The Waiver Wizard Week 4

By Evan Tarracciano
Evan Tarracciano

The Waiver Wizard Week 4

Football is not easy to predict. And Fantasy Football is even more chaotic. Contrary to popular belief (which has made it into mainstream culture now via commercials), the NFL isn’t scripted. Just ask folks in survivor pools this weekend, who were likely booted after the Jacksonville Jaguars lost to the Houston Texans or (even more embarrassingly) the Arizona Cardinals managed to knock off the Dallas Cowboys for their first win of the season. “Layup” matchups can be traps, both in the NFL and Fantasy – take nothing for granted.

In the midst of this topsy-turvy weekend where rookies broke out, injuries occurred to star players and some stars truly fell on their faces, a number of low-rostered players shone brightly, and several will become viable options to start moving forward. Who makes the cut this week in the Crystal Ball? Find out below.


C.J. Stroud (11 percent rostered) – Stroud has been tremendously impressive in the early season, completing nearly 65 percent of his passes with a 4:0 TD:INT ratio in the early going. Leading Houston in a surprise upset over their divisional rivals Jacksonville, Stroud completed 20-of-30 passes for 280 yards and two scores, including another to fellow rookie Tank Dell (who made this column last week). The chemistry between the two players is evident, and complimented nicely by Dameon Pierce in the running game. Stroud has a difficult matchup at home in Week 4 against the stout Pittsburgh Steelers defense, but then has a nice stretch of contests with the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers. Stroud doesn’t appear phased by the speed of the NFL game, and the Texans have to be thrilled with the early returns of their top Draft selection.

FAAB: Stroud is worth adding as a $5-7 investment, with early bye weeks appearing right around the corner. He is an upside QB2 at the moment, and a streamer for mangers dealing with early-season struggles from Trevor Lawrence or Joe Burrow.

Kenny Pickett (26 percent rostered) – Pickett was one of the darlings of the Preseason, and appeared to be on his way for a breakout sophomore season. The apple of many a beat reporter’s eye in Pittsburgh, Pickett entered Draft season as a popular breakout candidate before being one of the more dropped players at the position, following two dud performances to start the year. Several factors played into his poor play, most notably the loss of his top receiver (Diontae Johnson) coupled with squaring off against two of the best defenses in the league (San Francisco and Cleveland). Pickett was able to right the ship on Sunday, passing for 235 yards and two scores against Las Vegas, chipping in some additional value on the ground. For continued success, Fantasy managers will need to hope that playcaller and quarterback specialist Matt Canada alters the game script to make dynamic options Jaylen Warren and George Pickens a focal point, rather than Najee Harris.

FAAB: Pickett is worth adding as a $3-5 investment, and could develop into a low-end QB1 as the season progresses. Be patient and expect better returns once Diontae Johnson returns to the fold.

Running Backs

De’Von Achane (16 percent rostered) – Achane was considered a third-tier running back prospect entering Fantasy Football draft season, behind other notable names such as Bijan Robinson, Jahmyr Gibbs, Zach Charbonnet and Kendre Miller. After missing Week 1 with a shoulder injury, Achane was thrust into action for the Miami Dolphins as the backup to Raheem Mostert, after Salvon Ahmed sustained a groin issue. Achane went absolutely ballistic, rushing for 203 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns on the ground, and securing all four targets for 30 yards and another two touchdowns in the air. Consider the secret to now be out regarding his upside and potential. There is no way for head coach Mike McDaniel to have Achane play second fiddle to Ahmed any longer, and he is certainly the priority addition during this week’s waiver wire run. Mostert is known for being rather brittle, and Miami’s offense is a gold mine for anyone who receives a high snap share. Even if Achane were to split carries with Mostert initially
, there is a high probability that the rookie inherits the starting role at some point.

FAAB: Achane is worth adding for a $25-30 investment, and will immediately be considered a worthy FLEX option in PPR formats, with RB1 upside should Mostert ever miss time. He is incredibly explosive and in a phenomenal situation to excel.

Matt Breida (27 percent rostered) – Followers of mine were quick to point out that Breida failed to make the column last week, even after news broke that Saquon Barkley suffered another high ankle sprain. While that is true, believe it or not it was for a good reason, with New York squaring off against the San Francisco 49ers top-notch defense in Week 3. Breida was afforded just 5 total touches, but he was able to salvage his Fantasy day by finding the end zone for the Giants – their lone touchdown of the evening. I expect Brian Daboll to call a much more balanced game plan in Week 4 against Seattle, and would not be surprised to see Breida have 15-18 opportunities instead. The Seahawks run defense is also above average (they allow just 2.9 YPC, third best in the league), but they have surrendered five rushing scores already, fifth most in the NFL currently. Barkley has the potential to make a quick return for this contest, but I’d expect the team to afford him another week of rest and play it cautious with t
heir star player. Keep an eye on practice reports just in case.

FAAB: Breida is worth adding for a $3-5 investment as a spot starter. For as long as Barkley remains injured, he will receive the majority of backfield touches for New York, and is a viable FLEX option in PPR formats.

Wide Receivers

Josh Downs (4 percent rostered) – During my last appearance on Sirius XM with Bob Harris and Mike Dempsey, we spoke about which players would stand to benefit if Anthony Richardson’s concussion forced him to miss multiple weeks, stressing Downs. We hit the nail on the head. Downs more than doubled his Week 2 targets, catching 8-of-12 targets for 57 yards. Gardner Minshew was incredibly comfortable working with the rookie, and utilized his size to aid him in moving the chains as a 1B option to Michael Pittman. Indianapolis squares off against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 4, a team who has surprised many with their ability to pass all over the field and put-up points. If Richardson continues to miss time, Downs will enter the FLEX discussion in deeper 12 or 14 team leagues.

FAAB: Downs is worth adding as an $5-7 investment in deeper formats, and he has a higher ceiling if Minshew starts ahead of Richardson for Indianapolis. Once Richardson (and Jonathan Taylor) returns, expect the Colts to favor a more rush-heavy attack.

Joshua Palmer (1 percent rostered) – Color me surprised that Palmer wasn’t drafted in more leagues. True, he was destined to play behind Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, but Palmer has demonstrated in the past that he is capable of big performances, if given the opportunity. Williams left in the middle of the game against Minnesota with a knee injury, and was eventually carted off the field. Tests are pending to determine the extent of damage and how much time he will miss. If Williams is out for any length of time, both Palmer and rookie Quentin Johnson will move up the depth chart and become vital for this offense. As Palmer was playing ahead of Johnson earlier, I’d expect that trend to continue (even though Johnson is perhaps the better fit, given his size and downfield speed). Palmer’s 4/66/1 stat line in Week 3 isn’t a mirage, and I’d rank him as a WR3 for the short-term.

FAAB: Palmer is worth adding for a $5-7 investment if Mike Williams is forced to miss any sort of time with his knee injury. Keep an eye on reports out of Los Angeles after the MRI results are shared on Monday or Tuesday. Palmer is a better short-term add over rookie Quentin Johnson.

Tight Ends

Jake Ferguson (20 percent rostered) – I’ve given my opinion on the state of the tight end position several times throughout the season, but I’ll reiterate it here for first-time readers. Simply put, it is ugly. Outside of Travis Kelce, T.J.Hockenson and Mark Andrews there are very few “set it and forget it” options that Fantasy managers can insert and rely upon. Mid to deeper ranked players are highly dependent upon touchdowns for value, so in that case I’ll look to teams capable of consistently moving the ball downfield. The struggles against Arizona notwithstanding, Dallas has averaged 6 targets in the direction of Ferguson each week, and he has become a reliable underneath option for Dak Prescott to find. With their eyes set on a postseason berth, expect Ferguson to become one of the more reliable mid-range options at the position. I’d make a point to grab him now while his availability remains high.

FAAB: Ferguson is worth adding for a $3-5 investment to beat the upcoming bye-week rush. Expect him to function as a short-range outlet for Prescott in an elite passing attack.