Week 5 Waiver Wire: Top Pickups
Sometimes in fantasy you have to look deeper than the mere scoring lists for your league's free agents. Week 5 is one of those times.
The running back position has been largely disappointing and is in shambles, so much that a backup running back facing an elite run defense looks like he might be the No. 1 player to add off waivers this week.
We are talking about Kendall Hunter of the San Francisco 49ers, who faces the Houston Texans this Sunday night. We break down all of the top pickups, ones to monitor and players to ignore, by position, in this six-part slideshow.
Quarterbacks: Add Brian Hoyer and Terrelle Pryor as Bye-Week Replacements
Quarterbacks to Add
Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns
One is a fluke; two is a trend. Hoyer, owned in 12 percent of CBS Sports leagues, has played well and is too good for the Browns to sit right now. With a limited running game and the burgeoning stardom of Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon, Hoyer has the potential to be a matchup play even in one-quarterback leagues during the bye weeks.
The next few weeks look promising, starting Thursday night against the Bills, who have given up the ninth most points to quarterbacks to date.
Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski explained his decision to the Associated Press on keeping Hoyer as his starting quarterback over Brandon Weeden (thumb), who has been cleared to play:
I think he improved from the week before. His decisions were very good. Just in talking him this morning, there were a few throws he would like to have made better. But you look at the drives—we had some long drives we were able to string together because some of the things he did on third down, the decisions he was making and the guys were rallying around him.
Why mess with a good thing? If you have been starting any of this week's quarterbacks on bye—Robert Griffin III, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Cassel/Christian Ponder or Mike Glennon/Josh Freeman—Hoyer is your fill-in.
Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders
We are going to relent on a player we have been stubborn on. He really can be a difference-maker for the Raiders and desperate fantasy owners. Owned in 40 percent of leagues, you might be able to start Pryor (concussion) in standard formats against a Chargers team that has been the worst in fantasy against quarterbacks.
After the Raiders cautiously held Pryor out against the Redskins—previously the worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks—coach Dennis Allen told the San Jose Mercury News that Matt Flynn's time as the starter is up:
Listen, Matt didn't play well and we have to move on. We have to get better from that, so hopefully [Pryor will] be ready to go for San Diego...Obviously, I don't think he saw the field very good today. I think he was obviously part of some of the sacks that we gave up in the game. It was a tough situation for him to go into, obviously with the loss of [Darren] McFadden and [Marcel] Reece, that didn't help him out any...Offensively we didn't get it done, and that's really the bottom line.
Pryor has a shot at a 20-plus point fantasy score against the Chargers.
Quarterback to Monitor
Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
He didn't play well enough in his debut Sunday to be added in fantasy, especially not heading into a bye week, but the weapons the Bucs have on offense might make Glennon a potential bye-week fill-in in a favorable matchup down the road. Watch him against Philly in Week 6, perhaps.
Quarterbacks to Ignore
Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
Just when the Titans look like they have something in Locker, the quarterback goes down for at least a month, Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean reports. Locker was intriguing enough to consider if he was healthy, but not intriguing enough to take up a valuable roster spot during the thick of the bye weeks.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tennessee Titans
Similarly, ignore Locker's backup, Fitzpatrick. Sure, Kenny Britt (ribs), Kendall Wright, Nate Washington, Justin Hunter and even Damian Williams represent a deep, if not strong, set of receivers, but Fitzpatrick has his limitations, and the Titans are more likely to simplify the offense and put the ball in Chris Johnson's hands more.
Running Backs: Add Kendall Hunter, Monitor Roy Helu and Ignore Ronnie Hillman
- Stevan Ridley is still the Patriots starter and gets the bulk of the touches.
- Brandon Bolden is also a factor, including near the goal line, in the Pats' running back committee.
- Perhaps most important in the short term, the Bengals' solid defensive front is not a favorable matchup in Week 5.
Running Backs to Add
Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers
We have been on this bandwagon for weeks, and Hunter has rewarded fantasy owners with touchdowns each of the past two games. He is still merely a change-of-pace back behind 30-year-old Frank Gore, but he is also just one Gore injury away from being an elite fantasy option. Owned in just 35 percent of leagues, Hunter has shown he can score for fantasy owners even when Gore is healthy and productive, too!
Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers
He is already owned in PPR formats, but Woodhead's two-touchdown performance is too good to overlook him in standard leagues now. He should be productive again against the Raiders on Sunday.
Rashad Jennings, Oakland Raiders
Jennings isn't a great play against a Chargers defense that is fifth best in fantasy against running backs, but the fact that Darren McFadden (hamstring) and Marcel Reece (knee) are question marks for Sunday, according to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, certainly enhances Jenning's short-term fantasy potential. You might even be able to consider him as a flex option if you have a running back injured or on bye.
Running Backs to Monitor
Roy Helu, Washington Redskins
If the Redskins weren't headed to a bye this week, Helu would be a must-add running back in place of Alfred Morris, who left Sunday's game with bruised ribs. Morris told the Washington Post the injury is "nothing serious," so Helu is merely a handcuff for Morris owners. You shouldn't feel compelled to add him with the Redskins on bye, but if Morris goes down again this season, you might want Helu stashed.
LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
There are myriad factors keeping Blount from being a true "add" above:
Merely monitor Blount's carry totals and goal-line touches, unless you're really desperate at running back or have a reserve spot available (who has that during the bye weeks?).
Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots
For the reasons listed above, Bolden isn't yet an add in fantasy. He does get more of the pass-catching duties, so he could be a sleeper in PPR formats, but again, Ridley is still going to get more touches as the weeks wear on, and Blount is still a goal-line vulture.
Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
Ellington is gaining popularity as Rashard Mendenhall's backup and handcuff, but the Cardinals are still a subpar running team. Bruce Arians expressed his frustration with Mendenhall to The Arizona Republic:
Rashard had a very tough day and he can't play that way. He can't run out of bounds. He's a veteran. And to run out of bounds at the end of the game, that was probably the worst mistake he made all day. We need to practice him a little bit harder. I think we've been too easy on him in practice because of his injuries, and we need to hone him up more because he's not gaining anything.
Reading that, we don't see anything that points to Arians going to an alternative at running back. He is merely going to ride Mendenhall harder. Ellington is still just a handcuff for Mendenhall owners. You should at least own Mendenhall over the likes of Alfonso Smith, Stepfan Taylor and Ryan Williams.
Mike Goodson, New York Jets
He returns this week from his four-game suspension and might immediately push for carries, according to Michael J. Fensome of the Newark Star-Ledger. The absence of Chris Ivory (hamstring) is the only reason Goodson might be considered right now. Bilal Powell should fully be expected to remain the workhorse feature back for the Jets.
Running Backs to Ignore
Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos
Hillman has been getting more touches than rookie Montee Ball, but Knowshon Moreno is still the starter and fantasy leader of this committee, and Ball is the most intriguing handcuff. Hillman won't get enough touches to be anything more than a desperation option through the bye season.
Chris Polk, Philadelphia Eagles
It was strange seeing Polk getting time, particularly with Bryce Brown as the heavily owned handcuff for LeSean McCoy owners. Polk scored on his first NFL carry merely because McCoy "couldn't breathe" due to the mile-high altitude, according to Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News. Brown also needed a breather at the time. Polk is a bad third option behind two potential fantasy stars.
Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts
He served as Trent Richardson's backup in a blowout but will slip back to being third string behind Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw (neck). Also, Seattle's defense is next up on the schedule. Yeah, Brown is still worthless, post-Richardson trade.
Anthony Dixon, San Francisco 49ers
He vultured a touchdown in the blowout of the Rams, but Gore and Hunter are healthy, and LaMichael James (knee) is getting there. James is still more intriguing than Dixon, even if the thumper will get a touchdown here or there.
Wide Receivers: Add Justin Blackmon, Alshon Jeffery and Ignore Jerome Simpson
Wide Receivers to Add
Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars
With his four-game suspension served, Blackmon is likely to start in Week 5, according to John Oehser of Jaguars.com. This is one of the best receiving talents in football, even if Cecil Shorts is the Jags' high-volume target and Blaine Gabbert is a virtual mess of a quarterback.
Blackmon will make others around him better, because he is that good. He is a must-own immediately.
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler and Marc Trestman are building something in Chicago offensively, and Jeffery is a big part of it. Jeffery reeled in five passes for 107 yards and a touchdown, and now can be considered a viable starter in all leagues during the bye weeks. Owned in 57 percent of CBS Sports leagues, your time is running out to get in on this rising stock.
Marlon Brown, Baltimore Ravens
Joe Flacco struggled with five interceptions, but he is going to have better weeks ahead, and Torrey Smith cannot do everything in the receiving game. Brown has three touchdowns in four weeks as a rookie. He is a starter for the Ravens and a solid bye-week fill-in option right now in fantasy.
Wide Receivers to Monitor
Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright and Damian Williams, Tennessee Titans
Britt (ribs) is going to return this week, according to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean, and Ryan Fitzpatrick is the quarterback for the next month or so. We need to let the dust settle here before we consider any of these guys sure-fire fantasy options, even during the bye weeks. Most likely it will be an ongoing mess to sort out week-to-week.
If you are dying to pick one of these guys, go with Britt, despite his tenuous status with the team amid a contract year. A surprising start should get Britt to straighten up and perform—or he might be traded to a team that appreciates him. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports Britt has been shopped.
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
We are just as surprised as you Vincent Brown hasn't gotten going for the resurgent Philip Rivers, but we are not surprised to see rookie Allen rising up. Allen is a legit talent long term, and he might even become fantasy viable during the bye weeks. Track his usage and targets in relation to Eddie Royal and Brown, because Rivers looks revitalized now.
Jerricho Cotchery, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger is going to be a gunslinger in this lost season for the Steelers, so Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders should be productive options. Cotchery might be, too, during the bye weeks. The problem right now is the Steelers are on bye in Week 5. Hold off on Cotchery, because he is still a fourth receiving option—behind tight end Heath Miller—for the Steelers.
Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills
The Bills cannot sustain anything with C.J. Spiller in the ground game, but Woods sure looks good working with fellow rookie EJ Manuel. Woods is going to be a star in this league, but right now he is still a secondary target behind Steve Johnson for a rookie quarterback who still doesn't reach the standard fantasy threshold yet.
Wide Receivers to Ignore
Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans
As a talent, we should all like Hunter, especially with touchdowns in back-to-back weeks. The problem here is his amount of targets and playing time behind Britt, Washington, Wright and even Williams. Hunter is more of a long-term keeper league pickup.
Jerome Simpson, Minnesota Vikings
You might have gotten excited about Simpson's Week 1 production, and that inner spark lit up again after Week 4. Well, the Vikings are on bye in Week 5, and you shouldn't forget the poor 2012 and the lack of production in Weeks 2 and 3.
Jeff Maehl, Philadelphia Eagles
Others to ignore
- Earl Bennett, Chicago Bears
- Brandon Gibson, Miami Dolphins
- Harry Douglas, Atlanta Falcons
- Ace Sanders, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Austin Pettis, St. Louis Rams
- Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys
Tight Ends: Add Coby Fleener, Monitor Garrett Graham
Tight Ends to Add
Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
He is this week's player where we say, "Congrats, now bench him!" Fleener proved to be a legit fantasy starter against the Jags, but the Seattle defense is next up on the schedule. You might not want to take a chance on trusting him in that matchup after winning him off waivers. Long term, Fleener is going to finish among the top 12 fantasy tight ends, though.
Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins
The targets and catches have been there every week, and now he has gotten a taste of the end zone at New Orleans on Monday night. Clay is now a tight end to consider as a starter during the bye weeks. His Week 5 matchup at Baltimore is not a favorable one, though.
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers
This is the third consecutive tight end you should add but not start in Week 5. It isn't because of the matchup, though. A healthy Miller is a solid play in all leagues, regardless of the opponent—he is just so heavily used in the Steelers offense. The problem with him this Sunday is the Steelers are on a bye. Don't let that keep you from owning him.
Tight Ends to Monitor
Garrett Graham, Houston Texans
We probably shouldn't be so stubborn here, but Graham is still the second-fiddle tight end to Owen Daniels in the Texans offense. Graham has been consistently productive, though, getting in the end zone in three of four games thus far. We just don't see Graham as a top-15 option playing behind Daniels, even if he has gotten some touchdowns. There have been some teams—OK, just the Patriots—that can support two fantasy-starter-quality tight ends.
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions
It figures as soon as you turn to rookie Joseph Fauria, the Lions would turn back to Pettigrew, who caught seven passes for 54 yards on Sunday. The free-agent-to-be can still be a factor for the pass-happy Lions, but the first three weeks of poor production should still keep you from trusting him, particularly since Fauria is the red-zone threat.
Tight Ends to Ignore
Sean McGrath, Kansas City Chiefs
McGrath abused the suspect Giants defense last week to the tune of five catches for 64 yards and a touchdown, but he is still a third-string option for the Chiefs. Anthony Fasano (ankle/knee) and rookie Travis Kelce (knee) would play over him if they were healthy. Even if they aren't, you should expect McGrath to be closer to his Week 2 and 3 production in most weeks (a few catches for 31 yards).
Mychal Rivera, Oakland Raiders
The rookie tight end found the end zone for Matt Flynn on Sunday, and Rivera has the depth chart in Oakland on his side, but Flynn is not going to start going forward. No one can be sure Rivera will get enough consistent targets from Terrelle Pryor at this point.
Others to Ignore
- Jeff Cumberland, New York Jets
- Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
- Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints
- Lance Kendricks, St. Louis Rams
- Matthew Mulligan, New England Patriots
Defensive/Special Teams: Add the Rams, Falcons and Monitor the Packers
Defense/Special Teams to Add
St. Louis Rams
They were abused by the 49ers in Week 4, but now the lowly Jaguars come to town. This makes the Rams, available in almost 60 percent of CBS Sports leagues, the must-have streaming option this week. They can get after the quarterback and should force some turnovers against the error-prone Blaine Gabbert.
They didn't do a thing to stop the Patriots on Sunday night, but the bumbling Jets come to town now. There is no way the Falcons are going to fall against that team at home on Monday Night Football. The Falcons are easily the second-best streaming option here because of the juicy matchup and prime circumstances.
They are coming off a bye and that huge Week 3 shutout against Eli Manning and the Giants. They get the equally error-prone Carson Palmer this week. It should be another banner fantasy week for one of the most underrated defensive teams in football.
San Diego Chargers
They are a lot better than they have shown to date, and they get the scuffling Raiders with a banged up Darren McFadden (hamstring) this week. Even if Terrelle Pryor (concussion) plays, the Chargers will stuff the run and force Pryor into some mistakes. The Chargers are owned in a mere eight percent of CBS Sports leagues, but they are a top-10 defensive play in Week 5.
Defensive/Special Teams to Monitor
Green Bay Packers
They were likely dropped amid their slow fantasy start and Week 4 bye, but there will be good weeks ahead for this unit led by Clay Matthews. You shouldn't trust them against the potent Lions, but watch them for favorable matchups down the road during the bye weeks, especially against the Browns (Week 7), Vikings (Week 8) and the New York Giants (Week 11).
They have been arguably the most surprising team in football, especially on defense. The problem in Week 5 is another surprising team and defense are on deck in the Kansas City Chiefs, who have been the fifth stingiest team in fantasy against opposing defenses. Watch the Titans, particularly with so many more intriguing streaming options above.
This unit can stuff the run, and it has shutdown corner Joe Haden playing arguably the best football outside of Seattle. The Browns also face the suspect Bills in Week 5. We just don't think you can trust the Browns on a week-to-week basis yet. Perhaps Thursday night will change some minds.
Defensive/Special Teams to Ignore
Joe Flacco handed them five interceptions. That won't happen again the rest of this season. This is a suspect defensive unit to avoid in fantasy, regardless of the matchup. That will be made apparent Thursday night against the upstart Cleveland Browns.
They have taken advantage of some suspect opponents, but the Seahawks won't be that in Week 5. Seattle still is one of the best teams in fantasy against opposing defenses—despite what the numbers say—because they will limit mistakes and sacks, and force the issue with their own defense.
Kickers: Mason Crosby Is a Must-Add with His Bye Week Done
Kickers to Add
Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
Not only does he have his bye week out of the way, he also gets the benefit of arguably the best offense in football to get him field-goal chances. Eddie Lacy's (concussion) return will help move the chains even if the Packers blow teams out and decide to take the foot off the gas pedal. Crosby has his 2012 funk out of his system and is a must-have fantasy kicker again.
David Akers, Detroit Lions
Coming off that huge week for the Lions and Akers, they get the Packers in a matchup that promises to be a shootout. Granted, the game is on the road on the Green Bay grass, but Akers should still be good for a few field goals and extra points. You need a bye-week replacement for Blair Walsh, after all.
Nick Novak, San Diego Chargers
He has been a frequent member of this list, and the Chargers and Philip Rivers continue to prove productive. Novak should be good for a field(-goal) day against the lowly Raiders.
Kickers to Monitor
Caleb Sturgis, Miami Dolphins
We loved the leg strength and accuracy but didn't like the matchup against the Saints. It isn't a great week to jump on him against the Ravens either. Continue to monitor him. After that Week 6 bye, he might be one of the must-have kickers in all of fantasy.
Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks
He has been a bit inconsistent week to week, but he is a viable option if you need a bye-week replacement. We would say he would be better at home, but kicking indoors this week at Indy instead of the often-slick Seattle turf makes him intriguing.
Kickers to Ignore
Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are going to have huge offensive weeks, but this upcoming matchup against the Seahawks is not one of them. Vinatieri is at replacement level of the position, so there is no reason to use him in an unfavorable matchup.
Shaun Suisham, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are going to have to open things up amid their slow start, which should mean more offensive production and points for the kicker. It showed in Week 4, but Suisham and the Steelers hit the bye in Week 5.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.
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