Welcome to the Waiver Warehouse, your one-stop emporium for upgrades and Band-Aids. Each week, we’ll list the best widely available free agents for fantasy football. (We define “widely available” as being owned in less than half of all Yahoo leagues.) We’ll also list a few more names in the “window shopping” category—players worth monitoring or perhaps worth rostering in deeper leagues. In addition to a brief overview of each player, we’ll grade each player on talent, opportunity and schedule (with an emphasis on near-term schedule), then provide a composite grade. Please note that for quarterbacks, we replace the opportunity grade with a grade for the QB’s supporting cast.
Mercifully, we didn’t see the same sort of injury carnage in Week 3 that we saw in Week 2. That means fewer fantasy owners will be desperately combing through waivers for help this week, and we won’t see the sort of extravagant FAAB spending that we saw last week. Still, there are wounds to be mended on fantasy rosters, and there’s still a decent supply of tourniquets. Read on ...
Joe Flacco Baltimore Ravens (29% owned)
Flacco hasn’t played especially well for the undefeated Ravens, throwing four interceptions and just three TD passes thus far and averaging a pedestrian 6.56 yards per pass attempt. But the good news is that Flacco has averaged just a shade under 40 pass attempts per game, and he has a tasty matchup against the Raiders this week. He’s probably the best of the Week 4 QB streaming options
(Talent: B | Supporting cast: B | Schedule: B+ | OVERALL: B)
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (44% owned)
Prescott finally threw his first NFL touchdown pass, connecting with Dez Bryant in Sunday night’s win over the Bears. The more encouraging news is that Prescott is averaging 255.7 passing yards per game, he’s run for a pair of TDs, and he still hasn’t thrown an interception. The Cowboys’ run-heavy offense keeps Prescott’s weekly ceiling a little lower than his owners would like, but he has an attractive matchup against the 49ers this week, and his season-long schedule is favorable.
(Talent: B- | Supporting cast: A- | Schedule: B+ | OVERALL: B)
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (22% owned)
Facing Pittsburgh on the road, Smith makes a decent streaming option this week, and he’ll have highly favorable consecutive matchups against the Raiders and Saints in Weeks 6 and 7.
(Talent: B- | Supporting cast: B | Schedule: B | OVERALL: B)
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (44% owned)
Tannehill’s road matchup against the Bengals this week makes him an unattractive Week 4 option. His long-term outlook is quite good, however, since the Dolphins are destined to have a pass-heavy offense this year under new coach Adam Gase. Tannehill has thrown for more than 300 yards and multiple TDs in each of his last two games.
(Talent: B | Supporting cast: B- | Schedule: C | OVERALL: B-)
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles (20% owned)
A Week 4 bye slows the rookie’s momentum, but he’ll emerge in Week 5 with a decent matchup against the Lions in Detroit. Wentz has been a revelation, completing 64.7% of his passes for 769 yards, with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Rookie quarterbacks tend to be poor fantasy bets, but Wentz has been extremely convincing at the onset of his career.
(Talent: B- | Supporting cast: C | Schedule: B | OVERALL: C+)
It’s hard to get enthusiastic against Trevor Siemian even after his 312-yard, four-TD coming-out party against the Bengals in Week 3, but he’ll be a viable streaming option against shaky Tampa Bay and Atlanta pass defenses. ... Brock Osweiler was terrible in a shutout loss to the Patriots last Thursday, but he has a good home matchup against the Titans this week and another in Week 6 against the Colts. ... Ryan Fitzpatrick threw six interceptions against the Chiefs in Week 3 and now must face the Seahawks, but he’ll be a viable Week 5 streaming option against the Steelers. ... In deep leagues, Brian Hoyer might not make a completely odious streamer this week against a shaky Detroit pass defense.
Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore Ravens (12% owned)
Justin Forsett and Terrance West have underwhelmed for three consecutive weeks, and Buck Allen continues to be a healthy scratch for the Ravens each week. Dixon, who has been recovering from a torn MCL, could return perhaps as early as this week. Opportunity abounds in the Baltimore backfield, and the price on Dixon is going to climb once word comes out that he’s fit to play. This is the week to grab the talented rookie from Louisiana Tech. Bid up to 35% of your FAAB budget if you’re desperately in need of RB help.
(Talent: B | Opportunity: A | Schedule: B | OVERALL: A-)
Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears (22% owned)
Jeremy Langford made an early departure from the Bears’ Sunday-night loss to the Cowboys due to a foot injury, leaving Howard as the lead back. The rookie fifth-rounder from Indiana is a rugged runner who’s carried nine times for 45 yards and added four catches for 47 yards. A workhorse during his last two years with the Hoosiers, Howard is built to handle 15–20 carries a game. If Langford’s injury is significant, Howard will command a great deal of attention from RB-needy owners this week and might command a premium investment. The Bears aren’t a fertile source of fantasy production these days, but opportunity is king at the RB position, and Howard now has it. You might need to spend 30% of your budget or more to win his services.
(Talent: B- | Opportunity: B+ | Schedule: B+ | OVERALL: B+)
Dwayne Washington, Detroit Lions (23% owned)
With 10 carries for 38 yards and no receptions Sunday against the Packers, Washington didn’t exactly move the needle in the fantasy world. But realize that the Green Bay run defense has been impregnable through three games this season. It’s also worth noting that the Lions were playing from behind all day, providing an unfavorable game script for the running back. A matchup against the battered Bears defense could give Washington a chance to shine this week, and a lot of waiver-wire shoppers will be down on him due to the tepid stats he produced on Sunday. A 10% bid might do the trick here.
(Talent: C+ | Opportunity: C+ | Schedule: B+ | OVERALL: B-)
Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles (1% and 39% owned)
Eagles coach Doug Pederson is deploying a strange RB-by-committee, with Smallwood, Sproles and Kenjon Barner cutting deeply into the snaps of starter Ryan Mathews, who’s said to be dealing with an ankle injury. In Sunday’s convincing win over the Steelers, Smallwood and Sproles each played an unofficial 24 snaps, while Barner played 11 and Mathews only nine. Smallwood, a rookie fifth-round pick from West Virginia, provided a spark against Pittsburgh, rushing 17 times for 79 yards and a touchdown. Mathews owners should consider adding Smallwood if they have the roster space.
Sproles exploded for 128 receiving yards, including a 73-yard touchdown catch, against the Steelers. The quick-footed 33-year-old has 211 yards from scrimmage and is a worthwhile weekly flex play in PPR leagues. Both players are on bye this week and can thus be acquired cheaply in most leagues.
(Smallwood: Talent: B- | Opportunity: B- | Schedule: C | OVERALL: C+)
(Sproles: Talent: B- | Opportunity: B- | Schedule: C | OVERALL: C+)
Bilal Powell, New York Jets (24% owned)
Powell was dropped in a lot of leagues after Matt Forte played a workhorse role in the Jets’ first couple of games, leaving few touches for Powell. But Forte, who turns 31 in December, might not be able to withstand a heavy load, and Powell remains an effective and versatile back. Powell has carried only nine times this season but is averaging 8.1 yards a pop. He had a season-high six catches against Kansas City for 41 yards.
(Talent: B- | Opportunity: C | Schedule: C- | OVERALL: C)
Kenyan Drake and Jay Ajayi shared work last week while Arian Foster recovered from a groin injury, and while Ajayi managed to punch in the game-winning touchdown in overtime, neither offers much value going forward with Foster expected back soon and the Dolphins expected to be pass-heavy. ... Cameron Artis-Payne and Fozzy Whittaker were an unimpressive duo for the Panthers in Sunday’s home loss to the Vikings, but with Jonathan Stewart expected to miss another week or two and an appealing matchup against Atlanta coming up in Week 4, Artis-Payne and Whittaker still have short-term value. ... Matt Asiata was out-touched by Jerrick McKinnon 17–7 on Sunday but has a wisp of standard-league value due to his goal-line-scoring potential. ... Here’s a friendly reminder that Dion Lewis is eligible to come off the PUP list in Week 7, though we may see him later than that. Lewis’ ostensible replacement, James White, has been a disappointment thus far, with eight receptions and 87 yards from scrimmage through three games, but he’s at least worth a bench spot in deep PPR leagues. ... Chris Thompson’s role in the Washington passing game hasn’t been as large as I’d envisioned, but he still possesses latent PPR value. ... Orleans Darkwa produced a 10-53-1 rushing line Sunday in Rashad Jennings’ absence, but even if Jennings misses another week or two, the Giants next two games are roadies against the Vikings and Packers, who both have rugged run defenses.
Terrelle Pryor, Cleveland Browns (20% owned)
This kid is a ballplayer, folks. Pryor was a one-man show in the Browns’ overtime loss Sunday in Miami, catching eight passes for 144 yards, running four times for 21 yards and a touchdown, and completing three of five pass attempts for 35 yards. Pryor even played safety for the Browns on the final play of the first half. A former Ohio State quarterback, Pryor is a remarkable athlete who’s quickly adapting to his new position.
Granted, there are some potential obstacles to Pryor’s ascendance. Josh Gordon returns from suspension in Week 5, Corey Coleman will eventually return from a broken hand and the Browns don’t have the sort of prolific passing offense that can distribute targets to that many worthy receivers. Still, it only makes sense for the Browns to manufacture touches for a weapon as unique as Pryor. Browns coach Hue Jackson was wise to take pressure off rookie QB Cody Kessler in his first NFL starts by letting Pryor take a number of snaps as a wildcat quarterback. I don’t think that was just a one-game wrinkle; we may well see a lot more of it in the weeks to come. He’s well worth a healthy bid (15% or more) if you need short-term help at receiver.
(Talent: A | Opportunity: C+ | Schedule: B- | OVERALL: B+)
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints (46% owned)
The big rookie from Ohio State caught 10 of 11 targets for 114 yards in his first two games, and his stock is sure to climb if he plays well against the Falcons on the Monday-night stage. Coby Fleener’s abysmal performance early in his tenure with the Saints could portend a big role for Thomas. Drew Brees needs at least one big-bodied pass catcher he can count on, and if it becomes clear that Fleener is unreliable, Thomas stands to inherit some of the targets that would have been Fleener’s. The 6' 2", 212-pound Thomas has Marques Colston-type size and may eventually serve a Colston-esque role for Brees.
(Talent: B+ | Opportunity: B+ | Schedule: C | OVERALL: B+)
Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets (34% owned)
Enunwa had a season-low four receptions Sunday against the Chiefs, but he was targeted a season-high 11 times. As mentioned last week, Enunwa’s role as a hybrid third receiver and pseudo tight end keeps him prominently involved in the Jets’ passing game despite the presence of target-hog WRs Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.
(Talent: B+ | Opportunity: B+ | Schedule: C | OVERALL: B+)
Sammie Coates, Pittsburgh Steelers (18% owned)
Markus Wheaton returned from injury on Sunday, Eli Rogers is still going to get some slot snaps and even Darrius Heyward-Bey finds his way onto the field from time to time, but Coates is the only fantasy-relevant Pittsburgh receiver other than the sublime Antonio Brown. Coates has only seven receptions so far, but four of the have covered 40 or more yards, and he’s averaging a ridiculous 29.0 yards per catch. That YPA isn’t sustainable, obviously, but the big plays will keep coming.
(Talent: B+ | Opportunity: C+ | Schedule: B+ | OVERALL: B)
Steve Smith, Baltimore Ravens (39% owned)
Smith lead Baltimore pass catchers in targets catches and yardage Sunday against the Jaguars, finishing with 8-87-0 on 11 looks. Smith has 16 catches and looks like his usually frisky self, showing no ill effects from offseason surgery to repair his torn Achilles. He’s averaging only 10.6 yards per catch and hasn’t found the end zone yet, but Steve Senior still has significant value in PPR leagues.
(Talent: A- | Opportunity: B | Schedule: C+ | OVERALL: B)
Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys (21% owned)
With 20 catches in only three games, Beasley has undeniable PPR value. He’s averaging only 10.7 yards per catch and hasn’t found his way into the end zone yet, but Beasley has become a favorite target of rookie QB Dak Prescott. Even with minimal big-play potential, Beasley’s high catch volume gives him a sturdy weekly PPR floor.
(Talent: C | Opportunity: A- | Schedule: B+ | OVERALL: B-)
Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd will both have better days than they had Sunday against the stifling Denver pass defense; their matchup against Miami this week is far less daunting. ... Robert Woods had 6-51-0 Sunday and will offer PPR value in any game that Sammy Watkins misses, but the problem is that Woods does his best work on shorter routes, and Bills QB Tyrod Taylor is woefully inaccurate on short to intermediate throws. ... Washington’s Jamison Crowder and Pierre Garcon are both worth a look this week, with the explosive Crowder being the preferred option. ... The Bears’ Kevin White is now only 49% owned in Yahoo leagues, and while he hasn’t made much of a splash so far, his value could soar quickly if the light bulb suddenly turns on. ... Kamar Aiken’s disappearance from the Ravens’ offense is an unexpected development that could bode well for young Breshad Perriman going forward. ... Kenny Britt has quietly caught 14-199-0 and is more important to the Rams’ passing game than the lavishly paid Tavon Austin is.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings (41% owned)
Dennis Pitta and Jacob Tamme were popular waiver wire additions last week, and TE shoppers are bound to show serious interest in Rudolph this week after his 8-70-1 performance against the Panthers. Rudolph has 14 catches on a healthy 26 targets and has found the end zone in consecutive games. New Vikings QB Sam Bradford seems to have eyes only for Rudoph and Stefon Diggs, and target consistency could make Rudolph a TE1 this year.
(Talent: B- | Opportunity: B+ | Schedule: B- | OVERALL: B)
Zach Miller, Chicago Bears (40% owned)
Miller is averaging a mere 8.3 yards per catch, but he caught a pair of touchdown passes from Brian Hoyer in Chicago’s Sunday-night loss to the Cowboys and is averaging five receptions per game. In a season where tight-end production has been hard to come by, you won’t feel awful about having to throw Miller into a lineup.
(Talent: C | Opportunity: C | Schedule: A- | OVERALL: C+)
Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2% owned)
Let’s make America Brate again! With Austin Seferian-Jenkins dismissed from the Buccaneers following a DUI arrest, Brate is now the only relevant tight end in the Tampa passing game. Brate was targeted 10 times against the Rams on Sunday and finished with five catches for 46 yards and two touchdowns. Mike Evans will obviously dominate targets for the Buccaneers, but Brate has intriguing value now that Seferian-Jenkins is out of the picture.
(Talent: C | Opportunity: B+ | Schedule: C- | OVERALL: C+)
Jesse James, Pittsburgh Steelers (30% owned)
Enthusiasm is quickly waning for James, who’s averaging a meager 7.0 yards per catch. There was hope that James would be able to do at least a reasonable imitation of Heath Miller, and it’s still possible that Ben Roethlisberger could drag James kicking and screaming into fantasy relevance. But James has 10-70-1 through three games, and the early results have not been encouraging.
(Talent: C- | Opportunity: B+ | Schedule: C | OVERALL: C)
Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts (10% owned)
Rather unexpectedly, Doyle has outproduced fellow Colts TE Dwayne Allen to date, catching 13-137-2 vs. Allen’s 9-113-1. The Colts’ TE production split could vary from week to week, but it’s becoming clear that Doyle will pay a significant role in the Indy offense.
(Talent: C- | Opportunity: C+ | Schedule: B | OVERALL: C)
Window shopping: Clive Walford, who has 11-102-1 so far this season and had a TD catch called back by a holding penalty on Sunday, is worth a look if the bin of available TEs in your league isn’t well stocked. ... Hunter Henry’s fantasy value hinges on the health of Antonio Gates; with Gates sidelined in Week 3, Henry had five catches for 76 yards in a loss to the Colts (but also lost a fumble to kill the Chargers’ last-ditch drive).