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Waiver Wire Week 4: Josh Gordon, Chuba Hubbard Headline Top Fantasy Football Free-Agent Pickups

Now that September is nearly over and three weeks of NFL action is in the books, it is time for fantasy managers to assess their rosters and make some major adjustments.

Healthy players that have failed to produce can safely be cut at this juncture. This last month has revealed plenty about how each of the league’s 32 offenses will fare in 2021 and it’s unlikely that these draft busts are able to turn things around if they haven’t yet.

It may be difficult, but getting rid of underperformers like Kenyan Drake, Ronald Jones, Curtis Samuel, Tyrell Williams, Mecole Hardman and Eric Ebron will trim the fat from your roster and open up a valuable spot to add a free agent. Knowing when to let go of players—even the ones that cost a decent draft pick to initially acquire—is a skill shrewd fantasy managers must learn to field a team built for the long haul.

While there aren’t as many must-add players on the waiver as there was during the initial weeks of the new campaign, there are still plenty of intriguing free agents likely available in your league. With that in mind, here is a look at the top waiver wire pickups for Week 4. These suggestions are rostered in 50% or fewer fantasy leagues.

DFS Values courtesy of FanDuel

No. 1: RB Chuba Hubbard, Carolina Panthers (19% Rostered, $6,300 DFS Value)

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Those in need of help at the running back position won’t have much to choose from this week. Fortunately, there is one player available in most leagues who could be a high-end back over the next few games.

Carolina’s Chuba Hubbard is the top priority waiver add in Week 4 after star back Christian McCaffrey went down with a hamstring injury. While McCaffrey didn’t land on injured reserve, he’ll likely be sidelined for at least one contest.

Hubbard will be a feature back for as long as McCaffrey remains out. That much was already clear on Sunday, when the rookie picked up 11 carries and three receptions, turning those 14 touches into 79 yards.

Mike Davis was one of the better starters in football during McCaffrey’s extended absence last year. Hubbard has even more talent than the veteran who replaced Carolina’s star RB last year and could do big things while he has a feature role in the offense.

No. 2: WR Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos (19% Rostered, $6,100 DFS Value)

Those who avoided picking up Tim Patrick in wake of Jerry Jeudy’s injury in the season-opener shouldn’t make the same mistake in Week 4. The Broncos wideout is now the top receiver to target on the waiver wire, as he is one of the few proven options the team has left to throw to after K.J. Hamler was lost for the year.

While Courtland Sutton is still the No. 1 wideout in Denver, Patrick has been outperforming his teammates statistically. He’s coming off a five-catch, 98-yard outing against the Jets and has already scored twice in 2021.

Patrick should see an even bigger workload going forward due to the loss of Hamler. Jeudy will eventually return to action, but Patrick has clearly earned the trust of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. That rapport should translate into steady production in 2021 and makes Patrick a perfectly fine WR3 with upside in fantasy.

No. 3: WR Emmanuel Sanders, Buffalo Bills (25% Rostered, $5,800 DFS Value)

The Bills brought in veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders this offseason to bolster their receiving corps. He got off to a relatively slow start to his tenure in Buffalo, catching just six of his first 14 targets for 100 yards and no touchdowns.

That changed on Sunday when Sanders and the Bills offense went off against Washington. The 34-year-old finished the day having reeled in five of his six targets for 94 yards and his first two touchdowns in a Buffalo uniform.

Sanders has finally established a connection with star quarterback Josh Allen and should only have more quality games in the coming weeks. While he may not score twice per game each week, Sanders is a high-floor flex option with upside to be a WR2 if the Bills can keep rolling offensively.

No. 4: TE Tyler Conklin, Minnesota Vikings (3% Rostered, $5,300 DFS Value)

If you are one of the unfortunate owners who whiffed on a tight end pick in the draft, it has been painfully difficult to find startable talent on the waiver wire.

That may change with the emergence of Tyler Conklin, the Minnesota tight end who had a breakout performance on Sunday. The fourth-year veteran had a career game against the Seahawks, catching seven passes for 70 yards and a touchdown.

Conklin hasn’t been much more than a blocker during his first three years with the Vikings, but the 26-year-old has been thrust into larger role after Kyle Rudolph departed in free agency and Irv Smith Jr. was lost for the year in the preseason.

With Chris Herndon doing little of note after the Vikings traded for him last month, Conklin is clearly the tight end to roster in Minnesota. It will take more consistency for him to reach TE1 status in fantasy, but roster him now and hope for the best in Week 4.

No. 5: WR Josh Gordon, Kansas City Chiefs (5% Rostered, $N/A DFS Value)

Desperate fantasy owners ready to roll the dice should look no further than Josh Gordon.

The mercurial wideout was reinstated this week and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, joining the reigning AFC champions’ practice squad on Monday.

Kansas City has been desperate for receiving talent to complement Tyreek Hill, getting little in the way of production from the likes of Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson. If Gordon can rekindle a form even remotely close to his peak, he’d add a major edge to the Chiefs passing game and give star quarterback Patrick Mahomes another elite weapon.

Gordon has been suspended six times since the start of the 2013 campaign, however, most recently in December 2019 after violating substance abuse and performance-enhancing substances policy. It remains to be seen if he’ll even get on the field for the Chiefs, but fantasy owners off to a poor start to the 2021 NFL season should be willing to risk a roster spot on him becoming a real asset.

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