Fantasy football week 4: Rising and falling stocks
The fourth week of the NFL season has been completed, and the owners of many teams are starting to hit the panic button. No, I’m not talking about the owners of professional franchises, I’m talking about the owners of fantasy football teams, the imaginary franchises millions of Americans run from September through December to keep them engaged with the league even after their real team has been eliminated from playoff contention.
If your fantasy team has started its season 1-3 or-God forbid-a winless 0-4, you may need to make some changes. Your season isn’t doomed, but you can’t just rely on your team as currently structured to make a run at the playoffs. That’s where the trade market and the waiver wire come in handy.
Running back is one of the hardest positions to improve in fantasy because of its shallow depth–true workhorse backs who don’t cede upwards of 30 percent of their carries to their backups. As a result, it’s difficult to make trades here without significant costs and it becomes nearly impossible to find serviceable production via free agency. If you are looking to make a high-risk, high-reward trade, Alvin Kamara is your best bet.
Although he has been among the top scorers since he entered the league in 2017 due to his utility as a rusher and receiver, Kamara is yet to eclipse eight points in PPR scoring this season in the two games he has played. His lack of production has caused growing frustration for many owners, making him a worthwhile risk on the trade market. If you have a consistent running back that puts up good-not-great numbers, such as James Connor, you could likely use them as a centerpiece for potential league-winning talent.
Other players to shop for superior talent on the trade market include Melvin Gordon of the Denver Broncos and Clyde Edwards-Helaire of the Kansas City Chiefs. Gordon is due for an increased workload following a season-ending injury to backfield partner Javonte Williams. Gordon will provide consistent value, even if only because of his snap count, but it’s important to keep in mind that he is 29. He has been durable thus far in his career, but explosiveness is tough for running backs to maintain late in their career, so his value on the trade market is likely at its peak right now. As for Edwards-Helaire, teammate Isaiah Pacheco has been steadily making an argument to get more opportunities with his play on the field. Pacheco had 11 carries for 63 yards against the Buccaneers Monday night. Edwards-Helaire has averaged nearly 19 points per game in PPR formats, but that pace is unsustainable if Pacheco continues to perform and eat into Edwards-Helaire’s snap count.
Waivers are difficult to find talent, but if Gordon has already been scooped up, your best bets are Tyler Allgeier (Atlanta Falcons) and Raheem Mostert (Miami Dolphins). Atlanta has a lackluster offensive line and poor passing offense, which does not bode well for the success of a rookie running back, but he has made the most of his opportunities so far, averaging over five yards-per-carry. With Cordarelle Patterson being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury, Allgeier will take the lion’s share of the carries, giving him a higher ceiling than other options. Mostert has the opposite issue-the Dolphins’ offensive line has looked strong and their passing game has exceeded expectations, but Chase Edmonds has provided competition for the limited carries available. Still, Mostert has been gradually taking more touches for himself, including a season-high 17 against Cincinnati Thursday night. He remains available in just under half of fantasy leagues on ESPN and is worth picking if you need depth at the position.
Quarterback is a position where there are plenty of players who can keep you in the game, so it’s not worth bolstering unless you feel confident about the rest of your team or you have a surplus of talent at one position to trade away.
Kyler Murray is a player who is worth targeting in trade talks right now. He is highly regarded, so he may not be cheap, but he’s due to start out-producing his inconsistent start. The main reason for this is the return of Deandre Hopkins in week 7. Murray averaged nearly 26 points per game last year when Hopkins played, but that number dropped down to 21 after Hopkins’ injury. While some attribute this lack of production to non-football distractions-such as the allegations that Murray would forego film study in favor of playing the new Call of Duty-it would be foolish to think Murray’s play won’t improve with the addition of a top-10 wideout. Target him now while his price is still attainable without emptying your roster.
As for waiver wire pickups, your best option is likely Jared Goff. Against the Seahawks this past week, Goff finished as QB1 overall without his top two receivers, Amon-Ra St. Brown and DJ Chark, and without D’Andre Swift, who plays a major role in the Lions’ passing game. You can’t expect Goff to go out and give you 33 fantasy points every week, but the Lions’ offense has been explosive and pass-happy enough that you can expect him to regularly get you upwards of 18 points.
Catch of the day
Today’s passing offenses lead to an abundance of serviceable wide receivers, many of whom are still on waivers. The best option to pick up if you want a player with a high ceiling, is Romeo Doubs. The rookie receiver has seen eight targets in each of the past two games, and that number is likely to grow as he builds chemistry with Aaron Rodgers. He won’t overtake Allen Lazard for the first-string position, but he’ll provide flex value with WR2 upside. Also worth a look on the waiver wire is Isaiah McKenzie. Jamison Crowder broke his ankle, potentially ending his season, leaving plenty of short-route targets up for grabs. When combined with Gabe Davis’ questionable durability early in the season, McKenzie could find himself in the WR2 tier frequently later in the season.
In the opposite vein, Deandre Hopkins’ impending return from injury is going to drastically reduce Hollywood Brown’s target share in Arizona. Brown has been sixth among wide receivers in points so far this year, topping 20 points each of the last two weeks. He’ll be a player worth starting even after Hopkins returns, but now is your last chance to sell high and maximize his value on the trade market.