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9 route: Top 9 fantasy football waiver targets in Week 4

September 26, 2018

The San Francisco 49ers are in serious trouble. That’s not necessarily the case, though, for fantasy owners of Jimmy Garoppolo. His season is over, and the Niners’ might as well be, but there are QB options aplenty on the Week 4 waiver wire.

The New York Giants were probably in trouble before they lost TE Evan Engram, whose departure with a knee injury reportedly not as serious as Garoppolo’s ironically preceded their best performance on offense in over a calendar year. The TE position has been hammered by injuries early on, but Engram owners needn’t look too far to find at least one or two potentially decent interim replacements.

Throw in the first open date — isn’t Week 4 a bit early for byes? — when Carolina and Washington are resting, and we’ve got a lot to get to in this week’s ‘9 route,’ your path to success on the fantasy waiver wire. If you’re new here, only players owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues apply. Also new here: a skinny on every player listed, not only the Big 9.

9. Steelers TE Vance McDonald

Admittedly, the shrewd move would’ve been picking up McDonald before his best game as a Steeler Monday night. He sent Chris Conte to injured reserve with a brutalizing stiff arm en route to a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown — tying the longest score of McDonald’s career. Sadly, we can’t bank on seeing Chris Conte every week, but McDonald saw five targets for a second consecutive week, this time with Weeks 1-2 star Jesse James earning only one target — and one more snap than McDonald. If ever there was a year for a Steelers tight end to gain fantasy relevance in a post Heath Miller world, it’s this season, when Le’Veon Bell isn’t showing up any time soon and James isn’t likely to again one-up a superior weapon in McDonald.

8. Eagles TE Dallas Goedert

Perhaps you’ve heard: rookie tight ends rarely contribute much in fantasy. In case you haven’t heard, the Eagles truly need Goedert to continue bucking that trend on the heels of his game-high 7-73-1 receiving vs. the Colts in Carson Wentz’s 2018 debut. Remember, the second-round South Dakota St. product dropped a would-be Week 1 touchdown and, after getting only 18 snaps in Week 2, became a key part of the offense Sunday. Doug Pederson has vowed to “cut him loose a little bit and don’t hold him back.” We like the sound of that — especially in Alshon Jeffery’s continued absence, when Goedert can emulate Jeffery’s big-bodied perimeter presence.

7. Browns QB Baker Mayfield

We’re pretty sure Mayfield won’t be as great as he was Thursday night every week, but the fact that he’ll be playing every week is a start, right? We wouldn’t fault Garoppolo or Cam Newton owners for scooping the top pick and immediately inserting him into their lineups Sunday, when he visits an Oakland ‘D’ that can’t pressure passers and has already allowed six passing touchdowns.

6. Ravens QB Joe Flacco

Flacco before Mayfield, you say? One is elite ... make that has a less-than-elite strength of schedule, beginning with a visit to the Steelers, who have fantasy’s third-worst ‘D’ against opposing quarterbacks. Quietly Flacco has played well, sitting just outside the QB1-sphere (QB14 overall) and trending upward because of that schedule and the likelihood his rapport keeps improving with his entirely new-look supporting cast. Remember, he still hasn’t had the Ravens’ biggest draft investment, TE Hayden Hurst, whose debut following preseason foot surgery nears.

5. Bengals QB Andy Dalton

AFC North QB run on the waiver wire? Dalton is averaging 286-plus passing yards and 2.7 touchdowns, good enough for QB12 overall. He heads next to Atlanta, where the injury-decimated Falcons just ceded 43 points to the Saints. Two of his four interceptions in Week 3 were intended for John Ross, who was roundly shamed for failing to fight for the ball. Dalton is playing well right now and enters a dream matchup slate over the next five weeks: at Atlanta, vs. Miami, vs. Pittsburgh, at Kansas City, vs. Tampa Bay.

4. Ravens RB Javorius Allen

As an Alex Collins owner in multiple spots, I hate ranking Allen this high, but here are the facts: only Todd Gurley has more touchdowns than Buck, RB14 overall. His six total red-zone chances are second to Collins’ nine, but Collins has scored on just two of his nine chances (compared to four of six for Allen). Plus, Allen has out-snapped Collins, 111-104. He isn’t going anywhere — well, save for likely off the waiver wire for good come Wednesday.

3. Bengals WR Tyler Boyd

I’m not generally the told-you-so type but ... told you so. All Boyd did after we pointed out that his breakout season is upon us is post his first 100-yard game en route to the week’s WR5 finish and current standing at WR14 overall. Boyd has made some awesome improvements to his game, even showing on Sunday he can be the guy for Cincinnati if it were to be without A.J. Green, a real possibility Sunday against Atlanta’s super vulnerable ‘D.’ Boyd is only at 19 percent ownership, but by the time this waiver period closes, he’ll be gone!

2. Bucs WR Chris Godwin

Godwin wasn’t good Monday night vs. the Steelers, losing a fumble that opened up the Bucs’ turnover parade, dropping one sure TD and failing to come back for a potential second score in heavy traffic. But we continued to see his vast potential on a called-back long TD and a spectacular leaping score late. And the potential has already translated to production for fantasy’s WR23 overall, who flies up this week’s ‘9 route’ on the heels of a “bad” game amounting to his third straight with a TD.

1. Falcons WR Calvin Ridley

We knew his fit in the offense would be snug. We saw the college domination. We wondered why he fell into the latter part of the first round. It’s all been validated in two spectacular weeks, over which Ridley has beasted with four combined touchdowns — three Sunday in fantasy’s most prolific non-QB performance of Week 3 — and 211 yards on 11 catches (13 targets). This isn’t your average rookie receiver; Ridley is an advanced route runner with home-run ability, which we saw on his 74-yard scoring jaunt past the Saints secondary. And it appears the Falcons are going to be in a lot of shootouts moving forward, raising Ridley’s floor (and we already know what the ceiling looks like).

QBs

1. Dalton

2. Flacco

3. Mayfield

4. Jameis Winston — Grab him now because he’ll likely be the starter when Bucs come out of their Week 5 bye.

5. Ryan Tannehill — Takes 7:2 TD-INT ratio, sterling 121.8 rating into Foxborough.

6. Josh Allen — Hurdling quarterbacks are fun, especially ones who have more red zone carries in two starts than everyone besides Crowell, Marshawn, A.D., Kamara and Gurley (h/t Evan Silva).

7. Eli Manning — Sunday was a reminder of what Giants offense should look like but must see it again.

8. Derek Carr — Jon Gruden says he’s “marvelous” in Raiders offense so it must be true!

9. Case Keenum — Has extra value in leagues that dock 1 point instead of 2 per interception.

RBs

1. Allen

2. Duke Johnson — Mayfield will make that whole offense more potent, including proven PPR asset.

3. Wendell Smallwood — I’m still a much bigger believer in Corey Clement, but nice reminder Sunday of what Smallwood was drafted to be.

4. Nyheim Hines — If Colts are going to be dump-off offense all year, Hines the guy to own.

5. Jordan Wilkins — If Colts can establish a ground identity, Wilkins is the guy to own.

6. Marlon Mack — He’s just getting healthy and the job remains there for the taking.

7. Chris Ivory — Until we see how LeSean McCoy handles playing with broken ribs...

8. Theo Riddick — How much meat left on bone with emergence of Golladay and Johnson?

9. Jalen Richard — Gruden’s preferred pass-catching option but no more than Lynch handcuff.

WRs

1. Ridley

2. Godwin

3. Boyd

4. Ted Ginn — Two costly drops in Sunday’s video game shootout win in Atlanta and still finished as the week’s WR33. Ginn hasn’t seen less than six targets in a game this season, at worst back-end WR3 opportunity in that offense all day long.

5. Christian Kirk — I like the super early returns on his rapport with fellow rookie Rosen.

6. Rishard Matthews — Proven commodity increasingly enticing the further removed he gets from knee procedure.

7. Geronimo Allison — Might surpass Randall Cobb in Rodgers’ circle of trust sooner than later.

8. Brandon Marshall — Still has a little something left in tank in offense with a lot of opportunity.

9. Albert Wilson — Crowded corps but TDs in two straight, Miami didn’t pay him not to use him.

TEs

1. Goedert

2. McDonald

3. Benjamin Watson — Targets and catches have gone up in three straight games in one of fantasy’s more conducive offenses.

4. Ricky Seals-Jones — Curious to see what effect Rosen has on RSJ, who scored his first touchdown Sunday on a busted coverage.

5. Austin Hooper — A lot of mouths to feed but always a threat to fall in EZ in improving RZ offense.

6. Hayden Hurst — He’s not quite healthy but have to figure he quickly ascends to top of Flacco’s TE targets once he is.

7. Greg Olsen — Just dipped below 50 percent ownership; says he’ll return this season.

8. Cameron Brate — Reappeared Monday night and would be immediately worth starting if something happens to Howard.

9. Will Dissly — It was fun while it lasted?

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