Four weeks into the NFL season and there has yet to be a major injury to cause lasting fantasy football damage.
Shane Vereen has probably been the biggest injury. Steven Jackson's injury has set some fantasy teams back, but he is still expected to return following Atlanta's Week 6 bye.
That means there have been very few waiver-wire players who have been able to make large contributions. The majority of waiver claims this year have signaled desperation. If you are one of the desperate, here are a few players to consider this week.
Darren McFadden's hamstring injury and Marcel Reese's knee injury has given Rashad Jennings yet another opportunity in his NFL career. Jennings first saw fantasy value as a backup to Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville, and he will likely get a chance to start this week for Oakland. He has great value in points per reception leagues. Jennings managed just 45 yards on 15 carries against Washington last weekend, but eight catches for 71 yards gave him a huge week in fantasy. Jennings should be the top waiver pick this week if McFadden is ruled out.
Jennings will be especially coveted by owners of Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin, Le'Veon Bell or Alfred Morris as Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Washington are all on byes this week.
Another running back to watch is Green Bay's Jonathan Franklin. James Starks has yet to practice since injuring his knee in Week 3, but rookie Eddie Lacy is practicing following a concussion the same week. Expect Lacy to play this weekend against Detroit, but Franklin could see some action.
The top wide receiver to consider this week is Justin Blackmon if he went undrafted in your league. Blackmon returns after serving a four-game suspension, and the Jacksonville Jaguars are desperate for a playmaker on offense after scoring just one passing touchdown through four games. Blackmon is available in more than 80 percent of leagues. He is a must-add if on the wire and is even worth consideration as a starter as a flex play this week against St. Louis.
One running back I want to urge you to not give up on is Chris Johnson. Johnson has had another tough year, failing to go over the 100-yard mark through four games while also being held without a touchdown. When added to the fact that he rarely catches a pass, CJ2K has been a tough guy to watch from a fantasy perspective. However, an injury to starting quarterback Jake Locker could change Johnson's fortunes.
When Locker got hurt during the 2012 season, Johnson became a factor in the passing game with backup Matt Hasselbeck. When Locker returned, Johnson's numbers went back down. Locker almost never checks down to running backs, instead forcing passes into tight coverage. Locker will be replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick over the next month or so, and Fitzpatrick always showed an ability to check the ball down to running backs during his time in Buffalo. While it wouldn't be smart to pick up Fitzpatrick over the next few weeks as he faces tough defenses such as Kansas City, Seattle and San Francisco, there could be plenty of opportunities for Johnson to get involved. Keep him in your starting lineup for at least a couple more weeks.
If you are looking for a good defense, consider the Cleveland Browns this Thursday night against Buffalo. Cleveland's defense has been stingy so far this year and ranks No. 8 among all fantasy defenses.
Our survivor pool pick of the week is Atlanta at home against the New York Jets. It is a good chance for the Falcons to get right at home against a subpar opponent, especially after a few tough losses.John Livingston covers sports for The Daily Times and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.