OK, a quarter of the season is in the books. No more talk of small sample sizes. We’ve now had 25% of the season done. These players are either who they are, or well on the way to becoming who they are. What’s interesting, several rookie WR have either already broken out or on the cusp.
Injuries have played a part, and there are major implications below. Nick Chubb and Austin Ekeler going on IR is a gut punch to those teams who had dreams of top 10 RB performances. If you have them, you definitely want to see below.
And now byes are coming into play, so those of you with Aaron Rodgers or Matthew Stafford as your only QB, we have some options who are still available at greater than 50% in Yahoo leagues. Vamonos, let’s get into Los Waivers for Week 5:
STREAMER OF THE WEEK
Teddy Bridgewater @ ATL
After putting up 26 of 37 for 276 yards and 2 TD – adding 32 rushing yards and 1 TD against Arizona – it looks pretty clear that Bridgewater is a good choice against a bad defense. Enter the Falcons, who have allowed the 2nd-most passing yards (1366) and the most TD passes (13) in the league. Fantasy players with D.J. Moore are hoping for several connections this week.
Daniel Jones @ DAL
Yes, he’s been bad thus far. Jones definitely has not lived up to the preseason hype. Look at the opponent. Dallas has been bleeding points all season, and Jones was excellent against bad defenses last year. He had 4 or more TD passes against the Jets, Eagles and Lions last year. This is the start of the softening of the schedule for the Giants, so Jones could be more playable in coming weeks.
Gardner Minshew @ HOU
Are you seeing a trend here? The defenses to target are becoming clearly identified, and the Texans have a defense that needs to get picked on. Sorry, J.J. Watt, we love your game and your charity work, but the guys around you are letting your greatness go unseen. Minshew returned from his Miami malaise to throw for 351 yards and 2 TD. He has D.J. Chark back in the fold, and while Houston is worst in rushing yards allowed, its secondary can be beat. Minshewmania will be back this week.
Ryan Tannehill vs. BUF
You may have had to drop Tannehill just to field a complete roster. I did, for the other Ryan (Fitzpatrick, and we know how that worked out). Tannehill will have his bye behind him, so he could form a good platoon with someone like Ben Roethlisberger or Jared Goff, or be someone to target to stream for the upcoming bye weeks. He should get A.J. Brown this week, which will be a big help going forward.
Kirk Cousins @ SEA
The pass attempts have not been there so far, just 22 last week. But Cousins will be high efficiency, and he’s leading the league in intended air yards per pass attempts (10.8). So when he’s throwing, there are plenty shots taken downfield to Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. He’ll need to take plenty this week, because Russell Wilson is going to feast against the Viking secondary.
RB PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Damien Harris vs DEN
The preseason hype that was building for Harris before a finger injury and subsequent surgery put him on the IR threw water on the flame. The fire got rekindled with his 17 carries for 100 yards against the Chiefs. The Broncos are 13th in rushing yards allowed (436), but that number will take a hit this week because the Patriots are going to run. And Harris will get the most opportunities.
D’Ernest Johnson vs. IND
Who’s this guy? You’re not the only person who thought this on Sunday. He was an UDFA, played in the AAF and his backstory of working on a fishing boat for a year is making the rounds. With Chubb out, Kareem Hunt vaults to unquestioned RB1 status, but there will be plenty of scraps left over for Johnson to be viable against teams giving up rushing yardage.
Justin Jackson @ NO
Austin Ekeler going on IR opens up plenty of opportunities for Jackson. Up to now, Joshua Kelley has been primarily used on the ground, and Jackson can handle both passing and running-game work. There’s room for Jackson to get 12-15 touches per week in an offense that is scoring plenty of points with Justin Herbert. Caution: The Saints have a tough defense, so you may be sitting Jackson for a better flex option this week.
Rex Burkhead vs. DEN
Burkhead will be the change-of-pace guy with Harris, and catch the occasional screen pass that isn’t headed to James White. As mentioned last week, don’t get ideas that he’ll replicate that 3-TD performance from Week 3. But he can be a bye-week replacement in upcoming weeks.
Malcolm Brown @ WAS
He out-touched Darrell Henderson 14-9 last week, when coming into the game it looked like Henderson had a stranglehold on the starting job. This backfield will be a headache for fantasy managers all season, especially when Cam Akers is healthy. Your best bet may be to play Brown and cross your fingers that this is his hot-hand week.
Chase Edmonds @NYJ
Keep an eye on the usage. Yes, his rushing attempts have been between 3 and 6 thus far. But this past week he ran 15 routes and caught 5 of 6 targets. Kenyan Drake ran 0 routes. Drake left the game when he got the wind knocked out of him, and he’s expected to be fine. But Drake has not lived up to the hot 8-game finish he had in 2019. At some point, if it’s not working the Cardinals could switch out the RB. It might be nice to have Edmonds in reserve if/when that happens.
WR PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Mecole Hardman vs. LV
Two weeks in a row with a TD, and now Hardman goes up against a Raider D that is 12th in the league with 1001 passing yards allowed. The 7.3 net yards per attempt the Raiders are allowed is 7th in the league, and Hardman thrives on the deep ball. The speedy Hardman should get multiple shots downfield, and he has a knack for finding the end zone when he does.
N’Keal Harry vs. DEN
If Cam Newton is not eligible to come off the COVID-19 IR this week (the Patriots have a bye in Week 6), this could be Jarrett Stidham starting in place of Brian Hoyer. Stidham did find Harry for the Patriots’ only TD. Harry could sneak past the Bronco defense for another score.
Golden Tate @ DAL
Tate has consistently received 5-7 targets per week, and is now getting that Cowboy defense. Remember what we said about his QB up above? That’s why you need to fire up Tate this week. With the Giants plenty generous on D (never mind the Ram game last week), this game has shootout potential.
Tee Higgins @ BAL
After logging 6, 9 and 7 targets the past 3 weeks, Higgins is creeping past A.J. Green for the WR2 on the Bengals. He caught 4 balls for 77 yards a week after reeling in 2 TD passes. The Baltimore matchup is a tough one, followed by the Colts. But the schedule eases up after that, so be ready to fire up Higgins during his breakout rookie campaign.
Laviska Shenault @ HOU
Catching 5 of 6 targets for 86 on the week that D.J. Chark returned and saw 9 targets shows that Shenault will be plenty involved in this offense going forward. The Jaguars have some games with inviting matchups coming up, starting this week against a Texan team that just got its apple cart upended with HC Bill O’Brien’s firing.
Curtis Samuel @ ATL
This is purely a matchup play. The Falcons have given up big days to several WR so far, and Samuel has the talent to sneak in and have a big day alongside either Moore or Robby Anderson. Or both. If this is a big day for Bridgewater, Samuel can be a good bye-week filler.
Scotty Miller @ CHI (TH)
After victimizing the Chargers for 5 catches on 7 targets for 83 yards and 1 TD, the only thing holding Miller back could be health. His own. Miller is battling hip and groin injuries, so temper your enthusiasm for him until you know he’s going to play. With Chris Godwin likely out and Mike Evans hobbling around with his own ankle injury, Miller could be a featured target from Tom Brady if he gets on the field.
Chase Claypool vs. PHI
Diontae Johnson has cleared the concussion protocol, so the reason to grab and start Claypool is gone. Though another reason to grab him is the big-play potential that he showed on the 84-yard TD reception against the Broncos in Week 2. Claypool is a high-upside play now that we’re getting into bye weeks.
Mo Alie-Cox @ CLE
It’s been 3 weeks now, and Alie-Cox has either caught a TD or gone over 100 yards receiving every week. His athleticism for a player so big is evident whenever Philip Rivers throws the ball his way. The only other real threat in the passing game for the Colts is T.Y. Hilton, who has been plenty inconsistent.
Eric Ebron vs. PHI
After catching 5 of 7 targets for 52 yards and a score, Ebron broke through for the Steelers, who are as loaded with pass catchers as anyone. The Eagles just allowed George Kittle a career day, so Ebron is a target play for this week. And since his bye is past, at the very least he could be a streamer.
Logan Thomas vs. LA RAMS
Thomas averaged 8 targets per game the 3 weeks prior to his getting just 4 targets for 1 catch and 8 yards this past Sunday. Evan Engram saw 10 targets for 6 catches and 35 yards against the Rams most recently, and that was a week after Tyler Kroft caught 2 TD passes on them.
DEFENSE OF THE WEEK
New England vs DEN
If your league has the Patriot defense available, snap them up this week. The options at 50% availability and below have bad matchups. If the Broncos are starting Brett Rypien again, after he threw 3 INT against the Jets last week, then fire up the Patriots.
KICKER OF THE WEEK
Chris Boswell vs. PHI
Many people dropped him because of the COVID weirdness last week. Get him back. He’s home. He’s accurate. The Steelers will score plenty against the Eagles, giving Boswell lots of opportunity.