Your No. 1 running back is injured or struggling? Evidently NFL teams and fantasy football owners didn’t have to wait long to see who would step up for their lineups. The Eagles picked up their first win of the season thanks to Ryan Mathews filling in for DeMarco Murray, the Texans Alfred Blue showed what he could do if given the bulk of the carries, and the Falcons saw even if rookie Tevin Coleman is down Devonta Freeman is ready to light up opposing defenses.
However, many owners surprisingly took a wait and see approach entering Week 3, with many of the top rushers in the first batch of Sunday’s games still available on the waiver wire before Week 4.
With five games remaining in Week 3, other players will emerge as waiver-wire must-haves for Week 4, but for now here are five players to consider for a claim and several others to monitor. And of course add and drop at your own discretion.
Antonio Andrews, RB, Tennessee Titans
Is the Bishop Sankey era over? He couldn’t get past a Colts D that was No. 22 against the run entering Week 3, but Andrews did while averaging better than 4.0 yards per carry. Tennessee needs a consistent running game for Marcus Mariota, and could mix and match Andrews and Sankey until one rises above the other. The Titans actually used five different running backs in Week 3, so it appears they don't even know who can be the true starter going forward. Andrews is owned in 0 percent of Yahoo and and 0.1 percent of ESPN leagues, which is right because for now he’s a stash-and-wait player in deeper leagues.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Tevin Coleman looked like the No. 1 back through the first two weeks, with Freeman the pass-catcher out of the backfield. But Freeman looked against the Cowboys like he wants both jobs. Yahoo owners hesitated ahead of Week 3 with Freeman owned in just 61 percent of leagues, while ESPN owners capitalized and Freeman jumped 13.1 percent to 78 percent. But clearly he’s available in many leagues and owners should considering adding Freeman soon with Coleman’s status unclear.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
DeMarco Murray will be the No. 1 back going forward, but Mathews made the case for more touches against a very tough Jets D. He had four rushes and four targets in Philly’s first two games, but of course the Eagles were also down big in those games. If the Eagles offense really has found its stride Mathews will be a worthy pickup in 12 or 14-team leagues as a FLEX. He’s owned in just 54 percent of Yahoo and 65.6 percent of ESPN leagues.
Cecil Shorts, WR, Houston Texans
Shorts has been targeted at least eight times the first three games of the season, and in Week 3 he finally moved ahead of Nate Washington as Houston’s No. 2 receiver. With 16 receptions on the year, he’s yet to find the end zone but in deep full-point PPR leagues Shorts might be a good long-term play.
Derek Carr, QB Oakland Raiders
After his nasty knee injury, Ben Roethlisberger owners don’t have to scramble to find a replacement. Should Big Ben miss any time Carr should be the one to target. The second-year passer earned the first road victory of his career against a top notch Browns secondary, throwing for more than 300 yards for the second-straight game and has five touchdowns in the same span. Carr's owned in just 23 percent of Yahoo and 19.6 percent of ESPN leagues.
Others to monitor: Alfred Blue, RB, Texans; Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles; Quincy Enunwa, WR, Jets; Kenny Britt, WR, Rams; Patriots; Gary Barnidge, WR, Browns; Seth Roberts, WR, Raiders