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Targeting weekly waiver picks is a completely subjective business,
but this column hopes to point out some obvious and not-so-obvious
selections to help your team from week to week while you strive
to collect fantasy wins, reach your league playoffs and win the
elusive title that your friends say is out of your grasp. While
I’m a big proponent of making trades to bolster your roster,
the waiver wire can be an almost limitless resource when it comes
to discovering fantasy value in strange places. Each week, I’ll
highlight some of the popular (and not-so-popular) players who can
help your squad and may still be available in your league.
Palmer, ARI – Palmer could be a popular pickup this
week after throwing for 357-1-1 in Week 4. He’ll face the Eagles
in what could be a shootout in the city of Brotherly Love. I’ve
discussed how the veteran QB is not the most reliable fantasy
option, but he’s still available in about 20-40 percent of fantasy
leagues and should see TD passes pile up in the next few weeks
(@PHI, TB, @LAR).
Taylor, BUF –UPDATE:
Even without Jordan Matthews for the next several weeks, Taylor
is looking like a solid fill-in during a favorable run right up
until the fantasy playoffs take shape, with the exception of the
team’s Week 6 bye (@CIN, BYE, TB, OAK, @NYJ, NO, @LAC).
While he struggles with inconsistency and injury issues, Taylor
is a mobile, talented QB who can make all the throws and doesn’t
make too many egregious mistakes. Huge games are rare, but once
in a while Taylor busts out with an awesome rushing total and
3-4 TDs. Pick him up if he’s available.
Dalton, CIN –UPDATE: I had thought Dalton’s
ownership was higher than 50-60 percent, but in retrospect I should
have known more folks had cut ties after his duds in weeks 1 and
2. Dalton isn’t a great pickup this week since the Bengals
are facing the Bills, and the Bengals have a Week 6 bye, but if
you’ve got the roster space and need a quality QB, the Cincy
schedule is quite favorable the rest of the way and especially
in weeks 7-10 (@PIT, IND, @JAC, @TEN). Dalton makes this list
at least once a year.
Trubisky, CHI – Mike Glennon has been benched and Trubisky
takes over the starting role, which he is expected to hold onto
barring a catastrophe. The No.2 overall pick should be an upgrade
over Glennon and could be a fantasy wildcard. This isn’t a vote
of confidence, so temper your expectations of the rookie – he’s
only a worthwhile addition in deeper formats or as a lottery ticket
add in 12-team leagues.
Cutler, MIA – It’ll be hard to trust Cutler after a
terrible Week 4 performance in London, but as I mentioned before,
some folks might be running out of options. A home matchup against
the Titans might be just what Cutler needs to get his horrible
season back on track.
McCown, NYJ – McCown is rarely a viable fantasy option,
but Week 5 he faces his old team the Browns. If you’re a Derek
Carr owner (or would normally start bye week QBs Matt Ryan, Drew
Brees or Kirk Cousins) and desperate for a plug-n-play, McCown
is most likely available in your league and has some upside even
if he could easily bust. I’ll even have a share or two of him
in large-field, multi-entry DFS tournaments.
Goff, LAR – Goff completed 21-of-36 passes for 255
yards and two TDs in the Rams’ Week 4 win over the Cowboys. Todd
Gurley’s newfound effectiveness in the passing game has helped
to make Goff a dynamic fantasy option moving forward.
Watson, HOU – Watson exploded for 283-4-1 and four
carries for 24 rushing yards and a TD in the blowout win over
the Titans. He’s a must-own in all formats, though he’ll face
a stiffer test in Week 5 against the Chiefs.
Keenum, MIN – Keenum had a boring 209-0-0 in Week 4,
which became a war of attrition after Dalvin Cook’s injury. Sam
Bradford probably won’t return until Week 6, so we’ll probably
see Keenum for one more game in a decent matchup in Chicago against
Hoyer, SF – Hoyer had another weak performance against
the Cards (234-0-1 on 24-for-49 passing) but remains the 49ers
QB heading into Week 5 against the Colts, a better matchup for
the journeyman signal caller.
With Dalvin Cook (ACL) out for the year
the Vikings backfield will be heavily targeted on the Wk 5
Murray, MIN – Murray will likely be the most popular
RB on the waiver wire heading to Week 5, as the Cook injury was
confirmed as a torn ACL on Monday afternoon. Murray only tallied
21 yards on seven carries and added 2-8-0 receiving in limited
duty Sunday, but has put up solid fantasy numbers in the past
– though he never reached his full potential as a lead back in
Oakland. Murray is still capable of big games getting reliable
touches, but there’s a reason he was behind the rookie in Minnesota,
so don’t expect to be getting Cook-like numbers out of him in
the coming weeks.
Kamara, NO –UPDATE: He’s taking over most of
the passing down duties and logged a huge receiving line (10-71-1)
despite just five carries for 25 yards on Sunday in London. Adrian
Peterson isn’t getting reliable touches and the Saints never
seem to go overboard with Mark Ingram’s workload. Kamara
is not available in too many formats (owned in about 80-85 percent
of competitive leagues), but he’s a must-add across the
Gallman, NYG – Gallman looked better than any of the
other Giants backs in his NFL debut in Week 4. With Paul Perkins
(ribs) and Orleans Darkwa (inactive) unavailable, Gallman racked
up 11 carries for 42 yards and added 2-8-1 receiving, as he had
the coach’s confidence in the second half. One of Gallman’s weaknesses
– that he’s sort of a “jack-of-all-trades, master of none” running
back, could be a strength in the NFL on a team with glaring weaknesses
in all its backs. The rookie may not be flashy, but he needs to
be scooped up in all formats heading into Week 5, when he could
have a feature role as the winless Giants search for some identity
in the backfield.
Prosise & J.D.
McKissic, SEA – With Chris Carson likely out for the
season after suffering a broken ankle, we’re going to see more
of the usual cast of characters handling the carries for the Seahawks,
with the exception of newly added McKissic, a converted wideout
who took his first carry 30 yards for a TD and added a 27-yrd
TD reception late in Sunday night’s game. Prosise is still the
favored passing down back but remains questionable heading into
Week 5, as will Rawls, who like Prosise was inactive in Week 4.
Eddie Lacy is trending up and is now the default starter despite
being owned in just 20-35 percent of fantasy leagues. Normally,
this would be a situation to completely avoid, but the dynamism
of Seattle’s offense still offers huge upside to the “flavor of
the week” ball carrier.
Jones, GB –UPDATE:
With Ty Montgomery dealing with multiple broken ribs and doubtful
for this week’s matchup with Dallas, it’s likely that
Jones will take over as the lead back for the Packers. Jamaal
Williams is dealing with a knee injury, and Montgomery said he’ll
try to play through the issue but will err on the side of caution
with respect to risking serious injury to his vital organs. Jones
looked sharp on Thursday night and needs to be added in all formats.
Smallwood, PHI – Smallwood played a few less snaps
than LeGarrette Blount but remains the passing down/change-of-pace
back that complements the big fella’s head-of-steam, straight-line
approach to carrying the football. He had 10 carries for 34 yards
and a TD and added 4-45-0 receiving Sunday.
Johnson & Andre
Ellington, ARI – Johnson tallied just 32 yards in 13
carries as the main ball carrier, while Ellington caught 9-86-0
on 14 targets, adding 18 yards on five rushes. Ellington remains
the more productive back and the likeliest option for consistent
fantasy production, especially in PPR leagues.
Oliver, LAC – Melvin Gordon was good to go Sunday,
so Oliver finished with just two carries for 1 yard and 1-2-0
receiving. Not a very exciting day for this obvious handcuff.
Collins, BAL – Collins ran well with 82 yards on just
nine carries, but he lost a fumble and earned some remarks from
the coach following the game. He’s a must-own back in 12-team
leagues based on his effectiveness carrying the football in limited
opportunities this season, and could see more looks moving forward.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
Fuller, HOU – Chemistry alert! Not only did Watson
hook up with stud WR DeAndre Hopkins for 10-107-1, but he tossed
a couple TD passes to Fuller (4-35-2 on six targets) in the second-year
WR’s 2017 debut after missing the first three games with a broken
collarbone. I actually laughed in one league when he was drafted
in the later rounds, and now I feel like a dummy fort not considering
how a QB switch could greatly improve the Houston passing game
to the point where Fuller (just 15-30 percent owned) was a viable
fantasy target like he was at the start of 2016.
Marshall, NYG – The Giants may finally be figuring
out how to use Marshall, who’s owed in plenty of leagues but available
in about 15-25 percent. He’s now coming off consecutive weeks
of double-digit targets and has 14-112-0 over his last two games.
UPDATE: Marshal acknowledged his poor play thus far this season
and claims to be working to get better at making all the catches
and separating from defenders. I’m scooping him up based
on his physicality and experience.
Amendola, NE – Amendola is about 60-75 percent owned
despite being a popular target of the arguably the best QB of
all time. He posted 6-42-1 in Week 4 and seems to be fully recovered
from his knee injury. Amendola is one of many viable receivers
on the Pats, so there could be some weeks he disappears from the
box score, but his upside is there and he’s just too valuable
to be left on the waiver wire.
Thompson & Josh
Bellamy, CHI – While we’re on the topic of QB switches,
let’s talk about Wright and Bellamy, who should both see increases
in usage with Trubisky at the helm. Bellamy finished Week 4 with
just 3-36-0 but saw a total of six targets from Glennon, and Wright
had 4-51-1 on four targets. TE Zach Miller could also see more
targets the next few weeks. Thompson receives less fanfare but
saw nine targets in Week 4 and is playing the most offensive snaps.
Brate and O.J.
Howard, TB – Both Brate and Howard produced on Sunday,
combining for 6-143-2 in the win over the Giants. Brate (50-65
percent owned) will likely continue to see more targets (he saw
six to Howard’s four in Week 4), but Howard (15-30 percent owned)
is likely the more dynamic big-play tight end and long-term value.
Both should be owned in 12-team leagues.
Jones, BUF – Jones had just one catch for 18 yards
Sunday but is left as the Bills top receiver with Jordan Matthews
expected to miss about a month after thumb surgery. The rookie
is a sneaky prospective add in deeper leagues.
Kroft, CIN – Since Tyler Eifert will miss more time,
it’s okay to pick up Kroft after his big game (6-68-2 in Week
4) without worrying too much about it being a fluke. Still, it’s
likely his biggest game of 2017 seeing as he had just one career
TD coming into the matchup with Cleveland. Kroft is universally
available and faces the Bills in Week 5.
Funchess, CAR – Alright! Funchess had a monster day
with 7-70-2 in a big win over the Pats, and hopefully a lot of
our readers had him plugged in, regardless of Kelvin Benjamin
being active for Carolina. The 2015 second-rounder now had 17-216-2
on the season and is well on his way to obliterating last year’s
totals and surpassing the combined totals of his first two seasons.
There’s something to that third-year WR theory, folks!
Clay, BUF – That makes two in a row. Clay finished
with 5-112-0 as the Bills upset the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons
(who I had in my survivor pool and paid the fateful price of elimination).
Clay has an obvious rapport with Tyrod Taylor and big upside from
week-to-week; he’s a low-end TE1 and should be owned in all formats.
Richardson & Tyler
Lockett, SEA – Despite Doug Baldwin being active, both
Richardson (3-65-0) and Lockett (4-67-0, 24 rushing yards) contributed
for the Seahawks. The TDs should be coming for both in the ensuing
Shepard, NYG – Shepard had 5-54-0 Sunday and has been
snatched on in most leagues. He’s a WR3/4 who’s seeing targets
but could use some better QB play.
Lewis, JAC – Four targets, zero catches. The Marcedes
might be better off in the garage.