We’re two weeks into the fantasy football season and starting to get a pretty good idea of where teams and players stand. We’re also getting a bunch of key injuries. The biggest one remains David Johnson, a top-three draft pick lost after just one game. Week 2 brought more bad news with the loss of top-five tight end Greg Olsen, out 6-8 weeks with a broken foot.
There are more injury situations to watch, such as Rob Kelley, Corey Coleman, and Jordan Howard, among others. That said, the waiver wire isn’t just for replacing hurt players. It’s for finding diamonds in the rough, players poised to break out and seize a bigger role. The wire will really come into play when the bye weeks start, but for now here are the top five overall options for Week 3.
1. RB Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks (40 percent)
The battle is over — Carson has won the Seahawks’ backfield. He probably should’ve won it in August, with Eddie Lacy looking washed up and Thomas Rawls injured. Rawls is back, but only played 16 snaps to Carson’s 51 as the Seahawks tried to run out the clock in a close game. Carson totaled 100 yards on 21 touches, looking every bit the part of a bellow. His toughness and fall-forward mentality is especially important with Seattle’s terrible offensive line. Maybe Rawls gets another shot, and C.J. Prosise is still the pass-down back, but Carson is here to stay.
2. RB Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints (37 percent)
The Saints paid lip service to getting Adrian Peterson more involved, but it’s pretty obvious Kamara is the better fit in that offense. He had a productive game against the New England Patriots, seeing only four touches but taking them for 54 total yards. His pass-catching chops will be especially important with the Saints playing from behind most of the year (that defense, woof. Stream all your Saints opponents until further notice). Kamara is shaping up as a must-own player in PPR leagues.
3. WR Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars (34 percent)
There are two things working in Lee’s favor: Allen Robinson’s season-ending injury, and king of garbage time Blake Bortles. Finally healthy after an ankle injury limited him in camp, Lee had seven catches for 76 yards in the Jags’ blowout loss to the Tennessee Titans. Lee was quietly productive last year and that looks to be the case again in 2017. Allen Hurns is also a decent waiver pickup, though he’s more volatile than Lee playing out of the slot. The concern, as always, is Bortles, which will limit Lee’s ceiling as long as he’s under center.
4. RB Chris Thompson, Washington (30 percent)
Rob Kelley is out with a fractured rib, leaving Washington’s backfield down to a potential committee. Samaje Perine will be a popular waiver pickup this week as the better between-the-tackles runner, but Thompson is the Washington RB to own in PPR leagues and has a secure role on passing downs. Thompson also has big-play ability, as evidenced by his 61-yard touchdown run against the Los Angeles Rams. He’s on the flex radar against the Oakland Raiders, in a game with shootout potential.
5. WR J.J. Nelson, Arizona Cardinals (20 percent)
Few things have been more depressing in the first two weeks than watching the Cardinals offense. David Johnson is on IR, Carson Palmer looks older than ever, and we’re still waiting for Larry Fitzgerald to get going. They almost lost to the Indianapolis Colts, for crying out loud. However, the reason they didn’t was because of Nelson, who hauled in a 45-yard bullet from Palmer to flip the scoreboard and change the game. Nelson finished with 120 yards and the score on five catches, stepping up in a broken offense and establishing himself as a legitimate deep threat. He’ll be on the WR3 fringes for as long as John Brown is out.
Honorable mentions: QB Trevor Siemian, RB Darren Sproles, RB Samaje Perine, WR Tyler Lockett, WR Kendall Wright, WR Rashard Higgins, WR Jermaine Kearse