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Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 4

By Matt Schauf | Updated on Tue, 26 Sep 2023 . 4:37 PM EDT

Waiver Wire Pickups

Table of Contents:

Waiver Wire Targets


Shallow Leagues

De’Von Achane, RB, Miami Dolphins

Blind-bid recommendation: 40-90%

Week 3 brought a huge turnaround vs. Achane’s worrisome preseason.

The rookie saw no first-team usage while collecting 20 total touches over the first two exhibitions, before leaving the second with a shoulder injury.

He then missed the regular-season opener and touched the ball just twice in Week 2.

Sunday found Achane leading the team by 5 carries, catching all 4 targets, racking up 233 total yards and scoring three times.

There probably won’t ever be another offensive day like that for Miami (or just about any other team). And Achane still holds plenty of potential to frustrate you with inconsistent touch counts.

But he has to be rostered everywhere after that breakout.

Tank Dell, WR, Houston Texans

Blind-bid recommendation: 10-15%

This rookie has played three NFL games. He has led his team in targets twice. And the only time he didn’t came before WR Noah Brown’s injury pushed Dell into the team’s top 3 at the position.

Opportunity matters. But Dell should be added across formats because of the way he’s taking advantage.

Dell ranks third on the team with a 9.1-yard average depth of target. But he leads the Texans with 11.1 yards before catch per reception. He has caught at least 70% of his targets in each game. And Dell ranks sixth in passer rating on balls thrown his way among all 86 WRs who have seen at least 10 targets, according to Pro Football Focus.

That’s a mark in favor of both the rookie wideout and rookie QB C.J. Stroud.

It’s too early to say Dell is a weekly WR3 for you. But it’s not hard to envision that becoming true.


12-Team Leagues

Melvin Gordon, RB, Baltimore Ravens

Rostered: 1% of Yahoo leagues
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

The injury bug is making its way through the Ravens’ backfield.

Already without Justice Hill (foot) on Sunday, the team lost RB Gus Edwards to a concussion vs. the Colts.

Gordon came in to record 55 total yards on 12 touches. He would presumably be the next man up for at least short-yardage duty if Edwards remains out in Week 4.

There’s also no guarantee that Hill is ready. Missing Hill as well would only leave more work available. Gordon would likely share some with Kenyan Drake in that case, but Baltimore retained Gordon ahead of adding Drake since the start of the season.

The Ravens rank third in rush attempts (106), enough for Gordon to be a volume-based flex play in the short term.

Latavius Murray, RB, Buffalo Bills

Rostered: 6% of Yahoo leagues
Blind-bid recommendation: 0-1%

Murray hasn't gotten a ton of work so far. But when he does see involvement, it’s in a key part of the field.

Through three weeks, Murray ranks fourth among RBs with 6 carries from inside the 10-yard line. He has scored 2 TDs, including one Sunday against the Commanders.

The 33-year-old has played on 24% of the team’s snaps, including 55% of the work in the Buffalo 2-minute offense. Damien Harris has garnered a 15% snap share. And Murray's dominating him in passing-game work.

Murray's the top handcuff to James Cook and can also be a TD-or-bust flex option through bye weeks. 

Quentin Johnston, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

Rostered: 32% of Yahoo leagues
Blind-bid recommendation: 7-10%

Injuries suck, don’t they?

WR Mike Williams tore his left ACL in Week 3. That presents opportunity for other Chargers WRs.

The big question here for fantasy managers: Which one do you go for?

Johnston has only logged 28% route participation through three weeks, trailing third-year WR Josh Palmer.

We're projecting Palmer to still play more than Johnston this week, but the rookie carries more upside.

Johnston logged more college receptions than Palmer in one fewer season. He averaged an explosive 19.0 yards per catch and then landed in the first round as an early entrant.

The Chargers need Johnston's downfield speed to keep their offense running efficiently. But you might need to be patient before starting him.

Josh Palmer, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

Rostered: 2% of Yahoo leagues
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

Palmer looks like the safer bet for Week 4 production.

He has registered a 15% air-yards share on 68% route participation so far. Palmer also stepped up in place of injured Chargers WRs last year. He saw a 19.6% target share in three games without a healthy Williams.

Last week, Palmer ran a route of every dropback after Williams left.

Rashee Rice, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

Rostered: 26% of Yahoo leagues
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

It was pretty easy to brush off the nice Week 1 outing Rice had in the absence of TE Travis Kelce, especially considering he didn’t come anywhere near the fantasy radar the following week upon Kelce’s return.

But Week 3 vs. the Bears showed us some encouraging signs for what may be to come for the rookie.

Rice ended Sunday with 5 catches on 7 targets for 59 yards. 3 of those catches and 39 yards actually came before the Chiefs rested most of their starting players in the blowout effort.

Additionally, he registered a higher targets per route run rate (33%) than teammate Skyy Moore (25%) in the contest. Wild!

You might not want to trust Rice in your lineups right away, but any WR emerging in one of the league’s highest-powered offenses is worth taking a stab at off waivers.

With Richie James on IR and Kadarius Toney seemingly always dealing with some sort of ailment, the path to relevance is pretty clear, too.


Deep Leagues

Andy Dalton, QB, Carolina Panthers 

Rostered: 2%
Blind-bid recommendation: 2-3% (Superflex only)

Dalton’s Week 3 numbers – 361 yards and 2 scores – look strong on the surface. But he fired off 58 passes against a banged up Seahawks defense.

Dalton also lost starting WR Jonathan Mingo to a concussion. Of course, he’ll be iffy for Week 4.

But here’s the reality: Just about any starting QB will garner attention in superflex formats. And after missing practice all of last week, Bryce Young (ankle) likely needs another week on the bench. The Athletic’s Joe Person has noted the possability of Young sitting out Week 4.

Heading back home, Dalton draws a Vikings defense ranked 27th in yards allowed; 26th in points allowed.

Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Rostered: 0%
Blind-bid recommendation: 2-5% (Superflex only)

Derek Carr is a near lock to miss Week 4 with a right A/C joint sprain. That’ll setup Winston to make his first start since Week 3 of 2022.

Coming on in relief of Carr, Winston posted 101 yards on 10 of 16 passing. His targets went to only three pass catchers: Chris Olave, Michael Thomas, and Juwan Johnson.

Week 4 turns up a home meeting with Winston’s former team (Tampa Bay). He catches the Bucs on short rest, while they might remain without starting CB Carlton Davis (toe).

Keaton Mitchell, RB, Baltimore Ravens

Rostered: 1%
Blind-bid recommendation: 0-1%

Mitchell went undrafted over the spring, due in part to his small stature (5'8, 191). You can't question the production, though.

He totaled 2,584 rushing yards and 23 TDs over his final two seasons at East Carolina. That same stretch produced 49 catches for 505 yards (10.3 YPC).

Mitchell showed off his elite speed/burst at the Combine, posting 86th-percentile or better finishes in the vertical, broad jump, 40-yard dash, and 10-yard split.

Now, Mitchell’s coming off a summer shoulder injury. He’s currently on IR, although the Ravens can activate him after Week 4.

With J.K. Dobbins done for the year and Gus Edwards (concussion) and Justice Hill (toe) battling injuries, Mitchell could eventually work his way into a backfield rotation.

DeVante Parker, WR, New England Patriots

Rostered: 4%
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

Parker wasn’t spectacular in Week 3, snagging only 2 of 3 targts for 19 yards.

That game allowed for New England to emphasize the run, though. Weather conditions weren't favorable for passing, while they faced the Jets' lifeless offense.

Still, if you dig into the numbers, Parker’s underlying usage remained strong. He barely trailed JuJu Smith-Schuster in snaps (52 vs. 54) while leading the team in routes run (26).

Smith-Schuster’s continued lack of targets signals brighter days ahead for Parker. The former Steeler garnered 3 targets on Sunday, giving him a season-long target share of just 13%. 

Next up is a Dallas secondary down top CB Trevon Diggs.

Josh Downs, WR, Indianapolis Colts

Rostered: 2%
Blind-bid recommendation: 0-2%

Downs continued to show off as a short-range separator. 

His Week 3 included 8 grabs for 57 yards on a team-high 12 targets (27.2% share). Sunday’s game ran deep into OT, but only one of Downs’ targets came in the extra session.

While Gardner Minshew started Week 2, note that Downs saw a 19% target share in his debut alongside Anthony Richardson.

Considering Downs’ average depth of target (5.1 yards), we don’t see a high ceiling here. But he could be a cheap source of PPR production in deep leagues – especially once bye weeks hit.


Week 4 Streaming Options

C.J. Stroud, QB, Houston Texans

Check our Week 4 QB rankings for the highest-projected QB available in your league. But if we’re looking for a widely available option, Stroud stands out.

The matchup with Pittsburgh carries some downside because of the strong pass rush. But the Steelers aren't as strong in the secondary. They rank seventh in pass-defense but just 13th-best in net yards per attempt allowed (which takes sack yards into account).

Stroud has been better than anticipated through three games. And his team has operated at a faster pace than expected. And it has leaned pass more than expected. And WRs Nico Collins and Tank Dell have started strong.

So if you have a need, Stroud has potential to help you in Week 4 -- and perhaps beyond.

Denver Broncos DST

This one's scary. Denver just allowed 70 points, in case you hadn't heard.

But the Broncos go from the Dolphins to the Bears. If Denver can't get it done on defense this week, then it's time to give up on the unit completely.

If the Broncos can prove useful on D, though, you can use them again for a Week 5 matchup with Zach Wilson.

Cincinnati Bengals DST

The Bengals come off a good defensive performance -- 16 points and 292 total yards allowed, two takeaways, 6 sacks -- against the Rams and now get a weaker opponent.

The Titans managed just 3 points and 94 total yards against the Browns last time out. They sit 30th in offensive DVOA through three weeks. And they bring nothing scary into this matchup.

Cincinnati is probably an even safer play than the Broncos.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers DST

Revenge game for Jameis Winston this week if Derek Carr's injured shoulder isn't ready.

Or is it a revenge game for the Bucs against their former top overall pick who didn't earn a second contract with the team?

Either way, we know this guy brings upside for opposing defenses. Last time he started for a season, Winston led the league in INTs. Last year in New Orleans, he threw 5 INTs across three games before losing his job to Andy Dalton.


Drop Candidates

If you’re going to pick someone up, then you probably need to drop a player as well. That’s who we’ll highlight in this section each week.

Sam Howell, QB, Washington Commanders

Howell probably won’t have another day as bad as he had Sunday against Buffalo – perhaps for the rest of his career. But his first three weeks have sandwiched one good outing between two shaky showings.

Howell wound up fine on fantasy points in Week 1, but he needed a rushing score to get there. He otherwise threw for just 202 yards and ran for 11 against the Cardinals. Howell seems to have the capacity for rushing upside, but he has only run five times through three games and fallen short of 20 ground yards each time.

Basically, there’s no reason you need to cling to the first-time starter as your QB2. Even if he develops into a good player, we’re not betting on special production this season.

AJ Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers

Dillon has blown two straight weeks of big opportunity, with Aaron Jones out nursing a hamstring injury.

Dillon finished Week 3 with fewer carries and targets than he had collected in either of the previous two games – despite Jones being around for most of Week 1.

Dillon is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry so far and watched RB Patrick Taylor edge him in pass routes against the Saints.

The fourth-year RB has seen his rushing efficiency decline each season. Don’t be surprised if Taylor passes him outright soon.

Damien Harris, RB, Buffalo Bills

Harris has trailed Latavius Murray in playing time each of the first three games. Most of that comes from a clear lead for Murray in the passing game. But they’ve also split carries that don’t go to James Cook.

Being the No. 3 RB in an offense that will always cede some short-yardage TDs to QB Josh Allen leaves Harris with little fantasy appeal.

Rashod Bateman, WR, Baltimore Ravens

Bateman hasn’t given us much to like so far. His playing time has increased each game:

  • Week 1 – 39.1%
  • Week 2 – 58.7%
  • Week 3 – 69.4%

But he sits way behind Zay Flowers there (84.8% to 56.4% overall). And Bateman’s 10.5% target share so far trails Flowers, TE Mark Andrews and even WR Nelson Agholor.

And now Bateman says a hamstring starting bothering him late in the loss to the Colts. You can comfortably drop him in most cases.

Dalton Schultz, TE, Houston Texans

Houston’s pass offense has been impressive so far. Schultz has not.

His 14 targets sit 7+ behind WRs Robert Woods, Nico Collins, and Tank Dell. And the rookie didn’t even start Week 1. Schultz is sitting on an 11.6% target share.

And the TE isn’t even making the most of that opportunity. He has caught just half of those targets and averaged 6.7 yards per reception.


Taysom Hill, TE(?), New Orleans Saints

Will Hill put up a useful fantasy outing or two at some point? Probably. But good luck figuring out when that might be.

You won’t find a better setup for him to be used than Sunday’s loss at Green Bay. New Orleans entered the game down to Tony Jones Jr. and Kendre Miller in the backfield, with the rookie making his NFL debut off a hamstring injury. Then, QB Derek Carr injured his throwing shoulder.

Jameis Winston piloted a come-from-ahead loss. Hill? He rushed four times and caught his lone target, just a week after posting a 9-75 rushing line on the Panthers.

If you’d still like to keep Hill on your roster, please at least make sure to tell your therapist about your self-loathing tendencies.


Grab This Guy

This weekly section will highlight a lower-level player who's more of a speculative add ... with significant upside.

Patrick Taylor, RB, Green Bay Packers

Rostered: 0%
Blind-bid recommendation: 0-2%

This 25-year-old racked up 2,884 yards across four years at Memphis. 

He's totaled only 42 attempts across three seasons in Green Bay, but there's reason to believe he might see a boosted role in 2023.

It starts with Aaron Jones’ hamstring injury. He’s missed two straight games, and while he’s on track to play Thursday night, we’re not taking his health for granted. Jones, 29 in December, carries a lengthy injury history.

As noted above, current No. 2 RB A.J. Dillon has disappointed. He’s 47th among 52 qualifiers in rush yards over expected per attempt (via Next Gen Stats).

UDFA Emanuel Wilson garnered some buzz over the summer but fumbled in Sunday’s win. He ended up playing only 8 snaps (vs. 31 for Taylor).

Mix in the solid start from Jordan Love, and Taylor could have both the opportunity and environment to thrive over time. He’s a no-risk, deep-league stash.

Other rankings are stale  before the 2nd round.

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