Bears

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

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USA TODAY

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.

Three questions for Bears ILBs: What kind of an impact will Roquan Smith make?

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USA TODAY

Three questions for Bears ILBs: What kind of an impact will Roquan Smith make?

Pre-camp depth chart

1. Danny Trevathan
2. John Timu
3. Joel Iyiegbuniwe

1. Roquan Smith
2. Nick Kwiatkoski
3. Jonathan Anderson

1. How good can Roquan Smith be?

Making sweeping observations from shorts-and-helmets practices in OTAs is often a fool’s errand, but Smith looked the part while running around the practice fields of Halas Hall after being drafted in April. His quickness and instinctiveness stood out — as they did at Georgia — and his football intelligence and work ethic were praised by coaches and teammates. 

“He’s learning well,” Trevathan said. “He’s doing a good job of learning. He’s learning the little things that you need to learn in this defense. Now it’s all about putting on a show and going out there and rocking.”

And that’s what’s going to be fun to watch in Bourbonnais: How does Smith play with the pads on? Chances are, the answer to that question will be “well,” setting the eighth overall pick on a path to being a mainstay of this defense for years to come. 

That’s not to say Smith doesn’t have plenty on which to work during training camp. But he left Georgia as a sort of “safe bet” in the draft, and nothing he’s done to this point has changed the view of him that he’s likely going to be a good one. 

2. Can Danny Trevathan stay healthy?

In terms of size and athleticism, Trevathan and Smith profile similar to NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis, the inside linebacking tandem that was the spine of the San Francisco 49ers defense during Fangio’s time there. But for Trevathan and Smith to reach that lofty bar — or even to come close to it — Trevathan needs to be more available than he was his first two years with the Bears.

This isn’t questioning Trevathan’s toughness — far from it. That he returned for Week 1 of the 2017 season 10 months after rupturing his patellar tending (an injury that can be a career-ender) was impressive, and that he was immediately productive upon returning was even more extraordinary. But Trevathan missed three games in November due to a strained calf, and coupled with a one-game suspension and the seven games he missed in 2016, the 28-year-old has only played in 21 of 32 games since signing with the Bears. 

Trevathan is confident he can improve his production in 2018, given he wasn’t able to participate in last year’s offseason program practices. He’s entering his third year in Fangio’s defense and feels better prepared after going through OTAs and minicamps this year. It’s just now about him staying on the field to make sure that work pays off.

“I’m more comfortable with this defense, I’m more comfortable with the guys and the calls that we make,” Trevathan said. “I take pride in being correct and working my tail off and making the defense better. And the more that I can be out there — which I plan on being out there a lot — it’s going to help us tremendously.” 

3. How big a role will Nick Kwiatkoski have?

The Bears didn’t draft Smith because they felt like they absolutely needed to upgrade over Kwiatkoski, who’s acquitted himself well in 25 games since being picked in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. But Kwiatkoski has dealt with some injury issues, and for as solid a player as he may be, the Bears’ defense needed (and still needs) more great players. Drafting Smith gave the Bears a shot at adding a great player.

It also leaves Kwiatkoski in the same spot he was in a year ago, when the Bears entered the 2017 season with Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman as their unquestioned starting inside linebackers. Smith still has to earn that starting spot, but the safe bet is he will, relegating Kwiatkoski again to reserve duties.

And that’s a positive for the overall health of this defense, having a player good enough to start ready to play if needed. But it also raises this question: What do the Bears do with Kwiatkoski if he’s one of their four best linebackers, but isn’t one of their two best inside linebackers? 

So for the purposes of watching training camp practices, seeing if Kwiatkoski gets any reps at outside linebacker will be an interesting storyline to follow. 

Bears shutout in poll of NFL's best starters under 25

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USA Today

Bears shutout in poll of NFL's best starters under 25

Maybe this is what happens when a team is coming off a 5-11 season and has won only 14 games over three years. Maybe it's just another example of the Chicago Bears being overlooked and underrated. Regardless of the 'why,' a recent poll of NFL experts has provided more fuel for the Bears in 2018.

ESPN's Field Yates asked 43 insiders and former players for their list of the top under-25-year-old starters in the NFL and not a single Chicago Bear made the cut.

No Jordan Howard. No Mitchell Trubisky. No Allen Robinson.

Not a single Bear.

The most shocking omission is Howard, who finished second in the NFL in rushing in 2016 and sixth last year despite facing defenses that focused their entire game plan on stopping him every single week. At only 23 years old, he's clearly one of the top young running backs in the NFL and warranted a spot on this list. 

Instead, the Rams' Todd Gurley, Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott and Giants rookie Saquon Barkley got the nod.

Howard has more rushing yards than Gurley over the last two seasons and trails Elliott by only 179. Barkley has yet to take a snap in the NFL.

The Bears were recently named the most underrated team in the league heading into 2018 and this is just another piece of evidence justifying that claim. A winning season will change the national perception of players like Howard, who with another year of high-end production should find himself at or near the top of many of these lists next offseason.