Welcome to NFL Week 4! Unlike last week’s blood bath of injuries, this past week proved to be much less damaging to fantasy rosters. There were a few injuries of note to players like Jeremy Langford and Shane Vereen, but if you were depending on either one of them to lead you to fantasy championships, you’re team probably has bigger problems to solve a this point. Russell Wilson was the only player of any significance to sustain an injury and it looks like he’ll only miss 1 game for precautionary reasons. Fortunately with the bye next week it will give him 2 weeks to rest and fully heal up for the remainder of the season.
So, even with little roster movement needed due to injuries this week, the bye weeks are starting and owners of Packers and Eagles players might need some fill-ins. Shane Manila @DFF_Shane, K.J. Hanna @DFF_KJ and myself John Di Bari @dibari22 will dig deep… or maybe not so deep, into your waiver wire to find some players that can help you through injuries, bye weeks and hopefully the rest of this season.
RB: Orleans Darkwa, New York Giants (.3% ESPN Ownership)
Orleans Darkwa is a big-bodied back with a really cool name, but there’s more to him than that. During Sunday’s game Shane Vereen fumbled twice, losing one (for the second week in a row) which opened the door for Darkwa to get a good run due to the absence of Rashad Jennings (broken thumb). With Jennings extensive injury history and Vereen’s sudden onset of fumbling and apparent season ending triceps injury, Darkwa could have many more chances this season to fill-in as the lead back. One other note of optimism, regarding Darkwa, for anyone who had to watch Andre Williams fail to capitalize on goal-line carries during his tenure, Darkwa was able to punch it in from the 2 yard line against Washington.
RB: Josh Ferguson, Indianapolis Colts (.7%)
Through two games Ferguson has 7 receptions and has seen extensive usage during two minute drills with the Colts. More a hedge right now in case Gore were to go down, you likely do not need to spend much FAAB on him if he’s available on your waivers.
RB: Kenjon Barner, Philadelphia Eagles (.8%)
After unexpectedly being cut at the end of the 2015 pre-season, Barner was resigned and due largely to his special teams acumen. Barner had another excellent pre-season this year and secured the primary backup role to Ryan Mathews after lingering injuries knocked Wendell Smallwood out of the running. Fast forward to today, week 3, Mathews had 2 carries for -5 yards. Through the first two weeks Mathews was out-snapped 2-1 by Darren Sproles. Barner finished the day with 8 carries for 42 yards and a TD. Either Barner or my next suggestion would take over as the primary ball handler should Ryan Mathews ankle injury continues to hamper him. Regardless, if this particular injury doesn’t persist you can be assured that Mathews will be injured again.
RB: Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia Eagles (1.4%)
Wendell Smallwood is a #ZeroRB favorite due to his receiving abilities as well as his rushing abilities. Highly productive in college, his stock fell due to off the field concerns. As stated previously, either due to injury or some other reason why Ryan Mathews is not being used it has allowed the backs behind him an opportunity to state their case for more touches. Smallwood stated his case rather eloquently with 72 yards on carries and 1 TD against the Steelers.
TE: Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (.8%)
With ASJ’s arrest and subsequent release the Tight End situation in Tampa Bay has come into a much more clear focus. The first two weeks of the season saw snaps being shared by ASJ and Brate, but that obviously will not be the situation going forward. Brate showed in Week 3 that he is more than up for the challenge with 5 receptions and 2 TD’s. Brate stands 6’5” and should be an obvious goal line target whenever the Buccs near the end zone.
TE: Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts (9.8%)
With every starting Tight End injured and/or arrested for drunk driving this week I was in a bind come Friday needing to replace approximately 374 of my starting TE’s. Doyle, as evidenced by his ownership % was widely available. Through week 3 Doyle has received 15 targets snaring 13 for receptions including 2 TD’s. With Donte Moncrief expected to miss the next several weeks look for the Colts to run even more 2 TE sets, which admittedly they already run quite a bit. At 6’6” and 267 lbs. Doyle is a massive goal line target who could turn into a player that gets more usage once Dwayne Allen reverts to Dwayne Allen form and starts missing games.
Bonus of the week:
K: TBD, Cleveland Browns
WR: Victor Cruz, New York Giants (47%)
I’m still not sure why Cruz is only owned in 47% of leagues. It’s time to change that. Cruz went 3/70 in week 3 and is averaging 11 points per week (in PPR leagues). He hasn’t scored since Week 1, but the Giants are moving the ball around well enough to feed everyone. Victor is a viable WR3 bye week fill-in.
WR: Terrelle Pryor, Cleveland Browns (28%)
What can’t Pryor do? With the Browns in a dismal place, Pryor’s athletic ability was put to the test in week 3. Pryor threw for 35 yards, rushed for 21 yards, and caught 8 for 144 yards. Pryor IS the Browns go to player and has big play ability. What happens when Gordon returns is anyone’s guess but for now, he’s the man to own in Cleveland.
WR: Jamison Crowder, Washington Redskins (11%)
Showing a few flashes of talent in 2015, Crowder was still low on the Redskins WR totem pole. Fast forward to 2016 and he’s carved out a prominent role in Washington even with DJax in town. Averaging 5.5 targets, 58 yds and .67 TDs a game, he’s a WR who will give you WR2/3 #s on a weekly basis. I’m still a believer in Doctson and those who have the bench room should stash him as well, but, Crowder has made his presence known. Don’t ignore the signs.
WR: Steve Smith Sr., Baltimore Ravens (52%)
Leading the Ravens with 11 targets, and an 8/87 line, there was sparks of SS of old in week 3. Is Smith Sr. a starter? Not necessarily, but a depth pickup or bye week need, absolutely. Mike Wallace and Pitta are still the main receiving cogs in Baltimore but Smith, as long as this week’s production continues, will regain his #1 WR in town status. Don’t be the one who saw it coming and didn’t act.
RB: Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears (15%)
Jeremy Langford’s pedestrian play and the injury to Ka’Deem Carey catapults what some of us already knew, Howard should be the starting RB in Chi-town. With the Bears already looking like a rebuilding team, why not give Howard the reigns to see what he can do? Also, as of this writing, Langford left the SNF game and will not return. (editors update, Langford is expected to miss 4-6 weeks) Howard finished the game with 9 carries for 45 yards. That’s a 5 yards/carry ave vs Langford’s 3.7yds/carry ave over the first 3 games. Oh, AND he chipped in 4 catches for 47 yards. I think it’s Howard time!
RB: Kenjon Barner & Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia Eagles (.8% & 1.4%, respectively)
Ryan Mathews may be dealing with a foot issue as he barely played in Week 3. That opened the gates for Barner and Smallwood to tote the rock and that they did. Barner carried the ball 8 times for 42yds and 1 TD and Smallwood carried the ball 17 times for 79yds and 1 TD. Smallwood was a preseason Sleeper not only because of his talent but because we all know how fragile Ryan Mathews is. However, because of his lack of use the first 2 weeks (3 total attempts for 17 yds) he was dropped quickly. Smallwood might get an opportunity to see an extensive workload IF Mathews is out for an extended time but Barner will also be a factor, but as a short yardage, goal line back, ala Mike Tolbert. Don’t forget that Darren Sproles is also in town, but, Smallwood and Barner are the value adds (and available).
RB: Dwayne Washington, Detroit Lions (20%)
Ameer Abdullah is lost for the season and Theo Riddick is not a feature back, which makes Washington a long-term value pickup. Riddick was the feature back in Week 3, however, Washington tied him with 10 carries (for 38 yards). Unfortunately, the ground game was lost, due to the early deficit to the Packers and an aerial attack was pursued but I fully expect more ground and pound vs the lowly Bears in Week 4. Washington falls into the FLEX or bye week fill-in category until the RB situation shakes out in DET.
TE: Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings (40%)
I’ve always been a fan of Rudy’s upside and finally started him in Week 3. Thankfully he did not disappoint. In a year where TE’s are less valuable than most Kickers per week (and as unpredictable), it was refreshing to see Rudolph put together another strong outing for the 2nd week in a row, getting 10 targets and a 7/70/1 line. Bradford has ignited Rudy and he should not be ignored. PICK HIM UP IMMEDIATELY!
TE: Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (.8%)
ASJ drove himself out of town (pun fully intended) which opened the door for Brate. Brate was seeing 5+ targets per game with ASJ in the lineup but now he’s in for a much larger role as shown by his Week 3 line of 5/46/2 on 10 targets. A reliable red-zone target at 6-foot-5 and 235 lbs, in an offense with several weapons, Brate could be a forgotten man on the field to defenses which would make him a weekly start for owners.
TE: Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (4%)
I’m NOT a fan of any Packers TEs, however, Jared Cook left Week 3 on a cart and Rodgers benefited by receiving 2 catches for 9 yards and 1 TD. He didn’t light the world on fire but if you’re truly desperate for a TE, he can be used if Cook is out for an extensive time.
QB: Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles (19%)
What the hell?!! Who thought Wentz was going to destroy the Steelers? Yup, me neither but Wentz just keeps improving week to week and without error. He hasn’t thrown an INT or lost a fumble in 3 weeks. Carson’s week 3 performance, 301 passing yards, 2 TDs and 10 yards on the ground was worthy of a start in most leagues. However, until he strings together a few more performances like this, he’s absolutely worth owning but as your QB2.
QB: Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos (5%)
Another head scratcher was Siemian’s Week 3 performance. The Broncos have a ton of weapons and Siemian finally took full advantage of them. Impressing with 312 passing yards and four TD’s in a tough road match-up vs the Bengals helped increase his value as a bye-week fill-in QB. Siemian plays the Buccs in Week 4, which Case Keenum threw for 190 yds and 2 TDs against in Week 3. So if you’re a Rodgers owner and don’t have a backup, Siemian could be a quality 1 week replacement.
WR: TommyLee Lewis, New Orleans Saints (0.00%)
He’s literally not owned anywhere. Willie Snead went down with injury and his snaps, targets and touches were spread out among the Saints. Enter the rookie from Northern Illinois. Although buried on the depth chart, we can see already after Monday night, he’s only an injury or two away from significant snaps in one of the NFL’s premier offenses.
WR: Eddie Royal, Chicago Bears (11.9%)
I was actually shocked to see his ownership percentage that high. The #3 on the Bears behind two injury prone players, means you’re only 2 probable sprained ankles from inheriting a #1 WR on a bad team.
WR: John Brown, Arizona Cardinals (73%)
Smoke is dropping fast. He was 88% owned last week, and if he has another non-productive day we might see that number dip below 50% with bye weeks getting out of hand soon. Snatch him up while you still can.
WR: Marquise Goodwin, Buffalo Bills, (2.2%)
Sammy Watkins will never play a 16 game season in the NFL again. Bookmark this, tag it, take a screen shot, whatever, but make that down somewhere. So, who benefits? Goodwin. A Watkins’ injury slides him into the #2 spot opposite Robert Woods. Don’t look now, but after 3 games, Goodwin is leading the team in receiving yards.
RB: DeAndre Washington, Oakland Raiders (16%)
Although in title Lat Murray is still Oakland’s RB1, the carries are getting chopped up in 3 directions fairly equally. Murray is mainly fantasy relevant because he keeps getting into the end zone, but if you watch a Raiders’ game, you’ll notice Washington is the more dynamic player and it’s only a matter of time before the Raiders see that too.
Hopefully these players are available in your leagues and you’re able to snatch them up and they perform for you in the coming weeks. Thanks to Shane & KJ for their help this week and thanks to you for reading.
Good luck in Week 4 and don’t forget to come back next week for more waiver wire tips!