Waiver Wire Week 4: Fantasy Projections for Top Pickups and Sleeper Targets

Theo SalaunContributor IIISeptember 29, 2020

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates after catching a touchdown pass in the third quarter during an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Minneapolis. The Titans defeated the Vikings 31-20. (AP Photo/David Berding)
David Berding/Associated Press

Injuries continue to mount, and the bye weeks are going to start creeping up in Week 5. The waiver-wire grind does not stop for fantasy football managers.

In Week 3, we saw some new faces make big waves across the fantasy landscape. The New England Patriots' Rex Burkhead, rostered in just 11 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues, was the RB2 in standard leagues, while the Minnesota Vikings' Justin Jefferson, rostered in 31 percent, was the WR2. On any given Sunday, a waiver gift can make the difference in the quest for fantasy glory.

Looking ahead at Week 4, we've identified one pickup and one sleeper at each skill position who should be on your radar. The pickups will be rostered in under 33 percent of leagues, while the sleepers go a little bit deeper at under 20 percent. 



Top Pickup: Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (at Tampa Bay)

The No. 6 pick in the 2020 NFL draft, Justin Herbert has begun his career as a starter earlier than anticipated but is already showing real promise. Rostered in just 21 percent of leagues, Herbert draws a tough matchup in Week 4 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, seems capable of producing as the game slows down for him.


Justin Herbert and @Keenan13Allen connect for the @Chargers TD! #BoltUp 📺: #CARvsLAC on CBS 📱: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/xcinwkkjUL https://t.co/q3Aylh3nsE

Through two starts, Herbert has two touchdowns and two interceptions but has piled up 641 passing yards alongside 33 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. That makes him one of just three players, alongside Kyler Murray and Cam Newton, to throw for 300-plus yards in each of their first two starts. 

More importantly, the rookie is confidently slinging the rock and has dropped some quality dimes. Rather than a one-week streamer, Herbert is an intriguing waiver claim for long-term upside depending on Taylor's injury status.


Top Sleeper: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins (vs. Seattle)

Rostered in only seven percent of leagues, the timeless Ryan Fitzpatrick has completed 73.1 percent of his passes for four touchdowns with no interceptions in his past two games. He's also rushed 10 times for 50 yards and a score. And, for those in points-per-reception leagues, he did catch his own deflected pass once, presumably just to shake things up.

While Fitzpatrick didn't need to throw more than 20 times against the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3, he will need to against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 4. Led by a Russell Wilson MVP campaign, Seattle hasn't scored fewer than 35 points in a game this season and is therefore putting pressure on opposing offenses to keep up.

Fortunately for those who may need a streamer or simply want to gamble on the magic, this bodes well for Fitzpatrick, as opposing quarterbacks are averaging 430.7 passing yards per game against Seattle through three contests. 


Running Back

Top Pickup: Carlos Hyde, Seattle Seahawks (at Miami)

One of those situations that could change drastically depending on injury updates, the Seahawks' current starter, Chris Carson, is questionable for their Week 4 match with a knee sprain. Originally feared to be much worse, reports indicate that Carson's MRI has confirmed this won't be a major setback and that "he's got a chance to be ready for this week's game."

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

Sigh of relief for the #Seahawks: An MRI confirmed RB Chris Carson’s ligaments are intact and it’s just a minor knee sprain, source said. In fact, he’s got a chance to be ready for this week’s game at Miami.

But Carson has a shaky injury history, so Seattle may want to play it safe with their featured back. That would theoretically open the door for Carlos Hyde, who is rostered in just 19 percent of leagues as a higher tier handcuff who just put up over 1,000 yards for the Houston Texans in 2019. Travis Homer is an additional threat to touches, but Hyde should get the lion's share of the work if Carson is out, which would mean nice value against a Miami defense that allowed two touchdowns to the Jacksonville Jaguars' James Robinson. 


Top Sleeper: Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots (at Kansas City)

Rex Burkhead has had fantastic moments on tape for years now, but his versatile skill set has always been limited to spurts of utilization. Rostered in 11 percent of leagues, that number should soar as managers overreact to an absurd Week 3 performance from the crafty pass-catching back.


Rex Burkhead flies into the end zone! @RBrex34 | @Patriots | #GoPats 📺: #LVvsNE on CBS 📱: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/9RobDGGsOD https://t.co/2QH4nLlYvf

After getting seven touches in Week 1 and 12 looks in Week 2 (six rushes, six targets), Burkhead's role jumped up to a team-leading 16 looks (six rushes and 10 targets) in Week 4. He capitalized with 49 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, alongside 49 yards and one touchdown through the air.

Everyone knows how much Cam Newton likes pass-catching backs and Burkhead could continue producing depending on Damien Harris and James White's availabilities. 


Wide Receiver

Top Pickup: Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings (at Houston)

Justin Jefferson has officially broken out. After playing third fiddle behind Adam Thielen and Olabisi Johnson to start the year, Jefferson was the Minnesota Vikings' best wide receiver against the Tennessee Titans in Week 3. 

Barstool Sports @barstoolsports

Incredible first career touchdown celebration for Justin Jefferson https://t.co/D1Mz1HjXZS

The rookie piled up a team-high nine targets for seven catches, 175 yards and one touchdown through the air. He has speed, an innate comfort tracking the football and the upside for season-long value. Rostered in 31 percent of leagues, Jefferson is this week's biggest add.


Top Sleeper: KJ Hamler, Denver Broncos (at New York Jets)

A deeper add, KJ Hamler is another rookie who could be in line for more volume. Following the loss of Courtland Sutton for the year, Hamler has stepped into a starting spot next to fellow rookie Jerry Jeudy, who also has some injury concerns.

The Denver Broncos quarterback situation is an unfortunate, injury-riddled one, but Hamler may be one of the team's only truly healthy receiving options, along with sophomore tight end Noah Fant. The rookie is rostered in 12 percent of leagues because he is averaging just six targets, one carry and 39 yards per game, but the volume should increase quickly.


Tight End

Top Pickup: Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team (vs. Baltimore)

It's one of those situations that defies fantasy logic. Logan Thomas is a converted quarterback who now plays tight end, but he is seeing the volume to be a great fantasy asset: eight targets in Week 1, nine in Week 2 and seven in Week 3. 

Somehow, despite that attention, Thomas is only averaging four receptions, 31.3 yards and 0.3 touchdowns per game. The blame likely goes Dwayne Haskins' way, but you could do far worse than someone with that volume at one of fantasy's most unpredictable positions. 


Top Sleeper: Mo Alie-Cox, Indianapolis Colts (at Chicago)

Some players are so physically imposing that they cannot be ignored amid a sea of professionally trained athletes. Mo Alie-Cox is one such player. While the Indianapolis Colts' tight end, whose playing weight is 267 pounds, hasn't had particularly jaw-dropping numbers this year, few tight ends have (especially among those rostered in just 10 percent of leagues).

Following a Jack Doyle injury, Alie-Cox put up five catches for 111 yards in Week 2 followed by three catches for 50 yards and a touchdown in Week 3. Doyle's return to health dampens Alie-Cox's upside, but the genie is out of the bottle, and Philip Rivers may want to keep rewarding his big man with opportunities.


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