After Week 3, there are two clear-cut players to target: New York Giants running back Wayne Gallman and Jacksonville Jaguars receiver DJ Chark (for whom I’ve been staning for weeks). Beyond them, there may not be many players worth a high waiver claim or a big-budget spend in auction free agency.
But of course, roster depth comes from exhaustive vigilance on the waiver wire, so let’s dig into some of the under-owned standouts from the the third week of NFL action. In particular, now is a wise time to begin to target players who are serving four-game suspensions. You can nab a contributor without spending big money or owning the top waiver spot.
1. Wayne Gallman, RB, Giants
ESPN: 1%. Yahoo! 3%.
He’s no Saquon Barkley, who will be out for roughly six weeks with a high ankle spraing. But Gallman is likely to take over the backfield, and he’ll be a startable running back for as many weeks as Barkley is out. Maybe quarterback Daniel Jones emerges. Maybe Gallman gets more running room. And maybe he’s a season-changing pickup.
2. DJ Chark, WR, Jaguars
ESPN: 41%. Yahoo! 41%.
How many times do I have to tell you? Pick him up. He’s the go-to option in the Jaguars’ passing offense. While that seems like a strange way to persuade you into picking up Chark, he’s averaging five receptions, 92 yards and one touchdowns per game.
3. Golden Tate, WR, Giants
ESPN: 37%. Yahoo! 47%.
Everyone is going to pick him up next week when Jones has another good week and Tate is returning from suspension for Week 5. Get ahead of the pack. Nab Tate, who showed good rapport with Jones in preseason.
4. Diontae Johnson, WR, Steelers
ESPN: 1%. Yahoo! 1%.
It’s reasonable to be skeptical about whether Pittsburgh’s offense can support two pass-catchers. But while JuJu Smith-Schuster draws the No. 1 cornerback, Johnson will have an easier matchup on the other side of the field. And he seems to be safely above James Washington and Donte Moncrief on the pecking order.
5. Mecole Hardman, WR, Chiefs
ESPN: 49%. Yahoo! 44%.
He, Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson are all liable to put up huge numbers every week. They are also liable to have quiet weeks. Roster him, but proceed with caution when considering starting him.
6. Adam Humphries, WR, Titans
ESPN: 21%. Yahoo! 6%.
He’s starting to see volume. It’s hard to imagine Tennessee paid Humphries $9 million per year just to make him one of the more underutilized playmakers in the NFL.
7. Daniel Jones, QB, Giants
ESPN: 12.7%. Yahoo! 15%.
His debut proved he could be a good backup or, if you’re desperate, starter.
8. Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots
ESPN: 24%. Yahoo! 15%.
Sony Michel’s season is going very poorly (45 carries, 108 yards, 2 TDs, 2.4 yards per carry), and surely Bill Belichick has taken note. Burkhead has gotten increased touches in the run and passing game. Burkhead is worth a look in the event he takes over the backfield.
9. Jacoby Brissett, QB, Colts
ESPN: 18.6%. Yahoo! 19%.
He was impressive on Sunday with a 75.7 completion percentage, 310 yards and two touchdowns. He could keep getting better, and will be a good option for those in need of a quarterback.
10. Ben Watson, TE, Patriots
ESPN: 0%. Yahoo! 1.6%.
The Patriots badly need a tight end. Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse (who?) aren’t cutting it. When he returns from suspension for Week 5, Watson should have a big role in New England, particularly if the Patriots are without Julian Edelman (chest) for a few weeks. If you need a tight end, Watson is your guy.
11. Dawson Knox, TE, Bills
ESPN: 0.3%. Yahoo! 0%.
He put together a nice game on Sunday (3 catches, 67 yards, 1 TD), and may be worth rostering in deep leagues for a team in need of a tight end.