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Sneaky Starts, Pivot Plays and Post-Waiver Pickups for Week 4

Marcus Mariota - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

There has been no shortage of injuries in the NFL this season. Some say this is because no one plays in the preseason anymore, while others claim this is how it goes yearly. But one thing is for certain – if you have a player up in the air for this week, you need to have a backup plan in place. 

Every week is different when searching for a backup. For instance, this week is a good week to stream QBs off the waiver wire if you are in need, but if you missed your injured RB's backup, it may be tough to find a replacement on the waiver wire. There are always receiver options on the wire, but the issue is few provide any sort of a safe floor. And at tight end, well, let's just say it's the tight end position. It's always tough to find value. 

But do not panic just yet! There are always pivot options in place, and the sooner you hit the waiver wire, the better the chance of finding a good one. So read this article and immediately get your pivot plan in place! 

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Week 4 Quarterback Pivot Options

If QBs Jameis Winston or Mac Jones sit this week…

You can pivot to: Marcus Mariota, Jacoby Brissett, Geno Smith

Not that it’s ever enjoyable to deal with an injury, but if you are in need, it is a great week to find help on the waiver wire. First, there’s Marcus Mariota, who continues to be a fantasy value due to what he can give with his legs.

Mariota has scored a rushing TD in two of his three games this season. He brings a floor of around 15 fantasy points, which is solid when talking waiver wire streamers. It also helps that the Browns are allowing just under 20 fantasy points per game to QBs this season.

On the other side of that game, Jacoby Brissett is also in play as a streaming option. Brissett can also add value with his legs. He has topped 15 fantasy points in two straight games and is coming off his first multi-passing TD game of the season.

Plus, just like Cleveland, the Falcons allow just under 20 fantasy PPG to the position. This game low-key can be a sneaky good one for fantasy purposes.

The last fallback option is Geno Smith. Seattle has thrown at a higher rate than league-average this season and even more than the Broncos! Gotta love the irony. Smith has topped 17 fantasy points twice this season, throwing multiple passing TDs in those games.

He will likely have to do that to keep up with the Lions and their top-scoring offense in the NFL. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that they’ve allowed the second-most fantasy points to QBs this season. You may not like the names, but they’re your best streaming bets this week. 


Week 4 Running Back Pivot Options

If RBs D'Andre Swift, David Montgomery, Dalvin Cook, James Conner, or Christian McCaffrey sit this week… 

You can pivot to: the backups! Jamaal Williams, Craig Reynolds (deeper), Khalil Herbert, Alexander Mattison, Eno Benjamin, D'Onta Foreman/Chuba Hubbard

Hopefully, you were able to grab your starter's backup off the waiver wire if you did not already roster them. Jamaal Williams already leads the NFL in carries inside the 10-yard line and now he is going to have the lead back role. He is a top-20 RB. But if you have Swift and missed out on him, you can take a shot on Craig Reynolds. Williams will be the lead, but he will not manage all the backfield touches.

Reynolds will have a role on the league's highest-scoring offense against a Seattle defense that is in the top-10 in terms of fantasy points allowed to RBs. Khalil Herbert looked like a star in Week 3 as he went off for over 30 fantasy points, playing 61 percent of the snaps, carrying the ball 20 times for 157 yards and two scores. He has a shot to be the lead runner on the run-heaviest team in the league. 

Alexander Mattison would be in line for a tough matchup against the Saints, but he has shown us that he can handle a heavy workload when Cook sits. That alone makes him a worthy RB2 or flex option, as we know the upside he possesses.

Eno Benjamin has been the RB2 for the Cardinals and could be elevated into a larger role if Conner was to sit. He is not nearly as strong of a play as the other backups, but he certainly would be worthy of streaming as an RB2 if Conner sits.

Darrel Williams would also have a role for those in deeper leagues. If CMC sits, we are not totally sure who the direct backup could be. It could either be D’Onta Foreman or Chuba Hubbard. We are likely looking at a split, but Foreman would be the preferred option as he just has the better chance of scoring a touchdown. 

If the backup is already rostered, there are other options on the waiver wire. Rex Burkhead is losing the lead role to Dameon Pierce, but he remains involved in the Texans' passing game. Plus, the Chargers have allowed the sixth-most fantasy PPG to RBs, after struggling mightily against the position last year. Jerick McKinnon remains a pivot option that has gone overlooked.

Much of the fantasy production has gone to Clyde Edwards-Helaire, but McKinnon has led the backfield in snaps this season. He also has seen valuable usage in the passing game and near the goal line. He is a strong pivot option this week.

James Cook is an option for those in deeper leagues. The Bills made an effort to get the rookie on the field more in Week 3, which culminated with him picking up five targets. He is more of a stash, but if you are in a deeper league and desperate, he is an option this week for you. 


Week 4 Wide Receiver Pivot Options

If WRs Amon-Ra St. Brown, Julio Jones, Chris Godwin, Michael Thomas, and Hunter Renfrow sit this week…

You can pivot to DJ Chark, Marvin Jones or Richie James

Mack Hollins would be the top likely waiver wire leftover, especially if Renfrow sits once again. He is coming off a career game where he caught eight passes for 158 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets. That sort of volume is insane and unlikely to repeat, but it's worth pointing out that he did see eight targets in Week 2 as well.

He would be the top pivot option at the receiver position. DJ Chark would be a pivot option as well, especially if Amon-Ra St. Brown sits. Even if he doesn’t, Chark has seen at least six targets in two of three games, with a touchdown in one. He remains a bit of a boom-or-bust option, but he brings upside as he is the Lions' top downfield option. He is in play in a good matchup against Seattle this week.

Marvin Jones Jr. seems like an overlooked sneaky value play. The Jags have a tough matchup against the Eagles' defense this week. The Eagles' top corners are likely to focus on eliminating Christian Kirk and the second option has been Zay Jones. If their top corners primarily line up against those two, it creates an opportunity for Marvin Jones to have sneaky value, especially if the Jags are trialing and throwing more late in the game.

The Giants' WRs are also in play. The only issue is, they are up in the air themselves. With Sterling Shepard done for the season, someone has to catch passes from Daniel Jones. The hope is that Kadarius Toney and Wan'Dale Robinson are good to go.

If both suit up, Toney would be the preferred option. If only one suits up, that player gets a big boost in value. We have seen nothing from this duo, but this is putting faith in the Giants getting their best playmakers at the position involved, especially since the offense they have been running fits their strengths.

However, if both sit, Richie James is in play. James has seen at least five targets in every game and has topped double-digit fantasy points. He does not have much of a ceiling but provides a safe floor. Kenny Golladay is the exact opposite. He would be in play if Toney and Robinson sit and is purely a boom-or-bust option.

David Sills is purely a deep option if the others sit. DeVante Parker is coming off a great game where he caught five of his 10 targets for 156 yards. He was winning downfield and on contested catches and looked like the Parker from a few years ago. The only issue is, Mac Jones may sit. If Jones plays, Parker is a good pivot option. If he sits, he is best left for those in deeper leagues. 


Week 4 Tight End Pivot Options

If TEs Dalton Schultz and T.J. Hockenson sit this week…

You can pivot to Irv Smith Jr. or Noah Fant

Irv Smith Jr. has left a lot of fantasy production on the field this season. That is not ideal. But at least he is getting opportunities, which is more than many tight ends can say.

He has recorded at least six targets in two straight games, scoring a touchdown in one. He also had a downfield shot that he dropped. If he catches that, we are looking at Smith very differently right now. Plus, not many tight ends are used downfield. Smith is a strong pivot option.

Noah Fant is the fallback plan if you miss out on Smith. Fant has not done much for the Seahawks, but they are in a matchup against the Lions, who have allowed 13 fantasy PPG to tight ends.

Additionally, Seattle likely will have to throw to keep up with the Lions' offense. And last week, Jeff Okudah locked up Justin Jefferson. If he is on DK Metcalf or Tyler Lockett, that could lead Smith to look to his secondary options more, like Fant. 


Make sure to follow Michael F. Florio on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.

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