Injuries to starting running backs in Arizona, Buffalo and Miami are sure to cause a bit of a frenzy on the waiver wire this week, though none appear to be serious. A couple of wideouts make the highest list this week, including the much-anticipated return from suspension of a player for the Minnesota Vikings. We even list a kicker in this week's hot list, a justified selection as he's gone from passed over on fantasy draft day to Top 3 at his position.
On to this week's waiver wire wonders ...
WR Jerome Simpson, Minnesota
The suspension is over, so this will be the last waiver wire period to pick Simpson up before he steps onto the field this week. We mentioned Simpson in our post-draft review, and we're putting him at the top of this week's list as we see him stepping directly onto the field and having the impact of a top fantasy wideout. Michael Jenkins and Devin Aromashodu will be pushed to the bench as Simpson assumes the No. 1 role for the Vikings. Grab him now before the stats start piling up.
WR Leonard Hankerson, Washington
All fantasy owners should be wary of reading between the lines when coach Mike Shanahan speaks, so when he tells us that Hankerson will be the full-time starter, we should take a close look at the stats (or tea leaves!) for confirmation. With Pierre Garcon out, Hankerson had a positive impact on this week's game, grabbing four passes for 56 yards. He is outplaying both Josh Morgan and Santana Moss, so we see him getting consistent playing time even when Garcon returns.
RB Ryan Williams, Arizona
Chris ‘Beanie' Wells left last week's game with turf toe, an injury that can linger on for several weeks. Williams filled in admirably, picking up 95 yards in total offense though most of it was in garbage time as the Cardinals salted away the game. Full-time running backs are extremely rare on the waiver wire, which is why Williams lands in the top echelon of this week's story. He carries some injury risk - Arizona has made an effort to limit his touches to take care of his sore knee. For the time being, Wells' injury pushes Williams into the role of lead back for the Cardinals.
K Justin Tucker, Baltimore
Despite only connecting on one field goal in Week 3, Tucker finds himself as one of the most sought-after players on the waiver wire. He hasn't missed yet this season, booting three field goals in each of the first two weeks, two of which were more than 50 yards long. The Ravens are the kind of team that will create plenty of scoring opportunities for Tucker, and they haven't been afraid to use him in his first year on the job in Baltimore. Now is the perfect time to upgrade your kicker to the one that, so far this season, has proven to be one of the top fantasy scorers.
RB Tashard Choice, Buffalo
With C.J. Spiller's status for Week 4 in question, as well as Fred Jackson, Choice will be the starter by default this week for the Bills. He piled up 99 yards in total offense in relief of Spiller in Week 3, so the potential is there for Choice to have a big fantasy impact. He finds himself on the second tier this week as we're not very confident about his long term staying power. When healthy, Spiller and Jackson would be the choice, but for a short-term solution, Choice will see a healthy dose of action this week.
RB Daniel Thomas, Miami
Filling in for the injured Reggie Bush, it was Thomas (and not Lamar Miller) that got the majority of the action for the Dolphins. Thomas took advantage, producing 80 yards in total offense and a touchdown. Though the initial reports on Bush's knee are positive and he may be able to play this week, Thomas should be owned in the case that Bush will end up missing some time.
RB Bilal Powell, New York Jets
Strange things are happening in New York, including the sharing of playing time in the backfield. Powell got his hands on the ball 12 times this past week, going for 69 yards in total offense. Though Shonn Greene got 22 touches, he only totaled 49 yards. This is a developing situation that has the makings of the dreaded "committee" approach. Both backs should be owned in all formats.
On the Radar
WR TY Hilton, Indianapolis
With Austin Collie now done for the season, Hilton moves up the depth chart and is now the third wideout for the Colts. A very strong effort this past week (four catches for 113 yards) lands him on this list. We'd like to see a little more from him to give him a strong recommendation. A bye week this upcoming week also limits his value, but he's worth keeping an eye on.
QB Shaun Hill, Detroit
The Lions are reporting that the injury to Matthew Stafford is not serious, but Hill is worth considering as an add for the fantasy owner with roster space. There is no question that Hill can step in and the Lions offense would not miss much of a beat. Detroit will always be a pass-first offense, and the experienced Hill has done the job before (great season in 2010), so he'd be a top fantasy quarterback when called upon to play for the Lions.
RB Shaun Draughn, Kansas City
Peyton Hillis left last week's game with an ankle injury, which bumps up Draughn to being the backup to Jamaal Charles. The Hillis injury translated into more touches for Charles, so Draughn is only going to see between 5-7 touches per game. He's worth stashing for those with roster room in the event that something happens to Charles.
WR Armon Binns, Cincinnati
The Bengals have plenty of options at wideout, with Binns being at the top of the "WR2 committee" going on in Cincinnati. For the second week in a row, Binns went for more than 60 yards and this week included a touchdown, so that lands him a spot in this week's story. He's worth keeping an eye on to see if these numbers remain consistent.
Deep and/or Dynasty Only
RB Lamar Miller, Miami
As noted previously, Daniel Thomas appears to be the back of choice behind Reggie Bush, so Miller's playing time is going to be limited. Reports are that Bush may not miss any time, but any time there is an injury at the top, it is worth searching the team's depth chart in case that injury lingers on.
WR Ramses Barden, New York Giants
When a player goes for 100 yards, that's usually an easy call to include them on the waiver list. Unfortunately for Barden, his Week 3 performance of nine catches for 138 yards is a one-hit wonder. An admirable performance filling in for the injured Hakeem Nicks, but Nicks' return will also return Barden back to the bench. Those in deep/dynasty formats can add Barden, but there is no expectation that he'll put up more numbers like that unless Nicks (or Cruz) end up missing time for the Giants.
Doug Coutts can be reached at email@example.com.