Three weeks of data may not seem like much, but in the context of a 13-week regular season for most leagues, time is not a luxury that fantasy managers can afford. There’s no glory in hanging on to players who have been collecting dust at the end of your bench since draft day if you can’t see them producing in your lineup in a best-case scenario. Focus on stashing skilled backups with the potential to yield flex-or-better numbers if the starter goes down as well as talented young players whose role could grow throughout the season as they learn the ropes. A learning curve should always be expected for young players early in the season, especially in a year with an abbreviated training camp and no preseason. Here are a few ascending rookies and wily vets that I feel can make an impact in your lineup for Week 4.
* Players marked with an asterisk below can also be found in the priority waiver wire adds article referenced at the end. All players below are under 65%-owned as of 9/30/20.
*Carlos Hyde (RB, Seattle Seahawks)
This is almost becoming an annual tradition. Carlos Hyde gets signed to a team as a backup, the starter goes down for multiple weeks, and Hyde comes in for clean-up duty to help out fantasy teams for a little while. With Chris Carson (knee sprain) likely to miss Week 4 and possibly more, Hyde finds himself atop the depth chart as part of a prolific Seahawks offense. Although Seattle has pivoted to be more of a pass-happy team behind MVP-candidate Russell Wilson, Week 4’s contest against the Dolphins doesn’t appear to be a matchup where they will need to score in bunches to keep pace. If the Seahawks control the lead throughout the game as expected, Hyde becomes the primary beneficiary. His career 4.1 yards-per-carry doesn’t lend itself to many big plays, but he has always been a grinder who falls forward for positive gains and should produce a nice floor for your team this week in the neighborhood of 15+ touches. Still widely available, Hyde is a really solid option for any RB-needy teams.
Joshua Kelley (RB, Los Angeles Chargers)
Checking in between 60-65%-owned in ESPN and Yahoo leagues, this may be the only time I’m able to include Kelley among streaming candidates. Results have been somewhat of a mixed bag so far as he averaged over five yards-per-carry in Weeks 1 and 3, but just 2.8 yards-per-carry in Week 2; his highest-usage week so far (23 carries for 64 yards against the Chiefs). The Chargers (+7) are projected to finish within a touchdown of the Bucs this week in what looks to be a tight matchup most of the way. This is good news for Kelley, who is likely to be utilized more in neutral-to-positive game scripts. I expect the talented rookie to complement Austin Ekeler well against a Tampa Bay defense that has given up three scores on the ground so far this season.
Other names to consider: Jeff Wilson Jr, Malcolm Brown, Latavius Murray, Rex Burkhead, Philip Lindsay (stash), Sony Michel, Nyheim Hines, Frank Gore
*Justin Jefferson (WR, Minnesota Vikings)
Barely sneaking into eligibility for this article at roughly 63%-owned (ESPN and Yahoo), Jefferson is this week’s top streamer at WR. This is one of those “pick him up while you still can” situations, as I see Jefferson helping you out not only for this week, but potentially the rest of the season as long as he remains near the forefront of the Vikings’ passing attack. Jefferson is averaging a healthy 8.6 yards after catch per reception (5th in NFL), a welcome sign for the Vikings after Stefon Diggs’ departure. The vaunted Minnesota defense of the past few seasons is no longer a thing after losing so many playmakers in the offseason, leading to what I believe will be more shootouts in 2020. The fact that Jefferson was able to produce such lofty totals in Week 3 (seven catches on nine targets for 175 yards and a TD) despite Dalvin Cook rushing for 181 yards is surely a positive sign that the 22nd-overall draft pick’s arrow is pointing up.
*Laviska Shenault Jr. (WR, Jacksonville Jaguars)
Although Shenault is listed as a WR, he’s a multi-dimensional Swiss Army knife in the Jaguars’ offensive game plan. His touches aren’t quite where you’d like for them to be just yet (14 total targets and eight total carries thus far), but the rookie figures to see his role expand as the season progresses and can produce in a variety of ways. Week 4 should be a competitive game against the Bengals with neither team projected to run away with it, so I think Shenault will be involved throughout. It’s understandable if your risk-tolerance leads you to starting a more “predictable” veteran player, but if you’re the type to chase “fun” players with potential to grow throughout the season, Shenault fits the bill.
Other names to consider: Russell Gage, Brandon Aiyuk, Preston Williams, Keelan Cole, Golden Tate, N’Keal Harry, Tre’Quan Smith, Tee Higgins, Greg Ward, Cole Beasley, Anthony Miller, Mike Williams, Zach Pascal
Jimmy Graham (TE, Chicago Bears)
Graham has lost much of the burst that made him such a special talent early in his career, but he hasn’t shrunk as far as I can tell (listed at 6’7”, 260lbs) and has been one of the Bears’ go-to receiving options near the end zone. With seven targets inside the 20-yard-line (2nd) and five targets inside the 10 (1st), Graham profiles as the type of tight end you target when it comes to streamers. The Colts are allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing TEs so far this season and Graham isn’t likely to rack up many receiving yards, so this is far from a must-start, but it’s very likely that he will be force-fed targets whenever the Bears approach paydirt. He’s as good a bet as any other TE to score each week.
Other names to consider: Dalton Schultz, Logan Thomas, Mo Alie-Cox, O.J. Howard, Chris Herndon
Accountability is everything, so here’s a quick look back at last week’s recommendations
Mike Davis (RB, Carolina Panthers): Fantasy teams won’t mistake Davis for Christian McCaffrey as he fills in for the injured stud, but he provided reassurance that his workload is secure and, somewhat surprisingly, that he will have a role in the passing game. Davis turned in a modest 14 carries for 47 yards (3.4 yards-per-carry) while doing most of his damage through the air with eight catches for 45 yards and a TD reception. Teams that were fortunate enough to scoop up Davis last week should feel good about starting him for however long McCaffrey is out of action.
Jerick McKinnon (RB, San Francisco 49ers): In McKinnon’s first crack as the lead man in San Francisco’s backfield, he accounted for 77 all-purpose yards on 17 touches (14 carries, three receptions) and one score. McKinnon finding the end zone for the third-straight week was good news for teams with him on their roster. The bad news is that he didn’t make it out unscathed and enters Week 4 questionable with bruised ribs. Keep an eye on his injury status as well as his counterparts in the dinged-up 49ers backfield.
Russell Gage (WR, Atlanta Falcons): We will grade this one as “incomplete” since Gage was ruled out with a head injury early on in Week 3’s contest against the Bears. Gage finished with two catches (three targets) for 26 yards and was sorely missed as the primary option on short and intermediate throws. Chicago’s pass rush put a lot of pressure on Matt Ryan, which could have led to a lot of quick throws to the reliable Gage. Keep him rostered even if Julio Jones (hamstring) returns this week.
N’Keal Harry (WR, New England Patriots): Although he remains one of the primary targets in the Patriots’ passing attack, game flow did not favor Harry on Sunday as New England went run-heavy and never had any real urgency to air it out. He finished with two receptions (four targets) for 34 yards along with one rush for two yards. Look for Harry to be much more involved against the Chiefs next week; a game that will likely put more pressure on the Patriots to keep pace with Kansas City’s high-octane offense.
Golden Tate (WR, New York Giants): Although he lacks the ceiling of weekly WR1/WR2, Tate (five catches, seven targets, 36 yards in Week 3) should continue to be a safe floor-play in PPR leagues as long as Sterling Shepard is out with a toe injury. He’s a trusted receiving option for QB Daniel Jones and should haul in a handful of catches each week, though we should temper expectations given his low average depth of target.
Dalton Schultz (TE, Dallas Cowboys): Schultz’s Week 3 performance was neither bust nor boom as he produced a decent four catches (six targets) for 48 yards. The majority of tight ends can really leave you hanging when they don’t score TDs, but I think this is about what you can expect from Schultz on weeks he doesn’t find the end zone; not great, not terrible, and could be much worse given the dearth of options out there in the free agency pool. Keep him in your lineup unless you’re fortunate to have one of the must-start options at TE.
Make sure to check out Myles Nelson’s priority waiver wire adds article every Tuesday for more insights on who you should be submitting claims for heading into each Wednesday. Good luck in Week 4!
(Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire)