- The Vikings confirmed a torn ACL for running back Dalvin Cook on Monday, making his backups prime options to pick up on fantasy football waivers this week.
Injuries were once again at the center of the action in Week 4, with Marcus Mariota (hamstring) and Julio Jones (hip) both leaving their losses early. However, the biggest injury occurred in Minnesota, where Dalvin Cook went out with a torn ACL. Those injuries will drive action on the waiver wire this week. Here are all the names to consider.
Aaron Jones, RB, Packers
About five days and seemingly countless NFL injuries ago, Ty Montgomery left in the first quarter of the Packers Week 4 win over the Bears with what was first believed to be broken ribs. The injury may not actually be that serious, though, and Montgomery is listed as day-to-day. If he does miss time, it looks like Jones will step in as the Packers starting running back. Jones, the rookie out of UTEP, was third on the depth chart last week, but Jamaal Williams left the game with a knee injury that will almost certainly force him to miss a few games. That leaves Jones as the only show in town, should Montgomery be out this week. Jones got 13 carries against the Bears, running for 49 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, though, he’ll hog the backfield touches in one of the league’s best offenses for as long as Montgomery and Williams are out. That makes him one of the most attractive players on the waiver wire this week.
Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon, RBs, Vikings
The Vikings won’t give either Murray or McKinnon the feature role that Cook enjoyed, and will instead rely on the two of them to share the backfield. Murray’s skill set sets him up for the early-down role, while McKinnon figures to play a lot on third downs and in obvious passing situations.
Murray took over as the primary runner against the Lions after Cook’s injury, carrying the ball seven times for 21 yards. McKinnon got just two carries, running for four yards on one, and losing four on the other. Murray also caught two passes, while McKinnon did not factor into the passing game. That was likely more descriptive than predictive. McKinnon is clearly the better receiver of the two, and will get more work in the passing game while Cook is out. Murray, however, is going to lead the team in carries.
Given that breakdown, Murray should be the priority add between the two. He’s not going to be a locked-in fantasy starter, but he is in line for enough touches to factor into the RB2 and flex discussion. Remember, Murray topped 1,000 rushing yards two years ago, and rambled for 12 touchdowns behind the Raiders offensive line last season. With the right workload, which he could have with Cook out, he could turn into a valuable depth running back. As for McKinnon, his biggest impact will come in full PPR leagues, where he can turn his role in the passing game into RB2 or flex production.
Alex Collins, RB, Ravens
Collins racked up 82 yards on nine carries against the Jaguars in Week 3, but the fantasy community didn’t seem to take much notice. He went into Week 4 still owned in fewer than 10% of Yahoo leagues. After putting up the same stat line against the Steelers on Sunday, that ownership rate is likely to change.
The Ravens struggled to get much going against the Steelers, but Collins was too good for the second straight week for them to ignore in future weeks. He got 82 more yards on nine carries, and is now up to 206 yards on 25 totes this season. What’s more, Collins has been the best back in Baltimore in both of the last two weeks. Buck Allen got just two carries on Sunday, running for seven yards, while Terrance West lost seven yards on his four carries. Allen is locked in as the primary receiving back, catching six passes for 37 yards in the loss to the Steelers, but it’s Collins who should get the most carries for the Ravens.
The bigger hurdle for Collins will be the ineptitude of Baltimore’s offense. The Ravens have scored a total of 16 points in their last two games, and have scored no more than 24 points in a game this season. It’s telling that, even while running the ball well, Collins got just nine carries in the team’s last two games. That could end up being a serious problem for everyone involved on the offense, Collins included. At this point of the season, though, he has shown enough to be a priority add in all fantasy leagues.
Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints
What’s it going to take to get Sean Payton to stop running Adrian Peterson out on the field? Both Mark Ingram and Kamara need more playing time, and the good news for our purposes here is that the latter is finally getting it. Kamara got five carries for 25 yards and caught all 10 of his targets for 71 yards and a touchdown in the Saints 20-0 win over the Dolphins in Week 4. Kamara should be looking at 12 or more carries plus targets per game, especially if the Saints finally admit that signing Adrian Peterson was a bad decision. A player with Kamara’s skill set in an offense like the Saints is going to have appeal as both an RB2 and a flex, especially with bye weeks beginning in Week 5. Kamara’s Saints are one of the teams taking a seat this week, but he’s still worth a look in all formats.
Wayne Gallman, RB, Giants
Gallman made his NFL debut on Sunday, and he may have stolen Paul Perkins’s job in the process. Gallman was the Giants best back in their loss to the Buccaneers last week, running for 42 yards on 11 carries. He also caught two passes for eight yards and a touchdown, giving him more trips to the end zone this season on 13 touches than Perkins has on 39. Orleans Darkwa was inactive because of a back injury, and he had started to assert himself more in the backfield, so his return could curb Gallman’s value. Still, for a team desperate to find any consistent production in the run game, Gallman’s play on Sunday was encouraging. He has earned the opportunity to show what he can do on a regular basis, and that makes him worth adding in all fantasy leagues.
Elijah McGuire, RB, Jets
Even with Matt Forte out last week because of a toe injury, the Jets insisted they’d stick to a committee in the backfield. They did just that, with Bilal Powell handling 46 snaps, 21 carries and five targets, to McGuire’s 19, 10 and two. While Powell posted monster numbers, thanks to a fluky 75-yard touchdown in which the Jaguars defenders forgot to touch him, McGuire was nearly as impressive. He piled up 93 yards and a score on his 10 carries, and caught both of his targets for 38 yards. It’s hard to pursue McGuire aggressively because he could easily fall back to third on the depth chart when Forte returns, but any back who shows that sort of life, especially against a defense like Jacksonville’s, deserves the fantasy community’s attention. He’s a great fallback target from the backs mentioned earlier in the column.
Eddie Lacy and J.D. McKissic, RBs, Seahawks
Chris Carson suffered a significant ankle injury on Sunday night, one that is likely to have him out for the rest of the season. Lacy was the odd man out for the first few weeks of the season, but he backed up Carson on Sunday with Thomas Rawls a healthy scratch. That, coupled with the fact that he ran the ball well in the win over the Colts, makes him the Seahawks back to target this week. It has been a rough few years for Lacy, but he ran for 52 yards on 11 carries in Week 4, and has a real chance to take command of the Seattle backfield. Pete Carroll did mention Rawls in his press conference on Monday, but the Week 4 tea leaves suggest Lacy is the top back in Seattle, with Rawls his backup.
McKissic, the undrafted rookie out of Arkansas State, opened eyes on Sunday by running for 38 yards and a score on four carries, and catching one pass, a 27-yard touchdown. He’s worth a shot in deeper leagues, but don’t expect too much, here. C.J. Prosise was out with an ankle injury that is not thought to be serious. Once he returns, he’ll resume his role as the team’s primary pass-catching back. McKissic was a great story in the moment, but he’s not likely to get enough opportunity to move the needle in fantasy leagues.
Will Fuller, WR, Texans
Fuller made his 2017 debut on Sunday, which doubled as his first game with Deshaun Watson. It’s safe to say the two enjoy playing together. Fuller caught four of his six targets for 35 yards and two touchdowns in the Texans 57–14 thrashing of the Titans. Fuller’s longest reception went for 16 yards, which isn’t typically his game, but don’t let that slow you from making a claim for him. Fuller is a dangerous deep threat, and the Texans have shown no compunction about letting Watson uncork downfield passes. He has attempted 19 passes that have traveled at least 20 yards in the air, the seventh most in the league. The two of them are going to connect on more than their fair share of those this season, making Fuller a great depth receiver with the bye-week portion of the schedule now upon us.
Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers
Kelvin Benjamin was active on Sunday despite suffering what looked like an ugly knee injury in Week 3, and he caught all four of his targets for 104 yards. That didn’t stop Funchess from having a coming-out party, though. The third-year receiver out of Michigan had the best game of his career, catching seven of nine targets for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Now, you need to curb at least part of your enthusiasm because of the opponent. If we’ve learned anything about the Patriots through four weeks, it’s that their defense isn’t just a problem, but that it could be among the worst in the league. We’ve now seen the Chiefs, Texans and Panthers all roll up at least 33 points on the Patriots, with Alex Smith, Deshaun Watson and Cam Newton carving right through their defense. Still, Funchess is getting the increased looks expected with Greg Olsen on the shelf—his target share the last two weeks is north of 30%—and that will help place him on the WR3/4 radar most weeks.
Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson, WRs, Seahawks
Lockett and Richardson both turned in useful performances against the Colts on Sunday night. Lockett had four catches for 67 yards, and ran the ball twice for 24 yards. Richardson caught all three of his targets for 65 yards. Doug Baldwin got just three targets in the game while nursing a groin injury, and that likely played a role in Lockett and Richardson leading the team in receiving yards. Still, with byes now part of our lives through Week 11, both players have large enough roles in a good passing offense to warrant grabbing for depth purposes.
Taylor Gabriel, WR, Falcons
Julio Jones (hip) and Mohamed Sanu (hamstring) both left the Falcons game on Sunday, opening the door for Gabriel to inhabit a larger role, at least in the short term. Tevin Coleman’s stock likely increases the most of any Falcon, but you’re not grabbing him off the waiver wire. Among Falcons you’ll actually be able to add, Gabriel is the one to pursue.
Gabriel didn’t catch a pass in the Falcons loss to the Bills on Sunday, but he did get five targets. He had five catches on six targets for 79 yards and a touchdown a week ago, and is at 10 receptions for 129 yards and a score on the season. Gabriel was an important supporting player in Atlanta’s explosive offense last season, hauling in 35 passes for 579 yards and six touchdowns. If he’s starting, at that seems likely, at least for a week or two, he’ll be in position to be in the WR3 discussion.
Geronimo Allison, WR, Packers
Davante Adams took one of the most disgusting, unnecessary hits in recent memory last week, and while he thankfully avoided serious injury, he still could miss time. If he does, Allison would step in alongside Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb in the Packers offense. Allison didn’t have a target last week, with the game well in hand by time Pernell McPhee put his dirty hit on Adams. The week before, however, with Jordy Nelson out for most of the game, Allison caught six passes for 122 yards. He’s not going to have a significant role when Nelson and Adams are both healthy, but he has proved that he can be a useful fantasy receiver when one is out. That makes him a solid fantasy addition in the short term.
Evan Engram, TE, Giants
After catching six passes for 62 yards in the Giants loss to the Buccaneers on Sunday, Engram now has four straight games with at least four receptions and 44 yards. That’s a nice floor at a volatile, weakened tight end position. What’s more, even with Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard in the offense, Engram has averaged 7.5 targets per game, which has him tied for second among tight ends with Rob Gronkowski. In short, Engram has the look of a season-long TE1, thanks to ample opportunity in a pass-friendly offense.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Jets
Seferian-Jenkins isn’t a long-term answer at tight end like his counterpart in New York can be. If you need immediate help at the position, though, Seferian-Jenkins is worth a start in Week 5. The Jets head to Cleveland to take on a Browns defense that has been very friendly to tight ends this season. In Week 1, Jesse James caught six passes for 41 yards and two scores against the Browns. The next week, Ben Watson racked up 91 yards on eight receptions. Last Sunday, Tyler Kroft burned them for six grabs, 68 yards and a pair of touchdowns. All told, the Browns have allowed primary tight ends to put up an average of 11.4 standard-league and 16.9 PPR-league points per game, and that’s with a two-catch, 16-yard dud from Jack Doyle in Week 3. For what it’s worth, Seferian-Jenkins has nine catches on 10 targets for 77 yards this season.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans
Watson had already placed himself on the stream radar in all fantasy formats. After torching the Titans in Week 4, he is worth considering as a regular starter in one-quarterback leagues, and is locked in as a starter in two-quarterback and superflex formats. Watson was electric on Sunday, throwing for 283 yards, 8.32 yards per attempt and four touchdowns, while running for 24 yards and another score in the Texans 57-14 dismantling of the Titans. Over his last two games, Watson has 584 passing yards, 8.72 YPA, six touchdowns, three interceptions, 65 rushing yards and one score on the ground. With DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman around him, he has the weapons to thrive. Watson needs to be owned in all but the shallowest of leagues.