Welcome to the Week 4 edition of Waiver Wired for the 2019 season. Week 3 produced replacement performances from a number of players who everyone knew were going to be hot adds the moment the dust settled. Injuries to Saquon Barkley (high-ankle sprain), Damien Williams (knee) and LeSean McCoy (ankle) also leave a few unknown names in favor of massive volume as early as Sunday. The trickle-down effect stemming from those absences will be discussed in detail below. With Le’Veon Bell, Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, and George Kittle (among others) all hitting the first official bye week of the regular season, streaming also plays a crucial part in this column moving forward.
As a reminder, the drop list consists of players who are no longer must-roster assets, recommended adds are available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, the watch list contains in-depth notes on players who are worthy of roster spots if possible, and deep cuts includes player notes on those rostered in five percent or fewer of Yahoo leagues.
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The Drop List
QB: Cam Newton, Drew Brees, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kirk Cousins, Sam Darnold, Derek Carr, Mitchell Trubisky
RB: Tarik Cohen, Latavius Murray, Derrius Guice, Tevin Coleman
WR: Antonio Brown, Robby Anderson, Dante Pettis, Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder, Donte Moncrief, Devin Funchess, Keke Coutee
TE: Jared Cook, David Njoku, Jimmy Graham, Hunter Henry, Kyle Rudolph, Trey Burton
Kyle Allen’s performance obviously lessened Carolina’s sense of urgency to get Cam Newton back onto the field, making the veteran a droppable piece in that his replacement (see below) is a legitimate QB1 in 12-team leagues for the second consecutive game. Drew Brees is another obvious cut since his timeline and abilities following thumb surgery are shaky. Latavius Murray’s season-lows in snaps (12) and touches (2) not so coincidently occurred in New Orleans’ first game with Teddy Bridgewater under center. Robby Anderson (3/11) expectedly laid an egg against the Patriots (and thus sticks on the drop list), but is worth keeping in mind as a scoop if Sam Darnold (mono) does in fact return against the Eagles post-bye. Tevin Coleman (ankle) is also expected back in Week 5, but he’s the early favorite to get healthy scratched or, just as detrimental, join in on the fun as a four-headed committee. T.J. Hockenson only avoided this list because he (hopefully) has a 'get right' matchup in what should be a high-scoring affair against the Chiefs on Sunday.
Overall Top 5
For those simply looking to roster the best player available regardless of position, the rankings above take into account every factor from the positional lists minus the actual positions. These are listed in the precise order I’d prioritize waiver claims in Week 4.
Handcuff Top 5
For those refusing to stand pat and itching for an end-of-roster stash, the above list was carefully assembled to highlight league-winners in the event the player ahead of them misses any time. Presumed snaps, carries, targets, and the play-calling each are tied to have been factored in. This list could adjust weekly based on current situations.
Philip Rivers rostered in 86 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 1 add if available.
Matthew Stafford rostered in 51 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 2 add if available.
1. Kyle Allen
2. Daniel Jones
3. Jacoby Brissett
4. Gardner Minshew
Mecole Hardman rostered in 49 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 1 add if available.
1. D.J. Chark
2. Nelson Agholor
3. Phillip Dorsett
4. Preston Williams
5. Deebo Samuel
6. Kenny Stills
7. Devin Smith
8. Golden Tate
9. Diontae Johnson
Los Angeles Chargers rostered in 80 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 1 add if available.
Baltimore Ravens rostered in 73 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 2 add if available.
1. Indianapolis Colts
2. Kansas City Chiefs
1. Kyle Allen, Panthers – Rostered in 3 percent of Yahoo leagues (Suggested 8% FAAB Bid)
Even if you (incorrectly) attribute Allen’s four-score performance from Sunday to his forgiving high-octane matchup, fact of the matter is he’s now being gifted a poor Texans Defense that’s been rag-dolled for an average 311.3 passing yards and seven touchdowns by Drew Brees, Gardner Minshew, and Philip Rivers to start the season. Allen left meat on the bone against the Cardinals in failing to show the rushing production (5/19/1) he accrued in his first start to cap Carolina’s 2018 campaign. While his Week 4 matchup is salivating, keep in mind Allen’s follow-up contest against the Jaguars if looking to roster him as a starter beyond Sunday.
2. Daniel Jones, Giants — Rostered in 17 percent of Yahoo league (5%)
While Jones’ monster 34.24 fantasy performance against the Bucs proved his worth as a viable QB1 the rest of the way, the stars align miserably short term as he’ll be face a sluggish Redskins scheme allotting a bottom-five rate of opponent plays per game, Minnesota’s staunch secondary at home, and the Patriots’ wringing defense on a short week. Here’s to hoping his legs keep him revered until New York’s juicy matchup against the Cardinals in Week 7. Lean Jones over Allen ROS but the latter as the better one-week option if your league is plentiful with viable quarterbacks on the wire.
3. Jacoby Brissett, Colts – Rostered in 20 percent of Yahoo leagues (7%)
Coach Frank Reich’s play-calling is clearly the difference in Brissett’s second stint as the team’s starter as the quarterback’s much improved 71.7 percent completion rate continues to be helped by Indy’s propensity to call pass at the eighth-highest (61%) rate inside the red zone, and fourth-highest rate (78%) inside the 5. Brissett’s also tossed for 554 yards and a whopping six touchdowns when kept clean this season — totals that should be padded further by the Raiders’ inability to reach the quarterback with a bottom-five pressure rate on defense thus far. Prioritizing Brissett also preps your team for the immediate future as the Colts’ next three contests (Oakland, at Chiefs, against Houston) are plus on-paper matchups for their offense as a whole. Brissett's only listed third here due to T.Y. Hilton’s (quad) questionable status.
4. Gardner Minshew, Jaguars — Rostered in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues (1%)
Minshew’s 4.9 YPA from the preseason has proved irrelevant as his eight attempts 20-plus yards downfield in two starts remains tied with Kyler Murray for the 15th-most among quarterbacks in that span. Minshew’s box score would pop even more had Dede Westbrook not butterfingered three catchable balls thrown his way against the Titans. Jacksonville’s upcoming schedule following their trip to Denver (at Panthers, versus Saints, at Bengals, against the Jets, versus Texans) is worth keeping Minshew close to your vest as an end-of-roster stash if applicable.
1. Darrel Williams, Chiefs – Rostered in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues (Suggested 18% FAAB Bid)
The fact LeSean McCoy (ankle) and Damien Williams (knee) are already hobbled three weeks into the year only emphasizes the importance of securing Darrel on your roster as early as tonight’s waivers period. The lesser known Williams was projected to be Kansas City’s go-to on early downs while rookie Darwin Thompson got featured in the passing game if McCoy and/or Williams missed time, but it was actually Darrel who ran 18 routes to Thompson’s one on Sunday, hauling in five catches to go along with an impressive 9/62 (6.89 YPC) rushing line. It’s become of importance this year (perhaps more than ever) to prioritize lesser volume on great offenses when nitpicking opportunity between players, and setting aside for Darrel gets you in the door with the best offense in the league. Williams is an RB2 if used behind McCoy, and an immediate RB1 if both McCoy and Damien Williams are simultaneously inactive. Rex Burkhead or Wayne Gallman can be prioritized if missing multiple starters, but Darrel's ceiling is the highest among this week's group.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues
2. Rex Burkhead, Patriots – Rostered in 24 percent of Yahoo leagues (16%)
Even if Burkhead’s involvement on 47.8 percent of New England’s offensive snaps through three weeks is purely game script induced, FB James Develin’s (neck) trip to injured reserve essentially strips Sony Michel of his role in 21 personnel and forces the Patriots to continue featuring James White and Burkhead in three-wide sets as their primary base offense. Damien Harris was active Sunday but didn’t play a single snap behind Brandon Bolden.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues
3. Wayne Gallman, Giants – Rostered in 6 percent of Yahoo leagues (15%)
The hottest pickup of the week translates better to non-PPR formats. Gallman is slated to handle every carry until Saquon Barkley (ankle) returns following New York’s Week 11 bye, but his 38th-percentile SPARQ score and sluggish 4.60 40-time make him a plodding goal line back being squeezed into a role beyond his capabilities. The Giants’ upcoming schedule against the Redskins, Vikings, and Patriots, as well as Danny Dimes’ rushing prowess, strip Gallman of his short-term upside. He’s a safe bet for double-digit carries, but don’t go blowing your FAAB thinking he’ll make the same transcending plays from scratch that Barkley made look simple. Rod Smith or C.J. Anderson could sign in New York by end of week.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues
4. Justin Jackson, Chargers – Rostered in 29 percent of Yahoo leagues (10%)
Jackson’s unsurprisingly played second fiddle to Austin Ekeler this season given Los Angeles’ pressing need to keep the latter on the field for his passing-game chops, but backup production isn’t something Miami’s been keen in limiting, allowing an average 9.5 carries to Gus Edwards, James White/Burkhead, and most recently Tony Pollard (13/103/1) as the Dolphins continue to trail at an historic rate. Although he has handcuff value long-term, Jackson’s a cheap one-game replacement if just looking to weather Matt Breida’s and Raheem Mostert’s bye week.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 14-team leagues and RB-desperate teams
5. Chris Thompson, Redskins – Rostered in 44 percent of Yahoo leagues (10%)
Thompson’s value continues to be derived from his 19 percent target share in constant negative game scripts. With at least four catches and 48 receiving yards in every game to date, the soon-to-be 29-year-old is a high-floor bye week filler at an even cheaper cost (albeit a lower ceiling, too) than Justin Jackson.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues
6. Ronald Jones, Bucs – Rostered in 25 percent of Yahoo leagues (5%)
There’s no guarantee Jones wins over Tampa Bay’s backfield anytime soon, but he’s at the very least continued to look the part, totaling 37 more yards than teammate Peyton Barber (223-186) on 16 fewer touches. He’s merely a buy-low on an educated guess he’ll get the starting nod in the next few weeks.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 14-team leagues
Watch List: Jeff Wilson’s 13 red zone carries are quietly tied with Ezekiel Elliott’s for the league-lead; his five rushes inside the 5-yard line are tied with three others. With Tevin Coleman (ankle) trending towards being healthy for Week 5, it’s truly a question mark whether the Niners roll with four active backs — sapping production from all involved — or healthy scratch either Coleman or Wilson sporadically...With James Conner (somehow) getting a full practice under his belt and avoiding Pittsburgh’s injury report altogether on Friday, Jaylen Samuels was (14 snaps) was basically phased out of the offense entirely. I’d still stash him accordingly wherever possible…As mentioned previously, Darwin Thompson failed to see a single target on merely one route as the No. 3 back behind McCoy and Darrel Williams Sunday…It’s still very clear that Nyheim Hines, while an intriguing handcuff for his proven success as a receiving threat, is still an afterthought to Marlon Mark, who’s now run 57 routes to Hines’ 32 on the year…Jamaal Williams reluctantly handled a season-high 12 carries on 61.4 percent of Green Bay’s offensive snaps over Aaron Jones (10, 38.6%). Turns out coach Matt LaFleur really did want to “even up” the touches between the two.
Deep Leagues: Ito Smith’s (concussion) pending absence opens the door for Brian Hill to run as Atlanta’s No. 2 back. Odds are Devonta Freeman is initially used as a bell-cow, though, as shown on 19 touches and 55-of-61 offensive snaps Sunday…Ty Johnson’s role was thought to increase following C.J. Anderson’s mid-week release, but it merely resulted in the rookie playing 13 snaps (20.3%) behind Kerryon Johnson’s career-high 20 carries…T.J. Yeldon’s 29 snaps (37.2%) sans Devin Singletary (hamstring) should only increase this week in what projects as a nightmarish game script for Buffalo against the Patriots…Dare Ogunbowale ran more routes than both Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber for the third straight week, but the former’s zilch rushing role keeps his ceiling only a few points higher than his floor…Gus Edwards has out-snapped (67 to 47) and out-carried (28 to 10) rookie Justice Hill this season, but their routes run (28 to 23) in favor of the No. 113 overall pick keep Hill as an exciting deep league and dynasty stash.