Normally I'd write a bunch of fluffy sentences up here to tease the exciting info to come, tickle your funny bone and otherwise introduce the 2,000 words of brilliant and invaluable waiver wire advice. But this week, we're dealing with an RB-pocalypse and just have too much to cover. No time (or words) to waste.
To the wire!
(And if you want more guys, more explanations, or more answers, hit me up on Twitter @MattOkada!)
Rostered percentages are from NFL.com's fantasy football player trends. Players are roughly ordered by priority within position.
Javonte Williams suffered a torn ACL on Sunday and while it’s extremely sad news for the young star, it also creates quite a conundrum for the Week 5 waiver wire. With Melvin Gordon’s fumble issues (four this season, most among RBs) and perennial backup Mike Boone filling out the depth chart, the Broncos saw fit to sign Murray off the Saints' practice squad Monday. This came roughly a day and a half after Murray led the Saints with 57 rushing yards on 11 carries (with a TD to boot) in the London loss to the Vikings. The Broncos play on Thursday Night Football, which makes this even more complicated, but unless you need an emergency start this week, I think Murray is the guy to add. Boone is worth a ‘stache in deeper leagues, or if you need a desperation play for TNF, but he’s never shown the fantasy upside that Murray has throughout his career.
Jonathan Taylor injured his ankle in Week 4 and the Colts have a short week heading into a Thursday Night Football meeting with the Broncos. If Taylor misses time, the pass-catching maven Hines and possibly even the next RB on the depth chart will have value in his absence. Hines has only had 15-plus touches five times in his career but averaged 20.7 fantasy points in those games. As for the next man up, it could be second-year undrafted RB Deon Jackson or current practice-squad option Phillip Lindsay, barring a waiver pickup by the Colts. The 5-foot-9, 196-pound Hines is very unlikely to shoulder a Taylor-esque workload, so someone else will get carries in this backfield. I like Jackson for now, but monitor the news out of Indy closely and react accordingly.
Cordarrelle Patterson was limited in Week 4 with a knee injury that has landed him on short-term injured reserve. Taking up his slack on Sunday were rookies Allgeier and Caleb Huntley. Both guys had 10 carries (Allgeier added a catch for 20 yards), and both scored double-digit fantasy points in relatively limited action. It is unlikely both guys will be fantasy-viable at once, and Patterson could retake his role in a month, but in today’s RB landscape someone in this backfield is going to be startable for the near term. As an added wrinkle, Damien Williams is set to return from his own IR stint in Week 6 and is technically the most proven fantasy asset of the bunch. I prefer Allgeier, but he will be highly sought after on waivers, so if you miss on him, try to ‘stache Williams or Huntley in his stead.
Back in fantasy draft season, there was some quiet hype around Chase Edmonds as the prospective lead back on an explosive Dolphins offense. Four games into the young season, he is averaging 3.0 yards per carry and has six or fewer totes in three straight games. Meanwhile, Mostert has averaged 11.3 carries over those games, specifically out-carrying Edmonds 15-to-5 in last week’s Thursday Night Football matchup. While the fantasy output has yet to materialize for Mostert, the usage trend makes him a promising add -- especially for a guy who can turn any given carry into 10-plus fantasy points in the blink of an eye.
Guys to 'Stache: With Alvin Kamara a very late (and frustrating) scratch from the Saints' London game in Week 4, Murray and Mark Ingram both got work in his stead -- and then Murray was signed by the Broncos the next day. That makes Ingram a valuable handcuff if Kamara's injury woes continue. Miles Sanders had a monstrous 156 scrimmage yards in Week 4, so you should ... add Kenneth Gainwell? Listen, Sanders has a spotty injury history, and Gainwell has been effective with his opportunities this season. He could be a league-winner if anything happens to Sanders. It's wild to even write this, but the Commanders are expected to activate rookie Brian Robinson next week, just over a month after the 23-year-old was shot multiple times in an attempted robbery this offseason. The very definition of a guy to 'stache, in case he supplants Antonio Gibson sooner than later.
After an electric preseason, Pickens had 11.5 fantasy points... over the first three games combined. No longer. The rookie broke out in Week 4 to the tune of 102 yards on six catches, including multiple big plays with Kenny Pickett in at quarterback in the second half. Meanwhile Diontae Johnson has averaged a disappointing 5.6 yards per target (outside the top 120 WRs in the NFL) and Chase Claypool has compiled a horrendous 79 total receiving yards through Week 4 this season. We’ll see what happens at QB for Pittsburgh, but Pickens could shortly join the bevy of rookie wideouts with fantasy value moving forward.
In a “that helps no one” master class, Jaguars wideout Jamal Agnew scored 21 fantasy points against the Eagles with Jones out with an ankle injury. So... add Jones. What? You heard me. Jones was featured in last week’s article but was unfortunately ruled inactive for Week 4 after a limited practice on Friday. Agnew thrived in the role Jones would normally play and I expect similar effectiveness from Jones upon his return (probably next week).
Despite highlighting Gallup in both the Week 3 and Week 4 versions of this column, I am forced to bring up the Dallas wideout yet again after he made his 2022 debut this past week. Roster this man! While he wasn’t highly targeted in the win over the Commanders, Gallup did score a crucial touchdown on a 9-yard red-zone strike from Cooper Rush at the end of the first half. And this was his first game action since January. Give him a couple more weeks and you could be looking at Gallup being a high-end WR3 for the second half of the fantasy season with the impending return of Dak Prescott.
Guys to 'Stache: A previous resident of this column, Jahan Dotson has done nothing but score this season (four TDs in four games). The "nothing" part of that sentence (12 total catches) and a new hamstring injury are the only reasons he's down here in the 'staches. I'm going to give you a trio of guys that performed well in the absence of more prominent teammates in Week 4. All three are worth a 'stache but are unlikely to be startable when their respective teammates return: Josh Reynolds, DeVante Parker and Jamal Agnew. Pending news on his Week 4 head injury, I also like 'staching Isaiah McKenzie, who has been a better Bills WR2 than Gabe Davis so far in 2022.
NOTE: All three of the guys mentioned above were featured in recent versions of this column and had solid games again in their Week 4 action. They are all must-adds and, at this point, must-starts in the vast majority of leagues. Please. I can only write Tyler Conklin's name so many times before my fingers fall off.
Both Dissly and Noah Fant scored in the Seahawks’ offensive explosion (48 points?!) in Week 4, but Dissly had more targets (four), receptions (four) and yards (39), while playing 10 more snaps and running four more routes than Fant. Moreover, Dissly now has a touchdown in three of four games on the season (Fant’s Week 4 TD was his first) and is averaging 2.0 yards per route run to Fant’s 0.8. Dissly will continue to be touchdown-dependent, but outside maybe five or six guys at this position, who isn’t?
Guys to 'Stache: Hayden Hurst scored his first touchdown of the season on Thursday Night Football and has 21 targets this season (top 15 at the position, hilariously). He's a dart throw in deeper leagues. Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox scored a pair of TDs and racked up 85 yards in Week 4, in exactly the kind of randomly valuable game he is prone to have. He has now run more routes and totaled more yards than TE teammate Kylen Granson (barely), so feel free to 'stache him for emergency use.
Goff has now thrown four passing touchdowns in two of his last three games and has averaged 281.5 passing yards per game this season. But more importantly, the Lions defense is downright atrocious (allowing 35 points per game in 2022). Lions games have featured a combined 281 points this season (140 scored, 141 allowed), which is the most by any team in the first four games of any season in NFL history. Simply put, Detroit’s games are absolute barn burners and Goff is going to rack up garbage-time fantasy production all year long. Plus, he has an obviously-elite offensive line and a sneakily-elite pass-catching arsenal. I’m saying it: Goff is a QB1 for the rest of the season.
This is wild. Prepare yourself -- are you prepared? OK. Over the last two games, Jones has scored 26.7 fantasy points on the ground and 8.7 fantasy points through the air. Baffling. The Giants QB has 193 rushing yards through Week 4, ranking third at the position behind only Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts. And this isn’t a fluke. He’s been a running threat his entire career. It’s not going to be pretty through the air anytime soon, but rushing production is a cheat code for fantasy QBs, and Jones is top tier in that regard, making him a mid-range QB2 at worst.
Outside of a messy Week 2 showing in San Francisco, Smith has scored 17-plus fantasy points in every other game and torched the aforementioned Lions with 31.7 fantasy points in Week 4. And it’s not without merit: Smith has a 77.3 completion percentage (best among qualified QBs) and a 108.0 passer rating (third in NFL). It certainly doesn’t hurt to have DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and a bad defense on his side. Smith falls into a similar category as Goff and Jones the rest of season being guys who will be QB1s a good percentage of the time and probably drop a stinker every few weeks that send them back to the waiver wire. For now, though, Smith should be on more rosters than wires.
Guys to 'Stache: Last week, this section of the column recommended Geno Smith and Ryan Tannehill "if you're desperate." Smith was a revelation (see above) and Tannehill threw two touchdowns. So, in that vein, if you are desperate in Week 5, take a look at Zach Wilson (at home against the Dolphins), Teddy Bridgewater (will start for Tua Tagovailoa in that same game against the hapless Jets), and even Cooper Rush (likely to fill in again for Dak Prescott if he sits against the Rams).
The Eagles D/ST is still available in 37% of NFL.com leagues. Why? I have no idea. Roster them immediately. They've scored 35 fantasy and seem to be getting better -- and after a Week 7 bye they get the Steelers, Texans, Commanders and Colts in a stretch of incredible matchups. The Titans D/ST gets the Commanders in Week 5 (who have allowed 25 fantasy points to D/STs over the last two weeks), and the Colts and Texans after their Week 6 bye. They haven't done much to impress so far, but we play the matchups at D/ST.