(CBS Boston)- The NFL was struck by the injury bug again this past weekend, as several key fantasy contributors went down with injuries in Week 4.
Two running backs selected within the first two rounds of fantasy drafts appear set to miss some time, as Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb and Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler both suffered injuries Sunday. Both look primed to miss multiple weeks. In addition, Arizona Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake also suffered an injury, although he had not been doing much with his touches this season anyway.
On top of the backup running backs that could now be looking at extended roles, there are several intriguing wide receiver and tight end options that are likely still available on the waiver wire after strong performances Sunday.
With that said, here are the top waiver wire adds heading into Week 5.
QB Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers– Herbert made his third consecutive start on Sunday, and while his streak of 300+ passing yards came to an end, the rookie quarterback still put together an impressive outing. Herbert completed 80 percent of his passes for 290 yards, three touchdowns and one interception against a good Buccaneers defense. The No. 6 overall pick in this year’s draft has thrown for 961 yards and five touchdowns in his first three NFL games. While head coach Anthony Lynn has stated Tyrod Taylor would return as the team’s starter once healthy, it would be tough for the Chargers to yank Herbert out of the starting lineup following the strong start to his career.
QB Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers– Bridgewater had his best fantasy outing of the season in Week 4. The 27-year-old completed over 70 percent of his passes for the third consecutive week, this time totaling 276 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception. However, it was Bridgewater’s rushing that really boosted his fantasy day. Bridgewater rushed the ball six times for 32 yards and a touchdown, with the scoring coming on an impressive run. The Panthers face the Falcons’ putrid pass defense in Week 5, planting Bridgewater firmly on the streaming radar, especially with bye weeks starting (Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford are the first two quarterbacks on bye in Week 5).
RBs Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson– As mentioned in the intro, Austin Ekeler went down with a hyperextended knee and a hamstring injury in Week 4. While we still don’t know exactly how long he’ll be out, we’re certain that Ekeler will miss the next few games with the latest reports putting his return in the 4-6 week timeframe. This opens up the door for Kelley and Jackson. Kelley is the preferred choice of the two, as he has had a big role in the run game even prior to Ekeler’s injury. Chances are Kelley is already taken though, and if that’s the case, you should pivot to Jackson. Jackson hasn’t done anything this season, but did handle 29 carries last season and totaled 200 rushing yards (6.9 yards per carry) while adding nine receptions in only seven games. The Chargers like using multiple backs, making Jackson an interesting add with possible FLEX appeal while Ekeler is out.
RB D’Ernest Johnson, Cleveland Browns– If yesterday was the first time you ever heard the name D’Ernest Johnson, you would not be the only one. The back entered Week 4 with just four career rush attempts, but more than tripled that number on Sunday following the injury to Nick Chubb. Johnson finished the game against the Cowboys with 13 rush attempts for a whopping 95 yards (7.3 yards per carry). While Kareem Hunt scored two touchdowns on 11 carries, Johnson actually wound up with more touches. Head coach Kevin Stefanski announced that Chubb is being placed on injured reserve with an MCL injury. Due to the Browns’ desire to pound the football on the ground, Johnson should probably be your top waiver wide add of the week.
RB Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals– The Cardinals coaches did not appear too concerned about the injury to Kenyan Drake, and early reports indicate he should be fine. But if he misses any time whatsoever, Chase Edmonds will make a great fantasy play. Edmonds has had a role in Arizona’s offense even before the injury, but any absence from the starter would pave the way for a huge role for Edmonds. Against the Panthers, Edmonds rushed the ball four times for 16 yards, but added five receptions for 24 yards and a touchdown. In fact, the touchdown came before Drake suffered the injury. Edmonds has been one of the most valuable handcuff running backs all season, so chances are he’s already sitting on someone’s bench. But if he is somehow still available, be sure to put in a claim for Edmonds, regardless of Drake’s injury status.
WR Laviska Shenault, Jacksonville Jaguars– Another week, another impressive outing by a rookie wide receiver. Shenault caught five passes against the Bengals on Sunday, totaling 86 receiving yards and adding one rush for five yards. Shenault now has at least three catches in every game, while catching five of six targets in each of the last two games. The rookie receiver also has nine rush attempts on the season, showing that the Jaguars clearly want the ball in his hands. Shenault did leave Sunday’s game late with a hamstring injury, so make sure you check his injury status prior to putting in a claim.
WR Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals- Higgins had a solid game for the second straight week and appears to be carving out a larger role in the Bengals’ passing game. Higgins caught four passes for 77 yards while adding one rush attempt for 13 yards. More importantly, the rookie finished second on the team with seven targets, only one behind Tyler Boyd for the team-lead. Higgins now has nine receptions on 16 targets over the last two weeks. While veteran A.J. Green will continue to have a role, Higgins seems to be emerging as Joe Burrow’s second-favorite option after Boyd. Cincinnati is one of the most pass-heavy teams in the league, and with Burrow playing well, Higgins could soon enter must-start territory.
WR Scotty Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Tom Brady put any concerns about his arm to rest this past Sunday after he threw for 369 yards and five touchdowns against the Chargers. With those worries being put to bed, let’s focus on Brady’s pass-catchers. Mike Evans is clearly the alpha dog in the air attack, especially with Chris Godwin sidelined with a hamstring injury. Godwin’s return could make it a 1A and 1B situation, with either guy leading the way any given Sunday. But with Godwin still out, Scotty Miller looks like Brady’s second-favorite target. Against the Chargers, Miller reeled in five of seven targets for 83 yards and a touchdown, finishing just one target behind Evans for the team-lead. Miller has clearly earned Brady’s trust, making him a good fantasy play for as long as Godwin remains sidelined.
WR Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos- Patrick exploded for six receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown against the Jets last Thursday, more than doubling his total numbers from the first three weeks. The Broncos’ quarterback situation is one to keep an eye on, as there is at least some hope that Drew Lock could return to the lineup for this week’s game against the Patriots. Even if Lock doesn’t return, Patrick makes for an intriguing add and stash. Someone had to step up following the season-ending injury to Courtland Sutton, and while Jerry Jeudy is awesome, Patrick looks like he could be emerging as the number two option, especially following the injury to KJ Hamler. I wouldn’t be putting him in your lineup quite yet, but Patrick is worth a spot on your bench for now.
TE Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys- It wasn’t a great week for new breakout tight ends, but Schultz definitely deserves a spot on this list. Schultz caught four passes for 72 yards and a touchdown against the Browns. But more importantly, the tight end was targeted eight times by Dak Prescott, who is enjoying an amazing start to his season. Over the last three weeks, Prescott has targeted Schultz a total of 24 times, resulting in 17 receptions for 208 yards and two touchdowns. The Cowboys defense is awful this season, meaning Dallas will likely have to rely on Prescott to keep them in games for the remainder of the year. Schultz could be this season’s breakout tight end, as Prescott and the Cowboys’ aerial attack seems to be firing on all cylinders while the defense is averaging 36.5 points allowed per game.