Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 5
Week 4 is in the books and that mean’s we’ve already hit the one-quarter mark of the 2018 fantasy football season. The positive of this much of the schedule being played is that we pretty much know who teams are at this point. With four games played, NFL trends tend to hold up. A team that can’t stop the pass is likely to remain, more or less, lousy in that area all season.
In fantasy football, we have a much easier time making adjustments after a slow beginning. Trades can undoubtedly help, but attacking the waiver wire is the best way to add reinforcements to a strong roster or to reinvigorate a team that struggled in September.
Whether you’re stockpiling talent, blocking opponents, or trying to turn around a weak roster, attacking the waiver wire is crucial. Let’s take a look at players who are widely unowned in most fantasy leagues and how to approach bidding on them.
Week 5 byes: Chicago, Tampa Bay
Ownership data courtesy of Yahoo.
Jameis Winston (TB) 11% owned (12% FAAB)
“Fitzmagic” was fun while it lasted but nobody really expected it to last. Winston sat out the first three games of the season, but came off the bench to finish up Tampa’s blowout loss in Chicago. He completed 16-of-20 passes for 145 yards with a touchdown and pair of picks. The Buccaneers are on a bye this week, but the expectation is that Dirk Koetter will name him the team’s starter, giving Winston an extra week of prep time. Winston was an excellent fantasy option last season and can flirt with QB1 numbers for the remainder of the season. He’s worth a strong bid for fantasy owners who can afford to eat a roster spot on a player who isn’t active this week.
Derek Carr (OAK) 36% owned (7% FAAB)
Entering Week 4, Cleveland had a top-five pass defense in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Carr put up 437 yards and four touchdowns en route to leading the Raiders to a 45-42 overtime win over the Browns. Overall, it’s been a rough start to the season for Carr, but he’s completing a ton of passes and averaging over 343 passing yards per game. Up next, the Raiders travel back to Los Angeles to take on a Chargers secondary that entered last week as a bottom-10 unit. There should be plenty of points scored in this one and that gives Carr some streaming appeal.
Blake Bortles (JAC) 33% owned (5% FAAB)
You definitely don’t want to rely on the erratic Bortles as an every-week starter, but he can be a useful streaming option for brave fantasy owners who have been getting by with Mitchell Trubisky or Ryan Fitzpatrick. “Good” Bortles was back on display in Week 4 as he lit up a strong Jets’ secondary for over 400 total yards and a pair of touchdowns. While Bortles has followed up each strong showing with a poor outing so far each week, the Jaguars have an appealing Week 5 matchup with a struggling Kansas City pass defense.
Nyheim Hines (IND) 14% owned (6% FAAB)
With four or five carries in each game, Hines isn’t doing much as a ball carrier, but he has become a useful weapon in the passing game, Hines entered Week 4 as the No. 35-scoring running back in PPR leagues, then caught nine-of-11 targets for 63 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Texans. PPR leaguers can view Hines as a Theo Riddick or Duke Johnson type of player who can certainly be a useful source of receptions out of the flex spot or as a bye-week fill in. Teammate Robert Turbin (0% owned 1% FAAB) is also worth a look in deep leagues as the Colts have had little success running the ball and could turn to the veteran for a boost, especially in short-yardage situations.
Mike Davis (SEA) 0% owned (5% FAAB)
Davis drew a surprise start in Arizona and looked like a star, producing 124 yards of offense and two touchdowns on 25 touches. Chris Carson (hip) was expected to start but became a late scratch, setting up Davis to bypass Rashaad Penny against the Cardinals. Pete Carroll has shown an unwillingness to commit to one running back, so what we likely have here is Davis just adding more frustration to an already crowded Seattle backfield. Carson should remain the main runner, but it would not be a surprise to see Davis earn a weekly role.
Ronald Jones (TB) 24% owned (5% FAAB)
The second rounder was inactive for Tampa Bay’s first three contests but finally made his debut against the Bears. Unfortunately, the Bucs got behind early and were blown out, so we weren’t able to see how Dirk Koetter planned to distribute carries between Jones and Peyton Barber. Despite the lousy game script, Jones did lead the Bucs with 10 carries and 29 rushing yards. Expect a committee, but Jones should eventually emerge here and is worth a speculative add for fantasy owners who can afford to be patient with a roster spot.
Dede Westbrook (JAC) 17% owned (7% FAAB)
The Jaguars are doing a good job moving Westbrook all around the field. He’s almost evenly split his snaps between both outside receiver spots and the slot. This allows Westbrook to take advantage of mismatches as shown in Week 4 as he led Jacksonville in targets (13), catches (nine), and yards (130). Jacksonville travels to Kansas City in Week 5, which offers up an excellent matchup for Westbrook to have another solid week.
Keke Couteee (HOU) 2% owned (7% FAAB)
Coutee was finally active after recovering from a hamstring injury, and what a debut he had! The fourth-round rookie tied for the NFL lead with a whopping 15 targets in his first game and ended up catching 11 balls for 109 yards primarily out of the slot. With DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller on the outside, Coutee could see a ton of targets moving forward for a Houston offense that is starting to wake up after a slow start.
Christian Kirkk (ARI) 12% owned (6% FAAB)
Second-round rookie wideout Christian Kirk, not Larry Fitzgerald, leads the Arizona Cardinals in receptions through four games. Kirk also leads the club in receiving yards (149) and is tied with Fitzgerald for a team-high 22 targets. Granted, Arizona’s offense doesn’t offer a lot of fantasy appeal, but Kirk looks like he’s going to be a significant part of the weekly gameplan and could become a flex option if Josh Rosen shows improvement as he gains experience.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (GB) 0% owned (4% FAAB)
With Randall Cobb (hamstring) inactive, fifth-round rookie Marquez Valdes-Scantling saw his first significant action with the offense, playing 54 (71%) of Green Bay’s snaps in their Week 4 victory. Cobb could be out a while and Geronimo Allison (concussion) could also miss some time, so Valdes-Scantling could continue to earn a lot of playing time. He only caught one pass for 38 yards against the Bills, but any wideout that gets a lot of playing in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense is definitely fantasy relevant.
Dez Bryant (FA) 19% owned (4% FAAB)
Nothing is imminent, but free agent wideout Dez Bryant did tweet that he expects to sign with an NFL team “soon.” Even if he does sign, it remains to be seen if Bryant is in shape or even capable of being an asset on the field, but this is a situation where fantasy owners with a spare roster spot could try to be proactive.
Tyler Kroft (CIN) 1% owned (11% FAAB)
Kroft, who caught 42 balls and scored seven touchdowns last season, is a proven asset who will now be close to a full-time player for a Bengals’ offense that has been impressive over the first month of the season. Tyler Eifert broke his ankle in Atlanta and will be placed on IR, which places Kroft immediately in-line for a lot of snaps and targets. Tight end has been a mess so far in 2018, so if you find yourself hurting at the position, don’t get outbid for a guy that has been very good in a reserve role.
Antonio Gates (LAC) 5% owned (6% FAAB)
Gates scored his first touchdown of the season against San Francisco, but what looks promising is his usage. Gates has 10 targets over the past two games, and his touchdown was a patented end-zone throw from Philip Rivers. After sitting out all summer, Gates is still playing his way into game shape and is still capable of being a solid touchdown producer in a potent offense.
Nick Vannett (SEA) 0% owned (6% FAAB)
Like Eifert, Will Dissly suffered a season-ending injury which will thrust Vannett into a full-time role for Seattle. Through the Seahawks’ first four games, Vannett only has nine catches, but he should see a major boost in snaps and could become a factor in the red zone for Russell Wilson, who has been looking for his tight ends in that area quite often since last season. Vannett is worth a decent bid in a position that is extremely thin.