The Waiver Wire for Week 4 features, once again, a slew of new talent that popped up due to various new and lingering injuries from Week 3 and throughout practice last week. We finally see 2 new rookie quarterbacks take the field, while another veteran quarterback is starting to show that maybe the Redskins can do without RG3.
Kirk Cousins - Washington (Yahoo Owned 47%/ESPN Owned 28.6%)
It's not surprising to see Cousins owned in such a small amount of leagues. After tossing up 2 touchdowns in Week 2 against the Jaguars, many owners were skittish at picking up Cousins and also starting him since Week 2 might have been pure luck. Not anymore. Even though he faced an Eagles secondary that can't seem to stop anyone, Cousins proved that he is more than capable of running Jay Gruden's offense. Sunday's 427 yard/3 touchdown thrashing of Philly will see Cousins owned percentage fly high this week. If you're having some quarterback problems (Jake Locker anyone?) Cousins is about as upside as you can get heading into Week 4 against the Giants. The Giants are stingier against fantasy quarterbacks, but they still give up almost 20 fantasy points a game through 3 weeks.
Blake Bortles - Jacksonville (Yahoo Owned 5%/ESPN Owned 1.2%)
3 words describe the benching of Chad Henne: IT'S ABOUT TIME! After close competition for the starting job between Henne and Bortles in the preseason, the first-year rookie finally has his chance to shine on, what can only be considered, one of the worst passing offenses in the league. With a defense that is having trouble stopping anyone, Henne's 164 passing yards per game average just wasn't cutting it. It also had a trickle down affect on the run game as Toby Gerhart is already listed as one of fantasy football's top busts for 2014. Bortles made some bad decisions against the Colts, including throwing a pick-six. However, his 223 passing yards and 2 scores in just one half of football is a good sign. Bortles should be picked up in all leagues as a QB2, and makes a fine flex option in 2-quarterback leagues. His game against the Steelers will be a good test on just how good Bortles can be.
Teddy Bridgewater - Minnesota (Yahoo Owned 3%/ESPN Owned 3%)
Bridgewater isn't going to be a 1-2 week starter now that Matt Cassel fractured several bones in his foot against he Saints. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if Cassel sat on the bench for the rest of the year if the promising rookie can continue to improve week to week. Consider Bridgewater "Russell Wilson Lite" as he won't make very many passing attempts, but won't make a lot of mistakes either. Plus, he can use his feet to gain positive yardage after a broken play. He only completed 12 passes for 150 yards against New Orleans, but he added another 27 yards on the ground. Like Bortles, Bridgewater is a QB2 with upside, but not an option I would recommend outside of a flex play. He still needs time to grow.
Brian Hoyer - Cleveland (Yahoo Owned 3%/ESPN Owned 2.7%)
Hoyer finds himself on the waiver wire list once again after a decent outing against the Ravens, with 290 passing yards and a score. The numbers bring Hoyer's total to 241 passing yards a game and 3 total passing touchdowns. Hoyer is creeping up the QB2 rankings, but he's still nothing more than a bye-week fill in.
Mike Glennon - Tampa Bay (Yahoo Owned 1%/ESPN Owned .2%)
It looks like Josh McCown's Cinderella story is about to come to an abrupt end. After sustaining a "significant" sprain in his right throwing thumb, McCown is expected to miss several weeks. It might be for the best as he has looked terrible in 2014, throwing just 2 touchdown passes to 4 picks and averaging 140 passing yards a game. It's not all on McCown. The Bucs offense as a whole can't seem to get it together. Glennon represents a fresh start and change to the offense, but I doubt he becomes an overnight fantasy sensation. At the very least, he offers a jump start to an offense that desperately needed a boost. Glennon is still a low-end QB2.
Donald Brown - San Diego (Yahoo Owned 49%/ESPN Owned 89.8%)
The Chargers backfield is disintegrating rapidly with Ryan Mathews out for several weeks with a sprained MCL and now Danny Woodhead heading to the surgery room to repair a fractured fibula, which will knock him out for the season. Expect the Chargers to start auditioning running backs for depth. But for now, it's the Donald Brown show. Brown averaged a miserable 2 yards a carry after mustering up just 62 yards on 31 carries against the Bills. He also chipped in 5 receptions for 27 yards, but clearly Brown is going to have a tough trek ahead of him. Brown has been a disappointment for most of his career, so it's not surprising that he is a weaker option for running back needy owners. Still, he's THE GUY in the backfield, so he'll get a majority of the carries going forward. Just treat him as a low-end RB2/flex against the Jaguars.
Ahmad Bradshaw - Indianapolis (Yahoo Owned 74%/ESPN Owned 69.4%)
As Trent Richardson continues to start in Indy, it's Bradshaw who has shown the most promise in the backfield. Unfortunately, the coaching staff can't see what's right in front of their eyes. T-Rich is averaging 3.8 yards a carry, while Bradshaw is averaging 6. Richardson has yet to score, while Bradshaw has 3 receiving touchdowns. Not to mention Bradshaw is a much better pass catcher than Richardson. Fortunately, Bradshaw is now getting more work over Richardson near the redzone due to his versatility. With 12 receptions through 3 games, Bradshaw is an RB2 in PPR leagues, and a flex option in non-PPR leagues. The only thing holding Bradshaw back from being 100% owned in both formats is health. But as long as he can avoid injury, Bradshaw is clearly an every-week starter.
Lorenzo Taliaferro - Baltimore (Yahoo Owned 6%/ESPN Owned .9%)
Thanks to a late-week thigh injury to Bernard Pierce, Taliaferro was able to get some work in behind starter Justin Forsett. Forsett gained 11 carries for 63 yards against the Browns, but he yielded a lot of primary ball-carrier work to Taliaferro, who ran 18 times for 91 yards and a score. A big back out of Coastal Carolina, Taliaferro is a physical downhill runner who could get more opportunities in the future. Forsett is not built to be a starter and Pierce is on a very short leash after an inconsistent start to the season. You might have to wait a bit, but Taliaferro is an excellent stash option should Pierce continue to show he isn't the man for the job.
Alfred Blue - Houston (Yahoo Owned 24%/ESPN Owned 3.5%)
Blue wasn't terrible subbing in for an injured Arian Foster against the Giants, but he really didn't do anything that makes us think he can be anything more than Foster's handcuff. Blue was contained for most of the game, except for a 46 yard run in the second half. His totals were 13 carries for 78 yards. But if you take out that run, he only reeled in 32 yards off 12 carries. Blue is definitely not a stand-alone options, and is a weak handcuff for Foster owners.
Bishop Sankey - Tennessee (Yahoo Owned 55%/ESPN Owned 94.9%)
Both Sankey and Shonn Greene tied for carries with 10 against Cincy. Sankey averaged 6.1 yards a tote, while Greene rushed for just 33 yards. Although Greene did score a touchdown. Sankey got most of his work during garbage time as the Bengals dismantled Tennessee 33-7. However, this could be the start of Sankey's role expanding in the backfield after a slow start. Greene's overall 4.8 yards per rush will continue to get him carries, but Sankey could eventually make this a committee if he continues to make the most of the role he has now. At the very least, owners who have the room should stash Sankey away. Greene's value has petered out as the weeks went on in the past. It could only be a matter of time before Sankey eventually surpasses him in carries.
Brian Quick - St. Louis (Yahoo Owned 38%/ESPN Owned 25.6%)
Now here is a guy all owners should be looking to pick up. Quick was slow to develop coming out of college, but he seems to have developed quickly when others thought he would wind up getting cut. Quick has racked up 16 catches, is averaging 78 receiving yards a game and scored his first touchdown against the Cowboys. Quick is currently leading the team in receptions and receiving yards with 235. He's the clear cut No. 1 passing option, which makes him an excellent WR3 moving forward.
Andrew Hawkins - Cleveland (Yahoo Owned 41%/ESPN Owned 15.2%)
I keep waiting for Hawkins' fantasy bubble to burst, but he's been the best receiving option on the Browns' offense (outside of a healthy Jordan Cameron of course). Hawkins hauled in 7 out of 10 targets for 87 yards in the loss to the Ravens. While he has yet to catch a touchdown pass, Hawkins is providing solid PPR value with an average of almost 14.5 PPR points a game. It's safe to say Brian Hoyer loves throwing in Hawkins' direction, which makes him a viable WR3 after the Browns' Week 4 bye.
Allen Robinson - Jacksonville (Yahoo Owned 1%/ESPN Owned .4%)
A now healthy Robinson received the start opposite Cecil Shorts against the Colts, bringing in 7 catches for 79 yards. Robinson's value, along with the rest of the receiving corps, hinders on how well Blake Bortles plays going forward. Not to mention most of Robinson's yardage was in garbage time. He's a nice bye-week option, but not someone who can be trusted as an every-week starter. The Jags are going to go through some tough growing pains this season.
Jordan Matthews - Philadelphia (Yahoo Owned 18%/ESPN Owned 2.2%)
Philly fans were excited to finally see one of their team's top draft picks get heavily involved in the offense, but fantasy owners should temper their enthusiasm. Matthews did go off for 2 touchdowns on 8 receptions against the Redskins, but he only racked up 3 catches in his first 2 games prior. Matthews is a strong deep league stash in the hopes that he gets a chance to start over Riley Cooper or Jeremy Maclin some time this year. But 12-team league owners can pass on Matthews for now. There's just not enough passes to go around for Matthews to have steady fantasy value going forward.
John Brown - Arizona (Yahoo Owned 8%/ESPN Owned 1.2%)
You can take everything I said about Matthews and apply it to Brown. The No. 3 receiver hauled in 2 touchdowns against the 49ers. But like Matthews, he hadn't done much of anything before Week 3. He's another stash player in deeper leagues, but he'll need an injury to receive any significant playing time.
Niles Paul - Washington (Yahoo Owned 43%/ESPN Owned 8.1%)
It always boggles my mind when their is a TE1 staring right into owners' faces, yet they continue to ignore him. Paul is a perfect example. Against the Eagles, Paul totaled 6 passes for 68 yards and was clearly on the same page as Kirk Cousins. There is no word on whether Jordan Reed (hamstring) will be ready for Week 4. If not, Paul is a TE1 once again against the Giants Thursday night.
Owen Daniels - Baltimore (Yahoo Owned 26%/ESPN Owned 6.2%)
Dennis Pitta wasn't exactly having the year we had hoped, especially after Daniels found pay dirt twice in Week 2. After Pitta suffered a right hip dislocation against the Browns, Daniels becomes the immediate starter. Does this come with fantasy value? He's only managed 10 total catches in 3 games, with his fantasy boost coming from those 2 Week 2 touchdowns. He could be an option for owners in desperate need of a tight end, but Pitta's loss could actually help Torrey Smith more than it would Daniels. Daniels is still worth picking up as he knows the offense like the back of his hand, but I wouldn't play him against the Panthers (7 fantasy points to tight ends a game).
Ladarius Green - Chargers (Yahoo Owned 40%/ESPN Owned 10.9%)
Sometimes I wonder if the Chargers just don't know what to do with Green. After a 3 touchdown performance against the Seahawks, Antonio Gates was nowhere to be found against the Bills after catching 1 pass. Green, on the other hand, caught 4 passes for 64 yards and also saw 2 red zone targets go his way. Gates is still going to be the starter for the foreseeable future, but Green is going to have to be included in the weekly game plan as he is too talented to be a part-time player. If you have room, I would pick Green up and hold him until the day the Chargers coaching staff finally realize Green needs more playing time.
Travis Kelce - Kansas City (Yahoo Owned 48%/ESPN Owned 11.9%)
With Kelce's snap count on the rise, up to 47-of-72 snaps in Week 3, it's no surprise that he is still climbing up the ladder and should now be considered a low-end TE1. But for some reason, owners don't want to pick him up. Through 3 games, Kelce has caught 10 passes and turned them into 166 yards and a touchdown. With Dwayne Bowe phased out of the offense and Donnie Avery acting as one of the weakest No. 2's in the league, it makes a ton of sense that Kelce would see more playing time each week. I beg you: Pick him up NOW before it's too late.