Fantasy managers should look at their running back and make sure they have their backup before looking to anyone else this week on the waiver wire. When Dalvin Cook limped off the field in Week 2, the priority for his managers should have been rostering Alexander Mattison (if they didn’t grab him on draft day). In Week 3, Christian McCaffrey limped off the field with a hamstring injury. It doesn’t appear that he's going on IR, but he is going to miss a few games. If you have McCaffrey on your roster, you should also have Chuba Hubbard. Take a look at your running back and make sure he’s handcuffed. Off the soapbox now.
Taylor Heinicke, QB, Washington Football Team (6 percent rostered)
In Week 3, Heinicke had 212 yards, three total touchdowns and two interceptions. It wasn’t the best performance, but for fantasy purposes, it wasn’t bad. In Week 4, things should be even easier. Washington faces Atlanta, which is a great matchup for opposing quarterbacks. In three games, Heinicke has six touchdowns and three interceptions. He has great weapons and he will continue to use them. He should be used as a QB2.
Sam Darnold, QB, Carolina Panthers (22 percent rostered)
In three games, Darnold has six touchdowns, one interception and two 300-yard games. While he does have to face the Cowboys in Week 4, that game has the potential to be a shootout. Darnold no longer has Christian McCaffrey (at least for a couple of weeks), which is going to force him to throw the ball. He can use Chuba Hubbard, but Hubbard can catch the ball as well. Darnold will be in the QB2 conversation for Week 4.
Chuba Hubbard, RB, Carolina Panthers (26 percent rostered)
Again, Christian McCaffrey is 100 percent owned. Hubbard should be rostered in every single one of those leagues. When McCaffrey is questionable heading into Week 4 (which he ultimately will be), fantasy managers will feel better knowing that they have Hubbard on their roster and can just substitute him in if McCaffrey is ruled out. McCaffrey is dealing with a hamstring injury. After he left in Week 3, Hubbard had 52 rushing yards and three receptions for 27 yards. He’ll be the bell cow guy while McCaffrey is out and should be on rosters.
Peyton Barber, RB, Las Vegas Raiders (7 percent rostered)
Barber’s usage depends on Josh Jacobs’ health. Once Jacobs is back in the lineup, Barber will go back to the bench. However, after disappointing in Week 2, Barber managed 111 rushing yards, a touchdown, and 31 receiving yards in Week 3. Jacobs looks to miss at least another week with his ankle/toe injury. While it is possible that Kenyan Drake takes over the running back role, it seems that Barber is actually the handcuff to Jacobs that fantasy managers should roster.
J.D. McKissic, RB, Washington Football Team (39 percent rostered)
McKissic is worth rostering in PPR formats. In the past two weeks, he’s had eight targets. He’s caught seven of them for a total of 98 yards. He’s only rushed for 33 yards (but he does have a rushing touchdown). McKissic is usually only in the game when there is a negative game script, but that wasn’t the case in Week 3. Even so, he is used as an option in the passing game. He’s likely not going to ever reach RB2 numbers, but he’s not a bad option to have on your bench.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Buffalo Bills (26 percent rostered)
With two touchdowns in Week 3, Sanders has made his way onto the fantasy radar. Stefon Diggs is the clear No. 1 for Josh Allen, but both Sanders and Cole Beasley will have good days as well. Both are in the WR3 territory and it will be hard to predict when each will reward fantasy managers. Sanders has 20 targets this season. He’s caught 11 of them for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Beasley has 30 targets and he’s caught 23 of them for 194 yards (also!) and no touchdowns.
Rashod Bateman, WR, Baltimore Ravens (14 percent rostered)
Bateman may not show up when fantasy owners are scouring the waiver wire because he started the season on IR. He had core muscle surgery in August and is eligible to begin practicing. Bateman will not be active in Week 4, but he is someone to keep an eye on if you have an IR spot or an empty roster spot. With Marquise Brown dropping touchdowns left and right, Lamar Jackson is going to want someone else to throw the ball to. Enter Bateman. He’s a rookie, but he is someone to monitor.
Tim Patrick, WR, Denver Broncos (23 percent rostered)
With Jerry Jeudy on the IR and now K.J. Hamler (torn ACL) out for the season, Patrick’s role should continue to increase. In Week 3, he had five targets. He caught them all for 98 yards. He had a touchdown in Week 2 as well. Patrick was dealing with a hip injury heading into Week 3, but was removed from the injury report ahead of the game. He should slide into the No. 2 role opposite Courtland Sutton as long as Jeudy is out. The Broncos face the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4 and Patrick will likely be a WR3.
Kendrick Bourne, WR, New England Patriots (1 percent rostered)
Bourne hasn’t shown much as a receiver so far this season. When James White went down in Week 3, however, Bourne stepped up. He had eight targets and caught six of them for 96 yards and a touchdown. Mac Jones is going to need someone to throw the ball to with White likely out for an extended time, and Bourne can step up into that role. He should only be added in deeper leagues as a WR4.
Pat Freiermuth, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers (8 percent rostered)
With all three of Pittsburgh’s starting wide receivers (JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool) banged up, someone needed to step up for Ben Roethlisberger in Week 3. Freiermuth caught three of his five targets for 22 yards and a touchdown. Without the touchdown, his day would be much like the previous two weeks. Freiermuth is a TE2 as he’s sharing time with Eric Ebron, but if some of the wide receivers are out, Freiermuth’s fantasy value gets a boost.
Tyler Conklin, TE, Minnesota Vikings (4 percent rostered)
After seeing four targets in each of the first two games of the season, Conklin had eight targets in Week 3. He caught seven of them for 70 yards and a touchdown. This performance isn’t exactly something that is going to repeat each week, but Conklin has shown that he can be a TE2 with possible upside. Kirk Cousins does look for him, but there are other targets on the team as well. Conklin isn’t someone that you should rush to the waiver wire for, but if you need a tight end (especially in two-tight end leagues), look for him.
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0 percent rostered)
Brate is clearly the No. 2 to Rob Gronkowski in Tampa Bay. However, Gronk left the game in Week 3 with a ribs injury. His x-rays came back negative, so Gronk should be OK to play in Week 3, but keep an eye on Brate. Bruised ribs are usually a pain tolerance issue, and Gronk is tough. If Gronk were to miss time, Brate would slide in as a high TE2 with upside. He had four receptions for 35 yards in Week 3.
Defense/Special Teams (DST)
New Orleans Saints (48 percent rostered)
The Saints face the 0-3 New York Giants in Week 4. The Giants are likely without Sterling Shephard (and possibly Darius Slayton), although they do have Saquon Barkley back. The Satins defense is solid and has shut down Aaron Rodgers in Week 1 and the New England Patriots in Week 3. In Week 2, they did surrender a fair number of yards and points to the Panthers, but after their performance (two special teams touchdowns) in Week 3, fire up the Saints for Week 4.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.