Week 4 in the NFL season wasn’t all that different from other weeks. Big-name running backs saw significant injuries, and more rookie wide receivers saw increased roles in their offenses. Running back and wide receivers with expanding roles continue to highlight players to pick up off the waiver wire.
There were also a number of buy-low candidates who disappointed in Week 4 for completely understandable reasons. But there are also players who saw what could be their best fantasy performance of the season, making them players to trade while you still can.
FIVE PLAYERS TO ADD
Austin Ekeler left after just three snaps with a significant hamstring injury. It’s unclear how much time he will miss, but it will be significant. In his place, Joshua Kelley played 56% of snaps while Jackson played 39%. Kelley is owned in most leagues, but Kelley is a must-add anywhere he's available. Jackson also should be added with the potential to have a big role.
The Chargers seemed to use the two backs pretty interchangeably this past week. There were no tendencies by down or formation. In Week 1, Kelley was the backup in run situations and Jackson was the backup in pass. Because of that, we could see those tendencies hold. Kelley has also been their goal line back, helping Kelley’s value. By grade, it’s Kelley who has been a better receiver and pass blocker, while Jackson has been the better runner.
At this point I wouldn’t be comfortable starting Jackson, but there are situations where Jackson could end up having more fantasy value than Kelley. On a team that depends a lot on their running backs, that chance makes Jackson a risk worth taking.
2. RB D’Ernest Johnson, Cleveland Browns
Nick Chubb is expected to miss six weeks with an MCL sprain. Instead of the Browns turning just to Kareem Hunt, they became a three-person running back by committee. In the first three weeks, Chubb played most first and second downs in the first three quarters, while Hunt would play third downs and close out the game. Those trends weren’t black and white, but they were clear tendencies.
With Chubb out, Hunt took on Chubb’s role. Johnson took over Hunt’s role as the fourth-quarter closer, while Dontrell Hilliard took over as the third-down back. Based on that usage, Johnson is the person to add off the waiver wire. He won’t be as valuable as Hunt was the first three weeks because of Hilliard, but he should still see plenty of carries unless the Browns are losing late.
The only concern is if the Browns became this committee because of Hunt’s groin injury. If Hunt is better recovered from that injury in the future, there is a chance Hunt sees more playing time. It’s unclear if he would play more in the fourth quarter, taking away from Johnson, or play more on third downs and take away from Hilliard. The only sure thing out of this backfield will be Hunt, who is already owned in all leagues.