Top Waiver Wire Pickups Week 4 Fantasy Football: All eyes on C.J. Stroud
The purpose of a waiver-wire column should be to spotlight players who may be on the verge of a breakout. After all, trying to land him after his breakout is exponentially more difficult. Additionally, waiver-wire moves should always be made to add high-upside depth for later in the season or better your chances of winning the upcoming week.
Not all of these columns will feature a future stud or no-brainer add, but we can usually find help for our fantasy teams if we try hard enough. Furthermore, I will try to avoid recommending players coming off a 10-catch or three-touchdown game because it should be incredibly obvious to most that they need to be on a roster at that point.
The players listed below are available in at least 75 percent of ESPN leagues and stand at least a good chance of making some kind of impact in the coming weeks.
Top QB Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 4
C.J. Stroud, Texans
Week 3: 280 yards passing, two touchdowns and 14 yards rushing
While there have been some negatives (two lost fumbles and 11 sacks), perhaps the best parts of his early success are that he had held up well behind a patchwork offensive line and taken care of the ball. (Herbert and Stroud are the only quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts who have yet to throw an interception.)
Things are about to get tougher for the rookie in the coming weeks (vs. PIT, @ATL, vs. NO), all of whom rank in the top half of the stingiest defenses against fantasy quarterbacks. With that said, Stroud has already shown enough to be considered a competent QB2 against tougher defenses and a matchup-based fantasy starter against softer opponents.
ESPN ownership: 11.3 percent
Other potential strong add(s): Kyler Murray, Cardinals (14.5 percent - should already be stashed in leagues with multiple IR spots)
Strong one-week add(s): Andy Dalton, Panthers (0.6 percent - faces soft Vikings' secondary if Bryce Young (ankle) has to miss another week)
Top RB Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 4
Tyjae Spears, Titans
Week 3: Four carries for six yards; four catches for three yards
Spears is coming off his worst game as a pro, but his playing time suggests something may be amiss in Tennessee: either Derrick Henry is playing hurt more than anyone is letting on (he was on the injury report last week with a toe issue) and/or Spears is the preferred option in negative game script situations.
For the second time in three games (both of the team's losses), Spears logged more snaps than Henry in Week 3. The 29-year-old is in no danger of losing his job - nor should he be - but maybe he can no longer make up for an offensive line that has been eroding for the last few years. (For proof of this possibility, look no further than Henry's 1.4 yards-per-carry before contact. That number was at 2.1 in each of the last two seasons.)
If we assume Henry's toe is the bigger issue, then adding Spears is even more important. Not only does Spears have passing-game upside on a team that may be trailing more often than it has in previous seasons, but he also has feature-back potential in a run-based offense if Henry were to miss time.
ESPN ownership: 15.7 percent
Obvious add(s): De'Von Achane, Dolphins (16.5 percent)
Other priority add(s): Rico Dowdle, Cowboys (2.1)
Other potential strong adds (especially in deeper leagues): Kendre Miller, Saints (20.1); Latavius Murray, Bills (2.0); Sean Tucker, Buccaneers (1.9); Melvin Gordon, Ravens (1.3); Keaton Mitchell, Ravens (0.3 - should be stashed in leagues with multiple IR spots); Trey Sermon, Colts (0.3)
Top WR Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 4
Joshua Palmer, Chargers
A combined 4-16-0 line in his first two games landed Palmer on the waiver wire in the overwhelming majority of leagues, but his fantasy stock is about to spike following a torn ACL diagnosis for Mike Williams in Week 3. Palmer's fantasy performance against the Vikings may end up being his best fantasy effort of the season, if only because the Chargers should have the option of leaning more heavily on Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler (when he returns from his high-ankle sprain) moving forward.
There is also the small matter of Palmer needing to hold off first-round draft choice Quentin Johnston, who could overtake Palmer at some point during the season. The only problem with expecting Palmer to fall back into a third receiver role is that he has played much more often than Johnston so far (129 snaps to Johnston's 48) and ran significantly more routes (96-38).
For anyone who doubts where he stands in the team's plans at the moment, Palmer ran a route on all 10 of Justin Herbert's drop-backs once Williams exited in Week 3. For anyone that has doubts about his relatively modest production (72-769-3) in a semi-lead role with Allen and Williams combining to miss 11 games last season, they would do well to remember those numbers came in a less aggressive offense and did not highlight Palmer's ability to win vertically.
ESPN ownership: 0.9 percent
Other priority add(s): Jameson Williams, Lions (16.1 percent); Marvin Mims, Broncos (12.5)
Other potential strong adds (especially in deeper leagues): Josh Downs, Colts (3.2); Wan'Dale Robinson, Giants (1.2); Nelson Agholor, Ravens (1.2)
Top TE Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 4
Luke Musgrave, Packers
Six catches for 49 yards may not sound like a great day to some, but it is worth noting that the reception total matched the most the Saints have surrendered to a tight end since 2020 and the yardage matched the most they have yielded to the position since the start of the previous season.
Musgrave should have already been on rosters before his Week 3 effort, but he makes for a great two-week plug-and-play choice leading up to the team's Week 6 bye with matchups against the Lions and Raiders. Detroit has already given up a whopping 263 receiving yards to tight ends, while Las Vegas has allowed five catches and/or a touchdown to each of its opponents' top tight ends.
ESPN ownership: 13.3 percent
Other priority add(s): Jake Ferguson, Cowboys (19.8 percent)
Other potential strong add(s): Cade Otton, Buccaneers (2.2)