Week 3 is behind us and it did not disappoint. Your studs from Week 1 and 2 may have become Week 3 duds. You may have lost Christian McCaffrey to a hamstring injury. Whatever the reason that brought you here, the waiver wire is the key to success moving forward.
Each week, fantasy football managers learn new things about their starters and even players stashed on their benches. As we progress into the 2021 season, there is clarity on who we can depend on. More importantly, it becomes abundantly clearer who we can cut and who we should be adding to our rosters from the waiver wire.
Below, we’ll look at players at each position, who are on 50% or less of most fantasy football rosters, that could be considered on the Week 4 waiver wire.
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Week 4 Waiver Wire Rankings
Chuba Hubbard, Carolina Panthers
It pains me to announce rookie Chuba Hubbard as the top waiver-wire running back add ahead of Week 4. The main reason he’s here is that the first overall fantasy football draft pick, Christian McCaffrey, suffered a hamstring injury on Thursday Night Football.
Nonetheless, we move forward from injuries and deal with them as best as possible. Whether you lost McCaffrey or not, Hubbard is the most valuable addition at running back to put a claim in for this week. It’s yet to be seen how long CMC will be out for, but Hubbard is an RB2 as long as CMC is sidelined.
Following CMC’s exit on Thursday, Hubbard operated as the lead back, ahead of Royce Freeman, playing 73% of applicable snaps. Furthermore, he saw 22% of Sam Darnold’s target share and ran a route on 72% of the team’s passing plays. The rookie totaled 16 opportunities of 11 carries and five targets, turning it into 52 rushing yards and 27 receiving yards on three receptions.
Hubbard may fit into your starting lineup for only a handful of weeks this year. Even still, his role in this Panthers offense is worth placing your top waiver claim in for. If CMC comes back and struggles with the hammy, Hubbard is the obvious next man up. Just like Panthers’ head coach, Matt Rhule’s wife, I’m telling you to go get Hubbard.
Zach Moss, Buffalo Bills
There may be a chance that Moss is available on your league’s waiver wire. If that’s the case, this will likely be the last opportunity for you to acquire him with a waiver claim. After being a healthy Week 1 scratch, Moss is the PPR RB9 in total points since. He is averaging 16.8 points per game in the last two contests for the Bills.
When Moss was active in Week 2, he played just 22% of the running back snaps in comparison to Devin Singletary’s 66%. However, in Week 3, Moss took over as the snap count leader playing 56% of snaps to Singletary’s 43%.
The Bills offense is ranked fourth in points per game, averaging 31.3 so far. What’s more encouraging about Moss this season so far as opposed to year’s past is his role as a pass-catcher. In 2020, Moss caught just 14 passes in 13 games. So far in 2021, he has five receptions, which is a 16 game pace of 40 total receptions.
If he’s available, put in a waiver claim for the Buffalo Bills’ lead back. He’s the next-best option at running back that could be available aside from Hubbard. Moss will likely hold more value than Hubbard for the entire remainder of the season.
Peyton Barber, Las Vegas Raiders
The 3-0 Raiders have been without starting running back, Josh Jacobs, since Week 2. In that time, it’s been Barber who has taken over as the lead back as opposed to Kenyan Drake. This may still be a shock to some, but two weeks of proof is enough evidence Barber is worth a waiver wire claim this week.
Since Week 2, Barber is the PPR RB17 averaging 13.2 points per game. Drake, who the Raiders gave a notable offseason contract to, is just RB30 in that same span, averaging 9.2 points per game. Barber led the backfield in Week 2 with 13 rushing attempts. He then broke out on Sunday versus the Dolphins logging 23 rushes for 111 yards and one score while adding three catches for 31 yards on five targets.
As for roster percentages, Drake is far and away on more fantasy football teams than Barber with the assumption he would take over for Jacobs in his absence. I expect Barber to be on close to, if not more, rosters than Drake come Wednesday morning when waiver wire claims process. Try to make sure your claim is the successful one.
Giovanni Bernard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers spent most of Sunday attempting to mount a comeback against the Los Angeles Rams. With that said, running back, Giovanni Bernard, rose to the occasion leading all Tampa Bay running backs with 45% of the team’s snaps.
Having to play from behind feeds right into Gio’s skillset. He is one of the league’s best pass-catching running backs and an asset to Tom Brady in come-from-behind game situations. So much so that he led the team with 10 targets. Gio did not carry the ball once but his nine receptions, 51 yards, and a touchdown through the air make him a valuable fantasy football flex asset.
Keep in mind Gio did suffer a mild knee sprain that has him day-to-day in practice. If you’re desperate for production, starting Gio in Brady’s return to New England this Sunday night could be worth it. A waiver claim for Gio is recommended for 12-team or larger PPR leagues, but could be worth stashing for a bit in 10-team leagues.
Other Running Backs to Consider
Kenneth Gainwell continues to see a pass-catching role in Nick Sirianni’s offense. While Gainwell, or any running back really, weren’t used as ball carriers in Week 3, he still recorded four catches for 32 yards on four targets. It wasn’t much, but he continues to dominate snaps over Boston Scott. I would only feel somewhat comfortable playing Gainwell in games where the Eagles will likely fall behind on the scoreboard.
J.D. McKissic refuses to relinquish his role as a pass-catcher just yet. While lead running back, Antonio Gibson, took a short pass 73 yards to the end zone on Sunday, McKissic still sees an equal or better target share. I would only use a waiver wire claim on McKissic in deeper leagues.
Emmanuel Sanders, Buffalo Bills
Sanders is the top wide receiver on the waiver wire ahead of Week 4. His addition to this Buffalo offense led me to believe he was going to steal production from other notable Bills here and there without any sort of consistency for fantasy purposes. Instead, Sanders is making a name for himself on this team and backing it up with points scored.
So far, Sanders has a prominent role in three-wide receiver sets and even led the Bills receivers in snaps in Week 3. For a receiver who is not too far removed from an Achilles tendon rupture, he admittedly looks like the injury never happened. As long as Sanders continues to be on the field in the fourth-most pass heavy offense, I am interested in having him on my bench for weekly flex consideration.
AJ Green/Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals
A few weeks ago, I was writing about Rondale Moore and Christian Kirk in this column. Now, I’m back to let you know that AJ Green is, in fact, “a thing” in Arizona. In fact, he’s playing the second-most snaps among all Cardinals wide receivers. With a steady six targets in each of the first three games, Green is a fine option on the waiver wire with Kyler Murray throwing him the ball.
Christian Kirk is third in snaps amongst the wide receivers and likely pushes Rondale Moore off of a few fantasy football rosters in the next few days. Kirk has either over 100 yards receiving or scored in two of three games this season. His floor is becoming increasingly safe and would cement itself as such if he saw more snaps than Green at any point moving forward.
Henry Ruggs, Las Vegas Raiders
Speaking of pass-heavy, the Raiders are second in passing attempts so far in 2021. In fact, four Raiders pass-catchers are on pace for 1,000 receiving yard seasons. Ruggs leads the way with 237 receiving yards.
Raiders quarterback, Derek Carr, is playing his best football. He leads the NFL in completions of 20 or more yards with 12. Carr is averaging 45 pass attempts per game, as well as 401 passing yards and two touchdowns each game.
Henry Ruggs is a young, speedy receiver. With all of the above said, you could do a lot worse at wide receiver, especially bench spots, than Henry Ruggs.
Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos
For once being buried on this Broncos roster, Patrick will finally see an increase in playing time at wide receiver, by default. Unfortunately, an uptick in his snaps is at the expense of Jerry Jeudy’s extended injury timeline as well as newly reported KJ Hamler’s torn ACL.
Nonetheless, Patrick is worth using a waiver claim on especially in deeper leagues. While he’s never eclipsed 742 yards, he did have 79 targets through 15 games last season and scored six touchdowns. If you miss out on the top running backs or other wide receivers of your choice, Patrick is worth taking a flier on and hoping for weekly Flex numbers.
Other Wide Receivers to Consider
Zach Pascal is a player I often forget about until I see a highlight of him scoring a touchdown. Up until Sunday, he had done just that scoring three total times in the first two games. Sunday’s performance against the Titans was disappointing, in comparison, but he still saw seven targets. With a Week 14 Bye, Pascal is a player worth grabbing off of the waiver wire for those in need in the coming weeks.
Rashod Bateman is soon eligible to return to the Ravens off of the IR and is practicing. This add from the waiver wire is merely speculative. In a perfect world, Bateman slides into Baltimore’s offense and acts as Lamar’s number one receiver for the rest of the season. Even in a less perfect world, Bateman is talented enough to carve out a role with high potential from playing with Lamar.
Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills
If you’re looking to the waiver wire for a tight end, Dawson Knox is a name to consider putting in a claim for. With the number of weapons available to Josh Allen in Buffalo, it’s conceivable that Knox slips into irrelevancy for periods at a time this season. On the flip side, he is currently very relevant as the TE7 and that cannot go ignored.
Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns
As long as Jarvis Landry is on the Injured Reserve, Austin Hooper carries some value in the Browns’ passing attack. He’s not even averaging four targets but has value in the red zone. Hooper scored his first touchdown of the 2021 season on Sunday versus a gassed Chicago Bears defense. Like many at tight end, you’re probably hoping for a touchdown if you start Hooper, but he’s a good bet more than others to get it done.
Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys
Up until probably last night’s massacre against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys’ tight end to roster, if any, was Blake Jarwin. Instead, it was Dalton Schultz who lit up Philly on prime time. With just one less target in Week 3 (7) than Week 1 and 2 combined (8), Schultz turned them into six catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns. This Cowboys offense is crowded, but if you’re desperate, Schultz is almost guaranteed to be available on your waiver wire.
Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers
Through three weeks, Darnold is the QB12 in fantasy football, but hardly on anyone’s roster. Putting in a waiver wire claim is mostly for the deeper or Two-QB leagues in desperate need of a weekly streamer. Yes, Darnold’s schedule from Weeks 1 to 3 was favorable, but Week 4 could be, as well. Even with how badly the Eagles’ offense struggled against Dallas on Monday Night, Jalen Hurts still racked up 22.5 fantasy points. Darnold has better weapons on a better offense and can do the same in Week 4.
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