Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Week 4 Pickups: Making sense of the Eagles backfield

After three games, we start to realize if bad performances are flukes or trends. Then we head to the waiver wire…


Injuries are not going to impact many fantasy rosters this week, but there are other reasons to consider roster moves. Besides, it’ never a bad idea to check the waiver wire in case someone dropped a player like Eli Manning or Jordan Howard prematurely last week.

Here are a few interesting names still available in a majority of leagues that might pique your interest.

Who replaces Darren Sproles?

The most serious injury of Week 3 will take the Eagles’ Darren Sproles away for the rest of the season. Sproles not only broke his arm, he also tore his ACL on the same play.

Meanwhile. LeGarrette Blount was running over, through, and around Giants defenders. But Wendell Smallwood ended up with more touches and picked up more yards by the end of the game. Most telling was that Smallwood was in on goal-to-go situations late in the game, not Blount.

The Eagles have roles and a plan. That plan could change. It could even revert back to 75% passing plays like we saw in the first two weeks. But if game three is any indication, Smallwood takes the Sproles role and is the most important waiver wire pickup for Week 4.

Chris Carson and Chris Thompson

Two of the most-added running backs last week, both Carson and Thompson are still available in more than 50% of fantasy leagues. You might worry that Thompson cannot sustain his high-yardage results with limited touches, but two things happened in Week 3. First, he did maintain that average, at least in pass catching. The other thing is that Samaje Perine got hurt. Rob Kelly is dealing with painful ribs, too. Thompson’s touches are already trending upwards. With his backfield mates getting banged up, it’s time to pick up Chris Thompson.

Chris Carson led the Seahawks in snaps and touches this week. Don’t be turned off by his low production against Tennessee. The Titans have one of the strongest defensive front-sevens in the league. Carson is the lead back on a team that won’t be trailing by two touchdowns most weeks. He should be on a roster somewhere.

D’Onta Foreman, RB, Houston Texans

Lamar Miller is a strong and reliable running back, but we saw last year why Miami never made him a workhorse. He is better when he doesn’t have the ball every play. Foreman is running strong for the Texans so far. He had eight carries to 14 for Miller and averaged a full yard more per carry this week. Foreman also caught two of three pass targets, breaking each for 30-yard gains. Miller saw one target for seven yards.

Foreman’s 106 yards in a limited role makes him worth a roster spot. I anticipate that his role will expand a little bit as the season wears on and eventually be close to a 50-50 proposition with the veteran Miller.

Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants

This is not just based on a 77-yard touchdown pass where a defender took a bad angle and knocked down the only defender with a shot at stopping the play. This is based on the Giants quick-hitting passing attack and Shepard’s eternal presence crossing over the middle for Eli Manning.

Although he dropped a second touchdown Sunday, Shepard is proving more reliable than Brandon Marshall. Tight end Evan Engram is making rookie mistakes and the running backs need to protect the quarterback. Shepard is the clear-cut number two receiver and prime beneficiary of Odell Beckham’s presence on the field going forward.

Paul Richardson, WR, Seattle Seahawks

Doug Baldwin’s groin issue is not believed to be serious, but even with Baldwin on the field, Paul Richardson is leading the team in air-yards per target. He has scored two touchdowns this season and is about to play against the Indianapolis Colts.

Richardson is a solid option this week as every team attacks the Colts’ secondary. If Baldwin is limited in any way, Richardson becomes a must-play for Week 4.

Bruce Ellington, WR, Houston Texans

Bruce Ellington looked like he could be one of the feel-good stories of 2017 when Houston signed him out of desperation amid an array of wide receiver injuries. Ellington played well in the preseason before getting hurt.

He’s back and received the second most targets behind DeAndre Hopkins in Week 3. Finding the end zone put him among the double-digit scoring receivers and garnered him some attention, but it is his role as the number two receiver that makes him worth a look.

Deshaun Watson might not be allowed to throw for 300 yards against teams that don’t have Tom Brady attacking them, but someone besides Hopkins has to receive the ball. Why not Ellington?

Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams

At some point, we have to accept that Jared Goff could have been a rookie-of-the-year candidate last season if he just received a little coaching. The new Rams staff has worked wonders with Goff’s delivery, presence and most importantly, fantasy-points accruals.

Goff has a Week 4 date with the Dallas Cowboys’ secondary, making him a good streamer option. After that, Goff’s world becomes a bit tougher with five straight strong defenses. He might handle it better than we expect, or there may be better options after Week 4.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

London has a strange effect on the Jaguars. I am not about to predict that Bortles throws for four touchdowns every week, but this was the second game he did not have a turnover. Jacksonville’s passing attack has become a bit more conservative and the threat of Leonard Fournette buys Bortles an extra second before defenders start pursuing him.

There is something going on in Jacksonville. Personally, Bortles’ preseason benching may have had a positive and responsible effect on the quarterback. Collectively, the Jaguars seem to believe they can win more games than they’ll lose this season. That might create some fantasy value.

Charles Clay, TE, Buffalo Bills

With all the craziness happening among tight ends this week, where NFL fantasy ownership of six of the top ten tight ends combined was less than three percent, a steady player with a firm floor is the guy I am picking up. Clay receives almost 25% of the Bills’ passing targets. He scored his second touchdown in Week 3 and is probably one of the safest tight ends to roster.

Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brate is getting out-snapped by rookie OJ Howard the past two weeks, but he is still the starter. He also receives more targets and is going against the NY Giants in Week 4. I predict Brate will score his second touchdown of the season against New York, keeping the Giants’ streak of tight-end touchdowns allowed intact.

There are other potential waiver candidates out there. Check back each day for advice and updates on all things NFL fantasy. If you have a specific question you’d like to ask, send it to [email protected] We’ll offer answers every Wednesday in our Mailbag post!

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Pat Opperman

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Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.

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