With Christian McCaffrey looking at what could be multiple weeks out with a hamstring injury, fantasy managers are scrambling to fill the void left by their number one pick. Last week it was Dalvin Cook managers. Weeks 3 and 4 have not been kind to the 1.01 and 1.02 in most leagues. After Mike Davis filled in admirably for CMC in 2020, Chuba Hubbard gets the call and will be the top add in all formats. If you already had Hubbard rostered, congrats on winning the lottery.
Percentages are based on Yahoo! leagues.
Chuba Hubbard, Carolina (26% rostered)
Let’s not overthink this. When Mike Davis filled in for Christian McCaffrey in 2020, he started 12 games and finished as the overall RB15. The Panthers moved on from Davis to their new backup in Chuba Hubbard in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Hubbard has shown he can carry a full workload; in his 2019 breakout season at Oklahoma State, Hubbard averaged 25 carries per game and went for over 2,000 yards.
In Week 4, Hubbard was in for almost 80% of the offensive snaps after CMC left the game with a hamstring injury. If the injury lingers, we could be treated to the Chuba Hubbard show for multiple weeks. Carolina decided not to put McCaffrey on the short-term IR, which is positive news for CMC managers and lowers the ceiling on what I’m willing to spend to sign Hubbard. But if you’re desperate, go get him. It’s why we have free agent budgets and waiver priority and all that good stuff.
Bid: $35-40, but could go for more.
Peyton Barber, Las Vegas (7%)
Hey, I’m as surprised as you are. I laughed when Jon Gruden said Peyton Barber was his lead back heading into Week 2. It didn’t matter too much then, but he meant it. Peyton Barber turned 23 carries into 111 yards and a touchdown, adding 31 yards from 3 catches to his Week 3 tally. It was an impressive showing that makes Barber an unlikely add and eviscerates Kenyan Drake’s standalone value. Josh Jacobs continues to deal with an ankle injury, so Barber has short-term value as an add. It’s another temporary placeholder (we think), but the opportunity is there.
J.D. McKissic, Washington (39%)
With a poor showing in Week 3, J.D. McKissic is going to be available in a lot of leagues. I won’t be investing a waiver bid for Smooches this week, but the fact that he is still taking pass-catching work from Antonio Gibson means he has potential standalone flex value in some matchups and in full-PPR leagues.
Dart throws, stashes: J.J. Taylor (1%), Gio Bernard (16%)
Potential drops: Ronald Jones (70%), Mark Ingram (50%), Kenyan Drake (81%)
Emmanuel Sanders, Buffalo (26% rostered)
Emmanuel Sanders was a stash pick heading into Week 2 after being on the field for 93% of Buffalo’s offensive snaps, then took a step back in Week 2. Josh Allen and the Bills passing attack was looking rusty. But the fantasy points finally caught up with the advanced stats in Week 3, as Sanders caught 5 of 6 targets for 94 yards and 2 scores. Sanders is averaging 115 air yards per game and has turned into Buffalo’s favorite deep threat:
— AJ Passman (@AjPassman) September 27, 2021
Now that Josh Allen seems to be back on track, Stefon Diggs is certainly due for a bounceback. Diggs, who is no stranger to a career reinvigoration in Buffalo, will still lead the Bills in targets this season, but the opportunities are going to be there in a high-powered Buffalo offense. Need more convincing? The Bills schedule for the next six weeks: Houston, Kansas City, Tennessee, Miami (who the Bills just smashed 35-0), Jacksonville, and the Jets. Sign me up.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay (10%)
The offense in Green Bay flows through Davante Adams, no doubt about it. But with Aaron Rodgers heating up and Robert Tonyan failing to reproduce his 2020 performances, there’s an opening for a second receiver or deep-threat option for the Packers. There will be some uneven performances, but I like Marquez Valdes-Scantling as a consolation prize if you miss out on Emmanuel Sanders.
Curtis Samuel, Washington (34%)
After signing a three-year, $34.5 million contract to join the Washington Football Team this offseason, big things are expected of Curtis Samuel. Ron Rivera clearly liked what he saw in Samuel when he was head coach of the Panthers. And it’s not without logic: Samuel should be an excellent complement to his former Ohio State teammate Terry McLaurin. It’s like a family reunion. Samuel is eligible to be activated from injured reserve, and Dyami Brown hasn’t done enough to really threaten Samuel’s role in the offense. Expect some rust, but Taylor Heinicke has looked good enough to provide support for more than one fantasy receiver in Washington.
Tim Patrick, Denver (23%)
Will this be the week Tim Patrick gets snapped up by a majority of fantasy managers? I didn’t think so, because he never does. He continues to bring solid flex value, and he could become more valuable in the coming weeks, especially if Jerry Jeudy doesn’t immediately come back from injured reserve once eligible. KJ Hamler’s season-ending ACL injury further opens things up for Patrick, as the Broncos are rapidly running out of healthy pass-catchers.
Others: Hunter Renfrow (11%) is a safe floor option in what looks to be a competent Raiders offense. I still like Terrace Marshall (14%) as a stash in Carolina, after Marshall was the #2 receiver for Sam Darnold in Houston, especially as Christian McCaffrey’s injury vacates some underneath routes for Marshall. I’m keeping an eye on Marquez Callaway (37%) and A.J. Green (15%) before jumping back in with either of them. Finally, don’t look now, but Josh Gordon is back! Gordon just signed with the Chiefs, who have not been able to find a wide receiver to consistently line up alongside Tyreek Hill. If Gordon still has juice and can get up to speed, he could contribute to Kansas City’s attack. If your fantasy team is in good shape, Gordon is a worthwhile stash, just in case. Or maybe I’ve been watching too much of Marvel’s What If?
Potential Drops: Elijah Moore (28%), Levishka Shenault (64%), Nelson Agholor (44%)
Evan Engram, New York Giants (39% rostered)
In his first game back from injury, Evan Engram saw 6 targets. With Sterling Shepard, Kenny Golladay, and Darius Slayton all at less than 100%, we could see lots of more of Evan Engram. If he can stay on the field.
Others: Pat Freiermuth (8%) still looks promising, and the receiver room for the Raiders is banged up. Tyler Conklin (4%) has played 72% of offensive snaps and by has far the most routes run in Minnesota. Dawson Knox (10%) is seeing red zone targets from Josh Allen, and Hunter Henry (46%) seems to have permanently passed Jonnu Smith in New England.
Drop: Adam Trautman, Juwan Johnson, Jonnu Smith
Note: I don’t recommend spending FAB on quarterbacks, outside of the deepest leagues and Superflex. If you’re in either of those formats or just streaming the position, make sure these quarterbacks are rostered:
Sam Darnold, Carolina (22%) @ Dallas
#letSamcook? Sam Darnold has looked like a different quarterback post-Gase, and he gets a great matchup at home against the beatable Dallas defense in Week 4.
Taylor Heinicke, Washington (6%) @ Atlanta
He might be better for fantasy than for wins, but fantasy is what we’re concerned with. Atlanta isn’t a daunting opponent for a visiting quarterback, and I think Taylor Heinicke can have success in Atlanta in Week 4.
Justin Fields, Chicago (57%) vs. Detroit
Justin Fields did not look good in Week 3. He either has a get-right spot in Week 4, or he’ll be exposed again. Stash him on your bench just in case it’s the former.
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