Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 20 Players Available on the Waiver Wire

Matt BirchFeatured ColumnistSeptember 27, 2011

Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 20 Players Available on the Waiver Wire

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    Week 3 was one of the most action-packed and thrilling ones in the NFL in recent history.

    Fourth-quarter leads were blown, upsets rattled the AFC East race and the Panthers and Jaguars played on a water-soaked field during a monsoon.

    We saw teams make adjustments to their schemes and game strategy, many of which affected the fantasy football market. We can benefit from this by beating our opponents to the punch on the waiver wire.

    The Baltimore Ravens, for example, previously didn’t have a vertical receiving threat, so they looked to a receiver (who we will discuss later) who came through on Sunday in a big way, racking up 133 yards (three touchdowns) in the first quarter alone.

    We’ve watched the tape and want to help your fantasy team pull off a big win in Week 4. Here are 20 players that you need to consider picking up off the fantasy football waiver wire as soon as possible.

    Spoiler alert: We have embedded several video clips containing game footage to back up our claims!

No. 20: Jerome Simpson (WR, Cincinnati Bengals)

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    After his recent arrest had fantasy football players thinking his season was up in smoke, Simpson is still active and available on almost all waiver wires.

    With WR Jordan Shipley out for the season, QB Andy Dalton is going to need someone to throw the ball to outside of Andre Caldwell and A.J. Green.

    Simpson is a solid vertical option, as he's averaging 20.7 yards per reception this season.

    While he saw only four targets during Sunday’s game, he did have four catches for 136 yards against the Broncos in Week 2.

    Consistency and obviously his current legal status (which will probably be handled in the offseason) will be an issue, but if you’re hurting at receiver, he’s certainly worth picking up to start as a flex option in PPR leagues if you're very thin. Keep an eye on Jerome Simpson over the next few games.

No. 19: Oakland Raiders D/ST

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    The Raiders secondary is pretty suspect in coverage, and opposing receivers can get good separation against them.

    But they have plenty of speed, and the defensive front is tenacious, so I rate them as a high-risk, high-reward fantasy option.

    They are an opportunistic defense that will give up yards through the air but can give any opposing quarterback hell, force turnovers and will also record sacks.

    If the Raiders D/ST unit is still available on waivers, pick it up. It is a much better option than the rest of the units out there.

No. 18: Michael Jenkins (WR, Minnesota Vikings)

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    Donovan McNabb has finally found a go-to target on his new team.

    Michael Jenkins caught nine balls for 88 yards in Sunday’s game and moved the chains for the Vikings effectively. He was targeted 11 times in the loss, and if he can stay healthy, he is definitely worthy as a backup option on your roster.

    His 6'4" frame also makes him a viable target for McNabb to throw to in the red zone.

    The former Atlanta Falcon is worthy of being plugged into a flex spot in PPR leagues in the right matchups.

No. 17: Colt McCoy (QB, Cleveland Browns)

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    Colt McCoy may not be a flashy pick, but he can serve as a decent backup quarterback option if you lack depth at the position.

    While his completion percentage is not very good, he is good at limiting turnovers and has thrown five touchdowns thus far this season.

    The quarterback can move well in the pocket, enabling him to make plays that some other quarterbacks can’t. He doesn’t have a strong arm but excels at short and intermediate passes. He’s worthy of a pickup if you are in need of a backup quarterback.

No. 16: Jabar Gaffney (WR, Washington Redskins)

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    The Grossman-to-Gaffney connection is back, y’all!

    It was just over a decade ago when the two were hooking up at the University of Florida. Now, Rex Grossman and Jabar Gaffney have been reunited by matchmaker Mike Shanahan, and the chemistry has returned.

    The receiver has caught 13 balls for 176 yards (one touchdown) this season. Gaffney is consistent.

    If the WR is still available on your waiver wire and you're looking for a veteran to provide some consistency in your lineup, pick him up.

No. 15: Early Doucet (WR, Arizona Cardinals)

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    Early Doucet is a speedster that can get separation and run for yards after the catch. He has been a benefactor of the addition of QB Kevin Kolb in the offseason.

    In Sunday’s game against the Panthers, he caught three passes for 105 yards (one touchdown). He has great quickness, and his elusiveness makes him tough to tackle.

    Doucet is a good waiver-wire pickup, and if he can stay healthy for 16 games, he’ll be a solid addition to your fantasy football team this year.

No. 14: Scott Chandler (TE, Buffalo Bills)

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    Who is Scott Chandler?

    A red-zone threat who is currently ranked No. 5 in points by tight ends in PPR fantasy leagues.

    He has four touchdowns on the season and is worthy of a pickup if you need a backup tight end on your team. He is great in the short passing game, and he and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick have good chemistry.

    The Bills offense is high-powered; with a lot of red-zone opportunities, look at Chandler’s production to benefit as a result.

No. 13: Kendall Hunter (RB, San Francisco 49ers)

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    Kendall Hunter scored his first career touchdown in the NFL on Sunday against the Bengals. It was an important touchdown, as it was the game-winning score (and only touchdown in the game for either team).

    After RB Frank Gore sustained an injury in the second quarter of the Week 3 win, in the fourth quarter Hunter was promoted to 49ers feature back.

    He performed, which is nothing new for him: He rushed for 4,181 yards and 37 touchdowns during his career as an Oklahoma State running back.

    Keep an eye on Gore's status for Sunday's game against the "Dream Team." He's currently listed as questionable. As a result, there is a good chance Hunter receives at least 50 percent of the carries in the upcoming game. He's worthy of a pickup—there aren't too many quality running backs still out there!

No. 12: Dan Bailey (K, Dallas Cowboys)

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    Dan Bailey is the man in Dallas right now. 

    The Monday Night Football hero drilled six field goals and was good for 21 fantasy points in last night's victory. In fact, he scored every point the Cowboys put on the board!

    The "kicking controversy" in Dallas is over and done with now.

    His clutch performance likely cemented him as the No. 1 kicker on the depth chart (ha ha).

    As this Cowboys offensive unit gets healthier and also has some time to jell as the season progresses, they will continue to rack up offensive yards all season. There will be a lot of opportunities for Bailey.

    Act quickly, because after watching him play last night, anyone in your league that needs a kicker will likely attempt to snatch him up. You need to beat them to the punch and pick him up off waivers...now!

    Watch the embedded video and witness Bailey leading the Cowboys to victory on Monday Night Football!

No. 11: Brandon Gibson (WR, St. Louis Rams)

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    The Rams' primary offensive targets are banged up right now, and QB Sam Bradford has struggled as a result.

    Brandon Gibson benefited on Sunday, however, drawing seven targets from Bradford. He caught five passes for 55 yards and one touchdown.

    With WR Danny Amendola still out due to injury, the Rams have lacked a consistent possession receiver to move the chains, as WR Greg Salas struggles with dropped passes and consistency. It appears Gibson can fill that void for them.

    If you have a flex spot you need filled in a PPR league, Gibson is your guy.

No. 10: Mike Nugent (K, Cincinnati Bengals)

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    The Bengals struggle to score touchdowns in the red zone, but the offense does gain yards throughout their games, which gives Nugent plenty of opportunities to rack up points.

    Currently, Nugent is ranked No. 5 in fantasy PPR leagues. He's been a sleeper pick all season.

    He’s still available in most leagues, so if you’re lacking production from your placekickers, Nugent is an automatic pickup. Your problem will be solved.

No. 9: New Orleans Saints D/ST

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    Everyone is ready to give up on the Saints’ opportunistic defense just because they've given 88 points in three games thus far—but not me. It's only September, and the season is young.

    The Saints have had a tough schedule and have faced three high-powered offenses that have racked up yards: Packers, Bears and Texans. As a result, many fantasy owners dropped the defense that is currently ranked No. 16 in PPR fantasy leagues.

    Your opponents' miscue can be your gain, as the Saints' (and Gregg Williams') aggressive defense is built on forcing turnovers/creating big plays, and the yards given up will be reduced in the coming weeks as the new defensive front comes together and the schedule weakens. Pick them up if available, especially since they face the lackluster Jaguars and rookie QB Blaine Gabbert this Sunday.

    The Saints will improve their numbers as the season goes on. Don't quit on them yet.

No. 8: Mohamed Massaquoi (WR, Cleveland Browns)

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    After a slow start to the season, Massaquoi is getting worked back into the Browns offense. He leads the team in targets (13) and hauled in three catches for 77 yards against the Dolphins.

    Many fantasy football owners have already quit on the wide receiver, but don't make that same mistake. Massaquoi has good vertical speed and is the Browns’ only big-play threat through the air.

    He’s still available on many waiver wires. Take a flyer on him and pick him up if you are looking for a receiver with big-play potential.

No. 7: Dane Sanzenbacher (WR, Chicago Bears)

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    The Chicago Bears lack possession receivers to move the chains, and Mike Martz does not like throwing to his tight ends. The Bears' short-yardage run game is pretty bad too.

    Dane Sanzenbacher could be the solution to those problems.

    The wide receiver has caught a touchdown in each of the last two games, and he is a solid red-zone target, as he is a good route runner with solid hands. He's worth a pickup in a PPR league if you’re thin at the receiver position and he is available.

No. 6: Daniel Thomas (RB, Miami Dolphins)

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    The Miami Dolphins have finally learned that RB Reggie Bush is not an every-down back to run between the tackles.

    But Daniel Thomas is.

    He has proven the doubters wrong in his last two games, rushing 41 times for 202 yards.

    Some owners gave up on Thomas after he was declared inactive in Week 1. If he’s still available on your waiver wire, pick him up now. He’s a steal with the number of touches he receives each game, and his workload will likely increase as the season goes on.

    With QB Chad Henne behind center for the Dolphins, a lot of carries for Thomas is certainly not a bad idea.

No. 5: Victor Cruz (WR, New York Giants)

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    The Giants are thin at the receiver position due to injuries, and Cruz was given his first career NFL start as a result.

    Nnamdi Asomugha is probably wishing they didn’t, as the young wideout torched him for big gains in Sunday's game. He finished with three catches for 110 yards (two touchdowns). (Related: Do the Philadelphia Eagles have any safeties that can cover?)

    With WR Mario Manningham currently injured, Cruz should continue to see action in the coming weeks as a viable option in the slot. They have been searching for a "diamond in the rough" to line up there since recently losing WR Steve Smith.

    Maybe Cruz can fill their void in the slot.

    He is a great vertical receiving threat, and his big-play potential is why he is worth a start in your flex spot in PPR leagues.

No. 4: Denarius Moore (WR, Oakland Raiders)

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    Even being covered by superstar CB Darrelle Revis didn't stop Denarius Moore from producing this weekend. Maybe that is the reason many team scouts as well as analysts had previously rated him so high.

    He rushed for a 23-yard touchdown scamper on a well-executed double reverse. His fantasy owners rejoiced. The week before, he caught five balls for 146 yards (one touchdown).

    With WR Jacoby Ford still out due to injury, look for Moore to benefit as a result.

    While the cat is out of the bag and he's no longer a sleeper pick, Moore is still available in some leagues. Keep an eye out for him, and if he's there, snatch him up off waivers as quickly as possible.

    Want to witness his speed for yourself? Watch the embedded video of him hauling in a touchdown catch in double coverage against the Bills in Week 2.

No. 3: Eric Decker (WR, Denver Broncos)

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    Not only is Decker reportedly dating hot music singer Jessie James, but he’s also one of QB Kyle Orton’s favorite targets. It's safe to say he's motivated to go out and play football.

    Decker received 12 targets during Sunday’s game, catching seven balls for 48 yards.

    It was no fluke either—the previous week, Decker decimated the Bengals to the tune of five catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

    Yet somehow he is still available in some leagues. If the big-play wide receiver is available on your waiver wire, pick him up now.

No. 2: David Nelson (WR, Buffalo Bills)

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    Nelson has at least 60 receiving yards in all three of the Bills’ games this season.

    The Buffalo receiver is a big boy: His 6'5" frame makes him a great target in the red zone. He also has good chemistry with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

    Nelson is the clear No. 3 WR on the depth chart and will take over from here on out for an injured WR Roscoe Parrish. His yards after the catch present problems for opposing defensive backs, especially with WR Steve Johnson drawing the occasional double-team in coverage.

    He is a great route runner and has good hands. Even though he only has one touchdown thus far, look for that number to increase.

    The Bills offense is high-powered and should create opportunities for Nelson to produce. He's a definite pickup if available.

No. 1: Torrey Smith (WR, Baltimore Ravens)

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    The Ravens needed a vertical receiver in a bad way.

    After they racked up just 229 yards during the Week 2 loss in Tennessee, John Harbaugh vowed receivers such as Torrey Smith were NFL-ready and would be more involved in the offense—and soon.

    Maybe that’s why he received eight targets in Sunday’s game and hauled in five catches for 153 yards (three touchdowns), all in the first quarter!

    Smith has great burst speed, and his big-play potential makes him explosive. If he is still available on your waiver wire, pick him up immediately and consider starting him in your lineup as a flex option.

    With WR Lee Evans currently out due to injury, look for Smith to continue to be a big player in the Ravens passing game. He is their best deep threat through the air, and his production will stretch opposing defenses to open things up for RB Ray Rice.

    Don't believe me? Watch the embedded video: The film speaks for itself!