Week 4 Waiver Wire: Valuable Skill Players Who Will Deliver Big Performances
Strong fantasy football skill players are often hard to come by on the waiver wire, especially in terms of running backs, a position that is ever volatile and giving owners headaches.
Thus, it's safer to take a gamble on pass-catchers ahead of Week 4, although, there is one running back who is a receiving and rushing threat—and it may not be the one many other analysts are hyping up.
Here is a look at two wide receivers from the AFC East who will deliver this coming weekend in building off of promising Week 3 performances, along with a featured back who will break out on Thursday night.
Santonio Holmes, WR, New York Jets
The chemistry between rookie quarterback Geno Smith and Holmes continues to improve after the star receiver missed the entire preseason while still being hampered from last year's Lisfranc injury.
Holmes is a versatile receiver who can make sideline catches with the best in the game, go over the middle and even get behind defenses for a deep touchdown. He did just that on the eventual winning 69-yard score on Sunday:
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will presumably dial up Smith for more passes moving forward, since the second-round pick threw for 331 yards in a 27-20 win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 3.
As talented as Holmes is, he's probably lurking on the fantasy wire somewhere after just four total catches in the first two games.
The 29-year-old veteran exceeded that with five catches for a career-high 154 yards in MetLife Stadium. Needless to say, his combination of ability and a seemingly competent quarterback makes him a must-add.
Week 4's opponent is the Tennessee Titans, whose defense should be in for a test at home if Holmes is anywhere near the player he was against Buffalo.
The rawer, unproven but fast Stephen Hill can stretch the field while Holmes works underneath and eats up yardage at LP Field.
New York's running game also showed signs of life with Bilal Powell running for 149 yards, so that should open up even more chances for Holmes on play-action, where windows will be bigger for Smith to deliver the ball into Holmes' gigantic catch radius.
Projections: Seven receptions, 110 yards, 2 TDs
Isaiah Pead, RB, St. Louis Rams
More obvious choices exist at running back in Holmes' teammate Powell and Green Bay Packers rookie Johnathan Franklin.
But Pead could be an excellent spot start on a short week for running back-starved fantasy squads.
The former Cincinnati standout was a second-round draft choice in 2012 and played for the rest of the Rams' loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3 after Daryl Richardson went out after just one snap:
RB Daryl Richardson was in for only one play, got his injured foot stepped on, and that was it.— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) September 22, 2013
Now it's a short week for St. Louis, who plays host to the seemingly reeling San Francisco 49ers on Thursday evening. That gives little time for Richardson to recover, giving Pead the likely starting nod.
Head coach Jeff Fisher has indicated that the Rams' 29th-ranked rushing attack intends to set the tone early:
With the Niners likely missing Patrick Willis, who exited his team's loss to the Colts with a groin injury, and the absence of Aldon Smith, there should be room for Pead to make plays.
#49ers will place Aldon Smith on the non-football injury list Monday or Tuesday, per source, as soon as he registers at treatment facility— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 23, 2013
It also helps that Pead is a receiving threat out of the backfield, giving QB Sam Bradford a safe checkdown option. Pead carried six times for 20 yards against the Cowboys, but did snag a game-high seven receptions for 43 yards.
San Francisco has the 29th-ranked run defense—the perfect foil for Pead to have a breakout game, especially with Willis and Smith missing.
Projections: 17 carries, 100 yards, TD; 5 receptions, 35 yards, TD
Aaron Dobson, WR, New England Patriots
Which Patriots receiver is the better long-term fantasy option
Considering the Marshall product was a second-round investment, a lot more had to be expected out of him even at this early stage.
With a bit more time to prepare after an ugly, drop-laden effort against the New York Jets in Week 2's Thursday night showcase, Dobson got more on the same wavelength with superstar QB Tom Brady, catching a team-high seven passes for 52 yards.
Kenbrell Thompkins may have gotten the two touchdowns, but as Brady and Dobson continue to grow more comfortable, the more balls that should fly Dobson's way.
It helps that Dobson converted four of his seven receptions into first downs, per KEEI.com's Christopher Price:
4 of Aaron Dobson's 7 catches went for first downs.— Christopher Price (@cpriceNFL) September 23, 2013
Within the confines of the Georgia Dome on Sunday night against the Atlanta Falcons' 25th-ranked pass defense, it is Dobson's chance at prime time redemption.
At 6'3" and 200 pounds, the 22-year-old still has plenty of upside as a red zone target, which is something Brady needs.
According to TeamRankings.com, the Patriots rank dead-last in the NFL in scoring touchdowns in the red zone at just 30.77 percent of the time. The site also notes that the Falcons allow a touchdown 70 percent of the time their opponents enter that area of the field, which is tied for 23rd in the league.
Dobson has the frame and ball skills to reverse that discouraging trend, and he will find the end zone at least once in Atlanta.
Projections: 8 receptions, 85 yards, TD
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