Injuries and bye weeks are the top challenges for fantasy football managers next week. Guys like Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall were hurt on Sunday, along with the New York Giants fans’ feelings after seeing their team drop to 0-5.
The Miami Dolphins also lost DeVante Parker in Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, while the Buffalo Bills are staring at the prospect of missing tight end Charles Clay next week because of a knee problem. If you’re only of the many who are affected by these news, it’s about time to scout the guys available and make these waiver wire pickups.
1. Jaron Brown – Arizona Cardinals WR (24.7 owned in ESPN)
The Cardinals looked listless in a 34-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. But, that’s an adjective that fit Arizona’s backfield and defense more. Carson Palmer still managed 291 passing yards and a touchdown, with Brown targeted six times. The wide receiver caught just three passes for 39 receiving yards, but he should continue to get a ton of attention from Palmer in a pass-heavy offense.
On top of that, the Cardinals must be licking their chops at the prospect of raiding the air next week against Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ stop unit that has allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
2. Nelson Agholor – Philadelphia Eagles WR (19.5% owned in ESPN)
Agholor was a big thorn in the side of the Cardinals on Sunday, catching four passes for a team-high 93 receiving yards with a touchdown to boot. He’ll likely play a big role for the Eagles in the weeks to come, as he’s definitely been repaying the trust that Carson Wentz has giving him. Agholor is mostly used as a slot receiver and is finding plenty of opportunities with opposing defenses focusing on containing teammates LeGarrette Blount and Alshon Jeffery.
3. Jacoby Brissett– Indianapolis Colts QB (16.0% owned in ESPN)
Brissett won’t get a bronze statue of his likeness outside of Lucas Oil Stadium, but fantasy football owners who scooped him up off the wire last week and started him should at least yell his praises on Twitter. While Brissett didn’t throw a touchdown and had an interception on Sunday against the Niners, he still threw for 314 yards on 22-of-34 completions. That’s good for 17 fantasy points in standard leagues, which was a decent output for owners who used him as a mere placeholder for Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan, or Drew Brees, who were all on byes.
Brissett still holds value next week against the Tennessee Titans and their defense that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks through five weeks of the season.
4. Ed Dickson – Carolina Panthers TE (8.7% owned in ESPN)
Instead of regressing, Dickson went the other way and straight up toyed with the Detroit Lions’ coverage in Week 5. Dickson punched the Detroit’s defense in the mouth for 175 scintillating receiving yards, catching all five targets from Cam Newton. That more than doubled his 62 receiving yards last week in the win over the New England Patriots. He’ll be a hot commodity on the waiver wire this week and could relish his status as one of Newton’s favorite targets for as long as Greg Olsen is out.
5. Matt Breida – San Francisco 49ers RB (7.1% owned in ESPN)
For the first time this season, a player not named Carlos Hyde led the 49ers in rushing yards in a game, with Matt Breida pacing the team with 49 yards on the ground in the loss to the Colts Sunday. Not only that, Breida also got more carries than Hyde (10-8) and had more snaps (35-33).
It’s not a spontaneous experiment for San Francisco. Hyde’s snaps have gradually declined since Week 2, while Breida’s have gone up over that stretch. The Washington Redskins are going to be a tougher challenge than the Colts, but it seems that the 49ers are growing more and more committed to Breida, and it might just be a matter of time before the rookie snatches Hyde’s starting role completely.
6. Mike Williams – Los Angeles Chargers WR (7.0% owned in ESPN)
Earlier, it was reported that Williams is set to make his pro debut in Week 6 against the Oakland Chargers, but in a later update by Adam Schefter of ESPN, a Chargers official said that it’s not something that’s 100 percent set in stone. Either way, it’s a good idea to stash Williams right now.
The Chargers are in need of playmakers like Williams, whose size and athleticism could help the team, especially on third-down situations; the Chargers are among the worst in the NFL in third-down conversions. Moreover, Williams has a shot at overtaking Tyrell Williams on the depth chart. The latter is coming off a one-catch, 22-yard effort in the win over the New York Giants, a game in which Philip Rivers threw 44 passes and spread the wealth across seven targets.
7. Corey Clement — Philadelphia Eagles RB (4.2% owned in ESPN)
The extent of Wendell Smallwood’s knee injury is still unknown; if he misses more time beyond Week 5, Clement should be in line for at least a similar workload to the one he had on Sunday against the Cardinals. Clement had seven carries for just 17 rushing yards, which is not exactly a number that will make you jump out of your seat. But, considering that Clement only had three fewer snaps in that game than LeGarrette Blount, the rookie running back might just have carved himself a meaningful role in the Eagles’ backfield.
8. George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers TE (1.1% owned in ESPN)
Plenty of managers will have their attention trained on Kittle this week. The 49ers tight end certainly demands a look heading into Week 6 after a breakout game Sunday in a loss to the Colts, where he secured seven catches for 83 yards on nine targets. Kittle is up for a favorable challenge in the form of the Redskins.
Washington’s defense has been routinely abused by opposing tight ends, allowing the third-most fantasy points to players that share the same position with Kittle. Another relevant tidbit: the Redskins ended Week 4 with the fourth-worst DVOA against tight ends, per Football Outsiders.
9. Darren Fells – Detroit Lions TE (0.2% owned in ESPN)
If your starting tight end’s team is scheduled for a bye in Week 6, or if you simply have drained your remaining hope for Eric Ebron, Darren Fells should be a worthy target on the waivers. Ebron is rapidly exhausting Detroit’s patience as its 2014 first-round pick, and he could be looking at an even smaller role moving forward after going 1-for-4 for just six yards in the loss on Sunday to Carolina. Ebron also dropped a very catchable red zone pass in the Panthers game, while Fells had two touchdowns on two catches, further fueling speculations that it won’t be long before Fells overtakes Ebron in the Lions’ passing attack.
10. Roger Lewis – New York Giants WR (0.1% owned in ESPN)
The sight of Odell Beckham Jr. crying as he was being carted off the field with a serious ankle injury wasn’t the only ugly thing Giants fans had to endure on Sunday, as Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall also exited the contest with injuries.
Beckham is gone for the season as well as Marshall, giving Lewis’ stock a nice bump. Should Shepard miss time, Lewis will become an even bigger target on the waiver wire, and that’s despite the fact the Giants will play their next two games against the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks, respectively. You’ll likely just add Lewis for depth purposes for now, but it’s looking like he’s got his road paved for a significant increase in snaps and targets.