Somehow, someway, the waiver wire always provides. Week after week fantasy football owners sitting in various positions on the league standings turn to the waiver wire for different reasons. That starting wide receiver for one week? Available. That running back to get you through an injury stint? Available. The under the radar flier that won’t break out for a few more weeks? Widely available. So open up your league’s waiver wire and dig in to make your roster stronger.
Ownership percentages are from ESPN.com as of 9/23
DJ Chark 41.0% owned
I’ll keep banging this drum for as long as it takes. DJ Chark has been one of my top waiver wire adds since Week 2. With fellow early-season stalwarts Marquise Brown and Terry McLaurin finally over the 50% ownership threshold, it is now Chark’s turn to pass that same mark. Big play after big play on Thursday Night Football helped players who previously added him, and with all eyes on him during the marquee matchup, this is likely the last week he will be widely available on the waiver wire.
Not only is Chark the clear favorite of rookie QB Gardner Minshew, but he is also far and away the most talented wideout the Jacksonville Jaguars have on the roster. Not exactly a yards after catch type receiver, Chark will continue to make ample use of his straight-line speed and explosiveness off the line. Growth isn’t linear, so we can’t say Chark will completely flesh out his skill set by the end of the year, but he’s shown a tremendous leap from year one to year two. He not only belongs off the waiver wire, but he also belongs in starting lineups.
Mecole Hardman 44.8% owned
After putting up 16+ fantasy points in back to back weeks, it’s time that Mecole Hardman found his way on to the end of your roster if he’s out there on the waiver wire. Typically I’d look at his numbers, (4/61/1 on six targets in Week 2 & 2/97/1 on five targets in Week 3) and say that the performances do not seem repeatable. However, this Kansas City Chiefs offense with Patrick Mahomes at the helm breaks any and every expectation of what is a weekly repeatable occurrence.
There is a good bit of mystery as to what will happen once Tyreek Hill returns from his clavicle injury, but Andy Reid will almost certainly figure out a way to involve all of the weapons at his disposal. The entire Chiefs offense is centered around creating mismatches and adding the speed of Hardman to Hill, Sammy Watkins, Travis Kelce, and Demarcus Robinson will give the reigning MVP even more options than he had last year.
Ronald Jones 40.5% owned
We’re finally starting to see the promise of Ronald Jones. Decisiveness, explosion, and quick cuts were all on display against a New York Giants team that had trouble containing him. After an inexplicable four touch showing against the Carolina Panthers, Jones can find himself as the top fantasy football waiver wire add by continuing to shore up his pass protection and start to edge Peyton Barber in touches by a slightly larger margin.
The biggest issue for his ceiling is that Barber isn’t just going to go away. There will likely be a split for the rest of the season, but seeing something close to 65/35 isn’t hard to imagine. All of this depends on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive line holding up against the Los Angeles Rams next week. Los Angeles is allowing 16 points per game, so this isn’t exactly where you’d expect a breakout so while Jones may not belong in your starting lineup, with the RB position the way that it is, any ascending talent should be on rosters and off the waiver wire.
Wayne Gallman 1.2% owned
With Saquon Barkley dealing with a high ankle sprain, Clemson product Wayne Gallman will be the primary back for the Giants until Barkley is cleared to return. I should almost throw in as a disclaimer that I was unusually high on Gallman coming out of college, believing him to be one of the steals of the draft for the Giants two years ago. Alas, Barkley is on a different level than Gallman and nearly every other RB in the NFL.
While I cannot in good conscience tell you he will step in and replace the production of Barkley, Gallman will be a valuable fantasy football asset currently on the waiver wire. New QB Daniel Jones‘ athleticism could help open things up with defenders having to key on him before playing Gallman. With a divisional matchup against the Washington Redskins on the horizon in Week 4, Gallman may not be plug and play but should provide a top 30 day at the position.
Kenny Stills 20.6% owned
It’s been incremental so far, but Kenny Stills is earning his way into more reps on the Houston Texans offense. Used primarily as a deep threat with New Orleans and Miami, Stills is facing real competition for that role in Houston from Will Fuller. Add in joining the Texans right before the season started with no training camp to work on timing with his new QB, and it seemed like the chips were stacked against the guy that has always been a better player in the NFL rather than fantasy football. Lining up in the slot in almost a 2-1 split in Week 3 while earning >50% of offensive snaps for the first time, it seems Bill O’Brien is starting to figure out how he wants to incorporate Stills into the gameplan.
With long receptions of 37, 31, and 38, Stills is catching Deshaun Watson‘s eye deep occasionally but not yet often enough for starting lineup consideration. Health has been a tricky factor for Fuller, and if there would ever be any missed time, it would be Stills that would benefit the most. Leagues with shallow benches may not find room for Stills, but the arrow is pointing up on him in and can be put in place of the Darwin Thompson‘s and Justice Hill‘s of the fantasy football world.
Diontae Johnson 1.8% owned
Much was made of Diontae Johnson‘s interview on Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan where he passed along that coaches informed him that he was the starter, “from here on out.” We can also tell that the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff has a precise plan for him on the field. The double moves and fly routes point to a high variance in his fantasy football point spread, but I have long lamented the necessity of adding those boom or bust plays for when you are projected down against your competition by a large margin.
Mason Rudolph will ultimately control everyone’s ceiling, but a little extra chemistry with his second-team receiver could go a long way towards establishing a rhythm early on in games. Johnson’s best asset is his quick feet which allow him to release off the line in a multitude of ways. Getting a half step on defenders in the short-area is what Johnson will need to continue refining to be considered a weekly starter, but those in deep leagues looking for WR help could do far worse than the Steelers rookie.
Andrew Jordan is an editor and writer for the Pro Football Network covering Fantasy Football. You can follow him on Twitter @The_ATJ.