Well that was bound to happen eventually right? After two weeks of no major injuries to significant fantasy contributors, week 4 came and shook things up in a big way. Derek Carr will be out 2-6 weeks, and I’m not sure you have to hold on to him at this point. It might make some sense for the Raiders to play it safe and keep him out through the teams week 10 bye, where afterwards he gets an easy match up with the Patriots followed by 3 buzz-saws. On the RB front, Chris Carson and Dalvin Cook suffered season ending injuries, devastating for both rookie RB’s who had been impressive so far this season. Both teams will likely look to replace them with a committee approach to start, but Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy, Latavius Murray and Jerrick McKinnon all have experience as every down backs in this league within the last 2 years. Jordan Matthews will also miss significant time with a thumb injury, opening the door for Zay Jones to become the team’s top wideout. I’d still be hesitant to add him however, as he hasn’t exactly shown well at the NFL level yet.
NOTE: Players mentioned will be owned in 40% or less of ESPN leagues. MUST ADD will be a recommended add in all leagues. MAYBE ADD is for those in 12 team leagues or deeper. DEEP ADD is for those in 14+ team leagues.
Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans) – 26.9% OWNED – MUST ADD
Watson did more than enough this weekend to make a case for being a QB1 option for fantasy owners going forward. Even though he’s seen two of the weaker pass defenses in football the past 2 weeks, what he has shown throwing the football can not be debated. Anything he gets on the ground should keep his floor high and help make him startable even in tougher match ups. Although luckily, he only has a few of those left on the schedule, one of which is this week against the Chiefs.
Eli Manning (New York Giants) – 18.5% OWNED – MUST ADD
The return of Odell Beckham has clearly been a game changer for Eli as he followed up a strong week 3 performance with another good one in Tampa this Sunday. As with the next two names on this list, the fact that no such running game exists in this offense means Manning will likely be throwing 35+ times a week and with the weapons around him, that makes him a legitimate back-end QB1. He has a few brutal match ups coming up, but it gets much easier after the teams week 8 bye.
Carson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals) – 17.9% OWNED – MUST ADD
Palmer is in a similar situation as Manning, where he is being asked to throw it as much as possible every week. Palmer however is lacking real weapons outside of Larry Fitzgerald and sometimes John Brown while also having an offensive line that may be even worse than the Giants. Still, he has now thrown for 325+ yards in 3 games since David Johnson went down, and more should be on the way.
Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals) – 15.8% OWNED – MAYBE ADD
The Bengals haven’t found a running game yet, but they have yet to completely give up on it like the Cardinals or Giants. They really can’t afford to, because Daltons not exactly capable of airing it out 40 or so times a game efficiently. He still makes for a streaming option in favorable match ups (weeks 8, 10, 12, 14) and a fine option in two QB leagues.
NOTE: Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy would be must adds in leagues where they are available. Technically speaking, they are owned in 89.2% and 91.6% of ESPN leagues respectively, but I’d imagine one if not both would be available in most competitive leagues.
Latavius Murray (Minnesota Vikings) –20.0% OWNED – MUST ADD
Before we all go crazy and spend tons of FAAB on Murray, let’s just remember a few things here. He is still not at 100% after off-season ankle surgery, and its fair to wonder why its taken so long for him to get healthy. His current situation in the Vikings offense would be considered a downgrade compared to playing in the Raiders offense behind a dominant line last season. Jerick McKinnon should cut into his workload as well, and this thing could possibly turn into an almost 50/50 split, limiting both. All the negatives aside, Murray is definitely the #1 waiver add this week, and I’d be willing to give up to 50% of my FAAB for him if desperate enough for RB help.
Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints) – 20.9% OWNED – MUST ADD
I hope this is the last time Kamara appears on this list, as he is still criminally under appreciated in ESPN leagues. Adrian Peterson is being phased out of the Saints offense completely, making it a two-man committee with Kamara handling a lot of passing down work as well as some change of pace carries. His 10 targets/catches on Sunday should make it clear he needs to be owned in every PPR format and he should still have enough value in standard leagues to be owned in most 10 teamers.
Wendall Smallwood (Philadelphia Eagles) – 15.5% OWNED – MAYBE ADD
As expected, Smallwood took over for Darren Sproles as the teams clear-cut passing down back and out snapped all Eagles RB’s on Sunday. He will lose goal line work to LeGarrette Blount but his work in the passing game should make him a fairly safe flex play in most PPR leagues.
Jerick McKinnon (Minnesota Vikings) – 0.8% OWNED – MAYBE ADD
McKinnon hurt his ankle in Sunday loss to the Lions, which is obviously terrible timing following Dalvin Cooks injury. If he were healthy right now, I might actually prefer him to Murray. In PPR leagues, I still might rather McKinnon anyway as the safer floor option, but Murray still figures to be the goal line back and we know what kind of headaches the likes of Matt Asiata have provided fantasy players in the past.
Wayne Gallman (New York Giants) – 0.2% OWNED – MAYBE ADD
Gallman actually breathed some life into the Giants running game this weekend, totaling 42 yards on 11 carries. Orleans Darkwa should return this week, making the situation a bit murkier, but it’s not out of the question that Gallman can take over this backfield within the next few weeks, making him an upside speculative add.
Alex Collins (Baltimore Ravens) – 0.4% OWNED – MAYBE ADD
If it weren’t for the fumbling concerns, Collins would be a must add this week. He has a history of coughing up the football going back to his college days, so to think the two fumbles so far are just a fluke would be shortsighted. Still, he certainly has shown enough to overtake Buck Allen and Terrance West for good in that backfield and does have 3 down back ability, making him worth a flier in most leagues.
Elijah McGuire (New York Jets) – 0.2% OWNED – MAYBE ADD
McGuire got a chance to earn a bigger role with Matt Forte week to week with a toe injury and took advantage of his opportunity ripping off 93 yards on just 10 carries. Bilal Powell is still ahead of him, but the Jets probably won’t be looking to rush Forte back anytime soon, so McGuire should be in for 10+ touches this weekend at least, with some room to grow if he continues to impress.
Andre Ellington (Arizona Cardinals) – 3.6% OWNED – MAYBE ADD
With no running game in Arizona, the Cardinals seem content passing the ball 70% of the time and using Ellington out of the backfield as an alternative to a running game. His 22 targets over the past 2 games are nothing to take lightly and it proves that he should be able to carve out some consistent PPR value. He should be owned in all PPR formats, but most standard leaguers can look elsewhere on the waiver wire this week.
Aaron Jones (Green Bay Packers) – 2.2% OWNED – MAYBE ADD
Jones was looking like the must add, top priority waiver pick up on Thursday night following the injuries to Ty Montgomery and Jamal Williams. Now that we know both injuries aren’t as serious as expected, Jones is more of a streaming add this week, and he should still be in line to start this weekend before at least one or both of Montgomery and Williams return in week 6.
D’Onta Foreman (Houston Texans) – 7.6% OWNED – MAYBE ADD
Foreman didn’t see a clear-cut split with Lamar Miller his week, but still saw enough carries to be worth considering as a solid bench stash. He now has 10+ touches in 3 straight games, and with the Texans offense actually being productive, there could actually be room for Foremans workload to grow.
J.D. McKissic (Seattle Seahawks) – 0.2% OWNED – DEEP ADD
McKissic has a promising skill set for a passing down back given his receiver background, and flashed some of his potential on Sunday night in the Seahawks blowout win. Seattles backfield situation is probably going to be muddled for a while, but McKissic may be able to return some PPR value for at least as long as CJ Prosise is out. Prosise is supposed to return this week, but he is one of the most injury prone players in the league, so him staying healthy is far from certain.
Will Fuller (Houston Texans) – 8.7% OWNED – MUST ADD
Fuller returned from a broken collarbone this weekend, and showed great chemistry with Deshaun Watson who found him in the endzone twice. Fuller flashed some big play ability last season, to go along with plenty of frustrating drops, but should still be in a better position this season with a legitimate QB under center.
Jaron Brown (Arizona Cardinals) – 3.1% OWNED – MAYBE ADD
Even with John Brown returning to the Cardinals lineup, it was Jaron Brown who ran exclusively as the #2 wideout in Sundays game. It looks like Jaron very well could be the #2 going forward, with John and JJ Nelson working in on 3/4 WR sets only. Ja. Brown now has 29 targets over the past 3 weeks, and should continue to see around 8-10 a game if his role sticks and the Cardinals keep throwing it 70% of the time.
Devin Funchess (Carolina Panthers) – 13.2% OWNED – MAYBE ADD
Funchess has now been targeted 19 times the past two weeks, proving he is definitely the biggest beneficiary of Greg Olsens injury from earlier in the year. Even still, being the #2 option in Carolinas passing game isn’t too exciting in most match ups, and there’s a very good chance week 4 goes down as the best game of his 2017 season.
Cooper Kupp (Los Angeles Rams) – 10.4% OWNED – MAYBE ADD
It looks like it will be difficult to predict what Rams receiver will lead the team in receiving on a weekly basis, but Kupp looks like the favorite in some upcoming match ups against teams that struggle to defend the slot. Against some of these tougher defenses, expect Jared Goff to get rid of the ball quickly and look for his safety valve Kupp.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (Pittsburgh Steelers) – 0.7% OWNED – DEEP ADD
JuJu continues to improve every week, and even though the Steelers offense hasn’t been as good as expected, they have in the past at least provided us with 3 quality receiving options for fantasy purposes. If they ever get going, there could be some value here as the teams slot guy.
Geronimo Allison (Green Bay Packers) – 1.5% OWNED – DEEP ADD
Allison should have streamer appeal this week for those in need of a flex play if Davante Adams can’t play. He still is not the worst WR to stash in deeper formats given the Packers receiving corps significant injury history.
Evan Engram (New York Giants) – 24.2% OWNED – MUST ADD
Engram posted another solid line this weekend, going 6-62 and more importantly, saw 11 targets. Eli clearly trusts him in contested situations and he should continue to be able to post TE1 numbers with how the positions been so hit or miss this season. He needs to be owned in all leagues.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (New York Jets) – 1.3% OWNED – MAYBE ADD
Seferian-Jenkins has now seen 10 targets in his two games back from suspension, and may be becoming Josh McCowns go to option in a passing game that lacks quality receivers. The talent has always been there, and with the Jets offense actually not totally incompetent, Jenkins could find himself as a back-end TE1 the rest of the way. He could also fizzle out and do nothing but I’ll still take a chance on him over a lot of the other TE options around the league.
Cameron Brate (Tampa Bay Bucaneers) – 9.8% OWNED – MAYBE ADD
Even with OJ Howard in the mix, Brate still is very much a big part of the Bucs passing attack and should continue to see plenty of red zone targets. The volume may be down from last season, but his TD potential makes him a solid streaming option or bye week filler for certain weeks.