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Week 3 Quarterbacks - Waiver Wire Pickups and Adds

We had another wild and woolly week of action in the NFL, and some big quarterback performances from unlikely sources once again in Week 2.

Many owners prefer to set and forget at quarterback, but for those of us that like to play the streaming game we've got to be on top of matchups every week and a few weeks in advance. Owners of Carson Wentz and Marcus Mariota may need a fill-in next week, while owners of Philip Rivers may want a replacement since he is facing the Rams.

In standard one quarterback leagues the waiver wire is usually pretty rich with talent at the position, unless the league is full of owners that like to hold backup quarterbacks. In two-quarterback leagues, nearly every starter is rostered and the waiver wire tends to be quite barren for quality arms. That’s why a few quarterbacks owned in fewer than 15% of leagues has been included, so even owners in deep leagues have someone to consider. Ownership is based on Yahoo leagues and is current as of September 16.

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Week 3 Waiver Wire Quarterbacks

Tyrod Taylor, CLE vs. New York Jets – 31% Owned

Taylor was a little disappointing this week against the Saints, putting up only 15.44 fantasy points against a defense that allowed Fitzpatrick to put up over 40 in Week 1. Taylor played well enough in the game with a 73% completion rate and 94.6 passer rating, it just didn’t translate to big production due to an inability to finish drives. Carlos Hyde couldn’t get anything going on the ground which hurt the entire offense. Hopefully something changes, whether it be Nick Chubb getting more involved, Hyde picking up his game, or Taylor rushing more himself. Taylor rushed for 26 yards in this game and 77 in Week 1 and has shown the ability to run as a quarterback throughout his NFL career.

The Browns take on the Jets on Thursday Night Football next week, and the Jets were the number 22 pass defense by DVOA last season. They have looked better thus far, but the Jets success is based more on their opponents than their own improvements on defense. The Browns have a Week 11 bye, and from now until the bye they only face one tough matchup in Week 5 against the Ravens. If Taylor performs he could be a steady starter almost every week until the bye. Otherwise he makes for a good plug-and-play as a bye week fill-in.

Blake Bortles, JAX vs. Tennessee Titans – 28% Owned

Bortles was impressive in Jacksonville’s 31-20 win over the Patriots on Sunday, throwing for 377 yards and four touchdowns. It's one of the best games Bortles has ever played in the NFL. This was also a coming out game for talented new number one wide receiver Keelan Cole, who separated himself from the pack in Jacksonville with 116 yards and a touchdown in a dominant performance over New England's secondary. The two had great chemistry together and are shaping up to be a high scoring duo all year.

Bortles and the Jags take on a Titans defense that has disappointed in the first two games. They allowed 230 passing yards in Week 1 to Ryan Tannehill, and in Week 2 they allowed 310 to Deshaun Watson. Bortles is not an every week starter by any means, but his next three matchups look favorable against the Titans, Jets, and Chiefs. Each of those teams were bottom-ten in pass defense DVOA last season and only the Jets have shown small signs of improvement, but even the Jets’ success is suspect given their opponents thus far. It might be a good thing for Bortles if Leonard Fournette does not play in this game, since the Jaguars will have to throw more often. Either way he is a good streamer in this matchup.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, TAM vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – 21% Owned

Fitzpatrick has entered full-on Fitz-Magic mode, shredding the defending Super Bowl champions in Week 2 for 402 yards and four touchdowns. Miraculous hot streaks are practically an annual occurrence for Fitzpatrick, and while it’s foolish to expect this type of production to last Fitzy is fine as a hot-hand or matchup play. Furthermore, Fitzpatrick may keep the starting QB job for the Bucs after Jameis Winston returns. The Tampa Bay brass must know that Winston is their future not Fitzpatrick, but after a 2-0 start with two huge upsets it’s hard for Tampa Bay to justify benching him for Winston.

Fitzpatrick is proving that Tampa Bay has more weapons than just Mike Evans too. He has shown more chemistry with DeSean Jackson in two games than Winston did all last season. Fitzpatrick is also benefiting from development of young talent such as Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard. It is also painfully apparent that Tampa Bay cannot run the football. Peyton Barber looked atrocious as the primary ballcarrier and Jacquizz Rodgers’ track record suggests he isn’t up to the task either. This is going to be a throw-heavy team by necessity and Fitzpatrick could continue to benefit in Week 3 against a Steelers team that was carved up by Patrick Mahomes through the air for six touchdown passes and 326 yards.

Sam Darnold, NYJ @ Cleveland Browns – 13% Owned

Darnold didn’t have a great fantasy performance and made his share of mistakes in this game, but he has shown promise in the first two weeks of the season. His 334 yards were a product of volume since he had to throw 41 times, but that is still a robust average of 8.1 yards-per-attempt. A new weapon has emerged for the Jets and Darnold too with Quincy Enunwa, who has 21 targets through the Jets first two games. Like Bortles and Cole, Darnold and Enunwa look to be in sync and should be a nice duo going forward.

Next week against the Browns is a good matchup for Darnold, as Cleveland ranked number 26 in pass defense DVOA last season. They also gave up 335 yards to Ben Roethlisberger in Week 1 and a 114.6 passer rating to Drew Brees in Week 2. Darnold is neither Roethlisberger or Brees, but as a streamer he is a fine option on Thursday Night Football. After Week 3 it’s kind of a rough stretch for the Jets. They take on Jacksonville, Denver, Indianapolis, and Minnesota their next four weeks. Indianapolis is the only weak defense of the bunch, but after that stretch the Jets have a relatively soft schedule in terms of opposing pass defenses the rest of the way. As Darnold plays and improves his production should get better and this is more of a long term play than anything else.

Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 12% Owned

Winston is of course still suspended next week and as previously stated his job may be in jeopardy, but in two-QB leagues or deep leagues where waivers are thin for quarterbacks Winston isn’t a bad stash. For his career Winston averages 16.28 points per game, which puts him in fringy streamer territory, but he has shown flashes of stardom at times. Also, the Buccaneers have a relatively soft schedule for quarterbacks all season. Only Washington in Week 10 and Baltimore in Week 15 were top-10 pass defenses based on last year’s DVOA rankings.

With the way Ryan Fitzpatrick has performed it’s tough to see the Buccaneers immediately pulling the plug on him, but when Fitzpatrick turns back into a mediocre backup quarterback Winston will be breathing down his neck. Again, this is not a standard league stash, but nobody is even thinking about Winston right now. He could probably be added after waivers run or for $0 in FAAB as a sneaky move that could pay off a few weeks from now. Either Tampa Bay quarterback should be a good fantasy producer all year when starting. Tampa Bay has lots of talent in their receiving corps and their defense and running game will put them in a position to throw a lot this season.

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