Josh McCown, NYJ - Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, and Kirk Cousins are all out of action this week and you might be scrambling for a waiver wire quarterback. The best bet to both be on the wire and come through for you is McCown, who is facing a Browns defense that has allowed at least two touchdowns to every quarterback they have faced this year. That includes Jacoby Brissett, Andy Dalton, and even Joe Flacco. McCown is on the same page with his receivers, including tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who can exploit a weakness against that position in the Browns defense, and Robby Anderson, who can strike with a deep catch.
Jay Cutler, TEN - No more, you might say, no more Jay Cutler. It is understandable after his dud against the Saints. The Titans defense has been very generous against the pass, allowing eight passing scores in the last two weeks. Adam Gase got it figured out after a rough start last year. Cutler as a one-week play could blow up in our faces, but the matchup and quality receivers are there to make it work, too.
Jacoby Brissett, IND - Brissett is usually a desperation play with his limited experience and the Colts limited offense, but he is facing a 49ers defense that got taken apart by Jared Goff, and he is playing at home, where he got TY Hilton going two weeks ago. He is also liable run for a score or two and he could get some short fields if Brian Hoyer can’t protect the ball.
Jonathan Stewart, CAR - Stewart doesn’t provide a lot of upside, but the Panthers should be able to give him 15+ carries in a manageable matchup at Detroit. The Lions couldn’t slow down the Falcons running game two weeks, allowing over 150 rushing yards and a score, and Dalvin Cook was strong before going out last week. Stewart should have modest success and a chance at a score in a thin week at running back.
Elijah McGuire, NYJ - McGuire was a sensation last week, doing a lot more than expected with limited touches. The game script against the Browns should allow him to get at worst 8-10 touches again, and his explosiveness could turn any into a big play. Giovani Bernard and Javorius Allen both scored as receivers against the Browns so far this year, so that helps McGuire’s case.
Wayne Gallman, NYG - The Giants are saying that they will go with the hot hand at running back, which points to Gallman because he’s the only running back who has generated any heat in the Giants backfield this year. They face a Chargers defense that has outstanding edge rushers but has also allowed at least 121 rushing yards to opposing backs in every game this year, trending up to 206 against the Eagles last week. If the Giants are rational (they might not be), Gallman will get a lot of work this week.
Theo Riddick, DET - Riddick hasn’t done much yet this year, but that could change against the Panthers. Ameer Abdullah was magnificent against the Vikings last week, but did miss some time with an ailment the team blew off as a non-factor in his absence late, but his injury history looms. More importantly, the Panthers have allowed at least seven receptions to running backs in every game this year, and three different backs have had at least six receptions against them. Riddick is a perfect candidate to rack up catches and cheap PPR points this week.
Thomas Rawls, SEA - Rawls is far from trustworthy, but he could be a great play nonetheless. We are counting on coachspeak parsing to even project him as the #1, but he was running ahead of Eddie Lacy when both were healthy this preseason. The Seahawks running game has been mediocre at best, but they are facing a Rams defense that has already allowed seven running back scores this year, including six on the ground. Rawls is the most likely Seattle back to get the call at the goal line this week and add to those numbers.
Adam Humphries, TB **Thursday** - Humphries has been a good PPR play for two weeks running, and that should continue in what promises to be a high-scoring game between the Patriots and Buccaneers this week. New England has allowed multiple receivers to go for at least four catches and 59 yards in each of the last three weeks, and Humphries has caught Jameis Winston’s eye enough to get 17 targets over the last two weeks. A potential for forecast high winds only helps the possibility for another high target game.
Danny Amendola, NE **Thursday** - Teams are passing over 40 times a game against the Buccaneers, which points to a good chance that every competent Patriots pass catcher will score well this week. If the forecast high winds keep Brady from throwing downfield, Amendola should benefit as the best short-range pass catcher among their wideouts.
Cooper Kupp, LAR - Seattle should be able to take away at least one Rams outside receiver with Richard Sherman, and their ability to create pressure should keep Jared Goff from hanging out too long in the pocket. Kupp has been Goff’s favorite target when the matchup is right, and the only receiver to pile up receptions was Randall Cobb operating out of the slot, which is where Kupp has been very effective this year.
Trent Taylor, SF - Taylor could surprise with volume in PPR leagues this week. He got ten Brian Hoyer targets last week. Vontae Davis could erase Pierre Garcon, and #2 receiver Marquise Goodwin is likely to be out with his fourth concussion in a little over a year. Taylor’s snaps, targets, and production are all trending up heading into Week 5.
Will Fuller, HOU - Fuller had two short scores last week, so you know that there is chemistry and trust between him and new quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Chiefs have Marcus Peters, who may tangle with DeAndre Hopkins most of the time Sunday night, leaving Fuller as a candidate to have a big play downfield when Watson extends plays or otherwise feast on the coverage lapses elsewhere in a Chiefs pass defense that is giving up over 260 passing yards a game.
Donte Moncrief, IND - Moncrief has been a deep target more often than he was with Andrew Luck last year, and Jacoby Brissett has displayed some skill taking downfield shots to his receivers. That combination could hit this week against a young 49ers secondary that gave up three 100-yard receiver games in the last two weeks and a wide receiver score in every game so far this year.
Robby Anderson, NYJ - Anderson and Josh McCown have connected in consecutive weeks on long bombs and this week they face a Browns defense that just let Andy Dalton go off for four scores against them. TY Hilton finally got his deep game on against them in Week 3, so there’s a precedent for vulnerability in the Browns secondary against the long pass.
Hunter Henry, LAC - Henry has given us two zeroes in four games. You should tolerate the risk of a third in your lineup this week because Henry faces a Giants defense that already allowed five scores to opposing tight ends in four games. They’ve also allowed at least six tight end receptions and 45 tight end receiving yards in every game, Philip Rivers should be able to find Henry open in the middle of the field frequently on Sunday.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, NYJ - Seferian-Jenkins has been a core part of the Jets passing game from the moment he returned from his suspension. He should be even more central this week against a Browns defense that gave up two scores to Jesse James and Tyler Kroft, and an 8-91 game to Ben Watson.
Ben Watson, BAL - Watson might be the only bright spot in a Ravens pass offense that is the worst in the league. He led the team in receptions and yards in Week 2, had the garbage time score in Week 3, and posted a solid 5-43 in a slog against the Steelers last week. This week, he gets a Raiders defense that let Vernon Davis and AJ Derby go off against them over the last two weeks.