The injuries started early and didn’t seem to stop on Sunday. Saquon Barkley’s season-ending knee injury is obviously the biggest news, but Christian McCaffrey, Cam Akers, Drew Lock, Jimmy Garoppolo, Courtland Sutton, Davante Adams, and Raheem Mostert were just some of the other key players who exited early and did not return to their respective games. That many important injuries opens the door for replacements, many of whom will be among the top Week 3 fantasy waiver wire pickups. From handcuff RBs like Dion Lewis/Wayne Gallman, Mike Davis, Jerick McKinnon, and Darrell Henderson to potential breakouts like Chase Claypool, Justin Herbert, and Dalton Schultz, you can bet it’s going to be a busy week for waiver claims and free agent adds.
Our full free agent list features plenty more potential contributors at every position. There are some guys who had good games in each of the first two weeks (Gardner Minshew, Corey Davis, Russell Gage, Jordan Akins), plus some Week 1 breakouts who are worth another look even if they disappointed in Week 2 (Laviska Shanualt, Jr., Logan Thomas, O.J. Howard, Allen Lazard). We also have a few “boring” veterans who are worth looking at because of their decent-volume roles (Frank Gore, DeSean Jackson, Chris Hogan), as well as several guys in precarious positions (Kerryon Johnson, Myles Gaskin, Chris Herndon) who are worth owning on the chance their roles continue to expand. We also have some potential D/ST streamers at the end of this list because why not, right?
MORE WEEK 3: Full waiver list | RB handcuff chart
Given the severity of Barkley’s injury and the sheer volume of other ailments for key players, this figures to be a week with a lot of waiver activity. If you hold the No. 1 or No. 2 claim, it’s tough to pinpoint who exactly is worth using it on,b ut that really depends on your roster (Joshua Kelley might be the leader in the clubhouse). The Giants situation doesn’t have a clear target (unless they just ride with Lewis, which would be surprising), while the other top pickups might not be long-term (or short-term) contributors either. Remember last week when Benny Snell Jr., Malcolm Brown, and Nyheim Hines were at the top of the list? None of those are looking like great claims right now, so tread carefully. There’s still a lot of season left.
Top fantasy football waiver wire pickups for Week 3
Unless otherwise noted, only players owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues considered.
Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman, RBs, Giants. With Saquon Barkley (knee) out for the year, the Giants’ in-house candidates to take over are Lewis and Gallman. Gallman was inactive in Week 2, so Lewis took all the extra touches, totaling 20 rushing yards (10 carries), 36 receiving yards (four catches on five targets), and a score. He’s always been considered a change-of-pace/receiving back, so it’s unclear what his workload will be going forward, but he should continue to get a decent amount of carries and be a worthwhile PPR play. Gallman might actually be the guy to own in standard leagues, especially if he ges the goal-line carries, but we won’t know for sure until we see this backfield in action in Week 3.
Darrell Henderson Jr., RB, Rams. Last week, Malcolm Brown was the hot pickup from the Rams backfield, but this week it’s Henderson, who outshined Brown with 34 more rushing yards (81 to 47) on one more carry (12 to 11). Henderson also added 40 receiving yards on two catches (four targets). Brown wasn’t targeted at all. Both players benefitted from Cam Akers’ early ribs injury, so if Akers’ isn’t seriously hurt, he could easily be the Rams backfield leader in Week 3. But right now, Henderson looks like the most explosive/versatile option in the Rams’ backfield, and he’s worth adding on the chance he continues to play a lot.
MORE WEEK 3: Full waiver list | RB handcuff chart
Jerick McKinnon/Tevin Coleman, RBs, 49ers. Raheem Mostert left Week 2’s game early because of a knee injury, and while we don’t know how serious the injury is, we do know that all running backs in the 49ers system have potential value. McKinnon stole the show against the Jets despite getting 11 fewer carries than Coleman. He ran for 77 yards and a score and added another 28 yards on two receptions. Obviously, the workload favors Coleman when it comes to pickups, but his 14-carry, 12-yard outing leaves a lot to be desired. Coleman is owned in 53 percent of Yahoo leagues, so it’s worth checking to see if he’s still available. McKinnon should also be owned in PPR leagues regardless of Mostert’s Week 3 status.
Mike Davis, RB, Panthers. Christian McCaffrey suffered an ankle injury late in Carolina’s Week 2 loss to Tampa. Davis is listed as the Panthers’ primary backup, so the veteran back who had some good moments with the Seahawks a few years back could be in line for a Week 3 start against the Chargers. We’ll know more about McCaffrey’s status after an MRI on Monday, so stay tuned.
Joshua Kelley, RB, Chargers. It was clear in Week 1 that Kelley was going to be a big part of the Chargers’ offense, but few probably expected 23 carries and 113 total yards in Week 2. Kelley should continue to see around 15 touches per game, including the majority of hte goal-line carries, making him a great option in standard leagues. He’ll need to be more efficent (just 64 rushing yards in Week 2) to be an every-week play, but clearly the potential is there for big things this year.
For more waiver/free agent suggestions, including additional breakouts and potential streamers, check out our full Week 3 list.