Deep dive: Backup RBs lead Week 3 waiver targets

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

However, for those of you degenerates ... err I mean "die-hards" in more intense or competitive leagues, this is the column 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 win them in a waiver-wire bidding war after they've started to produce. Many of these players will hopefully graduate to the main waiver wire column and -- if you're smart -- they'll already be on your roster. Of course, I can't promise anything. Fantasy is far from a guaranteed game, as we know all too well. Just last week it looked like Kenny Stills was going to hold off DeVante Parker as the Dolphins No. 2 wide receiver, and now, well, you'll notice Stills is absent from this list.

Anyway, let's see what else Week 3 has to offer on the waiver wire.

Deep waiver targets for Week 3:


Sam Bradford, QB, Minnesota Vikings - 1.4 percent owned
Christine Michael, RB, Seattle Seahawks - 59.7 percent owned
Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Carolina Panthers - 0.6 percent owned
Dwayne Washington, RB, Detroit Lions - 0.2 percent owned
Alfred Morris, RB, Cowboys - 11.3 percent owned
Terrance West, RB, Baltimore Ravens - 33.8 percent owned
Matt Asiata, RB, Minnesota Vikings - 0.2 percent owned
Jalen Richard, RB, Oakland Raiders - 10.1 percent owned
DeAndre Washington, RB, Oakland Raiders - 1.6 percent owned
Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington Redskins - 0.3 percent owned
Kenny Britt, WR, Los Angeles Rams - 4.2 percent owned
Chris Conley, WR, Kansas City Chiefs - 0.2 percent owned
Sammie Coates, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers - 1.2 percent owned
Vance McDonald, TE, San Francisco 49ers - 4.5 percent owned
Jesse James, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers - 8.0 percent owned
Jacob Tamme, TE, Atlanta Falcons - 1.0 percent owned

Quarterbacks


If you feel like being bold or are desperate for a starting quarterback, Sam Bradford could be worth a shot this week. He played very well against a strong Packers defense in Week 2, and will get to pick on a group of young cornerbacks in Carolina next week. With Stefon Diggs emerging as a true No. 1 wide receiver, Bradford could post solid totals again.

Running backs


No, Christine Michael isn't a true "deep" option, but if someone in your league made a rash decision and cut CMike after Thomas Rawls was announced as the starter last week, scoop him up immediately. He outplayed Rawls for the second-straight week and could be leading the committee in Seattle. Cameron Artis-Payne, a healthy scratch the first two games, will likely be activated for Week 3 as Jonathan Stewart (ankle, hamstring) is going to miss the game, per Ron Rivera. Last year, CAP saw over 54 percent of the backfield opportunities from Week 15 to 17 when Stewart was sidelined, averaging nine fantasy points per game. Ameer Abdullah suffered a foot injury in Week 2, but thankfully X-Rays were negative. Still, he could miss some time, which puts Dwayne Washington on the fantasy radar. Washington is a more natural between-the-tackles runner than Riddick, and could see an uptick in playing time with Abdullah sidelined. Riddick was featured far more heavily after Abdullah went down, but I'd guess the playing time evens out a bit more if Washington gets a week's worth of starter reps. At the very least, he'll have low-end flex appeal as a goal-line option in Week 3 against the Packers.

Alfred Morris made good on his revenge game in Week 2 by finding the end zone against Washington, but he only played on 15 percent of the offensive snaps and saw just five rush attempts. Still, Morris is worth rostering in deeper leagues if the Cowboys decide to lessen Ezekiel Elliott's workload a bit after the rookie fumbled twice in Week 2. Terrance West outperformed Justin Forsett in Week 2, despite playing on 20 fewer snaps and seeing five fewer touches. The team continues to leave Javorious Allen as a healthy scratch, so it might just be a matter of time before West takes control of this backfield. He's worth a stash for now, and could be a low-end flex play in deeper leagues. While Jerick McKinnon is the ideal target in Minnesota this week in the wake of Adrian Peterson's injury, Matt Asiata will certainly play a role as well. Back in 2014, Asiata actually received a larger share of the backfield opportunities (53 percent) than McKinnon (36.3 percent), despite McKinnon looking like the more dynamic and efficient player. I'd expect those roles to reverse this time around if Peterson misses a significant amount of time, but Asiata will have value in deeper leagues.

Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington continue to look like prime stash candidates after two weeks. They once again split the change-of-pace duties, seeing only 21 and 20 percent of the offensive snaps, respectively. They lack standalone value at the moment, but could be weekly flex starters if Latavius Murray were to suffer any sort of injury.

Wide receivers


Jamison Crowder is tied for the team lead in targets (18) and receptions (12) with Jordan Reed and is tied for second in the league with five red-zone targets (two catches, one touchdown). His standard-league appeal is limited because he runs the vast majority of his routes close to the line of scrimmage, but those in PPR formats would be wise to roster Crowder this week. He'll offer a safe weekly floor, but his ceiling is quite low. I guess Kenny Britt is trying to be a thing ... again. The Rams passing offense doesn't inspire a lot of fantasy confidence, but Britt has posted 67 and 94 yards in his first two games. The Rams face the Bucs in Week 3, giving Britt some low-end flex appeal against a shaky secondary.

The Chiefs offense had a poor outing against a tough Texans defense in Houston, but Chris Conley still played on 84 percent of the offensive snaps and saw four targets. In more favorable matchups and game scripts (like a potential high-scoring date with the Jets in Week 3), Conley could be a nice boom-or-bust flex option in deeper leagues. After an offseason littered with puff pieces on his development, Sammie Coates finally delivered for the Steelers. Granted, all of his production came on two big receptions, but they were the exact type of plays the Steelers offense lacks right now with Martavis Bryant suspended and Ladarius Green on the PUP. The Steelers face the Eagles in Week 3, a team with a weakness at the cornerback position. Coates will be an extremely high-variance play, but if he hits his ceiling he's a week-winning player to have in your lineup

Tight ends


Both Vance McDonald and Jesse James remain the crown jewels of the deep waiver-wire tight ends. McDonald did all of his damage in Week 2 on one explosive catch-and-run that resulted in a 75-yard touchdown, while James saw at least five targets for the second week in a row and hauled in a red-zone touchdown. These two are looking like solid producers for their offenses and are worth owning in all formats. Suddenly and rather unexpectedly, Jacob Tamme is on the fantasy radar. The veteran has hauled in 11 receptions for 126 yards and a touchdown over the first two weeks, with at least 50 yards in each game. Julio Jones is nicked up with an ankle injury, which could vacate a few more targets in the passing game. A Week 3 matchup with the suspect Saints defense could be a prime opportunity to stream Tamme at the tight end position.

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-- Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar

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