To most fantasy football owners, a lack of serious injuries is a cause for celebration. But for the scavengers — err, waiver wire addicts — injuries are a vital part of their weekly strategy. Finding waiver and free agent sleepers who are likely to see upticks in touches and targets is how sharp owners stay ahead of the game, and there are a few such cases this week. Wayne Gallman (Saquon Barkley) is the main injury replacement among our top Week 4 fantasy waiver wire pickups, but Phillip Dorsett (Julian Edelman), Zach Pascal (T.Y. Hilton), Mecole Hardman (Tyreek Hill — old news, but still counts), and Darrel Williams (LeSean McCoy/Damien Williams) are also in the mix.
Barkley’s injury alone will cause a stir on the wire, but even if you don’t have the top claim, there’s always room to improve around the margins. And with the byes starting (Jets, 49ers this week), you always need to be planning ahead. Our full free agent list has plenty of potentially valuable bench players at every position, from handcuff RBs to WR fliers woth paying attention to. And, as always, we have some matchup-based QBs, TEs, and D/ST streaming options at the end of this list.
Gallman will be the top waiver claim this week, though given what we’ve seen of him in his career, there’s a good chance he disappoints. Still, starting RBs always have upside. You can make a case that Hardman and Dorsett are worth top claims, too, but generally speaking, you want to wait for a running back if you have a high spot in the waivers order. Of course, it all depends on your team. If you’re hurting at WR and need a boost, go for it. It’s still early enough in the season that you can climb back up the waivers list in a hurry.
Top fantasy football waiver wire pickups for Week 4
Unless otherwise noted, only players owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues considered.
Wayne Gallman, RB, Giants. A right ankle injury knocked out Saquon Barkely late in the second quarter against Tampa Bay, and some early speculation suggested it might be a high ankle sprain. If that’s the case, Barkley would like miss the several weeks. Enter Wayne Gallman, who has had a rather nondescript NFL career (4.1 yards per carry entering Week 3). The third-year back is no sure thing to produce, as we saw in Week 3 when the Giants were in combeback mode and he had just five carries for 13 yards, and with an upcoming schedule of vs. Redskins, vs. Vikings, @ Patriots, and vs. Cardinals, it’s not as if he has an overwhelmingly favorable outlook. You don’t have to use the No. 1 waiver claim on Gallman, especially if you’re unlikely to start him over the next month, but it’s tough not to when a 15-touch RB is just sitting there for the taking.
Mecole Hardman, WR, Chiefs. Hardman should have been added to fantasy rosters after Week — and he certainly should have been scooped up after his breakout Week 2 — but he’s still available in 52 percent of Yahoo leagues, so shame on more than half of you. You can bet that ownership level will skyrocket after Hardman’s three-touch, 104-yard, one-TD game against the Ravens. His catches (2) and targets (5) weren’t anything special, but he still received one more look than Demarcus Robinson. Ultimately, though, it’s not volume that really matters for Hardman; rather, it’s his playmaking ability. The vast majority of his production came on an 83-yard touchdown reception where he basically ran straight down the field uncovered, so you can say he’s not going to be reliable. Maybe, but given his speed and the Chiefs offense, you might actually be able to count on plays like that most games.
MORE WEEK 4: Waiver wire pickups
Phillip Dorsett, WR, Patriots. In the two games without Antonio Brown this year, Dorsett has caught 10-of-11 targets for 148 yards and three TDs. That includes his six-catch, 53-yard, one-TD performance against the Jets in Week 3. Now with Julian Edelman (rib) banged up and Brown gone for good, Dorsett should be in line for even more targets. Considering he caught his touchdown in Week 3 while Edelman was playing, it’s clear Dorsett will have value either way.
Jeff Wilson Jr., RB, 49ers. Wilson Jr. made our Week 4 watch list because of comments from Kyle Shanahan earlier in the week about wanting him to get the goal-line touches. Sure enough, Wilson served as the goal-line hammer in Week 3 against Pittsburgh, scoring twice on his eight carries (a bunch of which came late). Obviously, if Wilson Jr. is only going to get a handful of touches each game, he’s not worth a waiver cliam, but given Matt Breida’s injury history and the need for live bodies during bye weeks, Wilson Jr. has free agent appeal.
Darrel Williams, RB, Chiefs. Williams created some buzz when he, not Darwin Thompson, got reps with the first team in pregame warmups on Sunday, and even though he didn’t start, he led KC running backs in snaps against the Ravens. He made plays in both the running and passing game, including a late 41-yard run to ice the game. There are obviously a lot of question marks here, as it seems as if Williams wouldn’t have any value if Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy are both healthy. But with Williams (knee) missing Week 3 and McCoy aggravating his ankle injury late, Williams could be the primary back in Week 4 against the Lions
For additional waiver wire/free agent options, including handcuff RBs, underrated WRs, and D/ST streamers, check out our full Week 4 list.
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