The Waiver Wire: Week 5

Week 4 was a crazy one that got kicked off with a 5 touchdown performance by Jared Goff on Thursday night. Goff was then one opted by the Bears Mitchell Trubisky who threw 6 touchdowns Sunday afternoon! Alvin Kamara continued his dominance and we got breakout performances by Corey Davis, Taylor Gabriel who we will get to in a moment, and Sony Michel. Even with all these great performances we, unfortunately, had injuries to key fantasy players.

  • Tyler Eifert – Out for the Season with an ankle injury 
  • Rob Gronkowski – Is currently doubtful for TNF with an ankle injury he re-aggravated vs Miami. 
  • T.Y. Hilton – Doubtful for TNF with a hamstring injury 
  • O.J. Howard – Out 2 to 4 Weeks with a knee sprain
  • Will Fuller – Minor hamstring pull questionable for week 5 

Week 4 was a wrecking ball for tight ends so the waiver wire will be buzzing with activity for that position. With 9 weeks left in the season and the bye weeks picking up steam (Chicago & Tampa Bay this week btw), it’s mission critical that you are targeting the right players to help put you over the top during these must-win weeks. I personally use the quarter mark of the NFL as a benchmark to help me better determine the statistical trends of that season as it will help me in my sit or start and player personnel decisions. By this point, we have enough data to make educated predictability models to help plan for future bye weeks, help in making sit or start decisions easier, and identifying the weak spots in our lineup that we need to sure up either via a trade or the waiver wire.

Your record doesn’t matter just yet but time is running out for you 0-4 & 1-3 teams. Don’t let the rest of the pack run away any longer. It’s time to make a season-saving pickup or trade to turn it all around! Let’s dive right into the top waiver wire players as we head into week 5.

As a disclaimer, all players must be owned by less than 60% of ESPN or Yahoo leagues. Ownership percentages are in parenthesizes. Below I have ranked the top 3 adds at each position with a bonus player or two sprinkled in throughout. 


Derek Carr (ESPN 20% / Yahoo 36%):

I said a few waiver wires back that I liked how Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders offense was coming along. Well, 45 points later and a win Carr was a QB1 in week 4 finishing with a stat line of 35 of 58 /437/4. With the LA Chargers on deck who are giving up the 8th most fantasy pts to QBs & the 4th most passing yds/gm. Fire up Carr this week with confidence.

Joe Flacco (ESPN 16% / Yahoo 25%):

Big Joe Cool destroyed the Steelers secondary Sunday which isn’t that shocking. The Steelers are giving up 304.8 Yds/g which ranks 28th in the NFL and have given up 116 pts so far. This week Flacco travels to Cleveland which will be a little harder but things get much easier after the Ravens week 6 game on the road vs the Titans. After that game, they have the Saints at home, Panthers on the road, and finish up before their bye week with the Steelers at home. That’s the #1 team in giving up pts to QB’s in fantasy, the #13, and #3 teams. Flacco is looking like a top QB option off the waiver wire.

Mitchell Trubisky (ESPN 19% / Yahoo 15%):

I can’t keep a QB who just threw 6 touchdown passes off the waiver wire but he is last because I must warn you to proceed with caution. First, the Bears have a bye week in week 5 so you will have to wait a week to use Trubisky. Second, the Bears faced the worst passing defense in the league statistically in the Buccaneers at home Sunday. It was a perfect storm is what I am trying to say and more an outlier then what to come to expect with Trubisky. He is not Patrick Mahomes. With 4 home games over the next 6 weeks, I like Trubisky if you are in a pinch or a 2 QB league but still think he is a stream option in plus matchups only QB in standard leagues.


Nyheim Hines (ESPN 15% / Yahoo 15%):

Nyheim Hines is a man crush of mine and someone I have been stashing in many of my leagues. Now is the time to attack if you are just realizing how good he can be in an Andrew Luck offense. With elite top end speed (4.38 40 yd-dash) and catching ability (13.7 college target share), Hines is positioning himself as the top RB to own in Indianapolis after getting the start this week vs Houston. Hines is the NEW RB of the NFL one that is lethal in the passing game (22/119/2). With Andrew Luck now rounding into shape, Hines is my top pick up of the week.

Duke Johnson Jr. (ESPN 56% / Yahoo 42%):

Similar to Powell below Duke is playing on a team that isn’t very good and will need to lean heavier on the passing game week in and week out to catch up. Insert Duke Johnson Jr. the primary pass catching RB for the Browns, you sprinkle a dash of Baker Mayfield and his accuracy and BAM you got the makings of a top waiver wire pick up. Remember Duke Johnson was an RB1 in PPR last year. I know the backfield is crowded but last weeks game shows promise for Johnson. Duke once again had a 30+% snap share and saw a season-high 6 targets. Duke is a nice bye week flex option right now.

Bilal Powell (ESPN 60% / Yahoo 58%): 

I love Bilal Powell and he has been the Jets starting RB for 4 straight weeks and no one seems to care. Powell has everything you are looking for in a candidate to get early before they bubble up to the surface and explode. He leads all RBs in offensive snaps (127), he leads all RBs in targets (16) is second only behind Quincy Enunwa in that same category, and only has 3 less rushing attempts than his teammate Isaiah Crowell. With the Jets most likely having to play from behind most of the season, Powell’s value will only increase the moment the Jets lean more on the pass.


Taylor Gabriel (ESPN 6% / Yahoo 6%):

I talked about Taylor Gabriel on last week’s Trophy Time Podcast (Go listen and how he was ready to break out due to consistently high snap share and target volume. Well, Gabriel did Sunday popping off to the tune of 7/7/104/2. Let your league mates go grab Keke Coutee who is only going to play a meaningful number of snaps if Fuller is injured. Gabriel is the #2 options in Chicago but is seeing #1 volume and is a must-own in all formats especially PPR.

DeDe Westbrook (ESPN 12% / Yahoo 17%): 

DeDe was one of my favorite WRs to watch when he was at Oklahoma and has now turned in two stellar performances this year. One of them being this week vs the Jets (13/9/130/0). The issue with investing in a Jags WR is their passing game is very inconsistent and they are one of the heaviest run-first teams in the league. What I LOVE about picking up Westbrook now is the Jags remaining schedule before their bye is RIPE for WR pts. Wk5 @ KC (32nd in passing yds allowed p/g) Wk 6 @ Dal (may still be without Sean Lee), Wk 7 vs Hou (27th in passing yds allowed p/g), and Wk 8 vs Phi (20th in passing yds allowed p/g). This is the stretch to own and play a Jags WR!

Taywan Taylor (ESPN 4% / Yahoo 3%):

In the Titans first game since honoring the release of WR Rishard Matthews, Taywan Taylor saw the 2nd highest amount of snaps at the WR position (45) and was tied for 2nd on the team in targets (9). Taywan Taylor is an explosive athlete (10.78 92nd percentile agility score) and is now the #2 option in the Titans passing game. Buy into the Titans passing offense now before the window closes.


Tyler Kroft (ESPN 1% / Yahoo 1%):

Tyler Eifert is once again injured and once again the TE duties will fall squarely on the other Tyler Mr. Kroft. That same Tyler Kroft who in week 16 most likely helped you win a league championship with a stat line of 8/6/53/2. Last year Kroft finished as the TE 15 and his 7 touchdowns were the 6th most of all tight ends. The Bengals offense is firing on all cylinders so far this season so attaching yourself to it with Kroft is just a smart fantasy decision.

Vance McDonald (ESPN 31% / Yahoo 43%):

McDonald is owned in less than 50% of Yahoo & ESPN leagues even after being named the starting TE for one of the most lethal passing attacks in football. With the TE position taking a major hit this week Vance is a must roster waiver wire option this week. With Atlanta coming to town the Steelers passing attack looks to once again be in for a big game. Atlanta is currently ranked 25th in passing yds allowed p/g (284.0) and is giving up 30.5 pts p/g. Even outside of the week 5 matchup vs the Falcons, McDonald is a must own TE in all formats and is startable for owners who lost a TE this past week.

Cameron Brate (ESPN 10% / Yahoo 24%):

Today Jameis Winston was named the starter for the Buccaneers week 6 game @ the Falcons (are you starting to see a pattern here?). With a touchdown in back to back games, Brate has begun to pay dividends in fantasy but the snap count & target volume have been too low to rely on him as a weekly starter. With Jameis back under center, this shifts the pendulum of power at TE back to Brate. Brate saw 77 targets last season with Jameis and should see a bump in volume starting in two weeks in the Atlanta.

That will do it for Week 4! Don’t forget to get those waiver claims in and thank you for reading I hope you enjoyed it. You can find me on Twitter @Trotta23. If you need EVEN more fantasy advice, you can follow The Gurus @TFFGurus & you can find all our season-long advice at I will see you all next Tuesday for another edition of The Waiver Wire. Until then may the health gods be forever in your favor.

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