Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky had the biggest game of his life. The second-year pro out of North Carolina threw for 354 yards and six touchdowns, five of those in the first half, making him the second quarterback in NFL history to throw at least five first-half touchdown passes to five different targets. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was the other.
Trubisky’s performance isn’t completely a surprise. He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft and we highlighted him as the best quarterback streaming option in Week 4 before the season began. Trubisky is available in over 80 percent of fantasy leagues but due to his bye in Week 5 and that we’d recommend him for just one more game this season — Week 6 against the Miami Dolphins — he isn’t enough of a contributor to warrant a roster spot.
To help you prioritize your waiver targets, we’re updating our top free agents after each round of games every Sunday this season. What follows are the top early targets from the 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. games, as well as the Thursday night game.
Most of these players should be available in at least 30 percent of leagues utilizing a 12-team, point-per-reception, or PPR, scoring format. So if you see one of these guys on your wire, you are going to want to put in a claim for this week.
Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams (Available in 31 percent of fantasy leagues)
Goff started the season with 941 yards and six touchdowns over his first three games, then completed 26 of his 33 passes against the Minnesota Vikings for 465 yards and five touchdowns in Week 4, making him the third-most valuable passer per ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating.
You’d think a quarterback on a team like the Rams, who are 4-0 with an above-average offense (3.2 points per drive, 2nd) and defense (1.6 points allowed per drive, 12th), would not get much work due to leading on the scoreboard — teams tend to rush more often when ahead to control the clock — but Coach Sean McVay has his team throw more often when leading this season.
And Goff doesn’t have many tough defenses on the schedule. After Week 5 against the Seattle Seahawks, the Rams will face the Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints before facing Seattle again in Week 10.
Mike Davis, RB, Seattle Seahawks (Available in 99 percent of fantasy leagues)
No one saw Davis coming this week. And I can say that with certainty because he isn’t owned in any of ESPN fantasy football leagues. And why would he be? He has touched the ball just 152 times since being drafted in 2015 with five touches in 2018 heading into Week 4. Yet he was able to gnash the Arizona Cardinals defense for 101 yards and two touchdowns Sunday, giving Seattle’s running game something, and someone, to build on.
The last time one of Seattle’s rushers tallied at least 80 yards with two touchdowns was Thomas Rawls in Week 13 of the 2016 season. Before that it was Christine Michael (Week 3 of 2016). Otherwise, it has been tough to find a Seahawks running back worth a roster spot.
There could be more games like this for Davis if given the chance: Seattle has the easiest schedule in terms of run defenses faced.
Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears (Available in 39 percent of fantasy leagues)
It looked like Jordan Howard was going to be the main back for Chicago, but in Week 4 that wasn’t the case. Howard got 11 carries and zero targets in the smack down against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers whereas Cohen had 13 carries and eight passes thrown to him out of the backfield. Plus, Howard’s carries came once the game was already out of reach.
The Bears are on a bye in Week 5 but after that they have the fourth-easiest schedule in terms of run defenses faced.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (Available in 48 percent of fantasy leagues)
Other quarterbacks get more accolades, but it’s time to acknowledge how well Dalton has done this season. The Red Rifle came into Week 4 completing 64 percent of his passes for 860 yards, eight touchdowns and a league-leading five interceptions, but most of those errant throws weren’t deemed his fault. For example, ESPN had Dalton as the seventh most-valuable passer per QBR and the game charters at Pro Football Focus also listed him at No. 7.
Dalton threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday and will face the Miami Dolphins — who allowed 274 passing yards and three touchdowns to Tom Brady and the Patriots — in Week 5.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (Available in 53 percent of fantasy leagues)
A waiver wire pick up earlier in the year, Yeldon is once again in play after Leonard Fournette reinjured his hamstring and left the game against the Jets in the first half.
That reopened the door for Yeldon, who carried the ball 18 times for 52 yards and a touchdown on Sunday plus caught all three targets for 48 more yards and another touchdown. That not only gives Yeldon more yards per carry after contact (2.7) than Fournette (1.9) in 2018 but also yields him a respectable 1.4 yards per route run (18th out of 37 qualified running backs).
Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts, (Available in 85 percent of fantasy leagues)
Indianapolis Coach Frank Reich does not think wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who suffered a hamstring injury Sunday, will be available against the New England Patriots on Thursday night. That opens up a big hole in the Colts' passing game, as Hilton caught four passes for 115 yards against the Houston Texans.
One player that could benefit is Hines. The rookie caught 9 of 11 passes for 63 yards and two touchdowns, the first two of his career, including a 14-yard touchdown catch that was reminiscent of Randy Moss.
Dede Westbrook, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (Available in 87 percent of fantasy leagues)
Westbrook and quarterback Blake Bortles have combined for 294 yards and one touchdown, leading to a 120.2 passer rating, and that includes going 9 for 13 for 130 yards against the New York Jets on Sunday.
Westbrook is now Bortles’s most-targeted receiver and rewards the Jaguars with 1.5 yards per route run.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Atlanta Falcons (Available in 51 percent of fantasy leagues)
Julio Jones is the undisputed No. 1 receiver on the Falcons, but quarterback Matt Ryan appears to be willing to spread the ball around when necessary. And since Jones is often double teamed, Ryan has no issue finding the wideout in a favorable matchup.
Sanu, used primarily in the slot, had caught 10 of 15 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown yet he hauled in 6 of 9 targets for 111 yards on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. The targets are the key, and it marked the second consecutive week Sanu was more involved in Atlanta’s passing game.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, New England Patriots (Available in 98 percent of fantasy leagues)
Heading into Week 4, the Patriots didn’t look like the team that is always destined to make the Super Bowl. The passing game in particular was lackluster: Tom Brady completed 57 percent of his passes to his wideouts for 230 yards, three touchdowns and one interception (86.4 passer rating). He did target Patterson five times for three catches, 54 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins, including a 55-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
That touchdown catch was his first deep target of the season, and considering Brady was 0 for 7 on deep passes before Sunday, perhaps that gives him and the coaching staff more confidence in Patterson as a receiver.