Fantasy football last-minute pickups for Week 3: Lewis, Valdes-Scantling and more

    Jim McCormick is a fantasy football and fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.

Editor’s note: Because we know the fantasy football week is fluid, this column is published on Tuesdays, but roster percentages are updated on Fridays. We will leave all players in the column (except those who played on Thursday), even when they exceed our original threshold of less than 50% rostered, just in case they are still available in your league.

Each week of the NFL season, we will identify fantasy football waiver-wire pickups specifically for those of you looking for streaming options in deeper formats (including IDP leagues). These are players available in a majority of ESPN Fantasy leagues, who have enticing matchups in the week ahead that may make them worthy of consideration for your lineup.

While you may notice some overlap with Field Yates’ pickup column that publishes on Mondays, an important distinction to make between that column and this one is that the options mentioned in this column are focused solely on this week’s matchup and not the players’ value for the remainder of the season.

Do you need replacement options for injured players? Or are you merely dealing with depth issues? A roundtable of fantasy analysts and NFL Nation reporters will join me to identify some choice names to consider each week.

Below are some of our favorites for Week 3.

Quarterback

Nick Mullens, San Francisco 49ers (0.6% rostered; at Giants)

During an eight-game stretch of starts in 2018, Mullens averaged an impressive 8.3 yards per attempt while producing a passing score in all but one start and at least two scores in half of those eight outings. While we’re a good bit removed from his last sustained playing experience, the pitch for Mullens leans on this inviting matchup with the Giants, a team that has ceded the fourth-most yards per dropback and seventh-most touchdowns per attempt this season. Given that the Giants have the league’s ninth-lowest pressure rate on passers in 2020, Mullens should have time to operate in San Francisco’s quarterback-friendly offense.-J.M.

Running Back

Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers (62.8% rostered; vs. Panthers)

In a competitive game, it was pivotal to see Kelley earn more touches than Austin Ekeler this past Sunday. Both Bolts backs did well in the loss to the Chiefs, but it was Kelley who emerged as a valuable early-down option for the Chargers. The Panthers have been soft against the run to open the season in allowing 5.32 yards per carry to tailbacks, most in the NFL. Kelley has a real chance to compile another big day from scrimmage, so pounce if he’s somehow still available in your league. -J.M.

Dion Lewis, New York Giants (36.4% rostered; vs. 49ers)

It’s hard to know just how the workload split will unfold for the Giants on Sunday, especially after the signing of Devonta Freeman earlier this week. Usually, giving advice to pick up a running back against the 49ers is dicey, but this is different. There are a lot of touches up for grabs for New York with Saquon Barkley out for the season. And the Niners’ front seven is not healthy. Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas are out for the season, Dee Ford is also injured, and recently signed Ziggy Ansah is much more of a pass-rusher than run-stopper when healthy. With injuries piling up combined with staying in an unfamiliar place this game week (the Greenbrier in West Virginia instead of back in the Bay Area), all of these available touches make Lewis intriguing in PPR formats for Week 3 (and potentially beyond). -Michael Rothstein, NFL Nation Lions reporter

UPDATE: NFL Nation Giants reporter Jordan Raanan offered his thoughts on the Giants’ backfield this weekend: “My expectation Sunday is that Wayne Gallman starts (run downs), Lewis gets the most snaps (pass downs and more), while Freeman is sprinkled in with only five days to learn the playbook and get into playing shape. Consider me bullish on Lewis for fantasy.”

Wide Receiver

Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans (45.5% rostered; at Vikings)

With A.J. Brown still working through a knee injury, I like Davis as a WR3 this Sunday versus a Vikings defense that has played subpar football out of the gate. Over the first two weeks of the season, Davis has caught 10 of 13 targets for 137 yards with one score. And that touchdown grab came last week on a red zone opportunity. While Davis is a little tight-hipped as a route runner, the Titans will scheme him open on crossing routes and in-breakers off play-action. And right now, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill is dialed in, driving the ball with confidence in the passing game. -Matt Bowen, NFL writer and analyst

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers (24.3% rostered, at New Orleans)

The Packers are the first team in more than a decade to open a season with consecutive 42-plus-point outbursts, and you know what doesn’t project to slow that down? A game on a fast track against an opponent on short rest. MVS has accounted for nearly half of Green Bay’s deep receiving yards this season and offers high-end upside that you may want if your roster is already being held together by scotch tape. -Kyle Soppe, ESPN Fantasy researcher

Tight End

Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys (21.8% rostered; at Seahawks)

The Seahawks have been solid in defending tight ends thus far, but Schultz merits attention if only due to sheer volume, as last week’s 10-target showing revealed how much Dak Prescott trusts him over the middle. With the potential for 20% of the target share in Dallas, Schultz enters the streaming tier at the position in Seattle this week. -J.M.

Defense/Special Teams (D/ST)

Cleveland Browns (37.0% rostered; vs. Washington Football Team)

Washington is allowing a pressure rate of roughly 28% on offense, an above-average allowance that could play into the Browns’ favor this weekend. Cleveland’s strength on defense is likely on the line, thus this could prove rewarding from a defensive perspective if Washington remains porous to pressure. -J.M.

Los Angeles Chargers (29.0% rostered; vs. Panthers)

Facing a Carolina offense missing its engine this week, the Chargers bring a deep pass rush and capable secondary to the field in Week 3. The loss of Derwin James still clouds the Chargers’ potential to be an elite defense, but the matchup is inviting enough this week to trust this D/ST in lineups. -J.M.

Individual Defensive Players (IDP)

Defensive Line

Trey Hendrickson, New Orleans Saints (3.5% rostered; vs. Packers)

Busy in both run defense and as an edge rusher, Hendrickson has produced consecutive outings with both a sack and healthy tackle results. Facing a balanced Green Bay offense, Hendrickson should prove active again this week. -J.M.

Linebacker

Kevin Pierre-Louis, Washington Football Team (5.9% rostered; at Browns)

The Browns have two of the most productive backs in football in Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb. This means Pierre-Louis should prove quite busy corralling Cleveland’s talented backfield. Fresh from a career-best tackling performance, this every-down ‘backer is a fine streaming play this week. -J.M.

Defensive Back

Kenny Vaccaro, Tennessee Titans (9.4% rostered; at Vikings)

A steady source of snaps and tackles thus far, Vaccaro flashed some big-play potential this past Sunday. Likely to be busy in the box chasing Dalvin Cook this week, Vaccaro is a high-floor streaming candidate. -J.M.

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