Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 5
After a quiet waiver scene last week, Week 4 of the NFL season kicked off with a bang on Thursday night with Ty Montgomery going down and kept the injuries coming straight on through Sunday night. It appears Washington and Kansas City’s offenses made it through relatively unscathed, though anyone leaning on/targeting Washington’s defense will note that Josh Norman is likely to miss a couple of weeks with a rib injury. Not only do we have a ton of injuries, but this is an exceptionally fantasy-rich bye week. Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans and Washington are all taking a vacation, meaning it’s time to dig deep.
I’ve got my shovel, do you? Ownership levels discussed here are taken from Yahoo leagues.
Priority Pickups – <30% Owned
Latavius Murray (MIN – RB): 18% owned (40% FAAB)
Dalvin Cook’s impressive rookie season comes to a way-too-early end, which suddenly vaults Latavius Murray back into fantasy conversation after being buried to begin 2017. His ankle may not 100% right now, but he’s the best that both Minnesota and the waiver wire have to offer. Even at full strength, he’s not going to absorb all of Cook’s volume as he’ll be ceding the passing work to Jerick McKinnon (4% owned, 8% FAAB in PPR) but steady short-yardage and goal-line work are extremely valuable. If you need an RB or have a surplus and want to swing a deal, this is the kind of situation that calls for a cracking open of the FAAB wallet.
Eddie Lacy (SEA – RB): 20% owned (15% FAAB)
I know, I know — a lot of you are going to flock to Thomas Rawls (29% owned, 13% FAAB) instead, and I don’t disagree with you. But, there’s something to be said for the guy who entered the game in Chris Carson’s wake and immediately took advantage of the easiest defense one could hope to face — a beaten, tired Colts defense. Rawls was seemingly taking his turn as the healthy scratch (Lacy had been one the week before) and should contend for his own share of work, but outside of some bold speculation on one Pete Carroll comment regarding having “Thomas ready to jump back out there,” I’m not ready to call that a starting nod. J.D. McKissic (4% owned, 2% FAAB) and C.J. Prosise (16% owned, 8% FAAB in PPR) will further muddy these waters, but hopefully Lacy or Rawls can emerge as the goal-line back to own. My lean is Lacy for now, despite liking Rawls more as a runner in a vacuum.
Wayne Gallman (NYG – RB): 4% owned (7% FAAB)
Active for the first time in his NFL career, Gallman stepped up when Paul Perkins got hurt with 11 carries for 42 yards and two catches for eight more yards and an easy score. Perkins is day-to-day with bruised ribs and has only rushed for 61 yards on 32 carries thus far, so we really have to think Big Blue is willing to let him rest for a week, especially with Bob McAdoo now the clear-cut Vegas favorite to be the next coach who gets canned. While opportunity may be knocking, he’ll need to make the most of Week 5 against the Chargers before horrible matchups against the Broncos and Seahawks await the Giants before their Week 8 bye.
Andre Ellington (ARI – RB): 24% owned (8% FAAB in PPR, 4% in standard)
Ellington looked much better than Chris Johnson again, as Ell caught nine of his 14 targets for 86 yards even with the refs robbing him of a TD in the first quarter. I don’t think we’re likely to see the Cardinals put much more than this on his plate though, as he’s had durability issues and they’re already down David Johnson. PPR owners can take an aggressive stab at him, but also need to be aware that he could be forced back to the bench come playoff time compared to some of these other backs.
Devin Funchess (CAR – WR): 26% owned (4% FAAB)
Boom, nailed it. Last week, we had Funchess as the premier WR add heading into a sweet matchup with the Patriots and he delivered with seven catches for 70 yards and a pair of touchdowns before dealing with some late-game cramps. He was making catches even as he was limping around though, as this man looks like a reliable No. 2 option for Cam Newton alongside Kelvin Benjamin. I’d suggest that Funchess is closer to a No. 1 on this team than No. 2, but I selfishly love that Benjamin will usually draw the top corner. Banking on Newton’s arm to be there isn’t the most comfortable, but Carolina needs weapons and Funchess is finally proving to be a consistent one.
Deshaun Watson (QB – HOU): 34% owned (4% FAAB)
We’re bending the ownership level a bit here because several of you are likely looking for a replacement either due to Derek Carr’s injury or a bye week to one of many top QBs. Watson teed off against a porous Tennessee defense in Week 4, putting up 283 yards and four touchdowns alongside one pick and four rushes for 24 yards and a fifth trip to paydirt. It was an astonishing show after the rookie had already impressed us with his effort against the Patriots in Week 3, as his rushing floor and ability to make throws at multiple levels reminds me of what we all wish Tyrod Taylor could be. Watson faces the Chiefs at home next week before hosting the Browns before a Week 7 bye.
Aaron Jones (GB – RB): 11% owned (4% FAAB)
After Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams went down with injuries in the blink of an eye on Thursday night, it was Aaron Jones who carried the mail for Green Bay. He would total 49 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries against a surprising Bears defense, and may very well draw the Week 5 start in Dallas despite Montgomery’s desire to start. TyMont has multiple broken ribs and could risk further injury if he plays, and I doubt that the Packers risk him here. Williams looks like he avoided anything major, but a knee sprain should keep him out (or at least limit him) for Week 5. Aaron Ripkowski is always a threat to John Kuhn him, but you want a starter in this offense — even if it’s just for a week.
Alex Collins (BAL – RB): 10% owned (4% FAAB)
Collins is a bastion of consistency it seems, once again rushing for 82 yards on nine carries just as he did one week ago. The difference was that he put the ball on the ground here against Pittsburgh, just two weeks after doing so against the Browns. Jim Harbaugh is on his Tom Coughlin grind and won’t entertain much more of that, especially since Collins had built up a fumbling reputation in college too. It doesn’t take much to beat out Terrence West right now, and Javorius Allen is really just the pass-catcher. Collins is the guy to own in this backfield, but the best piece of a three-horse stable behind a diminished offensive line in a subpar offense is a delicate Jenga tower just waiting to topple.
Jaron Brown (ARI – WR): 7% owned (2% FAAB)
No, not that J. Brown for Arizona! Jaron “Don’t Call Me John” Brown caught eight of his 12 targets in Week 4 for 105 yards and has now commanded 29 targets over the last three weeks. He’s put up at least 70 yards or scored a TD in each of those three games, as Carson Palmer seems more than happy to throw it his way without any real running game to lean on. John Brown is unlikely to be consistently healthy and Larry Fitzgerald can’t do everything. J.J. Nelson will have his games, but Brown’s momentum is worth buying into with a Week 5 matchup against Philadelphia on the docket.
Geronimo Allison (GB – WR): 13% owned (1% FAAB)
It appears that Allison is just going to continue shuffling around as a fill-in for this Green Bay WR corps. He was initially the replacement for Jordy Nelson, who then ended up playing but when Randall Cobb didn’t, Allison started for him. Now Davante Adams’ Week 5 status is in jeopardy after taking a very scary hit from Danny Trevathan on Thursday night, so Allison is up yet again. If you have a significant role as a pass-catcher in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense and are below the ownership threshold, you will appear in this column. Allison isn’t relevant when Nelson, Cobb and Adams are all healthy, but once any one of them goes down then he immediately becomes an add.
Ryan Griffin (HOU – TE): 11% owned (1% FAAB)
Griffin was noticeably quiet amidst a 57-point breakout for the Texans on Sunday, putting up a meager 13 yards on two catches (five targets) after going 5-61-1 against the Patriots. That does say quite a bit about the Patriots, but Griffin should be able to bounce back in Week 5 against the Chiefs before a Week 6 date with the Browns. KC isn’t elite against TEs without Eric Berry and the Browns are the Browns, so those in deeper waters who missed out on the Charles Clay‘s, Cameron Brate‘s and Evan Engram‘s of the world can give this another shot.
Deep League Targets – <10% owned
Elijah McGuire (NYJ – RB): 3% owned (1% FAAB)
When Matt Forte is away the McGuire will play. After totaling 63 yards (and a fumble) on 13 carries in his first two games, McG went ahead and toasted the Jaguars with a 69-yard touchdown highlighting his 93-yard day. He also caught both of his targets for 38 additional yards, with the Jets suddenly alight with hope in 2017 after an abysmal start. It’s tough to envision McGuire suddenly disappearing with things starting to click, and they just so happen to get the Browns in Week 5. Bilal Powell will be the No. 1, but McGuire should offer some short-term value at least in a plus matchup with an outside chance at more if Forte gets traded or something.
Brian Hoyer (QB – SF): – 8% owned (1% FAAB)
Hoyer has been downright terrible in three of San Francisco’s four games thus far in 2017 but showed he can still rumble a little in that Rams game with 332 yards and two touchdowns. This is purely about the matchup, however, as he and the 49ers draw a road date with the Colts in Week 5. Obviously, this is for you two-QB or DFS players, but a top-half finish here is well within reason if San Fran’s defense can stand up like they did against Arizona and tire out Indy’s already-strapped defense like Seattle did.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (NYJ – TE): 7% owned (1% FAAB)
Seferian-Jenkins has swiftly shed any of the doubts about his conditioning here, as he now stands with nine catches for 76 yards on 10 targets through two games. The six-foot-five Washington product was out there on 54-of-70 snaps — compared with Jermaine Kearse at 67 and Robby Anderson at 55 — and looks to have a steady floor to his game right now. That floor isn’t all that impressive yet, mind you, but it’s something to build on for a young team that is surprising itself here in ’17. If these guys can fall into some more red-zone chances with plus matchups against the Browns and Patriots coming up next for ASJ’s size to play up, we could see a few 5-50-1 lines sprinkled in here.
Mitchell Trubisky (QB – CHI): 3% owned (1% FAAB)
Those even more desperate, or seeking something with more longevity, can target Trubisky. The Mike Glennon era predictably fell flat on its face in no time at all, and now the mobile Trubs is going to get his chance to shine in the NFL. His preseason heroics aside (combined 36-of-53 for 364 yards and three scores), we’ll need to be patient with his first three games coming against the Vikings, Ravens and Panthers. It’ll be interesting to see what plays they draw up for the rookie in order to take advantage of his legs, with other players like Zach Miller perhaps reestablishing themselves as viable streamers as a result.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR – PIT): 2% owned (1% FAAB)
Eli Rogers was a healthy scratch and seems to be on the outs in this offense, which leaves Smith-Schuster as Ben Roethlisberger’s No. 3 receiver in the slot. You’re going to have to deal with whatever Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant don’t gobble up themselves, but we all know this offense is capable of putting up huge totals that can feed all participants. Don’t buy him for consistent production, but getting a piece of this offense for cheap is a savvy get.