There is so much to process following another eventful week in the NFL. A lot of it has something to do with injuries to some popular fantasy football starters.
It’s a shame to see the likes of Julio Jones and Derek Carr suffer setbacks, but that doesn’t mean those players’ owners should fold their laptops or delete their fantasy apps because, hey, it’s only Week 4. The season is still young and a lot can change over the coming weeks.
Here are some options you should consider for waiver wire pickups in Week 5.
1. Deshaun Watson – Houston Texans QB (26.9% owned in ESPN)
The Houston Texans rookie quarterback seems to have shaken off the jitters of being a newbie in the pros. The Clemson product performed surgery on the Tennessee Titans’ defense last Sunday, passing for 283 yards while hooking up with Will Fuller for a pair of touchdowns on 25-of-34 completions.
Confidence is clearly growing for Watson, who’s now looking more and more comfortable playing under center. His stock is also boosted by his ability to take the ball and run with it. He has 149 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the season.
2. Alvin Kamara -New Orleans Saints RB (20.9% owned in ESPN)
At this point, Adrian Peterson owners must’ve moved on, and after the New Orleans Saints downed the Miami Dolphins in London with a 20-0 win, even Mark Ingram owners must be feeling as though there’s something nipping at their heels. That’s Kamara, who’s seen his role on the team grow bigger each week.
He had his breakout game against the Dolphins, rushing for only 25 yards on five carries, but he showed why he’s the most versatile tailback for the Saints by pulling down a team-high 10 catches on 10 targets (!), turning them into 71 receiving yards and a touchdown. Anyone looking for a replacement for Dalvin Cook on their fantasy team is highly advised to consider adding Kamara.
— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) October 1, 2017
3. Latavius Murray -Minnesota Vikings RB (20% owned in ESPN)
As if the injury to Sam Bradford isn’t enough to trouble the Minnesota Vikings, the team saw their starting running back, Dalvin Cook, go down with a knee injury on Sunday in a loss to the Detroit Lions. The Vikings can’t catch a break, but you can’t say the same with Murray, who’s now lined up to cover much of the void in the backfield left by Cook.
He’s not going to dominate the touches like Cook used to, as he’s expected to cede some snaps to Jerick McKinnon, but he’s expected to be the lead tailback nonetheless. Also, remember that it wasn’t long ago when Murray was the top rusher for the Oakland Raiders, leading that team last season with 788 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.
4. Wendell Smallwood – Philadelphia Eagles RB (15.5% owned in ESPN)
Darren Sproles has been ruled out for the season after receiving a bad combo of an ACL tear and a broken arm in Week 3. That places Smallwood in a position to receive more snaps and more touches. The Eagles began giving him that last Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers; Smallwood even led Eagles running backs in snaps. Smallwood’s pass-catching ability helps mitigate the loss of Sproles, as evidenced by the six looks he got from Carson Wentz in the Chargers game – most among all Philly running backs.
Overall, he had 34 rushing yards and a touchdown on 10 carries in that game while also hauling in four catches for 45 receiving yards. LeGarrette Blount is the top option in the backfield, but Smallwood sure looks like the most dynamic.
5. Devin Funchess – Carolina Panthers WR (13.2 % owned in ESPN)
We noted Devin Funchess among the ten best waiver wire pickups after Week 2 following Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen’s designation to the injury reserve list. Those who obliged to scoop Funchess off the wire were rewarded with a robust performance from the wide receiver last Sunday against the New England Patriots.
Funchess racked up 70 receiving yards on a team-high seven catches. He was also targeted nine times, five more than anyone on the team. With Cam Newton finally finding his footing in the Patriots game, Funchess could enjoy a similar amount of attention from the quarterback moving forward, or until Olsen gets back on the field.
6. Will Fuller – Houston Texans WR (8.7 % owned in ESPN)
What rust? Will Fuller announced his return to action after missing the first three weeks with a collarbone injury by corralling two receiving touchdowns and finishing Sunday’s 57-14 win against the Tennessee Titans with 35 receiving yards on four catches. The fact that he also got six targets—second on the team—in his first regular season game alongside Deshaun Watson speaks volumes about just how much trust the rookie quarterback has in the sophomore wideout.
7. Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers RB (2.2% owned in ESPN)
Green Bay Packers running back Ty Montgomery badly injured his ribs in last Thursday’s triumph over the Chicago Bears, opening the door for a rookie out of UTEP in Aaron Jones to step into the light and capitalize on the break he was given.
Jones went to work right away and handled 13 carries for 49 rushing yards and a touchdown. Montgomery could miss time with the injury, leaving Jones and fellow rookie Jamaal Williams likely to share backfield duties. Williams, however, was also hurt in the Chicago game, and even if he’s declared active for Week 5, he might still be a little banged up for the Packers to give him sole ownership of the keys in the backfield. It’s a good idea to stash Jones at the very least.
8. Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens RB (0.4% owned in ESPN)
The Baltimore Ravens have a garbage offense right now, but some fantasy owners could still find a few piece useful useful. You could take Alex Collins and place him on your bench at the very least after duplicating his numbers in last week’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Just like the previous week in London, Collins had 82 rushing yards on nine catches in a 26-9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 4. Collins isn’t a significant player in the passing game like Javorius Allen, but the carries appear to be piling up for the Arkansas product.
9. Elijah McGuire – New York Jets RB (0.2% owned in ESPN)
Sometimes, the first one to get waiver wire gold is also the first one to overreact. That’s exactly why we are keeping an optimistic approach towards New York Jets running back Elijah McGuire and his Week 4 explosion, where he rushed for 93 yards on 10 carries in a 23-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
He might have also earned a defined role in the passing game after securing two receptions for 38 yards against the Jaguars. Matt Forte could be back from a toe injury that held him out last Sunday, but the Jets might be thinking of giving McGuire another go next Sunday in Cleveland.
10. Tyler Kroft – Cincinnati Bengals TE (0.2% owned in ESPN)
It’s another Tyler starring in the tight end position for the Cincinnati Bengals.
With Tyler Eifert out last Sunday with a back injury, Andy Dalton turned to Tyler Kroft, who seized his opportunity and torched the Browns for 68 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Dalton’s got his moxie back too (oh the benefits of battling Cleveland), which means Kroft could be in line for the same amount of attention from the quarterback moving forward.