Oof. The injuries came early, often and relentlessly in Week 3, so there's a decent chance your fantasy rosters are in need of reinforcements. We're here to help. Each week, we offer a collection of recommended fantasy pickups, priced and sorted for your convenience. Everyone mentioned here is available in a majority of Yahoo leagues; all are approved for immediate use.
Running backs to prioritize
Chuba Hubbard, Carolina Panthers (25%)
It's rare that we're able to identify the week's top pickup on Thursday night, but here we are. Christian McCaffrey suffered a hamstring injury in Carolina's win against Houston, as everyone knows, and he's expected to miss multiple weeks. Brutal news for a brilliant player and our game's consensus No. 1 pick.
In McCaffrey's absence on Thursday, Hubbard handled 14 touches and gained 79 yards for the Panthers. He substantially out-snapped and out-produced Royce Freeman, who had only a supporting role. Hubbard, without question, is CMC's understudy. He's the waiver priority. He delivered a few quality runs against the Texans...
— NFL Canada (@NFLCanada) September 24, 2021
It certainly wasn't a flawless, McCaffrey-level performance, but he's the clear next-man-up.
Hubbard produced an utterly ridiculous collegiate season at Oklahoma State back in 2019, rushing for an absurd 2,094 yards (6.4 YPC) and 21 touchdowns, adding 23 receptions for another 198 yards. (All the usual Big-12 caveats apply, of course. Dalton Del Don could run for like 650 and 6 against those defenses, easy.) His 2020 season was derailed by both a groin injury and a high ankle sprain, but he's clearly healthy right now.
McCaffrey obviously isn't the product of a system so much as he is the system — a one-of-one talent — so let's not expect Hubbard to directly replace his production. The rookie is simply a quality player with a sizable workload in a good offense, and he has an appealing matchup at Dallas on deck. Go get him wherever you can.
Waiver offer (assuming $100 budget): $36
Other RBs worth adding
Peyton Barber (massively out-touched Kenyan Drake with Josh Jacobs sidelined and he cruised past 100 yards on the ground), Kenneth Gainwell (he's a backup with benefits, seeing significant workload behind an injured starter), Darrel Williams just handled a season-high nine touches and CEH has been conspicuously fumbly), Marlon Mack (he's reportedly on the trade block and there are a few rich rushing environments where his services are needed0.
Wide receivers deserving attention
Emmanuel Sanders, Buffalo Bills (26% rostered)
Sanders entered Sunday's action with 14 targets and a million air-yards over his first two games, but the box-score numbers didn't quite reflect his involvement. This past week, the stats arrived early and often. Sanders reached the end zone twice while delivering 94 yards and hauling in five of his six targets. His first score was the result of some slick extend-the-play quarterbacking by Josh Allen...
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) September 26, 2021
Sanders' second TD was almost too easy. Wherever you had Sanders on your pre-draft cheat sheet, it was probably a bit low. He's a reliable, veteran route-runner seeing significant volume in an explosive offense. We want guys like that in our fantasy lives.
Marquez Callaway, New Orleans Saints (37%)
OK, we probably can't call a 4-catch performance a breakout, but it was at least a sign of life. It was definitely something. Callaway was on the receiving end of this absolutely delightful YOLO throw from Jameis Winston on Sunday...
Marquez Callaway’s first touchdown was so bizarre. One he’ll remember forever for many reasons, I’m sure.
— Amie Just (@Amie_Just) September 26, 2021
He has size and contested catch ability, plus he was an unstoppable monster in the preseason. Callaway is now second on the Saints in targets, behind only Alvin Kamara. He's worth a look against the Giants in Week 4, for those who suddenly find themselves in need of receiving help.
Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos (23%)
Yup, we're doing this again. I've been in a staredown with you people over Patrick for two years. It will not end until he's either out of the league or a few thousand additional Yahoo managers pick him up (or until I'm terminated for writing about the same guy each week). Patrick found the end zone in each of his first two games, then caught five balls for 98 yards in the third. He's snagged 12 of his 13 targets so far. Denver's receiving corps is banged up at the moment — Jerry Jeudy (ankle) and K.J. Hamler (knee) are both dinged — so Patrick's contributions are desperately needed.
But, hey, if you can't use a 6-foot-4 wideout who has obvious rapport with his quarterback, cool. Let's reconvene next week for the same conversation.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers (10%)
Not unlike Sanders, MVS entered Week 3 with all of the air-yards and very few of the stats. It was of course inevitable that Aaron Rodgers would finally connect with the explosive deep threat. Valdes-Scantling hauled in a 47-yard field-flipper, then later snagged a short TD...
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) September 27, 2021
We shouldn't need to tell you that MVS will have several quiet weeks — he's already had two of 'em, in fact. But he's just the sort of high-variance, high-upside flex who can win a matchup for you. Deep leaguers will be starting him when the bye weeks begin.
Additional WRs and TEs of interest
Hunter Renfrow (another five catches on six targets this week and his quarterback is on pace for 6,000-something yards), A.J. Green (he reached the end zone in Week 2, then topped 100 yards on Sunday). DeSean Jackson (he may have just produced his biggest game of the year, but he's healthy and suddenly involved in Sean McVay's offense), Sammy Watkins (he hasn't had a monster game yet, but he's drawn 22 targets through three weeks), Rashod Bateman (the rookie should return soon from IR and he's a serious talent, a huge potential addition for the Ravens), Josh Gordon (yeah, he's back ... but he's also a 30-year-old joining a new team and he's been away from the league for a year), Dawson Knox (spiked in back-to-back weeks and he's tied to an elite quarterback), Tyler Conklin (he just saw eight targets and found the end zone, and these days his QB can apparently do no wrong), Dalton Schultz (at a position as messy as tight end, it's perfectly fine to chase touchdowns), Pat Freiermuth (he scored the Steelers' lone touchdown on Sunday and he's seen nine targets over his last two games).
Quarterbacks we're streaming
Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers (22%)
Darnold has feasted against a soft early schedule, averaging 296.0, tossing three TD passes and unexpectedly rushing for three scores. He made plenty of quality throws last Thursday, against Houston, connecting repeatedly with D.J. Moore...
Sam Darnold was dialed in last night 👀 pic.twitter.com/PGh7SqKUyK
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) September 24, 2021
This week, Darnold will face Dallas, a team with a vulnerable pass defense coming off a short week. The injury to Christian McCaffrey removes a source of cheap and easy yards from Carolina's offense, but the Panthers still have plenty of receiving weapons. Darnold is a good bet to produce his third straight 300-yard game.
Taylor Heinicke, Washington F.T. (6%)
We're not here to tell you that Heinicke put on a clinic in Week 3 at Buffalo, because he most certainly did not. He threw a pair of interceptions and his team lost by three touchdowns, which is less than ideal. But we should also acknowledge that he's the guy who gets to throw to Terry McLaurin, Logan Thomas and Antonio Gibson, which gives him a decent floor. He's tossed multiple TD passes in back-to-back weeks and he gets to face Atlanta in Week 4. The Falcons have allowed eight passing scores and an opponents' completion percentage of 70.8 over the first three weeks.
Another QB of interest
Teddy Bridgewater (his upcoming matchup against Baltimore isn't ideal, but he's been fantastically efficient; his completion percentage of 76.8 currently leads the NFL).
If you're in need of a defense...
Tennessee Titans (14%)
Tennessee has actually allowed 30-plus points twice this season, so we need to be careful not to overhype this group. But this team has Zach Wilson and Trevor Lawrence on deck over the next two weeks, so it's tough to imagine they won't collect, say, a half-dozen sacks and 3-4 picks. No need for an aggressive bid here, because you won't be holding the Titans long.