Replacing Mike Williams: Should You Target Josh Palmer or Quentin Johnston off the Fantasy Week 4 Waiver Wire?

The stable veteran vs the high-upside rookie.

The Los Angeles Chargers finally won in Week 3, and HC Brandon Staley satiated the rumblings of his firing for at least this week. Outside of that, the most significant news is the loss of Mike Williams for the rest of the season.

Joshua Palmer OR Quentin Johnston to Replace Mike Williams Off the Fantasy Week 4 Waiver Wire?!

With Williams gone, the Chargers’ receiving core must replace his 8.7 targets/game behind the ageless Keenan Allen. He holds a 24.3% target share, a 32.1% air yard share, and a 29.4% first read share, per FantasyPros. On top of the massive chunk of aerial pie that’s now up for grabs, the Chargers are without their big-bodied outside receiver and most potent red zone threat. According to Next Gen Stats, Williams has led the league in jump ball receptions (31) and receiving yards on passes thrown into a tight window (1194) over the past five years.

As we dive into the Chargers’ receiver depth chart, the steady Joshua Palmer will attempt to fend off the high-upside rookie Quentin Johnston for the WR2 spot. Who should you target off the Week 4 Waiver Wire?

THE CASE FOR JOSH PALMER

Through three games, the evidence points to third-year pro, Josh Palmer taking the WR2 snaps in Williams’s place. In Week 3, Palmer had 40 snaps, which ranked third behind Keenan Allen (59) and Williams (40). He also ran 34 routes and commanded seven targets.

Even with Williams on the field, Palmer was the clear-cut third man in the passing attack, about on pace with him regarding snaps, routes, and targets. Palmer has had a solid start to his career, quickly earning the trust of QB Justin Herbert. He finished as WR37 in PPR leagues last year, slashing 72/769/3 on 107 targets. Additionally, in three games without both Allen and Williams in 2022, Palmer had 28 targets and a 22.6% target share, including a game with eight receptions for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

In his first games without Williams in the lineup, he averaged double-digit half-PPR points; his receptions nearly doubled, and his targets and receiving yards more than doubled per game.

Palmer is the safest option for those needing a weekly WR3 or Flex play.

THE CASE FOR QUENTIN JOHNSTON

Following the 2023 NFL Draft, it seemed Quentin Johnston had the WR3 position all but locked up. However, after three weeks, he ranks fifth on the team in targets with only 8. This target share will increase with the Williams injury, but how much? As stated above, the Chargers are losing their big-bodied “jump ball” receiver. Johnston should take this role moving forward.

“Everyone is going to have to elevate their game,” Brandon Staley said on Monday. “We have a lot of good options on our team — obviously, [WR] Quentin [Johnston], being the first guy that is going to emerge in a bigger role.”

He lines up at 6’4″ and 215 lbs, a good three inches taller than Palmer. Furthermore, Palmer ranks 94th of 95 WRs in yards/route run in 2023, which is not conducive to replacing the big play potential Mike Williams vacated. If the Chargers are going to take shots down the field, look for Quentin Johnston to be the recipient.

THE VERDICT

Regarding Week 4 waiver additions, I am targeting Palmer in most leagues. I think the rapport is there with Herbert, and with defensive backs keying on Keenan Allen now more than ever, Palmer should carve out decent flex-worthy status. He’s the safer pick of the two.

However, if you have the patience and receiver depth, Johnston is a solid high-upside stash due to his skill set. By this point, we know what we are getting with Palmer and Johnston is the sexy unknown with immense upside.

Palmer (2% rostered on Yahoo!) ranked WR46 in The Wolf’s Week 4 Rankings, while Johnston (32%) was just below at WR50.

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