The Waiver Wire Wizard Week 6 2020
There is a fine line when it comes to waiver wire targets between "chasing last week's points" and seeking to improve your team for the long-run. It is an easy endeavor to point out players who are owned in less than 25 percent of leagues that played well one week - the question is always will that breakout last, or is their point explosion a fluke?
Situations differ. Injuries present both opportunity and value. Vaulting up a depth chart as the result of poor play by former stars and trusted options occurs as well. What defense did the player "go off" against, and were they particularly porous at a position that the breakout occurred against?
In my player notes below when I examine waiver wire options, I'll provide further context regarding my opinion on which players will have lasting value and which are a flash in the pan. Keep context in mind!
Bears 20, Buccaneers 19
Nick Foles channeled his inner Mitchell Trubisky this past Thursday, barely completing 60 percent of his pass attempts while only honing in on Allen Robinson when given the opportunity. Chicago's defense was the actual "star" in this game, as they befuddled and confused Tom Brady all evening. David Montgomery is still a usable Fantasy asset as a low-end RB2, but shows a lack of elusiveness and happy feet in the open field. With his size and strength (as I said on Twitter) he should look to occasionally run over cornerbacks, rather than dancing around them. Darnell Mooney and Anthony Miller continue to fight for scraps behind Robinson and Jimmy Graham.
Even without Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard on the field, Brady has plenty of alternative options to use when facing a tough defense. The expectation was that targets would flow through Mike Evans and Scotty Miller, with Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate utilized in the red zone. Evans did lead the Bucs in targets with nine, and managed to catch (yet another) one-yard fade route. Apparently, he is the team's new short-yardage back at the goal line. Miller didn't even see one target, and single-handedly sunk a number of teams this week. His ebb-and-flow usage is maddening, to put it mildly. Brate slid into the passing role at tight end, and I'd expect more targets to come his way in future weeks.
Waiver Wire targets: As a streaming option in 14-team leagues at tight end, I don't mind Cameron Brate at all. Tyler Johnson also caught my eye on how crisp he was running routes. One has to wonder if he supplanted Miller as the temporary WR2 on the team. Multiple draftniks compared him to Davante Adams for a size/speed combination. As an end-of-bench flier in 14-team leagues or keeper formats, I'd invest.
Cowboys 37, Giants 34
Even though the Giants managed to take an early lead as a result of sloppy play on the part of Dallas, the better team ended up with a victory in this game, though it came with a massive price. First, the positives for America's Team - Ezekiel Elliott ran all over the Giants when called upon, piling up 91 yards and two scores on the ground on 19 carries. Even with multiple injuries to their offensive line, the Giants defense posed no threat to stop Zeke at any point in this game. CeeDee Lamb continues to play like the Offensive Rookie of the Year, catching eight passes for 124 yards. Michael Gallup made two amazing catches that propelled the final drive, while Amari Cooper was held in check by James Bradberry. The obvious story here is Dak Prescott's dislocated ankle, which will sideline him for the remainder of the year. Luckily for the team, Andy Dalton is perhaps the best backup option they could have asked for, and a great insurance policy.
Daniel Jones continues to find a fun mix between running for his life when the offensive line refuses to block, putting the ball on the ground when he is breathed upon, or making a phenomenal throw out of nowhere. His inconsistency is maddening. The only Giants receiver currently worth starting is Darius Slayton, who came away with 8 receptions for 129 yards on a team-high 11 targets. Golden Tate and Evan Engram are complete afterthoughts and shouldn't be started unless forced to. Devonta Freeman ran better than in previous weeks, and there were several carries that he showed a surprising amount of burst.
Waiver Wire targets: Andy Dalton is the easy recommendation here. He can be used as a fringe-starting option in 12-team leagues or deeper, and the surrounding talent on Dallas makes him a fine backup/bye week play everywhere.
Panthers 23, Falcons 16
CMC who? This was the Mike Davis show for Carolina yet again, and the team is in no hurry to rush McCaffrey back from his injury. Davis piled up nearly 150 all-purpose yards on 25 total touches, including a receiving touchdown. Teddy Bridgewater continues to play ultra-conservative, leading to short passes to Robby Anderson and the occasional look to D.J. Moore. As I alluded to in earlier weeks, Anderson is the WR1 for this team, and Moore has been relegated to a FLEX play at best. Few could have predicted this situation playing out in this fashion.
Even though Atlanta was in catchup mode the entire week, it was Todd Gurley and the running game that actually kept this battle close, and not Matt Ryan's arm. Gurley had several signature runs, demonstrating toughness in the face of defenders. His 35-yard scamper for a touchdown could have been taken from a highlight reel three years ago. I'd still consider Gurley a sell-high target, if at all possible. Calvin Ridley atoned for his donut from Week 4, catching 8 passes for 136 yards on 10 targets. Even with Julio Jones absent, Russell Gage and Hayden Hurst did little. I'd avoid starting Ryan until Jones returns.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Raiders 40, Chiefs 32
Football fans kept asking themselves when Kansas City would eventually lose, and which team would finally figure out their weaknesses. Leave it to Jon Gruden. For what it's worth, Derek Carr outplayed Patrick Mahomes, and in most formats was the top scoring quarterback on the week, passing for 347 yards and three touchdowns. Carr was able to find rookie Henry Ruggs repeatedly downfield for chunk plays, and checked the ball down to Jalen Richard or Darren Waller when necessary. Josh Jacobs per-carry average was middling, but he found the end zone twice and caught a few passes as well. He continues to play like a back-end RB1.
The good news for Fantasy owners invested in the Chiefs? When they did manage to put up points, it was to Fantasy-relevant options, rather than offensive lineman or fullbacks. Travis Kelce shred the Raiders for a solid 8/108/1 line on 12 targets, and Tyreek Hill approached 100 total yards, including a rushing touchdown on a well-designed play. Sammy Watkins played well early, but left with a hamstring injury, and is expected to miss multiple weeks while recovering. Clyde Edwards-Helaire had a total dud, though it could be argued that it wasn't entirely his fault. CEH was productive when given the opportunity (he rushed for 4.0 YPC and had three receptions for 40 yards) - this was just a case of Mahomes looking elsewhere.
Waiver Wire targets: With Watkins out multiple weeks, expect Mecole Hardman to be utilized more frequently opposed Tyreek Hill. In shallower formats where he was dropped earlier he can be started as a FLEX option.
Cardinals 30, Jets 10
Kyler Murray propelled Arizona to a win over the hapless Jets, who continue to be the worst team in the NFL. This was a game where New York was simply overwhelmed, and the talent difference between the teams was evident. The Cardinals rushed for three touchdowns, one each from Murray, Kenyon Drake and Chase Edmonds. Edmonds continues to look like the superior option over Drake, especially in the passing game. Drake is easily one of the bigger disappointments of the Fantasy season, as he hasn't lived up to the first-round billing whatsoever. It was nice to see a receiver other than DeAndre Hopkins get involved finally. Not suggesting that I don't care for Hopkins, but Murray's reliance upon him as his sole read was concerning. Christian Kirk is now a viable FLEX option in my eyes for deeper 12 or 14-team leagues if necessary.
Yet again I'm forced to write about the Jets. Ugh. Joe Flacco looked lost and was under pressure. Le'Veon Bell ran the ball well (13/60) but his lack of usage in the passing game is concerning (just one reception on one target). Frank Gore continues to be a thorn in the side of Bell owners, and it is puzzling why Adam Gase allows him to touch the ball. For pass-catchers on New York, I'd only start Jamison Crowder, period. He's the lone proficient target on an awful team.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Steelers 38, Eagles 29
Welcome to the show, Chase Claypool. Following Diontae Johnson's injury early in the first quarter (which killed many owners, yet again), Claypool became the favored target of Big Ben. The rookie showed impressive speed, elusiveness for a big-bodied wideout in space, and great hands. His final stat line? 7/110/3 through the air, and a touchdown on an end-around running play to boot. Claypool is easily the top waiver-wire suggestion of the week, and it isn't a stretch to suggest that at worst he's the WR3 for Pittsburgh for the remainder of 2020. At this point I wouldn't be surprised to see a fairly even split in targets between Claypool, Johnson and Juju Smith-Schuster moving forward.
On Philadelphia's side, Carson Wentz continues to vex me. I know that his offensive line is in shambles and several receivers are hurt - factors that are greatly contributing to his struggles. That aside, the number of VERY easy throws that he flat-out misses each week is puzzling. Miles Sanders was largely bottled up every time that he touched the ball, save for a phenomenal 74-yard touchdown scamper. He finished with 80 rushing yards on 11 carries - that will give you an idea of how the rest of the game went. Receiving-wise? Who the heck is Travis Fulgham? It goes without saying that I didn't expect a 10/152/1 line on 13 targets.
Waiver Wire targets: Claypool needs to be owned in all leagues, immediately. Fulgham I'm more hesitant to trust, given that Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson will both likely return next week, and for whatever reason Zach Ertz was an afterthought here. In 14-team leagues or deeper? Sure, throw a few dollars at him. I wouldn't expect anything close to this moving forward.
Rams 30, Football Team 10
Speaking of lopsided contests. Jared Goff continues to play well for Los Angeles, though this team's offensive philosophy is much more run-heavy than in prior seasons. Goff attempted 30 passes to 35 rushing attempts, which were spread around to Cam Akers (9/61), Darrell Henderson (15/38/1) and Malcolm Brown (8/30). The three-man rotation now that Akers has returned has degraded into a touchdown-dependent carousel that I'd personally avoid. Color me surprised that Tyler Higbee, who continues to dramatically out snap Gerald Everett, is continually the man-out in LA. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp continue to produce, but Higbee is a drop candidate in deeper leagues.
Washington was unable to get anything going offensively all game, period. The Rams sacked Kyle Allen and eventual replacement Alex Smith 8 times, and completely bottled up the running game. J.D. McKissic was the top receiver on the team (6/46) with Terry McLaurin posting a dud. Better days are ahead, especially for Antonio Gibson. That said, his lack of touches in the second half was concerning.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Ravens 27, Bengals 3
Hopefully you're sensing a pattern of lopsided games from Week 5. In a game where Lamar Jackson needed to do little, he did just that. Jackson right now is outside the top-10 at the QB position, which is concerning. Similar to the Rams, the Baltimore backfield is maddening, and I'd be hesitant starting any of the Mark Ingram/J.K. Dobbins/Gus Edwards trio. This will (unfortunately) take an injury to flesh out. The offense flows through Marquise Brown (6/77/1) and Mark Andrews (6/56/1) alone. Period.
Joe Burrow was running for his life most of the game, and in situations where he wasn't sacked he was throwing the ball to the wrong team. He finished with a QBR of 5.7 - that is the lowest I've seen in quite some time. Joe Mixon was handed the ball 24 times and rushed for just 59 yards. Thankfully he was able to boost his floor in PPR leagues with an additional six receptions for 35 yards. Tee Higgins has supplanted A.J. Green on the depth chart, and there was video taken of Green mouthing "just trade me at this point". Don't be surprised to see him declared inactive or in another jersey later this year.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Texans 30, Jaguars 14
Amazing what happens once Bill O'Brien leaves, now isn't it. Deshaun Watson easily had the best game of his season, throwing for more than 350 passing yards and three scores, and finally getting the ball into the hands of Brandin Cooks (8/161/1). Will Fuller (4/58/1) made it through the game healthy, which (lets be honest) is the biggest win for him. David Johnson was utilized more appropriately, rushing for 17 times and almost reaching the century mark on the ground. Randall Cobb caught all six of his targets for 47 yards.
Gardner Minshew played well enough for his team to win, and the Jacksonville defense really let him down. Minshew surpassed the 300-yard mark for the third time in four contests, throwing touchdowns to both Keenan Cole (2/25/1) and Collin Johnson (3/30/1). D.J. Chark suffered an injury in the second half, but was a non-factor prior to that. We will have to see how long he'll be out with an ankle injury as practice reports surface later this week. Laviska Shenault Jr. continues to look like the real-deal. It is surprising that the team isn't using him more on the ground or with gadget plays. James Robinson struggled, rushing for just 48 yards on 13 carries - losing a fumble on a play where he was intended to perform a halfback pass. Better days are ahead for him and I still view him as an RB2.
Waiver Wire targets: Collin Johnson could be interesting in deeper leagues as a FLEX starter during the BYE weeks if Chark were to miss an extended period of time. The Jaguars team will need to throw the ball to play catch-up often.
Dolphins 43, 49ers 17
Well, I don't think many folks saw THIS game coming. Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to play exceptionally well, though anyone who has played Fantasy Football knows that he is a ticking time bomb until Mr.Hyde rears his ugly head. For now he's holding off rookie Tua Tagovailoa, much to the chagrin of ownership. Fitzpatrick spread the ball around effectively in this contest, and managed to give five players three or more targets. Mike Gesicki (5/91) is difficult to trust given his propensity to yo-yo stats, but as the tight-end position continues to thin out he's a weekly starter. DeVante Parker only had three targets, but made the most of them with two catches for 50 yards and a score. A nice surprise was Jordan Howard being declared inactive, which lead to Myles Gaskin touching the ball 21 times.
In his first game back following a high-ankle sprain, Jimmy Garoppolo struggled mightily, completing just 7 passes on 17 attempts while throwing two interceptions. He was actually benched in the second half in favor of C.J. Beathard - who ended up performing only marginally better. Raheem Mostert was the lone bright spot in this contest for San Francisco, with all receivers struggling. Jerick McKinnon had three total touches, which was surprising, given how well he performed while Mostert was out. I'm willing to give the team a pass in this one.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Browns 32, Colts 23
This game could be considered a toss-up between Cleveland actually winning it, versus Philip Rivers deciding to single-handedly give it away. To his credit, Baker Mayfield played well enough, throwing for nearly 250 yards and two scores. His main targets were (thankfully) the three Fantasy-relevant options between Jarvis Landry (4/88), Odell Beckham Jr. (5/58) and Austin Hooper (5/57). In the absence of Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt played exceptionally well against a very difficult defense in Indianapolis. It was nice to see David Njoku return from IR, but he was only targeted once, and will remain a non-factor while Hooper is on the field.
With Cleveland ahead for most of the game, the Colts were forced to abandon the run game early, a decision that would come back to haunt them later on. When given an opportunity Jonathan Taylor still played well, rushing for over 4 YPC and finding the end zone. How he was afforded only 12 rushing attempts when this team is built upon the shoulders of their ground attack and offensive line is anyone's best guess. T.Y. Hilton finally had a decent game, but I'd be hesitant to consider his 6/69 line the new norm. He's still a FLEX option at best for me. Following his reactivation it seems that Trey Burton is the tight end to own in Indianapolis, with both Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox putting up goose-eggs.
Waiver Wire targets: I don't consider Burton a weekly option yet, but as a fill-in during a BYE week, owners could do worse than add him at a thin tight end spot. He's a streaming option to consider.
Seahawks 27, Vikings 26
The Sunday night game was a fun see-saw match to watch, as Minnesota quickly jumped out to a 13-0 lead at halftime, before losing Dalvin Cook later on and then imploding. Statistically this wasn't Russell Wilson's most impressive performance, yet he still threw for three touchdowns and actually lead Seattle in rushing yards with 58 on multiple scrambles. D.K. Metcalf is an absolute freak of nature - it wouldn't be surprising at all to see him ranked within the top-5 at the position come 2021. His emergence has cost Tyler Lockett volume - Lockett has seen a combined six targets over the last two weeks. Chris Carson's floor is continually bolstered by catching the ball, keeping him in the RB1 discussion.
Kirk Cousins was supposed to take advantage of a weak Seattle secondary - though he posted decent numbers it was shy of the breakout that some were expected. As alluded to earlier, Dalvin Cook left this game with a groin strain (they are labeling it as an adductor strain) and he is expected to sit Week 6, prior to the team's bye in Week 7. Alexander Mattison shined in his opportunities, rushing for 112 yards on 20 carries, and catching three balls for 24 yards. Mattison is owned in nearly all leagues as he was the top handcuff on the board, so mentioning him as a "target" seems fruitless. Justin Jefferson was quiet in this one as Adam Thielen proved that he is still the lead-dog.
Waiver Wire targets: None - I don't trust Irv Smith to continue an uptick in receiving usage.
Saints 30, Chargers 27
Despite losing every game that he has started thus far, it is safe to say that Justin Herbert is going to be a star in this league, and in short order. Drew Brees was efficient checking the ball down continually to Emmanuel Sanders (12/122) and Alvin Kamara (8/74) but largely ignored the remainder of his tertiary options. The entire New Orleans team was quiet on the ground, and it was surprising to see the team rush the ball just 25 times total, compared to 48 pass attempts. Kamara being stifled repeatedly apparently made Sean Payton gun shy.
This looked to be a massive game for Keenan Allen out of the get-go, as during the first few drives he caught multiple passes that eventually led to a score. Although I'm unsure on which specific play it occurred, Allen pulled a muscle in his back and was eventually ruled out for the remainder of the game. His absence led to increased usage by Mike Williams (5/109/2) and Hunter Henry (4/23/1). It is unclear if Allen will be ready in time for Week 6, or if this issue will linger. Keep an eye on practice reports. On the ground, Justin Jackson was the much better player, and seemed to possess better vision than Joshua Kelley. Those owners banking on Kelley having the majority of snaps in the backfield with Austin Ekeler out may wish to reconsider things.
Waiver Wire targets: None