The Waiver Wire Wizard Week 5 2020
On any text chain the majority of my responses will be in the form of GIFs. Don't ask me why, but I prefer sending those instead of actual responses (likely due to the snarky factor, or the overwhelming number of hilarious options I'm still discovering). One of my favorites has gone viral, of a woman sitting down at the kitchen table, taking a sip of soda and making a variety of faces debating if she actual enjoys it or not. She goes from utter disgust to delight, back to uncertainty followed up by ambivalence. Her widespread variety of emotions in a short period of time can be used to adequately describe Week 4 in the NFL, which saw more twists and turns in 24 hours than the series finale of some shows.
The Pittsburgh vs. Tennessee game was first delayed, then rescheduled only to be eventually postponed following a bevy of failed COVID-19 tests by the Titans. Speculation immediately ensued, attempting to determine if the game would be played after the regular season, if the NFL would put the entirety of Week 4 on hold while they sorted out the details, or if they could shuffle around bye weeks and make it work (which ended up being the eventual decision).
Complicating things further were failed tests by players of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs causing a postponement of their game until Monday evening, and another false-positive test throwing the New Orleans vs. Detroit game into peril. As mentioned earlier in my columns - this season more than ever Fantasy players will need to be ready to pivot at a moment's notice. Try to have depth where you can and be flexible, even as bye weeks approach. Fingers crossed we can avoid the madness of Saturday evening and Sunday morning, at least for a little while.
Here are some thoughts on the week that was, and a look at waiver-wire targets to consider.
Broncos 37, Jets 28
Brett Rypien failed to impress in this one, finishing with under 250 passing yards and throwing three interceptions against a mediocre New York defense. The Broncos were carried on the strength of their running game, with Melvin Gordon piling up almost 120 all-purpose yards and two rushing scores. In a game where I expected Jerry Jeudy to be peppered with targets, Rypien only looked his way four times, and his day was salvaged by a boneheaded play that led to a touchdown. Better days are ahead for him. Noah Fant caught 5-of-6 targets for 35 yards before departing with an ankle injury, and his status is currently being described as "week to week" by the team. An extra few days of rest will help him before Week 5, but I'd expect him to take a week off. Thankfully, Drew Lock has a chance of returning next week which will be a major boost to Denver. The surprise here was Tim Patrick finishing with a 6/113/1 line - he appears to be the favored option over DaeSean Hamilton and KJ Hamler as Denver's WR2.
The Jets were terrible (yet again) and struggled to move the ball after their first possession. Sam Darnold led the team in rushing with 84 yards and a touchdown on a beautiful 46 yard scamper, but was held in check passing. I'll tip my cap to Frank Gore for his longevity, but he needs to go away and Adam Gase needs to be fired for this team to improve. Jamison Crowder had a major impact upon his return, finishing with 7 receptions for 104 yards on 10 targets - he'll be a WR3/FLEX when healthy. Chris Herndon can be dropped, as he is an afterthought for whatever reason despite being the most physically gifted receiver on the team. Jeff Smith was activated from IR and caught 7 passes for 81 yards. I'll pass on adding him with Breshad Perriman due back next week.
Waiver Wire targets: Tim Patrick is a nice PPR add in 12-team leagues or deeper, especially with the bye weeks approaching.
Bengals 33, Jaguars 25
Hello there, Joe Mixon! Hopefully our readers made some savvy trades to acquire him at his low-value point entering the week. Exploding for three touchdowns, 151 rushing yards and six receptions for 30 yards, Mixon re-enters the back-end RB1 discussion moving forward. Joe Burrow is living up to expectations, and even better for Fantasy purposes, is able to keep Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins relevant. A.J. Green continues to show a lack of chemistry with Burrow, and I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that Higgins is the preferred player for the remainder of 2020. The Bengals face an uphill divisional battle against the Baltimore Ravens next week, so temper expectations for a full breakout.
Gardner Minshew played much better following his Thursday Night dud last week, and finished with 351 passing yards and two touchdowns. The return of D.J. Chark paid immediately dividends, opening up holes for rookie Laviska Shenault. Keenan Cole and Chris Conley chipped in with a few receptions each, but I wouldn't consider rostering either unless your Fantasy team is hurting during a bye week. James Robinson's floor in PPR leagues is at least 10-12 points, considering he is getting 20-25 total touches a week. Even in a contest where he didn't find the end zone, he still looked solid, and no other running back was given a carry.
Waiver Wire targets: Tee Higgins is the new WR2 for the Bengals, and I'm over and done with A.J. Green. Higgins is owned in about 20 percent of ESPN leagues - that needs to increase dramatically. Laviska Shenault's versatility and usage all over the field also warrants attention - this Jacksonville team will be playing from behind often and he's the second-read for Minshew. Both rookies need to be owned in 12-team formats or larger.
Browns 49, Cowboys 38
It is befuddling that Cleveland nearly put up 50 points, yet Baker Mayfield finished with just 165 passing yards and two touchdowns. What a frustrating day for anyone who started him in a primo matchup. Instead, the Browns ran the ball up and down the field at will against Dallas, racking up an absurd 307 yards and three rushing scores on 40 carries. Even more telling, most of that damage was done in the absence of their star player Nick Chubb, who departed with a knee injury. He will undergo an MRI in the next day or two to determine how long he'll be out of action. Kareem Hunt performed exceptionally as expected, and D'Ernest Johnson finished with 95 yards on 13 carries. Should Chubb miss time, Johnson is an interesting FLEX pickup. Odell Beckham finished with a 5-81-2 line, adding another score on a 50-yard end-around at the conclusion of the game to ice things. His targets won't rival that of other top-10 talents, but he is making the most of his opportunities.
Dallas is falling into a dangerous and predictable format, falling behind in games by double-digits early, leading to the team abandoning the running game and relying upon Dak Prescott to throw 50 or more attempts. This is a major boon to Prescott's owners, as his volume alone will result in top-5 finishes weekly. In this one, Prescott concluded with 41 completions for 502 yards and four passing touchdowns - two to CeeDee Lamb, one to Dalton Schultz and another to Amari Cooper. Cooper's massive volume plants him as a rock-solid WR1, with Lamb approaching WR2 status and Schultz being a plug-and play TE1. Ezekiel Elliott's rushing totals have suffered, but his usage in the passing game inflates his floor. I wouldn't stress too much about his lack of touchdowns if he's catching 6-9 passes per week. However, Michael Gallup is worrying. How on Earth did he finish with just two receptions for 29 yards? Yeesh.
Waiver Wire targets: D'Ernest Johnson can be considered a low-end FLEX streamer in 14-team leagues or larger if Nick Chubb were to miss extended action due to his knee injury.
Saints 35, Lions 29
Stop me if you've heard this one before - Detroit blew another lead. Seriously, how on Earth does Matt Patricia still have a job at this point? In a game where Drew Brees played more of the "game manager" than "game changer" role, he was able to distribute the ball efficiently, completing passes to 9 different targets. Emmanuel Sanders saw the most targets (9) and had a nice bounce-back game after disappointing in Week 3, but Tre'Quan Smith was the story here for me. Smith caught all four of his targets and finished with 54 yards and two scores, including an incredible leaping reception over a defender. Michael Thomas is due back next week, but I'm comfortable keeping Smith on my roster in leagues where I own him in case this is his breakout season finally. On the ground, the two-headed monster of Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray shred the Lions for three rushing scores and nearly 150 yards on the ground.
I picked Matthew Stafford as a sleeper selection this season, figuring that De'Andre Swift's presence in the running game would ease some defensive coverage away from Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and T.J. Hockenson. Wrong! Matt Patricia's reluctance to stick with Adrian Peterson over Swift is, (to be frank) mind-blowingly stupid. Swift is the more electric player in the passing game, and he should be given more touches as a runner. He remains a hold. Kenny Golladay - still a stud. The nice part in this game was that the majority of all Fantasy-relevant starters came through in a big way.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Seahawks 31, Dolphins 23
At this point I'm comfortable copy and pasting the same comment for Seattle on a weekly basis: Russell Wilson continues to be fantastic and is playing at the top of his game. Chris Carson is a solid RB1, and his usage in the passing game further solidifies his floor. D.K. Metcalf is an unguardable freak and routinely makes defenders look silly. Phew. The only oddity in this game was a quiet showing from Tyler Lockett, who only caught two receptions for 39 yards. D.J. Moore came away with a receiving touchdown in this one, and is the deep threat Wilson will look for when Lockett is double-teamed with safety help. He isn't consistent enough to recommend as an addition.
On Miami's side, Ryan Fitzpatrick did all that he could to keep the Dolphins in this game, including leading the team on the ground with 47 yards and a touchdown. Devante Parker caught 10-of-12 targets for 110 yards, playing through an injury that would have ruled him out earlier in his career. He has demonstrated a considerable amount of grit early on. Isaiah Ford was the "1b" option for Fitzpatrick with 10 targets, but he was only able to catch four passes for 48 yards total. This was a quiet game for both Mike Gesicki and Myles Gaskin, who have shined earlier. Since Miami was playing from behind the entirety of the second half, the ground game was abandoned, which explains Gaskin's struggles.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Buccaneers 38, Chargers 31
The early slate on Sunday featured plenty of back-and-forth contests, but few were more exciting than this game, with Justin Herbert going toe-to-toe with Tom Brady. In the absence of Chris Godwin, Brady spread the targets around in the offense, targeting five players at least six times each. Mike Evans played through another injury, only to finish with a solid 7/122/1 line, and FLEX favorite Scotty Miller awarded owners who started him to the tune of 5/83/1. Prior to leaving with a season-ending Achilles injury, O.J. Howard caught a touchdown as well - it is a real shame to see him cut this season short, as it looks like he was finally putting everything together. With Howard now gone, Rob Gronkowski will be asked to contribute more as a weapon, and Ke'Shawn Vaughn will also see an uptick in usage. Leonard Fournette's absence catapulted Ronald Jones to 26 touches - Jones did struggle as a receiver though.
For Los Angeles, Herbert continued to prove that he is the real deal, looking every bit the part. At this point I don't know how Tyrod Taylor would be given his starting role back - the talent gap between the two is mammoth. Austin Ekeler left early with a serious hamstring injury, and was spotted after the game on crutches with a brace on his knee. He's expected to miss multiple weeks, thrusting Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson into a more prominent role. Keenan Allen continues to be a one-man-band, with all other Chargers pass catchers fighting for leftover scraps of targets. It is surprising that Hunter Henry isn't more involved, especially with Mike Williams injured.
Waiver Wire targets: Joshua Kelley is owned in more than 50 percent of leagues, but Justin Jackson is floating around the eight percent mark. Jackson should be picked up in deeper formats, as I'd anticipate double-digit touches as he swaps roles.
Ravens 31, Football Team 17
It still bothers me to write Football Team. Ahem. Truth be told there isn't much to cover on the Baltimore side, despite them winning this game. Lamar Jackson finished with three total touchdowns, including a phenomenal run of 50 yards on a quarterback scamper. All three Ravens running backs (Ingram, Dobbins and Edwards) shouldn't be started unless owners are absolutely desperate, as the presence of one hurts the remaining two. Marquise Brown saw the most targets (8) but failed to find the end zone yet again. Mark Andrews had a nice bounce-back game against a bad opponent, but still saw only three targets total. His usage worries me, as he's too dependent on scores.
Dwayne Haskins was asked by Washington to play better or be yanked, and he was able to step up, delivering the first 300-yard passing game of his career (even though he threw no touchdowns and it took 45 attempts). Washington is a two-man show between Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson, and all other players should be avoided at all costs. Gibson is really starting to come into his own, and the team is finally starting to use his exceptional talents as a receiver. He's entrenched himself as a RB2 in my weekly rankings, with McLaurin being a low-end WR1 due to volume.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Panthers 31, Cardinals 21
Teddy Bridgewater continues to be an efficient, if not entirely boring option at the position capable of helping and not hurting Fantasy owners. Statistically this was his best game of 2020, though one has to assume he will be asked less to shoulder less of the weight once Christian McCaffrey returns in a week or two. Mike Davis continues to slide into McCaffrey's role nicely, especially when it comes as a checkdown option on third downs. Though it pains me to say this, Robby Anderson is the receiver to own in Carolina. For whatever reason it seems that Bridgewater doesn't have the same chemistry with D.J. Moore than Cam Newton did, and his target share has dramatically dropped of late. Treat Anderson as a WR2 and Moore as a FLEX until things improve or ownership notices a need to get the ball into Moore's hands.
Statistically, Kyler Murray was fine in this contest, throwing for three passing touchdowns while adding 78 yards on the ground to boost his overall line. However, to anyone who actually watched the game, Murray had a difficult time finding a receiver open down the field, and finished with just 133 passing yards on 24 completions. Carolina is currently a mid-tier defense, so it is worrying that Murray couldn't find Christian Kirk or DeAndre Hopkins more successfully. Both Larry Fitzgerald and Andy Isabella were total afterthoughts, and it doesn't appear that Murray is a big fan of targeting the slot receiver when asked to. Both players can be dropped in all but the deepest of leagues. Speaking of drop candidates? What the heck is going on with Kenyon Drake? Thirteen carries for 35 yards and not ONE target in the passing game is troubling, especially considering where he was drafted. As the offense has shifted away from Drake they have struggled - fingers crossed they feature him moving forward.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Vikings 31, Texans 23
Hey, SOMEONE had to come away with a victory in this game. Minnesota's ability to run the ball at will made all the difference, as clock management and two able-bodied receivers placed them in a superior spot. Dalvin Cook continues to play like an MVP candidate, racking up 130 rushing yards and two scores on the ground, with another two receptions for 16 yards. Kirk Cousins wasn't asked to do much in this one, but he was able to find Adam Thielen (8/114/1) and Justin Jefferson (4/103) at the right times when necessary. Jefferson is vaulting up my FLEX rankings with each passing week.
DeShaun Watson is a one-man-show for Houston, a team bereft of a true top receiver following the loss of DeAndre Hopkins. Bill O'Brien took over play calling duties in Week 4, and attempted to force-feed David Johnson to prove that his acquisition was justified. Against the seventh-worst rushing defense in the NFL, Johnson finished with just 63 yards on the ground and two receptions for 29 yards. Woof. Outside of Will Fuller, I'd be hesitant to trust anyone on this team for Fantasy purposes. (Here's looking at you, Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb). Tight end Jordan Akins left the game after a nasty blow to the head that sent him into the concussion protocol.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Colts 19, Bears 11
For as phenomenal as the early slate of games was for Fantasy points, the late games were the reversal - dominated by stingy defenses that allowed little production through the air or ground. Philip Rivers played like hot garbage in this game, finishing 16-of-29 passing for 190 yards and just one touchdown. Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins all struggled on the ground, averaging less than 3 YPC. Taylor only caught one pass, and was held in check for most of the afternoon. Outside of a 13-yard touchdown to Moe Alie-Cox, all Colts receivers did little. As an aside - Trey Burton finished second on the team with five targets. He's interesting moving forward.
Nick Foles "won" the starting role last week, but appeared to be Mitch Trubisky 2.0, completing just 26-of-42 pass attempts and throwing an interception in the process. David Montgomery did little on the ground and his Fantasy afternoon was saved by dump off passes late in the fourth quarter - it is becoming difficult to trust him. Allen Robinson was held in check for most of the afternoon before the Bears needed to pass on every down in the second half - thankfully Foles played well enough to keep him relevant. Darnell Mooney appears to be taking over as the second wideout on the team over Anthony Miller, which is something to note.
Waiver Wire targets: Trey Burton is someone to consider adding in 14-team leagues as a streamer/bye-week replacement at TE. Darnell Mooney has the eye and attention of Nick Foles - as long as Foles remains over center he is an option in deeper PPR formats as a FLEX.
Bills 30, Raiders 23
NO ONE circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills! I think that I'll officially have to join their bandwagon, as supporting the New York Giants has earned me a one-way ticket to anti-depressants. Josh Allen played great yet again, though he did depart in the second half of the game with what appeared to be a shoulder issue. The fact he was able to return and fight through it is encouraging. Devin Singletary continues to feast in the absence of Zach Moss - he finished with 23 total touches and over 75 all-purpose yards. Stefon Diggs is a monster, and this trade looks better and better for Buffalo with each passing week. He and John Brown are the most formidable downfield punch in the league.
Derek Carr kept the Raiders competitive, though at times he had issues holding onto the football - he was officially credited with one lost fumble, though it should have been two. Josh Jacobs struggled against the formidable Bills front line, totaling 48 rushing yards on 15 carries. Better days are ahead for him, and he's still a mid-range RB1. Darren Waller was once again in the spotlight as Las Vegas was without Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards, catching 9 passes for 88 yards. Hunter Renfrow was a popular streaming and DFS start, but was used primarily as a chain-mover on third downs. I actually felt that Nelson Agholor made some major leaps forward - he finished 4/44/1, with another touchdown called back on a bonehead penalty.
Waiver Wire targets: If Ruggs and Edwards continue to miss time in Week 5, consider adding Agholor in 12-team leagues
Eagles 25, 49ers 20
Well THIS was a dull game. In a "winning" effort I thought that Carson Wentz played terribly (yet again) - my Twitter comments drew plenty of ire from Eagles fans claiming otherwise. I understand that Wentz is playing without several starters at offensive line and wideout, but his accuracy issues are concerning, particularly on short passes to his running backs. Speaking of which - where the heck was Miles Sanders in this one? Thirteen carries for 46 yards and two receptions for 30 yards isn't enough of a workload. One has to wonder if the gluteal issue he sustained last week hampered him at all. With no success on the ground and through the air, the Eagles defense won this week for them, picking off Nick Mullens twice, returning one for a touchdown.
Mullens did look strong early, but faded as the game went on, and was replaced by C.J. Beathard after a horrible pick-six late in the fourth quarter. Jerick McKinnon handled nearly all of the snaps out of the backfield, rushing for 54 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown, and catching seven passes for 43 yards. As long as Raheem Mostert is out, McKinnon is a mid-RB2. George Kittle was a terror, catching 15 passes for 183 yards and a score. With Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk almost back to full strength, one has to assume that the ball will be spread around more moving forward. Even if that happens, Kittle is still a top-two option at tight end.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Chiefs 26, Patriots 10
Following a very quiet first half that finished 6-3, Kansas City was able to pull away from the Cam Newton-less New England Patriots. Mahomes had a very quiet day in his terms, finishing with 19 completions for 236 yards and two passing touchdowns. Travis Kelce led the team with 70 receiving yards on 6 targets, but posted his fewest points in a week so far this season. Clyde Edwards-Helaire dominated touches out of the backfield but was unable to find the end zone for the third straight game. He has been held to 65 rushing yards or less in each of the last three weeks. I don't think that it is time to panic, but Fantasy owners who think that he would finish as a top-5 overall player might be second-guessing their selection. Send out feelers for trades.
Brian Hoyer started the game for New England, and was removed in the third quarter for poor play in favor of Jarrett Stidham - who subsequently played even worse. Combined the tandem was 20-of-37 passing for 172 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. This team has to hope that Newton returns as soon as he is able. Damien Harris was activated from IR and immediately was given the starting duties with Sony Michel injured. Harris finished with 17 carries for 100 yards on the nose. Damiere Byrd was the Patriots top receiver, catching 5-of-10 targets for 80 yards. Both Julian Edelman and James White were quiet in this one. When Newton returns expect the offense to once again flow through those two players, along with N'Keal Harry.
Waiver Wire targets: Damiere Byrd is someone who I would flag or keep an eye on, but wouldn't strongly recommend for a pickup just yet. He's played well in two of the past three games, but I would like to see consistency with Newton on the field prior to an endorsement.
Packers 30, Falcons 16
Aaron Rodgers continues to prove to the Green Bay organization that using a second-round selection on a quarterback was a poor decision. Even without stud receiver Davante Adams, Rodgers passed for 327 yards and four touchdowns against a hapless Atlanta defense that couldn't stop a stiff breeze. Robert Tonyan is the breakout stud that will receive plenty of press in waiver-wire articles this afternoon (6/98/3 will do that, oddly enough), but I'd encourage owners to also add Jamaal Williams. Williams led the team in targets and receptions (8 each) for 95 receiving yards, and added another 8 carries to boot. Whether this was a one-week fluke in an attempt to give Aaron Jones a breather or his role simply expanded with Allen Lazard and Adams out is anyone's best guess. I'm willing to take a chance either way.
Atlanta receivers absolutely killed Fantasy owners on Monday, as those who started Julio Jones (4/32) or Calvin Ridley (0/0) in the hopes of catchup production were sorely disappointed. Jones left the game after reaggravating his hamstring injury, and Ridley was blanketed and double-teamed all afternoon in his absence. Due to that, Olamide Zaccheaus caught 8 passes for 86 yards, leading the team in both categories. I'm hesitant to go crazy getting in his corner, but if Ridley and Jones continue to fight through injuries someone will need to catch passes from Matt Ryan. Todd Gurley had his best game of 2020, picking up two touchdowns on the ground on 16 carries, and catching the lone pass thrown at him.
Waiver Wire targets: Robert Tonyan is the "no duh" player to recommend in any format for those looking for tight end help. I'd add Jamaal Williams in 12-team leagues or deeper while we slog through the bye weeks, and Olamide Zaccheaus is a player I'd add in 14-team leagues as a desperation FLEX candidate.