What a week. Trevor Lawrence doubled Justin Herbert’s fantasy output in a 38-10 drubbing of the Bolts at SoFi. Speaking of Herbert, the leading RB scorer on the week was Herbert … Khalil Herbert. Justin Jefferson scored fewer fantasy points than Adam Thielen … and K.J. Osborn. The top of the wide receiver list featured Mack, Russell and Zay (10 points to whoever can identify the surnames). And of course, the 49ers D/ST scored more fantasy points than Russell Wilson in their matchup on Sunday Night Football (and Wilson is droppable in fantasy).
With all this chaos, how are we supposed to navigate forward towards that coveted fantasy trophy? It’s only Week 4 for heaven’s sake! Well, I think you know the answer. Play that waiver wire. Like Rihanna playing Umbrella at the Apple Music Super Bowl LVII halftime show.
How you ask? Who? That’s what I’m here for. Because when the sun shines, we’ll shine together, told you I’ll be here forever, said I’ll always be your friend, took an oath, I’mma stick it out ’til the end. Okay there was no formal oath taken, but I’m gonna be here for at least 14 more weeks, I promise.
And if you want more guys, more explanations, or more answers, hit me up on Twitter @MattOkada!
To the wire!
(Rostered percentages are from NFL.com’s fantasy football player trends. Players are roughly ordered by priority within position.)
- RUNNING BACKS
- WIDE RECEIVERS
- TIGHT ENDS
Pick Up If Available: Dameon Pierce (80% rostered), Jeff Wilson (58%), Rhamondre Stevenson (52%)
At this point, Williams is low-key what many drafters wanted AJ Dillon to be — namely, a productive secondary back on the best offense in the NFC North — or what Kareem Hunt has been for years now in Cleveland. Williams now has four rushing touchdowns this season (to D’Andre Swift’s one), thanks to his 11 red zone carries (to Swift’s two). Forget just the Lions, the only RB in the entire league with more carries inside the 5-yard-line than Williams (four) is Antonio Gibson (six). He is a weekly FLEX option whether Swift is playing or not … but on top of all that, Swift has a shoulder injury that could force him to miss time. Williams should be the top priority on nearly every wire.
Death, taxes, and Mattison showing up in the waiver wire article at least once a year. In this particular case, it sounds like Dalvin Cook’s shoulder injury (a dislocation) might not keep him out at all. Doesn’t matter. Between Cook’s injury history and Mattison’s production as the starter in recent years, Mattison is officially the highest-value handcuff in fantasy football (because I don’t count Jamaal Williams as a handcuff). Mattison has averaged 23.3 fantasy points per game in his last 5 starts, with 16+ fantasy points in all 5 of those games. No matter how the Cook news pans out, Mattison should be rostered. Period. No cap. Whatever else the kids are saying now.
Herbert has been a mainstay through three weeks of waiver wire articles here on NFL.com, but if you didn’t already ‘stache him, say goodbye to the farm, the clothes on your back and possibly your firstborn child. With David Montgomery suffering a leg injury and being labeled “day-to-day,” Herbert is the next-man up … and he is going to be expensive to acquire. Against the admittedly porous Texans defense, Herbert stepped up to the tune of 169 scrimmage yards on 22 touches, with a pair of rushing scores. There’s a decent chance Montgomery’s injury is relatively short-term, which puts some doubt on the Herbert investment, but I believe Herbert may earn a permanently relevant role regardless (heck, he’s already outgained Montgomery by 56 yards on 3 fewer touches this season).
Guys to ‘Stache: Perhaps the Seahawks are easing rookie Kenneth Walker III into action (as he recovers from a hernia), or perhaps they just like what they have in Rashaad Penny more. But given Penny’s injury history and Walker’s explosive potential, I’m willing to ‘stache him in deep leagues. If you want to get ahead of the next Herbert or Mattison, I like adding any of Titans RB Hassan Haskins, Panthers RBs D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard and/or Bengals RB Samaje Perine. If Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey or Joe Mixon miss time, these guys would be in line for double-digit touches.
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Pick Up If Available: Robert Woods (77% rostered), Chris Olave (63%), Jakobi Meyers (45%), Michael Gallup (28%)
Disclaimer: I’m not technically allowed to feature Chris Olave, since he’s more than 60% rostered (per the arbitrary rules I’ve applied to myself), but he is an absolute must-add in all formats. Consecutive games with 13 targets, Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry dealing with injury, 23.7 fantasy points in Week 3. Sign. Me. Up.
Doug Pederson and the Jaguars implemented a stellar game plan to score 38 points against the Chargers defense and said game plan apparently featured … Zay Jones. Jones led the team with 11 targets, 10 receptions and 85 yards (including a 14-yard TD). As surprising as it may seem, I’m pretty intrigued by the (likely) No. 2 target on a team averaging 37 pass attempts per game with a young QB who seems to be coming into his own. Jones now has 24 targets through three weeks (more than DeVonta Smith, Michael Thomas and Terry McLaurin, among others), and figures to maintain a productive role moving forward.
We have been closely monitoring the snap counts, targets shares and breakfasts with Aaron Rodgers among the collection of young Packers wideouts and it appears rookie hype-magnet Doubs might be pulling ahead of the pack. Doubs and Allen Lazard (who you should also roster if available) were well ahead of the rest of the Green Bay depth chart in snaps Week 3 — and Doubs turned his team-high eight targets into 21.3 fantasy points (while Lazard had 13.5). Doubs has an extremely trustworthy 87.5% catch rate on the season (granted, with an amusingly safe 4.1 air yards/target) and leads GB WRs in every raw stat. He’s no lock as Aaron’s top dog, but he’s as close as we’ve got for now.
Everything had to go right for Gage to post 24.7 fantasy points in Week 3 (or wrong, if you were hoping to start Mike Evans, Chris Godwin or Julio Jones). Regardless, despite the Breshad Perriman hype and Cole Beasley promotion, it was Gage who snagged a whopping 12 of 13 targets for 87 yards and a last-minute touchdown from Tom Brady on Sunday. We did hear reports of Gage and Brady’s chemistry in the offseason, so this feels relatively reasonable. Just know that Evans is returning from suspension and both Godwin and Jones should return from injury soon.
Marquise Brown stole the show for the Cardinals in Week 3 (finally), but we should not ignore Greg Dortch and his 17 fantasy points on 10 targets. Through three weeks, Dortch is Top 25 among wide receivers in fantasy points (45.8), targets (23), receptions (20) and receiving yards (198). DeAndre Hopkins will return after his 6-game suspension, surely knocking Dortch down a peg on the depth chart, but the 24-year-old has earned our attention for at least three more games (and maybe beyond depending on how much Hopkins shakes things up).
With Hunter Renfrow out in Week 3 (concussion), the Raiders turned to … Mack Hollins. To the tune of eight catches for 158 yards and a score (on 10 targets, the same number as Davante Adams). This didn’t come completely out of nowhere, as Hollins had 8 targets in Week 2 (5 receptions, 66 yards), but let’s be honest: Hollins’ greatest claim to fame prior to Sunday was being the guy we consistently confused for Mike Gesicki when he scored for Miami. Renfrow should be back soon, so this isn’t the highest-priority add, but the Raiders figure to throw quite a lot this year, and Hollins could be in line for a FLEX-able target share rest of season.
Guys to ‘Stache: In the absence of Jakobi Meyers (who I am begging you to add), DeVante Parker had a monster game for the Patriots to the tune of 156 receiving yards. Of course, Mac Jones has also thrown four of his five picks this season targeting Parker downfield, so … you win some, you lose some. Still worth a speculative add. Making a return to this column, Isaiah McKenzie had another nice game in Week 3 for the Bills. When your quarterback is throwing for 400 yards, you can be the third (or fourth) target on the team and still be valuable for fantasy. And with Keenan Allen missing another game, Josh Palmer led the Chargers with nine targets and 99 yards. In deep leagues he’s a worthy FLEX play as long as Allen is out.
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Pick Up If Available: Cole Kmet (38% rostered) as a good backup if needed
Another great Guys-to-‘Stache success, Conklin needed new gloves in Week 3 after all the catches he’s racked up from NFL-pass-attempt-leader Joe Flacco. OK that is a made-up anecdote … but look at the numbers! Conklin has 18 catches this season (for 140 yards and a TD). Only one tight end has more receptions and his name rhymes with Dark Fancrews. Jets QB Zach Wilson should be back soon (maybe next week), which could throw a wrench in these plans, but there aren’t a lot of reliable targets out in New Jersey (yes, the Jets technically play in East Rutherford, now you know). Conklin is a TE1 until further notice.
I’m honestly not sure if Njoku was legally addable between Thursday Night Football and Week 4 waivers, but if so, 83% of leagues actively and intentionally ignored his 24-fantasy-point performance in prime time. In any case, he should be added Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, as we saw clear evidence Thursday of why the Browns handed Njoku a four-year, $57 million extension in May. Are we finally getting the breakout we’ve long expected from the former first-round pick? Time will tell. Get him on your roster in the meantime.
Guys to ‘Stache: After I included Evan Engram in last week’s column, he did exactly what he’s always done — disappoint. Still, the stat sheet doesn’t show Engram’s overturned Week 3 touchdown that took several minutes to review and honestly could have gone either way. That’s all I’ve got. Tight end sucks.
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Pick Up If Available: Carson Wentz (69% rostered), Dak Prescott (59%)
Over Lawrence’s first 16 career games he had multiple passing touchdowns and zero interceptions in a whopping zero games. Not a one. Over his last four games? He’s done it three times. With 18+ fantasy points in each of those three games, capped by a career-high 25.18 on Sunday against the Chargers. It’s still too early to say Lawrence has ascended to the expectations most had of him coming out of Clemson, but at the very least, it looks like Doug Pederson has gotten some improvement out of him. Lawrence draws a tough matchup with the ball-hawking Eagles (ball-eagling?) in Week 4, but after that it’s the Texans, Colts and Giants. Streamable stretch at the very least.
How does one complete 13 passes, throw one TD and one pick and still manage a startable fantasy performance? Spoiler alert: rushing touchdowns are worth six points and Mariota has now scored one in two of his three starts for the Falcons. The upside is definitely limited but the floor is also decent. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Guys to ‘Stache: If you’re desperate, Geno Smith and Ryan Tannehill both had decent fantasy outputs in Week 3 and get decent matchups in Week 4. Given all the QB injuries, you very well might be desperate so … enjoy.
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The Eagles D/ST is an absolute must-add. They now lead the league with 12 sacks and have five takeaways as well … and get the Jaguars in Week 4 (remember, I like Lawrence AFTER next week). The Bears D/ST gets the Giants, Vikings, Commanders and a Patriots team potentially without Mac Jones over the next four weeks. I’m in. The Dolphins D/ST is rostered in the majority of NFL.com leagues, but give them a quick check and add them if they’re available (Bengals and Jets next two weeks). The Browns D/ST is among the best in the league through three weeks and get the Falcons and aforementioned Patriots over the next three weeks (Chargers in between is a toss-up).
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