October is upon us and thus the gates of all things spooky have opened. Although no living room werewolf transformation or demon spawned baby can match the terrors on the field this past week. No, I am not talking of the awkward non-hug between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick at the end of Sunday night’s dark and stormy game. I am speaking of the gruesome injuries, quarterback play which may require an old priest and a new priest to fix, and once thought done players seemingly rising from the dead. Things are getting downright strange in the fantasy football neighborhood, so who we gonna call? Waiver Wire!
My goal is to keep it simple with the waiver wire recommendations in terms of layout. I will include player, team, roster percentage, free agent acquisition budget (FAAB) dollar amount (in percentage) I would use on the player, and of course a little background on why the player is being suggested. The players will be listed by position in order of priority. The threshold I work with is generally less than 50% rostered in leagues. I also want to provide you something quick and easy to pull up while making your waiver claims on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings. At the bottom of every article, you will find the “waiver cheat sheet.”
Sam Darnold | Carolina Panthers
37% Rostered | 15% of FAAB
Another week and another Sam Darnold top ten quarterback performance. This week he finished as the QB3 with 301 yards passing, two touchdowns, thirty-five rushing yards, and two rushing touchdowns. No one was drafting Darnold to be a “Konami code” quarterback, but he is currently tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns. Not just for quarterbacks either as his five rushing touchdowns is tied for most regardless of position. His next matchup is against the Eagles who rank 17th in allowing fantasy points to quarterbacks. Going forth the Darnold has the eighth easiest strength of schedule as it pertains to fantasy quarterbacks including two more meetings against the always vulnerable Atlanta Falcons. This may be your last chance to get Darnold and those leaning on Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Tannehill, or Trevor Lawrence should feel confidence in making the switch.
Trey Lance | San Francisco 49ers
31% Rostered | 10% of FAAB
No one in the organization may have been ready for Trey Lance to start for the 49ers this early in the season, but after the last three weeks, fantasy managers should be. Lance looked good overall once Jimmy Garoppolo left the game after the first half with a calf injury. News reports today said this will be a multiple week absence for Garoppolo and the 49ers. Two out of the next three weeks, they have matchups against the Cardinals and Colts who give up just under twenty points per game to opposing quarterbacks. If Lance can win the job, the 49ers rest of season schedule looks promising as they have the seventh easiest strength of schedule for fantasy quarterbacks. My biggest hope with Lance has a lot to do with George Kittle. The two built up a strong relationship this offseason and I see this being a jumping off point for Kittle as well.
Daniel Jones | New York Giants
31% Rostered | 10% of FAAB
Mr. Jones, where was this performance in Week Three against the Falcons? Instead, you put up 402 yards with two touchdowns against the seventh best team against the pass. We will take it. Daniel Jones is now the sixth best quarterback on the season and is easily my favorite of this week’s waiver wire pick-ups if you need a one-week replacement. Jones faces the Dallas Cowboys next Sunday who have given up an average of 28.5 fantasy points per week to opposing quarterbacks. Also of note for Jones is the play of Saquon Barkley the last two weeks which should have teams focusing on not just stopping the pass. The Giants do have two of their most notable receivers currently injured, but Kadarius Toney seems to have stepped up in their absence. I am starting Daniel Jones as a top ten option this week.
Taylor Heinicke | Washington Football Team
10% Rostered | 5% of FAAB
Since taking over for the injured Ryan Fitzpatrick, Taylor Heinicke has given fantasy managers either three hundred passing yards or three total touchdowns in each game. Also exciting is the return of Curtis Samuel to the Football Team receiving group, giving Heinicke a legitimate WR2 threat once he is up to speed. I am not a huge fan of Heinicke’s matchup in Week Five against the Saints, but they just did allow Daniel Jones to pass for over four hundred yards. Still, I would rather pick him up to hold for his two potential shoot-outs in Week Six and Week Seven against the Chiefs and Packers.
Cordarrelle Patterson | Atlanta Falcons
76% Rostered | 75% of FAAB
This will be the last time I talk about Cordarrelle Patterson in my waiver wire column as his roster percentage is well over my threshold, but just in case: go grab him! I do not think we can deny after four weeks the Atlanta Falcons see something special in Patterson and he needs to be rostered in all leagues. His multiple position eligibility is not just found on whatever fantasy platform you chose to play on, he is excelling at both receiving and rushing this season averaging 88.5 total yards per game with five total touchdowns. The Falcons have a tasty matchup with the Jets for Week Five and Patterson should see plenty of work.
Latavius Murray | Baltimore Ravens
48% Rostered | 45% of FAAB
At 12:45pm last Sunday the news broke Latavius Murray would be the starting running back for the game against the Denver Broncos. Then Ty’Son Williams was declared inactive, and it truly seems like it is now Murray’s job. Murray drew a tough first matchup against the team giving up the least amount of fantasy points to running backs on the season. Murray still had eighteen carries for fifty-eight yards and a touchdown. The Ravens play the Colts in Week Five who have allowed just shy of twenty PPR fantasy points to running backs. As long as it is Murray’s job, he should be a decent RB2 or flex option for your team.
Damien Williams | Chicago Bears
9% Rostered | 35 % of FAAB
Khalil Herbert | Chicago Bears
1% Rostered | 15% of FAAB
At the time of this writing, the injury to David Montgomery is not expected to be too serious as he avoided a feared torn ACL in Week Four. The injury looked bad, but what did not look bad was the play of Damien Williams who had seventy total yards and a touchdown in the game. Most of Williams’ work came once Montgomery left the game. The difference between Williams and the other waiver wire running backs this season like Chuba Hubbard and Elijah Mitchell is we have seen a history of good production in his NFL career including a significant role in helping the Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl in 2019. Williams was dealing with a thigh bruise at the end of the game but is said to be fine. However, if the thigh bruise progresses into something else Khalil Herbert would be the next man up, but I would not recommend spending much should that be the case. The situation will require monitoring heading into Tuesday night before most waiver claims are due.
Kenny Gainwell | Philadelphia Eagles
29% Rostered | 15% of FAAB
The early downs work in Philadelphia still seems to be for Miles Sanders, but it cannot be denied the Eagles are going to keep Gainwell involved. Between the two backs, Gainwell has looked better and is the preferred option in the passing game. In Week Four, Gainwell only had three carries, but did have a rushing touchdown and six receptions for fifty-eight yards receiving. If you are looking for a running back option in a PPR league, Gainwell is a great option.
Alexander Mattison | Minnesota Vikings
71% Rostered | 10% of FAAB
Alexander Mattison was dropped in a number of leagues last week when Dalvin Cook was active for the game against the Browns. Cook’s usage was minimal still and Mattison out carried him on the day ten to nine. Heading into a Week Five matchup against the Lions, who give up the most fantasy points to running backs, I could see a situation where Mattison gets a good share of the workload. If the Vikings were to take a big lead early, leaning on Mattison could be the smart move to rest Cook’s nagging ankle injury. Mattison’s value would be great if Cook were to miss his second game in three weeks.
JD McKissic | Washington Football Team
39% Rostered | 10% of FAAB
JD McKissic was the star of the highlight of the week with his game winning touchdown reception against the Falcons. His usage in the Football Team’s passing game and two-minute offense is encouraging. This is still Antonio Gibson’s backfield, but McKissic is turning into one of the best lottery tickets in the NFL who is still putting up flex worthy numbers. Heading into the bye weeks starting next week, McKissic is not a bad option to stick on your bench to fill any running back needs.
Laviksa Shenault | Jacksonville Jaguars
58% Rostered | 45% of FAAB
I was having a tough time ranking the receivers week to week in Jacksonville with their three-headed-monster of DJ Chark, Marvin Jones, and Laviska Shenault feeling like equal options. Sadly, Chark went down with an injury in last Thursday night’s game against the Bengals, but things might be clearer now. Still floating out there in 42% of leagues is Shenault who was averaging seven targets a game before the Chark injury which aligns with his usage from last season. In the last six games of 2020, Shenault averaged 6.7 targets per game with four total touchdowns in the span. In its not out of the question to see his targets go up especially since Jacksonville looks to be trailing this season. Shenault is my favorite wide receiver add if available for this week.
DeVante Parker | Miami Dolphins
38% Rostered | 25% of FAAB
DeVante Parker is quietly leading the Dolphins in targets and is on pace to have the most targets of his career. The injury to Will Fuller this past week should help this trend continue. Parker is averaging eight targets a game toping seventy-five yards in two out of four games. His catch percentage is admittedly lacking, but it is to be expected with the amount of those targets that are deep. The Dolphins have a feast ahead of them facing Buccaneers, Jaguars, and Falcons which give up an average of forty-five PPR points a game to wide receivers. I am adding Parker everywhere available and cutting ties with the likes of Mecole Hardman and any Patriots wide receiver need be.
Jamison Crowder | New York Jets
20% Rostered | 15% of FAAB
Jamison Crowder marked his first game of 2021 with seven receptions for sixty-one yards and a touchdown. It is the first time this season he and Corey Davis played on the field together and it blossomed into the Jets first win and best offensive game of the season. Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson looked worthy of his draft capital in last Sunday’s game, and this could be the start of something good for him as well. This is not unfamiliar territory for Crowder, when on the field he averages 13.1 PPR fantasy points per game. Pick him up and start him against the Falcons this week.
Curtis Samuel | Washington Football Team
40% Rostered |15% of FAAB
Hey guess what, I like Curtis Samuel. Like a lot! If you read any of my preseason articles you might have picked up my affinity for the former Carolina Panthers wide out. He made his debut with the Football Team last Sunday to not much noise, which is good for us. Let us let him be our little secret for this week. Logan Thomas left Sunday’s game and is now week to week, which opens some short area receiving targets where Samuel excels. Look for Samuel to beat his Week Four total of four receptions for nineteen yards. The production is coming, it might just take a little acclimation.
Kadarius Toney | New York Giants
3% Rostered | 10% of FAAB
For as long as Sterling Shepard is out for the New York Giants, I am intrigued in starting Kadarius Toney. In the Giants first game without Shepard, Toney had six receptions for seventy-eight yards. Oh, and in Week Five he will get to face the Dallas Cowboys who have allowed opposing wide receivers to do whatever they please to the tune of 44.9 PPR fantasy points per game. I am expecting another solid game this week from Toney which might just include his first touchdown on the season.
Receiver is always deep, so here are a few more players rostered in less than 25% I would recommend rostering on your bench:
Dalton Schultz | Dallas Cowboys
34% Rostered | 10% of FAAB
Through four weeks Dalton Schultz could be one of the best surprises of 2021. He has out targeted his fellow Dallas Cowboy tight end Blake Jarwin 23 to 12 and is second on the team in total touchdowns. Schultz finished as the TE17 last season filling in for the injured Jarwin but is already on pace to exceed his 2020 numbers. Schultz appears to be an integral part in the Cowboys high powered offense. Dallas faces the New York Giants in Week Five who allow the fourth most points to tight ends.
Dawson Knox | Buffalo Bills
47% Rostered | 7% of FAAB
Dawson Knox has been a favorite target of Josh Allen all season. He has yet to top fifty yards receiving in a game, but his four touchdowns in the past three games more than make up for it. Knox currently ranks second in the league in tight end red zone targets behind only Darren Waller and second in red zone tight end touchdowns to only Rob Gronkowski. I don’t believe we are in the midst of a breakout, but I do believe it’s worth riding the hot hand until Allen starts looking elsewhere.
68% Rostered | 7% of FAAB
Since Tua Tagovailoa was injured in Week Two, Mike Gesicki’s target total has doubled due in great part to backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett. The last two seasons we saw Brissett as a full-time starter, he targeted his tight end the second most on the team each year. Jack Doyle saw an average of ninety targets per season and Brissett looks to be falling into old habits. Gesicki has a nice run ahead of him, like his teammate Parker, with matchups against the Cowboys, Jaguars, and Falcons. Just last week the Jaguars allowed C.J. Uzomah, who had not seen more than two targets in a game all season, five receptions for ninety-five yards, and two touchdowns. Gesicki is not available in as many leagues as Knox or Schultz, but he’s a must add if available.
New England Patriots
60% Rostered | 3% of FAAB
The Patriots play the Houston Texans in Week Five. Rookie quarterback Davis Mills still looks to be finding his way and should be easy pickings for a New England unit who held the explosive Bucs to under twenty points.
33% Rostered | 2% of FAAB
The Cardinals get first dibs on a Trey Lance start. I am always a fan of starting a DST against a rookie quarterback in their first career start. Arizona has been very serviceable this season scoring double digits in fantasy points against Jacksonville and Tennessee. A home in division matchup for the Cardinals should give you another double digit fantasy performance if you are streaming from week to week.