- Jim McCormick is a fantasy football and fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
Editor’s note: Because we know the fantasy football week is fluid, this column is published on Tuesdays, but roster percentages are updated on Fridays. We will leave all players in the column (except those who played on Thursday), even when they exceed our original threshold of less than 50% rostered, just in case they are still available in your league.
Each week of the NFL season, we will identify fantasy football waiver-wire pickups specifically for those of you looking for streaming options in deeper formats (including IDP leagues). These are players available in a majority of ESPN Fantasy leagues, who have enticing matchups in the week ahead that may make them worthy of consideration for your lineup.
While you may notice some overlap with Field Yates’ pickup column that publishes on Mondays, an important distinction to make between that column and this one is that the options mentioned in this column are focused solely on this week’s matchup and not the players’ value for the remainder of the season.
Do you need replacement options for injured players? Or are you merely dealing with depth issues? A roundtable of fantasy analysts and NFL Nation reporters will join me to identify some choice names to consider each week.
Below are some of our favorites for Week 3.
Gardner Minshew II, Jacksonville Jaguars (24.9% rostered; vs. Dolphins)
Miami has the lowest pressure rate on opposing passers in the NFL and conversely has allowed the highest touchdown rate (per attempt) to enemy arms. With Minshew empowered to create with his legs and arm in a soft matchup, Thursday night offers a bold path to fantasy fun with a choice matchup against the Dolphins. -Jim McCormick
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers (42.9% rostered; at Giants)
A high-ankle sprain could keep Garoppolo from playing this week, and in such a case I’d even consider streaming Nick Mullens in deeper leagues. If he’s able to go, Garoppolo presents some value given the Giants have the league’s ninth-lowest pressure rate on passers and have yielded the fifth-most yards per dropback to passers in 2020. Whoever is behind center for San Francisco’s efficient, if depleted, offense in Week 3 is positioned to thrive. -J.M.
Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers (39.8% rostered; vs. Panthers)
In a competitive game, it was pivotal to see Kelley earn more touches than Austin Ekeler this past Sunday. Both Bolts backs did well in the loss to the Chiefs, but it was Kelley who emerged as a valuable early-down option for the Chargers. The Panthers have been soft against the run to open the season in allowing 5.32 yards per carry to tailbacks, most in the NFL. Kelley has a real chance to compile another big day from scrimmage. -J.M.
Dion Lewis (2.1% rostered; vs. 49ers) and Devonta Freeman, New York Giants (15.3% rostered)
Yes, I’m taking the easy way out and selecting two here — mostly because we don’t know what Freeman’s role will be right away. Usually, giving advice to pick up a running back against the 49ers is dicey, but this is different. Lewis and/or Freeman should see a lot of work for New York with Saquon Barkley out for the season. And the Niners’ front seven is not healthy. Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas are out for the season. Dee Ford is also injured, and recently signed Ziggy Ansah is much more of a pass-rusher than run-stopper when healthy. So with injuries piling up combined with staying in an unfamiliar place (the Greenbrier in West Virginia instead of back in the Bay Area), a good share of carries make both of these players incredibly intriguing for Week 3 (and beyond). -Michael Rothstein, NFL Nation Lions reporter
Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans (46.5% rostered; at Vikings)
With A.J. Brown still working through a knee injury, I like Davis as a WR3 this Sunday versus a Vikings defense that has played subpar football out of the gate. Over the first two weeks of the season, Davis has caught 10 of 13 targets for 137 yards with one score. And that touchdown grab came last week on a red zone opportunity. While Davis is a little tight-hipped as a route runner, the Titans will scheme him open on crossing routes and in-breakers off play-action. And right now, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill is dialed in, driving the ball with confidence in the passing game. -Matt Bowen, NFL writer and analyst
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers (17.3% rostered, at New Orleans)
The Packers are the first team in more than a decade to open a season with consecutive 42-plus-point outbursts, and you know what doesn’t project to slow that down? A game on a fast track against an opponent on short rest. MVS has accounted for nearly half of Green Bay’s deep receiving yards this season and offers high-end upside that you may want if your roster is already being held together by scotch tape. -Kyle Soppe, ESPN Fantasy researcher
Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins (47.7% rostered, at Jaguars)
Heading into the season, I was skeptical about Gesicki’s ability to shine under Chan Gailey, whose offenses have rarely given love to tight ends, but guess what? Apparently, Ryan Fitzpatrick loves his tight end, because in their past eight games, Gesicki has scored six times and averaged 7.5 targets, including an 11-8-130-1 line in Week 2. Now the Dolphins face a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that was atrocious against tight ends last season and just got torched for a 4-82-2 line by Jonnu Smith in Week 2. -Tom Carpenter, ESPN Fantasy editor
Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys (1.8% rostered; at Seahawks)
The Seahawks have been solid in defending tight ends thus far, but Schultz merits attention if only due to sheer volume, as last week’s 10-target showing revealed how much Dak Prescott trusts him over the middle. With the potential for 20% of the target share in Dallas, Schultz enters the streaming tier at the position in Seattle this week. -J.M.
Defense/Special Teams (D/ST)
Cleveland Browns (12.3% rostered; vs. Washington Football Team)
Washington is allowing a pressure rate of roughly 28% on offense, an above-average allowance that could play into the Browns’ favor this weekend. Cleveland’s strength on defense is likely on the line, thus this could prove rewarding from a defensive perspective if Washington remains porous to pressure. -J.M.
Los Angeles Chargers (29.0% rostered; vs. Panthers)
Facing a Carolina offense missing its engine this week, the Chargers bring a deep pass rush and capable secondary to the field in Week 3. The loss of Derwin James still clouds the Chargers’ potential to be an elite defense, but the matchup is inviting enough this week to trust this D/ST in lineups. -J.M.
Individual Defensive Players (IDP)
Trey Hendrickson, New Orleans Saints (0.6% rostered; vs. Packers)
Busy in both run defense and as an edge rusher, Hendrickson has produced consecutive outings with both a sack and healthy tackle results. Facing a balanced Green Bay offense, Hendrickson should prove active again this week. -J.M.
Kevin Pierre-Louis, Washington Football Team (0.3% rostered; at Browns)
The Browns have two of the most productive backs in football in Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb. This means Pierre-Louis should prove quite busy corralling Cleveland’s talented backfield. Fresh from a career-best tackling performance, this every-down ‘backer is a fine streaming play this week. -J.M.
Kenny Vaccaro, Tennessee Titans (3.3% rostered; at Vikings)
A steady source of snaps and tackles thus far, Vaccaro flashed some big-play potential this past Sunday. Likely to be busy in the box chasing Dalvin Cook this week, Vaccaro is a high-floor streaming candidate. -J.M.
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