Free-agent recommendations refer to 12-team leagues, unless specifically stated otherwise. FAAB $ amounts are based on a $100 budget.
Bye weeks: Green Bay, Detroit
Fantasy football waiver wire targets
Priority Free Agent
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
At this point, it probably doesn’t matter what kind of declaration head coach Anthony Lynn made about Tyrod Taylor (chest) getting his job back when healthy. He’s not a dynamic quarterback and lacks the moxie Herbert brings through his play. Players lose their jobs to injury often, and coaches say things that aren’t reality just as frequently. Los Angeles is simply a better, more explosive team with Herbert leading the charge. In the coming weeks, LA faces a battered New Orleans secondary, followed by the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders leading into the Week 10 bye. Three of those games are likely wins, and Herbert’s play would give Lynn an out for his comments about Taylor. That said, don’t invest too much in the young passer, but he has all of the tools to succeed. Furthermore, the Bolts are likely to pass more without RB Austin Ekeler (hamstring) in the lineup.
1-week plug & play
Nick Foles, Chicago Bears vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Maybe this segment header should be “1-week plug your nose” due to this recommendation. The Bears host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, fresh off Foles looking like he and his receivers couldn’t possibly be farther apart in chemistry and the Bucs getting looted by a rookie quarterback. LA’s Justin Herbert threw for 290 yards and three scores on 20-for-25 passing vs. a defense that looked like it was turning the corner vs. the position. In Week 4, on a short week’s rest, that favors the offense. The Bears have plenty of receiving options for Foles, provided he can connect, so there is definitely a risk-reward decision to be made here. Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford are on bye weeks, and a couple of other presumed starters after the fantasy draft season are now suspect plays, which makes Foles a viable option in a pinch. At least you can land him on the cheap, and he did carve up Atlanta just two weeks ago. There’s hope here.
Priority Free Agent
UPDATE — Damien Harris, New England Patriots
Sony Michel (quad) went to what is expected to be short-term IR. With the Patriots, it’s mostly a guessing game in that regard. The Pats elevated the second-year Harris to the active roster prior to facing KC, and he didn’t disappoint, rushing 17 times for 100 yards. He won’t be a factor in the passing game, but there’s utility to be found here in standard scoring. Harris legitimately could wrestle away the starting gig from Michel, and as long as it takes Cam Newton to recover from COVID-19, the greater the odds of Harris being a weekly contributor. Once Cam returns, though, Harris’ chances of finding the end zone depreciate.
Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers
Jackson came in cold off of the bench after Austin Ekeler (hamstring) was lost for the day — and what will be significantly longer. The 6-foot, 199-pound Jackson missed the past two games but now has a chance to share serious touches with Joshua Kelley after losing out the No. 2 gig to the rookie. Versus Tampa Bay, Jackson barely moved the ball, rushing for only nine yards on his six carries, adding 12 yards on a pair of grabs. The matchup was awful, and he deserves the benefit of the doubt. New Orleans gave up two scores to running backs in Week 4 vs. Detroit, bringing the season total to five offensive TDs in four outings. Ahead for Jackson includes the Saints, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders. He should have modest flex utility if for no reason other than so many backs have been injured already.
D’Ernest Johnson, Cleveland Browns
Nick Chubb (knee) is expected to miss about six weeks (five games with the bye), and the Kevin Stefanski offense will look to involve two backs regularly. Kareem Hunt entered Week 4 with a late-week chest injury, so it’s likely that played a role in his 11 total carries to Johnson’s 13. The latter ran for 95 yards and will draw some attention on the wire. He’s worth a look for desperate owners after the way we’ve lost running backs in 2020, but his strong play really could have been a confluence of events that disappear. Hunt’s injury and Dallas’ impressively awful defense likely contributed a great deal to Johnson’s output. Ahead: Indy, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Las Vegas, bye week, and Houston … not particularly the best of schedules.
1-week plug & play/grab & stash
Reggie Bonnafon, Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons
Note: The Falcons have not played in Week 4 at the time of this writing.
Bonnafon lost his job in the offseason as the top backup to Christian McCaffrey, but he was added to the active roster and delivered on his 12 touches in Week 4. The Panthers exposed Arizona’s defense for the second week in a row after Detroit did, albeit in different ways. Bonnafon, playing sidekick to Mike Davis, ran 10 times for 53 yards and chipped in an aerial score to cap off a two-catch, 18-yard bonus through the sky. He draws a favorable matchup again, and while Davis will see the bulk of the action, Bonnafon having a role worthy of a flex play is about all gamers can hope for after yet another week of losing top running backs to injury. And if he performs well once again, gamers may have an option for another few weeks while McCaffrey remains out.
Priority Free Agent
Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos
No one entered the year excited for the Brett Rypien-to-Tim Patrick connection, yet here we are. While it is anyone’s guess whether Rypien remains the starter beyond a week or more, as Drew Lock (shoulder) is nearing his return, Patrick has some staying power. The Broncos lost their No. 1 receiver in Courtland Sutton, and the 6-foot-4 Patrick brings some necessary height to this passing attack. He has shown flashes in his three pro seasons of being several types of receiver, including anything from a jump-ball option to a deep threat. After scores in consecutive games with different quarterbacks manning the offense, Patrick catching 10 of 11 looks shouldn’t go unnoticed. He has at least five targets in his two other contests this season. So many injuries to RBs and WRs have forced gamers to get creative and play mashups few people could have seen coming. With injuries to Noah Fant (ankle) and slot receiver K.J. Hamler (hamstring), Patrick is a WR3 or flex in PPR possibly the rest of the way.
Scotty Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No Chris Godwin (hamstring) last week opened the door for Miller to see more work. He overcame injuries of his own and was among the favored options for Tom Brady in a comeback win, posting a line of 5-83-1 on seven looks. The Bucs also lost TE O.J. Howard (Achilles) for the remainder of the year, and running back LeSean McCoy (ankle) joined Leonard Fournette (ankle) on the mend. Miller is a pure slot receiver, and we’ve all seen how much TB12 loves going there with the ball. Ahead, Tampa draws the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Las Vegas Raiders and New York Giants over the next month. While it’s unclear how long Godwin will miss, no Howard opens up more action for sure. Chicago gave up lines of 5-81-0 and 5-47-0 to slot receivers in the opening two games, but Russell Gage was knocked out of the Week 3 game for Atlanta after three targets, and the Colts have no credible slot receivers. Miller is a reasonable flex play due to bye weeks.
Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears
Keep tabs on him for now. Mooney has potential for a roster spot after seeing nine targets (5-52-0) in Week 4 in a matchup in which the tight end position had a tough go of it and a week after losing RB Tarik Cohen (knee). In Week 2, vs. the New York Giants, Mooney found the end zone on his 3-36-1 day. There was a forgettable two-for-19 outing on five looks sandwiched between. In the right setting, with the ideal matchup for receivers, Mooney could be money. Watch his role vs. the Buccaneers this week.
grab & stash
Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This one really could be a watch list for many gamers, depending upon the league settings. Brate has been a reliable veteran option and even found the end zone in Week 4 on his lone target. It’s painfully obvious the Rob Gronkowski-Tom Brady reunion tour isn’t selling out fantasy venues anymore, and it was O.J. Howard as the more productive of the two tight ends. Howard has been lost for the year after the team fears he tore his Achilles tendon, and Brate could make for a viable starting option if this Gronk-free zone continues as it has for three of the first four weeks. Brate presents a logical gamble for a touchdown when the matchup looks particularly strong on the outside. That said, don’t be shocked to see the loss of Howard and current injury situation with Chris Godwin (hamstring) force Tampa into getting Gronkowski more involved.
UPDATE — Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers
Entering the year, I was high on the potential of Jace Sternberger. It has been Tonyan instead, but the point of this system relying on TEs remains valid. Last week, Tonyan was included as a one-week play with the recommendation that he was expendable during Green Bay’s Week 5 bye — that is, before he exceeded even my highest expectations. A few notes: Given all of the injuries, don’t feel likely you absolutely have to keep him during their bye week. If you have room, by all means, stash him away. The upcoming schedule after the Packers return in isn’t particularly favorable. Three matchups are midrange (TB, HOU, MIN), one is horrendous (SF), and another is solid (JAC) in the immediate five games coming back. Then there’s the Davante Adams situation. He’ll be back after the bye, which drastically limits Tonyan’s target share. It also frees up coverage, so the occasional touchdown may still be there, but the volume is likely to decrease.
Priority Free agent
Rodrigo Blankenship, Indianapolis Colts
We covered him in an earlier release as a recommended acquisition, so this is merely a reminder. He is available in under half of leagues polled, and the rookie has attempted at least three field goals in each of his four outings this year, converting at a rate of 85.7 percent. The Colts are still a work-in-progress offense, and Philip Rivers is in obvious decline. Drives stall out, and that’s where “Hot Rod” comes into play as a key factor.
1-Week Plug & Play
Ryan Succop, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears
Yep, dipping the old bucket into this well once more … hopefully it will come up with something better than murky swamp water. Despite a great matchup in Week 4, Succop was barely playable in fantasy. The Chargers forced Tampa to score TDs and not settle for three — which, admittedly, is hardy the Bruce Arians style anyhow. This week, though, with so many injuries on the offensive side of the ball, it may be a necessity to accept three on the road vs. a defense that has been good but not great. Kickers have attempted at least three field goals in each game vs. the Bears in 2020. Suck it up and roll with Ryan one more week. (Okay, that was lame. But you should start him.)
1-week plug & play/grab & stash
Los Angeles Rams at Washington Football Team
A week after recommending the Rams vs. the New York Giants, here we are once more to take advantage of another favorable opponent. In fact, LA could be retained for several weeks following this game. The Washington offense remains more or less futile, even after cutting down its turnovers last week. Sure, it played Baltimore, but 17 points on the board is threatening a season-high for this team. In the last three games, Washington has served up seven fumbles lost and three interceptions thrown, which pairs nicely with a fresh helping of sacks allowed (3.25, on average).
1-Week Plug & Play
Arizona Cardinals at New York Jets
No team has given up more fantasy points through the first four weeks than this offense, and the action has come in many forms. What isn’t necessarily encouraging, however, is there has been one huge (19-point) fantasy showing by Indy mixed in with 5, 1 and 6 points scored by enemy fantasy defenses. Another issue: Arizona has been awfully sad on defense in the last two games. That’s why we look forward and not backward in fantasy. The team will be motivated after consecutive losses in winnable games, and the Jets have struggled to protect Sam Darnold, allowing three per game, on average. Pressure tends to create mistakes, and that is one thing Arizona did well in the first three games (11 QB takedowns).