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Waiver Wire Week 5: Stat Projections for Top Fantasy Pickups and Sleepers

Theo SalaunContributor IIIOctober 1, 2019

Seattle Seahawks tight end Will Dissly (88) pulls in a touchdown pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

A quarter of the way through the 2019 NFL season and wins are starting to matter more as the fantasy playoffs inch closer. With smaller waiver budgets and barer free-agent pools, the time is nigh to get the utmost value out of your pickups and sleepers.

Average draft position is starting to feel like a figment of the past, so we no longer need to invoke our investments when trimming our roster fat and selecting our weekly starters. Even if it means benching or dropping someone like Jared Cook (whose ADP was around the sixth round this season), fantasy owners have to put their team's needs over the hubris of their preseason evaluations.

We'll run through each skill position, detailing and projecting stats for, a top pickup (owned in fewer than 30 percent of Yahoo leagues) and an underappreciated sleeper who has the potential to vastly outperform expectations.

                   

Quarterback

Top Pickup: Gardner Minshew II, Jacksonville Jaguars (15 percent owned)

With the power of memes and the inimitable, undefinable quality of mojo, Minshew has cemented himself as the head predator for the Jacksonville attack. He has seven touchdowns to just one interception this season and could amp up his production as his, and the team's, confidence grows and game scripts call for more passing attempts. Attacksonville Jaguars, anyone?

We should be able to expect 200-plus passing yards with a two-to-one touchdown-to-interception rate from Minshew this season, with the potential to score much higher when the Jaguars are forced into passing game scripts.

                   

Top Sleeper: Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts

Brissett has quietly and consistently climbed to become the QB9 in standard leagues. The Indianapolis weapons are filthy when Marlon Mack and TY Hilton are healthy, so Brissett is a legitimate fantasy play if he can continue to master his ownership over Frank Reich's offense. 

Moving forward, Brissett shouldn't be expected to have a crazy ceiling, but he could regularly be hitting 300-plus yards and a few touchdowns with minimal interceptions. Sprinkle in some rushing yardage for good measure, and you've got a quality pickup.

                   

Running Back

Top Pickup: Jaylen Samuels, Pittsburgh Steelers (30 percent owned)

He out-touched James Conner, who has some injury concerns, in Week 4. If Samuels is going to continue getting wildcat passing attempts alongside his rushing and receiving work, then he is immediately elevated from a premium handcuff and into must-add contention.

If Samuels is able to maintain this workload, he's likely to average around 90 total yards and a touchdown per week. If Conner gets injured or consistently outperformed, that could balloon to 120 yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game. 

                                        

Top Sleeper: Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

If Ronald Jones is still available in your league, go scoop him. It's an ugly committee for fantasy owners in Tampa Bay, but Jones may soon be slipping away from the pack. Peyton Barber is an unexciting runner even if he must be a great locker-room presence. Dare Ogunbowale hasn't shown he's anything more than a pass-catching back. And Jones has 33 carries for 150 yards and a touchdown over the past two weeks. He's getting opportunity, making use of it and could soon earn the right to more looks—especially since he's turned his two lone targets over that same span into 53 yards and another touchdown.

                                          

Wide Receiver

Top Pickup: Dante Pettis, San Francisco 49ers (21 percent owned)

Pettis was in Kyle Shanahan's dog house, but he went into the bye week having earned the most targets for a San Francisco receiver and the game-winning touchdown. Now, he comes out of the bye with his head coach's confidence, as Shanahan said, per NBCS, that Pettis is "at where he left off last year." He might finally be emerging as the team's top wideout, and that's worth a speculative add.

Expect five targets to be Pettis' new baseline moving forward. If he capitalizes then those monstrous 100-plus yard games with one-to-two touchdowns we all envisaged for him after a breakout rookie campaign are entirely reasonable.

                       

Top Sleeper: Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills

Cole Beasley is quickly establishing himself as the dink-and-dunk maestro for the Bills, a team in desperate need of intermediate passing stability. He's racked up 23 targets over the past two weeks for 15 receptions, 123 yards and one two-point conversion. With that many targets, the Bills are obviously looking to get him involved for some consistency in the offense and his scoring output should increase as Josh Allen (or Matt Barkley if Allen remains sidelined after getting hit in Week 4) gets more comfortable with Beasley's route tree.

                                                           

Tight End

Top Pickup: Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills (14 percent owned)

Among tight ends, the top pickups have mostly been Mark Andrews, Darren Waller and Will Dissly, with their ownership percentages all skyrocketing. Knox is an interesting, speculative add whose talent (just google his highlights) and pedigree (third-round pick in 2019) could engender more opportunity in a Buffalo attack that needs stability. 

(If you need a tight end for just this week, consider Tyler Eifert who gets to go up against an Arizona Cardinals defense that is allowing innumerable points to tight ends this season.)

While Knox can't be expected to hit the 100-plus yardage total for games just yet, he should start getting regular red-zone looks and around four catches for 60 yards per game. Eifert, on the other hand, should grab eight catches for 95 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals in Week 5.

                                        

Top Sleeper: Chris Herndon, New York Jets

After a four-game suspension, Chris Herndon is back. He had a promising rookie campaign, racking up 502 yards and four touchdowns while showing some potential to earn a large cut of the target share. There were only three games in which he saw seven or more targets, and he scored a touchdown in two of them. If Herndon takes a step this season, his return lining up with Sam Darnold's might be fortuitous timing for owners looking at upside in their tight end slot.

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