Week 4 Fantasy Football Ratings: Top 10 Waiver-Wire Studs Still Available

Alex Joseph@alex_brosephAnalyst IOctober 1, 2011

Week 4 Fantasy Football Ratings: Top 10 Waiver-Wire Studs Still Available

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    As the weeks go by, waiver-wire pickups become harder and harder. Assuming that every owner in your league is doing their homework, most waiver-wire sleepers were probably picked up in the first three weeks.

    Take Cam Newton as an example. Newton was the perfect Week 2 waiver-wire pickup. He went virtually undrafted in all ESPN leagues, and now, as we head into Week 4, what's Newton's percentage owned figure?

    100 percent. You can't have two good games in a row and not expect to be picked up off the waiver wire. That's just how fantasy football goes. 

    Don't get discouraged, though. There are still a plethora of players out in the waiver wires that have either underperformed and are getting ready to break out, or are just now getting their chance to shine. 

    Here are your top 10 waiver-wire studs still available. 

Ryan Fitzpatrick: QB (Buffalo Bills)

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    Percentage Owned (ESPN): 95.9

    Week 4 Matchup: Cincinnati Bengals


    Fitzy, which is what Ryan Fitzpatrick will be called from now on, saw his percentage owned figures come up 7.4 percent from last week.

    Even though he will be the hardest waiver wire addition this week for most owners, he is still available in some leagues. If he is available, you have to pick him up. Period.

    Fitzy is currently sixth in terms of fantasy points among all quarterbacks. That makes him a must start in every league possible. Through three games, Fitzy has thrown for 841 yards, nine touchdowns and just three interceptions.

    To be fair, he has faced less than stellar defenses so far: Kansas City, Oakland and New England. However, that shouldn't take anything away from the fact that he has gotten his team off to a 3-0 start, and momentum is on his side.

    This week, Fitzy and the Bills will be facing a Cincinnati team who has looked rather solid defending the pass so far this season. Again, this has to be taken with a grain of salt, because the Bengals have only faced Colt McCoy, Kyle Orton and Alex Smith.

    Fitzy will be back in the 18-24 point range this week, so pick him up if he's available.

Sidney Rice: WR (Seattle Seahawks)

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    Percentage Owned (ESPN): 92.9

    Week 4 Matchup: Atlanta Falcons 


    What a blessing Sidney Rice's return was for Tarvaris Jackson and the Seahawks' passing game.

    In his Week 3 debut, Rice caught eight passes for 109 yards, and the Seahawks picked up their first win of the season. I'm pretty sure Tarvaris Jackson forgot about all the other receivers on his team, because the next leading receiver was Doug Baldwin with two receptions for 23 yards.

    Rice will garner more attention from defenses now that he is back in the lineup, so Jackson will be forced to look elsewhere, but Rice is still going to be the main man to own.

    Rice was dropped by a lot of teams after he missed the first two weeks of the season, but now that he's back, his percentage owned figure has climbed back up to almost 93 percent. Like Fitzy, Rice will be hard to come by in most leagues, but if he's available, now is the time to grab him.

    Atlanta hasn't played the pass very well this season. They are currently No. 22 in terms of pass defense, allowing 261 passing yards per game. Maybe this will be good for Jackson, who is currently only averaging 176 passing yards per game.

    With Rice finally healthy, the Seahawks might finally be able to get their offense figured out. Things are only looking up for Rice.

Thomas Jones: RB (Kansas City Chiefs)

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    Percentage Owned (ESPN): 83.3

    Week 4 Matchup: Minnesota Vikings 


    In my eyes, Thomas Jones is the second option you currently want from the Kansas City Chiefs if you're picking up guys from the waiver wire.

    However, Jones is still the No. 1 running back in Kansas City, and until backup Dexter McCluster can take that title away from him, Jones will continue to see a good portion of the carries.

    This includes the goal-line carries that he is more suited to handle in the first place. Against a good run defense like Minnesota, goal-line carries may be the only thing that the Chiefs' running backs should look forward to.

    Even though the Chiefs have been struck with injuries and letdowns so far this season, this might be a game where QB Matt Cassel gets back on track. The Vikings are giving up almost 300 passing yards per game this season, which is good for No. 29 amongst all teams in the NFL.

    If Cassel can get the Chiefs in the red zone, then Jones will have a great chance at having his best fantasy week so far.

    Jones saw his percentage owned numbers spike when Jamaal Charles went down with a season-ending injury, but after a disappointing Week 3 performance, Jones is bound to be available in your league.

    Pick him up if you need a good flex option this week.

Nate Washington: WR (Tennessee Titans)

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    Percentage Owned (ESPN): 75.0

    Week 4 Matchup: Cleveland Browns 


    Nate Washington is a hot commodity. In the last week, his percentage owned numbers have gone up from 7.1 percent owned to 75 percent owned.

    This is due to the Titans' star WR Kenny Britt being put on the IR. Britt is out for the remainder of the season, which is likely a crushing blow for a lot of fantasy owners out there.

    No need to worry, though! Washington is going to take over the duties as the Titans' No. 1 option, and that makes him at least a worthy flex play for the rest of the season.

    Last week, Washington caught eight passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. Most of his production came after Britt left the game, but Washington has gotten a decent amount of targets every week this season.

    He caught six passes in Week 1 and seven passes in Week 2. With Britt out for good, Washington could be receiving double-digit targets every week for the rest of the season.

    Titans' QB Matt Hasselbeck has shown that he still has something left in the tank, and if the Titans want to salvage any of their season, Washington will have to be the workhorse of the receiving corps.

    If star RB Chris Johnson could ever get anything going on the ground, Washington would become even more of a fantasy threat.

    Pick. Him. Up.

Brandon Pettigrew: TE (Detroit Lions)

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    Percentage Owned (ESPN): 63.7

    Week 4 Matchup: Dallas Cowboys 


    Brandon Pettigrew has been a work in progress. He's always been a good receiving tight end, but he has struggled to become a main part of the offense while he's been in Detroit.

    All that is about to change. Last week, Pettigrew finally got on the same page as QB Matthew Stafford, as they hooked up 11 times for 112 yards.

    After such a performance, Stafford is going to be more prone to looking Pettigrew's way. Really, as long as Stafford remains healthy, Pettigrew will remain a good option as a starting fantasy tight end. Detroit's passing game has been really great this season.

    Tight end is a hard position to read in fantasy football. This season, unless you own Rob Gronkowski, every week could be a toss-up on how your tight end is going to perform.

    By fantasy points alone, Pettigrew is only the seventeenth best option at tight end so far this season. However, the tenth best option, Greg Olsen, has only seven more points than Pettigrew. That's only 2.3 more points a week!

    If Pettigrew can carry his momentum and performance from Week 3 into Week 4 against the Cowboys, then he is going to be a great start.

    If you're feeling the need to gamble, Pettigrew is your guy.

Dexter McCluster: RB (Kansas City Chiefs)

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    Percentage Owned (ESPN): 52.3

    Week 4 Matchup: Minnesota Vikings 


    Like I said in Thomas Jones' slide, Dexter McCluster is really the only running back on the Kansas City roster I'm interested in picking up.

    Jones makes for a good option this week, as he is sure to see some goal-line carries, but McCluster will be able to own this week's matchup against the Vikings in every sense of the offense. He is a great receiver, and with his shifty running ability, he should be able to get into some open space this week against a terrible pass defense.

    McCluster is going to have a good week, but he may not get into the end zone. I'm foreseeing around eight to 10 carries and six to 10 receptions. The carries should be between 25-45 yards, but if he gets that many passing targets, look out.

    His yards after catch numbers will be great this week, so you just have to hope that he gets an opportunity to break a long one and make people miss.

    McCluster's value will go up again after this week is over, so grab him while he's only owned in just over half of all leagues.

    He will be more beneficial to you in the future than Jones, and he will be a good flex play this week, as well.

Jason Hanson: K (Detroit Lions)

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    Percentage Owned (ESPN): 51.8

    Week 4 Matchup: Dallas Cowboys 


    What?! A kicker?! A kicker can't be one of the ten best waiver wire studs! I mean...he's a kicker!

    Get over it. Even though kickers get the least amount of respect in the fantasy football world, they deserve to get some recognition for what they do.

    Last week, Cowboys' kicker Dan Bailey scored 21 fantasy points by kicking six field goals. Is that always going to happen? No, of course not, but why not get yourself in the best position for the best kicker to get you the most points every week?

    So far, that's Jason Hanson. Hanson is currently the No. 1 fantasy kicker, earning a total of 40 points through the first three weeks. His percentage owned numbers spiked 30 percent this week, but he's still barely owned in just over half of all leagues.

    Here are the top five kickers owned in fantasy leagues: Neil Rackers (100 percent), Stephen Gostkowski (98.5 percent), Mason Crosby (95.2 percent), Josh Brown (88.1 percent) and Rob Bironas (86.6 percent).

    Of the aforementioned kickers, Rackers is the only one to have over 27 points this season. He has 36, which is currently second to Hanson's 40.

    These extra points are going to help your team in close games. Drop your kicker and pick up Hanson right now.

David Nelson: WR (Buffalo Bills)

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    Percentage Owned (ESPN): 38.3

    Week 4 Matchup: Cincinnati Bengals 


    You see what Fitzy is doing? He's making every receiver on the Bills' roster a valuable fantasy pickup.

    David Nelson started the season as the No. 3 wide receiver on the Bills' roster, but he has out-produced Donald Jones and earned the No. 2 spot.

    Nelson has caught 20 passes for 233 yards in three weeks time, and this week looks like it could be huge. The Bills are going up against the Bengals who have a very talented cornerback by the name of Leon Hall. You might have heard of him.

    Hall will be primarily covering Steve Johnson on Sunday, and while Johnson isn't likely to get completely shut down, Fitzy will have to spread the ball around to make up for the tight coverage.

    This makes Nelson a great play this week. The messed up thing is that ESPN has only projected Nelson to gain 37 yards this week, but they do think he'll score a touchdown.

    I'm going to go ahead and go against their projections. Nelson's worst game this season has been four receptions for 66 yards, and he is going to get more than four receptions this week.

    He's hardly owned, so he should be a relatively easy waiver wire pickup, unless there are other guys in your league that are aware of his abilities.

Rex Grossman: QB (Washington Redskins)

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    Percentage Owned (ESPN): 25.2

    Week 4 Matchup: St. Louis Rams 


    I never thought I'd see the day where I was encouraging people to grab Rex Grossman off the fantasy waiver wires. I guess that proves how crazy this season has been so far.

    Grossman has actually fit in quite nicely with the Redskins, and has had a better-than-projected season so far. He is only the No. 17 quarterback in fantasy football, as he has put up 43 points in the first three weeks of play, but this is who he's currently better than (fantasy-wise, of course):

    Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Josh Freeman, Colt McCoy, Philip Rivers, Donovan McNabb, Matt Cassel and Sam Bradford.

    Oh yeah, and he's currently tied at No. 17 with Michael Vick.

    Needless to say, Grossman isn't doing too bad for himself. This week's matchup against the lowly St. Louis Rams may even bump him up to the top 10.

    Just ask Joe Flacco, who torched the Rams last weekend for 389 passing yards and three touchdowns. Flacco's performance came one week after throwing for just 197 yards against the Titans.

    If you're having some problems at quarterback, or if you're feeling the need to get risky, pick up Rex Grossman and start him this week.

    He's going to get a decent amount of points, so why not give the guy a shot?

Victor Cruz: WR (New York Giants)

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    Percentage Owned (ESPN): 15.1

    Week 4 Matchup: Arizona Cardinals 


    Last but not least, we have one of last week's breakout performers, New York Giants' wide receiver Victor Cruz.

    Cruz stepped in for an injured Mario Manningham and proved that Hakeem Nicks wasn't the only other option on the team. He only had three catches, but those catches earned him 110 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

    His two touchdowns came on great plays by Cruz, too. He showed great ability to make people miss as he danced down the sidelines on his first touchdown grab, and then he out-jumped All-Pro Nnamdi Asomugha for his second touchdown of the game.

    With Manningham likely returning to the lineup this week, Cruz will be moving back down to the slot. However, after a convincing performance, Cruz is bound to get more looks as the season progresses.

    This week, the Giants take on a less than stellar pass defense in the Arizona Cardinals. Cruz may not get as many yards as he did last week, but he will get more targets.

    His yards after catch play-making ability should come in handy once again. Cruz will be a good pickup for deep leagues, but if you aren't ready to take a chance on him, monitor his Week 4 performance and then make up your mind.

    He should be available if you want him.