By Rahul Lal
This is when fantasy football gets really tough. The first couple weeks of the season is when you have the comically underrated and surprise players popping up. By week four, these guys are typically gone in 10 and 12 player leagues. If you’re looking at this column, chances are you’re in a semi-deep league hoping to find someone who can stand out and get some sort of stability to develop into a starter on your team or at the very least an injury fill-in or bye week fill-in.READ MORE: Colin Powell, First Black Secretary Of State, Dies At 84 Of Complications From COVID-19
For this week’s list, none of these players are high volume guys but rather will have an opportunity in the near future because of their team’s health or an uptick in performance. Gone are the days of Tarik Cohen and Chris Carson being widely available in leagues. Great owners understand the concept of handcuff players so that should be your first priority this weekend. If you’ve done that, take a look at some of these guys who should be available in your leagues.
Below are a few of our favorite waiver wire pickups for week 3 and they are separated by the three categories of Add Now, Worth A Look, and finally Deep League Add.
Wendell Smallwood (Philadelphia Eagles, RB)
Confidence Level: Worth A Look
Smallwood is the perfect example of a player with an upcoming opportunity. Darren Sproles unfortunately went out this weekend tearing his ACL and breaking his arm on the same play (football is really dangerous, guys). While LaGarrette Blount is still around and should see the bulk of the carries, Smallwood is a capable runner and provides some optimism in the passing game too. Smallwood contributed seven carries for 71 yards and caught one ball for nine yards after Sproles’ departure. What’s interesting is that while the stats don’t show it, Smallwood actually out snapped Blount in Week 2 and had the same amount of carries in Week 3. Blount is more likely of the two to have the goal line work, but it looks to be a fairly even split in Philly. Cory Clement could have a role as he carried six times and scored a touchdown in Week 3 but don’t expect too much out of these backs – it’ll be more of a timeshare than anything.
Jared Cook (Oakland Raiders, TE)
Confidence Level: Worth A LookREAD MORE: Food Truck Crashes In Vernon; One Dead
Cook is an interesting option here. The Raiders had a horrible performance on Sunday Night Football, one where Derek Carr only threw for 118 yards and one touchdown. That’s likely going to be the worst performance out of Carr and the Raiders this season, and Cook still managed to reel in four catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. Cook has always been an athletic monster given his size, and he showed that with a leaping touchdown this weekend. His ceiling may not be that high because of the abundance of great wide receivers and playmakers in Oakland, but he should be a pretty safe option for a high octane offense that typically finds themselves in the red zone multiple times a game.
Sterling Shepard (New York Giants, WR)
Confidence Level: Worth A Look
Stay with me here, I have an explanation. Odell Beckham seems to light a fire in Eli Manning. Obviously, Eli’s numbers to Beckham are stellar when his wide receiver is healthy, but what’s even more interesting is that he spread the ball around plenty. Beckham had nine receptions, Brandon Marshall bounced back for eight receptions, and Shepard showed up to contribute seven grabs for 133 yards and a touchdown. The Giants are going to be the Giants and find themselves airing it out, especially with an underachieving rushing attack. Look for Shepard to get back a little bit of the magic that saw him as a matchup dependent starter last year.
Robert Woods (Los Angeles Rams, WR)
Confidence Level: Deep League Add
Woods came over from Buffalo this offseason and is looking to make his mark in Los Angeles. Returning back to The Coliseum where he played his college ball with USC, Woods seems to be very comfortable and a favorite of young quarterback Jared Goff. Goff is still developing and the Rams won’t play the Niners every week, but Woods should have a growing role moving forward. Watch Sammy Watkins’ health as well. If Watkins goes out, Woods is likely their top option with Cooper Kupp coming out of the slot.MORE NEWS: `Solidarity' Cited In New Deal For 40k Behind-the-Scenes Film & TV Workers
Rahul Lal is an LA native stuck in a lifelong, love-hate relationship with the Lakers, Dodgers and Raiders. You can follow him on Twitter here.