Targeting weekly waiver picks is a completely subjective business,
but this column hopes to point out some obvious and not-so-obvious
selections to help your team from week to week while you strive
to collect fantasy wins, reach your league playoffs, and win the
elusive title that your friends say is out of your grasp. While
I’m a big proponent of making trades to bolster your roster,
the waiver wire can be an almost limitless resource when it comes
to discovering fantasy value in strange places. Each week, I’ll
highlight some of the popular (and not-so-popular) players who can
help your squad and may still be available in your league. I’ll
also provide a brief update on the players I covered the previous
Stafford, DET – Normally, a fantasy
QB with Stafford’s résumé wouldn’t be available in almost 40 percent
of ESPN leagues, but with the roster complications resulting from
COVID during his Week 5 bye, he’s out there in plenty of formats
and makes sense as a replacement for Dak Prescott. He gets favorable
matchups the next two weeks (@JAC, @ATL) and his offensive weapons
should be healthy.
Fitzpatrick, MIA – Nobody really
wants to admit that Fitzpatrick has been a more-than-serviceable
fantasy QB this season, and that he’s currently in the Top 10
for fantasy points per game at the position – but here we are.
Week 5 saw Fitzpatrick complete 22 of 28 passes for 350-3-0, adding
16 rushing yards on three carries in a 43-17 rout of the embattled
49ers. He’s owned in fewer than 20% of ESPN leagues and faces
the Jets in Week 6 before a Week 7 bye.
Herbert, LAC –UPDATE:
Herbert had a monster stat line on MNF, throwing for 264-4-0 and
showing off some impressive athleticism on a handful of difficult
passes, including a gorgeous 17-yard strike to Keenan Allen in
the game’s opening quarter. He’s just 35-50 percent
owned in fantasy leagues and gets a nice schedule following their
bye in Week 6. This guy looks like he’s for real.
Dalton, DAL – Another possibility
to replace Prescott is Dalton himself, who we’ve covered ad nauseum
in this column for the past nine seasons. Before his disastrous
2019 campaign, Dalton had accounted for at least 20 (combined
passing and rushing) TDs in eight straight seasons, though fumbles
and INTs were always part of that conversation as well. In Dallas,
he inherits an offensive line weakened by injuries to most of
the starters but a full complement of offensive weapons. He’s
no Dak, but he’s got four weeks of potentially high-scoring games
on the docket before the Cowboys’ Week 10 bye and the job is most
WAS – Allen got rattled pretty good (a sideline hit by
Jalen Ramsey) in his 2020 starting debut and was apparently kept
out of the rest of the game out of an “abundance of caution,”
according to coaches. Comeback story aside, Alex Smith struggled
against the Rams, getting sacked six times and facing constant
pressure throughout the second half. Allen will resume signal
calling for Washington in Week 6, and he’s got a pair of favorable
division matchups (@NYG, DAL) before his Week 8 bye.
Bridgewater, CAR – Bridgewater helped
season-long and DFS owners alike with his 313-2-0 (27-for-37 passing)
day in a win over the Falcons. Next week will be tougher (CHI),
but weeks 7-9 (@NO, ATL, @KC) portend higher-scoring games and
lots of good fantasy numbers.
Wentz, PHI – Wentz is still working
with a depleted corps of WRs and finished Week 5 with 258-2-2,
adding 11 rushing yards. Current and prospective fantasy owners
shouldn’t consider him an option in Week 6 against the Ravens
but can look forward to dates with the Giants and Cowboys the
following two weeks.
Minshew, JAC – Minshew completed
31 of 49 passes for 301-2-0 in Week 5 against the Texans, chipping
in 18 rushing yards on four carries. He’s a relatively unpredictable
fantasy performer with a favorable Week 6 matchup against the
Lions, but he’s available in about 30-45 percent of fantasy leagues.
MIA – Don’t send me hate mail because I’m including Gaskin,
who’s owned in fewer than 80 percent of ESPN leagues but has been
a Top 40 fantasy back this season – because it’s clear some people
don’t get it. The Dolphins may not be “for real” in the traditional
sense (although a 43-17 win over the 49ers shows they can beat up
on a defense missing its best players) but they’ve been productive
offensively in 2020. Gaskin has bene at the center of that, with
61 touches over the last three games – a number that should keep
piling up with more opportunities in the red zone. Week 5 saw Gaskin
tote it 16 times for 57 yards and a TD, adding 34 receiving yards
on five catches (five targets). He should be owned in ALL 10+ formats,
not 80 percent of them.
Swift, DET – The last time we saw
Swift (70-75 percent owned) he was rushing four times for 22 yards
(adding 4-30-1 through the air) in last Sunday’s 35-29 loss to
the Saints. Now he’s got a Week 6 date with Jacksonville and seems
to be getting more chances to contribute as the Lions develop
him. The extra week of prep should help Swift reach the next level
a little more quickly, and I can guarantee there’s a few leagues
where he’s sitting on the wire because of injuries, bye weeks
and COVID snafus.
Freeman, NYG – Freeman (despite
being just 62.5 percent owned in ESPN leagues) is probably the
guy poised to assume the largest workload of the backs we’ve covered.
He carried the ball 17 times for 60 yards and a TD (2-27-0 on
three targets) in Sunday’s 37-34 loss to the Cowboys, a game the
Giants easily could have won. Things are bad in New Jersey, but
Freeman’s three-week development into a veteran presence the running
game can feature is a huge step forward for his fantasy prospects
and the team.
Jackson, LAC – I’ll update after
Monday night’s game, but with Ekeler out for the next 4-6 weeks,
he’ll be in the mix for a significant workload alongside Joshua
UPDATE: Jackson rushed 15 times
for 71 yards and caught 5-23-0 on six targets. He’s likely
going to be the back to own for the Chargers with Ekeler on the
shelf, though we could see RB guru Anthony Lynn use a hot hand
approach if either he or Joshua Kelley struggles with blocking
assignments and/or fumbles.
LAR – Akers (50-65 percent owned) who was nursing a rib
injury leading up to his Week 5 activation, carried nine times
for 61 yards in the Rams’ 30-10 victory over the Washington Football
Team on Sunday, could see an uptick in touches in a Week 6 road
matchup in San Fran. Darrell Henderson may have logged the best
fantasy numbers on Sunday, but Akers stood out as the Rams’ most
efficient runner in YPC. He showed off some of his moves and speed
in a 46-yard run, and the 49ers are really hurting on both sides
of the ball. He’s in a high-risk, high-reward spot as a flex play.
Mattison, MIN – Mattison (40-50
percent owned) stepped in for an injured Dalvin Cook (groin) over
most of the second half Sunday night, finishing with 20 carries
for 112 yards and 3-24-0 receiving. Cook is slated to have an
MRI on Monday, but Mattison should be owned in all formats regardless.
The Week 7 bye should help Cook in some regard, so I’d consider
the previous three backs better long-term additions.
UPDATE: Cook isn’t expected
to play in Week 6 against the Falcons, opening the door for Mattison
to have a monster performance.
Booker, LV – There aren’t a lot
of low-owned RBs available in most formats outside what we’re
covering above and below (in the updates), but Booker, owned in
fewer than 1 percent of leagues, showed me on a single 43-yard
gain against the Chiefs that he’s worth considering. Josh Jacobs
is a beast of a runner who gets an awful lot of work, and Booker
is a perfect handcuff who might be able to give us 75-80 percent
of that if Jacobs went down. He finished Week 5 with 62 yards
on seven rushes and caught his only target for 5 yards in Sunday’s
big win over the Chiefs.
Johnson, CLE – Hunt had a monster day with 20 carries
for 72 yards (3-21-1 receiving on four targets), while Johnson
(25-35 percent owned) had eight carries for 32 yards and caught
his lone target for four yards in Sunday’s 32-23 win over the
Colts. Hunt is a must-play RB2 regardless of matchup while Johnson
may only be an option in Week 7 when we look at the upcoming schedule.
Gibson, WAS – Gibson was a popular
waiver wire add last week and saw his ownership skyrocket up to
almost 90 percent as he rewarded owners with 27 rushing yards
and 5-24-0 (on five targets) in the Washington Football Team's
30-10 loss to the Rams on Sunday. Not exactly what we’ve been
looking for, but things should be better with Allen at QB.
Kelley, LAC –UPDATE:
Kelley was largely ineffective on his touches Monday night, rushing
for just 29 yards on 11 carries, adding a 9-yard catch on his
lone target. The Chargers are on a bye in Week 6 ahead of a matchup
with the Panthers, but Jackson appears to be the primary back
to own, as Kelly might just have been a change-of-pace placeholder
until Jackson was healthy.
Harris, NE – The Pats game was postponed
until Week 6. I’m wary of all New England players right now.
Bonnafon, CAR – Bonnafon (high-ankle
sprain) was inactive for Sunday’s Mike Davis show.
Edmonds, ARI – I’m glad I recommended
Edmonds (35-50 percent owned) this week, as he may have helped
a few season-long and DFS players to victory behind his best game
of 2020: 36 rushing yards and a TD with 5-56-0 on six targets
in Sunday’s 30-10 win over the Jets.
Claypool, PIT – We’ll start out with
the obvious rookie PIT receiver who had the monster day in Week
5 (7-110-3 receiving on 11 targets and three carries for 6 yards
and another score). I was chatting about Claypool (8-10 percent
owned) with a Steelers fan buddy on Friday night and am regretting
leaving him out of my DFS lineups. That kind of upside is rare,
and he’s averaging over 20 yards per catch this season. Add him.
Slayton, NYG – He’s a high-upside
WR3 and he’s owned in just 70-80 percent of leagues. I don’t get
it. Add him if he’s available, because Devonta Freeman or not,
the Giants have to throw the ball a lot.
Cooks, HOU – With the Bill O’Brien
era finally over, Cooks responded with 8-161-1 on 12 targets in
a Week 5 against the Jaguars. He’s a must-add WR who could help
turn this around in Houston.
Ruggs III, LV – Another uncomplicated
recommendation. The explosive Ruggs (knee) is healthy and had
2-118-1 in the Raiders’ 40-32 win on Sunday. He’s owned in about
half of fantasy leagues but is looking like a must-add in 12-team
leagues for his upside.
Williams, LAC –UPDATE:
Big Play Mike (30-40 percent owned) was active on MNF and caught
five of his eight targets for 109 yards and two TDs in the devastating
loss to the Saints. The physical, athletic former Clemson Tiger
will be a viable WR3/flex play in Week 7 against the Jaguars following
the Chargers Week 6 bye, and he’d likely get an uptick in
targets if Keenan Allen (back) is unable to suit up.
CLE – In a game without much good happening for the Bengals,
Higgins (just 3-45 percent owned) hauled in 4-62-0 on eight targets.
He’s getting quality looks and A.J. Green (hamstring) is injured
again, so he’ll be getting more over the next three games (@IND,
CLE, TEN) before the Week 9 bye.
Kirk, ARI – We saw the value of
a healthy Kirk (owned in just 40-50 percent of fantasy leagues)
in this offense on Sunday, and he’s a great second receiving option
in Arizona after Nuk. I’m making a waiver bid in one ESPN league
this week to acquire him for the matchup with Dallas in Week 6.
Valdes-Scantling, GB – Don’t forget
about his guy, owned in just 25 percent of ESPN leagues and coming
off his bye.