The Waiver Wizard Week 6

By Evan Tarracciano
Evan Tarracciano

The Waiver Wizard Week 6

Week 5 marked the return of multiple Fantasy superstars to relevance, both from starting the season on IR (Cooper Kupp, Jonathan Taylor) and poor play (Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, George Pickens, Dallas Goedert, George Kittle, to name just a few). With offensive momentum finally picking up around the league after so few stars had adequate time during the preseason, hopefully your team was able to build from this relatively strong week around the league.

In addition to a resurgence from several highly-rostered studs, a bevy of injuries at critical positions has opened the door for multiple waiver wire pickups – the options we will review below is certainly a better overall crop than what we saw in Week 4.

Which players should you opt to consider then? Lets review a few below. Again, all of the players listed are available in over 60 percent of ESPN standard-size leagues, which I use at the barometer for their inclusion.




Gardner Minshew (1 percent rostered) – Entering the week, rookie phenom Anthony Richardson was a fringe QB1 in most leagues, largely due to the upside that he provided with his rushing totals and ability to stretch the ball downfield. Unfortunately, Richardson’s somewhat reckless style of play hasn’t translated over to the NFL well, and he has been forced from nearly every contest this year with some sort of injury. On a scramble attempt late in the second quarter, Richardson landed awkwardly on his shoulder, and immediately began to scream in pain. Initial fears were that he fractured his collarbone, but thankfully x-rays came back negative later in the afternoon. Per reports from several NFL insiders Monday morning, Richardson sustained a “Grade 3 AC joint sprain”, and initial timetables have him missing a month or more of action. In his stead, Minshew will see all the snaps under center instead. One of the best backup options in the league, Minshew has played admirably when called upon three times this year, completing almost 70 percent of his pass attempts with a modest 6.7 YPA. He obviously doesn’t bring the same sort of upside that Richardson did in the running game, but he will keep the Indianapolis Colts competitive each week with his more traditional pocket presence. Perhaps even more important for Fantasy purposes, Minshew funnels most of his targets to Josh Downs and Michael Pittman Jr., and both players will remain starting options in the short term. Expect further information to be released regarding a timetable for Richardson.

FAAB: Minshew is worth a $3-5 investment for Fantasy managers who are looking for assistance at the position – both those who were previously relying upon Richardson and others who are dealing with bye week concerns (Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Carolina, Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Tennessee and the New York Jets are all on bye the next two weeks).

Sam Howell (17 percent rostered) – Howell currently ranks as the QB17 through the conclusion of Week 5, but there is room for optimism down the stretch as he continues to improve. In three of his past four starts, Howell has thrown for at least 290 passing yards, with two games of multiple touchdowns during that stretch. For Fantasy purposes, Howell has a frustrating knack for spreading the ball around to as many players as possible, largely to the detriment of Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson – both receivers came into the season as potential breakout candidates on multiple lists from pundits. This past week, Howell completed a pass to 11 different receivers, and seven players saw at least three targets. Washington has a favorable upcoming schedule, squaring off against Atlanta and the New York Giants during the next two weeks, with the New England Patriots right afterwards. Howell isn’t the most flashy pickup, but his overall body of work should make him a viable bye-week replacement if need be.

FAAB: Howell is worth a $2-5 investment in deeper leagues for managers who need assistance during the bye weeks. His surrounding talent coupled with an easier schedule makes him a viable streaming choice.



Running Back


Tyjae Spears (25 percent rostered) – Spears enjoyed his best day as a pro in Week 5, setting a new career high for overall touches (11) and total yards (69), including the first touchdown of his career. Some will be quick to point out that Derrick Henry remains the lead back, a fact that is unquestioned as long as he remains healthy. That said, Henry’s total usage has dramatically decreased this season – he has 15 or less rushing attempts in three of the first five weeks of the season, and his current 3.8 YPC represents the lowest mark of his eight year career. I’d rather be ahead of the curve if Henry is slowing down, and choose to pick up Spears in leagues where he is available sooner rather than later. Tennessee will continue to rely heavily upon the running game, but Spears will be a bigger component than others think. Don’t underestimate his talent.

FAAB: Spears is worth a $7-10 investment in deeper formats, and I think that his usage will see another sharp uptick following the Titans upcoming Week 7 bye. The momentum is building for a RBBC in Tennessee.

Emari Demercado (1 percent rostered) – James Conner left during the first half of Week 5 with a knee injury and failed to return, forcing Demercado, a UDFA out of TCU into action. Demercado rushed for 45 yards on 10 carries (including an 11-yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter), along with a reception for 12 yards. After the game, Conner stated that his knee is “feeling okay”, but didn’t elaborate on any particular time table or extended status. Should he be forced to miss any extended period of time, Demercado (and not Keaontay Ingram, who has been inactive each of the last two weeks) is the Arizona running back to pickup in a pinch. The Cardinals have been a surprisingly tough out for many teams this season (just as Dallas!), and have been more competitive than many anticipated, despite having a roster largely bereft of talent. Given the team’s expectation to tank, Conner won’t be asked to rush back onto the field.

FAAB: Demercado is worth a $3-5 investment in deeper formats as a pinch spot starter, and volume-based option. I wouldn’t predict anything more than FLEX value on him long-term, so don’t go crazy with bidding.



Wide Receiver


Josh Downs (10 percent rostered) – Downs made an appearance in this column earlier this year, but his rostered percentage has remained relatively low, despite his impact. This past week, Downs hauled in all six targets tossed his way, averaging 16.2 YPC in the process. He has thrived when quarterback Anthony Richardson has dealt with bumps and bruises, with backup Gardner Minshew being a more traditional pocket-type option. Indianapolis will continue to feature Michael Pittman as the team’s red zone primary option, but Downs has enough volume to make him a viable WR3 play in most formats. With Richardson now expected to miss multiple weeks due to his AC joint sprain, Downs is worth investing in, and makes for my top endorsement of the week.

FAAB: Downs is worth a $10-15 investment in standard size leagues as a viable WR3 option, and should remain unphased by the carousel under center. The Colts are currently vying for the AFC South lead with a 3-2 record, and have an outside chance to creep into the playoffs if they can beat their rivals in Jacksonville.

Rashee Rice (23 percent rostered) – Many experts thought that either Kadarius Toney, Justyn Ross or Skyy Moore would take a major step forward to become the top receiving threat opposite Travis Kelce in Kansas City, but it turns out that the leader was actually hiding in plain sight – second-round rookie Rashee Rice out of SMU. Rice has a nice combination of size (6’1, 205 lbs.) and speed to be an adequate chain-moving compliment for Patrick Mahomes when called upon to do so. This past week, Rice found the end zone for the first time since Week 1, and now has at least five targets in each of the last three contests. His rapport with Mahomes is clearly a work in progress, but I’m willing to take a chance on any significant piece of the Kansas City potent attack when possible.

FAAB: Rice is worth a $7-10 investment for Fantasy managers who have a rotating spot at the end of their bench for an upside stash that has a possibility to breakout later in the season.



Tight End


Logan Thomas (8 percent rostered) – My stance on the tight end position hasn’t suddenly shifted or changed – either you are lucky enough to roster one of the top four options (Kelce, Andrews, Kittle, LaPorta) or have been suffering with inconsistency on mid-range choices (Goedert, Pitts, Waller, Kmet) or touchdown-dependent folks (Henry, Conklin, Smith, Ertz). Though oft-injured, Thomas has played well enough when on the field, highlighted by his breakout performance this past week against Chicago (9-77-1). Thomas squares off against two mid-range defenses in the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons the next few contests – both bleed yards against the positions and have a knack for folding under pressure. I’m willing to take a chance on Thomas if the bye weeks or injuries are forcing me into a tricky position.

FAAB: Thomas is worth a $3-5 investment as a pivot option at the tight end position, with multiple top-tier choices on bye the next few weeks.