And just like that, three weeks of NFL action in the books and it’s time to enter everyone favorite time of the year, the bye weeks! As we navigate the next several weeks, the waiver wire is a tough proposition as many are seeking for a one-week plug and play. Some may still be targeting long-term upside, but bench spots become precious in these trying times. Let’s take a quick look at the top options at each position available in at least 60% of standard Yahoo! leagues. As always, the players are listed in the order we would scoop ’em up, unless otherwise noted.
EJ Manuel (BUF)
Manuel brings a bit of athleticism and rushing upside to the table and after rushing for 40 yards in Week 3 he found himself as a top-10 QB for the week. He’s surrounded by talent and is currently in the best position to succeed of all of the unproven signal-callers
Terrelle Pryor (OAK)
It’s never pretty, but Pryor is making enough with his legs to be a solid plug-and-play in any given week. His short term prospects, however, are a bit murky following a Monday-evening concussion.
Sam Bradford (STL)
We finally hop aboard the Bradford band-wagon last week and he rewards us with a mediocre performance. Still, inconsistency is to be expected from such a young offense. Even in a down week, Bradford gave you 240 yards and a TD and we expect much better moving forward.
Andre Ellington (ARI)
We mentioned Ellington in this space last week and he went right out in Week 3 and had another encouraging effort on limited touches. Like Gio Bernard in Cincy, it’s only a matter of time before the rookie begins to creep in on the veteran starters’ playing time. Beat your league-mates to the wire and scoop up Ellington now.
Isaiah Pead (STL)
Darryl Richardson made it through just one play before being forced from the game Sunday, opening up playing time for Pead, who put up 63 yards on 13 total touches. With another solid outing or two, Pead could easily force a time-share in St. Lou.
Jonathan Franklin (GB)
Franklin looked stellar in Week 3 against the Bengals, but his performance was marred by a brutal fumble in the most critical of situations. Franklin was forced into action due to injury, but he potentially coughed up his chance at a larger role. The Packers hit the by this week and if Eddie Lacy (concussion) is ready to go in Week 5, there’s little question who the bell-cow will be, but if Franklin is able to get more carries down the line, he’s shown flashes of ability that could make him a star in this league.
Brandon Bolden (NE)
Bolden emerged as the teams pass-catching back this past week, a role that Stevan Ridley is simply unable to fill. The backfield mess in New England has made Ridley owner frustrated and Bolden’s increasing snap count will do little to assuage that. As long as Bolden can hold on to the football and put productive plays together he has an opportunity to take a lager rol in that backfield.
Michael Bush (CHI)
And just like that, the dream of Matt Forte as the go to man at the goal line is over. The team is making a move to insert the burly Bush in shot yardage situations. We can’t blame them completely as Bush does have talent in that role and now he becomes a little bit more than a Forte handcuff in fantasy circles.
Aaron Dobson (NE)
It’s blatantly obvious that the Patriots do not have any better options to roll out at the positions and while Tom Brady may be pandering to Brandon Lloyd and other during the week to bail out his hapless receiving corps, he’s left with this rag-tag group of rookies come Sunday. Dobson was much improved in Week 3, grabbing seven of his 10 total targets. The talent is evident from watching the kid play. He has the size. He has the speed. If the hands develop, Dobson will be a favorite target of Brady for years to come. In the short term, he’ll continue to see a hefty target count — out of pure necessity — leaving him in a prime position to provide breakout production in your fantasy lineup for the low cost of a waiver claim.
Ryan Broyles (DET)
A Tuesday-morning car accident that resulted in a broken arm for starter Nate Burleson will now open up the slot for Broyles, a role he thrived in last season. Broyles’ health is always a concern, but he’s got quite a bit of upside in PPR leagues playing on one of the most pass-happy offensive units in the NFL.
Santonio Holmes (NYJ)
Holmes busted out this weekend for 154 yards on five catches with a touchdown. He put up a solid 51 yards the week before that and has a track record well beyond any of the other names on this list. Holmes will be limited by both his lax attitude and his inexperienced quarterback, but has the potential to be a solid week-to-week start, especially in PPR formats.
Kendall Wright (TEN)
Kendall Wright is a name of interest particularly for PPR players. He’s Jake Locker’s favorite target and Kenny Britt is… well… Kenny Britt. Wright is gaining momentum with each game and figures to be the Titans’ unquestioned No. 1 in no time.
Justin Blackmon (JAX)
We saw Josh Gordon quickly reward owners who stayed patient through his suspension and in a couple of weeks, Blackmon will do the same. Obviously, he’s not gonna help you plug in that lineup hole in Week 4, but with just one game left on the four-week ban, Blackmon is an excellent stash for owners looking forward to Week 5 and beyond.
Jordan Reed (WSH)
There’s been a changing of the guard in Washington and Jordan Reed has leapt past injured incumbent Fred Davis. The rookie Reed has nice measurable and has been one of RGIII’s most reliable target in the passing game. He snagged a touchdown in each of the first to weeks and put together a solid 5-for-50 performance on 6 targets in Week 3. Reed’s production will continue to improve as Griffin gets increasingly comfortable in the pocket.