Whether you’re undefeated, sitting at .500, or winless, you have plenty of work to do with your fantasy football team. Even after waivers cleared on Wednesday, plenty of value still sat on the free agent wire ahead of Week 3. With injuries already rearing their ugly heads, now is a perfect time to look ahead and try to find some value adds in the form of handcuffs, rookie sleepers, potential breakouts, and matchup-based streamers. Our Week 4 waiver wire watchlist can help you find potentially game-changing pickups, including Kenny Pickett, Jordan Mason, and Treylon Burks (more on them in a bit).
The early weeks of the season can make or break a fantasy team’s season, so it’s important to monitor the wire at all times. Maybe a roster spot opened because one of your players became IR-eligible. Maybe you recently dropped fringe players or lost your QB for the season (our sympathies, Kadarius Toney, Cole Kmet, and Trey Lance). The owners who find long-term fantasy success often anticipate who will be the following week’s top pickups and add them as free agents before having to burn valuable waiver claims or FAAB money.
Last week, we advised readers to grab veteran QB Carson Wentz and rookie WR Jahan Dotson, capitalizing on Scott Turner’s pass-heavy offense in Washington. The result: Wentz followed up his 35.7 opening-week fantasy score with 33.78 in Week 2, and Dotson hauled in his third TD of the season en route to 18 points. We also hit on wideouts Josh Palmer and Jakobi Meyers and crushed our tight end picks with Irv Smith Jr., Gerald Everett, Evan Engram, and Logan Thomas.
All of those guys have seen their ownership skyrocket in fantasy over the past couple days, but if you stayed on top of the forecast by reading this column, you added many of them at no cost ahead of last weekend. Anticipating the market — just like on Wall Street — can lead to short-term and long-term success in fantasy.
It’s also possible you’re already looking to stream at QB, TE, or D/ST. While the majority of fantasy owners refrain from early-season streaming, the most savvy minds at least scour the free agent pool for potential upgrades. It’s smart to plan ahead, peruse all available options schedule-wise, and get your first choice before other owners get in the mix the following week.
Some shallower leagues don’t feature enough roster spots to really take advantage of “planning ahead,” but for those in relatively deep leagues, our week-ahead watchlist will be a helpful resource all year long. Even though you won’t pick up most (or all) of these players, it’s worth watching their snap counts and target shares to file away for later.
Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Watchlist
Reminder: This list was put together in the lead-in to Week 3, looking forward to the players who could be popular waiver-wire targets ahead of Week 4. If you have a roster spot to play with, these are free-agent options you could grab early to beat the waiver buzz.
All these players are below 50-percent ownership on Yahoo unless otherwise specified.
Week 4 Waiver Wire Watchlist: QB
Kenny Pickett, Steelers (7 percent owned)
Steelers fans have been chanting “Pickett;” our own Vinnie Iyer writes that Pittsburgh starting QB Mitch Trubisky “should be benched immediately;” but yet, the first-rounder with the Golden Arm remains sidelined with Trubisky set to start a blustery Thursday Night Football game against fellow backup Jacoby Brissett and the Browns. Look, it makes all the sense in the world to add Pickett now if you have a spot available. If Trubisky falls on his face against Cleveland’s tough defense and Mike Tomlin announces next Monday that Pickett will be the starter, you got one of the top waiver pickups of Week 4 for free back in Week 3. If Trubisky gallantly leads Pittsburgh to the prime-time win, you can drop Pickett back to the wire on Friday and pick somebody else up until the Pickett lines start forming again. Just know this: sooner than later, the rookie’s day will come. The Steelers are too good to waste their season on a veteran experiment that already failed four times over in Chicago. #FreePickett.
Jared Goff, Lions (39%)
Now here’s a veteran QB we can get behind. Goff has been fantastic for Detroit early on, flaunting a 6-1 TD to interception ratio. Following a strong Week 1 showing with 20.6 fantasy points against a tough Philly D, he hung 36.6 fantasy points on Washington. The emergence of D’Andre Swift as an elite NFL back — not to mention the strengthening of the Lion’s o-line — has eliminated much of the pocket pressure Goff was feeling when he first landed in Motown. The emergence of Amon-Ra St. Brown, who looks like a league-winner through two weeks, has reinvigorated Goff’s confidence in throwing the ball downfield. Gone are the days of check-downs and dump-offs — this is a bona fide NFL offense, and it has Goff’s fingerprints all over it. Detroit’s Week 3 opponent is Minnesota, fresh off a drilling from Philly, and then it’s back home for a date with the Jamal Adam-less Seahawks secondary. Grab Goff and prepare for liftoff.
MORE POTENTIAL QB PICKUPS: Matt Ryan, Colts (35%); Jameis Winston, Saints (44%); Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (33%)
Week 4 Waiver Wire Watchlist: RB
Jordan Mason, 49ers (6 percent owned)
We included Mason on this list last week, but it bears repeating as most of you just aren’t listening! Starting 49ers back Elijah Mitchell won’t be back from his sprained MCL until probably November, and third-round pick Tyrion Davis-Price could miss three-to-four weeks with a high-ankle sprain. Veteran back Jeff Wilson is assuming the Niners’ gold-crusted RB1 role (and veteran journeyman Marlon Mack just got added for depth), but Mason’s time to emerge is now! The undrafted rookie impressed so mightily in the preseason that he made the final 53 going into the season, and now he backs up a veteran in Wilson with a lengthy injury history. He’s a “should-roster” now, but he’ll be a “must-roster” after this weekend if he pops. By then, you’ll be in a bidding war for him.
Brian Robinson Jr.*, Commanders (51%)
As this is a look-ahead column, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Robinson Jr. The Alabama product was primed to take over the Commanders’ starting RB job before he was shot in an attempted carjacking/robbery in D.C. Amazingly, Robinson has almost fully recovered, and he’s already doing side work at Washington’s practices. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that B-Rob could be activated as soon as Week 5 when he’s first eligible to come off the non-football IR list. Scoop him now because you probably won’t find a back more worthy of your RB2 spot between now and Week 5.
Tyler Allgeier, Falcons (15%)
Allgeier hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire, but he did turn some heads when he received 10 carries in Week 2. That worked out to be a complete 50-50 split with 2021 veteran breakout Cordarrelle Patterson, who out-gained the rookie 41-30. Allgeier won’t merit a start anytime soon, but he’s certainly worth a stash if he’s going to keep getting double-digit touches. Fantasy points don’t need to come from a player on a good team, and garbage-time points count just as well as regular points.
MORE POTENTIAL RB PICKUPS: Khalil Herbert, Bears (46%); James Cook, Bills (42%); Kenneth Gainwell, Eagles (41%); Rachaad White, Buccaneers (36%); Darrel Williams, Cardinals (26%); Eno Benjamin, Cardinals (12%); Jaylen Warren, Steelers (10%); Isiah Pacheco, Chiefs (24%); Mark Ingram, Saints (27%); Gus Edwards*, Ravens (13%)
Week 4 Waiver Wire Watchlist: WR
Jakobi Meyers, Patriots (49 percent owned)
Meyers has been one of the more consistent offensive threats in New England for multiple years now, and he has started the 2022 season on a low-key tear. He caught four-of-six targets for 55 yards in Week 1 against Miami, and then upped his game against a strong Steelers D with nine catches and 95 yards. He has proven to be one of second-year QB Mac Jones’s favorite targets and should continue flirting with flex production with a fairly-easy group of secondaries in the Patriots’ not-so-distant future, starting with Baltimore this weekend.
Treylon Burks, Titans (43%)
The Titans acquired Burks in the infamous A.J. Brown trade, and the rookie has already started to come out of his shell. He’s caught seven-of-11 passes for 102 yards through two games, but he got way more involved in Week 2 against a strong Bills defense. Burks has plenty of talent — strong hands, quick feet, toughness, and strength — and could easily blossom into a weekly start if he keeps improving as quickly as he already has early on. Upcoming dates with Washington, Houston, and Kansas City could be lucrative for Burks fantasy owners.
Noah Brown, Cowboys (17%)
Brown emerged from the shadows in Week 2 after Cowboys starting QB Dak Prescott broke his thumb and Dalton Schultz banged up his knee. Turns out, interim QB Cooper Rush loves the guy, even calling him a “baller” after Dallas beat the AFC defending-champion Bengals last week. Brown caught all five of his targets in that win, finishing with 91 yards and a touchdown. He now has 159 yards on 10 catches over two games — not too shabby for a guy nobody knew two weeks ago. You might want to pick him up before somebody else gets to him. Even with Michael Gallup (knee) due back this week, upcoming dates with Washington, Philly, Detroit, and Chicago could help Brown maintain fantasy relevance.
MORE POTENTIAL WR PICKUPS: DJ Chark, Lions (47%); Jarvis Landry, Saints (47%); Isaiah McKenzie, Bills (44%); George Pickens, Steelers (41%); Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Chiefs (34%); Mecole Hardman, Chiefs (31%); Michael Gallup, Cowboys (31%); Robbie Anderson, Panthers (30%); Corey Davis, Jets (29%); Josh Palmer, Chargers (27%); Romeo Doubs, Packers (22%); Rondale Moore, Cardinals (18%); Skyy Moore, Chiefs (18%)
Week 4 Waiver Wire Watchlist: TE
Logan Thomas, Commanders (32 percent owned)
Thomas has everything you could want in a fantasy tight end: strong hands, good route-running skills, red-zone targets, and a pass-heavy offense. Don’t worry about his injury history (or the fact that he has two first names). When Thomas plays, he will basically always be a startable asset for your fantasy squad.
Evan Engram, Jaguars (24%)
Second-year Jags QB Trevor Lawrence has developed a solid rapport with Engram. The results haven’t been huged, but he’s still caught of 11-of-12 targets so far this season. He seems like Lawrence’s security blanket, which should mean good things in potential high-scoring matchups in Week 3 against the Chargers and Week 4 against Philadelphia.
Irv Smith Jr., Vikings (52%)
We include this one for anyone who missed us harping about Smith all preseason and in the first two iterations of this column. Don’t let this man sit on your waiver wire, people! The tight end position is a barren wasteland, so anyone with Smith’s red-zone ability and strong position on an above-average offense should absolutely be rostered. He won’t be hovering around 50 percent next week, you can count on that.
MORE POTENTIAL TE PICKUPS: Hunter Henry, Patriots (45%); Taysom Hill, Saints (40%); Robert Tonyan, Saints (31%); Mike Gesicki, Dolphins (29%); Austin Hooper, Titans (29%); Hayden Hurst, Bengals (18%)
Week 4 Defense Streamers and Sleepers
Indianapolis Colts (vs. Titans in Week 4, 44 percent owned)
The Colts got rolled by the Jaguars last week 24-0, but in their defense they were without stud linebacker Shaq Leonard (back) and wideout Michael Pittman (quad). With Leonard back to full participation in practice and Pittman also expected to rejoin the Colts this weekend, this will look like a whole different squad. The Titans have plenty of issues offensively, so a division-rivalry game with them at home should be nice and appetizing for this upper-echelon D.
Philadelphia Eagles (vs. Jaguars, 51%)
Philly looked spectacular on both sides of the ball on Monday Night Football, limiting Justin Jefferson and the Vikings to 264 yards and seven points. They now go into the nation’s capital to face former Eagles QB Carson Wentz (revenge game!). Even more appealing, their Week 4 tilt is with the Jaguars back in Philly. Grab them now if you have the space.
Miami Dolphins (@ Bengals, 16%)
The Dolphins D/ST is probably available in your league after it just gave up 38 points to Baltimore, and now they face the high-flying Bills. Check out their upcoming schedule: the fumbling, bumbling Bengals in Week 4, the Jets in Week 5, and then starting in Week 7, the Steelers, Lions, Bears, Browns, and Texans. Plus, they get cornerback Byron Jones back from the PUP list soon. Consider investing now.
Cleveland Browns (@ Falcons, 49%)
We’ve loved the Browns for weeks, as their opening-month schedule has been a sight for sore eyes for anyone who missed out on elite defenses on draft day. Grab them this weekend at home against Mitchell Trubisky and continue to reap the benefits when they travel to Atlanta next week.
Chicago Bears (@ Giants, 34%)
Da Bears are not bad defensively, even without Khalil Mack, and the Giants, as we all know, usually love turning the ball over as much as my daughter loves apple sauce. New York hasn’t been terrible this year, but it’s still worth considering the Bears if your regular D/ST has a bad matchup.
Minnesota Vikings (@ Saints, 18%)
The Vikings have shown signs of brilliance defensively with studs at every level. They just got smoked by Philly on Monday Night Football, but fantasy is more about looking ahead than looking behind. Matchups with the Saints (and Jameis Winston’s bad back) as well as the Bears seem quite inviting to us.