We’re heading into the fourth week of the regular season, so naturally, the big surprise breakouts and key injury replacements are long gone off your waivers. While the waiver wire dries up more and more each week, we’re inching closer to the start of NFL bye weeks, so working waivers to identify streamers will be key. Also, the longer the season progresses, the more likely it is some of your starters sustain injuries. Especially at running back, it’s time to start thinking about handcuffs to your stars. Do you have someone on your bench who is collecting dust with lackluster performances? It might be time to think about dropping them for an insurance policy at running back. That’s why backup RBs like Marlon Mack and Rhamondre Stevenson, as well as some forgotten WRs on IR like Curtis Samuel, are among the hottest names on our watchlist as we head into Week 5.
Some leagues don’t have enough roster spots to necessarily take advantage of “planning ahead,” but for those in leagues that do (or if you have players on IR or useless players you want to cut), our week-ahead watchlist will be helpful every week. Grabbing a player or two before the weekend when they’re still free agents can pay off big time if those players have good games. Your spot in the waiver order is valuable, and you want to save it as long as possible. At the very least, it’s good to have a list of names of players to watch on Sunday so you can monitor snap share and targets/touches, and it’s always smart to claim streamers at positions like TE or D/ST before there’s competition for them.
WEEK 4 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker
Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Watchlist
Reminder: This list was put together in the lead-in to Week 4, looking forward to the players who could be popular waiver-wire targets ahead of Week 5. If you have a roster spot to play with, these are free-agent options you could grab early to beat the waiver buzz.
All these players are below 50-percent ownership on Yahoo unless otherwise specified.
WEEK 4 PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker
Week 5 Waiver Wire Watchlist: Quarterback
Jameis Winston, Saints (43 percent owned in Yahoo leagues)
Winston hasn’t been what we hoped he’d be, but he’s still worth watching. This offense has been up and down through three weeks, but we have to think they’ll eventually settle in, especially with Tre’Quan Smith (hamstring) and Michael Thomas (ankle) set to return at some point this season. Winston plays Washington in Week 5, and they’ve been a shockingly bad pass defense this season,
Daniel Jones, Giants (36)
We all wanted Jones to go nuclear against the Falcons in Week 3, which is exactly why it didn’t happen. Still, he scored over 16 fantasy points without scoring a single touchdown. That’s a nice floor for a quarterback. He plays Dallas in Week 5, who has been better on defense than expected, but Jones’ rushing floor still makes him an attractive streamer and potential QB1, especially when all of his weapons are healthy.
Trey Lance (32); Jimmy Garoppolo (11), 49ers.
Jimmy G has played well enough to keep Lance as the backup quarterback, but we’re still seeing Lance find his way onto the field. We don’t expect Lance to take over in Week 5, but even Garoppolo is an attractive streamer heading into a matchup with Arizona with all the weapons at this disposal. Lance remains on the watchlist for the same reasons — sneaky late-season upside.
Sam Darnold, Panthers (31)
Darnold put together a third-straight week of 19-plus fantasy points and gets Dallas in Week 4. Again, Dallas’ defense looks better this year, so we’ll see how he performs. Without Christian McCaffrey in the offense, that entire side of the ball could fall flat. He takes on the Eagles in Week 5, who have delivered mixed results on defense.
WEEK 4 FANTASY: Start ’em, sit ’em | Sleepers | Busts
Week 5 Waiver Wire Watchlist: RB
Michael Carter (52); Tevin Coleman (9); Ty Johnson (8), Jets
This backfield is ugly, but many of us are desperate for running back depth. Carter saw his second-straight week leading the group in touches in Week 3, but it is worth noting Coleman was inactive with an illness. Carter has the most momentum building here, and an injury to any of the three could clear up the logjam.
Mark Ingram (42); David Johnson (37); Phillip Lindsay (29), Texans
This backfield is just about as ugly as the Jets’ situation, but again, an injury to any of them could make one or two of these guys relevant. You don’t want to start a guy from this bunch, but watch them and see how the touches and targets are playing out as we approach the start of bye weeks.
Top RB Handcuffs: Kenneth Gainwell, Eagles (38); J.D. McKissic, Washington (37); Peyton Barber, Raiders (27); Tony Jones, Saints (16); Royce Freeman, Panthers (3)
It’s never flashy to roster handcuff RBs, but it can help you down the line as injuries happen. We know Gainwell and McKissic could have standalone value for sure, and while Jones hasn’t been as productive behind Alvin Kamara as we thought, his time could come at any point. Barber may be sent to the pit of fantasy misery when Josh Jacobs (toe, ankle) comes back, but it’s been promising to see him get a workhorse role in Jacobs’ absence. Lower body injuries can linger, so Barber is all of a sudden a hot fantasy handcuff. Freeman got six touches when Christian McCaffrey went down with a hamstring injury, so it’s worth monitoring his usage in Week 4.
Marlon Mack, Colts (12)
Mack is worth watching purely because he has requested a trade and the Colts seem happy to make it happen. If he lands in a spot like New York (Jets), it might seem good for fantasy on the surface, but it would just complicate their situations. The best-case scenario would probably be a team like the Chargers, where he could be a goal-line/change-of-pace to Austin Ekeler or a place with no clear-cut handcuff, like the Bengals or Giants. We’re just speculating here and the possibilities are endless, so keep an eye out.
Rhamondre Stevenson (9); Brandon Bolden (1); J.J. Taylor (1), Patriots
James White (hip) is likely out the rest of the season, so any of these three guys could carve out a role in the offense. Stevenson has been banished to the bench after he fumbled in Week 1, but White’s injury might force him to play. Bolden and Taylor could take the White role altogether as the primary pass-catching back. It seems likely that one of them will do just that, but Stevenson was also a capable pass-catcher in college, so this could be his big chance if he can pass block. As always in New England, this will be a fluid situation that could change week to week. Still, we need to watch as early as this week and see how the snap share plays out.
Jeff Wilson Jr. (19); JaMycal Hasty (3), 49ers
These guys are still sidelined for another few weeks, but Trey Sermon hasn’t been impressive and Elijah Mitchell is dealing with a shoulder injury. If you have an IR spot on your roster, they’re worth stashing.
WEEK 4 DFS LINEUPS: DraftKings | FanDuel | Yahoo
Week 5 Waiver Wire Watchlist: WR
Henry Ruggs (53); Hunter Renfrow (20), Raiders
Derek Carr is leading the league in passing yards, and these two are benefiting. Behind Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow is second on the team with 22 targets, followed by Ruggs with 19 targets. Both have produced over 200 yards and a one receiving touchdown, so they’re worth considering for your roster. Renfrow is more attractive in PPR, while Ruggs is beginning to look good in both formats, but standard leagues are what he’s best suited for right now.
Emmanuel Sanders, Bills (48)
Sanders was just 28-percent owned last week, and we hinted that he might be a hot name on the waiver wire soon. Luckily, he’s still owned in fewer than half of all leagues, so you can still get him. His air yards numbers indicated a possible breakout, and his Week 3 performance proved us right. He has 20 targets on the season with 11 catches for 194 yards and two touchdowns. This is only the beginning of the Josh Allen-Sanders connection. The Bills’ next six games are against Houston, Kansas City, Tennessee, Miami, Jacksonville, and New York (Jets). That said, it’s safe to say Sanders won’t be widely available for much longer.
Underwhelming sophomores: Darnell Mooney, Bears (41); Marquez Callaway, Saints (37), Jalen Reagor, Eagles, (22)
We’re all frustrated with Mooney’s lack of production, but better days have to be ahead. The Bears offense was a disaster in Week 3 against the Browns but could turn it around in Week 4 vs. the Lions. Mooney remains the No. 2 WR in the offense, so if Justin Fields ever breaks out, Mooney will, too.
Callway’s ownership continues to plummet. Despite the lack of production, he has been the second-most targeted Saint behind Alvin Kamara. Unfortunately, the Saints have been in two games they’ve dominated and haven’t had to pass as much as we’d like for Callaway to see success. In their other game against Carolina, the entire offense was completely shut down, including Kamara. So, they’ve either stomped their opponent or been stomped. Neither is a recipe for fantasy success at WR. They’ll play the Giants, Washington, Seahawks, and Buccaneers, so hopefully, the games will be more competitive moving forward. It is worth nothing Tre’Quan Smith (hamstring) could return at any point, and Michael Thomas (ankle) is eligible to return in Week 7.
Reagor is just two targets behind DeVonta Smith for the team lead and has a shot to break out against a bad Chiefs defense in Week 4.
Nelson Agholor (40), Kendrick Bourne (2), Patriots
This offense has looked bad, but their WR trio of Jakobi Meyers, Agholor, and Bourne have all had success in at least one game. Agholor is second on the team in targets (18) and Bourne isn’t that far behind him (14). Mac Jones attempted 51 passes in Week 3, and he’ll likely approach that number in Week 4 trying to keep up with Tom Brady and the Bucs. Houston awaits the Pats in Week 5, so Agholor and Bourne could be in for nice outings.
Tim Patrick, Broncos (32)
Jerry Jeudy (ankle) is still out for a few more weeks and K.J. Hamler (torn ACL) is out for the season. That said, even when Jeudy does return, Patrick will keep a role in this offense. He caught five passes for 98 yards in Week 3, and it was nice to see production outside of just touchdown catches. Denver’s schedule is about to get a lot tougher, though, with Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, and Cleveland as their next four opponents.
Josh Gordon, Chiefs (20)
We’ve warned against getting your hopes too high about Gordon, but we’d all be foolish to not watch him moving forward. The pass-catchers in Kansas City other than Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill leave a lot to be desired, so Gordon will have a chance to make an impact in fantasy.
K.J. Osborn, Vikings (22)
We knew there was a good chance Osborn’s production would slow down, and it did in Week 3 vs. Seattle (two catches, 21 yards). However, this is a high-volume passing attack, and the targets just so happened to go to TE Tyler Conklin rather than Osborn last week.
Quintez Cephus (21) and Kalif Raymond (1), Lions; Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (1) and Chester Rogers (1), Titans
All of these guys are essentially no-names when it comes to fantasy football, but injuries and lack of WR depth on their teams have opened the door for opportunities. The Lions’ WR group is weak, especially with Tyrell Williams (head) out, and we’ve seen Cephus and Raymond produce solid fantasy outings. Westbrook-Ikhine and Rogers have the benefit of A.J. Brown (hamstring) being week-to-week and Julio Jones dealing with minor knee issues,
Possible IR Steals: Michael Gallup, Cowboys (48); Curtis Samuel, Washington (35); T.Y. Hilton, Colts (21); Rashod Bateman, Ravens (19); Tre’Quan Smith, Saints (3)
Don’t forget about the guys on IR, as all of them are eligible to return either this week or next week. That doesn’t mean they will play right away, but the possibility exists. All of these guys with the exception of Gallup will be a top-two WR on their team, but Gallup’s Cowboys have enough passing volume to make him a solid flex option, as we’ve seen in the past. Samuel, Hilton, and Bateman have seen their ownership pick up since last week, so people are going to continue to jump on them. Don’t miss your chance. Samuel and Bateman will both be back within the next three weeks.
Week 5 Waiver Wire Watchlist: TE
Jonnu Smith (53); Hunter Henry (44), Patriots
There was much hype surrounding these two before the season, but let’s be real — they have been busts. However, they play Tampa Bay in Week 4 before taking on Houston in Week 5, so they still remain streamer options at the position.
Evan Engram, Giants (37)
Engram just played his first game of the season, and although he didn’t produce much of anything, he did draw six targets. With Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton dealing with hamstring injuries, there’s an opportunity for Engram to start helping the tight end position as a whole. He’ll play Dallas in Week 5.
Dawson Knox, Bills (24)
All of a sudden, Knox is a top-10 tight end in fantasy points scored through three weeks. We knew this was possible, as the Bills’ offense is explosive and Knox is athletic, and he has the possibility to be an answer to your tight end struggles in fantasy. He gets Kansas City in Week 5, and their defensive struggles have been well on display.
Dalton Schultz, Giants (21)
Schultz is a notch ahead of Blake Jarwin as the Cowboys’ lead tight end, and in Week 3, he caught six-of-seven targets for 80 yards and two touchdowns. Again, this position is weak in fantasy, so any notable performances like this one should catch our eye. He’s a top streaming candidate heading into Week 5 against the Giants
Tyler Conklin, Vikings (9)
Conklin was a deep sleeper heading into the season, and he produced a breakout performance against the Seahawks. He caught seven-of-eight targets for 70 yards and a touchdown, and nearly had another touchdown. He’s a versatile tight end who lines up all over the field, despite weighing nearly 260 pounds. It will be interesting to see if it’s him or Osborn who serve as the No. 3 option in this offense, so stay tuned. He plays Detroit in Week 5, so he’ll surely be a hot streamer on waivers.
Pat Freiermuth, Steelers (8)
We said we like Freiermuth’s chances last week, and he delivered with his first career touchdown. JuJu Smith-Schuster (ribs) and Diontae Johnson (knee) won’t be at 100 percent for a while even if they do play in the coming weeks, so Freiermuth has a chance to earn a solid number of targets as the TE1 in Pittsburgh. He and the Steelers will play Denver in Week 5.
Dan Arnold, Jaguars (4)
The Jaguars traded for Arnold, so are we wrong to assume they’ll get him involved in the offense. James O’Shaugnessy was productive as the Jags’ starting tight end before he got injured, so Arnold could do the same, if not more. You don’t have to rush to pick him up, but stay tuned as they play the Titans in Week 5.
Week 5 defense streamers and sleepers
Carolina Panthers vs. Eagles (51)
This defense might get exposed by Dallas in Week 4, but the Eagles’ offense looks awful except when they play the Falcons. Here’s another spot for Carolina to look dominant on that side of the ball.
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Bears (21)
Did anyone see how bad Justin Fields and the Bears’ offensive line looked against Cleveland? The Raiders have an underrated pass-rush, so they have to be considered as a streamer at the D/ST spot.
Minnesota Vikings vs Lions (16)
Mike Zimmer should eventually get this defense right, and what a better time to start than a matchup with Jared Goff, whose best WR is Kalif Raymond or Quintez Cephus. This Lions’ offense is limited and Goff is always prone to turnovers.
Dallas Cowboys vs Giants (13)
One of the biggest shockers of the season is the Cowboys’ defense not being atrocious. Their secondary has held up well after being torched by the defending champs in Week 1, and the Giants have numerous injured pass-catchers.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Panthers (4)
We should be watching how the Panthers’ offense looks without Christian McCaffrey. The Eagles’ D will get massacred by the Chiefs, but it might have sneaky value in Week 5. If Sam Darnold sees ghosts again without CMC in Week 4, we should expect the same in Week 5.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Jets (1)
The Falcons might have the worst defense in football, but the Jets have the worst offense. Falcons defense coordinator Dean Pees has orchestrated some of the toughest defenses in recent memory with New England and Baltimore, and we have to think he’s not going to let Zach Wilson have a field day here.
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