The Waiver Wire Wizard Week 4 2020
Another week of the NFL season is officially behind us in the rear view mirror, and thankfully only one player around the league has tested positive for COVID-19 (rookie CB A.J. Terrell of the Atlanta Falcons). Even though the virus has had a minimal impact directly upon players, the elimination of a pre-season and limited conditioning, coupled with rookies attempting to virtually learn their playbooks has resulted in numerous soft-tissue injuries and sloppy play.
Injuries lead to opportunities, so they say. Thankfully outside of Tarik Cohen there were no season-ending maladies in Week 3, a step in the right direction from the horror show that was Week 2. Here is a quick recap of the action, coupled with players of note:
Dolphins 31, Jaguars 13
Despite being the underdogs, Miami came out on fire out of the gate with Ryan Fitzpatrick leading an efficient and steady passing attack. He finished 18/20 passing with two scores to Mike Gesicki and Preston Williams, and has been impressive enough to hold off rookie superstar Tua Tagovailoa thus far. Myles Gaskin was the focal point of the offense, carrying the ball 22 times for 66 rushing yards and catching 5 passes for 29 yards through the air. He isn't particularly efficient, and remains just a FLEX option for me (especially with Jordan Howard continuing to vulture goal line work). Matthew Breida and Isaiah Ford made little impact and can be dropped.
Gardner Minshew II played poorly all evening, and his overall numbers were inflated by garbage-time production in the second half. Used as a streaming option over other mid-range choices in Week 3, he disappointed in a layup matchup. The key cog right now in the Jaguars offense is rookie RB James Robinson, who was explosive in the ground game and shifty in the open field after catching passes. He isn't a burner, but has enough power to run over and through defenders. Robinson should be owned universally as a RB2, especially with Chris Thompson being a non-factor in the passing game. Waiver Wire targets: None
49ers 36, Giants 9
With Jimmy Garoppolo sidelined due to a high ankle sprain, it was obvious what San Francisco's attack plan was going to be - run the ball with multiple backs on a weak New York defense. To the Giants credit they were able to hold all 49ers backs under 40 yards rushing, but did allow three scores on the ground. Jerick McKinnon managed 17 total touches before being removed in the fourth quarter with a rib injury, providing Fantasy owners plenty of return on their investment (he could have had an even larger game if a receiving touchdown wasn't called back on a penalty). Jeff Wilson Jr. was a nice counter-punch when necessary, and Brandon Aiyuk really shined when given the opportunity, leading the team in targets (8), receptions (5) and yards (70) with three carries and an end-around rushing score as well. Deebo Samuel is unlikely to return at least until Week 5, and with Jordan Reed and George Kittle still sidelined, Aiyuk is the default No.1 option in the passing game.
The Giants continue to be an absolute mess. Many predicted that they would come out on top of this game with most of the 49ers studs on IR, yet they were unable to capitalize on a feeble opponent. Daniel Jones continues to turn over the ball at an alarming rate, and with a porous offensive line in front of him, it is difficult to trust anyone not named Darrius Slayton for receptions. Evan Engram, a popular breakout candidate (yet again) needs to improve his blocking to stay on the field. Even when targets are coming his way he makes routine catches appear difficult. I'd also try and stay away from the backfield - Dion Lewis and Devonta Freeman both look washed up and slow.
Waiver Wire targets: Brandon Aiyuk is owned in less than 20 percent of ESPN leagues somehow - he needs to be added as a FLEX option for Week 4 and beyond in standard-size formats.
Bears 30, Falcons 26
See you later and good riddance, Mitchell Trubisky. Chicago's staff finally pulled the trigger and went with Nick Foles, who immediately gave a massive boost in production to both Allen Robinson (10/123/1) and Jimmy Graham (6/60/2). Amazing what happens when passes are thrown in the remote vicinity of elite talent. David Montgomery continues to plod along and frustrate - this matchup was ripe for the picking and he fell short. He remains a low-end RB2 for me. Tarik Cohen tore his ACL and is out for the remainder of the season, so moving forward additional touches will be given to both Montgomery and Cordarrelle Patterson. Even with a slight uptick in total touches I'm reluctant to move Montgomery ahead too far in my rankings.
How on Earth Dan Quinn still has a job is mind-blowing. The Falcons blew it, yet again. Matt Ryan and Calvin Ridley propelled Atlanta to a large early lead, and the team was rolling over Chicago, even in the absence of Julio Jones. Fantasy owners should attempt to start all opposing players against this inept defense. It was nice to see Todd Gurley find the end zone, and Brian Hill has passed Ito Smith on the depth chart as the handcuff to own. Hill's 35-yard scamper for a score was impressive, and he has earned himself additional touches. Russell Gage suffered a concussion and is now in the protocol - in his absence Olamide Zaccheaus played opposite Ridley. Owners should keep an eye on Gage's status during the week. Hayden Hurst was largely ignored for some reason, and it was surprising to see him finish with just three targets - better days are ahead for him.
Waiver Wire targets: Nick Foles can be used as a streaming option with bye weeks coming up for Chicago, and Zaccheaus can be added in 14-team leagues or larger as a potential starter if Gage is out in Week 4 with his concussion.
Bills 35, Rams 32
What a game! Josh Allen is playing out of his mind for Buffalo, and is in the early-season discussion for MVP. The schedule becomes much more difficult in the second half of the season, so his owners may wish to consider trading high if possible. With John Brown removed early in the game due to a calf injury, Cole Beasley became the immediate beneficiary, catching six passes for 100 yards on the dot. His ability to work under-routes while Stefon Diggs takes the top off of defenses is a great one-two option for Allen. Devin Singletary thrived without the presence of Zach Moss, totaling 17 touches and 120 all-purpose yards. He's an upside RB2 without the rookie stealing snaps.
Even in a losing effort, I thought that Jared Goff played well, and his 70 percent completion percentage this year is nice to see. Cooper Kupp was the first read this week (emphasis on this week, since he and Robert Woods trade off all the time), and his 9/107/1 line on 10 targets gives his Fantasy owners hope that he can finish inside the top-15 at the position, where he was drafted. Woods finished with 5/74/1 in a "revenge game" - though his touchdown was pretty fluky as several Buffalo defenders simply whiffed on tackles. Tyler Higbee is either feast or famine - this week his owners starved as he caught just two passes for 40 yards. Expect his production to fluctuate all year.
Waiver Wire targets: Cole Beasley needs to be added in all PPR formats if John Brown were to miss time with his calf injury. He's one of my top adds this week.
Browns 34, Football Team 20
In a game where Baker Mayfield was essentially told "don't throw the ball into coverage, our running game will win it for us", Cleveland pounded Washington into submission. Mayfield was able to throw two touchdowns, but at this point is difficult to trust from a Fantasy standpoint given his lack of attempts and poor chemistry with Odell Beckham Jr. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt make up the most potent 1-2 rushing duo in recent memory, and racked up 158 yards and two scores on the ground with 37 attempts. It was assumed that one would siphon off the value of the other, but because both players are so talented it has led to quite the opposite. I'll continue to fade any Cleveland pass catcher unless absolutely necessary in weekly lineups.
Dwayne Haskins is painful to watch - and it is getting to the point where Ron Rivera is thinking about making a quarterback change. Citing "there is a cutoff point for me" waiting for improvement - Haskins has a very short leash moving forward. Kyle Allen is listed as the backup, but don't be surprised to see Alex Smith eventually take the job, should Haskins continue to struggle. I'm going to treat Dontrelle Inman's two touchdowns as a fluke - realistically the only Washington players I'm willing to start are Terry McLaurin as a WR2, Logan Thomas a TE1 in deeper formats and Antonio Gibson as a RB3/FLEX. Gibson's usage has been maddening early on, and why Rivera continues to involve Peyton Barber and J.D. McKissic is baffling. Once Gibson becomes the workhorse he will slide into the RB2 discussion.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Titans 31, Vikings 30
At some point Derrick Henry was going to find the end zone, considering how many times he touches the ball on a per-game basis. Finding paydirt twice was no surprise, and his owners can finally exhale. From a passing standpoint Ryan Tannehill was quiet in this one, which was a surprise considering the amount of injuries and poor play from the Vikings in prior weeks. The majority of targets continue to funnel through Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis, and with news breaking earlier on Sunday that A.J. Brown is healing slower than expected, Davis' usage as an upside FLEX in deeper formats will last another week or two. Kalif Raymond had two deep catches, but his snap share is so low that I can't recommend him yet as a FLEX, especially with the team's propensity to lean on the running game.
Kirk Cousins pulled his best Jekyll and Hyde impersonation, throwing three touchdowns and two interceptions on just 27 attempts. Justin Jefferson finally vaulted over Olabisi Johnson for the No.2 role on the team, and that promptly led to a breakout 7/175/1 line. Jefferson's ability to make defenders miss in open space was amazing to watch, and now that he has emerged as a legitimate threat, defenses can ease coverage on Adam Thielen (at least somewhat). Dalvin Cook continues to be an absolute monster, racking up 181 rushing yards and a score on 22 carries. As long as he remains healthy (always the caveat with Cook), he will be in consideration for the rushing title at the end of 2020. Better things are to come for Cousins, and I believe that this Minnesota team isn't as horrific as they have shown early on.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Patriots 36, Raiders 20
Have I ever mentioned that Fantasy owners can't trust the New England backfield situation? And why they continue to do so is baffling? Thumbing their nose to Fantasy owners, Rex Burkhead was featured in his game (somehow) and totaled three scores, two on the ground and one in the air. Oddly enough, Burkhead didn't lead the team in carries (J.J. Taylor did) or rushing yards (Sony Michel did) - to say that this is a committee approach is putting it mildly, especially with Cam Newton stealing goal-line work. I'll chalk up this oddity to the absence of James White more than anything else. Julian Edelman and N'Keal Harry were both quiet in this game, with the Patriots only attempting 28 passes total. I wouldn't be overly concerned about Edelman, more so with Harry and his inconsistent target share. Cam Newton did little in this contest, because he was asked to do so. He remains a locked and loaded top-10 QB option.
On the Las Vegas side (still feels odd to type that), Derek Carr was without rookie phenom Henry Ruggs III, and fellow draftee Bryan Edwards missed the majority of the second half with an ankle injury. He was later spotted in a walking boot on Monday, and his situation is worth monitoring. Head coach Jon Gruden also expressed concern regarding Ruggs - if they are both out next week (or longer) than Hunter Renfrow stands to benefit mightily, along with recently signed Nelson Agholor. The Raiders face a very stout defense in Week 4 with Buffalo, but will have a slightly easier time of things against Kansas City in Week 5. The team's Swiss-cheese defense will have them playing from behind in both efforts.
Waiver Wire targets: Hunter Renfrow needs to be added in 12-team formats or larger while Ruggs and Edwards are sidelined. His volume alone makes him a FLEX/WR3 option.
Bengals 23, Eagles 23
I'm listing the Bengals first in this one because Philadelphia feels like the true loser. More on that later. Joe Burrow continues to be under siege each and every week - he was sacked a ridiculous 8 times in this contest. Wasn't this offensive line supposed to show improvement with Jonah Williams coming back? Volume alone makes Burrow a fringe starter in most leagues, and if his line play ever improves, watch out. Joe Mixon has looked sluggish and isn't involved at all in the passing game - the presence of Giovani Bernard is tanking his value. Mixon's workload remains strong, and opportunities will eventually lead to touchdowns. He's a buy-low candidate for owners looking to wheel and deal. Tyler Boyd is the top receiver on this team, and at this point I don't think it is close - Boyd finished with 13 targets. Tee Higgins is quietly fighting with A.J. Green for the second spot, and dare I say Higgins has more upside (he saw three more targets as well this week). Green isn't in synch with Burrow at all. Abandon ship.
Philadelphia is only going as far as Carson Wentz will let them, and right now is poor play on the field is concerning. Wentz has struggled with accuracy issues, forcing the ball into coverage and has only salvaged his game from a Fantasy standpoint by accumulating rushing yardage on scrambles. Head coach Doug Pederson is insistent on not benching him for rookie Jalen Hurts, but at some point, that possibility has to come up. Injuries continue to mount, with tight end Dallas Goedert suffering an ankle injury that is expected to keep him sidelined multiple weeks, and wideout DeSean Jackson dealing with hamstring issues. This has forced Greg Ward as the secondary receiving threat behind Zach Ertz. Ward caught 8 of his 11 targets for 72 yards and a score in Week 3, and is one of the top waiver wire targets this week.
Waiver Wire targets: As mentioned above, Greg Ward needs to be considered for owners looking to add receiver depth in 12-team leagues or larger. Alshon Jeffrey (foot) will also be coming back within a week or two and is owned in less than 15 percent of ESPN leagues. Adding him proactively would be a wise decision.
Steelers 28, Texans 21
The "Watt Bowl" was won by the younger siblings, with Pittsburgh reigning victorious. Even with Ben Roethlisberger not playing particularly well early and Diontae Johnson leaving the game in the first quarter with a concussion, the Steelers were able to lean on James Conner, who was a threat both on the ground (18/109/1) and in the passing game (4/40). Conner is a low-end RB1 as long as he remains standing. Quick aside - it appears that Anthony McFarland has usurped Benny Snell as the handcuff to own. Eric Ebron was able to make an impact after two quiet performances, catching 5 passes for 52 yards and a score. If Johnson were to miss time or struggle with getting out of the league-wide concussion protocol, I'd expect his targets to be divided between Ebron and Juju Smith-Schuster. Following the game Johnson tweeted "I'm fine! Great team win!" - one would have to hope this indicates he wasn't experiencing anything too severe.
Houston falling to 0-3 can't be blamed on Deshaun Watson, who has done everything in his power to keep this team competitive. An extremely difficult early season schedule has given the team a bleak Fantasy outlook, but their schedule lightens up considerably soon. Watson is a nice buy-low candidate if possible. The Steel Curtain 2.0 only surrendered 23 yards on the ground to David Johnson, who was taken out of the game by Pittsburgh's strong front four. No passing option saw more than five targets from Watson in this one, and his desire to spread the ball around to options like Darren Fells and Cullen Gillaspia was questionable. Will Fuller and Randall Cobb delivered for their Fantasy owners, although I'm sure many Fuller players were reluctant to start him after his Week 2 abduction. Fuller is the only option I'd be willing to start, with Cobb and Brandin Cooks being FLEX options at best.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Colts 36, Jets 7
Yet again, this is going to be a very quick recap when it comes to a victory against New York. Philip Rivers played extremely well against the JV-squad Jets, completing 17-of-21 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown pass to Mo Alie-Cox, who has carved himself a nice red-zone niche for Indianapolis. Injuries to both Michael Pittman (calf surgery due to compartment leg syndrome) and Parris Campbell (PCL) will allow him to be a bigger part of the offense moving forward. Jonathan Taylor played fantastic early, rushing for 59 yards and a score before resting in the fourth quarter in favor of Jordan Wilkins. It was nice to see Nyheim Hines see snaps even when the Colts weren't trailing. His four receptions for 40 yards is a nice PPR floor, and owners who dropped him as a knee-jerk reaction following Week 2 could be regretting things.
The Jets are a mess. From a Fantasy perspective, I don't want to start anyone on this team, period. Why Frank Gore receives the bulk of carries is a mystery, as is the usage of their best offensive weapon in Chris Herndon. Adam Gase needs to be fired. Period. Sure, Braxton Berrios scored for the second week in a row, but unless I participate in a 16-team league I'm not considering adding him.
Waiver Wire targets: A new head coach for New York
Panthers 21, Chargers 16
No CMC? No problem. Mike Davis to the rescue for Carolina - the week's most popular waiver-wire addition pulled through for Fantasy owners, especially in PPR formats. Davis led the Panthers (somehow) in targets with 9, catching 8 passes for 45 yards and a score, chipping in another 46 yards on the ground for good measure. Teddy Bridgewater continues to play things as safe as possible, to the detriment of D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson. Many predicted that Moore would struggle against a tough Los Angeles secondary, but few predicted that his stat line would be as meager as two receptions for 65 tards. Better days are ahead, but Bridgewater's uber-conservative nature caps his upside greatly. Should the Panthers ever end up playing from behind, hopefully the narrative will change.
Justin Herbert continues to impress me in losing efforts, and the Chargers would seriously be shooting themselves in the foot by starting Tyrod Taylor for the remainder of the season. Herbert has two reads when he throws the ball - Keenan Allen, then Austin Ekeler. Period. Allen came away with an absurd 19 targets in this one, catching 13 passes for 132 yards and a score. Even if Ekeler struggles on the ground, his immense floor with receptions while Herbert is under center solidifies himself as a unquestioned RB1. Joshua Kelley was a popular waiver wire add after his usage last week, but the splits were dramatically different here. I'd expect things continuing to lean in Ekeler's way. Also? Mike Williams is a cut-candidate in all but the deepest formats. He's an unfortunate bystander currently.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Buccaneers 28, Broncos 10
Tampa Bay was incredibly impressive in their dominant win over Denver, but there were a number of notable statistics worth diving into. A week after Leonard Fournette all but sealed up the lead duties in the backfield, Ronald Jones was not only given the first carry, but out-snapped Fournette and had more touches. This backfield is an utter headache, and barring an injury to one or the other back, this split hurts both of them. Mike Evans had two touchdowns, so his Fantasy owners have little to complain about… other than the fact that he only had four total targets (the same number as LeSean McCoy and Ronald Jones). Rob Gronkowski led all receivers in targets with seven, and was likely on a number of benches after his role the first two weeks. Who led the team in receiving yards? Scotty Miller, of course. Chris Godwin came away hurt in this contest with an injured hamstring, and one has to assume that he will miss some time (MRI results are still pending). This is a productive team to be sure, but a migraine and a half trying to analyze.
The Jeff Driskel experiment was short lived, and Denver is now 0-3. Injuries on both sides of the ball have made it impossible for this once-promising team to contend, especially with Drew Lock sidelined. Jerry Jeudy (5/55) and Noah Fant (5/46) led the team in targets, with Tim Patrick (4/43/1) finding the end zone. Other sites will offer Patrick as an interesting add, but I'd caution diligence. Melvin Gordon struggled without a competent signal caller, and Philip Lindsay's return in Week 4 will only complicate things further. Fantasy owners should treat Gordon as more of a RB3/FLEX option than RB2, given the team's situation. K.J. Hamler has been forced into action, but owners adding him would do better elsewhere around the league for help.
Waiver Wire targets: Scotty Miller will see increased usage should Godwin miss time again, and owners will have to hope that he produces more than his Week 2 dud. He's worth a look in 14-team leagues or larger.
Lions 26, Cardinals 23
Detroit entered this game at 0-2 and many considered this a "must win" for them to have a chance of a wild card berth later in the year. The return of Kenny Golladay certainly helped and his presence was immediately felt in the passing game (he finished with a nice 6/57/1 line). Golladay's return meant that defenses could no longer double-team Marvin Jones Jr., and it subsequently freed up room for Adrian Peterson in the rushing attack. Peterson finished with 22 of the team's 27 carries and is the clear workhorse in this backfield for now. Why the team opted to spend a high draft pick on D'Andre Swift (considered by many to be the most talented running back in this year's draft) and then bench him is befuddling. Regardless, a win is a win.
Kyler Murray salvaged his Fantasy afternoon by scoring three total touchdowns, but make no mistake - his poor decision making and errant throws cost Arizona this game. Kenyon Drake continues to post empty statistics in the box score, and is an afterthought in the passing game. Drafted as a back-end RB1, he is in similar territory as Joe Mixon above - the opportunities have been there but the results are lackluster. Treat him as a buy-low candidate as well. DeAndre Hopkins was the primary target as usual, with Larry Fitzgerald hobbling around and Christian Kirk ruled out due to a groin injury. Andy Isabella stepped up in their absence, and his game-changing speed was noticeable. If Kirk continues to miss time recovering, Isabella is a nice add in deeper leagues.
Waiver Wire targets: Andy Isabella can be added in deeper formats while Christian Kirk is sidelined. His target share will remain low, so he's a better add in standard formats than PPR.
Seahawks 38, Cowboys 31
Talk about a shootout. The expected totals for this contest was in the low 50s, which was already considered high - nearly 70 points were scored as defenses on both sides struggled to stop receivers. Russell Wilson continued his scorched earth campaign on the opposition, and is now on pace to pass for nearly 75 touchdowns this season. Both D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are rock-solid WR2s, and command the bulk of targets in the passing game. Together they combined for 13 receptions, 210 yards and four touchdowns on 21 targets. Chris Carson was hurt on an incredibly dirty play by Dallas DL Trysten Hill and suffered a knee sprain - initial reports suggest that it is mild, but his availability for Week 4 is now up in the air. In his absence, Carson's workshare would go mainly to Carlos Hyde with a smattering of Travis Homer.
Seattle made a concerted effort to stop Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday, limiting him to just 34 rushing yards on the ground, and a number of short check-down passes. Better days are ahead for him and I'm not concerned. Michael Gallup managed to finally reel in some deep passes, including a 52 yard catch-and-run touchdown on broken tackles. Cedrick Wilson's five receptions for 107 yards and two touchdowns came out of nowhere, but I'd caution owners on adding him from the waiver wire. At best he's the fourth receiver on the team and Dak's sixth progressive read. Don't overthink this.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Packers 37, Saints 30
Sunday night's contest was a battle between a quarterback who wanted to continuously look for the big play (Rodgers) and one who wanted to throw within four yards of the line of scrimmage (Brees). On Green Bay's side of the ball, Aaron Jones continues to impress, and should be regarded as a top-5 selection in 2021. The fact that the team was able to beat the Saints on the road without Devante Adams speaks volumes - this team is the real deal. Allen Lazard was brilliant, and hopefully Fantasy players chose to start him over Marques Valdez-Scantling, who finished the evening with just one reception. Lazard is the clear-cut No.2 receiver for the team at this point, with MVS a desperation play. All reports have Adams hopefully returning for Week 4, which will clarify the situation further. I'm not ready to add any of the Packers tight ends at this point, but Robert Tonyan filled in admirably well for Josiah Deguara and has quietly posted some points.
For New Orleans, this was a one-man show. Alvin Kamara led the team in rushing yards (58), receiving yards (139), receptions (13), touchdowns (2) and targets (14). The fact that so much of the work went his way and the Cowboys defense were unable to stop him says enough. Michael Thomas is aiming to return this week, which should spread around the overall touches in this offense. Upon his return, Emmanuel Sanders and Tre'Quan Smith will be bumped back down to FLEX territory.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Chiefs 34, Ravens 20
This was supposed to be the best game of the NFL season, but unfortunately the outcome was rather one-sided. Kansas City dominated this game from start to finish, and Patrick Mahomes continues to prove that he is a generational talent. Even though two of the passing touchdowns went to non-relevant players, Travis Kelce, Mecole Hardman, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Clyde Edwards-Helaire all finished with over 13 points in a PPR setup. The distribution of targets will continue to be spread around amongst their bevy of talented options accordingly. Kelce, Hill and CEH are all must-start players each week, with Watkins and Hardman being FLEXworthy. As an aside, it is nice to see CEH be utilized more in the passing game the past two weeks, especially since he's been shut out of the end zone.
It isn't a stretch to state that the Baltimore offense was a total mess, and outside of Lamar Jackson all players bombed from a Fantasy standpoint. The backfield is an utter disaster, and the lack of a true workhorse back or established backup is a major headache between Gus Edwards, Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins