Deep Dive: RBs and WRs to stash off the waiver wire

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Each week, I'm tasked with picking the top waiver wire targets for fantasy footballers. That article is a more cursory glance at the waiver wire, helping the countless fantasy players in more casual leagues on NFL.com figure out who is worth adding to their roster.

However, for those of you degenerates ... err I mean "die-hards" in more intense or competitive leagues, this is the column for you. As the season progresses, this is where I'll highlight the players you want to be a week early on, as opposed to trying to win them in a waiver-wire bidding war after they've started to produce. Many of these players will hopefully graduate to the main waiver wire column and -- if you're smart -- they'll already be on your roster. Of course, I can't promise anything. Fantasy is far from a guaranteed game, as we know all too well.

Anyway, let's see what else Week 4 has to offer on the waiver wire.

Deep waiver targets for Week 4:


Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys - 28.4 percent owned
Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles - 9.1 percent owned
Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens - 9.3 percent owned
Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles - 11.6 percent owned
Wendell Smallwood, RB, Philadelphia Eagles - 0.2 percent owned
Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins - 1.3 percent owned
Matt Asiata, RB, Minnesota Vikings - 12 percent owned
Paul Perkins, RB, New York Giants - 6.3 percent owned
Bobby Rainey, RB, New York Giants - 0.0 percent owned
Jalen Richard, RB, Oakland Raiders - 10.1 percent owned
DeAndre Washington, RB, Oakland Raiders - 1.6 percent owned
Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns - 49.6 percent owned
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Philadelphia Eagles - 26.5 percent owned
Cole Beasley, WR, Dallas Cowboys - 6.9 percent owned
Adam Humphries, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 0.2 percent owned
Seth Roberts, WR, Oakland Raiders - 0.3 percent owned
Zach Miller, TE, Chicago Bears - 31.9 percent owned
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 4.5 percent owned
Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts - 8.0 percent owned
Richard Rodgers, TE, Green Bay Packers - 8.4 percent owned

Quarterbacks


Dak Prescott finally threw his first passing touchdown of the year and scored a rushing touchdown for the second consecutive week on Sunday against the Bears. He'll travel to San Francisco in Week 4 in a solid streaming matchup. The 49ers allow a healthy 7.14 yards per pass attempt, though they've only conceded six touchdowns thus far thanks to a Week 1 matchup against Case Keenum and the Rams' inept offense. Dak should be fine in Week 4. Carson Wentz is on his bye in Week 4, but it's now time for fantasy owners to pay attention to the young passer. Thanks to the guidance of head coach Doug Pederson and his staff, Wentz looks like a veteran running the Eagles offense. He's in the top half in the league in nearly every statistical category including completion percentage, yards, touchdowns, and yards per attempt. He is also the first rookie in NFL history without an interception in his first 100 pass attempts to begin a career. Wentz is worth a stash on the bench this week, as he'll face a porous Lions defense in Week 5 that has allowed 10 passing touchdowns in three games so far.

Running backs


While the Ravens are off to a 3-0 start, the ground attack hasn't really helped. Terrance West's 45 rushing yards in Week 3 were the most by a Baltimore back to date, and his 3.6 yards per carry average is just slightly better than Justin Forsett's 3.16. Forsett hasn't done much in the passing game either, taking his 11 receptions for a paltry 36 yards. Enter Kenneth Dixon, the team's fourth-round rookie who is currently on the shelf recovering from a torn MCL in the preseason. Dixon is believed to be aiming for a Week 4 return, though that might be a stretch at this point. Still, he's a savvy add right now before news breaks of his return. Dixon looked like the team's best all-around back in the preseason and could be just the spark this offense needs with his combination of between-the-tackles grit and dynamism in space as a pass-catcher.

Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood are on byes in Week 4, but merit consideration in deeper leagues. The Eagles have been chirping all year about a bigger role for Darren Sproles, and we finally saw a glimpse of that in Week 3 against the Steelers. Sproles tied for the team lead with six targets, catching all of them for 128 yards and a touchdown. Granted, much of that came on one 73-yard touchdown reception, but the volume of targets is encouraging for Sproles. He's definitely worth an add in PPR formats, and could be a matchup-based play in standard leagues. Smallwood played just seven snaps over the first two games, but tied for the team lead with 24 against the Steelers, and led the backfield with 17 carries for 79 yards and a touchdown. With Ryan Mathews nursing an ankle injury, the team leaned on Smallwood to salt away the clock in the second half, as 10 of the rookie's carries came in the fourth quarter. This is definitely a committee backfield, but Smallwood should be prioritized in deeper leagues as the handcuff to Mathews over Kenjon Barner.

It's not very exciting, but Kenyan Drake deserves a look from the crowded committee in Miami. With Arian Foster out in Week 3, the team gave four different backs four or more touches, with Drake leading the way with 11 total opportunities. He only managed 48 yards on those chances and didn't find the end zone in an overall lackluster fantasy day. Perhaps with a game's worth of tape the Dolphins turn over more touches to Drake. Drake's value goes out the window when Foster gets healthy, though, but the short week could keep Foster out again. The Dolphins face a tough matchup against the Bengals on Thursday Night Football to kick off Week 4. And if you're truly desperate, Damien Williams and Isaiah Pead wear Dolphins jerseys on Sundays as well and play the running back position.

We've reached the "plodder" portion of Deep Dive, where I attempt to muster up enthusiasm for the likes of Matt Asiata. Sigh. Here we go. Asiata, while clearly the No. 2 option behind Jerick McKinnon in Minnesota, could have some value as a touchdown-dependent flex play. The Vikings face another tough defensive front in Week 4 when the Giants come to town, but those in dire straights could trot out Asiata and hope he falls into the end zone. He was outtouched, outsnapped, and outgained by McKinnon though, so his ceiling is frighteningly low.

Shane Vereen's season-ending tricep injury casts a dark cloud over what was finally looking like a clear fantasy backfield for the Giants. Rashad Jennings is currently nursing a hand injury that limits him in the passing game, which could open the door for Paul Perkins and/or Bobby Rainey to work in as the new passing down back. Perkins didn't see the field in Week 3 (his first NFL game), while Rainey played eight snaps and received two targets, one on a screen and the other on a puzzling fade pattern. The team could defer to the veteran here, making Rainey the safer add for the near future. However, Perkins carries more upside given his production at UCLA and the team's recent draft investment in him. Adjust your priorities accordingly to what your team ultimately needs: immediate help or long-term upside.

Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington are mainstays in this column, as they continue to eat into Latavius Murray's playing time and production. Both saw seven touches in Week 4, while Murray led the way (barely) with 11. Washington is catching up to Richard in terms of total yards, and that's with fewer touches and without the benefit of a 75-yard play like Richard had in Week 1. Both are deep league targets once again, though Washington's upside feels higher as the more likely handcuff to Murray.

Wide receivers


Josh Gordon is still owned in plenty of leagues, but we're two weeks away from his return to NFL action, so he's worth mentioning. His owner could have dropped him to manage the countless injuries we've seen so far in 2016. Gordon might have some rust when he returns and his quarterback situation is less than ideal, but we just saw in Week 3 with Terrelle Pryor's performance that targets can trump those other factors. If Gordon's available, fix that mistake immediately. While we're on the uber-athletic, often-frustrating player beat, let's give Dorial Green-Beckham a little love. Doug Pederson admitted he wants to get DGB more targets, and he's seen four in each of the last two weeks now after just two in the opener. With Carson Wentz improving, DGB could become a bigger part of this offensive attack as his size and athleticism make him a mismatch in the red zone. If his owner got impatient and cast him into free agency heading into the bye, he's worth an add.

Cole Beasley has reached PPR gold status, with at least five catches and 65 yards in each game so far this year. He's averaging 13.77 PPR points per game and needs to be owned in more leagues. He's a safe floor play in deeper standard leagues, too. Rather quietly, Adam Humphries is emerging as the No. 2 target in Tampa Bay for Jameis Winston. His 25 targets, 18 receptions and 201 receiving yards all rank second on the team behind Mike Evans. With Vincent Jackson riding a horrific 40.9 percent catch rate at the moment, Winston could start looking Humphries' way even more often. Scoop him up while you can. Seth Roberts is the clear-cut No. 3 wide receiver for the Raiders, which isn't a high-volume role, but he's found the end zone in two of the three games so far. Were Amari Cooper or Michael Crabtree to suffer any sort of injury, Roberts would become a priority add. His upside makes him a valuable bench stash for now.

Tight ends


Zach Miller's ownership percentage is a bit high for him to make this column, but he saw as many targets in Week 3 with Brian Hoyer under center (nine) as he had in Weeks 1 and 2 combined. If Hoyer starts again in Week 4 against the Lions, Miller will be an excellent streaming option if he's available in your league. Austin Seferian-Jenkins' release opened the door Cameron Brate to break out against the Rams in Week 3, catching five of his 10 targets for 46 yards and two touchdowns. Brate and Jameis Winston had developed a nice rapport in the offseason and that should continue now that Brate is the primary starter. He's a great add this week off waivers, even in standard leagues, though a tough Week 4 matchup awaits when the Broncos come to South Florida. This was supposed to be Dwayne Allen's year, but Jack Doyle is emerging as another reliable target for Andrew Luck and crashing the party. Doyle is currently tied with Allen with 15 targets, but has more catches (13 to nine), yards (137 to 113), and touchdowns (two to one). He's not going away anytime soon, especially with Donte Moncrief sidelined for several weeks. Doyle is a safe floor option at tight end who should be added by those looking for consistency at the position. Lastly, while Jared Cook's ankle injury suffered in Week 3 isn't deemed season-ending, it at least puts Richard Rodgers back on the fantasy radar for a few weeks. Aaron Rodgers has thrown 21.3 percent of his targets to the tight end position so far in 2016, meaning the other Rodgers could have some decent value once the Packers return from their bye in Week 5.

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-- Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar

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