Week 4's here and there's some more injuries to address. Guys like Rex Burkhead and Jimmy Garapolo faced serious injuries that'll keep them out for a while at two valuable positions. The NFL season is long and unforgiving, so let's look at who may be banged up heading into week 4 and some possible replacements that you can find on your waiver wire this week.
OUT: JIMMY GARAPPOLO
Marcus Mariota - Tennessee Titans
Here's the thing, Marcus Mariota isn't great when he is healthy, so I wouldn't even consider him a start worthy with a healthy elbow. Mike Vrabel said "there's some throws [Mariota] still can't make", and if we're being honest, I'm not sure the injury has anything to do with this. Fantasy wise, he hasn't been relevant in almost two years. He finished better than QB14 five times in 2017, and I don't have confidence he can do this half as many times this year. He's going to continue showing up on this article until he's healthy, and you'll hear the same thing from me every week: there's a ton of better options you can find on the wire. Disregard MM until we see something out of him, firstly, health.
Aaron Rodgers - Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers put up a decent game last week, despite losing to the Redskins. He made some good throws, but still looks hobbled on that knee of his. What should be noted, though, is he's reportedly going to get some practice reps in Thursday, which is a definite improvement from weeks past, where he's been held out to rest his injury. Because he's showing improvement, I have less worry about ARod being held back by his knee, keeping him in that top-3 weekly QB play. This week is no different, facing the Bills. Sure, they locked up Kirk Cousins last week, but in Lambeau, you should have no worry playing him as an elite QB1.
WAIVER WIRE REPLACEMENTS
Andy Dalton (56%) - Cincinnati Bengals
Matchup: @ Atlanta Falcons
This may be one of the more obvious plays this week. Dalton's posted 8 scores over these past 3 weeks and should continue this run against Atlanta. The past two weeks, the Falcons gave up 3 passing touchdowns to both Drew Brees and Cam Newton. Sure, both are better than Dalton, but they are playing without either of the safeties they entered the season with along with missing Deion Jones in the middle of their defense. Gio Bernard should do well in the passing game, as the Falcons have shown they can't slow down a pass catching back, and if A.J. Green plays, guys like Tyler Eifert and Tyler Boyd will be able to get open in space. Overall, this matchup is too good to pass up on, and Dalton, averaging the 10th most fantasy points per game, should be seen as a QB1 in week 4.
Joe Flacco (22%) - Baltimore Ravens
Matchup: @ Pittsburgh Steelers
If you notice a trend here, it's that you should play quarterbacks in good matchups. The Ravens finally got Flacco a receiving core and he's producing at a level good enough to make him the QB14 this year, finishing as a QB1 twice this year. Now, he's facing a Steelers team who has given up 10 passing scores in 3 weeks, along with 934 yards. Flacco isn't afraid to throw the ball, and the Raven's have the 4th most pass attempts per game. The Steelers, at home, should be able to score, making this a potential shootout. If it comes down to this, Flacco will put John Brown, Michael Crabtree, and Willie Snead to use, and should finish as a fringe QB1 this week, available in almost 4/5 leagues.
Case Keenum (26%) - Denver Broncos
Matchup: Kansas City Chiefs
After looking great week 1, Case has really cooled off. Despite this, he gets probably the best matchup this week. I don't like him as much as Flacco or the other guys listed because I'm not convinced he's as talented as them, but his matchup alone should present value. The Chiefs have allowed the most passing yards this year (1127) and 3rd most passing touchdowns (8). With Emanuel Sanders, Philip Lindsay, DT, and Courtland Sutton, Keenum certainly has the weapons to produce. In a divisional game in a primetime slot, Mahomes will want to show the world what he's capable of, and if that's the case (Keenum), then the Broncos will need to throw the ball. Facing KC, throwing the ball is a great option, and with his weapons, should be looked into as a fringe QB1. I'd recommend the other guys listed in this section first, but if you're in a tough spot and Keenum's the only guy available, I definitely wouldn't feel bad about throwing him into my lineup.
Ryan Tannehill (21%) - Miami Dolphins
Matchup: @ New England Patriots
The year is 2018. The Dolphins are 3-0, the Pats are 1-2, and Ryan Tannehill looks good. The Dolphins may not have any elite receivers, but they have so many players with different skillsets that complement eachother so well that it keeps the defense on their toes. Even though the Dolphins run the fewest pass plays per game, Tannehill has finished as the QB7 and QB13 over the past two weeks, showing his newfound efficiency. Heading into Foxborough, the Pats will be looking for a win, so I expect their offense to rebound from their awful performance against the Lions. If the Pats score, the Dolphins will need to catch up, and New England's pass D has looked far from stellar. If Tannehill continues his efficiency and is forced to throw, he should prove to be a solid value off waivers. If you're in a deeper league and need a spot start at the position, look no further than the Miami man, available in 79% of Yahoo leagues.
OUT: DEVONTA FREEMAN, REX BURKHEAD, JOE MIXON
Jay Ajayi - Philadelphia Eagles
Ajayi is considered a game-time decision this week, and I wouldn't be comfortable starting him for a couple of reasons. Obviously, the first concern is his back. He was held out last week and has been held out of practice so far this week. The later in the week it gets without practicing, the less likely it is for the player to suit up on Sunday. My second concern is also how the coaching staff deploys its runningbacks. Last week, many people thought Corey Clement would dominate backfield touches, yet Wendell Smallwood saw 10 carries and Josh Adams, who was recently promoted, got 6 totes. Even if Ajayi returns, he won't get the 15+ touches he'd need to provide value. I'd avoid him this week and wait until he's closer to 100% to play him.
LeSean McCoy - Buffalo Bills
McCoy is practicing this week, but is doing so in a non-contact jersey. Despite this, he's persistent, saying he'll suit up this week against the Packers. Despite this, I'm not sure how much I trust McCoy here. Sure, the Packers haven't been good defensively and the Bills look to have found some improvement in pivoting to Josh Allen, but with his rib injury, I'm not sure he'll be anywhere near 100%. Last year, Ty Montgomery suffered a rib injury, returned a few weeks later, and reinjured them right away. McCoy has only sat out one week, and although his injury isn't as serious as Montgomery's was last year, he has a strong chance of reinjury if he sustains a big hit. I'm no doctor, nowhere close, but I'd bet if you had ribs that weren't fully healed, and you get piled on by a couple 300 pound lineman, it may cause serious discomfort. Even if he suits up, I'm not sure he makes it through all four quarters, making him no more than a low FLEX option this week.
Leonard Fournette - Jacksonville Jaguars
For those of you who took Fournette round one, I'm sorry for your loss. He's missed two games thus far, and it isn't looking promising that he suits up this Sunday. He's practicing on a limited basis this week, but did the same just a week ago before sitting against the Titans. Even if he does play, I don't think he'll get the volume he'd normally see without an injury. A hamstring injury usually lingers, and if this is the case, I wouldn't expect the Jags to rush him into anything, especially when they have guys like T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant at their disposal. If he's a go on Sunday, he's more of an RB2, rather than the RB1 you drafted him as.
Matt Breida - San Francisco 49ers
Damn have the 9ers been unlucky. Garappolo and Mckinnon were both lost to ACL injuries, and last Sunday, it looked like Breida was going to head down that same path after sustaining a non-contact knee injury. He returned later in the game, ripping off a few more big runs, showing it was not nearly as serious as it looked. Even though it wasn't as serious as a torn ACL, it's kept him out of practice this week, which isn't a good sign. Now, with C.J. Beathard at the helm, this offense will regress, and with this injury, I'm not sure I'd put Breida in my lineup with any confidence. Sure, his target share will likely increase with Beathard throwing the ball, but in his first week starting, combined with Breida's injury, I'm not feeling that combination. If you don't need to start him, I wouldn't. He's in the RB3 conversation this week, and until he returns to full health, he should stay around that mark.
Chris Carson - Seattle Seahawks
I'm not concerned about this one. Even sustaining a hip injury week 3, Carson saw 34 touches, 32 of which came on the ground against a fairly stout Cowboys' defense. He's been limited in practice, but him seeing that many touches and finishing off the game is a good sign. Rashaad Penny seems to be the clear number two here, and with Doug Baldwin coming back this week, the offense should be a little more balanced, keeping defenses honest. Carson should be an RB2 from here on out as long as his volume continues. I don't expect 30+ touches a game, but around the 20 mark is reasonable, which is a number very few players get. His volume alone gives him value, and his skill adds to this. Against the Cards, have confidence in him as a strong RB2 play.
WAIVER WIRE OPTIONS
Similar to last week, there aren't many runningbacks available in over 40% of leagues that provide value in week 4. If McCoy is out, Chris Ivory (27%), isn't a bad option against Green Bay solely for the volume he's likely to get. If Dalvin sits today, Latavius Murray (49%) provides much of the same value as Ivory. He faces a strong Rams defense, but he should see enough volume to be a back-end RB2 this week. Lastly, T.J. Yeldon (48%) should be a RB2 if Fournette isn't good to go. His pass catching ability gives him more valuable than Ivory and Murray and should be looked into this week.
Because I don't have any strong waiver wire plays, I'll suggest a few guys who are available in 80% or greater leagues who could be valuable going forward.
Last week, I suggested picking up Ronald Jones (19%) thinking he'd get some run against the Steelers. Well, he once again was a healthy scratch, but that's bound to change sometime soon. Barber once again didn't show enough to prove he's worth the volume he's been getting. The Bucs offense has looked spectacular, and if Jones is given a chance, he will have the opportunity to become the RB1 in Tampa. I also think Nick Chubb (20%) is a sneaky pickup. Sure, he didn't look great in preseason or with the few touches he's seen thus far, but the volume Hyde is seeing is ridiculous, and if he goes down, Chubb is next in line. Even though Hyde played all 16 games last season, he missed 12 games through 2 seasons (2015-16). If he goes down, which isn't out of the question, Chubb should see enough volume to become a RB2, especially with the talent he showed as Georgia, rushing for 1300 yards and 15 tuddies splitting the backfield with Sony Michel. Lastly, D'Onta Foreman (5%) has the potential to be a league winner. He's currently on the PUP list, but has a chance to return week 7. When he finally started getting work in 2017, he looked great, which is a huge improvement to what they're getting out of Lamar Miller currently. The only thing that would hold him back is that his injury was a ruptured Achilles, an injury very few return from. If you have a deep bench or an IR spot, I recommend stashing him, and if he can return to his pre-injury form, could be a huge value this season.
OUT: NONE (WHO ARE NOTABLE)
A.J. Green - Cincinnati Bengals
It was beginning to look like Green would miss Sunday's matchup against the Falcons, but after putting in a full session Thursday, he looks good to go. Green has stated he feels great and should be available Sunday, which should give you confidence in firing him up this week. His matchup this week is one of the best a receiver can get, facing a banged up Falcons secondary in what should be a shootout. With Tyler Boyd and Tyler Eifert showing they aren't statues, and Gio Bernard doing work out of the backfield, the defense won't be able to solely focus on Green. With Green healthy, in a great matchup that should be a shootout, hes a solid WR1 play this week, looking to continue his production this year.
Keenan Allen - LA Chargers
Keenan got banged up Sunday, limping off the field after sustaining a knee injury. He did return, but hasn't practiced this week, which isn't a great sign. Anytime a player limps off with a knee injury, especially one who has suffered an injury to their knee in the past, it should be monitored. If he doesn't practice for the rest of this week, or is limited Friday, I'm not sure Allen would play. With Garapolo going down, the Chargers should have more than enough offensively without Keenan to get the win. The Chargers are known for losing valuable players to injury, and I don't think they'll rush him back if they don't need to. With that being said, if he does suit up, then I'd have confidence that he's near 100%, making him a WR1 in his matchup with the 9ers.
JuJu Smith-Schuster - Pittsburgh Steelers
JuJu hasn't practiced this week, but reports are saying it's nothing serious. There's not much to say here, JuJu is a matchup-proof WR2, right on the WR1 borderline, and playing the Ravens, who haven't been able to stop slot WRs this year, he should be a WR1 play this week. I'd monitor this "injury", but I doubt it's anything serious. If you have JJSS, he's an every week play, one who you shouldn't think twice about.
Doug Baldwin - Seattle Seahawks
Boy am I happy. I LOVE Doug Baldwin, and for some time, it looked like we weren't going to see him for a while. He entered the season with a knee that he admitted was around 80%, which scared people off, yet he clarified he has never truly been 100% his whole life. He hasn't missed a game (before this year) since 2013, so the "injured" knee he entered the season with shouldn't be much of a concern. As for this year's injury, his sprained MCL had a 2-4 week recovery timetable, but there wasn't much word of him returning until this week, where he practiced on a limited basis Wednesday. This is a huge upgrade for Baldwin, who has been dropped/sold low in tons of leagues. This week, I wouldn't start him, though, as it's his first game back from his injury and I'd rather be a week late than a week early. If he's on your waivers, PICK HIM UP, and if you can, try to acquire him from one of your league mates cheap, as he has serious high-end WR2 upside this year being Russell Wilson's proven favorite target.
Alshon Jeffery - Philadelphia Eagles
Alshon went from practicing in full Wednesday to being a DNP Thursday. This could be for two reasons: one, it was a rest day, or two, he felt pain in his shoulder. I'm not a Philly beat reporter and I can't read Alshon's mind, so I'd recommend just monitoring his statues throughout the week. If he's out Friday, he's likely not playing Sunday. If he does suit up, he's in the same boat as Baldwin for me. I'm not going to risk placing him in my starting lineup in his first game back from injury. He may be on a snapcount, and in a matchup against the Titans, he likely won't be needed, and therefore, won't be thrown into a heavy workload.
Josh Gordon - New England Patriots
Last week, the Patriots had absolutely nothing going for them offensively. They looked slow, stagnant, and lost. Dorsett got hurt and Hogan hasn't been able to take over the WR1 job in New England. Even Gronkowski hasn't done much over the past two weeks and their best pass catcher, a times, has looked like James White, a runningback. With their offensive struggles, I think the Pats will try to get Gordon out there as soon as possible. This week, he's practiced both Wednesday and Thursday, which is a good sign for him. He has over a week under his belt with the Pats, and if he's healthy, I'm sure he'll suit up this Sunday. He may not be fully familiar with the playbook, but he should log a few snaps. Despite this, I'm not playing him in any format. Firstly, he may be on a snap count, meaning his volume won't be anywhere near where it needs to be for him to return value. Secondly, he's facing the Dolphins, who have been great against opposing WR1's, namely because of cornerback Xavien Howard. Howard locked up Brandin Cooks last year, a role which Gordon should overtake once he suits up. Because of matchup, injury concerns, and limited time with the team, I have no confidence starting him this week.
WAIVER WIRE OPTIONS
Antonio Callaway (35%) - Cleveland Browns
Matchup: @ Oakland Raiders
Last week, Callaway saw 10 targets, which turned into 4 receptions for 20 yards. Just looking at his numbers, you'd think he had an awful game, but it was actually Tyrod Taylor who was mostly responsible for this. Tyrod missed him on two separate occasions, both of which Callaway had around 3-5 yards of separation on 40+ yard bombs downfield. In both cases, Taylor underthrew him. If he had connected on both chances, he would have been well over 100 yards and 2 scores. It wasn't all Taylor's fault though, as after Mayfield entered, Callaway dropped a pass down the sideline, put right on the money. Despite this, Callaway has the speed and finesse to win over the top and in the intermediate parts of the field, and if Baker can continue to look as good as he did last week, he should be in the WR3 conversation. Facing the Raiders, Callaway is a top-36 option in week 4.
Geronimo Allison (42%) - Green Bay Packers
Matchup: Buffalo Bills
Through 3 weeks, Geronimo has put up at least 64 yards in every matchup, scoring in two of them. Davante Adams being the Packers' #1 bodes well for him this week, as they face the Bills. Tre'Davious White, who held Stefon Diggs to 4/17/0, will be on Adams, giving Allison a much easier time on the opposite side of the field. Allison is nowhere near Thielen in terms of talent, but against the Bills last week, he saw 19 targets, which is in the cards for Geronimo is White locks up Adams. I'm not saying you should expect Rodgers to throw Allison's way 20 times this week, but if he commands 10 targets, which isn't unlikely, he should return value as a FLEX play this week.
OUT: EVAN ENGRAM, DELANIE WALKER, GREG OLSEN
Jack Doyle - Indianapolis Colts
For the second week in a row, Doyle isn't practicing with a hip injury. He sat out Sunday, and is looking to be on the same track this week. There isn't much to say here, as it looks unlikely he suits up. If he does, I wouldn't consider starting him, as he would likely be on a pitch count playing behind Eric Ebron.
Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots)/Jimmy Graham (Green Bay Packers)
Both are listed as "questionable" after logging limited sessions this week. Despite this, there should be no fear in firing up both at TE1's as it's reported that both are limited for maintenance reasons.
WAIVER WIRE OPTIONS
Ricky Seals-Jones (22%) - Arizona Cardinals
Matchup: Seattle Seahawks
The tight end position is beginning to dry up with injuries to Delanie Walker, Greg Olsen, Evan Engram, and Jack Doyle, all of which were TE1's entering the year. Because of this, RSJ may sneak into your lineup this week. Last week, he had his fewest targets of the season, 3, but scored on a 35 yarder early in the game. Through his first 2 games, he commanded 6 targets in both contests, and should see similar volume this week, as Rookie Josh Rosen should look for a security blanket underneath in his first NFL start. Against the Seahawks, as well, RSJ finds himself in a solid matchup. Seattle gave up 5/47 to Geoff Swaim (on 7 targets) and a score to Trey Burton the week prior. RSJ isn't a traditional TE1, but with all the injuries to the position, he finds himself in this conversation this week. Available in 78% of leagues, I wouldn't feel terrible firing him up in my lineup, especially in deeper leagues, where the position is so thin.
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