Bjorn Yang Vaernet examines which players on the waiver wire are worth prioritizing for Week 4 and highlights others to preemptively stash.
Week 3 marks the point in the waiver wire article series where the article starts to tighten up a bit. At this point in the season, the players that have surprised in terms of early-season roles have been picked up — e.g. Puka Nacua or Sam LaPorta. One could argue that the waiver wire now rewards skilled in-season managers even more, as preemptively picking up high-upside players can be a league-winning decision.
Of course, there will be injuries that open up opportunities, but many of those valuable players can be identified now. Teams have given us plenty of data points to work through and those players shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Week 3 was largely free from injuries outside of Mike Williams. Find out how I’m playing the Chargers situation and more high-upside players to target below.
The waiver wire is one of the most important pieces of season-long draft leagues. It is the easiest way to acquire new players and every year there are gems to be found. The goal of this article will not only be to highlight which weekly breakout players to prioritize but find others to preemptively pick up before the breakout happens.
This article will only reference players that are less than 50% owned in ESPN leagues. The players are categorized by position group and within each group is the order of how I would prioritize them.
Jimmy Garoppolo (Available in 88% of ESPN leagues)
Despite looking fairly bad in primetime on Sunday night, Jimmy Garoppolo is the waiver wire streamer of the week. Garoppolo doesn’t have a good chance of providing a 30 fantasy point (FP) performance, but he can easily produce a 20 FP game. Although he has not yet had a week of 20 FP or more in 2023, the blueprint for a Garoppolo breakout game is simple:
- The Raiders need to be forced into a negative game script and therefore need to play an offense that can put up points.
- The defense ideally would have an average to below-average pressure rate. Garoppolo tends to throw his backbreaking interceptions when he is pressured.
The Chargers check all these boxes. First, the Chargers have scored 28 points in two of three weeks and Justin Herbert is more than capable of putting up points in a hurry. Second, the Chargers’ defense has one of the lowest pressure rates through three weeks.
However, the play doesn’t come without risk. Josh Jacobs could get on track against a Chargers’ defense that isn’t very stout against the run. Additionally, the Chargers may not function as well offensively without Mike Williams — who will be out for the remainder of the season with an ACL injury.
Additionally, monitor Garoppolo’s health status, as he entered concussion protocol on Monday. But, if he is cleared, the Strength of Schedule Streaming app ranks this matchup as the 10th-best for QBs in Week 4.
De’Von Achane (Available in 84% of ESPN leagues)
After injuring his shoulder in the preseason, De’Von Achane missed Week 1 and had a minimal role in Week 2. Week 3 was Achane’s breaking out party. Looking beyond the outrageous box score — 18 carries, four receptions, 233 total yards, and four total TDs — Achane operated as a 1b to Raheem Mostert’s 1a. In the first half, Achane had 10 RB opportunities (rush attempts and targets) to 13 for Mostert.
Achane is a priority add because players who are a part of hyper-efficient offenses are very valuable. Teams that are in scoring position a lot have games where the RBs are the ones to score the points (the Week 3 game is a perfect example where Achane and Mostert combined for seven red zone TDs). Additionally, defenses have to account for so much speed in the Dolphins’ offense that it is rare that teams can stack the box against the run. Mostert has faced a stacked box on less than 15% of his rush attempts according to Next Gen Stats, one of the lower rates in the league. Last, head coach Mike McDaniel is a master at getting his playmakers the football in advantageous positions — increasing the probability for big, explosive plays.
Keep in mind that Mostert is still the lead RB and if Jeff Wilson returns in a couple of weeks, it could further complicate the backfield. However, Achane can be played while Wilson is out and is one of the most valuable handcuffs if Mostert gets injured.
Achane is my top priority this week.