Originally posted: October 11, 2016
This list is presented to give a quick look at the top players who emerged as waiver wire options based on recent developments. There are other players listed below who are viable, if not excellent options, but not exactly based on what has recently transpired.
- Sammie Coates (WR, Pit)
- Chris Hogan (WR, NE)
- Brian Hoyer (QB, Chi)
- Devontae Booker (RB, Den)
- James White (RB, NE)
- James Starks (RB, GB)
- Breshad Perriman (WR, Bal)
- Cameron Meredith (WR, Chi)
- Brandon LaFell (WR, Cin)
- Terrance Williams (WR, Dal)
- Hunter Henry (TE, SD)
- Sam Bradford (QB, Min)
- Charles Clay (TE, Buf)
- Will Tye (TE, NYG)
The Best Options
Brian Hoyer (Chi) – The Bears are a bit of a mess, but they’ve played much better since Hoyer has taken over as quarterback. The Bears organization is about ready to turn the page on Jay Cutler, and Hoyer has certainly done enough to win this job with three consecutive 300-yard games. Hoyer completed 33/43 passes for 397 yards and 2 TDs against the Colts in Week 5, as he didn’t miss a beat even with Kevin White (leg) landing on the injured reserve. Hoyer has also done well the last couple weeks with Alshon Jeffery being a minor factor, as he’s spreading the ball around and getting everyone involved. We’re not sure how much longer Hoyer can keep it up, but the Bears may continue to surprise throwing the ball with some good matchups (vs. Jac, at GB, vs. Min, bye) coming up, and it’s fair to say Hoyer has never played this week, so this could be it for Cutler. The team isn’t commenting on Cutler’s status long-term, but short-term they’ve given us a tip-off, and it’s Hoyer over Cutler for sure.
Joe Flacco (Bal) – Flacco has knocked the rust off coming back from his season-ending ACL tear in 2015, and he’s got a solid group of receivers to toss it to right now. He completed 30/46 passes for 210 yards and 1 TD against the Redskins in Week 5, but keep in mind a long TD pass to Breshad Perriman was taken off the board because Perriman was barely out of bounds, so Flacco came very close to hitting our Week 5 projection on the head. He may not have Steve Smith for a little while, which is a concern, but the good news for Flacco is the team fired OC Marc Trestman, who Flacco was very unhappy about. Flacco hasn’t been happy with the lack of downfield throwing and a pathetic 4.6 YPA in Week 5 was the last straw (as well as Trestman’s poor usage of Terrance West). We can now expect Flacco to take several deep shots each week, which is taking advantage of his strength as a deep-ball thrower. Flacco other than Smith does have some weapons in Mike Wallace, Perriman, Kamar Aiken, and their TEs. He also has a nice set of games coming up (at NYG, at NYJ, bye, vs. Pit), so he’s worth a look as a streaming option.
Dak Prescott (Dal) – The start to Prescott’s career has been better in NFL terms than his fantasy numbers say, as he’s struggled to find the end zone through the air. He completed 18/24 passes for 227 yards and 1 TD in Week 5 against the Bengals, but he added a rushing TD in his second game without Dez Bryant. The rookie has played it a little safe at times, but he’s shown a ton of poise and is starting to take more downfield shots. There has been plenty to build off of after just five games for the rookie. Prescott does have some beatable matchups the next couple weeks (at GB, bye, vs. Phi, at Cle), so he could continue to hold solid value as a streaming option. He could also lose his job around midseason when Tony Romo is ready to play, but owner Jerry Jones on 10/10 said that Romo is their QB, and we usually assume the opposite of what Jerry says, and that’s usually correct (the opposite). But seriously, Jones hasn’t made a final decision about replacing red-hot rookie QB Dak Prescott with Romo in a few weeks. And even if Romo gets his job back, he’ll get hurt, so we still expect Dak to be viable in November and December.
Brock Osweiler (Hou) – Osweiler is a pretty easy guy to handicap. When he’s against a top-10 defense, forget him. When he’s up against a bottom 10 defense (or so), then he can be started. He has some really nice weapons in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, both of whom will help him to fantasy relevance when the matchup looks at least decent. Osweiler has produced in good matchups, but he predictably looked absolutely atrocious against the Vikings in Week 5, completing 19/42 passes for 184 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT, with most of his production coming late with the game well out of hand. Osweiler, however, is this high on this list for a reason: his remaining schedule now through Week 16 is good: Ind, @Den, Det, @Jac, @Oak, SD, @GB, @Ind, Jac, and Cin. Other than Denver in two weeks, he has nothing but beatable matchups and some really good ones in there.
Sam Bradford (Min) – Bradford has been borderline brilliant, clicking amazingly with Kyle Rudolph and Stefon Diggs, and even getting others like Adam Thielen and Cordarrelle Patterson involved. Even without Diggs, Bradford completed 22/30 passes for 271 yards and 2 TDs in Week 5 against the Texans. He’s still not a great fantasy producer because of a lack of volume, but the production should increase for a guy who’s completing 70% of his passes and who should get more and more comfortable in this environment. The Vikings are still running the ball, but it’s not exactly the identity of the offense, which is starting to shift more toward Bradford and the pass, so he has a chance in that regard. He won’t produce every week, since their stifling defense won’t have them playing from behind all that often, but he does have an underrated receiving corps from top to bottom, and he does have some nice matchups coming up (bye, at Phi, at Chi, vs. Det). He’s in a good spot overall with the great Norv Turner running the offense.
Alex Smith (KC) – Smith is once again hanging around on most waivers wire as a streaming option in any given week. He’s been his usual up-and-down self, but he’s averaging 42 attempts a game so far, due in large part to a defense that simply isn’t as strong this year compared to last year. Smith wasn’t very sharp in Week 4, but he put up 282/2, thanks to 50 attempts, and he’s averaging now a solid 20 points a game through four games. They do have more weapons than usual with Chris Conley and Tyreek Hill, plus TE Travis Kelce and WR Jeremy Maclin heavily involved for a chance at fantasy success, and he also needs to run every week to boost his fantasy output. Smith isn’t a guy to use against a good defense, and he’s game-flow dependent, but he does have some very good matchups coming up after their Week 5 bye (@Oak, vs. NO, @Ind, vs. Jac), and he’ll have a guy named Jamaal Charles a full-go to help provide a spark on offense.
Marcus Mariota (Ten) – Mariota’s second season isn’t off to a pretty start, playing with a limited set of receivers in the slowest offense in football. He completed 20/29 passes for 163 yards and 3 TDs and added 7/60/1 rushing in Week 5 against the Dolphins. We’re not counting on that each week, but he does have a beautiful slate of games coming up (vs. Cle, vs. Ind, vs. Jac, at SD), which helps differentiate him from the other low-end guys. He really hasn’t shown a whole lot to make us think that he can take advantage of the positive matchups, but he did at least come through in Week 5 with 4 combined TDs.
Ryan Tannehill (Mia) – Tannehill has looked awfully shaky at times this season behind a banged up/very bad offensive line – he was sacked 6 times in Week 5. He completed 12/18 passes for 191 yards and 2 INTs against the Titans. Jarvis Landry is rock-solid out of the slot, but Tannehill really needs second-year WR DeVante Parker to stay healthy and make some plays for him on a consistent basis. If he has those two, he’s got a chance to produce most weeks with volume, since they can’t run the ball much. The problem the last two weeks isn’t exactly Tannehill, although he’s not helping matters. The problem is their OL and the fact that they’re just not running off enough plays, as they’ve been in the mid-40s on average the last two weeks. That’s a very low number. Tannehill has proven yet again to be tough to trust on national TV and/or against a top defense, but if you need to dig deeper, he does have some good matchups coming up. Of particular interest are vs. Pit, vs. NYJ, @SD, vs. SF, and @NYJ. He’s not consistent or reliable, but on the low-end he’s still fairly appealing. Hey, he gets the Jets twice still, so he’s got that going for him.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (NYJ) – Fitz has now thrown for 5 TDs compared 10 INTs through five games. That’s not good, and his job security could be shaky if they continue to lose. If all three of their top WRs are healthy, Fitz has the chance to put up strong numbers, but that won’t be the case going forward with WR Eric Decker dealing with a torn rotator cuff that could keep him out for a while. Fitz’s schedule will at least begin to lighten up (at Ari, vs. Bal, at Cle, at Mia), and he’s always capable of throwing for a couple TDs each week playing with Brandon Marshall. He’s really tough to trust right now, but not if you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel or near the bottom of the barrel.
The Next Best Things
Trevor Siemian (Den) – Rookie QB Paxton Lynch’s numbers actually weren’t too bad in his first NFL start in Week 5, but he struggled mightily and the team will turn back to Siemian in Week 6. He nearly played this week through his sprained AC joint, but he wasn’t quite ready when he tested it out before Week 5. Siemian (left shoulder) is fully expected to return and start Thursday at San Diego, the Denver Post reports. Siemian feels much better and the team will put him back in over rookie QB Paxton Lynch.
Colin Kaepernick (SF) – This is a bad team and he’s not a good QB, but we’ve said here for two weeks that it was only a matter of time until he’s the starter here, and that time is now. Kaepernick will start against the Bills with QB Blaine Gabbert benched, HC Chip Kelly announced on Tuesday. This move could help the team involved a lot more players in the passing game, namely struggling WR Torrey Smith, and Kap does have a cannon to get Smith the ball deep. In addition, Kaepernick’s athleticism and running ability can be taken advantage of in Kelly’s offense.
The Obvious Choices
Bilal Powell (NYJ) – The Jets were seriously riding Matt Forte very early in the season, but that’s stopped recently, with Powell posting 6/41 receiving on 8 targets and 4/10 rushing in Week 5 against the Steelers. His snaps were in the 20% range Weeks 1-2, but over the last two weeks he’s been at about 50%, which is a significant jump. Powell has essentially taken back his role as the passing back over Forte, with a whopping 18 catches the last three weeks, so he obviously has more value in PPR formats. Powell would be a fantasy difference-maker if Forte missed time, but the Jet defense is brutal right now, which should give Powell a boost in terms of opportunity with them usually playing from behind.
The Next Best Things
DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard (Oak) – We loved his college tape and liked what we saw out of Washington in the preseason, but it doesn’t look like he will eventually unseat Latavius Murray as the starter, and Washington clearly has some competition from Richard right now just for touches behind Murray. The Raiders used a full-blown committee between the two rookie RBs with Murray out of the lineup in Week 5 against the Chargers, as each back saw 14 touches, but Washington did get the edge in terms of snaps (51% vs. 32%). That’s encouraging for Washington, but Richard did more with his touches. Washington finished with 9/23 rushing and 5/29 receiving on 6 targets, while Richard posted 8/31 rushing and 6/66 receiving on 7 targets. Of course, FB Jamize Olawale vultured a TD with Washington lined up behind him. This backfield has turned into a three-headed attack. Murray is still the top early-down back for now, but the Raiders are clearly going to mix in Washington and Richard in all situations. Washington has some value no matter who is “starting” here, so we still like him more than Richard. If Murray missed another game this week, we’ll have to rank Richard higher, but Murray (toe) has hopes of returning to the field against Kansas City on Sunday, HC Jack Del Rio told reporters Monday.
Kenneth Dixon (Bal) – Terrance West has finally given the Ravens some life in the running game, as they cut the ineffective Justin Forsett. The rookie Dixon returned from his knee injury in Week 5, and while he played only 4 snaps (6%), he should become the change-of-pace and passing back behind West. He posted just 3/-1 rushing and 1/6 rushing in his first game against the Redskins. He was one our favorite backs in this year’s draft class, and in the preseason he did show that his lack of ideal size may not prevent him from pushing the pile and breaking tackles in the NFL, as he runs hard and bigger than his size. Otherwise, he’s got great lateral agility and excellent receiving ability, so he could carve out a larger role. Pick him up now for depth because it’s probably only a matter of time until he’s a hot WW commodity, especially with West’s shaky history of being a consistent player.
Devontae Booker (Den) – Booker is going to be involved most weeks as the clear #2 RB behind C.J. Anderson. The rookie RB can’t afford to fumble again, but he remains a very good handcuff option, as he’d be a must-start fantasy option if Anderson missed time. Anderson is also struggling to run the ball as they’ve had some key injuries that have hurt their running game (RT Donald Stephenson and TE Virgil Green), so Booker ended up playing 41% of the snaps in Week 5 after being in the mid-20 range in terms of snaps previously. Anderson may start performing better soon if they get some blocking help with from Stephenson and Green, but Booker should be owned in competitive leagues, and he’s a must-have for the Anderson owners out there. We’re pretty sure they’d love to see Booker getting 12-13 touches a game with Anderson, so Booker could have value no matter what if he doesn’t fumble.
James White/Dion Lewis (NE) – White needs an ideal situation to be very impactful, playing from behind or playing with Tom Brady. He hasn’t had those situations early in the year, but Brady was back in Week 5. White finished with 4/63 receiving on 6 targets and he added 5/26 rushing against the Browns in his first game with Brady. He had a nice 35-yard catch-and-run on a check-down. He was around 35% of the snaps Weeks 3-4, but up to 48% of the snaps in Week 5 with Brady, which is pretty revealing. White has looked very good this year and it’s pretty clear they Patriots trust him considerably. He’ll likely have some solid PPR games with Brady before Dion Lewis is back around mid-season – he’s first eligible to return in Week 7. We don’t really know how Lewis’ knee is feeling, but he’s worth a stash now if you can afford the roster space.
Jay Ajayi (Mia) – This backfield has been a disaster, as expected. Arian Foster has been out (as expected), and we suppose he’ll be back soon – until he gets hurt again. Ajayi at this point looks like the best option in the backfield. That could change in a week or even a day, but he’s always has talent and he’s looked better the last two weeks. In Week 5, he played a promising 68% of the snaps, posting 13/42/1 rushing against the Titans. If Foster is out of the mix, we’d have to think Ajayi will get more opportunities than the likes of Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake. Even if Foster is back, Ajayi could stick as their early-down back, since Foster’s best chance of staying healthy is a reduced role (receiving specialist). Miami has released Isaiah Pead, which is a clear sign that Foster will return, so it’ll be interesting to see if they continue to use Ajayi as their early-down back, as they should.
James Starks (GB) – Starks is not doing much of anything on the ground this year, but he’s still the handcuff for Eddie Lacy at this point, and Starks would have major, major value if Lacy goes down at any point this year. Lacy (ankle) was encouraged by the fact he was able to walk on his injured ankle Monday, less than 24 hours after injuring it in a Week 5 win over the New York Giants. However, he was not able to finish the game and told reporters Monday ‘we’ll see how it is going into next week’ when asked about playing versus the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6. It’s worth noting that Starks should at least be owned by those who have Lacy. Starks put up only 12/33 rushing in Week 5, but he did have 6 targets. If needed, the team has full confidence in Starks with a full workload despite his struggles the past few weeks.
Dwayne Washington (Det) – Washington vaulted ahead of Zach Zenner for the #3 RB job on game days, and he should have a bigger role as early-down back with Ameer Abdullah (foot) on IR. However, he suffered a sprained foot/ankle in Week 4 and missed Week 5, and while The Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett believes he’ll be back this week, the Lions did sign veteran RB Justin Forsett. With Riddick wearing down on early downs, Forsett will start out as a backup who gets his touches there, assuming Washington remains on the shelf. Washington is only worth owning now as a stash-and-hope back, but it’s still a long season and we like his talent, plus they still need his size in the running game and he is still expected to return Week 6.
Darren Sproles (Phi) – Sproles is still sitting out on a quite a few waiver wires, and HC Doug Pederson will be getting him involved every week. Sproles finished with 4/23 receiving and 5/45 rushing in Week 5 against the Lions. With bye weeks starting to set in, Sproles is certainly a viable flex option in PPR formats, as he’s capable of blowing up at any given time. In their four games, Sproles’ snaps totals have been a solid 49%, 57%, 37%, and 56% so he’s been on the field almost half the time so far in 2016.
Fozzy Whittaker (Car) – Starter Jonathan Stewart has a terrible track record of staying healthy, and he left Week 2 with a hamstring after dealing with an ankle injury all week. Cameron Artis-Payne became the lead back with Stewart out in Week 3, with Fozzy working as the change-of-pace back and passing back. The Panthers can’t get their running game going right now, so Whittaker has been active out of the backfield with 9/86 receiving in Week 4 against the Falcons (58% of the snaps). This backfield is going to be a pain with Stewart expected be back Week 6, but Whittaker is at worst their third-down and “hurry-up” back. Fozzy, unlike CAP, isn’t exactly game flow dependent, although he’s clearly better off when they are playing from behind, as they were in Week 4. But based on how shaky their defense has been thus far, Fozzy could be in solid shape and active in the passing game.
Matt Asiata (Min) – While Adrian Peterson is out, Asiata will likely handle 35% of the work, perhaps a little more if Jerick McKinnon isn’t healthy and effective and/or if they have a big lead. Both were the case in Week 5, and Asiata’s snaps were up to 46%. Asiata is the goal line back, plus he can pass protect well and catch the ball. He posted 14/55/1 rushing and 3/46 receiving against the Texans in Week 5. What he doesn’t have is the explosiveness to be a true difference-maker, but he’ll have a chance to get you 8-12 points any given week.
Chris Thompson (Was) – Thompson, as expected, has emerged as the team’s passing-down back behind early-down back Matt Jones. He finished with 2/12 rushing and 4/33 receiving on 4 targets against the Ravens in Week 5. If 10-12 points in a PPR will satisfy you, Thompson has legit value in PPR formats, as he should catch a handful of passes each week. But he’s not the lead back type if Jones would go down with an injury, although Jones’ Week 5 fumble might help him a little. He also ideally needs the Redskins to be playing from behind for him to put up production, but he’s been on the field about 35% of the time the last few weeks, so he’s consistently been on the field.
Rob Kelley (Was) – We don’t think much of his game, but if Matt Jones is out or starts fumbling regularly (Jones fumbled Week 5), then Kelley is the next man up. In fact, Kelley has earned more work in the backfield in the weeks to come, HC Jay Gruden told reporters. The team was pleased with Kelley running hard for 18 yards on only three attempts in Week Six at the expense of struggling Jones. Kelley is worth a speculative add now in deeper leagues with nothing on the WW.
Josh Ferguson (Ind) – Ferguson has overtaken Robert Turbin at least in passing situations. Ferguson had just 2/10 receiving on 4 targets and 1/3 rushing in Week 5 against the Bears while playing only 21% of the snaps. Andrew Luck has been checking it down to him plenty with their O-line struggling. He’s a receiving specialist who made the team as an UDFA out of Illinois, and he might have a chance to catch 40+ balls in 2016, if you’re desperate at RB in a PPR.
Jacquizz Rodgers (TB) – Rodgers played for HC Dirk Koetter in Atlanta, and with Doug Martin out with a hamstring injury, the veteran was seeing touches behind Charles Sims. Rodgers had only 6/25 rushing and 1/4 receiving in Week 4 against the Broncos. However, Sims (knee) was been placed on IR, and Rodgers played 93% of the snaps and handled 35 touches. When Martin’s back, Rodgers should hold a speck of value as a changeup and third-down back, but he’s more of the handcuff now.
Bobby Rainey (NYG) – Rainey may disappear from the offense if rookie Paul Perkins emerges as a serious force, but right now he’s a big factor for the Giants. He’s played 42% and 50% of the snaps the last two weeks (4-5), and he’s caught 13 of 15 targets from Eli Manning for 95 yards the last two weeks. With Shane Vereen out possibly for the rest of the season, Rainey may be worth a look for those desperate for some PPR production even if Rashad Jennings is back for their next game.
Orleans Darkwa (NYG) – Darkwa is well in the mix in an RBBC situation while Rashard Jennings is out, but he probably needs Jennings to be out to have a chance, as he played only 25% of the snaps in Week 5 compared to 35% in Week 4. Darkwa is worth holding onto for a little while for those in deeper leagues in case they move on from Jennings and/or he misses more time, but he’s not getting third down work over Bobby Rainey (50% of the snaps), and rookie Paul Perkins (25%).
Paul Perkins (NYG) – We really like him as a prospect, but we haven’t been talked him up much because he’s clearly buried on the depth chart. But with Shane Vereen out for the season, Perkins quickly climbed his way up to fantasy relevance. He played 23% of the snaps in Week 4, and he helped the club and showed off his great receiving potential on his long catch-and-run. We have no problem stashing him away as an upside guy, but we must point out that Perkins could still do very little or nothing at all in the coming weeks. He played 25% of the snaps in Week 5, but he has only 3 touches.
Mike Gillislee (Buf) – We really like Jonathan Williams, but the fact is he’s not going to be the guy if LeSean McCoy is out, since Gillislee is a veteran who has more experience. Gillislee is likely the guy for at least 2-3 weeks, and he’s looked good the last few weeks, even vulturing a TD in Week 5. He’s been at around 25% of the snaps the last two weeks, so he’s on the field a fair amount, since they can’t expect McCoy to handle every touch in this backfield.
C.J. Spiller (Sea) – The Seahawks signed Spiller before Week 4, and he immediately vaulted ahead of rookie C.J. Prosise as the change-of-pace and passing back. He finished with 2/12 rushing and 2/5/1 receiving on 3 targets, scoring on an 8-yard pass from Russell Wilson. Spiller for most isn’t worth adding at this point, but GM John Schneider did say Thomas Rawls (fibula) is expected to miss all of October, so Spiller is likely to see weekly touches to give Christine Michael breathers, since there’s something up with Prosise and his wrist (they may not trust he can hang onto the ball).
Wendell Smallwood (Phi) – Smallwood had a really tough preseason, missing a chunk of time with a quad strain before suffering a concussion in the third preseason game. All the missed time cost him a chance at winning the handcuff job out of training camp, but he exploded in Week 3 with the team essentially resting Ryan Mathews. However, he went back to having no role in Week 5 as he didn’t have a single touch and played only 1 snap. Starting RB Mathews usually has a tough time staying healthy for too long, though, so Smallwood has a legit chance to be impactful at some point. He’s a viable stash-and-hope for those looking for some upside on the back end of the fantasy roster.
Andre Ellington (Ari) – Ellington didn’t do much in Week 5, but he did play a decent 21% of the snaps, and when Carson Palmer returns he might start producing in the passing game, which could give him a legit chance to post 10+ points in a PPR for as long as he’s the clear #2 behind David Johnson. He’s a viable runner, but he’s a really good receiver, and they know that so we’d expect him to get 2-3 targets a game when Palmer returns, which is likely for their next game.
Alfred Morris (Dal) – It looks like the Cowboys are planning on giving Morris regular carries each week, with a series or two to himself in place of Ezekiel Elliott, and some TD vulturing to boot. Morris won’t have much fantasy value unless Elliott misses time because of an injury, but if that’s the case than Morris is a top-15 back in all formats.
Tim Hightower (NO) – Hightower is currently the handcuff for Mark Ingram, as he’s the best option to handle early-down work among the Saint backups. We saw Hightower succeed as the top back in New Orleans last year after Mark Ingram went down late in the year.
Cameron Artis-Payne (Car) – It sounds like starter Jonathan Stewart will be back in Week 6, so CAP could just be the handcuff soon. He struggled the last two weeks with the Panthers falling behind early, but he did show off his value in Week 5 with a big game with 2 TDs. He’s game flow dependent for sure, so he’s hardly a good choice, but he’s at least their lead runner is and while Stewart is out.
Benny Cunningham (LA) – He may not be a sexy choice, but if Todd Gurley goes down, Cunningham is a lock for 15+ touches each week with Malcolm Brown also in the mix. Cunningham did get banged up in Week 4 and missed Week 5 because of a hamstring injury.
The Obvious Choices/For Smaller Leagues
Sammie Coates (Pit) – Coates has been a bit of a one-trick pony, but it’s a good trick (tracking the deep ball), and he’s now caught at least one 40-yard pass every week so far. It’s still a little bit of a committee situation at WR, especially once Eli Rogers gets back, but Coates has clearly distanced himself as the #2 outside WR over the terrible Markus Wheaton. Coates did drop 2 TD passes, but he still finished with 6/139/2 receiving on 11 targets over the Jets in Week 5, exploding for a 72-yard TD to open the game. Still, his catch rate has been very good for a deep threat at 65.6% to this point, and he’s averaging preposterous 22.2 YPC right now. It’s clear that Big Ben is going to take deep shots to Coates every week, and he’s starting to make catches all over the field, so he’s setting up to be a boom-or-bust WR3 going forward who booms more than he busts.
Chris Hogan (NE) – We have given Hogan a lot of love going back to March when he first signed here. He’s been predictably quiet with a shaky QB situation the first four weeks of the season, but he exploded in Week 5 once Tom Brady returned to the lineup. He posted 4/114 receiving on only 5 targets against the Browns as a regular in 2-WR sets with Julian Edelman. He did take a big hit on an end-around and was examined for a concussion, but he returned to action later in the game and still played a healthy percentage of the snaps (61%). He looks like a key receiver here, and his value will only go up if Julian Edelman succumbs to injury yet again, and/or if Rob Gronkowski misses more time. The guy gets open, and Brady will find him. He’s really their best option down the field and on the outside, so we’re fully expecting some big plays in the future.
Quincy Enunwa (NYJ) – Enunwa has been involved in this passing game since the season opener, as they’ve been using him as a big slot receiver. He could have a huge role for the rest of the year too, with WR Eric Decker dealing with a torn rotator cuff. Decker could miss some more time with the injury, and he would play through pain when he eventually does get back on the field. Enunwa finished with 4/51 receiving on 7 targets against the Steelers in Week 5. Enunwa a is big-bodied (6’2”, 225 pounds) slot receiver with below-average athleticism and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is clearly most comfortable throwing inside the numbers to his big WRs. Enunwa has even lined up on the outside and made some big plays. He’s clearly going to be on the field a lot in Chan Gailey’s offense, as they don’t use the TE much and like to go empty backfield.
Michael Thomas (NO) – Thomas is the #3 WR in New Orleans, which means he’ll get a handful of opportunities each week. He finished with 4/44/1 receiving on a team-high 9 targets, scoring on a goal-line target in his last game in Week 4. Stud WRs Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead are clearly ahead of him in the pecking order, but Snead isn’t healthy and Cooks has been a major disappointment lately. Of course, QB Drew Brees doesn’t discriminate when it comes to distributing his targets, and Thomas has done a great job of building some trust with his veteran QB. It looks like they’ll need him plenty still with Snead still not healthy and Coby Fleener not exactly a lock to produce most weeks.
Eddie Royal (Chi) – Royal didn’t practice all week leading up to Week 5, but he surprisingly played and he was a factor yet again. In his first game without White, Royal finished with 7/43 receiving on 9 targets against the Colts, as he remained the slot receiver with Cameron Meredith taking over on the outside. Royal has been surprisingly a good red-zone receiver in the past – he had 15 TDs with the Chargers in 2013-14 – and he’s also good for 4-5 catches each week at least while he’s healthy, playing with the capable Brian Hoyer. Teams are looking to take Alshon Jeffery out, and Royal is critical to their offense right now, so Royal’s a good bet to produce with Hoyer playing well if he’s healthy.
The Next Best Things
Breshad Perriman (Bal) – Perriman is finally playing after missing his entire rookie season with a torn PCL. He’s rotated in behind starters Mike Wallace and Steve Smith, and he posted just 2/11 receiving on 5 targets against the Redskins in Week 5 – but he did have a long TD wiped out on a review and played a solid 49% of the snaps. Perriman is still obviously a work in progress, and it’s not a great sign that rookie deep threat Chris Moore has been a factor (although Moore was inactive Week 5). But at least he’s finally healthy and contributing for this Ravens offense. He’s also a nice fit with the big-armed Joe Flacco, who wants to get the ball more vertical this season to Wallace and Perriman, and that’s a key point because with Marc Trestman fired, the Ravens should now start taking deep shots consistently. Perriman is expected to the biggest beneficiary of two team developments — the switch to OC Marty Mornhinweg and the injury to WR Smith Sr. (ankle). Perriman is a better fit for Flacco throwing even more downfield opposite WR Mike Wallace than WR Kamar Aiken. He stands out now on the WW for his pedigree alone.
Cameron Meredith (Chi) – Meredith is the new #2 WR on the outside with Kevin White (leg) landing on the injured reserve (White could still return). He exploded in his first major action, going off for 9/130/1 receiving on 12 targets in Week 5 against the Colts, scoring on a 14-yard TD. He’s big receiver at 6’3”, 207 pounds, so he could develop into a red-zone weapon, and he has a pretty good set of wheels. Meredith is a former college QB at Illinois State, so he’s hardly a refined receiver in his second season. Still, opposing defenses are dead set on taking out Alshon Jeffery every week, so he’ll have a chance to produce playing with Brian Hoyer, who is playing well right now. Meredith deserves to be on our list, but we do want to point out to those looking to bid him up this week that veteran Marquess Wilson is eligible to return from PUP after this week, and he’s expected to join the active roster. Wilson is more refined than Meredith, so he could play over him, but honestly we’re not sure about that after watching the Bears game on 10/11. Meredith looked very good.
Kenny Britt (LA) – Britt is the top target on the outside in this limited Rams passing game, and while Brian Quick has made noise lately, Britt’s still the most reliable option, and he’s caught at least 4 passes in all their games and he’s been 10+ points in PPR in 4 of his 5 games. He finished with 5/75 receiving on 6 targets against the Bills in Week 5. Britt isn’t exactly a consistent option as primarily a big-play threat, and it doesn’t help that he’s playing in a limited passing offense, but he can be used in a pinch and will likely go off a couple times this season.
Jeremy Kerley (SF) – Just picked up before the start of the season, Kerley has quickly emerged as one of the top targets for QB Blaine Gabbert, and he clearly has a chance to deliver for those who need to dig deep at WR. He was quite active in Week 4 against the Cowboys, posting 6/88/1 receiving on 9 targets, scoring on a 33-yard pass, and he did even better in Week 5 with 8/102/1 on 13 targets. Kerley is clicking with Gabbert and is the only 49er WR worth considering, but do keep in mind we are now looking at Colin Kaepernick, which could actually hurt Kerley (because Kap isn’t a good QB).
Adam Humphries (TB) – Humphries emerged as the slot WR in training camp, and he’s now overtaken Vincent Jackson as the #2 target for Jameis Winston. Humphries has brought some stability to the middle of the field with Buccaneers searching for a TE to step up – they did cut Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Humphries finished with 9/100 receiving on 12 targets in Week 3 against the Rams, but one of the best CBs in the NFL Chris Harris shut him down out of the slot in Week 4 (1/4 on 4 targets), as expected. Mike Evans is clearly the top target in this offense, but there’s room for Humphries to carve out a role and be PPR relevant, especially with V-Jax seemingly taking a step back the last year. Humphries isn’t going to be much of a threat down near the red zone, but it looks like he’s going to catch a 4-6 passes every week.
Cole Beasley (Dal) – Beasley has been quite active with Dak Prescott dinking and dunking passes in the early going. We do worry about his ability to hold up, but he’s going to be active, especially with Dez Bryant dealing with his injury. Beasley caught all 4 of his targets for 53 yards and a TD against the Bengals in Week 5. For as long as Prescott is in the lineup, it looks like Beasley will have some juice for PPR formats out of the slot, especially with Dez possibly missing multiple weeks with his knee injury, and he’s not like he hasn’t clicked with Tony Romo in the past (he has).
Going as Deep as Possible
Brandon LaFell (Cin) – LaFell was one of the most inefficient WRs in football in 2015, but he’s better in 2016 and he’s improving as the weeks go on. He had a big game against the Cowboys in Week 5, posting 8/68/2 receiving on 11 targets. The Bengals have other targets available outside of A.J. Green, and TE Tyler Eifert should finally return soon, so we’d like to see LaFell string together another good performances or two before we’re willing to invest in him. But if you’re desperate he does stand out a little bit right now. He has been playing ahead of rookie WR Tyler Boyd in 2-WR sets, and he will usually get solid matchups playing alongside Green. LaFell has played 90% of the snaps or more (usually 95%), so he’s been on the field a ton.
Terrance Williams (Dal) – Williams is finally showing some signs of life, and that’s mostly without Dez Bryant. Williams caught all 5 of his targets for 70 yards against the Bengals in Week 5. T-Will isn’t the ideal fit with Prescott dink-and-dunk style, but the rookie is getting a little more aggressive throwing it downfield, so Williams is back to being viable in non-PPR formats. He really should be higher on this list based on his recent production, but we still don’t trust him fully, especially with the intriguing Brice Butler also involved. Bryant (knee) isn’t healthy enough yet to return in Week Six for a good matchup at Green Bay, the Dallas Morning News reports, so Williams has a chance to keep this up as the WR1.
Davante Adams (GB) – Adams is still making mistakes and dropping passes, but he’s also the clear WR3, and he’s scored in three of their four games, which is pretty strong. Randall Cobb was back in the mix in Week 5, but Adams has a chance and is at worst in the mix in the red zone with better matchups than Jordy Nelson. He played 75% of the snaps in Week 5, and he’s been at 75% or more in three of their four games, so he’s on the field a lot. In Week 5, he had 8 targets and put up a strong 5/85/1, so he’s very viable.
Robert Woods (Buf) – He has been pretty quiet early in the year, but his role has grown significantly now that the Bills placed Sammy Watkins (foot) in the IR. He disappointed in Week 5 against the Rams, posting 2/26 receiving on 6 targets, but in his defense the Bills threw it only 23 times. Woods isn’t the easiest guy to trust because he’ll disappear from time to time playing with the erratic Tyrod Taylor, but he has PPR value with Watkins set to miss at least through Week 12. Woods is in a contract year and is best used when they face a team capable of scoring a lot of points most weeks.
Pierre Garcon (Was) – Garcon isn’t a vital part of this passing game any longer, as he’s battling Jamison Crowder for targets behind DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed. He finished with 5/56/1 receiving on 7 targets against the Ravens in Week 5, scoring on a 21-yard pass. Garcon still has some value in deep PPR formats as a chain-mover for Kirk Cousins. Also, rookie Josh Doctson (Achilles) is in danger of going on IR, which would be good news for Garcon.
Anquan Boldin (Det) – QB Matthew Stafford has a number of different weapons at his disposal, so Boldin isn’t going to put up huge numbers. Still, he could be a solid PPR option in deeper formats as the #3 WR here while Eric Ebron continues to have injury concerns and Golden Tate continues to struggle. He caught all 4 of his targets for 48 yards in Week 5 against the Eagles, which actually led the team. We thought he’d score in Week 5, and he just missed a TD getting tackled on one catch at the 1. Boldin is strictly a chain-mover at this stage in his career, but at least he should be good for a 4-5 catches most weeks, and he can score at any time.
Victor Cruz (NYG) – Cruz has been on the field a ton this year, never going below 89% of the snaps and at 100% of the snaps the last two weeks (Weeks 4-5). It doesn’t look like Cruz has missed nearly two years of action, as he seemingly picked up right where he left off before his injury in 2014. The big challenge now is for the Giant passing game to get out of its funk because it was shocking to see Cruz play 100% of the snaps in Week 5 and fail to catch a single ball (2 targets). That’s obviously worrisome, but if they can turn things around there’s production to be had in this offense, and defenses are usually focused on slowing down Odell Beckham.
Dorial Green-Beckham (Phi) – The Eagles are looking for a WR to emerge to play with Jordan Matthews, and Nelson Agholor has done a decent job filling the role so far. However, the Eagles are pleased with DGB right now he has clear potential to be a dangerous red-zone threat with his size (6’5”, 237 pounds), and the Eagles are getting him more involved each week. He finished with 3/43 receiving on 4 targets against the Lions in Week 5, but he also played a promising 52% of the snaps. He could eventually be a non-PPR option if he starts to play more, and the Eagles certainly have a star in the making with Carson Wentz at QB.
Kamar Aiken (Bal) – WR Steve Smith left Week 5 with an ankle injury, so he could miss a chunk of time because of the injury. Aiken is the logical replacement for Smith because he’s much-better suited to play out of the slot than Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, but Perriman is expected to the biggest beneficiary of two team developments — the switch to OC Marty Mornhinweg and the injury to Smith Sr. (ankle). Perriman is a better fit for QB Joe Flacco throwing even more downfield opposite Wallace than Aiken, but Aiken will still see an uptick in playing time and targets.
Phillip Dorsett (Ind) – Dorsett rarely got to show off his elite speed as a rookie last season, and other than a couple of plays he hasn’t really shown his speed too much with the Colts O-line struggling. QB Andrew Luck will need him for the next couple weeks with Donte Moncrief (shoulder blade) out of the lineup. He popped off for a long 64-yard TD against the Jaguars in Week 4, but he had just 2/26 receiving on 3 targets in Week 5 against Bears. Dorsett has upside as a WR3 in non-PPR formats because of his big-play ability, but as we’ve seen the last couple weeks, it looks like he’s going to be a boom-or-bust option, and it’s fair to say he’s a safer bet to bust than boom. He did have a ball thrown to him down the field in the EZ in Week 5, at least.
Jamison Crowder (Was) – The slippery slot WR’s role shrunk the last two weeks, but he’s still involved every week with Kirk Cousins. He did little in Week 5 against the Ravens, catching all 3 of his targets for 35 yards. He’s competing for the ball with several good players, but he’s a nifty option out of the slot, and he will likely stay fairly busy most weeks, so he’s going to be viable in PPR formats most weeks.
Chris Conley (KC) – Conley has emerged as the #2 WR across from Jeremy Maclin, but that doesn’t mean he holds a ton of fantasy value in this conservative passing game. He posted 3/44 receiving on 5 targets in Week 3 against the Jets. He’s not a great match with QB Alex Smith, as he’s more of a vertical type and Smith of course doesn’t like to cut it lose too much. Conley (93% of the snaps in Week 4) is starting to emerge some in his second year, but he’s more of a guy to keep an eye at this point.
Brice Butler (Dal) – We’ve always liked his talent because he’s 6’4” and he can run, but he’s been unable to carve out a large role in Oakland or in Dallas. He might be worth a speculative add in deep league, though, since Dez Bryant is no lock to play in the near future. Butler finished with just 2/20 receiving on 3 targets against the Bengals in Week 5, but he did have a TD wiped out because of a penalty. For as long as Dez is out of the lineup, which is likely in Week 6, Butler has a chance to come through on the deep end in non-PPR formats.
Cordarrelle Patterson (Min) – The Vikings are going out of their way to get 2013 first-round WR involved in the offense recently, using him out of the backfield and with some short passes. He posted 4/39/1 receiving on 6 targets and added 1/7 rushing against the Texans in Week 5. Patterson might not ever be a true weapon as a receiver, but it looks like OC Norv Turner is going to give him a few touches each week to get his playmaking ability involved.
Nelson Agholor (Phi) – Agholor, a 2015 first-round pick, has had a frustrating start to his career, but he’s run as the #2 WR behind Jordan Matthews. Agholor obviously has a talented pedigree and is just 23 years, but we need to see him consistently perform before we totally back him, as he’s battled drops and mental miscues early in his career. Agholor had just 2/27 receiving on 7 targets (28.6% catch rate) in Week 5 against the Lions, and he’ll have to hold off Dorial Green-Beckham for playing time. At least Wentz will be more willing to get Agholor going downfield.
Kenny Stills (Mia) – Stills is talented and young at just 24 years old, but he’s been an enigma since arriving in Miami last season. He’s playing plenty each week because they primarily run 3-WR sets, but he failed to catch his only target in Week 5 against the Titans, with Ryan Tannehill throwing it just 18 times. DeVante Parker will likely be more involved than him most weeks now that the second-year WR is healthy again, but Stills is obviously well in the mix since they’ll play a ton of 3-WR sets, and Parker is an injury risk. If they wind up being a pass-happy offense as we think they are, that’s good news for Stills.
Tyler Boyd (Cin) – The rookie Boyd made waves with his performance in the preseason, but he’s been quiet early in the season. He finished with just 3/33 receiving on 5 targets against the Cowboys in Week 5. He’s still behind Brandon LaFell in 2-WR sets, but he has more upside than the shaky LaFell. Boyd could take awhile to become a legit fantasy option, but there are certainly opportunities for targets in this offense.
Ted Ginn (Car) – Ginn is seeing weekly deep balls and carries in this offense still, even with Kelvin Benjamin back in the lineup this season. Ginn had just 2/17 receiving on 5 targets in Week 4 against the Falcons. Ginn could go off any given week, so he’s worth a reach play in non-PPR formats, but he’s not going to be very consistent. Benjamin has disappeared some the last two weeks, which can’t be bad news for Ginn.
Marqise Lee (Jac) – Lee is healthy for now, and he’s making some noise as the #3 WR this season. You might forget that he’s a former second-round pick in 2014 – he actually went ahead of Allen Robinson in the second round that year – but numerous hamstring injuries have slowed his career. If Lee can actually stay healthy for a stretch, there’s no reason he can’t make some contributions in this passing game with Blake Bortles. Lee posted 4/28 receiving on 6 targets against the Colts in Week 4. It looks like he’s emerging a bit, but we’ll see if hamstrings cooperate.
The Obvious Choices/For Smaller Leagues
Tyler Eifert (Cin) – The Bengals clearly need him in the middle of the field on the receiver-poor Bengals. HC Marvin Lewis did say last week that they’ll ease Eifert into the lineup once he gets back, so he’s unlikely to play a full complement of snaps in his first game back, but if he’s on the WW in your league this week he should not be by next week. Eifert actually had a back issue that kept him out of the lineup in Week 5, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Eifert has a chance to return in Week 6 against the Patriots.
Hunter Henry (SD) – The talented rookie Henry showed very well for himself with Antonio Gates out of the lineup, and frankly he looks like an upgrade over the future Hall of Famer. Gates returned to the lineup in Week 5 against the Raiders, but Henry still made the bigger impact with 3/74/1 receiving on 4 targets, ripping off a 59-yard gain and scoring on a 1-yard pass. Henry was our favorite rookie TE coming into the season, and Gates looks even more sluggish than he has in recent years. Even with Gates gets back, Henry should see plenty of run going forward if the Chargers stick with more 2-TE sets with Keenan Allen out for the year (Henry played a healthy 82% of the snaps). We compared the rookie to Greg Olsen this spring because of his size and ability, and Rivers won’t be afraid to throw it to his him with his weapons dwindling. He also looks a lot like our Joe Dolan, which means a lot around these parts.
Cameron Brate (TB) – The Buccaneers finally cut ties with troubled TE Austin “Nefarious” Jenkins, opening up a big role for Brate going forward. As the starter, Brate posted 5/67 receiving on 8 targets against the Broncos in Week 4, and that was on the heels of a 2-TD game in Week 3. Our guy Greg Cosell liked what he’s seen from the athletic Brate on film the last two years, and he’s suddenly in the streaming conversation, especially since Vincent Jackson’s role in this passing game has dwindled. On the downside, we saw in Week 5 that he can’t do it every week, as he had only 1 catch (for 36 yards at least).
The Next Best Things
Charles Clay (Buf) – Once-a-Month Chuck has come to life the last two weeks after OC Anthony Lynn said that they need to get Clay more involved. He caught all 5 of his targets for 73 yards in Week 5 against the Rams. QB Tyrod Taylor might not have a choice but to keep Clay active with Sammy Watkins (foot) landing on the IR. He’ll likely disappoint you if you use him, but he does have a chance to be active going forward.
Jesse James (Pit) – James has taken over the Heath Miller role in this offense as the big target in the middle of the field for Ben Roethlisberger. James finished with 6/43/1 receiving on 8 targets in Week 5 against the Jets. He should remain a factor down by the end zone because of his size (6’7”, 261 pounds). He even got a TD vultured from him by backup TE Xavier Grimble in Week 2. For as long as Ladarius Green is out of the lineup, James is a streaming option who will likely need to score to come through for fantasy. However, Green claims to be feeling a lot better, and he could come off PUP in two weeks, so James may not have a ton of staying power long-term.
Jacob Tamme (Atl) – Ultimately, Tamme is an ancillary player in a pretty good offense, one that looks like it’s starting to figure things out. That makes him viable off the Waiver Wire, but as an every-week start, he’s bound to disappoint. He came up small in Week 5 with just a 1-yard catch on this only target against the Broncos, but he did nearly score on the catch (down inside the 1). There are too many mouths to feed here, and in Tamme’s general area of the field, where he succeeds the most, the Falcons can get more explosive plays out of their running backs. That will keep him pretty inconsistent.
Will Tye (NYG) – Tye posted only 2/33 on 3 targets in Week 5, but Eli Manning missed him for a potential big play and likely TD, which is definitely worth nothing. We’ll see if Larry Donnell can return from his concussion, but Tye may be something of an antidote for their struggling offense, since he’s a lot more consistent than Donnell. With a featured roll, he can be a solid producer in the 10-12 point range (PPR) on average.
Clive Walford (Oak) – The Raiders don’t exactly have a third option yet in their passing game behind Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, and Walford is certainly in a position to succeed here with an improving quarterback in Derek Carr. Walford sat out Week 5 with a knee injury, but he could return to the lineup in Week 6. He is a young receiver who is still improving, and he’d be in a better position to succeed if he could stay on the field the majority of the time ahead Lee Smith and Mychal Rivera.
Adam Vinatieri (Ind) – He wasn’t going off the first four games, but he kicked 2 FGs in all four games – and then he exploded for 5 FGs in Week 5. Needless to say, since he’s on a pace for 41 FGs this year, he’s desirable.
Matt Bryant (Atl) – He’s available in many leagues, and he’s off to a great start, kicking 3, 2, 1, 2, and 3 FGs in his five games. It’s fair to say the Falcon offense and team are legit at this point, so Bryant is a strong option kicking mostly indoors.
Caleb Sturgis (Phi) – They suffered their first loss of the season in Week 5, but things are going well in Philly right now, which includes their kicker. Sturgis has kicked 2, 3, 2, and 3 FGs in their four games with a solid 11 XPTs thus far. He’s worth a look if you need production.
Josh Brown (NYG) – Brown on the season has kicked 3, 2, 1, and 3 FGs, so he’s been solid even on a struggling Giant offense. Big Blue should start inching back to respectability on offense soon, so Brown has a chance. He was quietly 30-of-32 in FG attempts in 2015, so he can produce.
Nick Novak (Hou) – You’ll probably want to sit him against a top defense, as we saw vs. NE in Week 3 and in Minnesota Week 5, but their schedule is littered with good matchups other than a couple. He’s been good other than Weeks 3 and 5, kicking 3, 4, 2, and 2 FGs in his other four games.
Mike Nugent (Cin) – The veteran’s never been a great fantasy option, but has two 3-FG and one 5-FG games this season, so while he missed a kick and had 0 FGs in Week 5, he’s someone to consider if you’re looking for some PK juice.
Source: Fantasy Guru
As a non-profit entity, we do not have the staff to cover the NFL like other great websites. When we find great articles, we pass on the information and give credit where credit is due. The content on our website is provided for FREE and solely to assist the participants in the Fantasy Gives fantasy football fundraiser, where we utilize fantasy sports as a means to support non-profit groups.
This post was adapted from their premium service and WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND PAYING FOR A SUBSCRIPTION TO THEIR WEBSITE! Please visit Fantasy Guru for subscription details.