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Fantasy football: Plenty of waiver wire options after an injury-filled Sunday

This was an awful, awful week for injuries around the NFL.

In fact, in the NBC Sports Philadelphia fantasy football league, my 3-0 team went up against John Boruk's 3-0 team and poor Boruk lost Derek Carr, Julio Jones, Dalvin Cook and Davante Adams in the same week. (That's not how I wanted to win, JB!)

If you had Cook, you're going through the miserable realization now that you lost your most exciting player. He was the NFC version of Kareem Hunt, breaking big play after big play and factoring heavily into the passing game. 

His backup, Latavius Murray, is this week's top waiver-wire pickup, but expectations should be tempered.

RB Latavius Murray (Vikings)
Murray carried the ball seven times after Cook left Sunday's game with a torn ACL. Murray offers none of the total yards or passing-game upside Cook does, but he has proven to be a solid goal-line back.

Last season, Murray had 1,052 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns in 14 games. Solid RB2 numbers. But that was in a much more prolific offense with more weapons and a better offensive line. This is a wholly different situation.

Still, based on volume alone, Murray is the unquestioned top pickup this week. He seems like a safe bet for 15 to 20 touches per game moving forward, but his upside will be similar to LeGarrette Blount's or Mike Gillislee's.

If you're in a league in which you spend free-agent auction bucks on the waiver wire, Murray is worth a sizable sum — I'd say 30 to 35 percent of your season-opening total.

Side note: You're not going to confidently start Jerick McKinnon, ever, so you might as well let him linger in free agency.

RB Eddie Lacy (Seahawks)
Lacy got a bulk of the work for Seattle after standout rookie Chris Carson was carted off with a leg fracture Sunday night.

The thing is, Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise were both inactive, so Lacy's workload may not be a sign of things to come. 

This Seattle running situation will be too tough to predict on a weekly basis, so I would not advise breaking the bank for Lacy. 

QB DeShaun Watson (Texans)
Three starting-caliber fantasy QBs are on bye in Week 5: Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins. Add Marcus Mariota (hamstring injury) and that's four top QBs who could be off the board next week.

Enter DeShaun Watson, who has in the span of three weeks become the franchise cornerstone for the Texans.

The last two weeks against the Patriots and Titans, Watson went 47 for 67 (70.2 percent) for 584 yards with six TDs and three interceptions, also adding 65 rushing yards and a rushing TD.

Watson looks like a slightly better fantasy version of Tyrod Taylor and is worth picking up in all leagues. He does have a tough Week 5 matchup against the Chiefs, but it's at home and the Chiefs will be on a short week. 

I'd rather start Watson in Week 5 than Taylor, Alex Smith, Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff or Blake Bortles. Maybe over Eli Manning (at Chargers), too.

WR Jaron Brown (Cardinals)
It's always confusing with the Cardinals' receivers because there's John Brown and Jaron Brown, so if you go scanning the waiver wire, make sure you've selected the right J. Brown.

Carson Palmer has targeted Jaron Brown a whopping 29 times the last three weeks and Brown has turned it into 14 catches for 205 yards and a TD. 

This Sunday, he draws the Eagles' average secondary, which was just victimized by Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams in L.A.

Larry Fitzgerald will always get his in Arizona's offense, but Palmer is utilizing Jaron Brown a lot with the running game nonexistent and John Brown and J.J. Nelson playing at less than 100 percent.

TE Cameron Brate (Buccanneers)
Somehow, Brate is available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues despite the thinness of the tight end position. 

Brate on Sunday scored for the second straight week, catching four balls for 80 yards. Over the last two games, he has eight catches for 113 yards and two TDs. 

Rookie tight end O.J. Howard also scored a long TD for the Bucs in Week 4 and that will likely take attention away from Brate. If you need a tight end, Brate is a pretty safe option.

He has a solid matchup Thursday night against the Patriots, who have been horrendous on defense and allowed 300-plus passing yards and multiple TDs to every QB they've faced in 2017.

RB Aaron Jones (Packers)
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy indicated that starting running back Ty Montgomery (ribs) could play in Week 5 with the long layoff. 

Whether or not he plays, I wouldn't advise going hard after Jones. Yes, he scored a touchdown in relief of Montgomery and Jamaal Williams in Week 4, but he's a pretty small back (5-9/208). There's little reason to think he would hold up with a Montgomery-like workload, and this seems more like a situation in which the Packers would add a running back off the street before giving Jones 20-plus touches.

Defenses to stream in Week 5
• The Ravens travel to Oakland to face the Raiders, who are without Carr for 2 to 6 weeks as he recovers from a back injury. That means the Ravens' defense will be facing E.J. Manuel. 

Given the Oakland QB situation, the Michael Crabtree chest injury, Amari Cooper's invisibility and the fact that Marshawn Lynch has rushed 15 times for 30 yards the last two weeks, this is a good bounce-back matchup for the Baltimore D/ST. 

• Would you have been able to find one person on Earth who'd guess the Jets would be ahead of the Patriots in the AFC East standings four weeks in? The Jets' defense really isn't that bad, and this Sunday they get the hapless, turnover-prone Browns.