Christian McCaffrey‘s potential multi-week absence is a huge blow to the vast majority of drafters who selected 1.01 this summer. Backup Chuba Hubbard will be the big prize on the Week 4 fantasy football waiver wire after how capably Mike Davis was able to fill in last season.
Still, plenty of other injuries will affect the Week 4 waiver strategy, including Elijah Mitchell, James White, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, A.J. Brown, Josh Jacobs, Dalvin Cook, JuJu Smith-Schuster, K.J. Hamler and Elijah Moore.
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Like Davis, Hubbard could easily be this year's waiver wire pickup of the year. The 2021 fourth-round pick seized the majority of work in the preseason and did the same during CMC’s absence Thursday night after the All-Pro was pulled from game action. Hubbard played 78% of the snaps in relief, garnering 12 touches for 76 scoreless yards.
Third-stringer Royce Freeman played 23% of the snaps and commanded six touches, one of which was a carry inside the 5-yard line.
It appears that this is Hubbard’s backfield to lose until McCaffrey returns, and there is no reason to think he can’t deliver based on his college production profile. The former Oklahoma State standout demonstrated bell-cow potential in his breakout 2019 college season with 2,090 rushing yards (second), 1,300 yards after contact (first) and 21 rushing touchdowns (third).
During the preseason, Hubbard ranked third in yards after contact per attempt (4.77).
But understand that by no means will the rookie inherit the 22% target share left behind by CMC. Hubbard has struggled so far as a receiver, dropping five of his 16 catchable targets in the preseason and regular season combined. His current regular-season PFF receiving grade (48.5) ranks 35th out of 40 qualifying running backs.
He will be used in a CMC-lite way (15-18 touches per game), which will warrant him high-end RB2 status.