This isn’t the most exciting waiver wire week (although there are a few headliners), but as we start getting into the bye weeks, we are going to start needing to find players on the wire that we can immediately plug in for some points. So I’ve tried to keep that in mind for this week, not just going out and looking at these guys who could be super valuable if the right circumstances fall their way, but also, who is in the right circumstances that we are just overlooking because they don’t have a ton of upside? That’s not as big of an issue this week, with only two teams on bye, but it’s certainly something to think more about moving forward.
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Damien Harris, New England Patriots (31% rostership on Yahoo/15% on ESPN)
I’m cautiously optimistic with Damien Harris this week. I know that there are a lot of reasons to be hesitant, he’s a Patriots running back and we know that they are willing to mix it up, Cam Newton missed this game and he’s a large chunk of their rushing volume this year, and this is Harris’s first game of his career with any kind of significant volume. However, the Patriots are a team that want to run the ball, they want to play a defense-first, ball-control type of game, and Harris fits in perfectly with that, and he looked much more dynamic than Sony Michel has all season. Imagine if the Patriots played the way they wanted to play, but with an actually good running back there. Also, Michel is on the IR which will keep him out for at least an additional two games, so there’s plenty of time for Harris to show he’s worth keeping in the feature back role even when Michel comes back. Harris wasn’t involved in the passing game at all, so he has more value in standard leagues than PPR, but he’s going to be valuable either way.
FAAB Budget: 25%+ in standard, 20%+ in PPR
D’Ernest Johnson, Cleveland Browns (4%/0.4%)
I was actually going to lead this section with D’Ernest Johnson initially, as he finds himself in a really tantalizing position here with Nick Chubb set to miss about 6 weeks of action. The Browns are the best rushing team in the NFL, ranking 2nd among all teams in carries, and 1st in yards and rushing touchdowns. Yes, part of that is because the Dallas Cowboys couldn’t stop anything on the ground this week, but they had impressive games on the grounds in each of their first three matchups, including against a tough Baltimore defense in week 1. While Kareem Hunt will certainly be the #1 running back here in Cleveland, they clearly are willing to feature two running backs, and Johnson did outcarry Hunt in Week 4, 13 to 11. I expect the Browns to continue to run the ball down the opposing teams’ throats, and for Johnson to be a big part of that until Chubb returns.
FAAB Budget: 15%
Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals (36%/34%)
I’m going to be completely honest, I’m very surprised that Chase Edmonds isn’t rostered in more leagues already. With Kenyan Drake‘s health in question before the season started, Edmonds was one of the highest value handcuffs, and after Drake struggled in Week 3 I figured more people would be sure to grab Edmonds. So if you didn’t grab him already, go out and get Edmonds now. He was heavily featured in the passing game and Drake has been getting worse and worse as the season goes on. There’s also some question as to Drake’s health, as he left the Cardinals game late on Sunday. If Drake turns out to be injured, Edmonds becomes a top priority pick (above both Harris and Johnson), but even with Drake healthy, Edmonds is a high-value stash as he could easily take over the role within the next few weeks.
FAAB Budget: 30% if Drake is injured, 10% if not
Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers (56%/70%)
Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers (6%/10%)
Okay, I know Joshua Kelley doesn’t belong in this article, but since I’m mentioning Justin Jackson anyway, I just wanted to throw him in there. If Kelley is available, go get him. As for Jackson, so far he’s been the clear odd man out in this running game, as Austin Ekeler and Kelley have been getting all the volume in this backfield. However, after Ekeler left the game against Tampa Bay, Kelley and Jackson split the work about evenly. Kelley has not been all that impressive so far this year, and he’s fumbled in two straight games now, leaving the door open for Jackson to overtake him and become the feature back. I expect both to get work either way, but if Jackson has a big game in Week 5, he could easily be a must-start player while Ekeler is out. I definitely want to take the shot on that upside.
FAAB Budget: 15% for Kelley, 10% for Jackson
Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals (33% rostership on Yahoo/36% on ESPN)
With Joe Burrow slinging the ball every week (and looking good while doing so), there’s definitely room for multiple fantasy-relevant pass catchers, and Tee Higgins has seemingly cemented himself as the #2 guy, leapfrogging A.J. Green and John Ross in the process. He’s had three straight weeks of 6+ targets, and has consistently made himself an open and big target for Burrow. With an average depth of target of 15.7 yards (11th best in the league among players with at least 10 targets), Higgins is getting valuable targets and that will lead to big yardage games. The Bengals do have some tough matchups in the next few weeks, going up against Baltimore and Indianapolis, but I still want to grab Higgins as I think we are seeing the beginning of a breakout.
FAAB Budget: 10-12%
Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars (24%/36%)
This is four straight weeks now of Laviska Shenault Jr. being on this list, and for good reason. He’s shown a dynamic play-making ability and the Jaguars remain committed to involving him in this surprisingly good offense. He’s received at least 5 touches every game, and his targets are trending upward as well. While Gardner Minshew II does spread the ball around, Shenault is still one of their more dangerous weapons and I expect him to break some big plays and big runs here soon, he’s simply too athletic not to. With all the injuries to flex players and the bye weeks coming up, Shenault should be on your radar as a flex fill-in moving forward.
FAAB Budget: 4-6%
Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills (25%/28%)
Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills (2%/1%)
The Bills run 4 wide receiver sets more often than any other team, and it shows with both Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis getting above 50% snap share on the year despite being WR3/WR4 on the depth chart. They are a pass-first team now, and these guys are benefitting heavily from it. Beasley has put up at least 9.8 PPR points in every week this year, and Davis is starting to get more high value targets, with 16.1 yards per target every week. Davis is definitely a stash for now, but Beasley is a great flex option in PPR leagues, especially for teams that are starting to get desperate to find production.
FAAB Budget: 1% for Beasley, 0% for Davis as you can stash him after waivers run
Scotty Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (16%/15%)
I’m hesitant to put Scotty Miller on this list, as the Buccaneers face the Chicago Bears this week who have some of the best cornerbacks in the NFL and have yet to allow a touchdown to an opposing wide receiver, but Tom Brady has definitely developed a chemistry with Miller and was consistently looking his way downfield against the Chargers. However, with Chris Godwin almost certainly not going to be ready by Thursday night, and with O.J. Howard down with an Achilles injury, it’s hard for me not to buy into Miller. You could really go either way here, you can pick him up in the hopes that he and Brady continue to stay connected and he can get plenty of volume against Chicago, or you can wait and if he does poorly, he may end up back on the waiver wire next week, ahead of some easier matchups against the Packers and the Raiders. I can see it going either way here.
FAAB Budget: 4%
Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys (53% rostership on Yahoo/46% on ESPN)
Why is Dalton Schultz still so under-rostered?! You need to go get this guy, as Schultz has the 5th most targets and 6th most receiving yards for any tight end, despite hardly playing in Week 1. Dak Prescott is clearly confident throwing the ball to him, and this Cowboys offense is not only explosive, it’s also likely to be playing from behind every week and throwing the ball as much as possible. Schultz has been on the field over 70% of the snaps in the past three weeks, and he’s clearly going to be an integral part of this offense moving forward. The only TEs I would consistently start over Schultz at this point are the obvious guys (Kelce, Kittle, Waller, Andrews). He’s fought his way into that Zach Ertz, Hunter Henry tier for me now, so unless you have one of those six guys, go get Schultz.
FAAB Budget: 10%
Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers (31%/13%)
It’s a real shame that the Packers are on a bye this week, not only because it hampers the Robert Tonyan hype train, but also because it gives Davante Adams another week to get healthy, and he was already feeling ready to play this past week. When the Packers play again in Week 6, Tonyan may be on the outside looking in as far as this passing attack goes. However, Aaron Rodgers has been playing out of his mind, and with Allen Lazard out and Marquez Valdes-Scantling taking the back seat to Tonyan this past week, there’s still a chance that Tonyan can be a productive #2 in this offense. It’s hard for me to promote adding him as you would have to stash him on your bench for a week and hope that he is still relevant with Adams back, but there’s a lot of teams out there that punted TE in the draft and are still searching for a starter. If you have space on your bench, Tonyan is a great stash for a week.
FAAB Budget: 1% (I wish he didn’t have a bye this week)
Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers (20%/12%)
Teddy Bridgewater has had a bit of an up and down season so far, but his two worst weeks came against great defenses (Tampa Bay, Los Angeles Chargers), and he’s done well against weaker defenses. And it doesn’t get much weaker than against the Atlanta Falcons, who the Panther play in Week 5 and Week 8. Bridgewater has shown he can throw the ball with the best of them when he wants to, and against Atlanta, he’s definitely going to need to throw the ball quite a bit. I like this as a streaming matchup this week and I think there’s some upside for Bridgewater as a low-end starter moving forward.
FAAB Budget: 5% (can go a bit higher if you need to replace Rodgers/Stafford this week)
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (17%/16%)
While Anthony Lynn may not be ready to admit it, Justin Herbert has definitely played his way into deserving the starting spot in Los Angeles, and has looked simply incredible for a rookie. He’s performed well so far, including an impressive game against a tough Tampa Bay defense this past week, and he’s got a great schedule coming up. Of their next five opponents, three of them rank in the top-12 for fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks, and the other two teams are pretty bad defensively too (Las Vegas Raiders, New York Jets). This is about as easy of a schedule as a quarterback can ask for, and I think Herbert has what it takes to take advantage of these matchups. I normally would be a bit concerned that the Chargers will just run the ball more, but with Ekeler out and Kelley being ineffective so far this year, they may lean a bit more on Herbert moving forward.
FAAB Budget: 5%
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