Every Tuesday during the NFL season, Arthur Arkush shares his top nine waiver targets for fantasy football owners. This will focus exclusively on players owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and this season there's a twist: we're sharing the top nine targets at each skill position, in addition to our top nine overall regardless of position.
9. Jaguars WR Allen Hurns: Hurns is on this list for the same reasons as Kearse: Jacksonville has to throw to someone, and unlike Kearse, Hurns has been a fantasy commodity before. He's sturdier than Marqise Lee, who attracted five more targets than Hurns in the first game without Allen Robinson, but failed to find the end zone, like Hurns did in garbage time. Remember, there are no style points in fantasy football, friends.
8. Ravens TE Ben Watson: Joe Flacco loves throwing to his tight ends about as much as he loves checkdowns and morphing into a different player in the postseason. Latest exhibit: Watson attracted eight targets vs. the Browns Sunday and translated them into eight grabs and 91 yards, including the longest pass play of the day. Watson, 36, is two years removed from a TE8 overall finish in New Orleans. No one is mistaking the Ravens passing game with the Saints' fantasy hotbed, but Watson's skills could easily be mistaken for Dennis Pitta's, Flacco's fallen buddy who led Baltimore with 121 targets and 88 grabs last season. In light of Week 2's rash of tight end injuries, owners could do worse than Watson.
7. Saints RB Alvin Kamara: The Saints are on the cusp of playing for next year. Yet, the immediate role Kamara carved out in a star-laden backfield out of the gate is telling — he's doubled Adrian Peterson's snaps (48 to 24) and his 13 targets, parlayed into 7-71 receiving, trail only Michael Thomas. Will he take a backseat when Willie Snead comes off the suspension list in Week 4? It's certainly possible, but not as likely as the defense is to continue being awful, setting up consistent game scripts in favor of the rookie and maybe the most explosive receiving option on the Saints roster.
6. Jets WR Jermaine Kearse: At the time he was dealt from Seattle, Kearse seemed like little more than a token alongside a second-rounder in exchange for Sheldon Richardson. Fast-forward a few weeks and Kearse is Josh McCown's favorite receiver, with 11-123-2 on 14 targets. The Jets' defense is miserable and should require McCown, for as long as he stays healthy, to throw a bunch, presumably in Kearse's way. He's a scoring threat, unlike Jeremy Kerley, and even has some big-game experience, not that the Jets will need that element soon.
5. Washington RB Chris Thompson: His career day — 106 scrimmage yards and two TDs on six chances — would've been much bigger if not for his dropping a would-be third touchdown on a quick slant from the Rams 25. Regardless, Thompson, who had 56 total yards and a touchdown on seven touches in Week 1, is clearly a comforting cog for Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden amid a ton of offensive change. Remember, Washington extended his contract, set to expire at season's end, a few weeks ago with more than $4.5 million guaranteed. The club values his versatility and scheme familiarity, and his role could even expand if Rob Kelley's rib again impedes the starter.
4. Browns WR Rashard Higgins: Staying healthy and hustling pretty much puts one in the mix among Browns wideouts. And while Corey Coleman was breaking his hand for a second consecutive season and Kenny Britt was doing little more than collecting another large paycheck, Higgins was emerging as Cleveland's top receiving weapon Sunday in Baltimore. The 2016 fifth-rounder, in his first NFL start after being promoted from the practice squad, eclipsed his 16-game rookie production with 7-95 on 11 targets, all team highs and personal bests. It might not be flashy but Higgins should have staying power with Hue Jackson.
3. Eagles RB Darren Sproles: He led Philadelphia's backfield in snaps (50) for the second consecutive game and leads the Eagles backs in yards and efficiency. Of course, you're likely not adding Sproles for his running ability — it's a bonus he's being entrusted there and Carson Wentz told local media this week what a valuable safety valve the veteran is for the young QB. Sproles' receiving role, in which he's Carson Wentz's third-favorite option, is where he truly separates from the competition in a pass-first offense. And if Philly keeps moving the football, he'll start scoring, too; Sproles has at least four touchdowns in seven of eight seasons since 2008, which keeps him in the weekly FLEX role.
2. Cardinals WR J.J. Nelson: Is this small stick of dynamite poised to overtake Larry Fitzgerald as the go-to guy in Arizona's offense? That's slightly premature, though it's not by accident Nelson has exploded onto the scene as Carson Palmer's second-favorite target and most dependable gamebreaker after David Johnson's injury. Our Eric Edholm nailed it last week following Johnson's injury when he said Nelson might be the "secret factor." The third-year vet responded in Indy Sunday with perhaps his best game as a pro, with 5-120 receiving, including Arizona's only touchdown and a critical fourth quarter grab to set up the game-tying field goal. As John Brown toils between the inactive list and trainer's room, and Fitzgerald battles Father Time, it leaves Nelson keeps flashing.
1. Seahawks RB Chris Carson: The seventh-rounder makes his third consecutive appearance on our list but first as our lead dog. Why? Look at what he's quickly overcome: a messy backfield situation out of which he's emerged the leader and even messier offensive line behind which he churned out almost 100 yards vs. a tough Niners front. Anyone watching the situation closely, including some of Carson's teammates per a PFT report, has seen that he's been Seattle's most dynamic back since the offseason.
1. Jay Cutler
2. Trevor Siemian
3. Jared Goff
4. Sam Bradford
5. Tyrod Taylor
6. DeShone Kizer
7. Deshaun Watson
8. Josh McCown
9. Blake Bortles
5. Rex Burkhead
6. Matt Forte
7. Samaje Perine
8. Jalen Richard
9. Jamaal Charles
5. Devin Funchess, Panthers
6. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
7. Marqise Lee, Jaguars
8. John Ross, Bengals
9. Danny Amendola, Patriots
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