Fantasy Football Week 3 Waiver Wire: Donte Moncrief and James Starks Become Impact Starters

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Donte Moncrief was the forgotten man in Indianapolis this offseason. A promising end to last year appeared to portend great value this year. Then, the Colts signed Andre Johnson as a free agent, and also drafted Philip Dorsett in the first round. Three weeks into the season, though, and Moncrief looks like he is perfectly set up to become a fantasy force.

In the short term, T.Y. Hilton is playing injured, opening the door for greater contribution from Moncrief. Longer term, Andre Johnson has looked finished, and Moncrief has been getting far more snaps than the rookie Dorsett. Yes, the Colts’ offense has struggled, but things will get turned around, and the schedule opens up. Moncrief appears to have made the case to remain a top target, and it would be hard to see him falling out of the rotation. Go get him. Spend a decent amount if bidding (I’d go 30%-40% or more of bid allocation, and that assumes all transactions cost money). You may get a top 15 wide receiver in 2015.

Of course, Moncrief is owned in 64% of leagues, so while he is available in a decent amount, he won’t be for long. He’s the 49th most frequently owned receiver entering the week, so he’ll only be available in leagues that limit the number of receivers a team can hold, or smaller leagues. Look down further for options in deeper leagues.

Meanwhile, Eddie Lacy’s ankle injury led to 20 carries for James Starks (owned in 31% of leagues), and in the near future he will be starting, as Lacy will likely miss at least a game. Not the best matchup against Kansas City, but Starks is still a low end RB1 for next week by virtue of being the Packers’ back.

As with all my waiver wire columns, I’ll denote players according to likely availability, using ownership percentages in CBS leagues:

Shallow Leagues: owned in 50-70% of all leagues

Moderate Leagues: owned in 25-49%

Deep Leagues: owned in 24% or fewer

 

QUARTERBACK

Shallow Leagues:  Teddy Bridgewater (67%) is a borderline starting option in a 12-team league against San Diego, especially with all the injuries this week affecting starters. Marcus Mariota (68%) going against the Colts is a fall-back option.

Average Leagues: Nick Foles (45%) returns home against the Steelers, and is an option in deep leagues, this isn’t your father’s Steelers pass defense. Jameis Winston (41%) is going against a Houston team that has given up a fair chunk of points to both Alex Smith and Cam Newton. Derek Carr (27%) comes off the win over the Ravens and has a pretty good matchup against Cleveland.

Deep Leagues: There are lots of key injuries, but I’m not sure I trust the matchups/backups all that much. If forced to choose, I’d go with Brandon Weeden (0%) vs. ATL along with Kirk Cousins (12%) at the Giants on Thursday.

 

RUNNING BACKS

Shallow Leagues and Average Leagues: James Starks is the best immediate option. Devonta Freeman (69%) might be available in shallow leagues and is close behind with Tevin Coleman’s  injury.

As stated last week, Dion Lewis (45%) is in the Woodhead/Vereen role, and he got way more touches as the Pats went pass-heavy against the Bills’ defense. I would expect Blount and the pounding backs to feature more this week, but Lewis is still a flex start.

David Johnson (54%) already shot up the boards last week, and with two more touchdowns on 6 touches, he should surpass Chris Johnson immediately and be a platoon option even when Ellington returns.

Matt Jones (44%) went for 123 yards and 2 TDs on 19 carries, getting the same amount of carries as Alfred Morris. Has he officially surpassed Morris? It’s worth a bid to find out.

Deep Leagues: Chris Polk (3%) has surpassed the completely uninspiring Alfred Blue. With a matchup against the Bucs, he may be a sneaky flex start. Lorenzo Taliaferro (12%) returned from injury and regained his top backup role in Baltimore, scoring a TD. He’s a decent risk to get opportunities as the year moves on.

Keep an eye on injury news involving Lamar Miller and Chris Hyde. Damien Williams (9%) could be an emergency pickup for cheap, though the matchup against Buffalo isn’t great.

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

Shallow Leagues: Doug Baldwin (69%) is the fallback option, though Donte Moncrief (64%) is the target. Torrey Smith (56%) is the other option worthy of a potential spot.

Average Leagues: Michael Crabtree 38% had a big game last week and another good matchup against Cleveland this week, he’s in WR2/WR3 range. It’s time to start watching for Breshad Perriman (31%) if you are planning longer term. The opportunity to make an impact will be there. He may be 2-3 weeks away. I highlighted Brandon Coleman (44%) as a good risk but the Drew Brees’ injury has that limited in the short term.

Deep Leagues: For another two weeks, it looks like Darrius Heyward-Bey (0%) is a deep threat for Pittsburgh and has outperformed Markus Wheaton. Ted Ginn (4%) is the one healthy option that Cam Newton seems to trust. Rishard Matthews (0%) has been the WR2 for Miami so far. Leonard Hankerson (11%) was targeted a lot by Matt Ryan last week. Has he overtaken Roddy White? Probably not yet, but something to monitor.

 

TIGHT END

Shallow and Average Leagues: Jordan Reed (47%) looks like a good starting option against the Giants, and as long as he is healthy has TE1 potential. Jared Cook (47%) goes against the Steelers defense, which has been torched by Gronkowski and also gave up yards to Vernon Davis. Ladarius Green (44%) is still a good fallback option against the Vikings.

Deep Leagues: Eric Ebron (25%) has played better, but the Stafford uncertainty affects the short term value. Crockett Gilmore (4%) had two touchdowns against Oakland, and has a short term opportunity with the Ravens.

KICKERS

  1. Stephen Gostkowski vs. JAC
  2. Steven Hauschka vs. CHI
  3. Mason Crosby vs. KC
  4. Chandler Catanzaro vs. SF
  5. Brandon McManus at DET
  6. Adam Vinatieri at TEN
  7. Graham Gano vs. NO
  8. Cody Parkey at NYJ
  9. Josh Brown vs. WAS
  10. Justin Tucker vs. CIN
  11. Randy Bullock vs. TB
  12. Matt Bryant at DAL
  13. Nick Folk vs. PHI
  14. Blair Walsh vs. SD
  15. Josh Scobee at STL

DEFENSES/SPECIAL TEAMS

  1. DENVER vs. DET
  2. SEATTLE vs. CHI
  3. NEW ENGLAND vs. JAC
  4. CAROLINA vs. NO
  5. NY JETS vs. PHI
  6. HOUSTON vs. TB
  7. CLEVELAND vs. OAK
  8. ARIZONA vs. SF
  9. ATLANTA at DAL
  10. BUFFALO at MIA
  11. MIAMI vs BUF
  12. ST. LOUIS vs. PIT
  13. TAMPA BAY at HOU
  14. MINNESOTA vs. SD
  15. NY GIANTS vs. WAS

 

OVERALL

Immediate Impact Rankings

  1. Donte Moncrief, WR IND
  2. James Starks, RB GB
  3. Devonta Freeman, RB ATL
  4. Dion Lewis, RB NE
  5. Matt Jones, RB WAS
  6. Jordan Reed, TE WAS
  7. David Johnson, RB ARI
  8. Michael Crabtree, WR OAK
  9. Ladarius Green, TE SD
  10. Jared Cook, TE STL
  11. Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR PIT
  12. Doug Baldwin, WR SEA
  13. Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR PIT
  14. Teddy Bridgewater, QB MIN
  15. Ted Ginn, WR CAR

Longterm Impact Rankings

  1. Donte Moncrief, WR IND
  2. Matt Jones, RB WAS
  3. David Johnson, RB ARI
  4. Dion Lewis, RB NE
  5. Jordan Reed, TE WAS
  6. Devonta Freeman, RB ATL
  7. James Starks, RB GB
  8. Michael Crabtree, WR OAK
  9. Doug Baldwin, WR SEA
  10. Brandon Coleman, WR NO
  11. Jared Cook, TE STL
  12. Eric Ebron, TE DET
  13. Breshad Perriman, WR BAL
  14. Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB BAL
  15. Ted Ginn, WR CAR

[photos via USA Today Sports Images]