Bears

Fantasy Football: 10 waiver wire targets for Week 4 and beyond

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Fantasy Football: 10 waiver wire targets for Week 4 and beyond

Don't do it. Don't fall into the trap.

Marcedes Lewis set the fantasy world on fire with three tuddies in London early Sunday morning before the Noon games even kicked off. 

It means next to nothing going forward.

Lewis was a complete nonfactor prior to that game, with zero catches on four targets in Weeks 1 and 2 combined. He is a not a big part of the Jaguars offense and until he proves he can approach those numbers again, Lewis does not need to be owned. 

The larger point is making sure you're not getting too caught up in one week of action. If you pick up a guy who's had an awesome stretch of games or one awesome game, that doesn't always translate to moving forward and obviously it's the future we're worried about with every fantasy transaction.

But even if Lewis isn't a legit option moving forward, there are plenty of guys who are worthy of your waiver claims this week:

1. Wendell Smallwood, RB, PHI

The hottest add this week, Smallwood figures to play a BIGwood (nailed it) role in the Eagles offense moving forward. Darren Sproles is done for the year and Smallwood played 57 percent of the snaps in Week 3 even with Sproles healthy to begin the contest. The Eagles did rediscover the fact they have LeGarrette Blount on the roster and he rushed for 67 yards and a TD, but Smallwood will be the receiving back and he also outperformed Blount on 12 carries (71 yards). He's the top back on the market (owned in only 2 percent of leagues) and could be a difference-maker moving forward.

2. Sterling Shepard, WR, NYG

The Giants offense is broke no more. Odell Beckham Jr. is back in a big way and while Brandon Marshall is starting to emerge on the opposite side of the field from OBJ, Shepard is proving there's room for him in this offense, too. Manning won't throw 47 times every week, but Marshall caught 8 balls on 11 targets (but for only 66 yards; 8.3 ypc) while Shepard hauled in 7 passes on 10 targets for 133 yards and a TD. That makes 22 targets in three games for Shepard plus two games with 7 catches. But keep in mind, he'll have those clunkers where he catches only 2 balls for 23 yards (like he did in Week 2).

3. D'Onta Foreman, RB, HOU

We keep saying it, but Foreman needs to be picked up in all leagues, not only 5 percent. He's emerging as an integral part of the Texans offense and rattled off 90 yards from scrimmage Sunday on 10 touches. Most of those came on receptions of 34 and 31 yards, but he's proven more effective and explosive than Lamar Miller this year and it may not be long until he's THE guy in Houston. 

4. Orleans Darkwa, RB, NYG

This comes with a huge caveat: Darkwa left Sunday's game with a back injury and his status moving forward is in question. But if he's deemed healthy, it's possible he takes the Giants backfield job and runs with it (pun intended). Paul Perkins has not impressed at all and before he left Sunday's game, Darkwa led the Giiants backfield with 33 total yards on 8 touches. It's clearly not a fantasy performance that jumps off the page, but eventually somebody's gotta take over that job and provide some value.

5. Geronimo Allison, WR, GB

Randall Cobb was out, so cue the Geronimo Allison hype train. The Illinois product didn't even play in Week 1 and corralled only 22 targets in 2016, his rookie year. But he broke out in a big way this past weekend, hauling in 6 of 8 targets for 122 yards, including a 72-yard play. Allison doesn't provide much value when Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams all play, but if you're really hurting for receivers, he could be a one-week filler if Cobb misses Week 4, too.

6. Robby Anderson, WR, NYJ

Jermaine Kearse was the most intriguing waiver add in the Jets offense last week, but he secured only 3 catches on 3 targets while Anderson stole the show with 95 yards and a TD on 6 targets (though only 3 catches). The Jets offense is a muddled mess in both real life and fantasy, so neither Kearse nor Anderson are exactly safe options, but in deep leagues or if you're desperate, both guys could be longshot plays capable of big games.

7. Taylor Gabriel, WR, ATL

Gabriel was a forgotten man in drafts this fall, but he turned in one of the best WR performances of Week 3 when he caught 5 balls for 79 yards and a tuddie. Remember, this is the guy who scored 7 TDs last season, all coming in a 7-week span toward the end of the fantasy season. He only had 6 targets in the breakout game and had just 7 coming into Week 3, but Gabriel is an intriguing boom-or-bust option and should be owned in more than 8 percent of leagues.

8. Ryan Griffin, TE, HOU + Vernon Davis, TE, WAS

Neither Griffin nor Davis would be worthy of owning if injuries were turned off like a real-life Madden game. But since Houston's C.J. Fiedorowicz is done for the year and Washington's Jordan Reed is currently banged up, both backup tight ends have become interesting fantasy options. They each scored a TD in Week 3 and could be fillers again moving forward if you're desperate (and if Reed sits once again).

9. Bruce Ellington, WR, HOU

It may surprise football fans, but Ellington is actually in his fourth NFL season after netting only 19 receptions in three years in San Francisco. But he looks like he is the No. 2 guy in Houston behind DeAndre Hopkins. Ellington netted 7 targets in Week 3, catching 4 of those for 59 yards and a TD. He likely won't become a difference-maker in fantasy, but you could do worse at the end of your bench than a guy who lines up opposite Hopkins and is on the field for almost every one of his team's offensive snaps.

10. Jamaal Charles, RB, DEN

He's starting to look like the Jamaal Charles of old. After racking up 56 rushing yards on 9 carries, the 30-year-old veteran now has a hearty 5.1 yards per carry average, which is not a far cry from his 5.4 career mark. Charles has had 10 touches in all three games this year and could carve out a bigger role for himself moving forward. After all, it's not like C.J. Anderson is running away with the job as bellcow back in Denver's backfield.

BONUS. Jake Elliott, K, PHI

No, you shouldn't use a waiver pick on a kicker, but Elliott set an Eagles franchise record Sunday and may be the next big kicker in the NFL. Not bad for a kid from Western Springs, Ill.

Can the Bears make enough plays to beat the Carolina Panthers?

Can the Bears make enough plays to beat the Carolina Panthers?

Everything changed for the Bears after going up 17-3 last week against the Baltimore Ravens. Mitchell Trubisky’s 27-yard touchdown to Dion Sims was immediately followed by Bobby Rainey running a kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown, then the offense was bogged down with three fumbles (two lost) on three consecutive possessions. 

But Adrian Amos seemed to seal the game with his 90-yard pick six — that is, until Michael Campanaro ran Pat O’Donnell’s punt back 77 yards for what wound up being a game-tying touchdown after a two-point conversion.

The point is the Bears should’ve cruised to a comfortable win last week; a few critical mistakes didn’t allow that to happen. The Bears haven’t led at the end of the fourth quarter this year, a pretty strong indicator they haven’t played a complete game yet despite having two wins. 

The Carolina Panthers have road wins over the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots this year, and only lost to the Philadelphia Eagles by five points last week (despite Cam Newton throwing three interceptions). The bet here is the Bears keep things close on the backs of a strong defense, but either can’t make enough plays or make too many mistakes to win. 

Prediction: Panthers 20, Bears 16

Three and out: What Ron Rivera likes about Mitchell Trubisky played out this week

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Three and out: What Ron Rivera likes about Mitchell Trubisky played out this week

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera saw a lot of Mitchell Trubisky last year, with the North Carolina quarterback on TV quite a bit in the Charlotte area. The Panthers, set with Cam Newton, weren’t in the market for a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft, but Trubisky nonetheless stood out to the seventh-year Carolina coach and former Super Bowl-winning Bears linebacker. 

For Rivera, more than Trubisky’s arm strength and athleticism jumped off the screen. 

“Leadership,” Rivera pointed to. “When you watch him when he was playing — I love watching guys that either get on their teammates when they’re not doing it or they take accountability when they make a mistake. And you saw that with him.

“… We think the young man has got what it takes. We like who’s he’s gonna become. We do. We think the future can be bright for him. We are big fans here.”

Trubisky took accountability for both of his turnovers against the Minnesota Vikings: The interception Harrison Smith baited him into was certainly his fault, but his sack-strip fumble was more the result of Everson Griffen jumping the snap and blowing past left tackle Charles Leno. Against the Baltimore Ravens, Trubisky also lost a fumble on a sack-strip when cornerback Lardarius Webb hit him and dislodged the ball.

Trubisky’s explanation of that fumble was that he moved off his first read too quickly, causing him to miss Webb making a beeline for him in the backfield. But according to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, that fumble wasn’t the quarterback’s fault. 

“That’s because he’s a stud,” Loggains said of Trubisky taking responsibility for it. “We screwed the protection up. We should have been sliding to the guy. The guy should not have been coming free. That’s Mitch taking a bullet that he doesn’t need to take. The reality is he saw the guy coming and tried to get over to the check down quickly but we got to do a better job up front protecting him.”

But that Trubisky was willing to say he was at fault for that fumble plays into why he quickly gained the respect of the Bears’ the locker room. That’s what a quarterback should be doing when speaking to the media after the game — accepting responsibility and deflecting off his teammates, even if he’s not at fault. That kind of stuff doesn’t go unnoticed. 

Stopping Superman

Pernell McPhee offered this goal up for his fellow defensive teammates this week: Make sure Newton stays as Clark Kent on Sunday. 

“He’s a very talented guy, but the only thing I told the defense is let's make him be Cam Newton, not Superman,” McPhee said, referring to Newton’s signature touchdown move. “We don't want him opening up the cape.”

So how does a defense stop Newton from being Superman?

“He’s a very versatile quarterback,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “Obviously his running the ball, whether it be through his improvising with scrambling on called pass plays, or the called running plays they do have for him, that’s a strength for him. We can’t just focus on stopping that. We’ve gotta stop Cam Newton the passer and the runner. They’ve got good running backs they’re handing it off to and receivers and running backs he’s throwing it to, so you’ve got a total offense to stop.”

One point to note here: Newton threw three interceptions last week against the Philadelphia Eagles and had been picked off eight times this year. A Bears secondary that intercepted Joe Flacco twice last week could have some more shots at takeaways on Sunday. 

High praise

Sunday will mark Thomas Davis’ 156th game in the NFL, with the linebacker playing every one of those with the Carolina Panthers. He played for John Fox from 2005-2010. But where we’re going here is what he had to say about how the Bears run their offense with a rookie quarterback:

“I think this is probably the best running game that we’ve seen from an offense with a rookie quarterback,” Davis said. “You look at some of the other rookies that come in. Teams want to run the ball. But when you look at the physicality and the style of play that this team plays with, I think that really makes the job a lot easier for a young quarterback. So I definitely feel like that physicality in their running game is definitely going to help him out.”

The Bears ran the ball 50 times against a Baltimore Ravens defense that played a lot more Cover-2 than expected. With star linebacker Luke Kuechly out for Sunday, the Bears may try to use a similar strategy, even if Carolina loads the box more than Baltimore did (a little more than once one every three runs by Jordan Howard). 

But if the Bears’ offense is going to have success, it’s going to be behind Howard, Tarik Cohen and an improving offensive line. Maybe Davis’ comments are hyperbole, but he’s also played a lot more football than you and me.