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Fantasy football waiver wire: Players to stash before Week 3

Matthew Stafford, Chris Thompson and Mecole Hardman are free agents that are worth a spot on your roster.
Because of Derrius Guice's knee injury, Chris Thompson is likely to see his role in Washington's backfield increase. [STEPHEN B. MORTON | Associated Press]
Published Sep. 15
Updated Sep. 15

“Are you going to keep Melvin Gordon?”

“What are you going to do with Antonio Brown?”

“You have Tyreek Hill?”

If you play fantasy football, chances are someone has asked you these questions or you’ve been the one who has asked them.

That’s the game we signed up for. It’s unpredictable. And, sometimes, morally compromising.

No matter your situation — whether you’ve lost a player to holdout, suspension or injury — this is a judgment-free zone. I’m here to help.

You want a championship, do you? Then you have to be the one who looks ahead, not the one who reacts.

That means your waiver wire process starts now. Not Tuesday morning at work. Now.

So if you have a player on your bench that you’ve been thinking of dropping, move on already. Get it over with. Scan the wire for a replacement. Snag the hot pickup before he appears in one of those “free agent finds” columns that fantasy sites will publish in a couple of days.

Here are a few ideas. These are players who are owned in less than 50 percent of ESPN or Yahoo leagues.

Quarterbacks

Matthew Stafford, Lions (Week 3 opponent: at Eagles): I mentioned Stafford in this space a week ago, but despite a top-five fantasy performance in Week 1 vs. the Cardinals, he remains available in two-thirds of ESPN and Yahoo leagues. It’s early, but T.J. Hockenson, the tight end the Lions added in the first round of this year’s draft, might be the piece that elevates the offense from mediocre to dangerous. If you’re a Cam Newton owner (and maybe even a Baker Mayfield or Ben Roethlisberger owner), Stafford should be on your radar.

Jacoby Brissett, Colts (vs. Falcons): If you don’t trust the quarterback on your roster right now or you’re in a two-quarterback league and need a fill-in, you could do worse than Brissett. (Yeah, I’m looking at you, Dude Who is Rostering Mitch Trubisky.) The Colts draw a couple of favorable matchups in the next couple of weeks. They’ll host the Falcons in Week 3 and then the Raiders in Week 4. Their defenses ranked among the worst in yards allowed per drive and points allowed per drive last season.

Previously mentioned: Sam Darnold (out Monday night as he recovers from mononucleosis)

Running backs

Chris Thompson, Washington (vs. Bears): After seeing a team-high 10 targets in Washington’s opener, Thompson’s worth a flier, especially in point-per-reception leagues. He ranked seventh in the NFL in yards per route run (2.1) among running backs who saw at least three targets, according to Pro Football Focus. Though limited to mostly a third-down role last season, he caught at least five passes in four games. His main competition for carries is 34-year-old Adrian Pederson, who was inactive in Week 1.

Raheem Mostert, 49ers (vs. Steelers): Before training camp, San Francisco’s backfield looked crowded, but with Jerick McKinnon done for the season because of a knee injury and Tevin Coleman out for at least the next couple of weeks because of a high ankle sprain, it’s suddenly thin. Going forward, Matt Breida will see most of the team’s touches. Mostert’s in line to spell him but won’t make much of an impact in the passing game. In nine games last season, he caught six passes for 25 yards, 23 of which came on one play.

Previously mentioned: Justin Jackson, Kalen Ballage, Jaylen Samuels, Darwin Thompson, Justice Hill

Wide receivers

Mecole Hardman, Chiefs (vs. Ravens): If you’re a Tyreek Hill owner, Hardman’s worth a look. Anticipating that the NFL would suspend Hill because of child-abuse allegations, the Chiefs traded up to draft Hardman 52nd overall in April. Hill ultimately avoided discipline, so Hardman became, at best, the offense’s fourth receiving option, after Hill, Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce. With Hill out four to six weeks because of a collarbone injury, Hardman gets his chance to shine. Like Hill, he can stretch the field (he ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine); the question is whether he can make contested catches at this level.

DJ Chark/Chris Conley, Jaguars (vs. Titans): Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew, Nick Foles’ injury replacement, looks the part. Unbuttoned shirt. Mustache. Shades. He’s won over internet frat bros and could land an audition for a role in a Miami Vice reboot, but that doesn’t do anything for your fantasy football team. Until we see more from Minshew than his chest hair, Chark (who caught three deep passes for 139 yards in Week 1) and Conley (six catches on seven targets, 97 yards and a touchdown) are total lottery tickets. Minshew’s a checkdown artist; his average pass length of 5.4 yards ranked last in the NFL in Week 1.

Previously mentioned: Mohamed Sanu, John Brown

Tight ends

Vernon Davis, Washington (vs. Bears): His value is tied directly to Jordan Reed’s health, which is almost nonexistent. If you are rostering Reed, who is out today against the Cowboys because of a concussion, you need to add Davis. Unless you don’t mind finding yourself in a situation in which, minutes before kickoff, you’re deciding whether to add Virgil Green or Ryan Griffin. In Week 3, Washington hosts the Bears, who allowed Packers tight ends to catch six passes for 72 yards and a touchdown in their opener.

Noah Fant, Broncos (at Packers): The pickings are slim at this position, but at least Fant, the 20th overall pick in April’s draft, is the clear-cut tight end in Denver.

Previously mentioned: Jack Doyle, T.J. Hockenson

Contact Thomas Bassinger at tbassinger@tampabay.com. Follow @tometrics.

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