Week 4 Waiver Wire Pickups (2020 Fantasy Football)
Another NFL week of video-game scoring is in the books. A resounding 15 teams scored at least 30 points in Week 3, so plenty of fantasy goodness followed. Passing numbers continue to climb, as 13 quarterbacks mustered at least 20 fantasy points while 15 players (all wide receivers besides Alvin Kamara) hit 100 receiving yards.
What does this mean for waiver wire strategy going forward? If these trends stick, rather than stabilizing once defenses collect their bearings after a lack of preseason games, managers may need to get more selective about their pick-ups. Most of the highly drafted quarterbacks are playing too well to bench for a streamer in leagues with one starter, and wide receiver is deeper than ever.
On the other hand, running back can still occasionally feel like a wasteland. Many of the rushers highlighted over the first three weeks proved to be one-week wonders, but we must keep trying by identifying backs in line for extended opportunities. Tight end is as messy a position as ever, and there’s one obvious opponent to target when looking for a defense.
Here are the top players to add heading into Week 4.
Note: Rostered percentages provided via Yahoo leagues.
Top 5 Waiver Targets of Week 4
Justin Jefferson (WR – MIN): 31% Rostered
So much for Minnesota’s offense revolving solely around Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen. While Cook picked up 181 yards on the ground in Week 3’s loss to the Titans, Jefferson procured 175 receiving yards and a touchdown as the week’s premier fantasy receiver. The rookie accounted for 69.7% of Kirk Cousins’ passing yards (251) and one-third (9-of-27) of his targets.
Justin Jefferson: 93.8 PFF grade in Week 3.
Third-highest single-game grade by a rookie WR since 2006.pic.twitter.com/1EvY3xsG5v
— PFF (@PFF) September 28, 2020
While Jefferson saw just three targets each in his first two games, it’s hard to see a first-round pick falling on the backburner after such a transformative breakout performance. Even if not immediately trusted in starting lineups, he should be rostered everywhere going forward.
Myles Gaskin (RB – MIA): 47% Rostered
He’s yet to reach pay dirt or hit triple-digit yardage in a game, but Gaskins is still getting a full helping of work. There’s no longer any question of who is Miami’s primary running back after he handled 22 carries and five receptions in Thursday night’s win over Jacksonville. Even without a single touchdown, he’s the RB26 in half-PPR formats because of his 15 catches, which ties Ezekiel Elliott for fourth among running backs. Seattle’s defense has hemorrhaged yards and points, so this could be the week Gaskin pays off as a legitimate RB2.
Allen Lazard (WR – GB): 49% Rostered
Three weeks into 2020, Lazard in seventh in half-PPR points among all wide receivers. He hadn’t shown much of a ceiling until Sunday night, when he produced a career-high 146 yards and a touchdown against the Saints with Davante Adams sidelined. The 24-year-old was tackled just shy of the end zone on a 72-yard bomb that nearly resulted in his first multi-touchdown game.
As seen by his 63 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, Lazard’s value doesn’t rely solely on Adams’ absence. That’s especially the case in Week 4, as the Packers face a disastrous Falcons defense that has already yielded 1,088 passing yards and nine touchdowns through the air. They’ve already watched five wide receivers exceed 90 yards. That doesn’t include Anthony Miller, who found the end zone in yet another fourth-quarter collapse. Lazard is a worthy WR3 this Monday night if Adams returns from a hamstring injury, but he’s an absolute must-start if the star wideout sits again. He’s also establishing enough of a steady floor to play in less flattering spots when encountering more bye weeks.
Carlos Hyde (RB – SEA): 19% Rostered
Chris Carson luckily appears to have avoided a major injury following a dirty tackle from Trysten Hill. He nevertheless may miss one or two weeks with a sprained knee. While Pete Carroll has finally transitioned from a run-first and second offense, there’s plenty of fantasy potential for the starting running back on the NFL’s second-best scoring attack.
Hyde, who rushed for 1,070 yards in Houston last year, would likely absorb a majority of the carries. Although he’ll rarely break off big runs or contribute as a pass-catcher, the 30-year-old could ride volume and goal-line work — Carson has compiled five touches inside the top 10 this season — to flex appeal. However, Travis Homer matched Hyde’s 16 snaps Sunday and could make this backfield a timeshare until Carson returns.
Jeff Wilson Jr. (RB – SF): 23% Rostered
I was hesitant to list Wilson among the top pickups, as there’s a strong chance we’re saying “nevermind” by next Monday. In a 36-9 win that the 49ers played without Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman, Wilson played 23 snaps and ran for 15 yards. He also added 54 receiving yards and two touchdowns (one rushing and one receiving). The 49ers watched yet another running back go down, as Jerick McKinnon left the game with a rib injury after initially handling more reps than Wilson. This is a moot point if Mostert returns, but Wilson matters even if part of a two-back committee for a prolific run-heavy attack.
Notable Players 35-50% Rostered
Keelan Cole (WR – JAC): 42%
Rostered in 42% of Yahoo leagues, Cole has exceeded 42 receiving yards in each contest. His touchdown streak ended in Week 3, a disappointing outcome since the Jaguars played without D.J. Chark last Thursday night. While not a stud gamers in shallow 10- or 12-team leagues will typically start, Cole is a solid floor option who can particularly come in handy once bye weeks start piling up.
Denver Broncos D/ST: 36%
You may vomit in your mouth a little when thinking about Thursday night’s matchup between the Jets and Broncos. While managers won’t find many skill players of note in this unappealing matchup, they will find Week 4’s top streaming defense. The Jets are last in points scored and total yards. In Sunday’s embarrassing 36-7 loss to the Colts, Sam Darnold surrendered two pick-sixes, two sacks, and a safety. There aren’t many truly incompetent NFL offenses left in 2020, so Gang Green stands out as a glaring opponent to exploit. Those unable to grab Denver could risk taking the other side of this contest in deeper leagues.
Notable Players 10-35% Rostered
Brandon Aiyuk (WR – SF): 28%
Aiyuk had little competition in an offense playing without Mostert, Coleman, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle. He took full advantage, leading the 49ers in targets (eight), receptions (five), and receiving yards (70). The rookie even tallied 31 rushing yards — just seven fewer than team leader McKinnon — and a touchdown on the ground.
Brandon Aiyuk goes untouched for the 19-yard TD run! #FTTB
— NFL (@NFL) September 27, 2020
This year’s No. 25 overall pick can’t expect such a bright spotlight if any of San Francisco’s injured starters return this weekend. Yet given the high draft capital and a lacking wide receiver depth chart, the 22-year-old should remain involved in some capacity. While he’s only worth starting in most leagues if the 49ers remain short-handed against the Eagles, Aiyuk still holds appeal as a high-upside addition.
Kirk Cousins (QB – MIN): 26%
Outside of a horrid Week 2 dud (113 yards, 3 INTs) against the Colts, Cousins hit at least 21 fantasy points twice despite averaging a mere 26 pass attempts per game. Jefferson’s emergence gives him another weapon outside of Thielen, which will hopefully persuade Minnesota to open up the air game a bit more against vulnerable secondaries. The Texans aren’t favorable enough to stream Cousins in Week 4. After that, however, he faces the Seahawks and Falcons, the two worst defense in terms of passing yards and fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Because of those matchups, expect to see him here next week regardless of this weekend’s outcome.
Chase Claypool (WR – PIT): 14%
James Washington (WR – PIT): 11%
Diontae Johnson, who quickly emerged as Pittsburgh’s No. 2 wideout alongside JuJu Smith-Schuster, exited Sunday’s game early with a concussion. Rather than rush the burgeoning second-year wideout back from a head injury, the Steelers should exude caution and turn to talented receivers behind him on the depth chart. Although the results haven’t followed, Washington’s targets have risen (three, five, seven) in each game this season. Last year, he averaged 71.8 receiving yards per game from Week 9 to 16, so he’s the better bet to take on a heftier workload. Claypool, however, represents the higher upside play. With help from an 84-yard touchdown snag in Week 2, the rookie is averaging 16.8 yards per target.
Rex Burkhead (RB – NE): 10%
Compiling 49 rushing and receiving yards apiece with three touchdowns typically vaults a player to the top of the priority list. Making his Week 3 stat line somehow more impressive, Burkhead drew 10 targets when Cam Newton aired it out just 28 times. Burkhead is a viable flex play while James White is out, but the former could fall back by the wayside if the latter returns.
Hunter Renfrow (WR – OAK): 10%
After already losing Tyrell Williams for the entire season, the Raiders played Week 3 without Henry Ruggs III. As the rookie sat due to a hamstring injury, Renfrow caught six of nine targets for 84 yards and a score. No other Oakland pass-catcher recorded more than three receptions or four targets. Dating back to last season, the fifth-round pick has posted 632 receiving yards for five touchdowns in his last 10 games. Renfrow could shine in Las Vegas’ offense if Ruggs misses any more time.
Notable Players <10% Rostered
Mo Alie-Cox (TE – IND): 9%
Jack Doyle was supposedly active, but he didn’t receive a single target. Alie-Cox instead dazzled for the second week in a row. Following Week 2’s 111-yard outbreak, he displayed both an explosive burst and goal-line proficiency with a 45-yard play and one-yard touchdown. Regardless of Doyle’s availability, Philip Rivers has found himself a big, athletic tight end who has secured 10 of 11 targets this season. Alie-Cox could especially play a big role in Indianapolis’ offense with Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman Jr. out of action.
Jimmy Graham (TE – CHI): 9%
Graham scored two touchdowns in 2018 and three last season despite playing all 16 games each year. He has already found the end zone three times. He also saw 10 targets for the first time since December 2, 2018, so perhaps the 33-year-old could repair his diminished fantasy stock as a matchup play. For now, he’s more of a high-end TE2 in a diminished landscape of must-start options.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB – MIA): 7%
After throwing three picks in a dreadful Week 1 loss at New England, Fitzpatrick has produced 24 fantasy points in back-to-back games. Last year, he ranked 16th in fantasy points per game among quarterbacks despite a similarly terrible early performance against the Patriots. He could be in store for a shootout with the Seahawks, who have allowed an enormous 1,319 passing yards in three games that averaged a combined 65.7 points. Anyone willing to roll the dice on the 37-year-old may receive a major dose of Fitzmagic.
Tee Higgins (WR – CIN): 4%
The Bengals made a healthy John Ross inactive for Week 3. Higgins capitalized on the opportunity, tallying two touchdowns in just his third NFL game. The 6’4″ newcomer drew Joe Burrow’s attention at the goal line, depositing his scores from one and four yards. Yet he also saw nine targets in Cincinnati’s tie with Philadelphia, second on the team to Tyler Boyd. Scoop up Higgins in deeper leagues and all dynasty formats.
Brian Hill (RB – ATL): 2%
After receiving just five touches (three carries, two catches) in each of the first two games, Hill turned nine rushes and a reception into 70 yards and a touchdown against the Bears. He still played roughly one-third of Atlanta’s snaps, so the second-year back isn’t a threat to usurp a Todd Gurley any time soon. Hill, however, is a worthy deep-league insurance policy as the backup behind a starter with long-term health concerns.
Greg Ward (WR – PHI): 1%
Do the Eagles have anyone else left? DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and Dallas Goedert (ankle) both got injured in Week 3. Philadelphia is likely to at least be without the tight end this weekend. This comes days after placing Jalen Reagor on the IR with a UCL tear. Alshon Jeffery is increasing practice activity and makes an intriguing stash for managers with roster flexibility. But he’s not guaranteed to play a significant amount (or at all) in the near future. Ward, who caught eight of 11 targets for 72 yards and a touchdown last Sunday, could be the team’s de facto No. 1 wide receiver for at least one game.
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