Despite a bunch of “injuries” throughout the league heading into this past weekend, most of them turned out to be fake scares and tons of fantasy owners who were quick to switch out their players got burned in this weeks matchups. DeMarco Murray, Jordan Howard, and Melvin Gordon are all examples of players who were questionable before their games but ended up with touchdowns by the end of the day. While this might push you to bite the bullet and take the risk in the coming weeks, make sure to keep an eye out on the injury reports and have a viable option on your bench in case things look to risky for you to play your starters.
Most of the big pick-ups going into Week 4 have already been grabbed in most leagues, such as Tarik Cohen, Chris Carson, Chris Thompson, or Javorius Allen, so this week I am going to focus on some players who could may not be sure-fire pickups but could provide great depth for some players who have looked injury prone and could drop off the depth chart as the season gets into full swing.
Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia Eagles RB
Just one week after taking over the majority of carries in Philadelphia, the 34 year old Darren Sproles has already found himself cutting his last season in the NFL short. The long-time versatile player exited the game against the Giants with a “wrist injury”, but was later reported to be out with a broken arm and a torn ACL. I’m not doctor, but I would put my money that this means he won’t be returning and owners should be investing in the guys further down on the depth chart: Wendell Smallwood and LeGarrette Blount. I can’t say that Blount hasn’t surprised in years past, but to be honest the inconsistency makes his floor a bit too low to waste a roster spot on, unless you’re in a very sparse league. Instead I would vouch for Smallwood, who has played 43 snaps (compared to Blount’s 22) and leads the Eagles running backs in carries, yardage, catches, and targets. He only scored 0.9 and 0.1 points in his first two weeks, but bumped up his production to 8 points on 13 touches in Sproles’ absence. Although he isn’t going to be consistent starter in many leagues, his use in both the passing and receiving game make him good depth to have as bye weeks start and injuries stack up across the league.
Paul Richardson, Seattle Seahawks WR
Drafted by the Seahawks in 2014, Richardson has consistently looked like he is on the edge of a breakthrough to become a legitimate deep threat. However, he has time and again gone down with injuries or fallen out of the pecking order in Seattle. I believe Richardson is going to finally break this trend this year, especially considering Doug Baldwin went down in last week’s matchup against the Titans with a groin injury. Richardson has already started off the season hot, catching eight passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns in two games. The Seahawks offense began the season with a slow start both on the ground and through the air, but Russell Wilson showed he can still produce big moments, throwing 373 yards and four touchdowns in Week 3. This is good news for Richardson who has found himself as one of the main targets for Wilson going downfield.
Matt Breida, San Francisco 49ers RB
I won’t pretend that the 49ers have much depth behind Carlos Hyde in the backfield, but it could be worth it to pick up Matt Breida after Hyde left Thursday night’s game multiple times with a hip injury. Hyde did return to score twice in the matchup, but hips injuries can be quite nagging for running backs and force them to the sideline for weeks at a time. Breida could end up being the workhorse for a San Francisco that focuses on running the ball and has no other worthwhile backs, especially considering Kyle Juszczyk has been injured with a neck injury (those usually don’t end too well).
Branden Oliver, Los Angeles Chargers RB
I know I said before that Melvin Gordon was a player who scored despite injury reports, but he also did go out of the game with a knee injury. While he came back into the game and I think he will continue to start, I would look into picking up Oliver as insurance in case the issue gets worse in the coming weeks. He received eight carries and six targets in Gordon’s absence, showing he would no doubt have a place in the offense if the injury reports point to him starting in the future.
Paul Perkins, New York Giants RB
Now you may be thinking that Perkins is going to be a great, sneaky pickup in your league after Orleans Darkwa got sidelined in the Giants’ loss to the Eagles, but I have to urge against it. Perkins hit his highest point total so far this season, a whopping THREE points! This came on his best running performance of the year, busting out a measly 2.5 yards per carry. With the Giants looking like the weaker team in New York, I would avoid any of their offensive threats, at least until we see something start to change. Even if that happens, I’m sure you will be able to get their players down the road for dirt cheap so don’t worry about offloading them now.
Mike Wallace, Baltimore Ravens WR
Joe Flacco wasn’t the only member of the Ravens’ offense to showcase their ineptitude against the Jaguars in London. Besides Benjamin Watson, all of the receivers looked completely harmless getting down the field and meshing as a unit. This makes it even worse that Mike Wallace, a receiver with three 1,000+ yard seasons, sits fourth in targets and has only managed one reception in each of the first three games. I know he impressed in his first year with the Ravens last season, but it doesn’t look like he has much of a role in this team and should be dropped as soon as possible.
Zay Jones, Buffalo Bills WR
I know a lot of people though the ECU grad would be able to put up some craZay numbers with a Buffalo offense that its lost deep threat in Sammy Watkins, but the reality of it is Jones’ name probably adds more value to your team than his receptions do. Catching just three passes on 10 targets for 39 yards in his first two games, he wasn’t targeted at all in the Bills 26-16 win over Denver. If he couldn’t manage a single target in week 3 I don’t think he will be able to amass much receptions as the season moves forward and Tyrod Taylor builds trust with his receivers, move on.