By Matt Citak
Three weeks into the NFL season, and fantasy football rosters everywhere have been upended by injuries, a holdout and general inconsistency. What’s new? From the growing list of injured tight ends, to the holdout of Le’Veon Bell, to the recent injury that ended Jimmy Garoppolo’s season, these first three games have revealed once again how unpredictable the NFL can be.
We may not know what will happen next week, but we do know which unheralded players should be snagged off waivers this week. Here are the top fantasy waiver wire adds heading into NFL Week 4.
WR Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons
Ridley has burst onto the scene over the last two weeks, racking up 11 catches for four touchdowns, including three in Atlanta’s overtime loss to the Saints in Week 3. A 6-foot-1 receiver with speed (he ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine), Ridley has started to display the skills that made him a first-round pick. While he will still have to compete with Mohamed Sanu for targets, it shouldn’t be long before he solidifies his spot in the starting lineup opposite Julio Jones, a role that should allow the rookie to take advantage of plenty of single-coverage matchups.
QB Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
All aboard the Baker Hype Train! When Mayfield entered the Browns’ Week 3 game against the Jets near the end of the second quarter, you could immediately feel a sense of excitement around Cleveland. And that was before Mayfield completed almost 75 percent of his passes for 201 yards, leading the Browns to their first win in 635 days. As a rookie quarterback, the number-one pick overall will likely hit many bumps in the road this season. But if last Thursday was any indication, Mayfield could easily end up being a very solid fantasy QB, and soon.
WR Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals
Over the last two weeks, Boyd has been absolutely on fire. The third-year receiver has been targeted 16 times over that span, hauling in 12 of the passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns. While John Ross may have received all of the preseason attention, it’s Boyd who has emerged as the number-two option in the Bengals passing game behind A.J. Green. With how potent the Cincinnati offense has looked through three games (we’ll get to Andy Dalton in a little bit), Boyd appears ready for a breakout campaign.
WR John Brown, Baltimore Ravens
It amazes me that Brown is still available on the waiver wire in so many fantasy leagues. I picked him up after Week 1, but if he is somehow still a free agent, grab him quickly. After catching touchdown passes in each of the first two games, Brown brought in five of nine targets for 86 yards against the Broncos. The 28-year-old receiver is now averaging 18.5 yards per catch on 12 receptions, finally giving Joe Flacco a legitimate deep ball threat to target in the Ravens offense. Brown should be rostered in all fantasy leagues.
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QB Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
If A.J. Green is unable to suit up for this one, then Dalton should not be in your lineup. But assuming Green is good to go, fire up the Red Rifle. After two strong performances to open the season, Dalton fell back down to earth a bit in Week 3, tossing four interceptions against the Panthers. However, Dalton has thrown for 860 yards on the season, and has at least two touchdown passes in each contest. The Bengals take on a Falcons defense this week that has allowed two consecutive 300-yard passers after losing several key defenders to injury. As long as Dalton has all of his pass-catching options, Dalton makes a great streaming option in Week 4.
WR Ryan Grant, Indianapolis Colts
The concerns in Indianapolis over Andrew Luck’s arm strength are real. The quarterback doesn’t seem able to throw the ball that far down the field with any level of confidence. While that could spell trouble for the Colts, it bodes well for Grant’s outlook. Since he’s still recovering from the shoulder injury that forced him to miss all of the 2017 season, Luck has been relying on short passes through the first three weeks, which plays more to Grant’s strengths than T.Y. Hilton’s. His target share is a bit too low to trust right now, but Grant is worth stashing on your bench.
RB Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns
Despite head coach Hue Jackson saying the Browns needed to get him the ball more often, Duke Johnson touched the rock just four times against the Jets last week. He hasn’t touched the ball more than six times in a game yet this season, but that could all change now that Mayfield is under center. Johnson is another speculative add for now, as he has to play in more than just 38 percent of Cleveland’s offensive snaps like he did against New York to provide any fantasy value. I’m giving Johnson a little more time to prove he still has some flex PPR value.
QB Case Keenum, Denver Broncos
Keenum has been a huge disappointment thus far, throwing for 743 yards, three touchdowns, and five interceptions with a 61.1 completion percentage and just a 6.88 yards per pass attempt average. I know those numbers are far from start-worthy. We learned last year that Keenum is more than capable of leading an offense and, despite his slow start, I still believe he can lead this talented Broncos offense. The veteran QB gets an appetizing matchup against the Chiefs on Monday night in Week 4. Kansas City’s awful defense, along with the national spotlight, could be the right recipe for getting Keenum and Denver back on track.
RB Javorius Allen, Baltimore Ravens
This one is simple. Through the first three games of the season, John Harbaugh has made it abundantly clear that Allen is the back he trusts deep into enemy territory. Despite Alex Collins topping the depth chart, Allen has received the short-yardage touchdown runs in each of the Ravens’ first three games. Collins will continue to lead the team in rushing, but his history of fumbling has seemingly lost him the goal-line duties. Allen also serves as the team’s pass-catching back, and thus should provide solid flex value in PPR leagues throughout the season.
Matt Citak is a contributor for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter.