There are no waiver wire pickups for Week 4 quite like Jerome Ford last week, but there are plenty of interesting storylines developing in the NFL. Cooper Kupp and Jonathan Taylor are both one week away from being eligible to return from injured reserve. Alvin Kamara is available for a New Orleans Saints offense that has struggled for efficiency in the last couple of weeks. They are also dealing with an injury to Derek Carr, which could mean Jameis Winston is in for his first start in over a year.
Saquon Barkley and Austin Ekeler are also close to returning from minor injuries, which should see an altering of the terrain around them too. Even if Saquon can’t make it back for the New York Giants against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 4, we still advise you to disregard any of the Giants running backs (Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell, Eric Gray). We do have a Giants wide receiver who we believe might merit some consideration as a Week 4 waiver wire pickup, though.
So, let’s get to it.
Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 4
De’Von Achane, Miami Dolphins
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 42%
What is there to say about the Miami Dolphins that hasn’t already been said? There are not enough superlatives to describe how good they were against the Denver Broncos as they racked up 70 points on Sunday. Likewise, there are not enough words in the dictionary to describe how poor the Broncos defense was. From a fantasy football perspective, basically everyone in this Miami offense deserves consideration and anyone in that backfield could potentially put up RB1 numbers.
In the next three weeks, they play the Buffalo Bills, the Giants and the Carolina Panthers, who each rank 23rd, sixth and third respectively in fantasy points allowed to running backs this season. Jeff Wilson will be back in a week and Achane isn’t going to score 50-plus points a week (or perhaps ever again) but even with 10 or 12 carries a game, Achane still has value.
He carried the ball 18 times for 203 yards on Sunday with a couple of touchdowns on the ground. He also added four receptions on four targets for 30 yards and another pair of scores.
It’s looking increasingly like Mike McDaniel is an offensive guru of the highest ilk. They drafted Achane 84th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft after the head coach pushed GM Chris Grier. The rookie is perfect for the zone-scheme offense that McDaniel plays. He was lowered into the role having been a healthy scratch in Week 1, but now that the handbrake is off, it’s hard to see McDaniel going away from Achane. He could do that, just to sprinkle in something different and to keep opposition defences off balance, but even with fewer touches, trust McDaniel to find ways to keep Achane productive.
Roschon Johnson, Chicago Bears
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 48%
You wonder just how bad things might get with the Chicago Bears. They are winless after three games having lost to the Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs. Their defensive coordinator just resigned under strange circumstances, and Justin Fields has said coaching is the reason he hasn’t been able to excel this season.
Johnson has 11 targets through three games, and the Bears play the Broncos next week in a matchup that very much suits running backs, with the Broncos having just given up a combined 96.5 PPR fantasy points to Achane and Raheem Mostert.
The Bears are targeting their running backs on 29.8% of the team’s throws, which is the third highest mark in the league. Johnson also has a couple of red zone targets and saw a slight uptick in his carries in Week 3 (he carried the ball eight times).
A lot of his usage will come down to whether the Bears decide they can’t win in the present and start to plan further into the future. It might not lead to many wins for the Bears but it might lead to increased fantasy value for Johnson. We have already seen Johnson eat into Khalil Herbert’s snap share — 45% for Johnson and 55% for Herbert. If the Bears lean all the way into Johnson in the coming weeks, we could be looking at a running back with RB2 upside.
Tyjae Spears, Tennessee Titans
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 24%
Tyjae Spears had more snaps than Derrick Henry once again on Sunday night. The Cleveland Browns are only giving up 10.5 fantasy points to running backs this season so it’s no surprise that as the Titans realized they weren’t going to win, they pulled Henry and played Spears more.
But Spears has run 37 routes this year to Henry’s 22 and is fourth among all running backs with 3.8 aDOT. He has 5.1% of the team’s air yard share, which is behind just Austin Ekeler this season among running backs.
Henry is getting the rushing work with 51 attempts to 15 but Spears has been the far more explosive runner with 5.47 yards per carry. This isn’t an attempt to compare the two, rather to show that Spears has value if the Titans were thinking about changing the dynamic of the offense or shifting more touches to the rookie. Henry is dealing with an injury and if that lingers, Spears’ value will increase. He might even have standalone value given his presence in the passing game.
Tank Dell, Houston Texans
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 33%
C.J. Stroud has looked very good through three weeks for the Houston Texans. Once a place devoid of passing-game talent, Houston has seen Nico Collins and Tank Dell emerge as two potential WR1s on any given week.
There will be weeks when Collins takes a lot of the targets, but the Texans will still be playing from behind their fair share this season. Dell saw his percentage of snaps drop from 79% to 61% from Week 2 to Week 3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but it didn’t stop him putting up a top five week in PPR leagues. Dell has run 87 routes and leads the team with 2.89 yards per route run for players with more than five targets.
They play the Pittsburgh Steelers next week, who are giving up 37.9 fantasy points to wide receivers (fifth most in the league) and it looks like a matchup where you can start Dell with little hesitation.
Quentin Johnston, Los Angeles Chargers
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 33%
Mike Williams is done for the season and Ekeler might be eased back in next week, so the landscape is changing in Los Angeles. Johnston will have to fight with Joshua Palmer for Justin Herbert’s attention, but the talented first-round wide receiver has to be the one you target to pick up this week if it’s a higher ceiling you’re looking for.
This doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game with the Chargers though. They don’t have a particular tendency to throw to tight ends or running backs (though that changes when Ekeler comes back). They are throwing to wide receivers on 74.6% of the team’s throws and Herbert has thrown the ball 117 times, which is third in the league. Only the Minnesota Vikings have more completions than the Chargers through three games.
They have also given up 27 points or more in all three of their opening games and will see a lot of pass-heavy scripts this season. Prior to Palmer’s 29th-ranked finish in PPR leagues in Week 3, he finished 104th and 88th in the first two weeks of the season. Johnston might have some volatile weeks but after picking him 21st overall in the draft, the Chargers have to give him opportunities.
He might not be a Week 4 start for you, and our model might not value him until his targets and read share show some optimism, but patience with Johnston could pay off.
Adam Thielen, Carolina Panthers
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 48%
Andy Dalton will start for at least another week, with Bryce Young sidelined through injury. He targeted Thielen 14 times for 11 catches, 145 yards and a touchdown in his first start of the season against the Seahawks. That came off the back of a WR2 week against New Orleans for the veteran. We have him ranked as the WR16 heading into Week 4 and he’s still available in over 50% of leagues.
D.J. Chark does muddy the waters in Carolina a little but he’s widely available as well and it looks like they could command a lot of Dalton’s attention against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4 — Minnesota is giving up 44.2 fantasy points to wide receivers this season. Chark ran 54 routes in Week 3, which led the league, and Thielen ran 52, which was second. And it could be that rookie Jonathan Mingo misses this week after exiting Week 3 with a concussion, meaning less competition at WR for Thielen and Chark.
They follow that matchup against the Vikings with a Thursday night game against the Detroit Lions. Young needs a safety net and Dalton has shown Frank Reich the way forward. We’re not sure how long it will last, but Thielen still has some juice in him. He is not burning anyone but he knows how to get open and that’s all it takes to earn targets in this offense.
Marvin Mims, Denver Broncos
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 27%
This is the weekly reminder that Marvin Mims will continue to make big plays and that Sean Payton will have no other option than to feed the rookie more often. In terms of volume, we can’t justify recommending Mims, but don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
The Broncos’ season is in danger of careening off a cliff. They are 0-3 and just lost by 50 points to the Dolphins after giving up 70 points (10 touchdowns). What is Payton to do? Giving Mims the ball more would be a start. He is scoring 0.72 fantasy points per snap, which leads all wide receivers this season even ahead of Tyreek Hill and his incredible start to the season.
The good news for the Broncos is that they play the Bears next week in what could be a matchup of the worst defenses in living memory. This is a litmus test for the Broncos and Russell Wilson. If he can’t put together an elite statline against a team in freefall, then the “Payton fix” some of us have been expecting for Wilson may not come. Mims could be the answer and it won’t be long before Payton starts to increase his load.
Josh Downs, Indianapolis Colts
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 2%
We don’t know how long Anthony Richardson will remain out for and how healthy he can stay given he has injured himself in each of his first two NFL games. Gardner Minshew and Downs have built up a solid connection in the rookie’s absence. Downs has 24 targets so far this season to Michael Pittman Jr.’s 34. Alec Pierce lags behind with just 12.
Of course, this offensive formula will change when (if?) Jonathan Taylor returns. Downs offers something nobody else on the Indianapolis Colts’ roster does as an underneath separator. He is undersized but between Pittman Jr. as the outside guy and Pierce as a deep threat, Downs had a mini-breakout game on Sunday.
Downs has run 90 routes behind just Pitmann and Pierce on the Colts but he is gaining 1.38 yards per route run, which is behind only Pittman. 81 of Downs’ routes have come in the slot and 17 of his 22 targets have come when he lines up inside too. With Pierce and Pittman taking the lid off, Downs will continue to thrive.
Wan’Dale Robinson, New York Giants
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 2%
It probably won’t get much worse than what we saw from the Giants offense on Thursday night against Super Bowl contenders, the San Francisco 49ers. They had 46 plays for 150 total yards without Saquon. Behind a terrible offensive line, it’s hard to feel too optimistic. But Wan’Dale Robinson is back from an ACL tear and he is a wide receiver who we were high on last season during his rookie campaign.
Robinson is just back, but he put up 0.55 fantasy points per snap in limited action on Thursday night. Robinson was cooking last season with nine catches for 100 yards before going down against the Lions with the knee injury. He ran eight routes and was targeted five times by Daniel Jones on Thursday night. If that ratio holds then Robinson has very promising upside.
The Giants play the Seahawks on Monday night. Seattle is giving up 45.1 points to wide receivers this season and only the Chargers have been giving up more. Robinson might not have earned enough trust for you to start him yet unless you’re desperate, but pick him up and stash him because he has the talent to shine.
Luke Musgrave, Green Bay Packers
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 19%
Christian Watson will return at some point and will take away a lot of the targets that the likes of Dontayvion Wicks, primarily, but also Jayden Reed, Romeo Doubs and Luke Musgrave have seen so far. Matt LeFleur likes to throw the ball in the red zone. Reed and Doubs have combined for seven red zone targets in Week 3. Musgrave had another two in Week 3 and has three red zone targets so far this season but didn’t find the end zone.
Musgrave ran 41 routes on Sunday, which was third among tight ends after just T.J. Hockenson and Kyle Pitts.
Jordan Love and the Green Bay Packers have one of the highest depth of targets in the league along with Derek Carr. It’s not high volume with just 57 passes thrown through three weeks, but Love has 21 attempts in the red zone, which is fourth in the league. He has five touchdowns inside the 20 and only Patrick Mahomes and Tua Tagovailoa have more. Musgrave is going to have a massive week at some point, so make sure you pick him up before that week comes.
Jake Ferguson, Dallas Cowboys
- Yahoo Roster Percentage: 41%
Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys were brought back down to earth against a competitive Arizona Cardinals team on Sunday night. One stat that really stands out from their start is that Jake Ferguson leads the league in red zone targets with nine.
Ferguson is second on the team in targets with 18 (behind just CeeDee Lamb) and he has run 56 routes. 50% of his targets have come inside the 20. The tight end position can be a strange one and has been this season but there are worse bets than counting on Ferguson catching a touchdown or two on any given week.