There were a ton of injuries during Sunday's NFL action during Week 4, and the most significant injury might have been Kenny Pickett's knee injury, which looked serious enough that it might cost him some time moving forward.
, but unfortunately, Pickett is not alone in having suffered an injury that could cost him time. Let's go through all of the relevant injuries from Sunday's games before we get to our early look at the Week 5 waiver-wire:
Higgins suffered an injury during the first half of Sunday's game and could not return. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the injury is a fracture, and that it "could keep him off the field for a bit." Beyond that, we don't really know the extent of the injury, which makes it hard to say how much time he might miss. Rib injuries are often about pain tolerance as much as anything, though obviously there is always risk of suffering a re-injury that exacerbates the initial one. Higgins very well could play in Week 5, and with the Bengals sitting at 1-3, there might be some desperation involved in the decision making process there. If Higgins misses time, Tyler Boyd would likely play a bigger role, though this Bengals offense hasn't exactly been good enough to make Boyd someone we want to rely on – he'll be in the WR3/4 range if Higgins is out for Week 5 against the Cardinals.
Williams finished Sunday's game with two carries for zero yards and didn't play in the second half as a result of the injury. The extent of the injury isn't yet known, but this might actually end up being the most significant one from a Fantasy perspective, just because RB is the position where injuries tend to have the most impact. And there is a surprising name that might be at the top of waiver-wire priority lists for Week 5 as a result of this injury: Rookie Jaleel McLaughlin. McLaughlin, an undrafted free agent out of Youngstown State, was actually the NCAA's all-time leading rusher in college, and impressed enough in the preseason to earn a spot on the roster despite Williams' return from injury and the addition of Samaje Perine in free agency. And McLaughlin actually had 10 touches Sunday to eight for Perine, though Perine did lead the team in TB snaps with 22. Week 5 will likely be a committee for the Broncos backfield, but I'll prioritize the guy who has shown a spark for the team that badly needs it.
Evans had the bad game against New Orleans everyone expected, though not necessarily for the reason everyone expected. He caught three passes on three targets for 40 yards, but had his last target late in the second quarter. He was spotted on the sidelines on a stationary bike trying to get loose, but was ruled out in the third quarter. Hamstring injuries are tricky business because the risk of re-injury is always pretty high as a player looks to return – just look at Cooper Kupp's preseason injury for proof. We don't have any reason to suspect Evans' injury will end up being that serious, but the good news is, Evans is going to get a full two weeks to recover, because the Buccaneers are on a bye in Week 5. They return to action in Week 6 against the Lions, and while we can't say for sure that he'll be okay to go, there's no reason to add someone like Deven Thompkins (four catches for 45 yards Sunday) or Trey Palmer (two catches for 6 yards and a touchdown) just yet.
We'll pair these two together to save some word count. Both entered the season with some breakout hope, and neither has done so so far. If Freiermuth has to miss some time, maybe rookie Darnell Washington could see more run, but he just caught his first NFL pass Sunday, and has been used more as a blocker so far. I wouldn't expect either player's absence to lead to much Fantasy production.
The following players all left Sunday's games at least briefly, and will be worth watching at practice this week: Baker Mayfield (knee), Davante Adams (shoulder), Adam Thielen (ankle), Jahan Dotson (ankle), and Matthew Stafford (hip). Justin Herbert also left Sunday's game briefly with an injury to one of the fingers on his non-throwing hand, though he did play with the finger bandaged and in a splint, so it's unclear as of now how serious it is.
Here's who we're going to be looking at adding heading into Week 5 of the Fantasy Football season.
DEN Denver • #38
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
As stated earlier, McLaughlin actually played fewer snaps than Perine, but I'd much rather target him. We know what Perine is, and he's a viable backup – he was very good filling in for Joe Mixon last season, for instance. But this offense doesn't funnel touches to their RB1 the same way the Bengals did last season, so while I think Perine will be the No. 1 back, McLaughlin is probably the guy I'd prefer for Fantasy if Williams has to miss time. McLaughlin has shown solid burst, including on his 18-yard touchdown on a screen from Russell Wilson Sunday. McLaughlin and Perine will probably both rank in the RB3 range for a matchup against the Jets next week, but I would prioritize McLaughlin's playmaking.
C.J. Stroud QB
HOU Houston • #7
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
I said before Sunday's game that if Stroud did well against the Steelers, we would have to have a real conversation about him as a Fantasy QB1. We're going to have that conversation this week, as he put up 306 yards and a pair of scores on them. He wasn't super efficient, completing just 16 of 30 passes, but he once again hit on several big plays, and he led the Texans to 30 points against a defense that had given up 40 in the previous two games. Stroud looks terrific and he has real weapons, with Nico Collins stepping up this week after it was the Tank Dell show last week. Week 5 offers a matchup against the Falcons, and while that defense isn't necessarily a pushover – they held Trevor Lawrence in check as a passer Sunday – Stroud has done enough to feel pretty comfortable starting him against them.
ARI Arizona • #14
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
This Cardinals team might not be especially good, but they're feisty, and it's leading to a lot more Fantasy relevance than anyone expected coming into the season. Wilson was a late-round flier for some folks but had just seven targets through the first two weeks of the season and slipped off radars. Last week, he hit a 69-yard play to put together a solid yardage total, but Sunday was really the first time he put together a full good game. The rookie from Stanford caught each of the seven passes thrown his way for 76 yards and his first two NFL touchdowns – both of which came well before garbage time, so we're not discounting his showing in this 19-point loss. He's still clearly behind Marquise Brown in the receiving hierarchy here, and might be behind Zach Ertz (who had 10 targets, though at least a couple were in clear garbage time mode, if you want to discount those). Still, Wilson is a young player who is starting to show some signs at the NFL level, and is worth a bench stash if you've got a spot to play with.
Tyler Boyd WR
CIN Cincinnati • #83
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
If Higgins has to miss time, we're going to see a lot of focus on Boyd for Week 5 at least, and it makes sense. Higgins has missed two games since the start of the 2021 season, and Boyd had 13 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown in those two games. However, some context is needed – he had 36 yards in one of those games, salvaging it with a touchdown, and he had just three catches for 32 yards in one of the two games Higgins barely played in last season – Boyd left the other one with an injury of his own. That's not to say Boyd shouldn't be added this week, or shouldn't be used if Higgins is out. It's just to say that he isn't just a one-for-one replacement in this offense for Higgins. Higgins is the much better player. And this Bengals offense isn't quite as enticing as it has been in years past, with Joe Burrow clearly playing at less than 100% and throwing for just 182 yards per game so far. Boyd will be in the WR3/4 range for PPR leagues.
Marvin Mims WR
DEN Denver • #83
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
This is, frankly, a pretty underwhelming week of waiver-wire options, at least as things stand Sunday afternoon, so I'm just going to keep highlighting Mims and hope that somehow, some way, he can work his way into Sean Payton's heart. Payton stubbornly refuses to play Mims significant snaps, despite the fact that he's made big plays in pretty much every game – Mims played 17 of 48 snaps Sunday, per TruMedia, and had the team's only play of longer than 25 yards from scrimmage. Mims is flashing so much in his limited role that I'm willing to stash him on my bench and just hope his role continues to grow.
DAL Dallas • #87
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
I was tough on Ferguson early on this season, but he's looked a lot better the past couple of weeks. After catching just five of 11 targets thrown his way for 22 yards in the first two weeks of the season, he's been much more efficient since catching five of seven in Week 3 and then all seven thrown his way Sunday for a career-high 77 yards. I still don't love how Dallas' offense is operating under Mike McCarthy, but Ferguson's been a consistent factor pretty much every week, and in the weak TE position, that makes him a viable starter.
Tyler Higbee TE
LAR L.A. Rams • #89
Age: 30 • Experience: 8 yrs.
The last few weeks have been more like what we expected from Higbee with Cooper Kupp out. He caught all five passes for 71 yards in Week 3, and then wasn't nearly as efficient but still had a solid game Sunday. Now, the caveat here is that Kupp is expected to return to practice this week and might even make his return from IR, which would make it tougher to bet on Higbee as a volume-based TE play. But with 23 targets over his past three games after just three in the opener, Higbee's looking more viable himself these days.