Week 3 top fantasy pickups: Last call on Chris Carson, J.J. Nelson

No one wins a fantasy league without making a few smart in-season pickups. Your draft, while important, was just the beginning. Each week throughout the NFL season, we identify six players to target on waiver wires, plus a lightly owned D/ST. All are available in a majority of Yahoo leagues and approved for immediate use. Add as needed.

Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks, 39% owned

Carson is of course long gone in nearly all hardcore fantasy leagues, but he remains unattached in 60 percent of the Yahoo universe. He was a well-hyped player throughout the preseason, outproducing every other back on Seattle’s roster. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll suggested entering the week that we might see more of Carson, and he followed through in a big way. Carson carried the ball 20 times for 93 yards against the Niners, adding one reception for seven yards. Meanwhile, Thomas Rawls had only a cameo role, carrying five times for four yards. Eddie Lacy was an uninvolved onlooker, inactive for the team’s home opener following a lousy performance at Green Bay (5 carries, 3 yards). It’s clear at this stage that Carson is the featured runner for Seattle; ever other back on this team is fighting for scraps.

Carson ran behind Justice Hill at Oklahoma State last season, averaging a ridiculous 6.8 YPC and reaching the end-zone nine times. He’s not a burner, but he’s a powerful and creative runner, built to handle a substantial workload. Seattle’s offensive line won’t do him many favors, but he’s already demonstrated that he can overcome that unit’s deficiencies. If he remains unowned in your league … well, maybe find a more competitive group for 2018. Add Carson with urgency.

Schedule, next three weeks: at Ten, vs. Ind, at LAR

FAAB bid: All of it. Or at least most of it. Whatever it takes.

Chris Carson, piling up yards at home against the Niners. He appears to have ascended to the top of the backfield depth chart in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson, RBs, Washington 23% and 29%

Most assumed it was only a matter of time before Perine received a long look in Washington’s backfield. It’s unfortunate that Perine’s path to fantasy relevance involved a Rob Kelley injury (ribs/chest), but that’s life in the NFL. Perine carried the ball 21 times in Washington’s Week 2 win at Los Angeles, though he gained just 67 yards. (Kelley was off to a 12-for-78 start before exiting.) If Kelley is sidelined for any length of time, Perine should see plenty of early-down and short-yardage carries. He’s not in any way a flashy ball-carrier, but he offers Kelley-like power and girth. Any back with a shot at 18-20 touches deserves a look in our game. We aren’t likely to have clarity on Kelley’s Week 3 status before your waiver deadline.

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Thompson is Washington’s most dynamic and dangerous ball-carrier, and he’s already scored three times on just 13 touches this season. Just look at this nifty weaving, breakaway 61-yard touchdown run. But at 5-foot-8 and 190 pounds, Thompson isn’t a player who projects as a full-workload runner. If next week’s matchup with Oakland becomes a shootout — and that seems the most likely scenario — he’ll have a chance to make plenty of noise, perhaps finding the end-zone for a third straight week. He was already rostered in PPR leagues, in all likelihood, and now needs to be taken seriously in standard formats.

Schedule, next three weeks: vs. Oak, at KC, bye

FAAB bid: $9 and $15

J.J. Nelson, avoiding various Colts defenders. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

J.J. Nelson, Arizona Cardinals, 20%

While we’re discussing big-play specialists, take a look at the full J.J. Nelson highlight reel from Sunday’s overtime win. Nelson proved to be an impossible coverage assignment, as he separated with ease from Indy’s corners. He ran a sub-4.3 40-yard dash at the combine back in 2015 and it appears he hasn’t lost a step. We hyped him excessively on Sunday’s pregame coverage, with John Brown ruled out due to a quad injury. Nelson has scored six TDs over his last seven games, dating back to Week 13 last season, so he’s clearly a circle-of-trust receiver for Carson Palmer.

Schedule, next three weeks: vs. Dal, vs. SF, at Phi

FAAB bid: $10

Rashard Higgins, Cleveland Browns, 1%

If you’d like to avoid the Browns offense entirely, we get it. Just please note that Cleveland will travel to Indianapolis in Week 3, and the Colts have allowed the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers so far this season, trailing only the Saints. Matchups don’t get much better. Corey Coleman suffered a broken hand on Sunday, which led to a busy afternoon for Higgins. The second-year pro finished with seven catches for 95 yards on a team-high 11 targets. He lacks exceptional speed by NFL standards, but he didn’t struggle to separate against Baltimore in Week 2. Higgins was a massively productive collegiate receiver at Colorado State (96-1750-17 in 2014), but he’s been buried on the depth chart in Cleveland. This week’s target total nearly matched his full-season workload as a rookie (12 targets). He deserves a look against a user-friendly Colts D.

Schedule, next three weeks: at Ind, vs. Cin, vs. NYJ

FAAB bid: $4

Mohamed Sanu has caught 11 passes on 15 targets through two games, and he has a friendly matchup ahead. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Mohamed Sanu, WR, Atlanta Falcons, 16%

Sanu is a familiar name to fantasy owners, but he’s been largely ignored in our game this season. He opened with a 6-catch performance at Chicago, then followed it up with five receptions for 85 yards in Sunday’s win over Green Bay. Sanu is a bankable PPR asset and a starting wideout for an upper-tier passing offense. Atlanta has the Lions defense on deck, with Detroit coming off a short week. Last year, the Lions D allowed 7.5 yards per pass attempt and a ridiculous 33 passing scores. If you’re looking for a WR3/flex with reasonable upside and a safe floor, Sanu is your guy.

Schedule, next three weeks: at Det, vs. Buf, bye

FAAB bid: $6

Chris Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals, 12%

Arizona’s backfield is obviously a mess with David Johnson sidelined, but CJ led the team in carries (11) and rushing yards (44) on Sunday. Kerwynn Williams, not surprisingly, wasn’t a factor against the Colts (9 carries, 22 yards). He can be kicked to the curb. If you absolutely have to own a member of the Cards backfield committee — you don’t, but let’s pretend — Johnson should be the guy in standard leagues. Andre Ellington has low-level PPR appeal, but he only handled five touches in Week 2.

Schedule, next three weeks: vs. Dal, vs. SF, at Phi

FAAB bid: $8

Miami Dolphins, 4%

Another week, another defense preparing to face the New York Jets. Get used to it. The Jets have turned the ball over four times over their first two games, and they allowed four sacks to the Raiders on Sunday. Miami is coming off an impressive road win over the Chargers in Week 2, and the team now heads back east for a much easier assignment. New York is a tanking team with a JV roster and no good options at quarterback. Pick on the Jets whenever possible.

Schedule, next three weeks: at NYJ, vs. NO, vs. Ten

FAAB bid: $2

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