There should be very little doubt as to who the top waiver-wire target will be heading into Week 4, and he didn't play on Sunday. The Panthers lost Christian McCaffrey to a hamstring injury during Thursday's game against the Texans, an injury that seems likely to cost him multiple weeks, which is going to push Chuba Hubbard into Fantasy relevance.
At least, that's what we think. Hubbard played 38 of the 52 snaps the Panthers played after the first quarter, while veteran Royce Freeman played just 10 snaps. Hubbard should be the lead back for the Panthers, and as we saw last season, that could make him a must-start Fantasy option. When McCaffrey was out in 2020, Mike Davis went from being perceived as a replacement-level journeyman backup to a must-start Fantasy option -- he averaged 17.3 PPR points per game from Weeks 3 through 8, when McCaffrey came back from his first injury.
You can't expect that same kind of performance from Hubbard, but we saw an inkling of upside with him Thursday, as he earned five targets to go along with 10 carries. Hubbard finished the game with 79 yards and 10.9 PPR points, and that was in a game where Sam Darnold and Tommy Tremble (who?) scored three close rushing touchdowns against the Texans. In a more normal week, the running backs probably get at least a few of those opportunities instead.
This offense looks like it might be pretty good, they like to throw to their running backs, and Hubbard seems likely to be their lead back for at least the next few games. Hubbard is rostered in fewer than half of CBS Fantasy leagues, and he needs to be the top target in all leagues in Week 4.
It's also worth noting that Alexander Mattison had a huge game in Dalvin Cook's stead Sunday and would be the No. 2 priority after Hubbard in the 19% of CBS Fantasy leagues where he is available -- though it seems more likely Cook will be back in Week 4 than McCaffrey at this point.
Here's who else we'll be looking at on the wire this week:
BUF Buffalo • #1
Age: 34 • Experience: 11 year
If you subscribe to the Fantasy Football Today Newsletter, you know I've been advocating for patience with Sanders, who has been very close to a big game in each of the first two for the Bills. Josh Allen had simply missed him on makeable big play throws in each game. Sunday, he didn't, and wouldn't you know it, Sanders had a big game. He hit on a 41-yard pass and also scored from 28 and 5 yards out in this one. He's been earning consistent downfield targets through three games, and while you'd like to see more than a 15.7% target share, Sanders is going to be in the top-40 WR discussion if his current role sticks -- with room to grow if he takes on more work. He belongs on Fantasy rosters everywhere.
LV Las Vegas • #31
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
When Josh Jacobs went down with his toe/ankle injuries, I would have bet that Kenyan Drake would be the best Fantasy option in that backfield, given his passing game usage. In Week 2 that was true, but it was Barber who ended up being the RB2-caliber option Sunday, and he's had more touches than Drake in each of two games Jacobs has missed. If Jacobs returns for Week 4 against the Chargers -- and he has an extra day since they play Monday night -- Barber won't matter at all. However, if Jacobs is out, Barber will once again be in the low-end starting RB discussion.
Zack Moss RB
BUF Buffalo • #20
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
Moss looked like he was going to end up wholly irrelevant for Fantasy when he was inactive in Week 1, but he got involved late in Week 2's blowout win over the Dolphins and then played a consistent role from the start Sunday, starting the team's second drive and then ending the third with a 7-yard touchdown catch. He led the team in carries (13) and rushing yards (60) while adding three catches for 31 yards in addition to the touchdown, and he played more snaps than Devin Singletary, 42 to 34. This looks like it is back to a timeshare, and in the past, that has meant neither back is really worth much for Fantasy. However, Moss' role over the last two games makes him worth rostering in all formats.
A.J. Green WR
ARI Arizona • #18
Age: 33 • Experience: 11 year
Most Fantasy players had likely left Green for dead after last season and then just 69 yards through his first two games of the season. And maybe he'll wind up being a Fantasy afterthought again -- after all, he hasn't topped 700 receiving yards in a season since 2017. However, his big game Sunday against the Jaguars shouldn't just be ignored, given how good this offense can be. There's a lot of competition for targets, but Kyler Murray is really spreading the ball around this season, and Green now has six targets in each of the first three games. We'll see if the Cardinals consolidate targets at some point, but for now, Green looks like he can be useful as a lower-end option at wide receiver.
TEN Tennessee • #15
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
The Titans lost A.J. Brown to a hamstring injury early in Sunday's game, and then Julio Jones was on the sidelines for much of the fourth quarter of the 25-16 win over the Colts. Coach Mike Vrabel said after the game there was nothing wrong with Jones and it was more about load management with the lead, but Brown's injury could be something to worry about, meaning the Titans might be in a position to need more from their reserve receivers. It's hard to know which, if any, will end up being Fantasy relevant, but I'll start the suggestions with Westbrook-Ikhine, who had a little bit of a breakout game Sunday and actually led the team's tight ends in snaps with 50 out of 65 total. I'm not expecting Westbrook-Ikhine to be a must-start Fantasy option or anything, but he could have a chance to emerge as Fantasy relevant in Week 4.