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The Waiver Wizard Week 5
The Waiver Wizard Week 5
After three weeks of offenses around the NFL (Miami Dolphins aside) routinely playing a game of catch-up to defenses due to lack of reps in the preseason, it seems that many finally remembered how to move the ball in Week 4. Chicago, Denver and even the dilapidated New York Jets managed to put points on the board, leading to a bevy of scoring around the league. Concurrent with an increase in touchdowns, several injuries occurred that will possibly open the door for additional playing time for low-rostered options and tertiary targets. Are there any options that could crack your starting lineup? Read on below to see if the shoe fits for these breakout candidates.
Baker Mayfield (12 percent rostered) – It was assumed that the Tampa Bay Bucs would field one of the worst units in the NFL following the departure of Tom Brady, led by journeyman Mayfield. The first overall selection in the 2018 draft, Mayfield has failed to record a season with more than 3,900 passing yards or 27 touchdowns, and had a propensity to be reckless taking care of the ball. Notice how that is in the past tense? Mayfield has a 101.5 QB rating after four games (higher than Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes or Jalen Hurts) and a 7:2 TD:INT ratio, coupled with a relatively favorable schedule for the remainder of 2023. Yes, the Bucs are on bye this upcoming week (to their detriment, if anything), but they return against Detroit and Atlanta in Weeks 6-7. The short hiatus should allow primary option Mike Evans to fully recover from his hamstring injury, and hopefully the team will find a way to utilize running back Rachaad White’s receiving skills more properly. Mayfield will be a streaming option in the middle of the season for teams dealing with injury issues (Joe Burrow) or bye week decisions.
FAAB: Mayfield is worth a $3-5 investment in deeper formats, and should come at a discount considering the Bucs are on bye in Week 5. Take the opportunity to secure a backup option for your squad if necessary.
C.J. Stroud (32 percent rostered) – Call me befuddled as to how Stroud hasn’t cracked the 50 percent rostered mark (or higher) in standard formats. He has been incredibly impressive right out of the gate for the Houston Texans, who must be giddy with their early return on investment. On Sunday, Stroud threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns, and is the third time that he has reached both of those benchmarks, while not committing one interception all year. Quietly, the Texans have a potent offense that managers shouldn’t take for granted, led by Nico Collins, Tank Dell and Dameon Pierce. Stroud’s upcoming schedule against Atlanta and New Orleans will result in him being ranked as a low-end QB1 in my eyes, and scary enough, he only has room to grow from here. If Houston is able to continue to protect their top selection (they allowed zero sacks against Pittsburgh this past week), than he should continue to feast on opposing secondaries. Invest. Now.
FAAB: Stroud is worth a $10-15 investment for any team that doesn’t have a “locked and loaded” unquestioned starter. His performance thusfar has been eye-opening, and the sky is the limit as he continues to become comfortable in this offensive system. This should be the final time that he is eligible for this column. Ever.
Jaleel McLaughlin (1 percent rostered) – Upon first glance, one would assume that Samaje Perine would be the direct handcuff option to Javonte Williams in Denver, but their roles are drastically different. Perine is already rostered in well over 50 percent of formats, but McLaughlin is the option that I would gravitate towards, especially if Williams were to miss any extended period of time with his hip flexor injury that forced him to miss the majority of Week 3 against Chicago. Early reports from Adam Schefter and Ian Rappoport hinted that the injury isn’t overly serious and that he should return to the field “within short order”. That said, McLaughlin has forced himself into the conversation for early down work, even when Williams is fully healthy. Williams has failed to crack 10 points in a full PPR format any week this year, and he doesn’t have the same level of explosiveness that he showed during his rookie campaign. It is well known that full recoveries from ACL injuries normally take around 18 months
or so, meaning that we wouldn’t expect to see the “Javonte of old” until the closing games of the year. Williams usage has decreased in every week, and he has done little with the opportunities provided. Head coach Sean Payton has spoke glowingly about McLaughlin (who he drafted), who was also one of the stars of the preseason. Should Williams continue to struggle, the stage could be set for a Wally Pip situation.
FAAB: McLaughlin is worth a $15-20 investment off the waiver wire. Some will view his inclusion as a one-week window, but I also think that should Williams continue to struggle, McLaughlin could start atop a RBBC in Denver. At worst, he is worth adding as an upside handcuff for the oft-injured Williams.
Tyjae Spears (20 percent rostered) – Outside of McLaughlin perhaps experiencing a short window before Javonte Williams returns, there are no scenarios this week where a running back will immediately inherit the lion’s share of opportunities around the league. Some will be curious as to why Spears makes the column this week, but I’ll simply answer that it is a hunch. Tennessee has made a concerted effort to find ways to utilize Spears all over the field, and he has at least eight touches in three of his four starts so far. Derrick Henry remains the unquestioned workhorse for the Titans, but I can’t envision a scenario where he continues to see 20-25 touches without sustaining bumps and bruises. Fantasy managers who are looking to secure arguably the highest-upside handcuff in the league that plays for a team that is determined to run the ball relentlessly should look no further. Spears might not crack your lineup initially, but I’d rather add him on the cheap when possible instead of waiting too long and needing to drop 80-90 percent of my total FAAB.
FAAB: Spears is worth a $5-7 investment as an upside handcuff worth holding onto in all formats. Tennessee has been vocal about how high they are on their rookie third round selection from Tulane. He would immediately become a mid-range RB2 should anything happen to Henry.
Michael Wilson (2 percent rostered) – Cue in the Dennis the Menace quote “Oh Mr.Wilson!”. Before Arizona squared off against San Francisco on Sunday, sideline reporters that spoke with head coach Jonathan Gannon mentioned that he “raved” about their third-round selection from Stanford, and it didn’t take long to figure out why. At 6’2, 213 lbs. Wilson’s strong frame allows him to grab contested catches when called upon to do so, and I believe that his 7-76-2 line is just a preview of more to come. The Cardinals will need to throw to stay competitive this year, and Wilson has already surpassed Rondale Moore and Trey McBride for targets. Arizona will go against some stiff competition the next few weeks (Cincinnati, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle, Baltimore and Cleveland) where the team will need to rely on Josh Dobbs to keep them afloat. Wilson is a natural compliment to the skillset of Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, and I anticipate him becoming an integral part of this offense in short order. Invest while you still can.
FAAB: Wilson is worth a $7-10 investment in deeper formats as a FLEX option in PPR leagues. His target share should only increase as the season wears on, and his chemistry with Josh Dobbs is noticeable.
Romeo Doubs (33 percent rostered) – This past Thursday evening, Doubs paced the Green Bay Packers passing attack with 13 targets (the next closest target had 5), marking the second week in a row that he has eclipsed 12, and the third week this year that he has finished with at least 18 points in a PPR format. When Jordan Love looks downfield, it is clear that Doubs is his 1A option, even after the return of Christian Watson. The 2022 fourth-round selection from Nevada has been increasingly the focal point of the offense, and he should be scooped up in all formats where possible. To call the Packers upcoming schedule juicy is an understatement, as the team squares off against Las Vegas (who allows the sixth-highest completion percentage and fourth-most passing TDs in the league), Denver (do I really need to provide stats here? They are horrible), Minnesota (the second-highest completion percentage, sixth-most touchdown passes) and a few weeks later the Los Angeles Chargers, who have surrendered the most passing yards in the NFL through four weeks. His rostership percentage is about to skyrocket.
FAAB: Doubs is worth a $15-20 investment in all formats as a WR3/FLEX option in PPR leagues, with an outstanding schedule during bye weeks. He is the priority addition of the week.
Jake Ferguson (24 percent rostered) – Ferguson makes the column yet again this week, and will continue to do so until he rises about 40 percent started. He has accumulated seven targets in three of the first four weeks, and has quickly become the safety valve for Dak Prescott in the Dallas offense, over Brandin Cooks or Michael Gallup. Even though he only has one touchdown through the early going, I’d expect his name to be used as the top selection at the position, as his floor of points rivals that of the top 6 options. Outside of Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Sam LaPorta and George Kittle, Ferguson finds himself in a similar tier as Darren Waller and Evan Engram. The Cowboys offense wants to try to throw the ball, but due to their defense being so incredibly dominant in the early going, they haven’t had to. Ferguson should be even more featured in matchups that remain tight within the second half.
FAAB: Ferguson is worth a $5-7 investment for Fantasy managers who are tired of chasing touchdowns and need a more reliable option at the position.
Tyler Conklin (10 percent rostered) – In deeper formats, Conklin is someone that I had my eye on for a while now. With Zack Wilson under center, Conklin doesn’t have the same sort of ceiling as with Aaron Rodgers, but the Jets offense had a spark of life in Week 4, and I think that they have the opportunity to start building a little momentum as the season progresses. Conklin was routinely the second read after Garrett Wilson in the passing game, and he will work as a stout chain-moving option for Gang Green when called upon. He isn’t particularly flashy, but if I was Gerald Everett or David Njoku manager dealing with a bye in Week 5 and in need of assistance with a streaming play, he tops my list.
FAAB: Conklin is worth a $3-5 investment as a streaming option during the middle bye weeks, as a starter with an 8-10 point floor that won’t be a total detriment.