The bye weeks are now upon us and the injuries just keep coming, so we all have fantasy needs at the moment. Each week throughout the regular season, we prioritize the best fantasy pickups for you in advance of waiver deadlines. Everyone listed below is available in a substantial majority of Yahoo leagues — 50 percent of greater. If you have roster issues to address, dig in.
Quarterbacks to stream
Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers (19% rostered)
If you still think of Bridgewater as strictly a check-down specialist, um...
WHAT. A. THROW.
Teddy ➡️ Curto pic.twitter.com/RNegNKIfMO
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) October 4, 2020
He can throw a dart downfield as needed. Bridgewater was excellent in his team's win over Arizona on Sunday. He completed 26 of 37 pass attempts for 276 yards and two scores, adding 32 out-of-character rushing yards, with a spicy 18-yard score included. We're a quarter of the way into the season and Bridgewater is still averaging 8.1 Y/A. He established an immediate, productive connection with Robby Anderson, who saw another 11 targets on Sunday, delivering 99 yards.
Next week's matchup at Atlanta is a gift for Bridgewater, so he clearly belongs in the fantasy conversation. The Falcons defense entered Week 4 allowing the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and they'll be playing on a short week. If you need a bye-week or injury placeholder at QB, give Bridgewater a long look.
Recommended waiver offer, assuming $100 budget: $6
Gardner Minshew II, Jacksonville Jaguars (46%)
THE 'STACHE IS BACK, FOLKS!
It seems the return of D.J. Chark made all the difference for Minshew. Jacksonville's quarterback bounced back from a mostly miserable Thursday night performance, delivering a season-high 351 passing yards at Cincinnati. He connected with Chark on a pair of scores. It's nice to have a dude who can roast defenses like this...
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) October 4, 2020
Minshew has of course benefited from a friendly early schedule, but the good times continue next week as the Jaguars visit Houston, a team recently mauled by Minnesota.
Other QBs to consider: Kirk Cousins (his matchup against Seattle is exceedingly friendly and he's obviously found a new friend in Justin Jefferson), Justin Herbert (because he's pretty damn fun, plus he's coming off an unexpected 3-TD game).
Running backs who deserve attention
Damien Harris, New England Patriots (30%)
Sony Michel was placed on IR with a quad injury ahead of the Monday night visit to Kansas City — brutal news following his 117-yard rushing effort in Week 3. Harris, just back from IR himself, handled the first carry of the game for the Pats against KC, ultimately delivering an even 100 yards on 17 attempts. He broke off multiple long gains and earned tough yards between the tackles, splitting snaps with Rex Burkhead and James White. All things considered, not such a bad 2020 debut.
Harris was was well-hyped as a fantasy flier in the preseason, you might recall, after drawing favorable camp reviews. He was an essential offensive piece over four seasons at Alabama, carving out a huge role on rosters littered with future NFL talents. He gained over 1000 scrimmage yards in his final three collegiate years, averaging 6.4 Y/C for his career and doing much of his damage after contact. If you get the Saban stamp of approval, you can probably play.
It should go without saying that Bill Belichick's squad is going to use a rotation of backs, and Harris may not be in the circle of trust in all game situations. But he's clearly stepping into a substantial early-down workload over multiple weeks and he passed the eye test on Monday. Next week's matchup with Denver shouldn't scare you off. Harris doesn't exactly get a PPR bump, but he clearly belongs in our pickup plans.
D'Ernest Johnson, Cleveland Browns (1%)
Johnson stepped in for an injured Nick Chubb on Sunday and produced a surprisingly Chubb-like stat line, carrying 13 times for 95 yards. Kareem Hunt and Odell Beckham Jr. handled most of the scoring for Cleveland, but Johnson's contributions weren't minor. Chubb is expected to miss multiple weeks with the MCL injury, so Johnson is clearly going to have a role behind Hunt. The matchups ahead aren't particularly friendly (Ind, at Pit), though he’ll have plenty of appeal seeing double-digit touches for the league’s No. 1 rushing offense. Cleveland is averaging an obscene 204.5 rushing yards per game and 5.9 per carry. The Browns hammered away relentlessly at Dallas on Sunday, piling up an astonishing 307 yards on the ground. Johnson will be, without question, a big piece of the team rushing attack in the weeks ahead.
Johnson took a circuitous path to the NFL following his collegiate career at USF, including a hugely productive stint in the AAF (5.8 YPC). He's got some flash to his game and he's tied to a seriously run-committed team. Hunt will lead the Cleveland backfield no doubt, but Johnson’s role should be substantial.
Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers (5%)
Rough news for anyone relying on Austin Ekeler: LA's featured runner is reportedly likely to miss multiple weeks following a knee/hamstring issue suffered in Week 4. In his absence, rookie Joshua Kelley (54% rostered) and vet Justin Jackson can be expected to control the Chargers' backfield. Kelley only out-snapped Jackson by nine on Sunday, and he also fumbled for the second straight week. Not great.
Jackson has been an efficient runner over three seasons in rotational duty for the Chargers (5.1) and he's presumably looking at a serious role in the weeks ahead. He needs to be rostered by someone in almost any 12-team league.
Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals (34%)
This was the week Kenyan Drake was supposed to detonate. Promises were made (possibly by me). If not on Sunday, facing user-friendly Carolina, then when? Well, it clearly didn't happen. Drake handled an uneventful 13 carries, a season-low. He wasn't targeted in the passing game and he has only five receptions on the season. It's well past time to panic.
Edmonds, however, remained useful. He handled nine touches for 40 yards and one touchdown, catching five balls on six targets. Everyone knows Edmonds is plenty talented, and his next two matchups are awfully appealing (at NYJ, at Dal). He's basically an understudy-with-benefits at this point, handling 5-10 touches weekly for Arizona. He's a respectable flex option through the byes.
Other RBs of interest: Malcolm Brown (yup, we're just gonna stash this week's Rams RB here in the honorable mentions, because it's a lawless backfield), Brian Hill (he converted 10 touches into 80 yards and a TD in Week 3), Dontrell Hilliard (it would have to be a seriously deep league, but he moves up a spot in Cleveland’s rushing depth chart following Chubb’s injury), Rex Burkhead (he’s only barely still eligible for this list at nearly 50% rostered, but, with Michel headed to IR, he’s obviously a player of interest), Damien Harris (returning from IR to a committee backfield, plus he’s coming off a buzzy offseason).
Wide Receivers and tight ends on the wire
Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos (1%)
Yeah, OK, sure: It was only the Jets. I get it. Calm down, fantasy expert.
Still, Patrick was terrific on Thursday night, in a game that perhaps wasn't totally ready for primetime. He hauled in six balls for 113 yards on seven targets, reaching the end zone for the second straight game. Patrick has size (6-foot-4), separation skills and leaping ability (37.5-inch vertical). He was just a little too much for New York this week...
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 2, 2020
After injuries to Courtland Sutton (ACL), Noah Fant (ankle) and K.J. Hamler (hamstring), this team needs every available playmaker. Patrick is in line for a significant role moving forward, and Drew Lock is returning soon.
Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals (33%)
Higgins followed up his two-touchdown effort from Week 3 with a four-catch, 77-yard performance on Sunday, adding a 13-yard gain on the ground. If you had any doubts about his future role in Cincinnati's offense, it's time to set 'em aside. He out-targeted and severely out-gained A.J. Green in the win over Jacksonville while playing 43 snaps. Higgins has drawn 22 targets over his last three games, turning John Ross into a spectator. He's now a primary red-zone threat in a productive offense directed by a hyper-talented young QB. He can't be left on the wire another week in competitive leagues.
Scotty Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (16%)
Tampa Bay's receiving corps is dealing with injuries to pretty much all key players, including Mike Evans (ankle), Chris Godwin (hamstring) and O.J. Howard (Achilles). The team has a quick turnaround this week as they prepare to play on Thursday night in Chicago. There's simply no question that Miller will remain an important piece of this team's passing game in the days and weeks ahead, having developed quick chemistry with the GOAT at the controls of the offense.
Miller had an easy 19-yard score among his five catches in Sunday's win against the Chargers...
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) October 4, 2020
...and he's topped 70 receiving yards in three of four games so far this season. He's also played at least 40 snaps in three of four weeks. His average targeted air-yards is among the highest in the league (16.2) and he's producing 11.9 yards per target. He's a good bet to be a significant part of Tampa Bay's gameplan for Week 5.
Additional WR/TE options: Laviska Shenault Jr. (just delivered 86 yards on five catches and the team feeds him the occasional carry, too), Chase Claypool (big-play receiver with ridiculous athleticism and he played 76 percent of the snaps in Week 3), Mecole Hardman (get yourself a piece of KC's offense if at all possible), Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis (the good times continue for Buffalo as both of these receivers made house calls on Sunday), Isaiah Ford (he drew 10 targets on Sunday, giving him 26 for the year), Eric Ebron (found the end zone in Week 3 in a seven-target game, and he's now past his bye), Greg Olsen (he's seen 13 targets over the past two weeks, catching 10), Robert Tonyan (all #BabyKittle ever does is catch touchdowns).
Cleveland Browns (12%)
This is something less than an impenetrable defense, but the Browns lead the NFL in takeaways (10) and they're tied for sixth in sacks (11). Those are the things that tend to drive defensive scoring for fantasy purposes. Myles Garrett has been a menace, in case you hadn't noticed. Cleveland gets a matchup with Philip Rivers in the week ahead, so we can expect another turnover or two.