When I first started thinking about today’s wire, it was early Sunday afternoon. My thought process was mostly about how to steer fantasy GMs towards filling in the holes that would be left by the first bye week of the season. The big concern would be Le’Veon Bell and to a lesser extent, the San Francisco running backs.
Pretty standard stuff, right?
Sadly, as we say in the NFL, Sunday happened. By Monday, I knew this would be a heavily scoured waiver wire—because the number one pick in most fantasy drafts went down. Saquon Barkley (4-8 weeks, ankle) will miss at least a month and probably a good deal more. Those who drafted him will not have his services until circa Week 10. That’s the Melvin Gordon return window or thereabouts. If the Barkley teams get lucky, they might have him back by Week 8 or 9, but this is still a potential death blow.
Making matters a bit worse are the Giants themselves. The only viable backup is the less than inspiring Wayne Gallman. In fairness, it’s a pretty long leap from Barkley to most any backup runner, but Gallman is just a guy by most standards. The Giants will probably add another back soon, so we probably have an eventual committee here. So Gallman could be fools gold—looking like a good volume play today, but being part of a RBBC by week’s end.
As I mentioned, the Jets and 49ers are on their byes this week.
The first update should start at about 3pm.
Daniel Jones, Giants
Jones was impressive in his debut and as I mentioned up top, he lost his best weapon (Saquon Barkley) in the first half of first NFL start. The good news is that Jones rallied his team anyway, and we saw some of the things I liked when I broke down his college game tape. The big detail is his mobility, which is undersold in a lot of places. Jones can be a fantasy asset in deeper formats, and during the bye weeks for those of us in smaller ones. Of all the new quarterbacks taking over gigs, Jones has the most fantasy appeal and is the most stable. After all, he’s not keeping a seat warm here. He’s the new starter—maybe for a long time. Without Barkley, Jones will not be a weekly savior for your team, but he has some very playable matchups. Home versus Washington this week is solid as is their Week 7 tilt at home versus the fast-paced Cardinals. He also gets the Lions Week 8 and the Jets Week 10. Not bad for backup purposes, depending on your starter’s bye weeks.
Jacoby Brissett, Colts
As I said on the pod and over the last few weeks, he’s been playing well. It’s really just a question of how much they can open up the offense. If he’s without Hilton this week, that will lower his ceiling but against Oakland he’s still viable. Brissett looks like a guy you can start on most weeks. He’s been good and the schedule is very good.
Gardner Minshew, Jaguars
He’s played well and there’s nothing scary about his upcoming schedule, which includes dates with the Broncos, Panthers, Bengals, Jets and Texans. Solid stuff. He only has one bad matchup during the byes and that’s his Week 6 tilt with the Saints.
Kyle Allen, Panthers
Gets the Texans this week, so that works fine and with the news that Cam could be out for a month or more. The matchups over the next month are workabl but not great. He gets the Jags next week and then the surging Bucs–both games at home. The bye hits Week 7.
Andy Dalton, Bengals
He had a forgettable Week 3, but he has some solid matchups on his schedule, so I’d look at when you need a backup, because this offense looks good when they can find some time to throw. His Week 5 matchup at home versus the Cardinals is super choice.
Wayne Gallman, Giants
Gallman is an easy one to write up. He’s an average back who can play all downs. That helps if you play in full PPR scoring. He should be a solid asset as a fill-in guy. The problem, as I said earlier, is that he may get bumped into a shared role by whomever they add this week. So in that sense, we’re not sure what we’re buying here. There’s no doubt that Gallman is the best short term RB option available on most waiver wires this week. The question I have is, am I better off just adding the next guy for less of my FAAB budget?
Ronald Jones, Bucs
He did it again. He only played 23 snaps. However, he touched the football 15 times, so we know they like him as an explosive asset. The question is, can they get him up-to-speed to the point where they can keep him on the field more? That’s the friction point here. Jones has the potential to be a strong weekly starter in any format if he can just carve out the time. Bruce Arians is a smart coach. He knows he needs to get Jones on the field more. I think he eventually finds a path forward, where Jones is playing more than 50 percent of the snaps, and once we get there, we’ll have ourselves a solid RB2. My advice is to stash Jones in leagues where you have adequate bench space. As things stand, he’s a risky starter, but he’s viable if you need him, and, he could have a lot more value than Gallman over the rest of the schedule.
Darrel Williams, Chiefs
Yet another tricky player to evaluate as a free agent. Williams is a talent I’ve spoken about often, and he was finally given a real shot last week. He performed well but he was running in Damien Williams’ place and Damien will return at some point, perhaps even this week. So, unless you are a team that has Damien as well, there is some risk in pinning our Week 4 hopes on Darrel. This could change later today, if we get more exact details on Damien’s status, so keep your head on the proverbial swivel here. If Damien remains out, Darrel is a nice flex option. Now for the big picture. Darrel is a Chief and as I said, I already had this guy rostered all over the joint because I play in a lot of exceedingly deep leagues. It’s time to consider just stashing him everywhere whether you need him this week or not. All KC backs must be owned is now a mantra. That includes Darwin Thompson in 12-team leagues.
Alexander Mattison, Vikings
He had himself a game in Week 3, but you know this is not about that. Still, 58 rushing yards and a score is nothing to sneeze at. Mattison can be played in deeper formats as a stand alone flex, but his real value is as a stash who could be a monster if Dalvin Cook misses any time.
Chris Thompson, Washington
He posted another 79 yards receiving and four more receptions. Thompson will continue to give you this type of production for as long as he lasts. Sadly, he’s never had a long run of good health. Who knows. Maybe we get lucky this year. He’s got a tasty matchup with the Giants this week. He’s still owned in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues.
Rex Burkhead, Patriots
Rex is intriguing, because we have to extrapolate the Patriots decision-making (always a dicey move) in the wake of James Develin’s neck injury and subsequent trip to the IR. There are those who feel that Develin’s injury will set off a chain of events—leading the Patriots to play significantly less “21 personnel” where you have two wide receivers, a tight end and a fullback. Patriots fans are certainly familiar with this grouping and so are fantasy players, who’d cringe every time Develin vultured a touchdown from Sony Michel. This is sort of ironic in that many think Develin’s injury will cost Michel even more touchdowns. Further complicating the calculus is FB Jakob Johnson, who played for the Stuttgart Scorpions of the German Football League after playing at Tennessee. He came to the Patriots as part of the NFL’s International Pathway Program. His story is pretty remarkable and you’ll undoubtedly be reading about it soon if you haven’t already. So, do the Patriots move Johnson into Develin’s role? Does it take time? Will they just play more “11 personnel”? That would mean more receivers on the field and no fullback, and that would logically lead to more Rex Burkhead and James White. My guess is that it changes little as far as how much the Patriots run. They can use Jakob Johnson, sure, but there are other ways to get lead blockers involved. So that was a long windup to say that I’m less enthused about Burkhead as a long range fantasy value. He can certainly help you in bigger formats, but I see the Patriots revolving backfield continuing to revolve. The Develin injury is not a skeleton key. C’mon, we’re talking about Bill Belichick here. Expect the unexpected.
Jaylen Samuels, Steelers
He didn’t record a touch last week but I wouldn’t worry about that much. Samuels’ value is as a stash play and when you look at how James Conner has played, he may not even need an injury. The Steelers are going to HAVE to throw more this year and Samuels is an outstanding receiving back. I think he’s better than Conner straight up. Not kidding.
Justin Jackson, Chargers
He’s a must-add for Ekeler owners in deep leagues and he’s a guy you can play in deep leagues as a bye week replacement, so maybe add him now so you don’t need to overpay for him later.
Tony Pollard, Cowboys
Just like with Mattison, Pollard can post big numbers if given the chance. We can debate whether Pollard is a spcial talent or just a guy Dallas likes. The bottom line is that the takeaway s the same. You want the player. Now Zeke has been durable while Dalvin Cook has been dinged, so the stand-alone value with Mattison is a bit higher.
Raheem Mostert & Jeff Wilson, 49ers
How you value them is up to you. Clealrly, both have some appeal if Tevin Coleman is out, but this in the 49ers bye week, sp Coleman has a weel to make it back and take away our juice. I’d call that about a 50/50 proposition. So act accordingly. You may want to move on from these guys now to land a player with more upside over the rest of the season or for a player you can use this week. Then again, you may play in a deep enough league, like I do, where you’ll never cut these guys because they produce when called upon. Know your league.
C.J. Prosise, Seahawks
The talent is still there. Whether he ever gets a real shot again is another story, but we have some stuff going on in Seattle that makes me wonder. As you know, I have never been a huge Chris Carson guy. I respect the way he plays the game and I begrudgingly moved him up my board all summer long, because I knew he had the gig in Seattle. Now we have to wonder if he can keep said gig, and not suprisingly, I’m buying on the other side. I like the idea of adding Rashaad Penny on the cheap while he’s dinged up and I like the idea of adding Prosise in deep formats right now. Penny’s ownership rate in getting low, by the way. He’s at 62% so not yet in this space, but take a look just in case. He’s a priority add right now. Carson has fumbled too much in too short a time. Teams are now gunning for him and we’ve seen how this can go. If it continues, Pete Carroll may have to go another way. This could happen as soon as this week … or not at all, but in really large formats, I’m getting ahead of the game if I can.
Brian Hill, Falcons
He’ll get some run this week assuming Ito Smith sits out. Smith is currently in concussion protocol.
Mecole Hardman, Chiefs
He’s still available in 51% percent of Yahoo leagues. I missed that little detail when I was recording this morning. He’s a great add if you can swing it. Top of the list if he’s there. Any working piece of the KC offense should be owned. Demarcus Robinson is the same deal, but his rate is up at about 70%, so probably not going to be there for you. Both guys make nice WR3s this week and every week until Tyreek Hill’s return. Courtland Sutton is another receiver who is near the 50% mark, who should be owned everywhere.
DJ Chark, Jaguars
His snap rate has held steady—never dipping below 70 percent in any game, so Chark is establishing himself as a regular in Jacksonville’s rotation. Even better, the Jaguars have some accurate passers in the fold, which is a huge upgrade from Blake Bortles. Both Gardner Minshew and Nick Foles (he could return late in the season) throw the ball on time and with accuracy. That’s huge for Chark, who is not great with his hands, and prefers to use his frame on most catches. He’s a big play guy and his usage suggests that he can be your WR3 or flex option on most weeks, unless something changes. Add him now and ride the wave.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Packers
He’s been dumped in way too many leagues, so check his status. There is no way that this guy should be unowned in any league. Things will start to heat up soon. Green Bay has played in tough matchups for the most part and MVS has still been somewhat productive. His matchup with the Eagles this week is sneaky awesome, and, after Dallas in Week 5, the Pack plays a very friendly schedule through the rest of the fantasy regular season. Go get this guy.
Parris Campbell, Colts
Campbell could play a lot this week with T.Y. Hilton (quad) dinged up. His snaps rose after Hilton went down in the first half. He gets the Raiders so there’s some potential if he’s a starter. Still, the real value for Campbell is as a stash because he is incredibly talented and explosive. The Colts are 2-1 and have dreams of competeing. It won’t happen unless they weaponize their prized rookie. I like to get in early rather than pay late, so I’ve rostered Cambell everywhere I can. He was up to 45% of the snaps last week. He’s geting close to viability. If Hilton stays (or gets) healthy, I think we’re still a week or two away, but if he sits, who knows what might happen–Parris could explode this weekend.
Deebo Samuel, 49ers
He didn’t make the big play in Week 3, but his playing time went up a notch from Week 2. Samuel has some special traits and I think we’ll start seeing them more and more consistently. His hands and routes are very good, he just needs to get the whole scheme down. I’m adding him anywhere I can, BUT, beware of his bye, which is this week.
Golden Tate, Giants
Tate will miss one more game, but when he gets back, he’s going to hit the ground running. With Saquon out, the Giants have to become a pass-first team for a while and Tate will be knee-deep in that. Add him now in all PPR leagues and large non-PPR leagues. This is a no-brainer.
Phillip Dorsett, Patriots
The ejection of Antonio Brown paves the way for Dorsett’s return to fantasy relevance. Dorsett has really settled into the Patriots’ system over the last year or so—becoming comfortable with all the nuances and being where he needs to be when he needs to be there. Tom Brady has obviously noticed, because he’s been targeting Dorsett more frequently and oftentimes in scoring situations. This gives Dorsett weekly flex appeal in 12-team leagues and it should last all season long.
Diontae Johnson, Steelers
As I said on the podcast, he was their most explosive player after Juju. With the team’s aDOT falling, at least for now, explosivity will be held at a premium. Look for Diontae’s role to grow. He’s the guy I want in Pittsburgh. Adding James Washington has merit too, but if I have to choose, I am taking Diontae.
Preston Williams & Davate Parker, Dolphins
They are similar players playing the exact same amount of snaps which is pretty much all of them at this point. They both have similar weekly upside and they are both heavily limited by the talent surrounding them, not to mention the team’s seeming inclination to lose all of their games. So who to add? I’d say go with either one, but with Preston Williams, you have a player that they may want to develop. That could give him an edge. Williams also seems to have forged a connection with new QB, Josh Rosen. I’ll lean to Williams, but both are solid depth guys for the bye weeks. Upside is lacking because Dolphins.
Kenny Stills, Texans
He seemingly has passed Keke Coutee on the depth chart, but you never really know. Ci=outee is a very talented guy himself, but for now, in deeper leagues, we can probably play Stills as a WR3 in plus matchups.
Nelson Agholor, Eagles
DeSean Jackson will miss Week 4, so even with Alshon Jeffrey returning, Agholor should have a good run. He’s playable as a WR3 so hold onto him or add him if he’s dropped. If you are looking for space for a long term add, Agholor is droppable in smaller formats. He should be back to being a depth player once jackson returns.
Cole Beasley, Bills
He had 8 receptions on 10 targets in Week 3, so his role is only getting bigger as we move through the season. He’s settling in and getting to know Josh Allen. I’d be adding Beasley in all PPR leagues at this point.
Adam Humphries, Titans
He’s always a coach’s favorite and it seems to be happening again. Humphries is nothing special but he’s pretty good at the game and makes plays consistently from the slot. For as long as he occupies that slot turf, he’s a startable commodity in 12-team PPR leagues. His playing time in the middle is hurting AJ Brown’s seasonal appeal. Brown is still a solid deep league stash, but it will be hard for him to hit unless he gets a taste of the inside too. This is something I’ll be watching in the coming weeks.
Devin Smith, Cowboys
He’s still the guy running in Michael Gallup’s spot and though he did not do a ton last week, consider the circumstances. How much did we think Dallas was going to throw on Miami? They’ll need him more over the next 2-3 games. After that, Gallup should be back.
Ted Ginn, Saints
He’s viable over the next few weeks with Tre’Quan Smith out. Ginn’s always unpredictable, but the Saints HAVE NO OTHER WIDEOUTS after Michael Thomas. It’s just Ginn and Austin Carr, who has yet to be targeted. So, in a deep league, if you are desperate, Ginn’s a guy to consider.
Auden Tate, Bengals
In super deep formats, this could be something. Tate could be a decent fit in the Bengals new Rams-like scheme. He’s a tough player at the catch point and he’s got good instincts. What he lacks is even a hint of sudden-ness. He’s not quick from a stopped position. He can do good things once he’s built some momentum and this scheme can be helpful in that sense. He played 89% of the snaps in Week 3 and it looks like that could continue until AJ Green’s eventual return. I’d be adding him in 14-team leagues and even some deeper 12-teamers. He could be useful during the bye weeks.
Anthony Miller, Bears
He’s going to get dropped in some bigger leagues and I will scoop him up where I can. He’s been hurt and this offense has been broken. If they iron things out and he gets fully healthy (should be soon), this is a guy who can do volume work. Keep an eye on him in all PPR leagues. If he starts to simmer, add him preemptively.
Andy Isabella, Cardinals
Michael Crabtree’s release could open things up for the youngers receivers and while Damiere Byrd played tons of snaps, he hasn’t exactly lit things up. There’s playing time and targets available in Arizona. In deeper PPR leagues, if Isabella gets cut or is out there, now could be a good to stash him. KeeSean Johnson is also solid add, but my preference for ceiling is Isabella.
Will Dissly, Seahawks
As I said last week, Dissly’s ACL injury kept him off the fantasy radar, but like Cooper Kupp, Dissly is showing no signs if being behind the curve. In fact, he’s moving very well and thriving when used as a receiver. He’s clearly the Seahawks’ lead dog, having led the tight ends in snaps every week, but what’s even more encouraging is the way his involvement has increased each game—peaking in Week 3, with 7 targets (a career high) for six receptions and a touchdown. Based on his talent, the mentioned trends and Seattle’s lack of depth at receiver, Dissly is a must-add right now if you need tight end help.
Chris Herndon, Jets
We’re more than halfway there. Herndon was handed a four-game DUI-related suspension back in July. The Jets have a Week 4 bye, which makes Herndon’s return date Week 6. If you can find a way to stash him for two weeks, you’ll have yourself a weekly starter at some point and perhaps right away. The Jets need places to throw the ball and Herndon is a favorite of Sam Darnold’s. I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t fantasy viable upon his return.
Dawson Knox, Bills
He’s been playing a steady role for the Bills, all year (above 50% snap rate every week), but his involvement in the passing game is growing. He clearly has a solid connection with Josh Allen and I think more big plays are on the way. I like Knox as an add in deep leagues and he may be worth a look if you are in need in some mid-sized formats as well. Know is a good tight end all-around but he can do a lot offensively if asked. He’s s good fit for a strong-armed guy like Allen.
Vernon Davis, Washington
Jordan Reed is not near to returning and hopefully he will retire, because he’s taken enough hits at this point, and he’s had too many concussions. Davis should start for a while and perhaps for the rest of the year. And, while he’s no longer a super freak, he’s still freaky at times. He can start for you in deep formats and desperate situations.
Jordan Akins, Texans
This guy is underrated and he could easily take over the TE gig in Houston at some point. The irony of Week 3, for Akins, is that while his snaps dipped to their lowest level on the season (45%), he had his biggest game. It’s just a coincidence, but what we’ve seen this year is that they get Akin involved every week. He’s not some stud in waiting and he’s not going to become a top three option in the Texan’s pass game, but for fantasy, he’s worth a look in league with 12 or more teams, as a backup or bye replacement.
Demetrius Harris, Browns
He’s a bit of a JAG, but with Njoku out for a while, there’s opportunity here. They have a stud RB and Odell Beckham, so tight ends can really eat in the red zone with tons of free releases and single coverage. Harris played 90% of the snaps, so he the guy to own. He scored a touchdown on 2 targets.