This has to be one of the wildest starts to an NFL season that I can ever recall. Tons of scoring, huge defensive performances, surprising undefeated teams (I’m looking at you Arizona fans!) and injuries. Lots and LOTS of injuries.
If you’re looking for some help off of the waiver wire heading into Week 4, here are three names to consider which will also help your team throughout the rest of the season.
1. Kyle Rudolph, TE – Minnesota Vikings
You may have heard Rudolph’s name in some of the season’s earlier weeks, but his Week 3 performance solidified his long-term value.
Quarterback Christian Ponder has quietly matured into a very capable signal-caller, and during the first three games of 2012, Ponder has connected with Rudolph for three TDs. Rudolph has been targeted an average of six times per game, which isn’t a particularly high amount, but Rudolph has been very efficient, catching 13 of his 18 targets.
As Minnesota’s passing offense gets better with the return of Jerome Simpson, Rudolph will continue to see opportunities, especially near the goal line.
2. Bilal Powell, RB – New York Jets
You don’t need to speak with too many fantasy football owners before you’ll find one who is, or has become, disenchanted with current Jets’ running back Shonn Greene.
Powell has slowly seen more and more action during these early weeks, and he is clearly the more productive back, gaining better than half of Greene’s overall production in just about one-third of the carries. Heading into New York’s first overtime possession against the Dolphins, Powell was the RB of choice, a sign of things to come.
Powell’s Week 4 matchup against the 49ers is not very appealing, so I wouldn’t pick him up expecting big things this week, however, Powell could be a very important part of your lineup for the rest of the season.
3. Jon Baldwin, WR – Kansas City Chiefs
One of training camp’s most dynamic receivers, Baldwin hasn’t found much playing time yet this year, due in large part to the re-resurgence of Dexter McCluster. During yesterday’s game in New Orleans, McCluster suffered a nasty-looking injury to his arm which will likely keep him sidelined for the next several weeks and should open the door for Baldwin to become more productive.
QB Matt Cassel has thrown to Steve Breaston only four times in the last two games, compared to ten times for Baldwin, so it seems safe to say that Baldwin has surpassed Breaston as the Chiefs’ number two WR. Additionally, primary WR Dwayne Bowe is having a tremendous season, and will continue to draw double-teams leaving Baldwin free to roam.
The Chiefs still look like a team which will be playing from behind a lot this season, which means lots of passing opportunities and I see Baldwin as a primary recipient from here forward.
There will be a handful of nice pickups this week – Shaun Hill, Tashard Choice, Ramses Barden to name a few. I see those particular players as simply short-term solutions, and I’d prefer to use waiver claims for players that I can roster for the remainder of the season, if at all possible. These three should be very productive throughout the rest of the year…
Remember, it is a long season – even an 0-3 start isn’t the end of your road. Good luck, in Week 4 and beyond!