Welcome to The Big Lead's weekly fantasy football waiver wire column. It pairs wonderfully with our weekly start 'em, sit 'em post. Week 4 promises to be another exciting set of games, but first we must analyze the performances of Week 3 and see if there's any value to be found on the fantasy margins.
Here are the five best fantasy football waiver wire options for Week 3. (All stats via ESPN PPR leagues)
Devon Achane, RB, Miami Dolphins (Available in 83 Percent of ESPN Leagues)
Who else to lead off this list? Achane put up over 50 points in PPR leagues in what was basically his first full workload as an NFL running back. It was, frankly, insane. He scored two TDs on the ground and two more in the air while averaging north of 11 yards per carry. Nobody expects him to do it again, of course. He might have the biggest fantasy output of the year already. However, the rookie showed a flash why everyone valued him as a fantasy sleeper heading into the season and he'll be the top choice on the waiver wire this week. Even if you might have to wait a bit until his potential is fully realized, last week's explosion aside.
Adam Thielen, WR, Carolina Panthers (Available in 45 Percent of ESPN Leagues)
With Bryce Young likely sidelined for a week Thielen could provide unlikley fantasy reinforcements, despite being on more rosters than candidates on this list usually are. He linked up with Andy Dalton in Seattle for 11 catches and one TD, totaling 145 yards on the day. The former Vikings wideout is no longer a consistent No. 2 receiver in the fantasy realm, but he's by far the best receiver on the Panthers and Dalton is the sort of veteran QB who knows to throw to him as his first, second, and third option. He'll be going up against his old team this week in Minnesota and given their rather porous defense so far this year a revenge game is very much on the menu. If Thielen is still around in your league, go and get him.
Tank Dell, WR, Houston Texans (Available in 76 Percent of ESPN Leagues)
Dell was a popular rookie sleeper amongst the more hardcore fantasy football community and he officially popped against the Jaguars on Sunday. The third-round pick reeled in five catches for 145 yards and a TD in only the third game of his career. While Dell's output will fluctuate along with CJ Stroud's performances it is clear that he's a favored target of the Ohio State product. Stroud has also been, statistically, the most productive of all the rookie QBs going forward. Dell is a great add at this point in the year and has the potential to be a lot better
Joshua Palmer, WR, Los Angeles Chargers (Available in 99 Percent of ESPN Leagues)
Mike Williams went down for the year with a knee injury and Palmer stands to benefit the most. Keenan Allen remains the de facto No. 1 in Kellen Moore's extremely prolific offense, but Palmer is shaping up to be Justin Herbert's No. 2 guy. Quentin Johnston is talented with a first-round pedigree but hasn't shown a ton in the first three weeks. Palmer has been a favored target of Herbert's since he went in the third round of the 2021 NFL draft. He has not blown the doors off by any means this season so far with two very underwhelming performances before he scored a TD in Week 3. But between him and Johnston, Palmer is the choice.
Ronnie Bell, WR, San Francisco 49ers (Available in 99 Percent of ESPN Leagues)
Bell, a seventh-round rookie out of Michigan, came out of nowhere to score a TD in the Niners' Thursday night victory over the Giants last week. He only caught two passes to go along with that touchdown but we're always on the hunt for the next young wideout to surprise in regards to fantasy production and Bell could be it. He's clearly fast and has good hands. He's got the trust of Brock Purdy. Most importantly, he was tied for third in offensive snaps among San Fran's wideouts. All that only happened because Brandon Aiyuk was out, to be sure, but Bell is worth a claim just in case Aiyuk can't suit up this week. A deep sleeper pickup but one that could pay dividends down the road.