Gardner Minshew instead of Anthony Richardson, but Moss’ hold on the Colts’ backfield is worth rostering.
Budget: 30-40% FAAB
Jerome Ford, Browns
First and foremost, let’s pour one out for Nick Chubb. For one of the (if not the) best rushers in the league, this is a huge blow to the game. Hope to see him back next season.
Jerome Ford instantly vaults into the RB2 conversation with Chubb out for the season.
Ford handled 14 of the 16 RB carries throughout the remainder of the game and also ran a route on 41.2% of Deshaun Watson’s dropbacks.
It's a small sample, but Chubb only had a 19.0% route rate through his six quarters of play.
Sep 18, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Jerome Ford (34) carries the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Pittsburgh won 26-22. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Regardless, Ford mimicked some of Chubb’s abilities on the ground. The sophomore rusher averaged 7.9 yards after contact per attempt through three quarters against the Steelers, which would have topped Chubb’s highest single-game mark in any game since 2021.
And, it’s not like the Browns’ passing game will take anything away from Ford.
The Browns are heavily reliant on their running game (with or without Chubb) as Watson continues to flounder under center. And, surprisingly, after losing Chubb, they ran more!
Cleveland had a +0.6% PROE through the first quarter (admittedly, a small sample). But in the second half, with the game on the line, it dropped to -2.5%.
Rumors of a Kareem Hunt return or a big FA signing will come up, but get aggressive on the waiver wire as Ford has earned his shot to take over the backfield.
Budget: 50%+ FAAB
Matt Breida, Giants
Trainers had to help Saquon Barkley off the field, and the Giants head to Santa Clara to face the 49ers on Thursday night. The short turnaround puts the spotlight on the backup RBs, with Matt Breida likely being the next man up.
Breida was Barkley’s immediate replacement on the final drive to secure their comeback win against the Cardinals. And, looking at years past, it’s a good sign for potential usage in Week 3.
When Barkley missed time in ’21, Devontae Booker secured 78.5% of the team’s carries and earned a 12.1% target share. Sixth-rounder Gary Brightwell will mix in, but Breida has the inside track for the start.
Budget: 15-20% FAAB
Craig Reynolds, Lions
David Montgomery indicated his thigh injury could take a couple of weeks for him to get right
Fantasy managers with Jahmyr Gibbs on their roster have to be excited to see if the rookie gets some more run. But, if Sunday was any indication, Craig Reynolds will factor into the backfield with Montgomery out.
We got one full quarter with just the two rushers, but Reynolds out-carried Gibbs 3 to 1. The journeyman RB got the only red-zone tote and also played a role in the passing game. Reynolds ran a route on a third of Jared Goff’s dropbacks.
As a dual threat, Reynolds should slot into the RB3 ranks, as the Lions could use more pass-catchers.
Budget: 10-15% FAAB
Zach Evans, Rams
Ronnie Rivers was active on Sunday but played just three snaps and ran one route. His lack of usage leaves the door open for Zach Evans, who showed some vision and power behind the Rams’ offensive line in the preseason.
Evans out-carried Rivers while posting similar yards after contact per attempt (2.33 to 2.5) with more forced missed tackles. His 208-lb. frame would lend itself to short-yardage situations compared to Rivers (195 lbs.) and Williams (194 lbs.), giving Evans some appeal while LA figures out their backfield.
Budget: 3-5% FAAB
Stash: Roschon Johnson, Bears
The state of the Bears’ offense is the headline. But their backfield shifted in Week 2.
D’Onta Foreman didn’t take a snap or get a carry against the Buccaneers. Accordingly, Johnson’s share of the carries increased from 26.3% to 36.4%.
The rookie has more first downs per carry and a higher explosive running rate than Khalil Herbert, and now, he’s second in line for opportunities.
Fantasy managers with bench space should stash the Texas product until Chicago gets the offense back on track
Budget: 3-5% FAAB
Jayden Reed, Packers
With Christian Watson out in Week 1, Jayden Reed had a modest target share of 18.5%, but he led the team in air yards (33.8%). Watson had to sit against, and we saw Reed’s connection with Jordan Love continue to grow.
Reed had more targets per route run (0.44) than Puka Nacua (0.39), CeeDee Lamb (0.35), and Justin Jefferson (0.28). His 32.0% target share in Week 2 ranked ninth amongst all WRs, and he hoarded half of Love’s looks when Green Bay got into the red zone.
Watson may return in Week 3, but Reed’s been efficient (2.4 YPRR) and has more YAC per reception than Deebo Samuel. Reed is a weekly FLEX option until we see something different from the Packers’ offense.
Budget: 15-20% FAAB
Tutu Atwell, Rams
Nacua has been the star of the Rams’ offense, but Atwell being in Nacua’s shadow (not just because he’s 5’9”) hasn’t been a bad thing.
Tutu has been second in WR targets in consecutive weeks (8 targets in Week 1, 9 on Sunday). He’s earned more looks from his QB (18.1% target share) than Courtland Sutton (17.1%) and Terry McLaurin (14.7%). Of his 13 receptions, 12 have resulted in a first down for the Rams. Nacua is responsible for 13 conversions, but the combined efforts of the remaining pass-catchers (Higbee, Jefferson, etc.) only total 9.
Sep 17, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Tutu Atwell (5) reacts after catching a pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Atwell’s main problem for fantasy is Stafford is yet to look Atwell’s way in the red zone despite him running the most routes when the Rams have been inside their opponent’s 20-yard line, and Kyren Williams instantly jumped him in targets after getting the starting role on Sunday.
But while Cooper Kupp remains out, Atwell has potential as a WR3.
Budget: 5-10% FAAB
Josh Reynolds, Lions
We know Josh Reynolds’ game. He’s had an aDOT over 13 yards since he came to Detroit and primarily runs his routes on the perimeter.
Simply put, Reynolds has been a volatile option. But this year’s been slightly different.
Reynolds has led Detroit’s passing game in air yards in back-to-back weeks. That’s no surprise, given his traditional on-field deployment. But he has a 49.1% slot rate. His 0.22 TPRR isn’t far behind Amon-Ra St. Brown’s (0.25). Surprisingly, Reynolds has the most targets in obvious passing situations (7). And, most importantly, he’s the only other WR with multiple red-zone looks.
Marvin Jones didn’t see a pass thrown his way, and Kalif Raymond’s role as the “gadget guy” remains solidified. And with St. Brown managing an injury, Reynolds could be a low-end WR3 in the right matchup.
Budget: 5-10% FAAB
Nathaniel “Tank” Dell, Texans
Noah Brown’s injury meant more work for the remaining Texans’ receivers, and Tank Dell stepped up in Brown’s place.
The rookie’s Week 1 target share (9.3%) ballooned to 23.3% with nearly a quarter of the team’s air yards (22.9%) and we could see more for Dell in the coming weeks.
C.J. Stroud popped up on the injury report with right shoulder soreness late in the week. He was healthy enough to fuel two top-24 WR performances, but the Texans’ PROE dipped from 0.5% against the Ravens to -6.8% on Sunday.
If the overall volume picks up, Dell would be potential FLEX play with bye weeks approaching.
Budget: 3-5% FAAB