NFL

Week-Ahead Stash Candidates for Week 4

Fantasy football is all about being a step ahead of your competition, and this weekly column aims to help you achieve just that.

The following offers suggestions for players to pick up now (who are currently under 50% rostered) so that that you won’t need to use a high waiver claim or spend a significant amount of free agent acquisition budget (FAB) on them later.

Preston Williams, WR, Miami Dolphins

ESPN Roster Percentage: 49.6%

Preston Williams has had a sluggish start to the 2020 season, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering he’s coming off an ACL tear from last November. However, Williams’ usage has been strong, as he ranks first among Miami wide receivers in snaps played this season.

The volume hasn’t quite followed, as Williams ranks fifth in targets, receptions and receiving yards on the team. But there’s a strong chance that changes this week, as the Dolphins will face the Seattle Seahawks in a game with a projected total of 52.5, per FanDuel Sportsbook.

Seattle ranks dead last in targets, receptions, receiving yards and FanDuel points allowed to wide receivers this season. Opponents have been forced into pass-heavy game scripts in order to keep up with head chef Russell Wilson -- the Seahawks are allowing the most plays and pass attempts.

Miami’s defense respectably ranks 18th in numberFire’s Adjusted Defensive Net Expected Points (NEP) per play, but it’s unlikely that the 'Fins be able to slow down Wilson and Seattle's fourth-ranked offense.

Williams ranks 10th in air yards per target this season (13.4) among receivers with double-digit targets -- he should be able to haul in a few big catches this week and re-establish himself as the WR3/4 he was a season ago. Get him now before he has an attention-grabbing game. And in future weeks, Williams should see a negative game script against the San Francisco 49ers before getting a nice matchup with the struggling pass defense of the Denver Broncos.

Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

ESPN Roster Percentage: 21.3%

Rookie wide receiver Tee Higgins has seen his offensive snap share rise from 22% in Week 1 to 65% in Week 2 to a team-high 79% in Week 3. He cashed in big-time last week with five receptions, 40 yards and two touchdowns on nine targets.

Higgins should continue to see ample opportunity in Cincinnati's offense, as it uses three-wide-receiver sets at the highest rate in the league -- per Sharp Football Stats -- and ranks top-five in pass rate and pace this season. Higgins should also draw plus-matchups against number-two cornerbacks, assuming top corners continue to primarily line up across from A.J. Green.

Higgins’ success should continue this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that has the fifth-worst pass D by our numbers despite playing a middling schedule of passing offenses. Higgins will play the majority of his snaps against C.J. Henderson and Tre Herndon, who rank 34th and 65th, respectively, in Pro Football Focus' coverage grade among 84 qualifying cornerbacks this season.

After that, Higgins will see the Baltimore Ravens in a game in which Cincy will likely have to pass a lot, and the Bengals gets the Indianapolis Colts in Week 6 and Cleveland Browns in Week 7.

Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Football Team

ESPN Roster Percentage: 17.3%

Through the first three weeks of the 2020 season, Washington tight end Logan Thomas ranks ninth in offensive snaps, sixth in routes run and third in targets among all tight ends -- but he ranks just 21st in FanDuel points.

Inefficiency is a major factor, as Dwayne Haskins has struggled. But Thomas is worth rostering for at least one more week in the hope that production will catch up with his volume, especially considering Washington’s Week 4 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens rank bottom-10 in targets, receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns allowed to tight ends this season as well as fifth-worst in FanDuel points allowed. It’s also fair to assume that the Football Team will be passing often as heavy underdogs, as Baltimore ranks eighth in time of possession when leading and Washington ranks sixth in time of possession when trailing, per Football Outsiders.

Thomas should see another negative game script versus the Los Angeles Rams next week before a friendly date with the New York Giants.

If Thomas is unable to produce during that stretch, it’ll finally be time to give up on him, but he deserves the benefit of the doubt and a bench spot for at least one more week.

Greg Ward, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

ESPN Roster Percentage: 7.2%

The Philadelphia Eagles' wide receiver room was among the most-injured a season ago, and this season is déjà vu. DeSean Jackson has been limited in each game due to a nagging hamstring; rookie Jalen Reagor was placed on injured reserve with a thumb injury; J.J. Arcega-Whiteside has been limited due to a calf injury; and Alshon Jeffery has yet to play a snap as he continues to recover from a foot injury. The Eagles also placed tight end Dallas Goedert on injured reserve with a foot injury and have perhaps the most injured offensive line in the league.

Translation: it’s Greg Ward season.

The former AAF-leaguer led the Eagles receivers in snaps from Weeks 12 to 17 last season and had twice as many targets as any other Philadelphia wide receiver in that span. Last week, with so many injuries to other Eagles skill position players, Ward played on 84% of offensive snaps and led the team in every receiving category as he tallied eight receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets.

Ward is unlikely to be a strong season-long asset, but as he showed last season, he can provide solid production in spurts as the seemingly only healthy player in Philadelphia. He should be plenty of opportunity this week against a San Francisco 49ers team that ranks third in receptions allowed to receivers this season.

The Week 5 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers is a tough one, but Ward will likely be in a negative game script against the Ravens in Week 6 followed by two Giants games that are sandwiched around a nice matchup with the Dallas Cowboys.