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Week 4 Quarterbacks - Waiver Wire Pickups and Adds

Week 3 was rookie QB week in the NFL. Josh Allen joined the ranks of starter, while Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen were unexpectedly thrust into action. There are a lot of quarterback situations either in flux or changes be made around the league as well as the first week of byes, meaning quarterbacks could be a hot commodity on waivers this week.

Many owners prefer to set and forget at quarterback, but for those of us that like to play the streaming game we've got to be on top of matchups every week and a few weeks in advance. Cam Newton and Alex Smith owners will need a fill-in next week since they are both on bye, and owners of Jimmy Garoppolo will need a long-term replacement. Owners of Jared Goff and Kirk Cousins may also want to consider a fill-in since they both face tough matchups in the likely low-scoring Minnesota @ Los Angeles Thursday Night tilt.

In standard one quarterback leagues the waiver wire is usually pretty rich with talent at the position, unless the league is full of owners that like to hold backup quarterbacks. In two-quarterback leagues, nearly every starter is rostered and the waiver wire tends to be quite barren for quality arms. That’s why a few quarterbacks owned in fewer than 5% of leagues have been included, so even owners in deep leagues have someone to consider. Ownership is based on Yahoo leagues and is current as of September 23.

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Week 4 Waiver Wire Quarterbacks

Eli Manning NYG vs. New Orleans Saints – 18% Owned

Manning played well Sunday, throwing for 297 yards and two touchdowns while going 25-for-29 passing. His 132.3 passer rating was his highest since Week 14 of the 2015 season, and his 86.2% completion rate was the second highest of his career after that same Week 14 game. Some of his performance can be attributed to weaknesses in Houston’s pass defense, while some of it can be attributed to Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. The good news is that Beckham and Shepard aren’t going anywhere, and they are good enough that the loss of Evan Engram won’t hurt Manning as much. The good news for Manning is that he won’t have to worry about J.J. Watt anymore, since Watt sacked him three of four times in this game. Manning did not look good in the first two weeks, but the offense around him (minus the offensive line) should be good enough to elevate him to fantasy starter levels. The Giants’ skill position players rival any NFL team.

It’s a juicy matchup for Eli next week at home against the Saints. Rumors of an improved Saints pass defense have been greatly exaggerated, as New Orleans has allowed 341.7 yards per game and ten touchdown passes thus far. They allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw for 417 yards and four touchdowns, and Eli Manning is probably on a similar level to Fitzpatrick at this point in his career. As a one-week streamer Manning is great, but he does have a good matchup in Week 5 as well against the Carolina Panthers. Carolina allowed 352 yards to Andy Dalton in Week 3 and have shown the most weakness on defense through the air. Take things week-by-week with Manning, but other than divisional matchups with Philadelphia and Washington he has mostly easy opposing defenses all season.

Joe Flacco BAL @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 14% Owned

Although Flacco is coming off his worst week, he has performed much better than most expected this season. He has scored between 15-22 points in the first two weeks, and has taken care of weak matchups thus far. He tossed three touchdowns against Buffalo and threw for 376 yards against Cincinnati. The new additions in the receiving corps are paying off thus far, as John Brown, Michael Crabtree, and Willie Snead are proving to help elevate Flacco better than previous receivers have been able too. It’s a little early to declare all of these signings a win for Baltimore, but how after previous signings such as Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace turned out these new players are already looking like better investments.

Flacco is the quarterback to add if you miss out on Eli Manning, because he’s basically been discount Eli for his entire career. That and he doesn’t quite have Manning’s soft schedule, at least at first. He gets a decent matchup in Week 4 against Pittsburgh, but after that it’s two iffy matchups against Tennessee and Cleveland. Then things get really good for Flacco as he takes on New Orleans, Carolina, and Pittsburgh again leading into a Week 10 bye. If not added this week Flacco should be added prior to Week 7 when he faces the Saints and used for that three-game stretch.

Baker Mayfield CLE @ Oakland Raiders – 12% Owned

Mayfield’s ownership is higher than one would expect since he wasn’t even the starter when the game began, however some leagues must have weird rules where you can add anyone at any time regardless of when they played. For those of us in normal leagues with normal waivers Mayfield is most likely still available. Mayfield has been named the starter for Cleveland and should keep the job for the remainder of the season. Mayfield rescued Cleveland from yet another loss, coming in and going 17-for-23 with 201 yards and helping Cleveland overcome a 14 point deficit. Although the Browns traded Josh Gordon Mayfield still has decent weapons to work with, led by Jarvis Landry. Even players like Antonio Calloway and David Njoku are better than many of the weapons Cleveland has provided its quarterbacks in past seasons.

Mayfield isn’t an every week start, but an interesting long-term hold or fill-in option. He has a good matchup next week against Oakland, who just allowed four touchdown passes and 332 yards to the Dolphins. He’s only worth starting for owners that may have a quarterback on bye or injured, but as a desperation play you could do worse than Mayfield against Oakland. It gets tough for him after that with matchups against the Ravens and Chargers, but after that it’s soft matchups until the Week 11 bye for Mayfield. Like Allen, Mayfield could prove a lot in coming weeks and in deep leagues he’s worth a stash and an occasional start depending on individual circumstances.


Deeper League and Two-QB League Options

Josh Allen, BUF @ Green Bay Packers – 3% Owned

Allen and the Buffalo Bills shocked the football world Sunday by going into Minnesota and handing the Vikings a 27-6 beat down. Allen put up 27.74 which is the most fantasy points Minnesota has allowed to a quarterback since the beginning of 2017. Some of Allen’s total was fluky as we can’t expect him to rush for two touchdowns every week, but he still had a 111.2 passer rating and averaged 8.9 yards per attempt. Those rushing touchdowns could become passing touchdowns in future weeks and at the least Allen should be a bye week fill-in or 2-QB league option.

Allen has a good matchup next week against Green Bay. The Packers have allowed 262.3 passing yards per game thus far along with six touchdown passes. After the matchup against Green Bay Allen has more favorable matchups, taking on Tennessee, Houston, Indianapolis, and New England in the four weeks following that. Tennessee is the only team that should make an owner think twice before starting in that group. We’ll find out what Allen is made of in those starts and in deeper leagues now is the time to pick him up.

C.J. Beathard SF @ Los Angeles Chargers – 0% Owned

Look, no one is mistaking C.J. Beathard for Aaron Rodgers or anything, but there are leagues where literally every starting quarterback is rostered. If that’s the type of league you play in, then it’s worth considering Beathard. He did have a couple decent games as starter last season, his best being a 25-point effort against the Giants in Week 10. We know the Giants secondary was in shambles by that point last season, but it goes to show that Beathard can produce when the matchup is good enough. If you’re expecting Beathard to swoop in and save your season, well you and Kyle Shanahan will both be sorely disappointed. If you need someone to occasionally fill-in as a bye week or matchup play then Beathard is a good add.

Despite being shredded for 354 yards and three touchdowns by Jared Goff, the Chargers are generally a good pass defense. They allowed the third fewest passing yards last season and only allowed 232.5 yards per game in the first two weeks. After that it’s the Cardinals and Packers, which are both maybes depending on individual situation. Bye weeks, injuries, and other quarterback matchups on a individual level should determine whether Beathard is startable. Then it’s the Rams, which is a hard no. After that Beathard faces the Cardinals, Raiders, and Giants into the bye, all decent matchups.

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