Another week, another waiver wire. Good news for roughly 83 percent of you: De'Von Achane is available in your fantasy league! In case you missed it, he scored 51.3 fantasy points. No, not on the season. On Sunday. Needless to say, he is the top waiver add this week. And to those of you staring at Achane on your league-mate's roster, fear not. We've got several more names on the docket! Read on!
As always, these are the most intriguing players who are rostered in less than 60 percent of NFL.com leagues. And yes, I have incorporated mustache wordplay. (If you got it, flaunt it!)
If you have questions, my DMs are open: @MattOkada on Twitter ... or X ... or whatever it is.
Derek Carr exited this game early in the third quarter with a shoulder injury that could sideline the Saints' starter for some time. That means Winston (with an obligatory smattering of Taysom Hill) is in position to take the reins in New Orleans. We’ve seen the former No. 1 overall pick have fantasy relevance before, while being assisted heavily by a WR duo of Chris and Mike. You see where I’m going with this. Before, that was Godwin and Evans in Tampa Bay; this time around, it's Olave and Thomas in New Orleans. (Plus the return from suspension of Alvin Kamara, who routinely turns dump-off passes into long touchdowns.) Jameis will likely be a matchup-dependent stream (as Carr was), or a decent option in two-QB leagues.
While Mr. Unlimited was a bit of a disappointment in an absolute shellacking by the Dolphins on Sunday, he still eclipsed 300 passing yards (for the second straight week). His fantasy startability depends largely on whether or not he finds the end zone -- something he is likely to do against the Bears in Week 4. Chicago’s utterly abysmal defense has allowed 22.4 fantasy points per game to starting QBs so far this season, giving up seven passing touchdowns. Wilson is also a solid option for a streaming “quarterback combo” in your fantasy league -- and he should get the start this week.
Winston and Dalton? What is this, the mid-2010s? No, just a product of injuries and good matchups. Obviously, Dalton is only worth adding if rookie Bryce Young's ankle injury sidelines him again in Week 4. Which, given how well Dalton played (361 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday), how badly Young was battered over the first two weeks (15 QB hits) and how little reason there is to force the youngster back into action … would not surprise me. If Dalton does get another start, he will face the Vikings, who have allowed 23.5 fantasy points per game to the position.
GUYS TO 'STACHE: I mentioned C.J. Stroud last week, and he posted another 20-point performance against the Jags in Week 3. The rookie is putting up fantasy numbers (and even earned his first win in a divisional upset), but I don't particularly love the idea of starting him against the Steelers in Week 4. Or the Falcons in Week 5, or the Saints in Week 6. And he's on a bye in Week 7. Hence the 'stache. If you've got the room on your bench, just tuck him away for a (preferably not) rainy day.
Has a waiver-wire running back every posted 50-plus fantasy points in a week? My gut says no. My brief research into the subject also says no. In what was undeniably the most mind-boggling offensive performance of my (and probably your) lifetime, the Dolphins posted 70 points and 726 total yards on the Broncos on Sunday. Four of their 10 touchdowns (yes, 10 touchdowns) were scored by the rookie running back out of Texas A&M in his breakout performance. And importantly, he looked the part throughout the game. He is exactly the kind of explosive weapon Mike McDaniel (who's a branch off the Kyle Shanahan tree) relishes in deploying. Let’s be clear: This is the best fantasy performance Achane will have this season -- likely in his career. And Raheem Mostert still garnered 20 touches (and scored four touchdowns) in the Week 3 blowout. But with this offense chugging like it is, I’m snatching up any piece I can, especially when said piece runs a 4.3 forty. Achane is undoubtedly the top pickup of the week.
The third-round pick was not particularly inspiring in his NFL debut on Sunday (nine carries for 34 yards). But neither were Tony Jones Jr. (eight for 31) or Taysom Hill (four for 12). Alvin Kamara is set to return and will obviously be the lead back out the gate. But he has never been a 20-carry-a-game bell cow, which is why New Orleans brought in Jamaal Williams this offseason. With Williams now on injured reserve, both Miller and Jones will likely get a few more shots at earning an early-down role. I’d consider Miller the favorite to win that competition. If he does, he’ll be a flex consideration for at least the near future.
The box score from Pittsburgh’s Week 3 win over the Raiders doesn’t exactly shout “add Jaylen Warren!” He gained 52 total yards on 11 touches. But here’s the thing: Warren is putting out consistently better tape than Najee Harris. The efficiency numbers support the story. For the record, I think it’s relatively unlikely (though not impossible) that Warren just fully supplants Harris and takes on a bell-cow role in this offense. But I also think it’s unlikely that his role doesn’t continue to expand, given the disparity in performance. He is undoubtedly the more explosive back, and the Steelers need as much offensive spark as they can get. One could say Jaylen warrants a bigger workload. Sorry, the pun was sitting right there! Point is, he’s worth tucking into a bench spot if you have one available.
GUYS TO 'STACHE: One of the best ways to win a fantasy league: Pick up a top-tier handcuff before he becomes the top add of the week. Elijah Mitchell (behind Christian McCaffrey in San Francisco) and Rico Dowdle (behind Tony Pollard in Dallas) are two of the most intriguing handcuffs early on this season. Mitchell plays in what is perhaps the most talent-elevating and consistently productive offense in the NFL. Dowdle has looked good on the very few plays when Pollard has received rest in Dallas. Both could be league winners in the event of injuries to the stars ahead of them (please, let it never be so). It's more or less impossible to identify the best week-to-week fantasy asset(s) in the Chiefs offense, but Jerick McKinnon is -- at the very least -- a red zone favorite of Andy Reid's. 'Stache him just in case he starts compiling touches like he did down the stretch run last season. Shout out to Ezekiel Elliott, who managed 80 yards on 16 carries in Week 3 to help the Patriots beat the Jets (again). You're not starting Zeke any time soon (Rhamondre Stevenson is still the lead back), but you are 'staching him in case of a Stevenson injury (which could leave the former Cowboy handling 20-plus carries a game). Believe it or not, Melvin Gordon III is still playing football and (now in Baltimore) still getting touches. Specifically, 10 carries and a pair of nice-looking catch-and-runs in Week 3. Like with Elliott in New England, this is a time-share for now in Baltimore. But Gordon could have value if he gets a shot at the starting job.
The third-round pick is making a habit out of essentially doubling his receiving output each successive week. Just 34 yards in Week 1, then 72 in Week 2 … then 145 in the Week 3 win over the Jaguars. At this rate, we can expect around 1,000 yards in Week 6. OK, but seriously: Even with the relatively quiet debut game, Dell has totaled 52.1 fantasy points on the young season -- enough to sit squarely in the top 20 at the position. He looks explosive and dynamic, and he is going to have consistent opportunity to produce in this pass-happy Houston offense. I think this performance (loosely) cements his place behind Nico Collins and ahead of Robert Woods as the WR2 on the Texans' depth chart. I’d consider spending a significant claim to get him, even with a somewhat difficult upcoming schedule.
This is becoming a legitimate challenge: How many weeks in a row can Moore earn a valuable target share, underperform in the fantasy box score, appear in this column and see little-to-no bump in his roster percentage? I’m setting the line at another 1.5 weeks. Just how wild is this trend? Moore has 25 targets through three games -- good enough to crack the top 20 among wide receivers on the season -- but is averaging only 1.1 fantasy points per target. (In PPR. Where you get 1.0 points for each catch.) This is unsustainable inefficiency, which means someday soon Moore is going to have a breakout performance. Perhaps in Week 4 against a battered and beatable Ravens secondary. I promise, I’ll stop including him here eventually. Just not yet.
For the second consecutive week, Thielen was perhaps the brightest spot on an otherwise dull Carolina offense. In this Sunday’s 37-27 loss to the Seahawks, it was a legitimate WR1 performance: 11 catches on 14 targets for 145 yards and a touchdown, courtesy of backup quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton identified and exploited what Bryce Young has been a bit slow to grasp -- that at 33 years old, Thielen is still a solid safety blanket and arguably the Panthers’ best bet at key first downs and red zone touchdowns. I’ll say with some confidence that Thielen is a better start as long as Dalton is under center, but I’ll also take the optimistic stance that Young learns from watching Dalton, too. Either way, you could do worse for a PPR flex play.
Like Elijah Moore, Doubs has been in this column before and remains available in the vast majority of leagues. It may be the looming return of Christian Watson (though that timeline keeps stretching in a concerning fashion). It may be the general lack of clarity in this receiving corps (fair enough). But Doubs just drew a team-high (by far) 12 targets in a comeback win over the Saints on Sunday and converted them into 18.3 fantasy points. I’m not saying you must add him -- he’s more like a high-upside ‘stache -- but he should absolutely be rostered in more than 13 percent of leagues. See if you have a low-upside bench player worth dropping for Doubs and his potential.
Yet another NFL stud and fantasy star has fallen to injury in 2023. Mike Williams will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL suffered at the end of a brilliant performance on Sunday. The most important takeaway: Keenan Allen could be the fantasy WR1 for the rest of season. The second-most important takeaway: Injuries suck. The third-most important takeaway: Either Josh Palmer or Quentin Johnston is likely to be relevant down the stretch. Palmer is the safer option with some prior fantasy production on his résumé (including 16.6 fantasy points on Sunday). Johnston is the higher-upside rookie who was just drafted 21st overall to (presumably, given his size) be the successor to Williams. I prefer Palmer for now, but imagine Johnston might be the better play come winter.
GUYS TO 'STACHE: For the second straight week, rookie wideout Marvin Mims ran a bafflingly low number of routes -- this time in Denver's embarrassing 70-20 loss to the Dolphins -- yet still managed to impress with the little opportunity he was given (73 receiving yards and a 99-yard kickoff-return touchdown). Sean Payton and Co. can only watch Mims running circles around defenses (and special teams units) for so long before his usage starts trending up. Wan’Dale Robinson made a quiet return from a torn ACL in Thursday night's loss to the Giants, but his target rate on limited routes and several pieces of his prospect profile (43rd overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft) both hint at a potential breakout at some point this season. The Giants desperately need a go-to guy, and Robinson might get a shot at the job sooner rather than later. Another prospect-to-watch: Colts' third-round rookie Josh Downs, who snagged eight of 12 targets in Sunday’s overtime loss to the Ravens -- with Gardner Minshew at quarterback. With Anthony Richardson likely to return soon, this one is more of a dart throw, but it's not a bad one in deeper leagues.
Despite his inclusion in the Week 2 waiver article and a (relatively) superb performance in that week’s loss to the Seahawks, the Lions’ rookie tight end made it through Week 3 still available in more than half of leagues. That’ll correct once waivers run this Tuesday night. In a 20-6 win over the Falcons on Sunday, LaPorta scored a 45-yard touchdown and finished with eight catches on 11 targets for 84 yards. He now sits at 42.6 fantasy points on the young season -- second among all tight ends. Only former Lion T.J. Hockenson has been better for fantasy through three games. Last week, we highlighted Hunter Henry’s place in the top five. LaPorta now belongs in that conversation, as well. The only guys worth an automatic start ahead of the rookie are Hockenson and Travis Kelce. This is the world we live in. I don’t make the rules; I just tell you how to follow them. If LaPorta is available in your league, he may legitimately be the No. 2 add of the week behind De’Von Achane.
While Ferguson did not score a touchdown on Sunday (the hope I highlighted in last week’s column), he did pull in five catches for 48 yards on seven targets. That is essentially the most we can ask for on a weekly basis out of a tight end these days. In fact, Ferguson looks just as likely to be the No. 2 target in this offense as anyone else not named CeeDee Lamb. Touchdowns will be icing on the cake. Unless you have one of the guys mentioned in the LaPorta blurb above, I’d consider Ferguson a weekly threat to start in your fantasy lineup.
GUYS TO 'STACHE: One day, we might look back at 2023 as the year of the rookie tight end (typically a big drafting no-no in fantasy). Packers second-rounder Luke Musgrave has joined LaPorta in the conversation, after some hype in the offseason translated into a double-digit fantasy performance on eight targets in Week 3. There's a lot of uncertainty in the receiving corps in Green Bay, which means there's a lot of opportunity for Musgrave.
Someone explain to me why the Steelers D/ST is available in more than 40 percent of NFL.com leagues. Anyone? No? I didn’t think so. Fix this on the double! The T.J. Watt-led unit gets the Texans in Week 4 and should be considered nearly matchup-proof anyway. I expect to see this rostership percentage in the high 80s by this time next week, or I’ll be sending a note to your parents.
We have yet to see this defense truly tested yet this season -- hampered Joe Burrow in the rain in Week 1, Steelers in Week 2, Titans in Week 3 -- but on tape, this unit look like one of the better groups in the league. I’m considering Cleveland's D nearly matchup-proof until proven otherwise. That includes this Sunday against the Ravens, who’ve actually surrendered four giveaways and eight sacks so far this season.
The Week 4 meeting between the Broncos and Bears is looking like a prime example of stoppable force versus moveable object. The Broncos D/ST has not been good this season ... but the Bears offense has arguably been worse. There are going to be sacks and turnovers in this game. It’s an ugly option in an ugly game, but ugly is often good for D/ST streams.
Listen. We're not going to address kickers every week. But not every week features a 24-point performance from a kicker rostered in just 13 percent of leagues. I'm talking about former Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion Matt Gay, now of the -- *checks notes* -- Indianapolis Colts. The man hit four 50-plus yarders in the Week 3 overtime win over the Ravens. That'll probably be his season high in fantasy points, but it's still worth a gander. Also, in what I believe is his 43rd season in the NFL, Matt Prater is still sending pigskins through uprights from far away. That's some hard-hitting analysis right there. The 39-year-old is a top-10 kicker right now. Add him if you need to.