Although my six targets all had very solid weeks for themselves, I did not heed my own advice as I fell to 0-3. I preached to the choir last week all about how Joe Mixon was ready to prove his second round fantasy value; I decided to bench him for Calvin Ridley and all of his 1.6 points. Mixon countered with 17.5 points, all wasting away on my bench. It wasn’t only Mixon who proved my immense knowledge, as besides Malcolm Brown, the rest of my picks added 10-plus points of their own, the highlights being Josh Allen’s 18.3 points and JuJu Smith-Schuster’s 17.1 (a season high). With Allen and Demarcus Robinson not being available in most leagues anymore it’s time to look for the next breakout waiver wire stars, as well as who’s flying under the radar in the trade market.
Trade Target: Baker Mayfield, CLE
Baker Mayfield sent out a simple message to Browns fans and fantasy owners alike after another frustrating loss: “Don’t hit the panic button.” For anyone who has watched Mayfield since his Oklahoma days you know that he’s going to be the last one to lose his composure, while the jury on that is still out regarding Brown’s owner Jimmy Haslem. Despite being rostered in 91.4% of ESPN leagues, he’s only starting in 38% of them, indicating he is being given up on as a QB1. If we are going off recency bias, that is a completely sensible opinion to have, given the fact Mayfield has averaged 11.4 points in the first three weeks of the season. This sentence feels weird to write, but the Browns, yes the Cleveland Browns, are simply too talented to continue to struggle this much. With a uniquely gifted receiving core including Pro-Bowlers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry along with an emerging passing threat in Nick Chubb, Baker is not bereft of options. Mayfield himself believes the Browns are so close to being what they could be; another week under new head coach Freddie Kitchens could prove that. Target Baker now while he’s a consensus QB2, and before he wakes up Sunday feeling dangerous again.
Waiver Wire: Daniel Jones, NYG
For the first time in a long time, New York Giants fans have hope at the quarterback position. The nostalgia, which helped Eli Manning hold onto his job the past couple years, has faded and there is a new cult hero leading the Giants offense. Daniel Jones finally was granted the starting spot and paid off Pat Shurmer’s belief ten-fold. Putting up 336 yards with four total touchdowns in a full debut is something to take notice of. Those stats equated to 34.2 fantasy points on a day where he lost star running back Saquon Barkley, who looks to be out until the latter half of the season. That goes without mentioning the fact that Jones actually performed better without Barkley, as all but one touchdown came after he exited the game. Although there is a negative stigma around the Giants offense, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram and Darius Slayton all proved their chemistry with Jones combing for 295 yards and two touchdowns in their Week 3 victory. Jones will make his home debut this week against the Washington Redskins, who are a favorable matchup for any quarterback; even Mitchell Trubisky lit that defense up for 19.4 fantasy points this past Monday. Add Jones while you can, as consistent points from your QB1 have been particularly hard to come by this year.
Trade Target: James White, NE
The past few seasons James White has been an integral cog in the Patriots machine, obviously being highlighted by his overtime walk-off touchdown in Super Bowl LI. Despite not disappointing so far, White hasn’t exactly blown people away with his fantasy numbers in his two games this season with an average of 12.6 points. Wait, two games? White missed last week’s game against the Jet’s to help deliver his second child. Congratulations to his family, but a bigger congratulations to whoever is going to have him in fantasy in the coming weeks. White essentially just had a bye week, which for a running back this early in the season is huge. White will be far fresher than Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead going forward, likely granting him RB1 honors on most drives, leading to more snaps. The Big Ten product is a proven fantasy commodity; just last season he had seven-plus receptions six times while averaging 8.6 yards a catch. Receptions alone could easily get him above the 15 points a week, without diving into how efficient he is as a runner. White is arguably a top 10 fantasy running back when active so the price for him will be high, but not quite as high as it should be.
Waiver Wire: Chris Thompson, WSH
This one is a bit of a stretch given that Chris Thompson is rostered in 52.1% of leagues, but if he isn’t in yours, he should be first on your waiver order. Thompson is doing his best James White impression early in the season with 195 yards on 16 receptions, despite being a member of the abysmal Washington Redskins. Against probably the toughest defensive matchup for running backs anywhere in the Chicago Bears, Thompson contributed 14.8 fantasy points including 79 receiving yards. Thompson also (rightfully) stole some carries from Adrian Peterson, whose attempt to salvage his last chance in this league is going poorly (3.1 YPC). It is likely that Jay Gruden will look to go to one of the few bright spots in his offense more going forward in both the running and passing game. I project Thompson to be a consistent RB2 in fantasy, with significant “boom” potential if you only trust him enough to be in the flex.
Trade Target: Calvin Ridley, ATL
Calvin Ridley’s impressive start to the season garnered my and many others’ trust to be a safe bet as WR2 if not WR1 in Week 3. He responded with the aforementioned 1.6 points and that has me ready to ship him off just to have him off my roster. Going back to his rookie season Ridley had pretty ridiculous home and away splits. In 2018 Ridley famously broke onto the scene with a combined five touchdowns in his first two home games. He continued this home success this year, dropping 24.5 fantasy points on the Eagles in the Dome. Despite only targeting Ridley once last week at the Colts, Matt Ryan showed he can be a somewhat elite NFL quarterback, going 29-of-34 with over 300 yards and three touchdowns. Atlanta returns home against Tennessee this weekend and with Julio Jones producing, well, Julio Jones type numbers the last two weeks, he will almost certainly be doubled. Ridley against single coverage, at home with a confident Matt Ryan should and will lead to far improved numbers this week. Take advantage of a frustrated Ridley owner like myself and trade for Ridley before he hits a big bounce back week.
Waiver Wire: Mecole Hardman, KC
I went with his teammate, Demarcus Robinson, last week and that paid off dividends to whoever picked him up. The logic behind this is simple. Mecole Hardman has been on the field for 70% of the Kansas City Chiefs’ snaps this season. When Patrick Mahomes is your quarterback, you’re bound to be in the position for a least a couple big plays a game with that amount of time on the field. He improved his 16.1 fantasy point breakout game, with 18.4 points against Baltimore. Ride with Hardman and the rest of the Chiefs receivers until they give you a reason not to, or at least until Tyreek Hill returns.
Tamir March is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.