Week 2 of the NFL season was a bloodbath for fantasy owners. It also means that the waiver wire is unusually flush with widely-available players who could make big impacts now that they are thrust into unlikely starting roles. Let’s look at the new landscape on the waiver wire for Week 3:
Daniel Jones, New York Giants: There was plenty of quarterback news this weekend, led by the season-ending injury to Ben Roethlisbeger and the six-week absence of Drew Brees. But the end of the Manning era in New York is just as jarring. Jones was the sixth pick in the draft for this very reason. Now he gets his chance to justify the selection.
Mason Rudolph, Pittsburgh Steelers: He didn’t look half-bad against the Seahawks in emergency duty and now gets a full week to prepare. Rudolph showed great rapport with Juju Smith-Schuester and Vance McDonald and his lone interception was all Donte Moncrief’s fault.
Teddy Bridgwater, New Orleans Saints: The long road back from a devastating injury three years ago is over, and now Bridgewater has the chance to run a solid offense with so many pass-catching weapons. As long as he stays upright and throws the ball to his own team, he can be a successful fantasy option.
Luke Falk, New York Jets: All things considered, going 20-for-25 for 198 yards was not a bad outcome for the third-string QB in an emergency setting against a good defense. The Jets aren’t going to win games with Falk, but he doesn’t appear to be overwhelmed and he does have decent weapons. He a break glass in case of emergency guy, but he has potential to be decent.
Jaylen Samuels, Pittsburgh Steelers: If James Conner misses any significant time with a knee injury, then Samuels becomes the main man for a Steelers team desperate to have a running game in order to hide their inexperienced quarterback. Samuels has shown flashes of big-game ability in the preseason. Now e needs to translate it to where it counts. But at a minimum, the touches and targets should be there.
D’Earnest Johnson, Cleveland Browns: Check Twitter for status updates on Dontrell Hilliard, who missed Week 2 with a concussion. If Hilliard remains out, Johnson remains in the third-down, passing back role, which netted him seven fantasy point on Sunday.
Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers: Even with the 49ers in a running back committee situation, Mostert still managed to fill up the stat sheet with 83 yards on 13 carries and three catches for 68 yards and a score. Matt Breida is almost certainly out of waiver consideration, but Mostert is still modestly owned.
Frank Gore, Buffalo Bills: Dust off the old veteran, because Devin Singletary has a hamstring issue, and if it keeps him sidelined, then Gore gets the lion share of carries against a Bengals defense that ranks practically dead last against running backs through two games.
Devin Smith, Dallas Cowboys: We saw what Smith could do in the preseason and we saw what he did on Sunday when Michael Gallup left with an injury, posting a 3-74-1 line. Gallup is out 2-to-4 weeks and the Cowboys get the horrifically-bad Dolphins this week. There hasn’t been a Smith this ready to smash for Dallas since Emmitt.
Demarcus Robinson, Kansas City Chiefs: The talk entering Week 2 was Mecole Hardman and D’Anthony Thomas. But it was Robinson who had the breakout game with a 6-172-2 line against Oakland. The Ravens defense should be a tougher test, but Robinson appears ready for his breakout season.
D.J. Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars: Chark scored a touchdown for the second straight week, and though his receiving yards were way down from Week 1, he actually increased his targets from 4 to 9 and receptions from 4 to 7. He appears to be Gardner Minshew’s binky right now, and that’s a nice place to be.
Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers: Samuel was a deep sleeper in drafts who woke up big time on Sunday with a 5-87-1 on seven targets against Cincinnati. The coaching staff loves Samuel in San Francisco and with Dante Pettis a big pile of meh, look for Samuel to be increasingly involved in the game planning.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys: Another week, another solid game for the former broadcaster. He’s been targeted four times in each of the first two games and has converted one of them for touchdown in each game. There’s really no reason to think that can’t continue, especially with Dallas facing the “please abuse me” Dolphins defense in Week 3.
Will Dissly, Seattle Seahawks: Remember when the Seahawks got Jimmy Graham and it was going to make their tight end position deadly in fantasy? Yeah, didn’t quite work out that way. But, hey, Will Dissly! He went 5-50-2 against the Steelers and that’s pretty Graham-esque.
Lance Kendricks, Los Angeles Chargers: The Chargers signed Kendricks on Tuesday and he almost can’t help but be a contributor, since Philip Rivers loves throwing to his tight ends. It’s bottom-barrel scraping, sure, but a touchdown here or there and the guy makes value.