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Targeting weekly waiver picks is a completely subjective business,
but this column hopes to point out some obvious and not-so-obvious
selections to help your team from week to week while you strive
to collect fantasy wins, reach your league playoffs and win the
elusive title that your friends say is out of your grasp. While
I’m a big proponent of making trades to bolster your roster,
the waiver wire can be an almost limitless resource when it comes
to discovering fantasy value in strange places. Each week, I’ll
highlight some of the popular (and not-so-popular) players who can
help your squad and may still be available in your league.
Goff, LAR – Goff (5-10% owned) is having a very nice
sophomore season after struggling under the spineless, stubborn
coaching of Jeff Fisher in his rookie campaign. He’s clicking
with all his receivers, and limiting his mistakes as he learns
to read NFL defenses. He’ll be tested in Week 4 against the Cowboys
more than he was in Week 3 against the 49ers (292-3-0), so don’t
expect QB1 numbers. But he’s got a relatively favorable schedule
and the offense looks darn good.
UPDATE:The Cowboys gave up
some large chunks of yardage through the air Monday night and
the Week 4 matchup is shaping up to be a shootout. I’d like
to have big shares of this game and just about all the obvious
Watson, HOU – Watson has breathed new life into the
Texans offense and almost toppled the Patriots on Sunday in Foxborough,
throwing for 302-2-2 and adding 41 rushing yards (albeit with
two fumbles). It’s obvious the offense should be running through
Watson and his lively arm and mobility rather than a feeble running
game, but we’ll see if he gets the same carte blanche against
division rival Titans in Week 4.
Keenum, MIN – Sam Bradford (knee) missed Week 3 and
is still considered day-to-day, but there’s no structural damage.
Keenum (less than 1% owned) was sharp as a razor in his Week 3
performance, and with a bevy of weapons we probably won’t notice
too much difference from one QB to the next. In fact, Keenum’s
history as a fearless chucker, along with his Week 3 success (369-3-0)
might just give us a quarterback controversy none of us expected.
“uncertain” status for Week 4 means that Keenum has
probably earned another start.
Hoyer, SF – Hoyer’s huge day (332-2-1) was product
of game flow and a noticeably fraught St. Louis Rams’ secondary,
but we all know this can be a catalyst for big fantasy numbers.
Keep an eye on Hoyer’s matchups and play him at your own risk,
but it’s an easy point to concede that he should be owned in more
than 1-5% of fantasy leagues for his upside alone.
UPDATE:The Cards’ defense
was good enough Monday night to convince me that Hoyer isn’t
a great play in Week 4. But he’s going to have value in
spot starts this season.
Rivers, LAC – Rivers struggled immensely Sunday (237-0-3,
37.2 passer rating), which we knew was a distinct possibility
facing a division rival that has his number. Hopefully, you read
the Week 3 Shot Caller’s Report.
Siemian, DEN – Siemian’s dud (259-0-2) was bit more
of a surprise, considering his effectiveness thus far this season
and the injuries and sluggishness that have marked the Bills defensive
efforts the first couple weeks. My buddy Josh (we call him Buff
because he’s from Buffalo) told me his Bills were up to the task
and would wipe the floor with Denver this week, but I had my doubts.
Good call, Buff!
Kizer, CLE – Kizer is showing some dynamic playmaking
ability with his legs, but he’s an inaccurate passer who’s off
to a sloppy start (242-2-3; 44 rushing yards, TD). If he can mature
a bit and handle the growing pains of tossing a few INTs and getting
right back to work, he could be a capable fantasy QB at some point
this season. Give him time.
Top pickup: The loss of Darren Sproles
(ACL, arm) will open up opportunities for Wendell Smallwood.
Smallwood, PHI – Darren Sproles broke his arm and tore
his ACL on Sunday and Smallwood received a large dose of the carries
that normally go his way. With LeGarrette Blount the grinder and
Sproles out for the year, Smallwood (20-30 percent owned in competitive
leagues) will be a top pickup this week on the waiver wire.
UPDATE:Smallwood makes for
a solid RB3/flex play this week against the Chargers, and should
be owned in all formats.
Johnson & Andre
Ellington, ARI –UPDATE:It’s fairly simple: Johnson has handled the primary
rushing duties and Ellington the passing game work, while Kerwynn
Williams saw just one offensive snap on Monday night against Dallas.
The only issue is that the Cards running game looks completely
lost without the talents of David Johnson and CJ2K appears to
be moving in slow motion compared to his younger self. It’s
a situation to avoid unless this offensive line makes some big
Oliver, LAC – Melvin Gordon had a big first half but
a knee injury made limited his availability in the second half.
Gordon had 78 yards rushing on 15 carries, including an 11-yard
touchdown but if he’s forced to miss any action, Oliver will take
over primary duties. He’s a handcuff rather than a viable change-of-pace
back, but it’s essential Gordon owners have a backup plan.
knee is the same left knee he had microfracture surgery on during
the offseason in 2016 after his rookie year, but he said Monday
the knee is “good.” HC Anthony Lynn said the situation
will be monitored but he’s sure Gordon will be fine.
Collins, BAL – Collins had nine carries for 82 yards
against the Jaguars in London on Sunday, but most of that yardage
came in garbage time. Still, with Javorius Allen and Terrance
West (two mediocre backs who it wouldn’t take much to supplant)
handling most of the carries in Baltimore, Collins could be a
sneaky add in deeper leagues.
Henry, TEN – There were plenty of folks who started
Henry hoping for a big day, but he gained just 54 yards on 13
carries and had about the same number of touches as DeMarco Murray,
who ended up playing through his hamstring injury. Henry is a
valuable RB3 with some upside, but he hasn’t yet surpassed Murray.
Allen, BAL – Allen rushed eight times for 15 yards
and caught 5-13-0 playing behind Terrance West on Sunday. He’s
still relevant but is losing a bit of the luster he gained after
a solid Week 2 performance.
UPDATE:There’s no clear
workhorse in the Ravens’ backfield, but Allen could still
achieve RB3/flex value this week against the Steelers.
Perine & Chris
Thompson, WAS – Chris Thompson had a field day, rushing
eight times for 38 and adding 6-150-1 on seven targets out of
the backfield. He needs to be owned in all formats, not just PPR.
Perine had 19 carries for 49 yards before a hand injury forced
him out in the fourth quarter. Perine returned to the sideline
with his hand wrapped, but did not return to the game.
UPDATE:Gruden said that Rob
Kelley is still the “lead dog” when healthy, and it’s
obvious he’s more comfortable keeping Thompson restricted
to limited touches and passing down work. Perine’s fumble
and hand injury further complicate things – but I’m
still bullish on his chances to eventually land primary rushing
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
Funchess, CAR – Funchess is owned in about 20-35 percent
of fantasy leagues, but he’ll likely see his ownership number
increase after yet another Kelvin Benjamin (knee) injury and his
career-high 10 targets Sunday. Funchess finished with just 4-58-0
and could be overlooked as a worthwhile waiver wire addition this
UPDATE:An MRI revealed no
structural damage to Benjamin's left knee, but his Week 4 status
is unclear, so Funchess remains a somewhat risky add.
Clay, BUF – Clay hauled in all six of his targets from
Tyrod Taylor for 6-39-1 and is about 50% owned in fantasy leagues.
He can be frustrating to own because of his injury history and
knack for disappearing form certain games, but Clay is one of
Taylor’s most reliable receivers and should see consistent targets
this season as a low-end TE1.
Richardson & Tyler
Lockett, SEA –UPDATE:With Doug Baldwin dealing with a groin injury, both Richardson
and Lockett could see upticks in targets during Week 4 and beyond.
Both remain boom-or-bust fantasy options with high ceilings and
low floors heading into this week’s matchup with Indianapolis,
with the risk-taker in me favoring the upside.
Shepard, NYG – It’s obvious that having a healthy Odell
Beckham Jr. on the field helps Shepard’s fantasy output, giving
him a little more room to work while defenses focus on the attention-hungry
OBJ. Shepard converted that opportunity into 7-133-1 on seven
targets Sunday in the loss to Philly. He’s owned in about 40-65
percent of fantasy leagues, depending on the level of competitiveness,
and could be available in yours after a couple of quiet weeks.
Lewis, JAC – Lewis had three TD receptions in London
while we were doing our lineup prep, finishing with 4-62-3 in
an across-the-pond shocker. Bortles isn’t the most reliable signal
caller and Lewis has been known to find paydirt and then disappear
for a few weeks, but I don’t see any reason not to add Lewis if
nobody else is going to, especially if you’re hurting at TE and
you’ve got a free roster spot.
Allison, GB – Allison was overshadowed by Jordy Nelson’s
big day but finished with 6-122-0, most of the yardage coming
on a huge 72-yard catch in OT that set up the winning FG by Mason
Crosby. If Randall Cobb misses more time, we could see Allison
stay involved in this offense.
UPDATE:The short week is
making Allison look like a viable WR4/flex type of play against
the Bears Thursday night.
Coleman, NO – Coleman caught just one pass Sunday,
an 11-yard TD from Drew Brees. He’s a TD reliant red zone target
who might be fantasy bench fodder once Willie Snead returns in
Fleener, NO – Fleener also caught just one ball (on
his lone target) Sunday and his wasn’t a TD. He’s a TE2 with upside
Kearse, NYJ – Kearse had just 3-42-0 on three targets
despite a big offensive day from the Jets.
Higgins, CLE – Higgins had just 2-10-0 in Indy after
a big Week 2, and there’s a crowded group of young receivers vying
for attention behind Kenny Britt in Cleveland.