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2021 Fantasy Football: Week 3 Waiver Wire Rankings

Week 2 was a doozy. This time last season we were coping with the harsh news of Saquon Barkley’s knee, Christian McCaffrey’s ankle, and many other injuries that would shape the season. Now, in 2021, it feels like every NFL team suffered some sort of injury this past weekend that impacts fantasy football. With that said, it’s time to get back to work with the Week 3 waiver wire.

On top of the injuries, the on-the-field performances by those left standing influences our weekly decisions, as well. The Week 3 waiver wire is full of players that could fill empty holes in your starting lineup or solidify your bench. With another week behind us, the players that have the most value to put a waiver claim in for are that much clearer.

Below, we’ll look at players at each position, who are on 50% or less of most fantasy football rosters, that could be considered on the Week 3 waiver wire.

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Week 3 Waiver Wire

Running Back

Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys

There’s a more than likely chance Pollard is already on someone’s bench in your fantasy football league. This addition to the waiver wire column is just in case he isn’t. Let this be a Public Service Announcement to go get Tony Pollard if he is in fact available.

Prior to this fantasy football season, Pollard was highly regarded as Ezekiel Elliott’s handcuff. However, Dallas head coach, Mike McCarthy, did allude, during training camp, that Zeke could be looking at a reduced role, especially early on. So far, Pollard is not only eating into Zeke’s usual, heavy workload, but he’s flat out owning it. Pollard currently ranks as the PPR RB8 compared to RB24 for Zeke.

Sure, Zeke’s workload could ramp up as the season progresses, but Pollard is showing enough to warrant some sort of role with his 16/123/1 rushing and 7/60/0 total stat lines through two games.

Whether you have Zeke as your top running back selection or not, Tony Pollard is worth using a top waiver wire claim on, if available.

Cordarelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons

Patterson is one of the “other” running backs I told managers to consider on last week’s wire. What’s unique about Patterson is that he may have RB eligibility in some fantasy football leagues despite his history as a wide receiver. With that said, you may be able to sneak him in at either position, especially your flex, any given week. Regardless, he is the player to consider ahead of Week 3.

Through two weeks of play, Patterson has 14 total carries for 65 yards, as well as seven receptions for 71 yards. Patterson is also coming off of a Week 2 game where he scored one touchdown on the ground and one more through the air. He’s currently the WR24 overall with 32.6 total fantasy points and 16.3 points per game. If you translated those points to running back rankings, he would fall in as the RB8 overall and RB11 on a points per game basis.

Regardless of that aforementioned eligibility, Patterson should be on someone’s roster in every league. Prioritize adding him this week on your league’s waiver wire with your top waiver claim.

James White, New England Patriots

The ultimate flex: James White. So far in 2021, White is averaging 10.5 touches per game. It’s not the most elite workload that can be found on the waiver wire, but that’s to be expected from White.

He isn’t a running back that you’re going to plug in and rely on 100-some carries this season. James White has never been that. However, he will work in as a passing-down back on the Patriots, having averaged 60 receptions per season for the last 8 years. That role doesn’t look like it’s changing with Mac Jones under center.

So again, James White is a strong flex play, depending on the matchup. As far as passing down running backs go, he is a prototype. In truly desperate scenarios, he could be plugged in as an RB2, but don’t hold your breath for him to be a league-winner. He is more of a plug to keep your ship from sinking.

If James White is on the waiver wire and you’re struggling for running back depth in your PPR leagues, go ahead  and put in a claim.

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings

Luckily, I’m mentioning Mattison this low on the waiver wire column. Any higher would suggest some sort of bad news of a Dalvin Cook injury. While this is thankfully not the case, Cook isn’t coming out of Week 2 unscathed.

If you have Cook on your roster, you already know, but for those who don’t, he had a few scares on Sunday that had many believing he could be done for the day, or longer. Still, he totaled 24 touches, on 25 opportunities (carries and targets), and finished the game with 16.8 PPR fantasy points.

Adding Mattison on the waiver wire is strictly to lock up Cook’s handcuff. He is the only other running back familiar with this run-heavy offense. More importantly, he was the only back utilized Sunday in a game where Cook had to come off of the field for plays at a time.

Nobody wants to see any players succumb to injury. It happens, though, and preparing for the worst is better than not preparing at all. Whether you have Cook or not on your roster, Mattison is one of the top handcuffs to have at this point in the season. With the Vikings staring at a possible 0-3 start, I also wonder if Mattison will mix in more to conserve Cook’s long-term health.

Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles

“Kenny” is back in this week’s waiver wire column proving his rookie debut in Week 1 was not a fluke. With just two games into his NFL career, Gainwell is averaging 10.5 opportunities. In Week 2’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Gainwell saw three targets to Mile Sanders’ two.

The most encouraging piece of Gainwell’s role so far is that he’s completed phased Boston Scott out of this offense. Scott is simply not seeing the field having played zero snaps so far this season. As far as the rest of the snaps breakdown, Sanders is still almost doubling that of Gainwell’s, 86 to 44.

For deeper leagues, Gainwell is a worthwhile waiver wire add to the bench for now. If anything were to happen to Miles Sanders, Gainwell could slide in and produce RB2 numbers in this offense. Keep tabs on his availability this week and beyond.

Other Running Backs to Consider

J.D. McKissic is still in Washington catching passes out of the backfield. After a Week 1 loss where Gibson commanded 24% of the Football Team’s target share, it was short-lived by Week 2’s Thursday Night Football game when McKissic took over the pass-catching role. He was an integral piece in the comeback against the Giants. I’m just not confident in his long-term value and expect Gibson, a former wide receiver, to be on the field more when games are on the line. McKissic is nothing more than a PPR bench stash.

Peyton Barber is the latest player of discussion as he relates to coach speak. With starting running back, Josh Jacobs, dealing with a handful of injuries, many expected Kenyan Drake to dominate the workload in Las Vegas. However, head coach, Jon Gruden, spoke highly of Barber ahead of the Raiders’ Week 2 win in Pittsburgh. There was certainly truth to those words as he led the backfield in carries. If Jacobs continues to miss time, you could do worse than adding Barber for desperate RB help.

Darrell Williams is a speculative waiver wire add for deep leagues only. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is having a tough start to the season running the ball with just 89 rushing yards on 27 carries through two games. The Kansas City Chiefs are going to have to establish the run game to compete in a difficult field of AFC teams. If CEH can’t get going, perhaps Williams sees more opportunities to help pick up the slack.

Wide Receiver

Cordarelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons

Remember above when I said Patterson could have RB/WR eligibility in your fantasy football league?

Go put a waiver wire claim in for Cordarelle Patterson.

Rondale Moore/Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals

I spoke last week that Moore had the highest ceiling amongst him, Kirk, and veteran, AJ Green. Well, if you missed out on Moore on the Week 2 waiver wire, this will likely be your last chance to add him. With a team-high eight targets, Moore turned them into seven receptions for 114 yards and a score. Kyler Murray is the fantasy football QB1 and there’s a good chance he remains as such if Moore continues to be the second option in this passing game.

Meanwhile, Christian Kirk added a modest three receptions for 65 yards on four targets of his own. It’s going to be hard to know when to get Kirk in your lineup, but he has boom potential. I still prefer Rondale Moore to Kirk, but get a piece of this Cardinals offense is you have the room to add them. Both of these receivers should have waiver claims in for them tonight in the above order of preference.

Henry Ruggs, Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders are…good? Well, they’re 2-0 so far and Derek Carr looks like an early dark-horse MVP candidate. While Darren Waller dominated the team’s target share in Week 1, Henry Ruggs kept pace in Week 2, tying Waller with a team-high seven targets.

With those, Ruggs showed off his play-making ability on a 4th quarter 61-yard touchdown. Otherwise, he was 4/52/0 as a receiver. This is great to see him involved as he’s become labeled more as a “boom or bust” weekly gamble in fantasy football early in his career. It’s worth mentioning Ruggs’ top-10 Week 2 performance was against a highly ranked Pittsburgh Steelers defense.

If Ruggs continues to rack up receptions in the passing game, with weekly potential for a deep touchdown, he’s worth a speculative add off of the waiver wire. This is a good player to have to plug in during bye weeks more than anything.

Devante Parker, Miami Dolphins

I know Tua Tagovailoa is dealing with a rib injury. Yes, the Dolphins did get shut out on Sunday by the Buffalo Bills. Oh, and I know Will Fuller is back in the building for the Miami Dolphins. Though, what’s important to me, is that Devante Parker is the team’s leader in targets after two weeks with 16 total targets in the first two games.

Parker has a history of letting fantasy football managers down, but the volume he’s seeing in the passing game is hard to pass up at the current moment. Putting in a waiver wire claim doesn’t mean you have to start Parker. In fact, I’d say give it at least another week of “wait and see” with Jacoby Brissett filling in at quarterback.

Wide receiver continues to show its depth as Parker, the WR29 last season, is available in around 60% of leagues. Again, the above circumstances are worth monitoring in Miami, but if Parker continues to see his current target share, he’s a cheap steal on the Week 3 waiver wire.

K.J. Osborn, Minnesota Vikings

I spent most of the summer wondering who could emerge as the third option in the Vikings’ passing game. Especially after tight end, Irv Smith went on the Injured Reserve, it became more apparent someone had to step up as a receiver.

So far, it’s Osborn and only Osborn. He’s a top-20 wide receiver so far in 2021 ahead of players like Stefon Diggs, Keenan Allen, and Mike Evans. His target share each week, 19.2% and 18.8% respectively, is just barely behind that of Justin Jefferson and Adam Theilen. Above all, denying a two-game receiving line of 12/167/1 just seems foolish.

In a week where Laviska Shenault, Jarvis Landry, and other wide receivers went down with multi-week injuries, Osborn is a good player to add and help make up for their absence in the immediate future. The Vikings’ next five games before their Week 7 bye offer up a beneficial stretch of defenses for opposing wide receivers.

Emmanuel Sanders, Buffalo Bills

Sanders is the obvious WR2 in Buffalo behind Stefon Diggs, especially with Gabriel Davis sidelined with an injury. If that continues, Sanders is a good receiver to add to your roster, especially in deeper leagues. Josh Allen is the best quarterback this veteran has had throwing him the ball in the last few years.

With a schedule full of 2020 playoff teams ahead for the Bills, Allen is likely going to be busy slinging it to put points on the board. Whether teams decide to shadow Diggs or not is to be determined, but regardless, Sanders could play a major role in stringing together a win streak.

Other Wide Receivers to Consider

Marquez Valdez-Scantling is still worth considering even after failing to record a catch in a Week 2 victory where the Packers put up 35 points on the Lions. He was the second-most targeted receiver but just couldn’t connect with Aaron Rodgers on the deep ball. Rodgers himself even expressed remorse for not getting MVS the ball. Better days are ahead for him. If you’re patient enough, then go ahead and stash him on your bench.

Rashod Bateman isn’t currently playing for the Baltimore Ravens. The rookie is still on the IR following an unfortunate training camp groin injury. He is, however, eligible to return in Week 4. Lamar Jackson could have used him Sunday night in a tough matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. When he returns, I expect him to eat into the target share that Sammy Watkins and Marquis Brown have been commanding in his absence. If you have the room, use a waiver wire claim and take a flier on the rookie before it’s too late.

Tight End

Austin Hooper/David Njoku, Cleveland Browns

A tight end you feel good about starting each week is hard to come by, especially in deeper leagues or those with deeper benches. If this is a problem you’re dealing with, look for either of these Browns on the waiver wire ahead of Week 3.

So far, in two games, 46% of the entire team’s target share has gone to the tight end position. Both Hooper and Njoku are tied with eight total, with Hooper getting the edge in Week 2 with five to Njoku’s three.

Odell Beckham, Jr. is yet to return from his 2020 ACL tear. Jarvis Landry is now expected to miss a few games himself following a Week 2 knee injury. If both of these top receivers remain sidelined, the tight ends will be top targets for Baker Mayfield and could provide weekly value at a position where it’s generally scarce.


Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

It’s the rookie’s time to shine. I don’t know if he’s available on your league’s waiver wire, or if you even have room for another quarterback. If he is and if you do, go get him. Andy Dalton thankfully did not suffer a major knee injury this past Sunday, but he’s going to miss quite a few weeks with a bone bruise. There’s a very real scenario that Fields’ play forces Dalton to stay on the bench even when he is back to full strength.

Fields’ biggest contribution to your fantasy team will be his ability to run. In the Bears’ first preseason game, Fields racked up 33 rushing yards and a touchdown on just five carries. As a passer, he added 142 yards and a score through the air. It wasn’t even a complete game for Fields and he totaled 18.98 fantasy points. The potential for more is there and worth stashing for yourself or preventing your opponent from doing the same.

Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

I’ve already mentioned Carr is an early dark horse for MVP this season and I’m not the only one who’s noticed. As far as fantasy football goes, he’s sitting at QB8 after two games. If running back, Josh Jacobs continues to recover from multiple injuries, Carr could be busy throwing with less than ideal options at running back. With weapons like Darren Waller, Henry Ruggs, and others, Carr is in good shape. He’s worth picking up and starting in 2-QB leagues, however, there are still probably 10 to 12 others I’d start in his place in redraft leagues.

If you liked Colin’s Week 3 Waiver Wire, be sure to check out the rest of our Week 3 Rankings and Analysis!

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