Deep dive: Plenty of RB, WR targets on the waiver wire

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Each week, I'm tasked with picking the top 10 waiver wire targets for fantasy football fans. That article is a more cursory glance at the waiver wire, helping the countless fantasy players on NFL.com in more casual leagues figure out who is worth adding to their roster.

However, for those of you degenerates ... err I mean "die-hards," in more intense leagues, my weekly "Deep Dive" column is the one for you. As the season progresses, this is where I'll highlight the players you want to be a week early on, as opposed to trying to get in on the waiver-wire bidding war post-breakout. I was pretty successful at finding gems a week or two earlier last year, but I can't promise anything. Fantasy is far from a guaranteed game, as we all know too well. I did recommend picking up Chad Henne once last year, and for that I sincerely apologize.

Any way, enough blathering. On to the "Deep Dive" waiver wire targets for Week 3.

Running backs


Matt Jones, RB, Washington Redskins (1.3 percent owned)

As many of us feared this offseason, it appears that there is a serious committee brewing in Washington. Last week, Alfred Morris ripped off over 120 yards on the ground. This week, it was the rookie's turn, and he looked damn good in the process. Jones showed power, speed and vision en route to 146 total yards and two touchdowns behind a revamped offensive line that Rams head coach Jeff Fisher referred to as "the Cowboys all over again." Jones needs to be added immediately in almost all leagues, but it might be a week before we can start him with true confidence. He could be a nice flex play against the Giants this week on Thursday Night Football, but this backfield was split down the middle in Week 2 -- 19 carries for Jones, 18 for Morris. Regardless, go out and get Jones, as he's proven too talented of a runner to leave on the waivers any longer.

David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals (31.5 percent owned)

How long until Bruce Arians cedes and gives more touches to his electric rookie? Apparently, not long if we're to believe Bruce Arians from his press conference on Monday:

Johnson scored a touchdown on two of his first three NFL touches. Counting kickoff returns, he has nine career touches for 251 yards and three touchdowns. If you're in a league that rewards points to individual players for return yards and touchdowns, Johnson merits weekly flex consideration, even though he's barely touching the football. Hopefully that changes soon, and if it does, you'll want to have Johnson stashed away on your bench.

Lance Dunbar, RB, Dallas Cowboys (3.3 percent owned)

Dunbar saw plenty of snaps in Week 2 (63, tied for the most at his position with Joseph Randle), but wasn't as productive as in Week 1. Still, he is getting plenty of looks in the passing game and could make for a matchup-dependent flex start in deeper PPR formats. One of those matchups could be on the horizon in Week 3, as the Falcons were gashed in back-to-back weeks by Darren Sproles and Shane Vereen, backs who Dunbar compares to favorably in terms of skill set and usage. Dunbar is a nice value and should have a safe-ish floor in Week 3 for PPR teams in need of another running back.

Karlos Williams, RB, Buffalo Bills (4.5 percent owned)

Williams saw a decent amount of work in Week 2, getting eight touches to LeSean McCoy's 18, and those came on a mere 23 snaps (32 percent of the team's total). Williams was pretty effective as well, especially when it came to pounding the ball in near the goal line. He scored his second touchdown in as many weeks. With Shady still nursing a hamstring injury, Williams has a small role carved out in this offense, and can merit flex consideration in deeper leagues until Shady returns to full health. Williams is also one of the best stash options in fantasy right now. If Shady goes down for an extended period of time, Williams will immediately jump into the RB2 conversation.

Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos (17.2 percent owned)

While C.J. Anderson looked fine on Thursday Night Football playing through a toe injury, Hillman still saw nine carries and one target in the passing game while splitting snaps 42 percent to 58 in favor of Anderson. Hillman could see an uptick in work as well if the team starts shifting to a more Peyton Manning-friendly, shotgun-style offense. He's worth rostering in standard leagues and especially in deeper formats. Just don't burn a top waiver wire priority on him just yet, as his week-to-week ceiling isn't that high.

John Crockett & Alonzo Harris, RBs, Green Bay Packers (0.0 percent owned)

Every game, all season

It makes sense that Crockett and Harris aren't owned in any NFL.com leagues -- neither has played a single snap in the NFL yet. The reason they make this column is because with Eddie Lacy potentially missing time with an ankle injury (although the team is optimistic he could be back in Week 3), Crockett or Harris could become the No. 2 running back on the Packers roster behind James Starks. Starks hasn't been the picture of health in his NFL career, which means one of these two is one play away from seeing more NFL snaps than he likely ever imagined in one of the league's best offenses. Harris won the No. 3 RB job during training camp, but I have a suspicion that Crockett might be the better back to own. They are both stash candidates for the near future in deeper leagues.

Terron Ward, RB, Atlanta Falcons (0.0 percent owned)

With Tevin Coleman sidelined for a few weeks with a cracked ribs, the Falcons will likely lean more on Devonta Freeman in the running game, while mixing in Ward. If you've lost Coleman to the injury and are desperate for some running back depth, Ward could be in the mix. He might not have a ton of value immediately, but he's worth picking up in deeper leagues in case the Falcons continue to deploy Freeman as part of a committee.

Super deep pick of the week: Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, free agent (0.4 percent owned)

Bradhsaw is currently an NFL free agent who just finished serving a one-game suspension, but it has been rumored that the Colts have "some interest" in their former running back. Considering the depth chart behind Frank Gore is currently Josh Robinson, Tyler Varga and the tackling dummy, it makes sense why the Colts would look to add a veteran, especially one who was quite successful in their offense last season. If you're in a deeper league and hurting for running back depth, you should be able to easily sneak Bradshaw off of waivers and stash him for a few weeks in case the Colts give him a call.

Wide receivers


Travis Benjamin, WR, Cleveland Browns (6.1 percent owned)

Don't look now, but Benjamin is currently the third-highest scoring wide receiver ... in all of fantasy football. That's what happens when you are on the receiving end of three deep touchdown strikes from Johnny Manziel. Benjamin was an underrated player last season, and has come out of the gates hot in 2015. Like with David Johnson, if your league gives points for return yards/scores to individual players, Benjamin needs to be picked up immediately. In more traditional formats, however, Benjamin is still worth a flier as a WR4 or WR5 who can be deployed when the matchup is right.

Rishard Matthews, WR, Miami Dolphins (0.4 percent owned)

Against the odds, Matthews has emerged as the No. 2 WR for the Dolphins, and not offseason acquisitions Kenny Stills/Greg Jennings, or first-round draft pick DeVante Parker, the latter of whom has been dealing with injuries all offseason. I scibbled about Matthews in this space last week, as he had four catches for 34 yards and a touchdown, but now that he's doubled-down with a six-catch, 115-yard performance in Week 2, more fantasy owners need to take notice. While the Dolphins offense hasn't been humming at the level many of us expected during the offseason, the offense is proficient enough to create opportunities for a few fantasy players. Matthews is making a case to be considered as a weekly WR3, and should be rostered immediately in case this offense puts it all together and starts scoring points as we expected it to.

Leonard Hankerson, WR, Atlanta Falcons (0.2 percent owned)

A tip of the cap to RotoViz's 14TeamMocker who has been pounding the table for Hankerson all offseason. It finally seems like Hankerson, the subject of much offseason hype, could be pushing Roddy White out of the No. 2 WR role for the Falcons, as you can see below.

I am in no means writing off White, a tremendous player who has had a remarkable career that isn't over yet, but Hankerson is worthy of more attention on the waiver wire this week, especially in deeper leagues. The Falcons seem like a team that's starting to put it together on both sides of the football, and Hankerson could be in line for some sneaky good production as the season rolls along.

Kamar Aiken, WR, Baltimore Ravens (0.4 percent owned)

Will the real No. 2 receiver for the Ravens please stand up? Is it you, Kamar Aiken? Are you who we've been looking for? OK, enough ham-fisted music references. We've been wondering all offseason who would step up for the Ravens to fill in for the departed Torrey Smith. The easy option is first-round draft pick Breshad Perriman, but he has been dealing with PCL sprain and will be incredibly raw upon returning to the lineup. So far, the answer has been a combination of Crockett Gillmore and Aiken, who splashed on Sunday with five catches for 89 yards. Plus, Steve Smith went to bat for Aiken, so who are we to doubt him? Aiken is available in almost every NFL.com fantasy league, so if you're looking for depth at wide receiver, Aiken is worth considering.

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Tennessee Titans (50.0 percent owned)

I'm kind of surprised by Green-Beckham's ownership percentage, considering he didn't play in college at all last year and is unjustly buried on the Titans depth chart, but perhaps that is a representation of the dynasty leagues on NFL.com. Any way, if DGB is available in your league, grab him and stash him for the future. He has only played on 22 snaps so far this season (56 less than Justin Hunter, which makes me want to puke), but has flashed his rare athletic gifts a few times, including on his touchdown this week. The Titans won't be able to keep him off the field for much longer if he keeps making plays like that, so do yourself a favor and have him on your bench for when his inevitable breakout game comes.

Tight ends


Richard Rodgers, TE, Green Bay Packers (9.5 percent owned)

Week 2 was a perfect example of the type of game one might come to expect from Rodgers. He saw two of the team's six red zone targets, turning one into a touchdown. He also caught a 2-point conversion, helping boost his fantasy total for the day. He finished with only 23 yards, but his work where it counted -- in the end zone -- helped him finish as the sixth-highest scoring tight end heading into the Monday night game. Rodgers could be frustrating week to week, but it is clear Aaron Rodgers trusts his young tight end near the goal line. For what it's worth, the fear of Andrew Quarless vulturing snaps/targets isn't great, as Rodgers has almost doubled up Quarless on offensive snaps through the first two weeks (83 to 44).

Virgil Green, TE, Denver Broncos (9.5 percent owned)

Green's upside is still relatively limited, as Owen Daniels is very clearly the TE1 in this offense, out-snapping Green thus far 135 to 54. However, their production, despite the snap differential, isn't that far off: Daniels has a line of 5/24/0, while Green's is 2/12/1. If the Broncos shift back more to Manning's style of offense and not Gary Kubiak's under-center, run-first approach, I could see Green (the younger, more athletic tight end) getting more involved. However, as for the near future he's not a startable asset until he sees the field (and targets) with more regularity.

Quarterbacks


Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders (10.1 percent owned)

We were excited to see Carr operate in the Raiders offense with a slew of young, talented weapons in Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree (he's only 28 years old!) and Latavius Murray. Unfortunately, his opening act was cut short in Week 1 with a hand injury. In Week 2, we got a nice flash of what this group could do together. Both Cooper and Crabtree went for over 100 receiving yards, while Murray notched 87 total yards and a touchdown. Carr himself played well, too, as his 7.6 yards per attempt was the third-highest mark of his career and his 65.2 completion percentage was the second-highest mark of his career. Carr could easily come crashing back down to earth, but this was a great showing for the young signal-caller. He's worth rostering in deeper leagues or streaming when the matchup is in his favor. Next week the Raiders play the Browns defense that is pretty stingy against the pass. If Carr performs well again, he'll be an even hotter waiver wire commodity. That's why you want to strike now before it's too late.

Johnny Manziel, QB, Cleveland Browns (2.1 percent owned)

Manziel got the start again for the injured Josh McCown, and while he won't be unseating Aaron Rodgers as the quarterback king anytime soon, he did enough to get the Browns the win and put himself back on the fantasy radar. So far, the vast majority of Manziel's fantasy points have come on three deep touchdown passes -- all to Travis Benjamin. Manziel flashed his improvisational skills in Week 2, and while his final line of 14.98 wasn't eye-popping, he played smarter with the football and didn't commit a turnover. For teams that lost Tony Romo, or those playing in two-QB formats, Manziel is worth a look this week on the waiver wire.

-- Alex Gelhar is a fantasy football writer and editor for NFL.com, and the producer of the NFL Fantasy LIVE podcast. He saw "Sicario" this weekend, a tense drama about the drug war going on at the U.S. border with Mexico. It hasn't been widely release just yet, but once it comes to your town he recommends you check it out. Hit him up on Twitter @AlexGelhar for movie recommendations or fantasy advice.

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