10 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Targets Heading Into Week 5
Week 4 is nearly in the books with only the Monday Night Football contest yet to be played. It was the first week in which teams had byes. Now that we've hit bye weeks, gamers must balance stashing players with upside and rostering players with the short term in mind.
This week's suggested waiver wire targets primarily feature players who can help gamers now and in the near future. Having said that, there is a forward-thinking stash suggestion at running back and a tight end returning from suspension who are both touted with long-term thinking in mind. Only one suggested player below has an ownership rate north of 40 percent, and just two more eclipse a 30 percent ownership mark. As a whole, the 10 waiver wire add suggestions are a widely available group.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Yahoo Ownership: 35%
Entering Week 4, the Cincinnati Bengals were tied for second in pass attempts. The 0-3 Bengals were blown out in only one of those games, and they lost the other two games by a combined five points. In other words, their high rank in pass attempts isn't simply the product of playing catch up. In fact, when trailing or leading by 10 points this year, the Bengals have attempted 36 runs and thrown the ball 85 times.
Andy Dalton has benefited from new head coach Zac Taylor infusing life into Cincinnati's offense. Dalton entered Week 4 ranked second in pass attempts (129) and passing yards (979), and he tossed 5 passing touchdowns compared to 3 interceptions.
The volume is luscious, and it drives Dalton's fantasy value. However, he also has some tasty -- or potentially tasty -- matchups on the horizon, starting with facing the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5 at Cincinnati.
The pace should be electric for that contest with the Cardinals ranking first in pace and first in situation neutral pace through three games, per Football Outsiders. The Bengals are pushing the pace, too, ranking 6th in pace and 13th in situation neutral pace. Through three games, we ranked the Cardinals as the seventh-worst pass defense. Between the uptempo pace and the soft matchup, Dalton should eat in Week 5.
He could also have staying power after that with the Ravens, Jaguars, and Rams on tap before their Week 9 bye, as none of those teams stand out as elite pass defense units.
Gardner Minshew, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Yahoo Ownership: 14%
The stage continues to not be too big for rookie Gardner Minshew. The Jacksonville Jaguars' sixth-round pick has tossed multiple touchdown passes in three of four games (7 touchdown passes overall), taken care of the football with only 1 lost fumble and 1 interception, completed a whopping 69.4 percent of his passes, and even added 82 rushing yards.
The Jaguars aren't asking too much of Minshew, though, which does limit his ceiling. He's attempted fewer than 35 passes in all four games played, and the Jaguars are playing at the slowest pace and slowest situation neutral pace.
Minshew could get a shot in the arm in Week 5, however, facing a Panthers squad that was second in pace and ninth in situation neutral pace through three games. Additionally, his floor could get a pick-me-up with the Panthers having yielded the third-most rushing yards (78) to quarterbacks through three games, according to Pro-Football-Reference. They held Deshaun Watson to only 12 rushing yards on three carries, but Watson did score a rushing touchdown.
Minshew could get a similar floor boost in Week 6 against the Saints. Through the first three weeks, New Orleans had ceded the second-most rushing yards (89) and an NFL-high four rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks. They had an impressive defensive showing at home, holding the Cowboys to only 10 points in the Sunday Night Football contest, but we ranked them as the ninth-worst pass defense prior to that stout showing.
After that, the Jaguars travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals. As I noted in Dalton's write-up, they're playing at a top-10 pace and above-average situation neutral pace. Furthermore, through three games, we ranked the Bengals as the 13th-worst pass defense.
Minshew looks the part of a top-20 fantasy quarterback each of the next three weeks, making him a viable plug-and-play option for teams in need of short-term quarterback help.
Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Yahoo Ownership: 43%
Ronald Jones is worth using a top waiver claim on or spending a significant chunk of FAAB to secure.
Jones dominated the backfield work for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their Week 4 shootout with the Rams. He carried the ball 19 times for 70 rushing yards and a touchdown compared to 9 carries for 19 rushing yards and a touchdown for Peyton Barber. The second-year back also hauled in his only target for 12 receiving yards. His day could have been bigger, too, if not for penalties wiping out some long gains.
#Bucs RB Ronald Jones has now had about 75 yards in breakaway runs called back today.
— Roy Cummings (@RCummingsFHCN) September 29, 2019
Jones has been much better than Barber this year, rushing for 234 yards on only 50 carries compared to just 182 rushing yards on 53 carries for the veteran plodder. Jones' 0.04 Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry and 52 percent Rushing Success Rate both outshine Barber's -0.02 Rushing NEP per carry and 37.74 percent Rushing Success Rate.
The gap is even more stark in receiving output. Jones has hauled in all 3 of his targets for 71 yards while topping the team with 2.43 Target NEP per Target. Barber has turned his 8 targets into only 5 receptions for 26 receiving yards and a -0.97 Target NEP per Target that's second-worst on the team.
Jones' success should earn him the lion's share of the backfield work, and it appears things could be trending that way.
Ronald Jones out-snapped Peyton Barber for the first time in his career today. Progress?
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) September 30, 2019
Jones should be treated as an RB2 moving forward.
Raheem Mostert, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Yahoo Ownership: 33%
The San Francisco 49ers were on bye in Week 4, and the backfield could be even more crowded as soon as this week with Tevin Coleman on the mend. Regardless, Raheem Mostert has demonstrated he can ball out in Kyle Shanahan's offense and is worth rostering to see how playing time and usage shake out upon Coleman's return.
Mostert's 202 rushing yards are second on the team to Matt Breida's 226, but the former has rushed for 5.9 yards per carry compared to the latter's 5.5 yards per carry. Mostert's also bested Breida in yards from scrimmage with 270 compared to 257, according to Pro-Football-Reference.
Remarkably, Mostert's 5.9 yards per carry this year on 34 carries is actually down from his eye-popping 7.7 yards per carry on an identical 34 carries last year. The 27-year-old back has top-shelf straight line speed and burst, as you can see on his PlayerProfiler page. As the numbers show, he's put those explosive measurables to good use in Shanahan's offense.
He's a flex option if Coleman remains out another week, and he'd be a slam-dunk RB2 if Coleman and Breida were banged up and missed time -- even after accounting for Jeff Wilson's goal-line vulture presence.
Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots
Yahoo Ownership: 8%
It's better to be a week early than a week late. That line of thinking applies to scooping up Damien Harris despite the fact he was inactive again in Week 4 and hasn't touched the ball in a regular season game. The rookie runner has been active for only one game, playing five special teams snaps in Week 3 against the Jets, according to Pro-Football-Reference.
Could he get a look soon? Maybe!
Sony Michel was held to only 63 rushing yards on 17 carries against the Bills in a narrow road victory for the New England Patriots. Michel's finished with fewer than 15 rushing yards in two games, and he's averaging an ugly 2.79 yards per carry a quarter of the way through the regular season. He's been a drag on the team's offense with -0.22 Rushing NEP per carry and a 30.65 percent Rushing Success Rate.
Michel's sluggish start follows an unimpressive preseason in which he averaged only 3.6 yards per carry, rushing for 36 yards on 10 attempts, according to NFL.com. Comparatively, Harris rumbled for 88 rushing yards on 16 carries, good for 5.5 yards per carry. Preseason stats should always be taken with a heaping helping of salt, but, as I've illustrated, Michel hasn't been good in the regular season, either.
The Patriots are commanding 14.5-point favorites in Washington in Week 5, per FanDuel Sportsbook. The game script should be perfect for Michel to tote the rock and protect a lead. If he's once again a disappointment, the undefeated defending Super Bowl champions could, in theory, begin tinkering to find an answer on the ground.
Get ahead of the pack and stash Harris a week early in case Michel stumbles again.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Yahoo Ownership: 27%
Since 2017, Sanu's 49.7 receiving yards per game is tied for 49th among receivers, per Pro-Football-Reference's play index tool. During that time frame (and excluding Sunday's game), he's averaged 4.35 receptions per game. Sanu is coming off of his best game of the season after hauling in 9 receptions for 91 receiving yards on a team-high 12 targets against the Titans.
In 37 games played (including two postseason contests) since 2017, Sanu's caught four passes or more 25 times. He's also reached at least 50 receiving yards or scored a touchdown 23 times. However, he's not a high-ceiling option, with only three 100-plus yard receiving efforts and one multi-touchdown game in his 107-game career.
The lack of upside is a bummer, but Sanu's consistency makes him an appealing option to get through bye weeks -- namely in full point-per-reception (PPR) formats.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Yahoo Ownership: 19%
Marquise Goodwin is the anti-Sanu. He's a low-volume, boom-or-bust home-run hitter. He's been targeted only 8 times in three games, but he's parlayed those looks into 6 receptions for 125 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, and a team-high 1.25 Target NEP per Target.
He and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo have chemistry that dates back to 2017, when Goodwin reeled in 29 receptions for 384 receiving yards and 1 touchdown on 43 targets from Jimmy G's 178 passing attempts. Goodwin amassed 0.44 Target NEP per Target with Garoppolo throwing to him that year, and to put that mark in perspective, it would have ranked tied for 20th out of 96 receivers targeted a minimum of 40 times.
Goodwin's elite speed makes him essentially matchup proof even if he is volatile. While that's true, it's still promising to see some favorable matchups on the horizon. The 49ers play at Washington in Week 7, and we ranked them as the third-worst pass defense through three weeks. They also have two matchups with the Arizona Cardinals coming up in Week 9 and Week 11, and we ranked them as the seventh-worst pass defense entering Week 4.
Yes, the Cardinals will have Patrick Peterson back from his six-game suspension for those two games. That's not ideal. However, Goodwin shouldn't face shadow coverage from Peterson. Goodwin's played 19.0 percent of his snaps from the slot this year, and Peterson only went into the slot 1.4 percent of the time last year, according to PlayerProfiler.
Goodwin's weekly floor is low, and you don't have to look any further than his one reception for seven yards on three targets in the season opener, but his upside makes him worth a look in competitive leagues. Furthermore, he's already gotten his bye out of the way, which adds to the appeal of rostering the speedy wideout.
Cole Beasley, WR, Buffalo Bills
Yahoo Ownership: 12%
In Week 4, Cole Beasley paced the Buffalo Bills in targets (12), receptions (7), and receiving yards (75). It was his second straight game reaching double-digit targets after being targeted 10 times against the Bengals in Week 3. It was also his second time totaling at least 75 receiving yards this year. He's caught at least four passes in every game this year, and he's totaled at least 40 receiving yards in each contest, too.
Beasley's busy day pushed him to the team lead in targets on the year with 36, 2 more than John Brown's 34. His targets represent a massive 24.5 percent target share.
The slot receiver's 24 receptions are also tops on the Bills, and his 246 receiving yards are the second-highest total on the team. Speaking of the slot, he'll take aim at a Tennessee Titans defense that coughed up the aforementioned Sanu's best game of the year.
Josh Allen was knocked out of the game early with a concussion. Backup quarterback Matt Barkley attempted 16 passes in relief of Allen, and he completed 2 of 4 targets to Beasley for 27 receiving yards. If Allen's unable to make it through the concussion protocol before Sunday's game, Beasley's value won't necessarily be hurt.
After the Bills face the Titans this week, they are on bye in Week 6 before a mouthwatering layout of matchups.
They face the Dolphins in Week 7 and Week 11, and we ranked them dead last in pass defense through three games. They also face the Eagles in Week 8 (eighth-worst pass defense) and draw Washington in Week 9 (third-worst).
Beasley's the lowest-owned receiver in this piece, but he's the best option of the trio of highlighted wideouts.
Benjamin Watson, TE, New England Patriots
Yahoo Ownership: 2%
Benjamin Watson has yet to play a game for the Patriots this year while serving a four-game suspension for a positive drug test for a performance-enhancing drug. But the 38-year-old tight end immediately becomes the best tight end on the roster now that his suspension is up. The post-Rob Gronkowski tight end duo of Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo have combined for only 4 receptions for 77 receiving yards and 0 touchdowns on 5 targets.
Perhaps the tight end position won't produce much for the Patriots this year, but a red-zone role is potentially there for the taking for Watson.
Last year, Tom Brady attempted 88 passes in the red zone, and he directed 8 passes to Gronk, which he turned into 3 receptions for 37 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. In 2017, Brady attempted 90 passes in the red zone, and he hucked 22 passes Gronk's way, resulting in 11 receptions for 94 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. Of course, Gronk's arguably the most dominant tight end in the history of the game.
But in 2017, Brady also threw 4 passes to Dwayne Allen for 1 reception for 11 yards and 1 touchdown. And in 2016, Brady attempted 65 passes in the red zone, and he completed 8 passes on 9 targets to Martellus Bennett for 5 touchdowns and also completed his only target to Matt Lengel for an 18-yard touchdown. The year prior, Brady threw 87 passes in the red zone, and he connected on 6 of 9 targets to Scott Chandler for 50 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns.
The red zone has been kind to Gronk and other Patriots tight ends in recent years, and New England's looking like a well-oiled machine again this season, making Watson a reasonable speculative add for tight end-needy gamers.
San Francisco 49ers Defense
Yahoo Ownership: 25%
The San Francisco 49ers entered their Week 4 bye as our second-ranked defense. Their retooled defense has been excellent. Through three games, they were tied for third in yards per play allowed (4.7 yards per play), tied for second in turnovers forced (7), eighth in sack percentage (7.9 percent), and ninth in scoring defense (18.0 points per game allowed), according to Pro-Football-Reference.
They come out of their bye week as 3.5-point favorites at home in the Week 5 Monday Night Football game against the visiting Browns, per FanDuel Sportsbook. Baker Mayfield's tied for the most interceptions (6) thrown this year and is tied for the fourth-most sacks taken (12).
In Week 6, the 49ers face the Los Angeles Rams in Los Angeles. Jared Goff is one of the quarterbacks tied with Mayfield for the most interceptions thrown this year. The following week, the 49ers head to Washington and will likely face rookie Dwayne Haskins, who took 2 sacks and threw 3 interceptions on 17 passes in relief of Case Keenum against the Giants on Sunday.
The San Francisco D/ST are more than just a streaming option, and they get a value boost in leagues with restrictive move limits since they've already had their bye.