Welcome to Fanball FAAB, our weekly analysis of players who may be available on your league’s waiver wire.
Words by Christian Peterson. Rankings and blind bid recommendations by Paul Charchian.
Marcus Mariota, Titans
Week 4: 30-43, 344 yards, 2 touchdowns passing, 10-46, 1 touchdown rushing
Week 5: at Bills
After being a trendy preseason sleeper, Mariota’s elbow injury rightfully caused fantasy owners to abandon ship, en masse. Now owned in just 20% of fantasy leagues, Mariota suddenly looks very attractive after a huge and gutty performance against the Eagles in Week 4. For the first time all season, Mariota forced the ball downfield, connecting with top (only?) receiver Corey Davis on a couple of big plays (and narrowly missing another). His combination of passing and rushing stats made him a sleeper coming into the season in the first place, and it’s materializing. A Week 5 matchup with the Bills represents an opportunity to keep the momentum going. Charch’s Blind Bidding Recommendation: 10%. In QB-heavy leagues, 20%.
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
Week 4: 16-20, 145 yards, 1 touchdown
Week 5: bye
And just like that, the fantastically entertaining Stew Beard era is over. Apparently blaming Ryan Fitzpatrick for the Bucs defense giving up 35 points in one half, head coach Dirk Koetter cut the cord and re-inserted Winston into the lineup. Winston’s second-half line, which included 2 interceptions to go with the line shown above, was predictably bland and right in line with his career performance to date. Which is to say, shockingly pedestrian. The Bucs have a bye in Week 5 and a tasty matchup with the Falcons in Week 6. Winston is unlikely to be useful in anything other than 2-QB leagues, but if you previously went all-in on Fitzmagic you’ll want to go grab Winston as a backstop. Charch’s Blind Bidding Recommendation: 10%. In QB-heavy leagues, 15%.
Mitchell Trubisky, Bears
Week 4: 19-26, 354 yards, 6 touchdowns passing, 3-53 rushing
Week 5: at Dolphins
There’s nowhere to go but down for Trubisky, who set career highs across the board in Week 4 while facing the NFL’s worst secondary. In four games the Bucs have yet to hold an opposing passer below 334 yards, and three of their four opponents have tossed at least three touchdown passes. This certainly won’t happen every week for Trubisky, but it’s a good sign that he was finally able to unlock dangerous playmakers Trey Burton (86 yards, 1 touchdown) and Tarik Cohen (53 yards rushing, 7-121-1 receiving), while getting big plays out of explosive WR Taylor Gabriel (104 yards, 2 touchdowns receiving). Next week’s opponent, the Dolphins, aren’t the pushover the Bucs are, but in the last three weeks they’ve let both Sam Darnold and Derek Carr throw for more than 300 yards, and yielded a healthy 274 & 3 to Tom Brady. Charch’s Blind Bidding Recommendation: 5%.
Derek Carr, Raiders
Week 4: 35-58, 437 yards, 4 touchdowns
Week 5: at Chargers
Carr came into last week as a high efficiency passer whose fantasy results hadn’t followed. He comes out of Week 4 with by far his least efficient game of the year, which resulted in by far his biggest fantasy output. In a track meet against a previously-solid Browns defense, Carr erupted for over 400 yards and four touchdowns. It’s time to take Carr seriously at this point, especially if you have bye week issues on the horizon. Week 5 has the potential to turn into another track meet against the Chargers, who have allowed 10 passing touchdowns in four games. Charch’s Blind Bidding Recommendation: 3%.
Aaron Jones, Packers
Week 4: 11-65, 1 touchdown rushing, 1-17 receiving
Week 5: at Lions
Everything I said about Jones last week still stands. In fact, there’s now evidence to suggest that Aaron Rodgers is unhappy with the maddening running back rotation currently in place in Green Bay, and he’s hinted that he thinks Jones needs more run. Jones is apparently still available in 45% of ESPN leagues. That number should be much closer to 100%. He has a tasty matchup against the Lions this week, a team allowing 5.3 yards per carry. Charch’s Blind Bidding Recommendation: 40%.
Tarik Cohen, Bears
Week 4: 13-53 rushing, 7-121, 1 touchdown receiving on 8 targets
Week 5: bye
So this is what Cohen meant when he compared himself to Tyreek Hill. While those comparisons were always dubious, HC Matt Nagy finally found a way to utilize Cohen the way fantasy owners envisioned at the beginning of the season, getting him out in space and letting him create. Cohen made several Tyreekian plays in Week 4, and dramatically out-touched Jordan Howard (11 carries, 25 yards). It’s unclear if that particular trend will continue, but it’s tough to argue the end results for a Bears offense that seemed to figure something out with Cohen leading the way. Cohen is already on rosters in most self-respecting fantasy leagues, but his ownership dropped after a frustrating lack of production in Weeks 1-3. Double check to see if Cohen was cut by an impatient owner, and pounce if he was. Charch’s Blind Bidding Recommendation: 20%.
Nyheim Hines, Colts
Week 4: 4-10 rushing, 9-63, 2 touchdowns receiving on 11 targets
Week 5: at Patriots
Hines once again took advantage of Marlon Mack’s absence in Week 4, blowing up after T.Y. Hilton went down with an injury, after which Hines effectively served as Andrew Luck’s de facto No. 1 receiving option. Hines scored on two red zone plays and could play a huge role on a short week this coming Thursday night, especially if Mack, Hilton and Jack Doyle remain out. No matter what, Hines has proven he must be owned in all PPR formats as he continues to gain Luck’s trust out of the backfield. Charch’s Blind Bidding Recommendation: 5%.
Mike Davis, Seahawks
Week 4: 21-101, 2 touchdowns rushing, 4-23 receiving
Week 5: vs. Rams
Davis was the unexpected beneficiary when Chris Carson was a surprise inactive in Week 4. With Carson nursing a hip injury that nobody expected to cause him to miss time, Davis stepped in and racked up 124 combined rushing/receiving yards that nobody expected because it was supposed to be Rashaad Penny’s chance to shine. Instead, Davis dominated touches – to the point that head coach Pete Carroll is now saying Davis has earned a shot at a timeshare with Carson – with Penny potentially being on the outside looking in. Ugh. What a mess. You’re better off letting someone else sort through this weekly headache, but if you’re desperate Davis might be able to help you squeeze past a bye week or two. Charch’s Blind Bidding Recommendation: 5%.
Nick Chubb, Browns
Week 4: 3-105, 2 touchdowns rushing,
Week 5: vs. Ravens
Nothing really changed about Chubb’s role in Week 4. He still operated as the distant backup to Carlos Hyde. He still only got 3 carries. He just happened to take one of those carries 63 yards to the house, and another 41 yards to paydirt. That big play ability will certainly keep him active as a change-of-pace back behind Hyde, but there’s not much evidence to suggest that Hyde’s role as the bell cow is in any immediate danger. Because of his highlight runs, Chubb will probably be expensive on your league’s waiver wire this week. I’d let someone else overbid. Charch’s Blind Bidding Recommendation: 5%.
Taywan Taylor, Titans
Week 4: 7-77 receiving on 9 targets
Week 5: at Bills
The sudden release of Rishard Matthews put Taylor into the spotlight in Week 4, and he didn’t disappoint, grabbing 7-of-9 targets for a workman-like 77 yards. A third-round pick with loads of athletic ability, Taylor flashed big-time explosiveness in the preseason as well. Now, with Matthews gone and the Titans passing game hitting its stride, Taylor is worth an add in nearly all formats. Charch’s Blind Bidding Recommendation: 20%
Taylor Gabriel, Bears
Week 4: 7-104, 2 touchdowns receiving on 7 targets
Week 5: bye
Gabriel quietly had 17 targets in Weeks 2 and 3 combined, then exploded for 2 touchdowns and a career-high 104 yards during the Mitch Trubisky Coming Out Party (MTCOP) in Week 4. With rookie Anthony Miller out for weeks with a dislocated shoulder, Gabriel figures to get plenty of looks moving forward. You’ll have to wait until after the Bears Week 5 bye and then hope/pray that the MTCOP wasn’t a limited time attraction, but Gabriel is worth your attention. Charch’s Blind Bidding Recommendation: 15%.
Kekee Coutee, Texans
Week 4: 11-109 receiving on 15 targets
Week 5: vs. Cowboys
The fourth-round draft pick made his NFL debut in Week 4 after sitting the first three weeks with a hamstring injury. Immediately inserted as the No. 3 wideout, Coutee was elevated to No. 2 after Will Fuller left with a gimpy hammy of his own early in the second half. Coutee formed an instant rapport with QB DeShaun Watson and looked like the real deal on Sunday, making grab after grab as Watson’s safety outlet. With the usual caveat about rookie ups and downs, Coutee should be on fantasy rosters. Charch’s Blind Bidding Recommendation: 15%.
Dede Westbrook, Jaguars
Week 4: 9-130 receiving on 13 targets
Week 5: at Chiefs
The Jaguars receiving corps will likely be unpredictable all year long. Just when it appeared Keelan Cole was emerging as Blake Bortles’ No. 1 option early in the season, Cole has now managed just 7 catches for 55 yards in the last two games, while Westbrook amassed 13 targets last week alone, and now has over 80 yards in two of his last three games. Westbrook may not maintain his spot atop this volatile crew on a week-to-week basis, but he could pay immediate dividends as a streamer this week against a vulnerable Chiefs defense. Charch’s Blind Bidding Recommendation: 2%
Cameron Brate, Buccaneers
Week 4: 3-29, 1 touchdown receiving on 4 targets
Week 5: bye
After a promising start to the season, O.J. Howard is now out 2-4 weeks with an MCL injury, paving the way for Brate to re-emerge as the top tight end in Tampa, at least for the time being. A Jameis Winston favorite, Brate has scored in two straight games and is a proven red zone threat (he has scored 16 touchdowns in his last 32 games), even if he’s unlikely to rack up huge catch or yardage totals. A potential shootout looms against the struggling Falcons secondary in Week 6 after the Bucs bye week. Charch’s Blind Bidding Recommendation: 15%, because half your league is looking for tight end help.
Vance McDonald, Steelers
Week 4: 5-62, 1 touchdown receiving on 5 targets
Week 5: vs. Falcons
McDonald didn’t posterize anyone in Week 4, but he continued his re-emergence as the tight end to own in Pittsburgh with a team-leading 62 yards. For the second straight week, Jesse James had just one target. McDonald is locked in as the TE1 in Pittsburgh and should be rostered in all fantasy leagues; particularly given all of the injuries that have decimated the position. Charch’s Blind Bidding Recommendation: 15%, because half your league is looking for tight end help.
Tyler Kroft, Bengals
Week 4: 0-0 receiving on 1 target
Week 5: vs. Dolphins
Hard luck starter Tyler Eifert is out for the season yet again, which leaves Kroft and C.J. Uzomah to pick up the slack in Cincinnati. In the same situation last year, Kroft accumulated 42 catches for 404 yards and a whopping 7 touchdowns, while Uzi managed just 10 catches for 92 yards and a score. Based on that history, Kroft is the guy you want if looking for an Eifert replacement. Charch’s Blind Bidding Recommendation: 2%
Nick Vannett, Seahawks
Week 4: 1-6 receiving on 2 targets
Week 5: vs. Rams
You’re not salivating over the 1-catch, 6-yard Week 4 numbers, but the Seahawks just lost starting tight end Will Dissly for the season, and Vannett had been more involved in previous weeks (7 catches, 50 yards over the previous two weeks). The former third-rounder has talent, and now he has an opportunity. Charch’s Blind Bidding Recommendation: 2%
Jeff Heuerman, Broncos
Week 4: 4-57 receiving on 7 targets
Week 5: at Jets
With Jake Butt out, Jeff Heuerman emerged on Monday night as the prime beneficiary with a team-leading seven targets and 57 receiving yards. Case Keenum had plenty of success throwing to Kyle Rudolph last year and Keenum displayed similar confidence in Heuerman. At 6′ 5″, Heuerman is a big target who could eventually turn into a red zone option in Bill Musgrave’s offense. He’s a flier against the Jets this week. Charch’s Blind Bidding Recommendation: 2%
Week Four is nearly complete. It is hard to imagine that we are nearly one-quarter of the way through the regular season and essentially a third through the fantasy football regular season. Make sure you’re keeping up with the latest news. Here’s what you need to know from the Sunday games this week.
Fresh off his three-game suspension, Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston made his 2018 debut, although not in the manner the Bucs had planned. Winston took over for a struggling QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in the second half and didn’t perform much better himself. Expect Winston to keep this job moving forward.
Trubisky Enjoys Career Day
We all know passing offenses should flourish against the Buccaneers weak defense and Bears sophomore QB Mitch Trubisky took that to the extreme. Trubisky threw for 354 yards and six touchdowns, including five in the first half. Both numbers are career-highs for the former second overall pick. This was comforting for Bears fans to see but we shouldn’t expect anything close to this level of offensive explosion moving forward.
Fournette Hamstrung Again
Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette returned to the field after missing two games only to have his injured hamstring tighten up, forcing him to leave the game in the first half. Fournette has to be considered iffy to play in Week Five meaning he could go the first five weeks without getting in a full game.
Injured Tight Ends
During the practice week leading up to the Week Four action, Broncos TE Jake Butt suffered a torn ACL. That would prove to be just a preview of what was to come on Sunday. Bengals TE went down with a season-ending fractured ankle, while Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski was unable to finish the game. Buccaneers promising sophomore TE OJ Howard left with a knee injury and will need an MRI to further evaluate. That’s never a good sign. The Seahawks and QB Russell Wilson had been relying on surprise rookie TE Will Dissly but no more as he suffered a torn patella, ending his season.
The much-anticipated Patriots debut of WR Josh Gordon came and went with little fanfare. Gordon did draw the start but played sparingly, finishing with two receptions for 32 yards. This receiver depth chart will become even tougher to read as the Patriots welcome WR Julian Edelman back from his suspension.
Rookie QBs Draw First Start
Browns QB Baker Mayfield and Cardinals QB Josh Rosen both made the first start of their respective careers on Sunday. While both came up on the losing end, each had their teams in the game throughout with a chance to win it in the end. If you are fans of these teams or fantasy owners of these players, things are certainly looking up.
Kamara Stays Hot
The Saints/Giants contest was much closer than expected in the early going before RB Alvin Kamara took over the game. In his final game without RB Mark Ingram, Kamara set a career-high with 134 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns. It is not a stretch to rank Kamara as your RB1 in any format.
After totaling nearly 200 yards and two scores in the season-opener, the Steelers looked like they wouldn’t even miss holdout RB Le’Veon Bell. That’s far from the truth after Pittsburgh lost again on Sunday and Conner was largely ineffective throughout the game. Conner totaled just 44 yards in the game and is a risky fantasy option moving forward.
Boyd is Legit
The Bengals won a shootout with the Falcons in Atlanta Sunday, relying heavily on their passing game. QB Andy Dalton shined and regularly targeted third-year WR Tyler Boyd, who continued his breakout season with career highs in targets (15) and receptions (11), resulting in 100 yards. Boyd can be viewed as a weekly fantasy starter for the remainder of the season.
Georgia Backs Dominate
There’s a good reason why the University of Georgia was so successful last season. Rookie RBs Sony Michel (Patriots) and Nick Chubb (Browns) were both Bulldogs a year ago and on Sunday, each back ran for their first career 100-yard game. It came in very different circumstances. Michel served as the workhorse back for New England, carrying 25 times for 112 yards, while Chubb only got three touches but made them count. Chubb scored a pair of touchdowns and ran for 105 yards in very limited action, making a case for a larger role moving forward.
Ryan McDowell (@RyanMc23) is a freelance contributor for the SportsHub Games Network, Inc., Fanball’s parent company. Any advice or strategies provided by SportsHub contributors represent their personal opinions; they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of SportsHub Games Network and are not necessarily reflective of the strategies they may employ in their own lineups.