Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Week 5
Does this NFL season seem weird to you? Like, unusually weird? Entering Monday, the only two unbeaten teams left were the Arizona Cardinals and Las Vegas Raiders. Meanwhile, the Chiefs were dead last in their division. And that’s not even covering what happened in Week 4. The New York Jets and New York Giants both got their first wins, the Miami Dolphins lost to the banged-up Indianapolis Colts, and another field goal doink graced our screens. The only tried-and-true formula was the Atlanta Falcons letting another lead slip through their claws, er, grasps.
The weirdness has seeped into fantasy football, too. Taylor Heinicke outscored Tom Brady, Van Jefferson outscored Davante Adams, Jody Fortson outscored Travis Kelce and Cordarrelle Patterson outscored basically everyone.
Why don’t we shine a light on a few more players who looked good in Week 4? Some of them should definitely be on your fantasy team. You can put the rest under your watchlist, too. Have any more fantasy questions? Hit me up on Twitter @ZachCohenFB.
Taylor Heinicke (QB - WSH)
Week 4 Stat Line: 27.9 points, 290 passing yards, 3 passing TD, 43 rushing yards
Let this be the last time I bring up Heinicke in my waiver wire column. He deserves to be rostered now. He’s averaging 23 points in three games as Washington’s starter, including his massive performance at Atlanta over the weekend. He does have a tough upcoming matchup against New Orleans, though his rushing production should provide a somewhat stable floor moving forward.
Zach Wilson/Matt Ryan
I wanted to write about Wilson and Ryan, but I didn’t want to label them as must-targets. If anything, they’re merely streaming options for Week 5. Why? They’re playing each other. While the Jets’ secondary has been top 10 in preventing opposing quarterbacks from scoring fantasy points (yes, it’s true), this still projects to be a close game. It doesn’t help that both quarterbacks popped off on Sunday—Wilson had 17.68 points and Ryan had 29.02 points. I’d probably lean toward Ryan because he’s better, but Wilson has a bit more long-term value if you need some quarterback depth.
Names to watch: Jared Goff, a time-traveling Tom Brady
Damien Williams (RB - CHI)
Week 4 Stat Line: 15 points, 55 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD, 2 catches on 2 targets, 15 receiving yards
There was a point on Sunday when Williams looked like the next hottest waiver pickup. And who knows, that still may be true. But it’s worth mentioning that David Montgomery—who left the game after clutching his left knee—may not be out an extended time. Even if Montgomery only ends up missing a game or two, you should still target Williams if you need a running back. He immediately slid into Montgomery’s role as the Bears’ featured back, though don’t let his production fool you since Chicago led the entire game. Still, Williams is worth a waiver claim, especially if Montgomery does miss multiple weeks. You should also monitor Williams’ thigh injury as well, though reports suggest he’ll be fine for the Bears’ upcoming trip to Las Vegas.
Kenneth Gainwell (RB - PHI)
Week 4 Stat Line: 20.9 points, 31 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD, 6 catches on 8 targets, 58 receiving yards
Another week, another touchdown stolen by Gainwell from Miles Sanders. At this point, Gainwell should be on rosters not just because of his surprising usage, but because there aren’t many good available running backs in most leagues. While Sanders saw the field more than Gainwell, it was the rookie who led the backfield in targets. He also ran 20 routes, which was only nine fewer than Sanders. It seems like the Eagles turn to Gainwell more when they’re losing. Their next five games: Panthers, Buccaneers, Raiders, Lions, and Chargers. Scoop up Gainwell if you need running back depth.
Latavius Murray (RB - BAL)
Week 4 Stat Line: 11.9 points, 59 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD, 18 carries
Baltimore’s backfield continues to confuse me. Lamar Jackson remains the main running threat, all while Murray, Ty’Son Williams, Devonta Freeman, and now Le’Veon Bell have been duking it out for touches. If Sunday’s win was any indication, Murray is the running back to roster. He saw 45 snaps to Bell’s 20 and Freeman’s 6, and he saw 18 of 23 carries among the group. However, Murray’s upside is limited because of Jackson’s role. It doesn’t help that Jackson rarely throws to Ravens’ running backs; Murray had no targets on Sunday. You shouldn’t prioritize him, but you should consider claiming Murray if he’s available.
Names to watch: Jeremy McNichols, Alex Collins, Kyle Juszczyk
Jamison Crowder (WR - NYJ)
Week 4 Stat Line: 19.1 points, 7 catches on 9 targets, 61 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
Welcome back, Crowder! The veteran wideout saw his first action of 2021 in Week 4 and he did not disappoint. Aside from posting the above stat line, Crowder also led the team in targets. His production isn’t too outlandish considering he averaged more than 14 points per game last season. He may not have great long-term value once Elijah Moore returns from injury, but Crowder showed enough to warrant a waiver claim. Just don’t expect an offensive explosion like this every week from the Jets.
Kadarius Toney (WR - NYG)
Week 4 Stat Line: 13.9 points, 6 catches on 9 targets, 78 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
Who else was confused when the Giants selected Toney with the 20th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft? After all, New York just signed Kenny Golladay to go with Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton. Well, with the latter two out on Sunday, Toney stepped up in a big way. He ran the second-most routes on the team and was tied for the most targets with Golladay. And don’t forget a few ankle-breaking plays here and there.
Toney even had a carry, though it went for just one yard. As long as Shepard or Slayton remain out, expect Toney to see significant work. He’s a good addition to your bench with legit starter upside down the road.
Van Jefferson (WR - LAR)
Week 4 Stat Line: 21 points, 6 catches on 6 targets, 90 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
Why don’t we talk about another Florida Gator? A year removed from being the Rams’ second-round pick, Jefferson has emerged as a real threat in Los Angeles’ top passing offense. After seeing six targets in the first two games, he’s matched that in each of the last two games. Despite seeing nearly 20 fewer snaps than Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, Jefferson ran just eight fewer routes than Woods and nine fewer than Kupp. His usage indicates clear WR3 status over DeSean Jackson, thus deeming him worthy of a pickup in deeper leagues.
Quintez Cephus (WR - DET)
Week 4 Stat Line: 12.3 points, 4 catches on 5 targets, 83 receiving yards
Kalif Raymond had the more productive day, but Cephus saw more sustainable numbers for the third time this season. Raymond has seen two more targets throughout the season, but that can largely be attributed to Cephus’ one-target performance in Week 3. It’s pretty evident the Lions will continue to throw the ball at above-average rates. This should only help Cephus, who is slowly becoming a viable bench option. He’s not someone you shouldn’t rush to pick up, but you should definitely keep an eye on him.
Names to watch: Kalif Raymond, Marquez Callaway, Josh Reynolds
Dalton Schultz (TE - DAL)
Week 4 Stat Line: 17.8 points, 6 catches on 8 targets, 58 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
If you’re looking for Dawson Knox, check out my last two waiver wire columns. Instead, may I interest you in the overall TE5? At this point, I can just copy and paste this line into every tight end section of my column: The position is so barren, you should take what you can get. It’s encouraging that Schultz has seen 15 targets in two games. And production pays off for tight ends, so you may as well target Schultz if you need one. You should roster him over Robert Tonyan and Austin Hooper.
Hunter Henry (TE - NE)
Week 4 Stat Line: 13.2 points, 4 catches on 5 targets, 32 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
Henry‘s production has steadily increased through the first four games. In fact, his performance Sunday night was on par with his other three performances. He just happened to score this week. Henry is probably not a player you should start yet, especially with Jonnu Smith seeing a similar target share. But Henry saw more snaps and ran more routes than Smith against the Buccaneers. Should we expect that to happen in every game? No, but as I said with Schultz, it’s more than enough considering how bad the tight-end landscape is in fantasy. Just don’t spend too much FAAB on Henry, yet.
Names to watch: C.J. Uzomah, Zach Ertz
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