It’d be nice to start one waiver-wire article without having to lament the latest avalanche of injuries.
The NFL is a game of attrition, and that often applies to fantasy football as well. Week 5 started without Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Chris Carson, David Montgomery, Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and George Kittle. By the end of the weekend, Russell Wilson, Joe Burrow, Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Damien Harris, and Kenny Golladay all suffered injuries clouding their immediate availability.
Injury fallout is responsible for most of the recommended pickups highlighted below. We’ll probably have the same conversation next week.
Note: Rostered percentages provided via Yahoo leagues.
Top 5 Waiver Targets of Week 6
Darrel Williams (RB – KC): 18%
Another week, another D. Williams leading the column because his team’s starting running back got injured. Those who snagged Damien Williams received 15.4 half-PPR fantasy points from the RB19 in Week 5. The former Kansas City back plays on the NFL’s worst offense.
Darrel Williams, on the other hand, enters the limelight in Kansas City.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire sprained his MCL on Sunday night and is expected to miss multiple weeks, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Since the Bills jumped out to a 31-13 lead right after CEH left the game, his understudy only fielded five carries among his 37 snaps. He also saw five targets in the loss and scored two touchdowns in the previous three games.
Edwards-Helaire was the RB22 in 13 games last year, and that was considered a considerable disappointment. Even if Kansas City replaces the second-year running back with more Patrick Mahomes passes, this high-octane offense visits the end zone often. Darrel Williams is a high-priority addition, especially for managers who lost Edwards-Helaire.
Kadarius Toney (WR – NYG): 18%
The Giants don’t have any healthy wide receivers left.
Before calling this a gross hyperbole, Toney caught 10 of 13 targets for 189 yards — breaking Odell Beckham Jr.’s single-game record by a Giants rookie — in an injury-marred Week 5 loss at Dallas. The rest of their wide receivers combined for 20 yards on three catches.
Kadarius Toney put the moves on Trevon Diggs 👀
— PFF (@PFF) October 10, 2021
Toney secured six of a team-high nine targets for 78 yards in an overtime win the prior week. Playing without Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, the Giants saw Kenny Golladay and Saquon Barkley go down in Week 6. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport already confirmed that both will likely miss at least one game.
So yeah, nobody is left. Unfortunately, that may include Daniel Jones, who left Sunday’s game with a concussion. Oh yeah, Toney might join the rest of his teammates on the sideline. The rookie hurt his ankle, which doesn’t appear to be significant. However, he may also face discipline for throwing a punch at the end of Week 5’s loss.
If Toney plays, even if the looks come from Mike Glennon, he’ll get every opportunity imaginable to shine.
Devontae Booker (RB – NYG): 7%
The Giants also have to find a replacement running back for Barkley, who could miss two to four weeks with a low ankle sprain. Based on Week 5’s usage, they already have a clear alternative in mind. Booker played 60 of 68 snaps, amassing 16 carries and four targets. Despite registering an inefficient 58 total yards, he scored a rushing and a receiving touchdown among his six touches inside the 10.
He’s an average player on a decimated offense that often struggled at full strength, but Booker could ride volume to RB2 results regardless. Last year, Wayne Gallman Jr.. was the RB14 (half-PPR) in the final 10 weeks as the Giants’ starting running back.
Hunter Henry (TE – NE): 46%
Henry and Jonnu Smith seemed poised to cannibalize each other’s fantasy value, but the former has carved out a larger role in New England. Along with finding the end zone in back-to-game games, Henry has 15 receptions in the last three. He has played significantly more snaps than Smith since logging one fewer in Week 1 and received a season-high eight targets among Mac Jones‘ 30 pass attempts in Sunday’s 25-22 win over Houston. Last year’s TE13 is establishing similar billing as a borderline starter.
Rhamondre Stevenson (RB – NE): 7%
Onlookers wondered if Damien Harris would get banished to the doghouse when fumbling inches shy of the end zone. He stayed in the game, but later exited due to a ribs injury. According to Rapaport, New England’s bulldozer back is day-to-day.
If Harris misses Week 6’s game against Dallas, Stevenson would likely assume the bulk of the running work. Scratched the previous three games after fumbling one of his two Week 1 touches, he received 11 carries — four inside the red zone — Sunday. They only went 23 yards, but Stevenson had opened eyes with five preseason touchdowns. Brandon Bolden, meanwhile, is a clearance version of James White for PPR managers overwhelmed by injuries or bye weeks in deep leagues.
Notable Players 36-50% Rostered
Hunter Renfrow (WR – LV): 45%
Renfrow has as many catches (28) as Stefon Diggs on as many targets (38) as DK Metcalf and CeeDee Lamb. His involvement is also consistent, recording five or six receptions every game with a range of six to nine targets. With 305 yards and two touchdowns, the wideout has delivered double-digit PPR points in all five contests. Renfrow is already rostered in deeper, competitive leagues and is only available in the shallower Yahoo formats where upside is more meaningful than a sturdy floor.
Mecole Hardman (WR – KC): 43%
Fantasy managers are legally required to notice anyone targeted 12 times by Patrick Mahomes in a single game. Hardman entered Week 5’s disappointing Sunday Night Football blowout with only 18 catches on the season, and Mahomes had to throw 54 times in perennial catch-up mode for the 23-year-old wideout to record 74 yards on nine receptions. Yet KansasCity has allowed an NFL-worst 32.6 points per game with the second-most total yards allowed per contest (437.4), so this won’t be the last pass-heavy shootout.
Hardman is the clear third option behind Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, but that’s enough to earn the occasional blow-up spot. Although Hill is not expected to miss any games after suffering a minor knee injury, Hardman instantly becomes a top-priority pickup if Hill’s status worsens.
Alex Collins (RB – SEA): 37%
Four days after Collins claimed his first touchdown of the season among his dozen touches, Chris Carson missed Thursday night’s game with a neck injury. While Collins only compiled 47 rushing yards, he handled 15 of 20 handoffs and added 25 receiving yards. He played 46 snaps to just 14 from DeeJay Dallas and eight for Travis Homer.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said he couldn’t confirm Carson’s Week 6 availability yet, so Collins may get starting reps on Sunday Night Football at Pittsburgh. Having last reached 50 rushing yards on October 14, 2018, he’d be a touchdown-dependent flex option in an offense that may not see the end zone often without Russell Wilson.
Notable Players 10-35% Rostered
Tim Patrick (WR – DEN): 31%
Patrick hasn’t broken out as a mainstream fantasy fixture the way some gamers anticipated when Jerry Jeudy suffered a high-ankle sprain in the opening week. However, Patrick is averaging 60.4 receiving yards per game with at least 11 half-PPR points in four of five contests. He set season highs in targets (nine) and catches (seven) during Sunday’s too-little, too-late comeback effort at Pittsburgh. That was Denver’s first loss with Teddy Bridgewater under center all day, but the three victories came against the Giants, Jets, and Jaguars. Bridgewater won’t always be able to operate as a game manager. Patrick may never materialize into a high-ceiling impact player, but he’s a good WR4 worth rostering in all but the shallowest leagues.
Evan Engram (TE – NYG): 31%
Remember that scroll of injured Giants’ pass-catchers? After Toney, Engram placed second with 55 receiving yards in Sunday’s costly loss, and Booker ranked third with 16. Engram’s four targets (all catches) aren’t particularly inspiring, but he’ll likely receive more from Glennon if the G-Men are without any combination of Golladay, Barkley, Toney, Shepard, and Slayton.
Marquez Callaway (WR – NO): 30%
Callaway followed a spectacular preseason by compiling 22 yards in two games. Just like that, he went from an August sleeper to September waiver-wire fodder. Yet no wide receivers leapfrogged him on New Orleans’ depth chart during that time. Those early hopes sprung into reality a little later than expected. Over the last three weeks, Callaway has caught 10 of 15 targets for 200 yards and three touchdowns.
While one of Sunday’s two scores came on an improbable Hail Mary to close the first half, Callaway saw eight of the team’s 28 targets. The 23-year-old remains big-play dependent in an erratic aerial offense, but at least he’s getting more home-run opportunities.
Green Bay Packers (D/ST): 25%
The Packers have turned the corner from a disastrous Week 1 loss to the Saints, posting 10 sacks, four interceptions, and four fumble recoveries in four straight wins. After scoring seven or eight fantasy points in each of those victories, their defense should produce another solid showing against Chicago’s league-worst offense. Green Bay then gets Washington at home Week 7 before embarking on a brutal road trip to Arizona and Kansas City for the next two games.
Khalil Herbert (RB – CHI): 19%
Damien Williams absorbed the fantasy value in place of David Montgomery by recording 84 total yards and a touchdown. Herbert, however, led the Bears with 18 carries and 75 yards. Williams received as many touches (16 carries, two catches), but the rookie played three more snaps (34 to 31) in a 20-9 victory over the Raiders.
Don’t get too excited. The Bears aren’t going to have the luxury of establishing — and sticking to — the run in their next two games against the Packers and Buccaneers. It’ll be hard to keep both backs so well fed throughout Mongtomery’s absence. Williams is still the Chicago running back to roster, but Herbert could vulture goal-line touches in a timeshare.
Notable Players <10% Rostered
Dan Arnold (TE – JAC): 4%
In just his second game with the Jaguars, Arnold secured six of eight targets for 64 yards. His snap rate skyrocketed from 32% to 73% in Week 5’s loss to the Titans, and according to Pro Football Focus’ Andrew Erickson, Marvin Jones Jr. was the only Jacksonville pass-catcher who ran a higher rate of routes per dropback. The 6’6″, 240-pound tight end could quickly emerge as a viable matchup play if he draws Trevor Lawrence’s attention near the end zone.
Jacoby Brissett (QB – MIA): 3%
Brissett has delivered 16-18 fantasy points in each of his three starts replacing Tua Tagovaiola. Even managers who lost Russell Wilson in single-quarterback leagues should find an alternative with more upside, but Miami’s current starter is a steady QB2 or Superflex option with Jacksonville and Atlanta next up.
Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR – DET): 3%
Detroit receivers have taken turns occupying this territory as a “Jared Goff has to throw to someone” lottery ticket in deeper leagues. After a slow start, the initial selection looks like the most likely candidate to etch out that PPR depth value. Brown turned 10 targets into 43 yards through Week 3, but he’s since garnered eight targets in back-to-back games. While still searching for the end zone, he delivered six catches for 70 yards at Chicago and seven receptions for 65 yards at Minnesota.
David Njoku (TE – CLE): 2%
Njoku entered Week 5 with 111 yards this season (76 in Week 1) before exploding for 149 yards and a long touchdown in Sunday’s shootout loss to the Chargers. The 25-year-old caught all of his team-high seven targets, raising the possibility of the former first-round pick manifesting a post-hype breakout.
On the other hand, he’s two weeks removed from not seeing a single target despite playing 50 snaps. It’s unclear what to make of Njoku’s hit-or-miss start, but deep-league managers might want to see where this ride takes them. After all, the 6’4″, 256-pound tight end is an incredible athlete on an offense missing its most reliable pass-catcher in Jarvis Landry.
Ricky Seals-Jones (TE – WAS): 2%
Seals-Jones saw eight targets Sunday in place of Logan Thomas, who’s on the IR with a hamstring injury. More importantly, two were in the end zone. Seals-Jones stayed on the field for 82 of 83 snaps after playing 62 of 67 snaps in Week 4. Fantasy players spent years unsuccessfully willing a breakout into existence, but Seals-Jones at least has the chance to churn out streamer value.
Geno Smith (QB – SEA): 1%
Even a more optimistic timeline leaves Wilson sidelined four weeks with a fractured finger. That vacates the starting job for Smith, who went 10-for-17 for 131 yards, a touchdown, and a pick after replacing Wilson in the fourth quarter Thursday night. Brandishing a career 73.0 quarterback rating and 57.9% completion rate, the 31-year-old was backing up a franchise quarterback for a reason. Smith is mostly just a warm body for managers who lost Wilson in two-quarterback and Superflex leagues. He at least has two big-play wide receivers at his disposal.
Jerick McKinnon (RB – SF): 1%
McKinnon had played 19 snaps all season before participating in 27 plays Sunday night. It yielded a measly 15 yards on three touches, so Damien Williams remains the clear add in Kansas City, but McKinnon is worth monitoring. He could see work in passing situations, which may be bountiful given the team’s floundering defense. McKinnon scored a touchdown in each of San Francisco’s first four games last season. Perhaps he replicates that role for the reigning AFC champions.
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