Browns running back Nick Chubb and Chargers all-purpose back Austin Ekeler were injured in Week 4 and forced fantasy owners of the two productive players to scramble for their immediate replacements in this week’s waiver wire.
However, while one fill-in has the potential to be at least a moderate fantasy producer, the other may face a timeshare in his backfield.
D’ERNEST JOHNSON, RB, Browns: The former Alliance of American Football standout was a revelation in Sunday’s win over the Cowboys, rushing for 95 yards on just 13 carries. Johnson, who had 23% of the snap count in Week 4, could double that total as the Browns, who lead the NFL in rushing yardage, will continue pounding the ball with him and Kareem Hunt. Although Johnson was not targeted on Sunday, keep in mind that he averaged 11.8 yards on his six receptions in 2019, which further cements his case as a must-grab (and a potential RB1 in the making if Hunt is sidelined).
ROBERT TONYAN, TE, Packers: Even with the Packers on a bye this week, many players will attempt to add Tonyan. Monday’s three-touchdown outing against the Falcons marked the third straight game Tonyan has reached the end zone during a stretch that has seen him catch 13 of his 14 targets for 173 yards. He’s been on the field at least 60% of the time in each game this season, and even with WR Davante Adams’ (hamstring) possible return in Week 6, Tonyan has established himself as a top-end red zone option for QB Aaron Rodgers. Those in need at TE should snatch him off the wire now.
JUSTIN JACKSON, RB, Chargers: Los Angeles will be without Austin Ekeler for 4 to 6 weeks, opening the door for Jackson, who was productive in limited doses in 2019. Those signs have yet to be seen this season as Jackson has rushed for just 13 yards on eight carries and will have to share the workload with rookie Joshua Kelley, who had a 57% snap count in Sunday’s loss at the Buccaneers. Although Kelley has a 39-10 edge in touches over Jackson this season, Kelley has fumbled in each of the past two games. Take Jackson for now and consider him a streaming option in deeper leagues.
HUNTER RENFROW, WR, Raiders: With 17 targets over the past two games, Renfrow has become the go-to in a Las Vegas receiving group that was without rookies Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs III in Sunday’s loss to the Bills. Renfrow has seen his snap percentage climb from 48% in Week 1 to 68% in Week 4 and should be a strong option in PPR formats, especially if Edwards and Ruggs are still sidelined for Sunday’s matchup against a fantasy-friendly Chiefs pass defense.
DAMIEN HARRIS, RB, Patriots: New England will take a more conservative approach to its offense while QB Cam Newton remains out. Harris surprised many with a 17-carry, 100-yard outing in Monday’s loss at the Chiefs and should see his share of touches with starter Sony Michel on short-term injured reserve. He likely won’t be a factor in the passing game, as Rex Burkhead and James White will continue to dominate the snaps in passing situations. Harris is a good streaming option for fantasy owners either banged up in the backfield or losing an RB to this week’s byes.
LAVISKA SHENAULT JR., WR, Jaguars: Jacksonville is only scratching the surface with the versatility of Shenault, who has 16 receptions to go along with nine carries for 53 yards. It’s obvious the Jaguars love finding ways to get him involved, having lined him up at receiver, running back and quarterback at various points this season. Shenault has established himself as the WR2 behind DJ Chark Jr. and makes for a fun pickup who could be a sneaky good flex option in deeper leagues heading into the Week 5 matchup against the winless Texans.
DALTON SCHULTZ, TE, Cowboys: Sunday’s loss to the Browns only confirms the obvious: Dallas' defense is struggling. That’s good for fantasy purposes, which means Schultz should finally get off most waiver wires. Schultz is sixth among TEs with 28 targets and his 12.2 yards per catch is far better than the likes of Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz (7.4) and Las Vegas’ Darren Waller (8.5). At his current pace, Cowboys QB Dak Prescott will finish with 6,760 passing yards this season and despite the wealth of options he has in the passing game, it’s also become clear Schultz, who should be treated as a low-end TE1, is an important asset.
CHASE EDMONDS, RB, Cardinals: Kenyan Drake is off to a slow start. Edmonds has already proven to be a better receiving option than Drake, and it’s only a matter of time before Edmonds sees a sharp increase from his current 37% snap count. There’s little reason to count on Edmonds in Week 5, yet he could see more playing time if Drake's struggles continue.
JUSTIN HERBERT, QB, Chargers: The rookie is a fantasy option worth considering. Herbert is averaging 310.3 passing yards per game in his three starts and faces a Saints defense that has allowed 11 touchdown passes. And Herbert has shown he can contribute with his running, having had a rushing touchdown in Week 2 while also showing a fearlessness in the open field. Fantasy owners in need of a Week 5 option at QB could be rewarded greatly by gambling on Herbert delivering on Monday night.
TEDDY BRIDGEWATER, QB, Panthers: Carolina faces an Atlanta defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing QBs, making Bridgewater an intriguing streamer. He’s thrown for at least 269 yards in three of his four starts and his rushing TD in Sunday’s win over the Cardinals adds a further level of intrigue when considering Bridgewater.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by SportsGrid Inc., www.sportsgrid.com