Wins above replacement, or WAR, is a fantastic statistic in baseball, a great one in fantasy football drafts (shown here by an MIT PhD candidate), and one that doesn't ultimately matter when picking your bench players and waiver wire pickups the rest of the season.
What you're ultimately looking for in any pickup is one of two things: Either a player to fill in while one of your starters is on bye or hurt, or someone you want to buy low on so you can look like the smartest person in the room when he becomes a late season star.
Those last two or three roster spots are your chance to add someone with breakout potential -- filling them with a fourth wide receiver that you have no intention of using but does decent numbers every week (think Alshon Jeffrey or Riley Cooper if you're into the "employing a racist" thing) is just taking away another chance of finding a truly useful player down the stretch.
Keep one solid backup at WR and RB, and one at QB if your starter has a Vick-like injury history. Beyond that, you can typically find someone on waivers the week of a matchup if you need a last-minute QB, TE, or Flex fill in. After that, look for buy-low candidates who may be poised for a bigger role if there is an injury or circumstances change.
(For our purposes, we'll be categorizing players each week as should be added, could be added, or if you're desperate. The number of players we take a look at will vary each week depending on injuries and their realistic usefulness in the weeks to come -- no adding players for the sake of meeting a minimum.)
Should be added
Eddie Royal, WR, San Diego Chargers
Royal has been a statistical beast so far this year, with 114 yards on 10 catches and five touchdowns in his two games. He can't keep catching TDs at this rate, but he is a valuable piece of a San Diego offense that will throw a lot and gets looks in the redzone. He should be owned in all formats, just don't get too accustomed to three TD days. A solid flex play.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
Andre Johnson will always be the focal point of the Texans pass game, but Hopkins showed he can be depended on as a playmaker for Matt Schaub and if Johnson were to miss extended time, he'd be Houston's No. 1 receiver by a large margin. In the meantime, Johnson will draw double coverage and Hopkins will be a solid starting option for fantasy owners light on receivers when the Texans face a weak pass defense.
James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers
Was his 20-rush, 132-yard performance just the result of the Packers building a huge lead against Washington? That's the question of the week, and I don't think it was. Starks was plenty involved in the offense in the first half of that game, and his performance alone should have Green Bay considering giving Starks a longer look the rest of the year. With Eddie Lacy suffering a concussion last week, Starks will likely be the lead back for the Packers again against the Bengals this week and will have a chance to show last week was no fluke. He may be relegated to the No. 2 spot in a timeshare once Lacy is healthy, but you have to swing for the fences when searching for an effective fantasy running back midseason. Do it here.
Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets
Powell has the most carries on the Jets this season and has more catches out of the backfield this year than timeshare mate Chris Ivory. It's hard to know who New York will look to at the goal line, seeing as they haven't gotten there much so far this year, but Powell has their only short-yardage rushing touchdown. He's not going to post 20-plus-point games, but he is worthy of a roster spot and the occasional start with bye weeks coming up.
Bernard Pierce, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Pierce is owned in about half of all leagues in most formats, and if you own Ray Rice, Pierce is a must-buy handcuff. If you're not a Rice owner and he's available in your league, you should still try to get in on him as Rice is no guarantee to stay healthy (he's questionable this week and has taken a pounding in two games) and the Ravens don't have much else to go with at running back.
Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans
Fifteen targets in two games is alone enough to make him worth consideration, but Kenny Britt's benching last week (and impending free agency) makes Wright worth a harder look for a couple of weeks. He's plenty talented, but the Jake Locker led Titans offense has been less than explosive through two games. The game against the Chargers Sunday should afford owners a better look at what Wright can do against a defense that ranks last in passing yards allowed at this point.
Could be added
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
Eventually the Chargers will run for a touchdown, but they haven't yet in 2013. Rivers and the San Diego offense looks to throw a lot -- especially if they keep giving up the pass on defense the way they have so far. Rivers looks much better so far this season, but you may want to take a wait-and-see approach unless you'll need a fill-in starter early once bye weeks begin in Week 4.
Charles Clay, TE, Miami Dolphins
He's filling in for the injured Dustin Keller, but Clay may be hanging on to the job for awhile after racking up 163 receiving yards on 10 catches (13 targets) in two weeks, along with a rushing touchdown in his role as fullback. He still sits behind Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline when it comes to looks in the Dolphin offense, but he's nearing must-own territory. Pick him up if you have room and keep an eye on his statline this week against Atlanta.
Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
As Dallas fans are now well aware, Smith can make you pay with his arm or legs. He hasn't faced an elite defense yet this season, and he certainly won't against the Eagles this week. However Smith has played largely mistake-free and put up solid if unspectacular numbers. He's worth a look if in need of a backup quarterback.
If you're desperate
Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants
Make no mistake, the Giants' rushing game has been terrible up to this point, but things may open up a bit against Carolina this week (22nd in opponents' rush yards thus far). Jacobs may well wind up getting the majority of the inside-the-five carries for New York, seeing as head coach Tom Coughlin (rightfully) has shown no faith in David Wilson or Da'Rel Scott. Maybe worth a sneaky touchdown per week, but it's a risky play week in and week out.
Robert Turbin, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Turbin has shown great burst in his limited carries as a change-of-pace back this year, but he's on this list as a handcuff. Marshawn Lynch may well get through the season healthy, but his workload has been huge so far this year and probably won't slow down this week as Seattle tears apart the Jaguars. If there is an injury, Turbin will suddenly be the feature back in an offense that loves to run the ball.
Coby Fleener, TE, Indianapolis Colts
Fleener was expected to grow into his role in the Indianapolis offense as the year progressed, and he's starting to make strides, evidenced by his four catches for 69 yards and a score Sunday. He tied for the second-most targets in the Colts offense last week and could become a valuable check-down target for his former college quarterback Andrew Luck. This week the Colts draw the 49ers defense, so no need to rush him to the starting lineup, but if you need another tight end, he's a great place to look in the coming weeks.
Josh Davis is a WFAA.com web editor, formerly covered the Texas Rangers for WFAA.com. and is kinda obsessed with fantasy sports. He has no professional expertise in fantasy sports, but finds it funny that anyone claims they do.