After a wild week of football, with both the Titans-Steelers and Patriots-Chiefs games postponed due to COVID-19, we made it to Week 5. Barely, but we did it. Both Austin Ekeler (hamstring, knee) and Nick Chubb (knee) have been ruled out for at least four to six weeks. That now makes McCaffrey, Barkley, Ekeler and Chubb all down before we enter Week 5. This makes the Week 5 fantasy waiver wire pickups that much more important.
Active fantasy football managers win their leagues. If you lost your first round pick already, it’s okay don’t worry. You can work the waivers this week and get some solid guys worth starting for consistent fantasy points.
Here are my top waiver wire pickups for Week 5 that will see expanded roles and even starting roles with injuries plaguing nearly every team in the league thus far.
There are also some drop candidates to consider dropping, but by no means are must-drops.
Players must be owned in less than 60 percent of ESPN leagues to be included in the fantasy football Week 5 waiver wire pickups column. All ownerships for waiver wire players will be provided and will reflect that of Monday evening.
Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups
Derek Carr, Raiders (15.1%)
Through four games, Derek Carr has completed 73.6% of his passes, with eight touchdowns and 1,095 yards. He hasn’t thrown a pick since Week 13 of the 2019 season, but did fumble twice against Buffalo. He plays Kansas City next week, the third-ranked pass defense, but facing Mahomes means you’ll likely be down most of the game, which could bode well for Carr’s fantasy performance. He’s only rostered in 15% of leagues and, after his Week 6 bye, they play Tampa Bay, who allowed 23 fantasy points to rookie QB Justin Herbert in Week 4.
Teddy Bridgewater, Panthers (9.8%)
In Week 4 against Arizona, Bridgewater threw for 276 yards and two touchdowns with one interception, while completing 70.3 percent of his passes. He also ran a touchdown in on six carries for 32 yards. His next few matchups are solid, as he plays ATL, CHI and NO. Being rostered in less than 10% of leagues makes him intriguing as a backup option. You can even start him next week against Atlanta, who has allowed nearly 350 passing yards per game, before their MNF matchup.
Kirk Cousins, Vikings (15.7%)
Minnesota has been arguably one of the most underwhelming teams this season. Through four games, Kirk Cousins has completed just 62 percent of his passes, while throwing six interceptions. His play has been very questionable, but his next two matchups are as good as it gets. He plays Seattle in Week 5, a defense that cannot defend anyone’s passing game. For Week 6, he plays Atlanta, the second-worst pass defense in 2020. If you’re ever going to roster Cousins this season, now is the time to do it.
Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups
Joshua Kelley, Chargers (56.2%)
With Austin Ekeler going down with a potential multi-week injury, Joshua Kelley is in line for nearly all of the work in Los Angeles, making him one of the top waiver wire pickups. He’ll lose some of his carries to Justin Jackson, but will certainly be leading the backfield as long as Ekeler is gone. In Week 2, he carried the ball 23 times against the Chiefs, but only 17 times the past two weeks. After Week 6, he plays MIA, JAX and NYJ, all bottom-ten run defenses. The Saints have surrendered only 3.6 YPC, so next week might be a rough first start for him, but grab him while you can.
Devonta Freeman, Giants (55.8%)
The hype around Freeman signing with the Giants was flattened after he carried the ball five times for only ten yards in his debut. However, the Giants have had arguably one of the hardest schedules to start the season. It becomes a bit easier, with their next few matchups being Dallas, Washington and Philadelphia. The backfield is a question mark, but Freeman is easily the most talented. Dallas is the second-worst defense against RBs, allowing 172 rushing yards per game, so he has an ideal matchup. He faced the Rams in Week 4 and only picked up 33 yards rushing on 11 attempts, while pulling in four catches for 35 yards. I think he has a breakout game against the Cowboys. Grab him now before everyone else realizes his upcoming matchups.
Damien Harris, Patriots (15.4%)
With Sony Michel placed on IR, the Patriots activated Damien Harris against the Chiefs in Week 4. He racked up 100 yards rushing, with an average yards per carry of 5.9. The Patriots backfield is crowded, but if Harris can make the most of his opportunities, he could earn that starting role in the next few weeks. He wasn’t targeted once in Week 4, but that’s in part to the Patriots quarterback situation. His next few matchups include Denver, San Francisco and Buffalo, so the run game won’t come too easy, but he’s rostered in only 15 percent of leagues. He’s worth the waiver wire pickup to see how the backfield plays out in New England.
Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups
Golden Tate, Giants (51.6%)
So far this season, Tate has been targeted more than five times each game, but hasn’t found the end zone. Next week, the Giants play the Cowboys, who have allowed the most passing yards per game this season. The good matchups don’t end there, as they face both Washington and Philadelphia twice each in the next six weeks, so Tate could see a boost in value. I’d grab him, given his schedule strength in the upcoming weeks.
Hunter Renfrow, Raiders (38.9%)
The Raiders face Kansas City in Week 5 and they’re missing many key receivers, leaving Renfrow to lead the receiving corps. His target share should see a major increase, as long as he’s the WR1. Renfrow has had back-to-back games of five or more catches, including one touchdown. He has a bye week coming up in Week 6, but he’s going to be a big part of the passing game for at least a few weeks. Rostered at under 40%, he could be a sneaky add for depth or a start in deeper leagues.
Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers (26.1%)
The 49ers are banged up all over the place this season, but Brandon Aiyuk has survived the injury bug and performed well. He’s been targeted 16 times through three games this season, but has only caught ten of them for 108 yards. His fantasy value comes from his ability to make big plays in the running game. In Week 3 against the Giants, he carried the ball three times for 31 yards with one touchdown. Then, in Week 4, he carried the ball once and took it 38 yards to the house, all while hurdling someone on the way.
The Niners are without their starting quarterback and top two running backs right now, so Aiyuk’s running game will likely decrease soon. With Jimmy Garoppolo potentially returning in a game or two, he’s worth the waiver wire pickup to see how he plays out.
Tight End Waiver Wire Pickups
Dalton Schultz, Cowboys (33.7%)
The Cowboys offense has to be one of the most high-powered that the league has seen in quite a while. Dalton Schultz been targeted 24 times in three games, and his schedule only improves from here, with the Giants in Week 5, Cardinals in Week 6 and Washington in Week 7. Both the Giants and Cardinals have struggled this year defending tight ends. If Dak Prescott throws for another 400+ yarder, hopefully we’ll see Schultz’ first 100-yard receiving game.
Mo Alie-Cox, Colts (21.7%)
Despite only having one catch on two targets, Mo Alie-Cox made that catch count by scoring on it. He seems to be one of Rivers’ favorite targets this season through four games, especially in the red zone. The reason for only two targets and one catch was largely in part to the Week 4 game being low scoring and Indy running the ball 38 times, but this shouldn’t steer you away from Alie-Cox. He’s had back-to-back 13+ point fantasy performances prior to this game. He plays Cleveland next week, so the Colts will have to throw the ball more than they did in Week 4.
Robert Tonyan, Packers (7.9%)
With blocking tight end Marcedes Lewis out for the game, Robert Tonyan had himself a breakout performance on Monday Night Football. He led the game with 98 receiving yards, from six receptions, along with a whopping three touchdowns. Tonyan appears to combine blocking skills while also being a competent pass catcher, which is a combination no other Green Bay tight end currently has. He will be among the most popular fantasy waiver wire pickups.
QB: Carson Wentz, Dwayne Haskins Jr., Sam Darnold
RB: Kerryon Johnson, Jordan Howard, Matt Breida
WR: Desean Jackson, Larry Fitzgerald, Danny Amendola
TE: Logan Thomas, O.J Howard, Jack Doyle
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