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The Waiver Wire Wizard Week 5 2021
"I've got good news and bad news, which do you want to hear first?".
Never a phrase that one wants directed at themselves, am I right? And does anyone EVER select the "good news" portion first? It is always easier to take the bad news, and then ultimately weigh the overall severity of the situation. Just my two cents.
Luckily for you, intrepid reader, the phrase isn't aimed at you per se, so much as this week's article. The "good news" is that I'll continue to provide my thoughts on Week 4's main storylines and resulting waiver wire players to consider. The "bad news" is that I'll be glossing over game recaps and box score notes, due to time constraints.
Without further ado, lets begin.
Jimmy Garoppolo left Week 4's contest against the Seattle Seahawks with a calf injury, resulting in Trey Lance taking over. San Francisco claimed that "nobody" was ready for that switch to be made, least of all Lance. A popular rookie breakout due to his physical skillset, Lance was erratic upon entering the game, missing a few easy but managing to connect with Deebo Samuel on a broken play. Without question, Lance will be the most discussed waiver wire player entering Week 5, so Fantasy players should keep a close eye on the status of Garoppolo. San Francisco faces another uphill battle against Arizona, but Lance's scrambling ability and possible "garbage time production" could generate a sneaky amount of points. Expect him to look less like a deer in headlights as the team puts together a package more suited to his talents. Garoppolo was initially downtrodden and skeptical of his short-term outlook, but San Francisco seemed more optimistic on Monday.
In Denver, Teddy Bridgewater was knocked out of the game against Baltimore on Sunday after sustaining a concussion. His loss was immediately felt, as Bridgewater was very effective sustaining drives and getting the ball in the hands of Denver's playmakers. The downgrade to Drew Lock can't be understated - Lock is very scattershot with his passes and due to his "YOLO Rex Grossman" mentality. Fingers crossed that Bridgewater is able to work his way through the league's concussion protocol and return shortly, as Denver immediately falls out of playoff contention in his absence. I wouldn't recommend picking up Lock unless you play in a Superflex or 2QB league.
Running Back Notes
After running over and through Detroit Lions defenders most of the day, David Montgomery suffered a left knee injury in the second half and was helped off of the field. Initial reports are hopeful that Montgomery avoided a torn ACL, but further testing is needed to determine the severity. Montgomery appeared to be in an otherworldly amount of pain as he lay on the field, immediately asking for assistance from trainers. Damien Williams inherited lead duties and played well, before he sustained a quadriceps injury. I haven't seen anything out of Chicago that indicates Williams will miss any time, so I'm working under the assumption that he will receive the start in Week 5. Williams is my top claim of the week, and is currently available in about 90 percent of ESPN leagues. His dual-threat ability as a pass catcher makes him an intriguing pickup, both for the short and (possibly) long-term until Tarik Cohen comes back.
In Thursday night's victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Joe Mixon missed the final few drives of the game due to an ankle injury - one that is currently being described as "low grade" and "week to week". Though the status is vague, I'd anticipate that Mixon will miss at least one week with the malady, and in his absence Samaje Perine would be the target to consider. Perine will likely be ranked as a low-end RB2 or FLEX play for me, given that he would be a volume-based play, rather than one out of talent. Cincinnati takes on the Green Bay Packers in Week 5, and their defensive front ranks just outside the top-10 in fewest rushing yards allowed per week. Rookie Chris Evans will also see some targets, especially in the passing game.
Kenneth Gainwell is currently rostered in about 25 percent of ESPN leagues, but that number should see substantial growth if the team continues to completely abandon the run and play from behind. Miles Sanders has received just eight carries over the last two weeks, despite the fact that when he touches the ball, he appears explosive. Gainwell is being utilized as the Eagles receiving back, and his snap share has increased of late. Fantasy players should consider targeting him in 12-team or larger PPR leagues.
Buffalo's backfield has come full circle, and at this point Zack Moss should be treated as the starter over Devin Singletary. Moss has at least 13 rushing attempts the last two games, and appears to be a bigger part of the Bills gameplan when on the field. This isn't to suggest that Singletary is completely phased out, but after putting multiple balls on the ground the first few weeks, Buffalo appears content to run it with Moss instead. Goal line carries will still occasionally go to Josh Allen, capping Moss' upside. That said, I've long felt that he is the superior talent of the two choices, and I'm glad that Buffalo is reverting back.
Brandon Bolden appears to be the complimentary backfield piece in New England following the season-ending injury to James White. Prior to Week 4, it was unknown which player between J.J. Taylor, Rhamondre Stevenson or Bolden would see an uptick in usage - consider this our answer. Bolden was on the field for 19 of 59 snaps in Week 4, and he caught all six of his targets. He's a niche play to be sure, but in PPR leagues where bye weeks are right around the corner, one could do worse in a spot-start situation. Damien Harris has also been ineffective and came away with an injury against Tampa Bay.
Wanted to give a quick name to consider as a "wait and see" candidate - Marlon Mack. Indianapolis has allowed him to explore trade opportunities, and given the injury landscape across the league, he could land in a beneficial situation.
Wide Receiver Notes
I'm officially worried about Robert Woods and Allen Robinson for the remainder of 2021-22. Woods has taken a backseat to Cooper Kupp in terms of targets, and during Week 4, he was also passed by Van Jefferson. Woods still runs plenty of routes, but his tumble down the pecking order, has been startling. It would be difficult to sell-low, as the return back would be mere pennies on the dollar. In the case of Robinson - he remains one of the most talented wideouts in the league. He is completely healthy, and when passed have been thrown his way, he has caught them. However, Justin Fields eyes are perma-glued onto Darnell Mooney. Chicago has been tentative with Fields throwing the ball more than necessary, and I have little faith that Matt Nagy changes his offensive philosophy. Yikes.
Jamison Crowder will be one of the more added names prior to Week 5 for certain. Finally making his season debut, Crowder soaked up a multitude of targets from Zack Wilson on short and intermediate routes. Elijah Moore is the supposed slot receiver of the future for the team, but he is still in the league's concussion protocol. Crowder's presence caps the upside of both Corey Davis and Moore, and at least in the short-term, he is a useful pickup in PPR formats as a FLEX option.
Writing about Randall Cobb is giving me serious PTSD, as I squared off against him in multiple contests in Week 4. A total afterthought the first three weeks of the season, Cobb caught five of his six targets for 69 yards and two scores against the Pittsburgh Steelers. His uptick in usage came after Marquez Valdes-Scantling went on IR due to a hamstring strain, and Cobb carries a moderate amount of value in the short-term. It is obvious that this offense mainly flows through Aaron Jones and Davante Adams, but Cobb has a long-standing relationship with Aaron Rodgers, and he was specifically requested to be a part of Green Bay's Super Bowl run this year. If he has another decent outing in Week 5-6, consider selling high.
DeVonta Smith continues to impress me. Even though he was incredibly quiet during Weeks 2-3 (posting just a 5-44-0 line during that time span), he returned to life in Week 4. His big game (7-122) should have been even more of a breakout, as a touchdown was nullified due to a ticky-tacky penalty. Smith is the primary target in Philadelphia's offense, and he has seen 31 targets in four contests. I'm a believer.
I'm not buying into both Khalif Raymond and John Ross, following their strong showings. Detroit is a mess offensively, and both Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton will return soon in New York. I'd avoid putting a bid on either player.
Tight End Notes
Following a slow start, things have predictably picked up with Buffalo's offense, especially with Dawson Knox. Unlike in 2020, this year's Buffalo team is more content on feeding multiple players targets, rather than siphoning everything to Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley. Knox is a favorite target of Josh Allen in the red zone, as evidenced by his four touchdown receptions over the last three games. Knox will still be ranked outside of the top five or seven players at the position weekly, but he's slowly emerging from the "touchdown or bust" territory in favor of "his quality targets and floor warrant a start" akin to Robert Tonyan or Noah Fant.
Some would claim that it is difficult to get excited about two receptions for 29 yards, but I'm just that regarding Dan Arnold. Taking the field just three days after being acquired by Jacksonville, Arnold received multiple targets, and those should only increase with time and the gruesome injury to D.J. Chark. The Jaguars will need to throw the ball to stay competitive, and few things are more helpful to a rookie quarterback than a sure-handed tight end. I'd add him now as an end-of-bench option and monitor his usage and snap counts moving forward.