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Fantasy Football: 10 waiver wire targets for Week 4

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Fantasy Football: 10 waiver wire targets for Week 4

Why are all the quarterbacks getting hurt?

That's a question we've heard several times over the last 8-10 days and to be honest: we don't have an answer. It seems like an epidemic with Ben Roethlisberg, Drew Brees and Tony Romo - all Top 10 QBs - sidelined. Mix in Jay Cutler's injury and the inefectiveness of some top QB options like Andrew Luck, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewter and the quarterback position is an absolute mess.

[MORE: Get all your Fantasy Football coverage here]

That's why we have five QBs to target on the waiver wire heading into Week 4.

Remember: This is also the first week teams are on a bye.

1. Karlos Williams, RB, BUF

Williams has a touchdown and double-digit fantasy points in every game as a pro. What's not to like? The rookie certainly looks like a steal for the Bills as a fifth-round pick and he could be a steal for your fantasy team, as well. LeSean McCoy is clearly not healthy and there's talk of the Bills shutting him down for at least one week to get his hamstring healed. If that happens in Week 4, Williams suddenly becomes a borderline Top 10 running back with a great matchup against the Giants. Either way, he's absolutely worth owning in just about any format for his upside and situation. (Tony Andracki)

2. Tyrod Taylor, QB, BUF

How this guy is owned in only 44 percent of ESPN leagues is beyond me. I don't get it. He's currently the fifth-ranked fantasy QB, putting up back-to-back 24+ point games. Everybody knew he could run and now he's showing he can pass, too, with seven tuddies through the air in three games. He's not necessarily a must-start in every league and every format each week, but he's absolutely worth owning as at least a backup or a matchup play, especially with all the QBs out injured. (Andracki)

3. Joe Flacco, QB, BAL

Flacco has never been a top tier fantasy quarterback, but there's no reason why he should currently be sitting on the waiver wire in your league, especially with a plethora of injuries to starting quarterbacks and bye weeks upon us. Flacco has put together consecutive 20-point games and draws a brutal Steelers defense in Week 4. He's a must-start in Week 4. (Scott Krinch)

4. Andy Dalton, QB, CIN

I can't believe I'm hopping on the Dalton train but I am. There are a lot of injured quarterbacks out there and Dalton may be the best quarterback available on waivers. He's on fire to start the season, recording multi-TD games in all three starts so far. He's got his dominant receiver in AJ Green going and Marvin Jones, Tyler Eifert and Gio Bernard are guys that have benefited from Dalton's success. While he may not go for almost 400 yards every week like he did last week he should be a quality QB2 option for you for the rest of the year. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

5. Rishard Matthews, WR, MIA

Sure, I may not have added him in a lot of my leagues last week but at least I told YOU to do that. Matthews already leads the Dolphins in touchdowns with three while guys like Jarvis Landry, Lamar Miller and Jordan Cameron have zero. He's been the one surprising bright spot in an underwhelming Dolphins offense so far. For whatever reason, Ryan Tannehill looks to Matthews in the red zone and though he's second on the team in targets to Landry, he averages 16.4 YPC compared to Landry's 9.6. If you have a banged up receiver group, Matthews is a great pickup. (Paschall)

6. Derek Carr, QB, OAK

Here's another guy who absolutely needs to be owned, at least as a bye week fill-in or injury replacement. Carr has two straight games of multiple TDs, 300+ yards and 20+ fantasy points. Now he draws a great matchup against the Bears in Week 4. Keep in mind, you won't want to start him Week 5 against the awesome Broncos pass defense and the Raiders are on a bye in Week 6, so that is two weeks in a row where he can't help you. (Andracki)

[MORE - Fantasy Football: 12 waiver wire targets for Week 3]

7. Michael Vick, QB, PIT

OK, so his trial run didn't go so well on Sunday when Ben Roethlisberger suffered a nasty-looking injury in the third quarter. Vick entered the game, went 5-6 for 38 yards and fumbled once. Now he's got a short week to get ready for the 0-3 Ravens on Thursday, which doesn't make him a stellar fantasy play in Week 4. But look at the weapons Vick, 35, has around him. Le'Veon Bell is back, Antonio Brown hasn't slowed down one bit, Martavis Bryant will return from his suspension and the Steelers defense has been atrocious, giving the Pitt offense more time on the field. Vick has to stay out of his own way and let his weapons do what they do and he's going to return borderline-QB1 value the next four-to-six weeks with Big Ben out. Pick him up now to start him Week 5 on Monday night against the Chargers. (Mark Strotman)

8. Ty Montgomery, WR, GB

It's almost unfair how Ted Thompson finds wide receivers in the second and third rounds of drafts. He appears to have done it again with the addition of Montgomery, who in the last two games has caught all six of his targets for 51 yards and a score. Not huge numbers, and likely not fantasy-starting numbers, but Davante Adams re-injured his ankle early in Monday night's win over the Chiefs and Eddie Lacy is still banged up. With the way Aaron Rodgers is playing, it's worth owning as many Packers wide receivers as you can. Montgomery is locked in as the 4th WR on the depth chart, though that could change if Adams misses time. And if he does, Montgomery would be a sneaky WR3 play against an atrocious 49ers defense. To note, Montgomery has also fared well as a kick returner, ranking third in the NFL with a 31.5-yard average. He could break one soon and tally your squad some extra points. (Strotman)

9. Lance Dunbar, RB, DAL

No, he's not going to be stealing carries from Joseph Randle anytime soon, considering he has two carries this season, but if you're in a PPR league Dunbar needs to be on your roster. The fourth year running back out of North Texas hasn't found the end zone yet. However, he has registered 21 catches for 215 yards through three games, making him a Top 12 fantasy running back in 2015. He doesn't need to be a high priority claim on the wire this week, but if he passes through then go get him right away. (Krinch)

10. Thomas Rawls, RB, SEA 

All Rawls is right now is a handcuff to Marshawn Lynch, but a darn good one at that. When Lynch left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, all the rookie did was carry the ball 16 times for 104 yards, showing that same type of violent running that has made Lynch one of the best running backs in the league. Rawls has surpassed Fred Jackson on the depth chart, and with Lynch set to undergo an MRI, he's somebody you need to keep an eye on if he's available in your fantasy league. (Krinch)

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Can Trubisky help the Bears beat the Saints?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Can Trubisky help the Bears beat the Saints?

Hub Arkush, Sam Panayotovich and Ben Pope join Kelly Crull on the panel.

0:00- Mitch Trubisky practices again and he got all of the first-team reps. So will his return help the Bears upset the Saints on Sunday?

8:30- KC Johnson joins Kelly to discuss Luol Deng retiring a Bull, Wendell Carter, Jr.'s thumb injury and to preview the Bulls' preseason finale.

14:00- Ben has the latest on the Blackhawks including Jeremy Colliton's goaltender plans for the week. He also tells us if we should be worried about Jonathan Toews' slow start to the season.

21:00- Will Perdue joins the panel to talk about the importance of a good start this season for the Bulls. Plus, he has his

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Matt Nagy's commitment to the run is fine, the Bears just have to run the ball better

Matt Nagy's commitment to the run is fine, the Bears just have to run the ball better

Matt Nagy’s run-pass balance, actually, has been fine in 2019. 

The Bears have run on 40 percent of their plays before the off week, a tick below the NFL average of 41 percent. Nagy is trying to commit to the run, too, on first down: His team has run the ball on 53 percent of its first-and-10 plays this year, slightly above the NFL average of 52 percent. 

On third and short (defined here as fewer than three yards to gain), too, it’s not like Nagy has been willing to ditch the run. The Bears have run on 55 percent of those third and short plays this year, just below the league average of 56 percent. 

Roughly: The Bears’ run-pass balance is the NFL average. That’s okay for an offense not good enough to lean heavily in one direction, like the San Francisco 49ers (56 percent run rate, highest in the NFL) or Kansas City Chiefs (66 percent pass rate, fifth-highest). 

And this doesn’t account for a bunch of quarterback runs, either. Mitch Trubisky and Chase Daniel have averaged 2.2 rushes per game in 2019; last year, those two averaged 5.1 rushing attempts per game. 

So that doesn’t jive with the narrative of Nagy not being willing to commit to running the ball. He is. The will is there, but the results aren’t. 

So why haven’t the results been there? To get there, we need to take a deep dive into what's gone wrong. 

Most of this article will focus on first and 10 plays, which have a tendency to set a tone for an entire drive. 
And rather surprisingly, the Bears don’t seem to be bad at running the ball on first and 10. Per SharpFootballStats.com, The Bears are averaging 4.1 yards per run on first and 10 with a 46 percent success rate — just below the NFL average of 4.3 yards per run and a 48 percent success rate. David Montgomery, taking out three first-and-goal-to-go runs, is averaging 3.7 yards per run on first and 10. 

That’s not great, of course, but Nagy would be pleased if his No. 1 running back was able to grind out three or four yards per run on first down. 

“If I’m calling a run, it needs to be a run and it’s not second and 10, it’s second and seven or six, right? That’s what we need to do,” Nagy said. 

The issue, though, is the Bears are 30th in the NFL in explosive rushing plays, having just three. In a small sample size, Cordarrelle Patterson’s 46-yard dash in Week 2 against the Denver Broncos skews the Bears’ average yards per run on first and 10 higher than it’ll wind up at the end of the year if something isn’t fixed. 

Only Washington and the Miami Dolphins have a worse explosive run rate than the Bears on first-and-10. 

“First down needs to be a better play for us,” Nagy said. “Run or pass.”

Not enough opportunity

There are several damning stats about the Bears’ offense this year, which Nagy acknowledged on Thursday. 

“That’s our offense right now,” Nagy said. “That’s the simple facts. So any numbers that you look at right now within our offense, you could go to a lot of that stuff and say that. We recognize that and we need to get better at that.”

That answer was in reference to Tarik Cohen averaging just 4.5 yards per touch, but can apply to this stat, too: 

The Bears are averaging 22 first-and-10 plays per game, per Pro Football Reference, the fourth-lowest average in the NFL (only the Jets, Steelers and Washington are lower). The team’s lackluster offense, which ranks 28th in first downs per game (17.4) certainly contributes heavily to that low number. 

But too: The Bears have been assessed eight penalties on first-and-10 plays, as well as one on a first-and-goal from the Minnesota Vikings’ five-yard line (a Charles Leno Jr. false start) and another offset by defensive holding (illegal shift vs. Oakland). 

“There’s probably not a lot of teams that are doing real great on second and long or third and long,” Nagy said. “So the other part of that too is you’re getting into first and 20 and now its second and 12.”

Can passing game help?

The Bears’ are gaining 6.3 yards per play on first-and-10 passes, the fourth-worst average in the NFL behind the Dolphins, Bengals and, interestingly, Indianapolis Colts (the Colts’ dominant offensive line, though, is allowing for an average of 5 1/2 yards per carry in those situations). 

So if the Bears aren’t having much success throwing on first-and-10, it could lead opposing defenses to feel more comfortable to sell out and stop the run. Or opposing defenses know they can stop the run without any extra effort, making it more difficult for the Bears to pass on first down. 

This is sort of a chicken-or-egg kind of deal. If the Bears run the ball more effectively on first down, it should help their passing game and vice versa. But having opposing defenses back off a bit with an effective passing game certainly couldn’t hurt. 

Situational tendencies

The Bears are atrocious at running the ball on second-and-long, and while 19 plays isn’t a lot, it’s too many. The Bears averaged 2.7 yards per carry on second-and-8-to-10-yard downs before their off week on those 19 plays, which either need to be fixed or defenestrated from a second-story window at Halas Hall. 

But on second and medium (four to seven yards, since we’re going with Nagy’s definition of run success here), the Bears are actually averaging more yards per carry (4.7) than yards per pass (4.5). Yet they’re passing on two-thirds of those plays, so if you’re looking for somewhere for Nagy to run the ball more, it might be here. 

And when the Bears do get into makable second-and-short (1-3 yards) situations, Nagy is over-committed to the run. The Bears ran on 72 percent of those plays before the off week — nearly 10 percent higher than the league average — yet averaged 1.9 yards per carry on them, 31st in the NFL behind Washington. 

“It's so easy as a player and a coach to get caught up in the trees,” Nagy said. “Especially on offense with some of the struggles that we've had, you get caught up in that and consume yourself with it. There's a right way and a wrong way with it and I feel like the past several days, really all of last week, I've had a good balance of being able to reflect, kinda reload on where we are, and I feel good with the stuff that we've done as a staff, that we've discussed where we're at and then looking for solutions. That's the No. 1 thing here.”

So what’s the solution?

Perhaps sliding Rashaad Coward into the Bears’ starting offensive line will inject some athleticism and physicality at right guard that could start opening up some more holes for the Bears’ backs. Perhaps it means less of Cohen running inside zone.

Perhaps it involves more of J.P. Holtz acting as a quasi-fullback. Perhaps it means getting more out of Adam Shaheen as a blocker. Perhaps it means, generally, better-schemed runs. 

Whatever the combination is, the Bears need to find it. 

But the solution to the Bears’ problem is not to run the ball more. It’s to run it better.