Week 4 is now officially in the books, and with that, we get into my personal favorite part of the weekly grind: the waiver wire! Whether you play in a league that does standard waiver claims or FAB (free agent bidding), we will highlight players below based off players rostered in 33.3% or less of ESPN leagues. If you happen to play in a 10-team league or smaller, this article will serve more as a "watch list and stash" report, rather than a guide to directly making your top pickups and FAB bids. For a complete list of our waiver rankings with no write-ups, check out our weekly Waiver Wire Rankings page here.
Author's Note: While we don't want to overreact to just a four-week sample size, we do want to jump on the opportunity to improve our rosters as often as humanly possible. We do this through waivers, trades and streaming positions at QB, TE, D/ST and/or Kicker. The ability to drop these positions at the start of the week and make at least one or two additional, speculative adds, can often be the difference in hitting on a league-winner off the waivers and not. It's the owners who stand pat and stay stagnant who often see their fortunes fade down the stretch. That's why it's so important to grind the bottom of your rosters each week and not be afraid to cut players with "household names" who aren't seeing good usage.
Have a specific add/drop question or anything more specific that isn't covered? Hit me up on Twitter @maddjournalist or @betpredators. I will do my best to address each one of you before our first set of claims go through on Tuesday night. Without further adieu, here is our weekly addition of "Hunting The Waiver Wire" below. I will keep this short and sweet, with just one graph or less on each guy:
- Justin Herbert (Roster Percentage - 15.8%): Justin Herbert made the top spot on our waiver wire QB list last week, and the fact his roster percentage increased by only 0.3% from Week 3 to Week 4 is downright laughable. I get it, the Bucs were supposed to be a tough matchup, but they weren't, and that's a testament to Herbert's skillset and maturity in just his first three career NFL starts. The Chargers led nearly end to end on Sunday, holding a 31-21 lead in the fourth quarter, that's until 2020 Tom Brady went full 2010 Tom Brady on the Los Angeles Chargers' defense. Yet I digress. From Weeks 2-4 Herbert ranks fifth in the NFL in passing yards (931), fifth in completion percentage (72.0%) and seventh in yards per attempt (8.7). Two of those three matchups were against the Chiefs and the Bucs, mind you, with a Week 3 matchup against an underrated Carolina secondary sandwiched in between. All this goes to say is that if Herbert can rank 11th in fantasy points per game (27.0) in his first three career starts against these defenses, just imagine what he can do with this upcoming schedule: Saints, Jets, Dolphins, Jaguars, Raiders. It's time to buy all Chargers skill players in your fantasy football leagues before it's too late. Justin Herbert is the real deal, folks.
- Teddy Bridgewater (12.6%): Don't look now, but "Checkdown Teddy" actually ranks sixth in the NFL in passing yards (1,148), eighth in completions (103), tenth in yards per attempt (8.1) and third overall in completion percentage (73.0%) through four weeks. The Carolina Panthers have been surprisingly competitive, too, with back-to-back upset wins over the Chargers and Cardinals over the past two weeks. This all goes to say that Bridgewater is producing solid numbers without even being forced to throw much in negative game scripts. His touchdown expected rate is also lower than average, which means positive regression could be coming his way soon. He sits only 18th overall in fantasy points per game, but the upcoming schedule includes two matchups against the Falcons' putrid secondary, as well as the Saints and Chiefs, over the next six weeks of action. If you're in a deeper league and need a streamer or bye-week replacement, you could do a lot worse than Teddy Bridgewater, especially considering the weapons he has in his arsenal with Anderson, Moore and Davis.
- Kirk Cousins (19.6%): If you remove Cousins' abysmal Week 2 performance against the Colts (11-for-26 for 113 yards, O TD's, 3 INT's), then things aren't looking all that shabby for the Vikings' QB. Cousins, in his other three games, has a solid 6:3 TD to INT ratio and has throw for 250+ in every game. I don't mind throwing out the Colts as an outlier, for now, because of how impressive their defense has looked in 2020 and how much they've forced opponents to slow down on offense. You also can't beat Cousins' upcoming schedule, with juicy matchups against the Seahawks' and Falcons' secondaries in Weeks 5-6. On our Betting Predators NFL Week 4 recap podcast I mentioned how Justin Jefferson's emergence has not only boosted the stock of Adam Thielen, but it has also boosted the floor of Cousins, who now has two viable receiving threats in the Minnesota passing attack. Cousins isn't a sexy pickup by any means, but he has top 10 upside over these next two weeks before a Week 7 bye. Minnesota's (lack of) defense will keep Cousins slinging it early and often as well, especially in needing to keep pace with Wilson's Seahawks in Week 5.
- Honorable Mention: Daniel Jones (28.9%), Nick Foles (16.2%), Jimmy Garappolo (26.2%)
- Deep(er) League Adds: Drew Lock (7.1%) Tua Tagovailoa (6.9%), Tyrod Taylor (1.7%)
- Justin Jackson (Roster Percentage - 9.8%): Another Justin from the Los Angeles Chargers' offense tops yet another waiver wire list here, go figure. I already mentioned the Bolts' upcoming cake schedule: Saints, Jets, Dolphins, Jaguars and Raiders over the next five weeks of football. I also mentioned that it's time to buy all Chargers skill players in your fantasy football leagues before it's too late, and that starts with prioritizing Justin Jackson on your waiver wires for Week 5. I understand that in some leagues you might have Joshua Kelley still out there sitting on waivers, but again, in this article we will only mention players who have roster percentages of 33.3% of less, basically narrowing our focus to players owned in 1/3 or less of leagues on average. I can also tell you that in my seven fantasy leagues, all but two of which are 12-team leagues, Kelley has been owned since Week 1. If Kelley is still out there, I would rank him "slightly" above Jackson here, but not actually by that much. The Chargers want to have a RB by committee approach going forward, just like they did this year with Ekeler/Kelley and just like they did last year with Gordon/Ekeler. Justin Jackson is more of a natural pass catcher than Kelley, and in limited opportunities in both 2019 and 2018, he flashed in a major way. Jackson averaged a ridiculous 6.9 yards per carry in 2019, albeit with limited opportunities, and he also caught 9 of 11 targets thrown his way. If Kelley's fumbling issues continue, we could easily see Jackson take over lead dog duties in this backfield and command north of 60% snaps and touches in a high potent offense with a soft schedule. Don't be afraid to spend nearly as much on Jackson with your waiver bid this week compared to the rookie Kelly.
- Damien Harris (23.1%): I'm guessing Harris will command the highest-priced FAB bids this week - the second-year RB did look mighty impressive in the Patriots-Chiefs Monday Night Football showdown in Week 4, as Harris ran roughshod over the Chiefs to the tune of 17 carries for 100 yards in his first-ever extended action in the NFL. The Alabama rookie also showed impressive burst and tackle-breaking ability. Despite all of this, however, I'm here to tell you - in fact, I'm here to BEG you - do not overspend on Harris this week. Bill Belichick loves nothing more than rotating his RBs, and in case you missed it, Sony Michel could actually be back in three short weeks, leaving a four-headed RB mess with Harris, Michel, Burkhead and White all splitting snaps and touches. If you're desperate for RB depth and can't get your hands on Kelley/Jackson mentioned above, or even a guy like a Chase Edmonds, who at 33.6% ownership just missed the threshold for this article, then I get it. But please do keep in mind that Harris is far from a three-down back, let alone a starting back, in New England. There was a reason why I didn't include Rex Burkhead in this article last week after he scored three touchdowns, and the only reason I'm mentioning Harris here is because he does carry both decent draft capital and the natural talent that Burkhead simply doesn't possess. Just keep your expectations - and your FAB dollars - in check here. There are some coaches we simply can't trust with consistent RB usage in fantasy football, and "The Hoodie" is one of them. I wouldn't go higher than 15% of your budget here, although I'm sure some will spend 35%+. In PPR leagues, Harris' value slides even more. He didn't receive a single target in his MNF debut, and that's likely to remain the same with Burkhead and White dominating the pass-catching role in this Patriots offense.
- D'Ernest Johnson/Dontrell Hilliard (0.4% and 0.1%): I've heard a lot of analyst talk this week about D'Ernest being THE top waiver pickup, but I urge you to take caution here with your bid, just like with Damien Harris above. If/when Kareem Hunt fully recovers from his groin injury I expect him to dominate the snaps in this offense and dominate both the carries and the targets as well. I also expect the Browns to give former Tulane standout Dontrell Hilliard just as much a shot as Johnson to have a role in this offense. Sure, it was Johnson who stood out in Week 4 with 13 carries for 95 yards, but he also didn't receive a target, and in games where the Browns won't have such a positive game script to work with, Johnson's floor could potentially vanish. It was Hilliard who served as the primary third-down back in 2019 before Hunt was activated to the roster, and in that limited role Hilliard still saw multiple targets in his first four games of action, also adding two rushing touchdowns to boot. The FAB dollars this week sure won't show it, but Hilliard has a clear shot at a bigger role in this Browns run-first attack, and if you can get him for a fraction of the cost, the potential value could be immense. Keep in mind also that I'm a University of South Florida alum here, and I would love nothing more than to shamelessly hype up my fellow USF Bulls alumni in D'Ernest Johnson (S/O Bulls Nation!), but I'm keeping my expectations in check and trusting the process here. If Hunt were to ever get banged up and miss time, you would not just see a split between Johnson and Hilliard, with the latter playing the more valuable "Kareem Hunt" third-down PPR role, but it's possible that the run-happy Browns could add a veteran free-agent to the mix.
- Honorable Mention: Duke Johnson (30.9%), Tony Pollard (30.9%), Jamaal Williams (20.4%), Brian Hill (22.5%) Darrell Williams (9.8%), Ke'Shawn Vaughn (4.5%), Travis Homer/DeeJay Dallas (4.1% and 0.7%)
- Deep(er) League Adds: Jordan Wilkins (0.8%), Anthony McFarland (2.9%), Rashaad Penny (2.7%), Eno Benjamin (0.3%), Gus Edwards (2.0%)
- Tim Patrick (Roster Percentage - 1.0%): You know the wide receiver waiver market is thin when my first guy listed here is Utah's own Timothy Patrick. But here me out for a second. The WR1 on any NFL team is a valuable commodity to own on your fantasy roster, and it's why many people were still drafting guys like Courtland Sutton and Jamison Crowder midway through fantasy drafts last month. Even fellow Broncos wideout Jerry Jeudy was going off the board in the mid-to-late rounds, and while he looks good in limited action himself this year, he is too high owned (81.8%) to make this list. It was actually Patrick who led Denver with seven targets in Week 4, and he has seemingly stepped into the Sutton role as both a field-stretching threat and a big-bodied possession type of receiver. Patrick's 6-113-1 line led all Broncos receivers in Week 4 as well, and he's quietly had at least four targets in every single game this season, posting five or more targets in three out of four games. Back-to-back contests with a touchdown isn't bad either, especially when you consider Noah Fant is likely to miss at least a week or two with a high ankle sprain. Patrick's target volume could actually increase yet again, as opposing defenses will likely focus more on containing Jeudy down the field. Patrick appears to be the team's only true safety blanket type of option in the short-to-intermediate areas of the field now, and he has both commanded targets and produced solid stats with the likes of Rypien, Driskel and Lock under center, which no other Broncos receiver can say outside of Jeudy. Although a tough matchup with New England looms, the Broncos follow that up with tasty matchups against the Dolphins, Chiefs, Falcons and Raiders. Patrick is at worst a solid flex option over that stretch, especially if you're in a pinch and dealing with both bye weeks and injuries.
- Alshon Jeffrey/Greg Ward (18.3% and 29.1%): I mentioned Ward on our list here last week, and he followed suit with a team-high seven targets on Sunday Night Football against the 49ers. With Desean Jackson unable to stay healthy for more than one week at a time and Jalen Reagor on the IR mend, I would look to use an IR/bench spot on Jeffrey, who could immediately resume WR1 duties for the Eagles upon his return. Jeffrey is 30 years old and coming off multiple injuries, sure, but he did see at least five targets in all eight of his games played in 2019, with receiving lines of 9-137-1 (16 targets) and 10-76-1 (12 targets) along the way. Carson Wentz is in dire need of a big-bodied, reliable possession receiver to help move the chains, especially with the o-line injuries mounting and Zach Ertz's athletic decline over the last couple of seasons. Jeffrey's return will also boost Ward's value, in my opinion, as they are at least two semi-respectable options that play in two different areas of the field and are solid enough to take defensive attention away from each other. The waivers are very thin at WR, but Jeffrey/Ward are in position to be 1A/1B options on their offense, which is something you simply cannot say about some of the other guys I considered for this list, such as Cole Beasley, Tre'Quan Smith (Michael Thomas is returning soon), Darnell Mooney, Isaiah Ford, Chase Claypool and something called "Olamide Zacchaeus." The Eagles can only get healthier from here on out, right?
- Zach Pascal (3.4%): Pascal was a waiver wire bust in 2019 after he finished the year with just two catches for 16 yards in his final two games. The Colts, however, are now dealing with an aging T.Y. Hilton and two of their top receivers in Michael Pittman Jr. and Parris Campbell both on IR. Pascal enters the equation yet again, and his experience manning the slot could prove to be a fruitful scenario for slot-happy QB Philip Rivers. Pascal garnered a team-high eight targets in Week 4, despite being in a game where the Colts played from ahead and Rivers threw it just 29 times. The Colts will more than likely be pressed to air it out as the season progresses, with tougher matchups upcoming against opposing offenses such as the Browns, Lions, Ravens, Titans (twice), Packers, and Texans (twice) over the next two months. Pascal flashed with Jacoby Brissett under center in 2019, and as much as I believe Phillip Rivers is "washed," he still knows how to check the ball down to his tight ends, slot receivers and running backs.
- Honorable Mention: Scotty Miller (15.4%), Cole Beasley (27.9%), Tre'Quan Smith (28.4%), Randall Cobb (22.4%), Chase Claypool (13.4%), Darnell Mooney (0.9%), Isaiah Ford (0.8%)
- Deep(er) League Adds: Olamide Zacchaeus (0.7%), Jalen Guyton (0.1%), Justin Watson (0.3%), David Moore (1.0%), Gabriel Davis (1.2%), Kenny Stills (1.0%)
- Robert Tonyan (Roster Percentage - 13.3%): Yup, three touchdowns on Monday Night Football will do that to you. Tonyan's stock has now skyrocketed up our waiver lists, ahead of guys like Eric Ebron and Cameron Brate (see below), simply because we cannot ignore five touchdowns in three games. While his TD rate is absolutely going to regress from here, we also can't ignore the fact that Aaron Rodgers is playing like he's in his prime right now, and even when Davante Adams returns, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better TE option on waivers than Tonyan. The former Indiana State standout has seen his targets (3-5-6), catches (2-5-6) and yards (25-50-98) all increase since Week 2, and he's averaging an impressive 13.3 ypc for a tight end. As we know with Rodgers, anytime you make him happy, you're going to get the rock thrown your way, so let's not overthink this one here. If you can stomach a roster spot for a tight end on a bye, with the potential for a top 10 option the rest of the way, then Tonyan is your top TE pickup for Week 5. There's a reason why coaches raved about him during the offseason despite analysts wanting to hype up Jace Sternberger. Tonyan has out-targeted Sternberger 14 to 5 this season, and he shows no signs of slowing down for Green Bay.
- Eric Ebron (33.2%): Ebron made our list here last week, but unfortunately he didn't play due to the COVID-19 scare, and the Steelers wound up getting an early bye week because of it. I'm going to restate my thoughts from last week, as the same process still applies with Ebron, a former first-round draft pick who has always had the athleticism and upside to be an elite-level tight end. While the "elite" part has never materialized consistently throughout his career, he's also never had a QB like Ben Roethlisberger tossing him the rock. Big Ben himself, on the other hand, has never had an athletic tight end with the athletic juice that Ebron still possesses. After a somewhat quite first two weeks, Ebron tied with James Washington in Week 3 with a team-high seven targets and produced a solid 5-52-1 line. As Big Ben and Ebron continue to develop chemistry, the upside and floor will each grow. Ebron's next three matchups look nice too, facing Tennessee, Philadelphia and Cleveland over the next three weeks, all teams that have given up a decent amount of production to the tight end position. He faces stiff competition for targets from JuJu Smith-Schuster, Dionate Johnson, Chase Claypool and James Washington, sure, but he still has the chance to emerge as the team's third option overall for Big Ben. He should definitely be owned in more than 1/3 of leagues right now.
- Cameron Brate (0.2%): The ultimate TD or bust tight end, Brate finds himself on our waiver wire list this week due to OJ Howard's unfortunate season-ending achilles injury. Whether Rob Gronkowski lasts the full season is unknown, and if Gronk ever did get banged up, Brate would be the last-man standing with Brady, which makes him worthy of mentioning here. Brate has just two targets in four games this year, but in 2019 he did see at least three targets in seven of the Bucs' final nine games, including a 10-73 line on 14 targets against the New Orleans Saints. I'm putting Brate here over the Colts guys - Mo Alie Cox, Trey Burton and Jack Doyle - because he simply has a clearer path to TE1 status in his offense. Brate has been a reliable end zone threat over the past couple of seasons, and in this type of tight end market you'd be hard-pressed to find better options outside of a Greg Olsen or Jordan Akins. OJ Howard was TE17 on the season with 9.4 fantasy points per game, and if we can even get two-thirds of that production from Brate, he could be a solid plug-and-play option for deeper leagues or for teams dealing with upcoming bye weeks and injuries to other players.
- Honorable Mention: Greg Olsen (18.9%), Jordan Akins (7.1%), Drew Sample (4.2%)
- Deep(er) League Adds: David Njoku (1.5%), Dan Arnold (0.6%), Darren Fells (0.5%)