The first two weeks of the NFL season were defined as much by who was unable to play as who was, and the same was true when looking at the waiver wire for Fantasy football. Week 2 saw a historic combination of injuries strike a slew of big names, so you simply couldn’t talk about anything else.
That wasn’t the case in Week 3, thankfully. That’s not to say there weren’t injuries — Tarik Cohen likely tore his ACL, Chris Carson left with what could be a serious knee injury, and Jordan Reed (knee), Dallas Goedert (ankle), Diontae Johnson (concussion) and Russell Gage (concussion) all had early exits — but they weren’t the defining story of the day. No, Sunday’s biggest story was finally about what guys did on the field, and it was the performance of a group of rookie pass catchers that drew my attention.
By the end of the 1:00 p.m. games Sunday, three rookie receivers ranked among the top seven in Fantasy: Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins, and Brandon Aiyuk. All did so in different ways — Higgins was a red-zone monster, Aiyuk ran the ball three times and had a touchdown on the ground, while Justin Jefferson was nothing less than the best player on the field in his game — and all three are going to be hot commodities on the wire this week. Here’s how I’m prioritizing them:
Week 4 Early Waivers
The Vikings wanted to get someone besides Adam Thielen going, and they moved Jefferson into the starting lineup over Bisi Johnson in Week 3. In most offenses in 2020, the distinction between the No. 2 and 3 wide receiver doesn’t matter much, but for the Vikings and their two-WR-heavy offense, it means quite a bit. And Jefferson made the most of his opportunity, emerging for at least one week, as the top target in the offense. He had four catches in one first-half drive and finished the first half with six for 103 yards on seven targets; Adam Thielen had just three targets. Jefferson added just one more catch, but it was a big one, a 71-yard touchdown on a play-action fake that saw him beat one-on-one coverage and then outrun two defenders on the way to the end zone.
Jefferson is unlikely to be the team’s No. 1 option moving forward, which makes it sort of difficult to project a huge workload, because Kirk Cousins‘ 27 pass attempts Sunday were a season high. However, he showed exactly the skills that made him the Vikings first-round pick this year — and could make him the No. 1 option down the road. For now, he’s worth viewing as a must-add player on waivers this week, possibly the must-add player if Myles Gaskin isn’t available in your league.
Week 4 Early Waivers
No. 1b priority
Aiyuk was on pace to be the team’s top wide receiver before a hamstring injury in training camp forced him to the sidelines and kept him out of the lineup in Week 1. He worked his way back in Week 2 and then was fully unleashed Sunday, as we saw the multiple ways Kyle Shanahan is going to use him. Aiyuk led the team with five catches for 70 yards on eight targets and he found the end zone on one of his three carries for 31 yards. The 49ers are going to find ways to get the ball into his hands, like the Rams do with Robert Woods, and that skill set and the creative way Shanahan uses his offense could lead to big things. If you want to make Aiyuk the top priority over Jefferson, I won’t argue — they’re 1a and 1b for me this week. Both have questions — “Will the Vikings throw enough for both Jefferson and Thielen to thrive” and, “Does the looming return of Deebo Samuel interfere with Aiyuk’s role?” — but both also have huge upside.
Week 4 Early Waivers
No. 3 WR
Higgins’ upside isn’t quite as high in my eyes — or the path to seeing that upside come to fruition has a few more roadblocks. However, he played a significant role Sunday, coming in second on the team with nine targets and actually ranking first in snaps, per TruMedia. But it was the trust Joe Burrow showed in him near the goal line that really makes Higgins look so enticing. The 33rd overall pick in this year’s draft scored from 1 and 4 yards out, scoring both of Burrow’s touchdowns in the game. The problem is, Tyler Boyd saw 13 targets in a huge game of his own and A.J. Green isn’t just going away either. So Higgins has some competition for targets to deal with. However, Green has really struggled, so if the Bengals decide to lean more on the young guys as the season moves along, Higgins could really break out.
Here’s who else we’ll be chasing on the wire this week:
Early Waiver Targets
Early Waiver Wire Targets