Jesse Pantuosco (@JessePantuosco): Keep your head on a swivel, guys—it’s dangerous out there. Running backs were dropping like flies last week with Ty Montgomery, Dalvin Cook and Chris Carson all going down with injuries. Week 4 also introduced us to the likes of Alex Collins and Wayne Gallman, who had been scarcely used (or not at all, in Gallman’s case) in prior weeks.
I took a screenshot of how many waiver claims I made in one league thinking that seven was a pretty fair amount. Later I heard from a friend who made 18. Now I think that’s a little excessive (what kind of league has 18 relevant players on the waiver wire?), but obviously with so many injuries and four teams on bye, this was a good week to go shopping.
So which waiver pickup caught your eye this week? Was it a shiny new running back like Latavius Murray or perhaps a pass-catcher like Will Fuller or Jaron Brown? And let’s be real—are these guys just lottery tickets or players that can help right away … as in this week?
Evan Silva (@evansilva): Jerick McKinnon will likely elicit eye rolls because he's been "hyped" before and didn't win leagues, but he's someone I'd prioritize adding in PPR. Dalvin Cook is done for the year, Latavius Murray has a bum ankle and is #notgood while McKinnon is the best pass-catching back left standing in an underrated Vikings offense. People will think this is crazy but my group put a very big bid on McKinnon in our FFPC Main Event league. We really like both his floor and ceiling in this situation.
Rich Hribar (@LordReebs): McKinnon is an interesting guy to throw a bone at, especially with Latavius Murray admitting he’s not 100 percent. I’m also of the opinion Murray isn’t anything special, but I'm not sure that it particularly matters, either. The Vikings’ overall running game is much better than last year and Murray has already given us a usable sample of his fantasy production. He’s been a top-30 scorer in 20-of-30 games played over the past two seasons while averaging 17.8 touches per game. Though he may only get 12-15 touches per week and probably won’t score a dozen touchdowns like he did last year in Oakland, a clear path to goal-line opportunities and bankable touches is more than enough reason to pluck him off waivers, especially given the current landscape at running back.
Pantuosco: I know the term fading is usually reserved for DFS, but can the same principle be applied to guys on the waiver wire? If so, I think I’m going to be fading Will Fuller. I’m well aware of Fuller’s first-round pedigree and I also know he’s coming off a two-touchdown game in Week 4. But let’s keep in mind that Fuller has been hugely drop-prone since his college days at Notre Dame (he dropped six passes as a rookie last year) and only logged 35 receiving yards in last week’s victory. His two touchdowns in Week 4 were as many as he had all of last season. And remember who’s throwing him the football. Deshaun Watson is legitimately on a roll right now, but he’s spent the last two weeks beating up on subpar defenses in New England and Tennessee. I think he’ll go through peaks and valleys like any other rookie quarterback and when that happens, Fuller could be in for some lean weeks.
I weirdly have Jordan Reed in a bunch of leagues (why Jesse?), so I’ve been scouring the waiver wire for tight ends. The guy I’ve been loading up on is Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who I expect to have a big role against the Browns in Week 5. ASJ has played reasonably well in his two games since coming back from suspension (nine catches for 77 yards on 10 targets), and is going against a defense that just allowed two touchdowns to Tyler Kroft in Week 4. As far as bye week streaming options go, Seferian-Jenkins seems like a layup.
Jeff Brubach (@Jeff_Brubach): I scooped up Wayne Gallman in a few of my main leagues. This addition will allow me to work Wayne's World into my GIF rotation even more than normal. I also think it’s a good opportunity to catch a player on his way up in an offense that is improving after a disastrous start to the year. Even if he’s handed the bulk of New York's early-down work, Shane Vereen's presence will limit Gallman's ceiling, but I don’t think Ben McAdoo is opposed to giving the rookie a long look this week. The running back scene looks pretty ugly as the bye weeks march into town, so I'm giving Gallman a whirl.
Connor Allen (@ConnorAllenNFL): A player who could be very useful in PPR leagues is Andre Ellington. With injuries piling up for the Cardinals’ offensive line, Carson Palmer has been forced to check-down on a pretty frequent basis. Ellington has averaged nine targets over his last three games and had a whopping 14 targets in Week 4. He's always been a talented player but hasn't been able to stay on the field for longer than a few weeks at a time, especially in recent years. I think he’s a good pickup for owners in a bye-week crunch.
Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat): I agree ASJ is a layup. I wouldn't "fade" Will Fuller, necessarily, but just have realistic expectations. He's a poor man's DeSean Jackson. Fuller is capable of scoring two (long) touchdowns in a week or posting a big, fat zero. Deshaun Watson does considerably raise his ceiling compared to Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage, it should be noted.
I did mostly "fade" the running backs this week, though I didn't mind getting Gallman and Alex Collins for free. Bottomless floors, but unestablished ceilings. Who knows, maybe one of them will end up hitting in a big way. Elijah McGuire is also a decent free flier.