The Waiver Wire Wizard Week 6 2021
I'm not going to lie, I had difficulty deciding upon which Beatles song was more pertinent to this week, "Yesterday" (All my troubles seemed so far away, now it looks as though they are here to stay…) or "Help!" (I need somebody, not just anybody, won't you please, please help me). What an awful week in so many aspects.
First and foremost, this was the worst week in the young season so far on the injury front. Several "set it and forget it" starters succumbed to the bug, which will result in roster shuffling and benches being tested. Bye weeks have also begun, with the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers all resting until Week 7. Each of those rosters has its fair share of warts, but the absence of Alvin Kamara, Deebo Samuel, Calvin Ridley and many others will certainly be felt.
In preparation of Week 6, I've once again opted to take a positional approach to waivers, highlighting players to consider and recommended FAAB amounts, rather than a lengthy reflection upon the prior games. There is simply too much material to cover to consider otherwise. With that said, below is a breakdown of each position, focusing upon pickups and the latest injury news when possible.
Let's begin on a positive note, shall we? I can't begin to describe how awesome Justin Herbert has been for Fantasy in 2021. He's quickly ascended into my weekly top-5 rankings, and has earned the distinction of being "matchup proof" (joining Tom Brady, Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Dak Prescott).
Davis Mills had the best game of his young career, tossing three touchdowns on 312 yards passing against New England. All that considered, I'm still not looking to add him in any format, unless it was a two-quarterback league and my other starters were on bye or injured.
Daniel Jones was carted off with a concussion during the New York Giants game against Dallas. He was wobbling around like a baby deer afterwards, which resulted in a scary scene. Jones has entered the concussion protocol and his status for Week 6 is uncertain. Mike Glennon is a serious downgrade, especially when it comes to being a rushing threat. A pure pocket passer, Glennon is talented enough to keep Kadarius Toney relevant, but I'd be hesitant to start Sterling Shepard or Darius Slayton, if they return.
Trey Lance struggled to get going against the Arizona Cardinals, who aren't exactly an elite defense. San Francisco thankfully has a bye this week, which will give them the opportunity to evaluate the performance for themselves and decide on a starter between Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo. I'd be shocked if they didn't revert back to the veteran. Lance will have better weeks in the future, but he needs to not be so reliant upon his legs to generate yardage. Watching him pass confirmed that he simply isn't ready yet.
Tom Brady (411 passing yards and five touchdowns) continues to defy Father Time. I don't know how he continues this elite level of play, but it is inspiring to watch. The loss of Rob Gronkowski has resulted in all three Tampa Bay wideouts (Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown) having enough volume to be weekly upside WR2s.
Joe Burrow was taken to the hospital following Cincinnati's loss to Green Bay to be evaluated for a throat contusion. He might miss the first day or two of practice, but I'm not concerned about a lengthy absence.
Russell Wilson missed half of Thursday Night's game against Los Angeles with a ruptured tendon in the middle finger of his right throwing hand. Initial reports guess that he will miss somewhere from four to eight weeks, and an IR stint is fully expected. My best guess is that Seattle will hold him out until Week 9, when the team has a bye. His absence opens up opportunities for Geno Smith, who moved the ball well against a tough defense on spot duty. Smith showed that he will continue to target D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett heavily, running the ball as a third option when plays break down. I wouldn't pick him up per se, but he's good enough for this to not be a deathblow to the team.
Better days are ahead for the likes of Sam Darnold, Kyler Murray and Kirk Cousins - all were quiet.
Stop me if you've heard this one before - Saquon Barkley is set for a lengthy absence with a lower-body injury. Sigh. An accidental step onto the foot of Jourdan Lewis caused Barkley's ankle to grow a small grapefruit, and he was carted off the field. From a positive standpoint, the injury isn't a "high" ankle sprain, and once the swelling subsides, he should only miss a week or two. Hopefully Barkley can avoid a trip on the three-week IR. Devontae Booker will inherit his workload, and he's perhaps the top waiver-wire option of the week. Booker is a FLEX in 12-team formats and a RB2/3 in 14-team formats. He'll require a stout bid to acquire. I'd be willing to throw a 15-20 percent total FAAB bid.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire was bent backwards in an ugly tackle Sunday night against Buffalo, and his right knee became pinned underneath him. "CEH" wasn't able to walk off under his own power, requiring the assistance of Tyreek Hill and others. Mercifully, initial MRI scans didn't show any season-ending tears to his ligaments, but he will be out for multiple weeks at a minimum. Darrel Williams will be primary benefactor, and I'd expect for him to inherit 80-85 percent of lost snaps, with Jerick McKinnon being sprinkled in. Williams is a talented option and adept pass-catcher that demands a major investment to be added. He isn't available in as many leagues as Booker, but in shallower formats (10-team leagues or larger) I'd spent 35-40 percent of my total FAAB on him.
Speaking of Williams', Damien managed to capitalize on his opportunity with David Montgomery nursing his own knee injury. I was curious to see what the split would be between Williams and Khalil Herbert. I still love the upside of Herbert, who is incredibly explosive in a change-of-pace role.
Myles Gaskin scored a ton of points in Week 5, all of which undoubtedly came on the bench. Gaskins has been an afterthought in 2021, but his receiving acumen (10/74/2) saved his day. I'm still skeptical he'll be anything more than a FLEX in standard size formats.
I made the remark on Twitter that several coaching staffs should be slapped across the face, as they are insistent upon operating a RBBC rather than trusting the more talented or younger option. The most glaring situation is Denver, who stubbornly refuses to allow Javonte Williams to operate as the lead back, demanding that Melvin Gordon see an equal touch split. Williams runs with more authority and is a better player - I'm not sure why they are so hesitant to pull the trigger.
D'Andre Swift is in a similar boat in Detroit - he is clearly the more explosive option over Jamaal Williams. Don't get me wrong - Williams is strong enough to operate as a between-the-tackles runner that also has great receiving skills. That said, everything that Williams does, Swift can do better. If the coaching staff tries to blame his lack of touches upon the mysterious groin injury that causes him to be questionable each week, so be it. It appears to be a ruse.
Hopefully both situations rectify themselves in short order.
In a game where Baker Mayfield threw for 305 passing yards and 23 completions, Odell Beckham Jr. caught just two measly passes for 20 yards. And this was in the absence of Jarvis Landry, no less. For whatever reason, the connection between Mayfield and OBJ has failed to materialize, and it doesn't appear that is changing any time soon. Donovan Peoples-Jones (DPJ) led Cleveland wideouts in targets instead, converting that into a 5/70 game. A popular sleeper pick entering 2021, all Cleveland beat reporters RAVED about his talent during training camp. This was the first time that DPJ was given more than two targets - it is a decision that should be replicated. I love adding him as an under-the-radar FLEX play for the next few weeks in 14-team or larger leagues, and he shouldn't cost more than a 5 percent FAAB bid.
Hello there, Kadarius Toney. As I mentioned earlier, the Giants wide receiver depth has been absolutely GUTTED this season - Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton have missed multiple games with hamstring injuries, and Kenny Golladay is set to miss time with a knee issue. Toney always was (arguably) the best athlete in the room - his change-of-direction, burst and top-end speed is Tyreek Hill-esque. Toney is without question the top receiver add of Week 5, and who knows what his ceiling will be if he continues to see double-digit targets from an offense that will need to pass to stay relevant. It was feared that Toney would miss Week 6 after he lost his temper and punched a Dallas defensive back, but news broke Monday that he would only see a fine, rather than a suspension. Go big here. Forty-five to fifty percent bids are warranted in 12-team leagues or larger - I'm not kidding.
Ja'Marr Chase has quickly elevated into WR1 territory - it turns out that he can both see and catch the ball without issue. Chase has been explosive for Cincinnati, and the decision to draft him rather than address the offensive line doesn't appear as egregious as in August.
Speaking of rookie wideouts, DeVonta Smith continues to impress me. He's been largely overshadowed by Chase in the early going, but Smith would be more of a household name if Philadelphia could avoid making absurdly stupid penalties EVERY TIME that he catches a touchdown pass. He's been gypped early.
No, I'm not interested in adding Josh Gordon. I wish him well, but I'm in the "fool me once, shame on you, fool me nine times shame on me" category.
Juju Smith-Schuster is set to miss the remainder of 2021 after suffering a shoulder injury that will require surgery. JJSS wasn't more than a FLEX option in deep leagues, but he still managed to see 7-9 targets each week that will need to be disbursed. James Washington will assume a larger role once he returns from a groin injury, but I'd fully anticipate that the leftover targets be split amongst Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. If I was playing in a 14-team league I'd throw a dollar to add Washington, but I'm mainly choosing a wait-and-see approach here.
Want to know what a barren wasteland this position is? David Njoku (rostered in 1.6 percent of ESPN leagues) led the position in points during Week 5, catching seven passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. Prior to this week Njoku had failed to catch more than three passes in a week, and he had totaled 10 targets the first four weeks. I'll address the obvious - do I feel that this is sustainable? Absolutely not. Cleveland was in a pass-first game script for most of the afternoon, I don't think that Njoku will continue a breakout against Arizona in Week 6. If you happen to roster Kyle Pitts or George Kittle - feel free to view Njoku as a bye-week replacement, but I wouldn't add him as a plug-and-play starter. A small five percent bid is what I'm comfortable with here.
Speaking of Pitts, it was nice to see his breakout game on primetime in London. Without Calvin Ridley or Russell Gage, Atlanta was forced to use Pitts as the top receiving threat - he answered in kind, catching 9-of-10 targets for 119 yards and a score. He's an easy top-6 option each week.
In PPR formats, Dalton Schultz has quietly become extremely relevant. Schultz has clearly separated himself over Blake Jarwin - the statistics don't lie. Dak Prescott has targeted Schultz at least six times in four of the first five games, and he has reached double-digit points every contest other than Week 2. He's enjoyed an uptick of usage following the injury to Michael Gallup. Once Gallup returns, it will be difficult to start both for both tertiary options.
Darren Waller - yeesh. Following a scorching 10/105/1 line in Week 1, Waller has found the end zone just once, and he has failed to catch more than five passes any following week. I'm not suggesting that this sort of mediocre production continues, but he is a clear buy-low candidate.
Dawson Knox is essentially the anti-Schultz. Hyper-productive on few targets, Knox has become one of the biggest red-zone threats for Buffalo. His touchdown rate is borderline obscene and completely unsustainable. I will still rank him outside the top-7 at the position weekly, and would encourage his owners to trade him to anyone desperate at tight end.
Maxx Williams appears to be done for the season after sustaining a low hit by a San Francisco defender in Week 5. His timetable hasn't been confirmed yet, but I'd be shocked to see him back on the field anytime soon this year. I'm really keeping an eye on this situation in Arizona to see if the team trades for someone like Evan Engram from New York or David Njoku. If a semi-proven option steps in, he will be Fantasy relevant.