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Week 3's best fantasy football free-agent finds

Running back Cameron Artis-Payne could see a larger role with Jonathan Stewart missing some time in Carolina. Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

A tweet late Sunday night from colleague and NFL Insider extraordinaire Adam Schefter encapsulated one of the themes from Week 2 of the NFL season. There were seemingly innumerable running back injuries that will continue to bear monitoring as Week 3 of the NFL season progresses.

Among the trickle-down impacts of these injuries is what they mean for fantasy football. We'll dive into shuffling backfields and more in this week's waiver-wire column.

As usual, only players owned in less than 50 percent of leagues on ESPN.com are eligible for this column.

Running back fill-ins

Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Carolina Panthers (1.9 percent). Yes, Artis-Payne was inactive in Week 2 and Fozzy Whittaker dashed for 100 yards on 16 carries. Artis-Payne was inactive because he offers a close skill set to Jonathan Stewart but doesn't add as much special-teams and change-of-pace value as Whittaker. He had 33 carries in three games to close out 2015, and I'd expect Artis-Payne to get first dibs on carries until Stewart returns from a hamstring injury (the early indication from head coach Ron Rivera is Stewart will miss a week or two).

Fozzy Whittaker, RB, Carolina Panthers (.8 percent). But I'm not entirely ignoring Whittaker. He's going to have value in this offense, and he's a worthy consideration in deeper leagues with PPR scoring. It's rarely crystal clear how a team will plan to make up for an injury to a key player, so if I had to choose one Panthers back it would be Artis-Payne, but Whittaker is certainly a name to note, too.

Matt Asiata, RB, Minnesota Vikings (.2 percent). While we await more information on the timetable of Adrian Peterson's return from what head coach Mike Zimmer announced as a torn right meniscus, the attention also turns to the next man up in Minnesota. In 2014, when Peterson was suspended for 15 games, Asiata compiled a respectable line of 882 combined rushing and receiving yards to go along with 10 total touchdowns. He's not as talented or explosive as Jerick McKinnon, but he seems like a better bet for goal-line duties and should see double-digit touches on a per-game basis.

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota Vikings (24.1 percent). I think McKinnon will be among the most added players this week, as he's a terrific athlete whose role should increase. And while I unquestionably believe his ceiling is higher than Asiata's if he gets the chance to see a consistent and expanded workload, a lack of touchdowns is a bit of a concern. In the aforementioned 2014 season, McKinnon had 140 touches (to Asiata's 208) but failed to find the end zone. Still, he's absolutely worth the add in any league.

Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins (44.1 percent). Identifying Ajayi's value is something of a riddle right now, as he was at one point on track to be the starter in Miami. He was left home from the team's Week 1 game in Seattle and then put the ball on the ground in Week 2. He had an OK stretch in 2015, but it's unclear how reliant Miami will be on him until Arian Foster (groin) returns to the field. He should be added in 12-team leagues or larger, but to begin the week I'm not confident he should be in my starting lineup.

Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins (1.5 percent). Drake needs to be mentioned amid questions about Ajayi's potential usage. He's an excellent pass-catcher who probably best fits as a third-down, up-tempo back. But with Foster's injury and Ajayi's ball-security issue in Week 2, perhaps Drake gets a shot at steadier work. He's an add in PPR leagues 12 teams or larger.

Dwayne Washington, RB, Detroit Lions (.3 percent). Washington, a rookie out of Washington, had a notable preseason and then plunged into the end zone as a short-yardage back in Week 1. With Ameer Abdullah (foot) banged up, Washington should see a role to help Theo Riddick in the Detroit backfield. In deep leagues, Washington is an intriguing add.

Other adds

Quincy Enunwa, WR, New York Jets (5.5 percent). He made this list last week and will continue to do so until he pushes past the 50 percent threshold. He has 13 catches through two games (on 14 total targets). The tight end is a virtually invisible part of the Jets' passing offense. There's room for three receivers to make a major impact, and he's great insurance if the knee injury suffered by Brandon Marshall in Week 2 limits his availability at all in Week 3.

Tyrell Williams, WR, San Diego Chargers (43.4 percent). A popular pickup last week as owners of Keenan Allen worked to replace him in their lineups, Williams showed well in Week 2, hauling in three passes, including a long score. He's fast and physical and should sustain an integral role in a passing offense that proved it can continue to click in Allen's absence.

Phillip Dorsett, WR, Indianapolis Colts (40.3 percent). Another guy who is a repeat on this list from last week, Dorsett could have a large role in the near future, as Donte Moncrief deals with a shoulder issue. If Moncrief misses any games, Dorsett would become a borderline top-35 play against the Chargers this Sunday.

Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants (42.3 percent). It's great to see Cruz back on the field and making plays for the G-Men, as he had a critical late-game catch to propel New York to a game-winning field goal. In a deeper league, Cruz merits consideration given the Giants' heavy reliance on three-receiver sets.

Shane Vereen, RB, New York Giants (35.6 percent). When the Giants look to pick up the tempo (or are playing from behind), the back that likely will see plenty of runs is Vereen. He's an excellent pass-catcher but also led the team in rushes in Week 2 (14 in total). If you play in a points-per-reception league, Vereen could come into play as a flex running back. Moreover, Rashad Jennings has a left-wrist issue to keep an eye on.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Detroit Lions (16.1 percent). Among the nine quarterbacks who have thrown the ball 79 times or more through two weeks, I'd wager that Matthew Stafford is one of the three safer bets to sustain that pace of usage. That means good things for a lot of Detroit pass-catchers, including the ever-steady Boldin. A PPR add.

Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (23.8 percent). Game flow helped Boyd a bit in Week 2, as Andy Dalton set a career high with 54 passing attempts in a catch-up effort vs. Pittsburgh. But Boyd -- who had eight targets and caught six passes -- has enough talent and opportunity ahead of him to stash him on your bench. The upside is there.

Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington Redskins (3.2 percent). We saw quite a bit of Crowder as a rookie in 2015, and the early returns in 2016 are also promising: He has six catches in each of Washington's first two games. He's not going to be a big-play threat, and he's not going to snag a bunch of touchdowns. But the volume of his workload makes him a PPR asset to add.

Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens (12.1 percent). A hat tip to Matthew Berry for this one: We don't know when Dixon will be healthy enough to make his NFL debut, but he's an intriguing stash on your bench. The Ravens have the fifth-worst rushing offense on a per-carry basis early on this season. Dixon is a compelling talent who could earn a role sooner rather than later.

Tight end fill-ins

Note: If you have Rob Gronkowski, Zach Ertz or Coby Fleener, who has struggled massively for New Orleans so far, here are some tight end options to consider.

Jacob Tamme, TE, Atlanta Falcons (10.8 percent). Tamme has either tied or led the Falcons in targets in each of the team's first two games this season. He hauled in a Week 2 touchdown pass and is a nice Week 3 option facing a Saints defense that -- despite a solid showing this past Sunday -- is a favorable matchup.

Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens (10.5 percent). It's great to see Pitta back on the field after an extended absence due to hip issues. He led the Ravens with 12 targets in Week 2, reminding us that he can be a terrific middle-of-the-field weapon.

Jesse James, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers (20.1 percent). James is a tough cover because of his size (he's all of 6-foot-7) and has seen a steady role through two weeks (12 targets already). Playing in one of the best passing offenses in football is a boost for any pass-catcher.

Trey Burton, TE, Philadelphia Eagles (.3 percent). The former college quarterback (turned utility player at Florida) has always had terrific athleticism. He hasn't always had a consistent offensive role, however, as he had just three career catches entering Week 2. With Ertz out, Burton managed five catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. He's a deeper-league fill-in until Ertz returns.