In many leagues, we're almost a third of the way through the fantasy season. Does that scare you a bit? Makes sense. We're still in that scary, scary place where the NFL leader in receiving yards is only owned in a quarter of ESPN leagues, a rookie QB is leading all fantasy players (and it's not close), and the Bears D/ST has scored more points than any single receiver or running back not named Arian Foster. Simply put, it's a mess out there.
But that mess is easily navigable if you know how to weave around traffic. I like to think of numberFire as the next generation of GPS. Week 4 doesn't have the big names on the waiver wire you might expect, but the pickups should still be there for the savvy fantasy owner looking to make a move.
Top 7 Fantasy Football Waiver Pickups for Week 5
RB Joique Bell - Detroit Lions
Week 4 Fantasy Points: 7
Leagues Owned: 0.8%
The "new big name" running back pickup this week is probably going to be Brandon Bolden. I understand that, he put up big stats last week, and large numbers are pretty. But then you realize most of his stats came in garbage time after Stevan Ridley had already torn the defense apart. And his big day came against a Bills defense that has now allowed 48 points or more in both of their division games. And that he only played five snaps total in the Patriots' week 3 game against the Ravens as the Patriots had their best guys constantly on the field. And that, in that game, Danny Woodhead was the break out star, and he's still around on the roster. All of this is to say, "Meh, I'm skeptical."
So instead, for a new name, I'm going with a guy I consider to be Darren Sproles-lite and an absolute steal in a PPR league: Joique Bell. Just for fun, here is the exhaustive list of NFC North non-QBs who have had at least six fantasy points every single game this season: Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, and Joique Bell. Not what you were expecting? You're not the only one. Opposing teams haven't picked up on it yet, either. Bell has had at least 40 yards receiving in each of the past three games, capped off by a season-high eight targets and a team-high 74 yards this past week against the Vikings. It's been Bell who has spelled Mikel LeShoure since LeShoure came off suspension, and Bell already has one goal-line vulture TD so far this season. In total, Bell is tied with Titus Young for fourth on the team in targets, and the Lions throw the ball around a lot (which I'll explain even more later when it comes to Nate Burleson). The RB wire is extremely weak this week, but Bell should be available if you're really hurting or in a PPR league.
RB Bilal Powell - New York Jets
Week 4 Fantasy Points: 1
Leagues Owned: 5.3%
I wrote about him last week, so I won't dwell on him here. But just throwing it out there: anybody else notice that he was out on the field for 32 snaps on offense this past week, while Shonn Greene struggled again in his 18 snaps? Granted, Powell is the Jets' third-down back, and they were throwing a bit on Sunday. But still, don't be surprised if Powell moves up the depth chart even further for week 5 against the Texans.
WR Brian Hartline - Miami Dolphins
Week 4 Fantasy Points: 31
Leagues Owned: 26.7%
Apparently, having him in each of my past two waiver articles wasn't enough. So here he is. Again. Let's make this as explicitly clear as I can: If Brian Hartline is still available in your league next Sunday, you and your friends should not be allowed to be in a fantasy football league for one year. If I were the commissioner of fantasy sports (and Lord knows I'm trying), I would implement that rule instantly. Hartline leads all players with 455 receiving yards, is one behind the league lead with 48 targets, and remains in third of receivers' fantasy points despite only having one touchdown. In case you thought this past Cardinals' game was a one-week development, quickly realize that he has seen at least eight targets every single week so far this season. I strangely see him as a consistent, low-upside guy; he's consistently getting targets, I'm just not sure how often he'll break out with Ryan Tannehill being Ryan Tannehill. But you can't ignore him any longer, friends.
WR Kendall Wright - Tennessee Titans
Week 4 Fantasy Points: 10
Leagues Owned: 10.6%
So rather than Hartline this week, I'll give Wright the lazy treatment and copy-paste what I said last week about him.
Ignore the two fantasy points against the Lions for a second, and you'll see that Kendall Wright actually led the team with seven receptions and tied with Kenny Britt with 11 targets. That's not out of the ordinary; Wright led the Titans with eight targets in week 2 against the Chargers and caught five passes on six targets week 1 against the Patriots. Especially since it looks like the Titans will be airing the ball out early and often while CJmaybe.4K continues to struggle on the ground, Wright starts to not look half bad. Now only if he could put it all together for one big week... perhaps it's a good thing that after playing Houston this week, the Titans face off against four straight defenses that numberFire has ranked in the bottom half of the league.
Got that? Good, because all Kendall Wright did was go off for a team-leading 46 yards receiving, a team-leading eight targets, and one of two Titans' touchdowns on the day against the Texans. And that easy schedule still looms. Having Locker injured hurts, but Hasselbeck is a highly competent backup. Pull the trigger.
WR Andre Roberts - Arizona Cardinals
Week 4 Fantasy Points: 23
Leagues Owned: 1.8%
Do I fully trust him? No, I don't. Is he still worth the waiver pickup? Yes, he is. Kevin Kolb has a definitive number two option in Arizona behind Larry Fitzgerald, and Andre Roberts is his name. Sure, the stats are pretty. His 118 yards and 2 TDs this week places him as the third-highest scoring receiver in all of fantasy football this week. But those 2 TDs can't be counted on every week; three different Arizona receivers have TD receptions in the team's first four games. I am sold, however, on the targets he's been receiving. This past week, Roberts had nine balls thrown his way, second on the team behind Fitz. That wasn't an outrageous number though; Michael Floyd had eight targets and Early Doucet had seven. The week before, however, Roberts had those two outpaced by far: the six targets he received against the Eagles was 25% of Kolb's throws. In week 1, same deal: his nine targets were second on the Cardinals team. He had an off week 2, but so did everybody on the Cardinals' receiving corps against New England (only Todd Heap had over five targets). More often than not, Roberts has been solid this year. I'd stash him and wait to see if his early season run continues.
WR Nate Burleson - Detroit Lions
Week 4 Fantasy Points: 8
Leagues Owned: 52.0%
I'm violating my own rules here by including Burleson, since he's owned in over half of ESPN leagues. BUT RULES ARE MEANT TO BE BROKEN. OK, maybe that came off as a little harsh. But still, considering Burleson was a common drop candidate each of the past two weeks, this is a semi-friendly reminder that you may want to go ahead and pick him back up. The Lions are throwing the ball over and over, which reared its head again as the Lions threw the ball on 72% of their offensive plays against the Vikings this past week. Of course that's going to benefit Calvin Johnson, and Brandon Pettigrew has grown into an often-start tight end as well. But the guy receiving the looks that may be overlooked is Burleson. He had eight targets this past week, third on the team and only one behind Pettigrew. Because he didn't score a touchdown, you won't see his name at the top of the fantasy point charts... unlike what he did in week 3. Against Tennessee, Burleson put up 14 FP and tied for the team lead in targets with 12. In total, he has 31 targets, which is tied with some big names (Jordy Nelson and Julio Jones anyone?) for 31st in the NFL. Especially with Titus Young floundering, don't sleep on Burelson.
A Quick Note on the Packers' receivers not named Jordy Nelson
I do not trust them. Quick enough? Fine, I'll elaborate. One week you'll have Cobb receive the most targets (this week), another you'll have Jones be the top receiver (week 3), then you'll see Cedric Benson be the team's second-leading receiver (week 2), then Lambeau Field reveals itself to be cursed by Thor and is subsequently returned to Valhalla. Or something like that. Point is, Aaron Rodgers spreads the ball around so much that rather than all of his receivers being good for fantasy, none of his receivers are consistent enough to be good for fantasy. Jones will have his good weeks. So will Cobb. But they'll be headaches more than anything else, because you never know which is coming when.
TE Heath Miller - Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 4 Fantasy Points: BYE
Leagues Owned: 46.7%
Forget about him during the bye week? That was a poor decision. But seeing as how he's still available in over half of ESPN leagues, you'll have a chance to make amends. He currently sits third on the Steelers behind Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace with 20 targets, which is impressive in itself considering that only 13 tight ends had over 20 targets entering week 4 in a very tight end heavy year. But perhaps even more impressive is his catch rate at 75% balls caught. Entering last week, that catch rate was tied with Tony Gonzalez for the highest among all tight ends at that 20 target mark. It's especially paid off for Miller in the red zone. He has half of the Steelers' eight receiving touchdowns this season, which is a big reason why he was tied for third in tight end fantasy points entering week 4. He may have played one less game, but he's a solid option, especially in a week where potential breakout stars like Dennis Pitta and Kyle Rudolph struggled to maintain their high level of play.
Who I would pick up this week, in order (with auction waiver $, assuming a $100 spending limit)
1. Hartline ($7)
2. Powell ($4)
3. Wright ($4)
4. Miller ($3)
5. Roberts ($3)
6. Burleson ($2)
7. Bell ($1)