Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 5

Damien Williams

THIS IS NORMALLY A PREMIUM WEEKLY FEATURE BUT FREE THIS WEEK ON FULLTIME.

After about four games, NFL teams are pretty much who they are. Teams that can’t stop the run are likely to struggle in that area all season, and teams that are scoring 30-plus points per game are likely to remain elite offenses all season.

This is less true in fantasy football, where managers have the chance to improve their rosters each and every week. Being proactive on the waive wire is the best way to do that, and knowing how much to bid on free agents is integral.

Here are the top low-owned free agents for fantasy football managers to targets ahead of Week 5.

FAAB denotes free agent acquisition budget

Damien Williams (RB) Chicago Bears (20% FAAB) – After David Montgomery was forced out of Chicago’s Week 4 victory with a knee hyperextended knee, Williams rushed eight times for 55 yards and punched in a red-zone score. With Montgomery expected to be sidelined multiple weeks, Williams offers weekly RB2 value and should play a substantial amount of Chicago’s snaps. Projected to earn 15-plus touches while Montgomery is out, Williams is worth a healthy bid and has the potential to deliver solid numbers over the next month.

Samaje Perine (RB) Cincinnati Bengals (12% FAAB) – Joe Mixon (ankle) is listed as week-to-week, which puts Perine in line to deliver RB2 numbers when Mixon is sidelined. Recall last year that Mixon was listed as week-to-week seemingly all season but never played again. It doesn’t sound like the low-grade ankle injury is all that serious but Perine is worth a fairly aggressive bid for fantasy managers who have Mixon rostered, or that need running back reinforcements.

Trey Lance (QB) San Francisco 49ers (10% FAAB) – When Jimmy Garoppolo emerged from the halftime locker rook nursing a calf injury, Trey Lance took the reigns of San Francisco’s offense and scored over 20 fantasy points in two-quarters of action. While Kyle Shanahan was committed to Garoppolo as his starter, Lance has the chance to steal that job if he can perform as well as he showed against Seattle. At this time, Garoppolo is tentatively expected to miss at least 2-3 games, which puts Lance in a position to draw this week’s start against the Cardinals and a home date against Indianapolis following the club’s Week 6 bye. Lance is worth a sizable bid as a streaming option but should be considered the top target in Superflex formats, worth about 20-25% of your remaining FAAB.

Hunter Renfrow (WR) Las Vegas Raiders (9% FAAB) – Quietly, Renfrow is a top-25 fantasy wideout entering Week 5 and is the only member of the Raiders, besides TE Darren Waller, who is consistently getting looks. While it’s hard to envision this volume carrying on all season, Renfrow does have weekly WR3/4 value and should be added in all formats.

Dawson Knox (TE) Buffalo Bills (8% FAAB) – Entering Week 5, Knox is a top-6 fantasy tight end in PPR leagues, yet is available in nearly 80% of ESPN fantasy leagues. Knox has found the end zone in three consecutive games and is now tied with Rob Gronkowski for a position-best four TDs on the season. Outside of the elite five or six fantasy tight ends, lack of volume is always a concern, but if Knox can continue to factor in in the red zone, he can be a viable weekly starter.

Kenneth Gainwell (RB) Philadelphia Eagles (8% FAAB) – Gainwell is seeing about 35-40% of Philadelphia’s snaps but could start to earn a larger share. Although still behind Myles Sanders on the depth chart, Gainwell is forcing more missed tackles and is producing 1.62 fantasy points per attempt, compared to 1.09 from Sanders. Gainwell also is seeing more touches in the red zone and could see push his way into an even timeshare, if not take over for the underwhelming Sanders.

Jamison Crowder (WR) New York Jets (7% FAAB) – After sitting out the first three games of 2021, Crowder looked terrific in his debut, catching 7-of-9 targets for 61 yards and a score. Crowder only accounted for 61 receiving yards, but that kind of shallow ADOT is a good fit for a rookie signal-caller who hopefully built some confidence. As long as Crowder remains the Jets’ main slot man, he’s got weekly WR3/4 value for the remainder of the season.

A.J. Green (WR) Arizona Cardinals (6% FAAB) – Currently the WR30 on the season, Green is rostered in only 27% of ESPN leagues but has exceeded 13 PPR points in his last three games while not ceding too many snaps to Rondale Moore. As long as Green remains ahead of Moore in the pecking order, he’s got solid weekly value in this potent offense. Green needs to be added in all leagues at this point.

Randall Cobb (WR) Green Bay Packers (5% FAAB) – Cobb led Green Bay in receiving last week, putting up a 5/69/2 line on Pittsburgh. Cobb did all that on just 33 snaps, but that figure represented a new season-high. Perhaps this performance will open up more snaps moving forward, and it’s not like the Packers are loaded with talented pass-catching options. Don’t overpay bases on the two TDs but Cobb is certainly worth a look in PPR formats.

Maxx Williams (TE) Arizona Cardinals (5% FAAB) – Williams is logging a healthy 72% snap share in one of the league’s top offenses. He’s also currently the No. 12 tight end in PPR leagues, so Williams is certainly being overlooked at a position that sees the majority of fantasy managers employ a committee or stream week-to-week.

Kalif Raymond (WR) Detroit Lions (5% FAAB) – Raymond now leads all Detroit wideouts with 205 snaps on the season, a 72.4% snap share. Raymond has multiple receptions in all four of the Lions’ games so far, and that extensive playing time makes him somebody to keep an eye on for an offense that will see lots of fantasy-friendly game scripts.

Van Jefferson (WR) Los Angeles Rams (5% FAAB) – This sophomore wideout has taken over as the Rams’ No. 3 wideout. Jefferson has amassed a 76.2% snap share on the season and just posted the best game of his young career. Jefferson has scored in two of his four games and surpassed 40 receiving yards and multiple receptions in 3-of-4.

Josh Reynolds (WR) Tennessee Titans (3% FAAB) – Like Jamison Crowder, Reynolds made his 2021 and recorded six grabs. I expect Reynolds to primarily play out of the slot when Brown and Jones return to the lineup, but he should see a fairly consistent target share, making him a viable bottom-of-roster addition in deeper fantasy leagues.

Josh Gordon (WR) Kansas City Chiefs (3% FAAB) – Gordon is far more likely to wash out than he is to hit big, but he landed on a premier offense that has lacked a proven wideout outside of Tyreek Hill. Andy Reid intimated that Gordon could be active as early as this week, so he’s worth a very modest bid. Don’t be disappointed if one of your league-mates overpays, Gordon is about as volatile as they come.

Jeremy McNichols (RB) Tennessee Titans (2% FAAB) – McNichols saw a career-high dozen targets in New York, thanks mostly to the Titans missing A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. He probably won’t see that many looks in any one game again, nor does he receive enough carries to be a factor, but McNichols appears to be the direct back-up to Derrick Henry, so he should be on fantasy radars.

Brandon Bolden (RB) New England Patriots (2% FAAB) – New England’s backfield is a mess. At this point, we’re just hoping Rhamondre Stevenson can exit Bill Belichick’s doghouse and get on the field because the current rotation isn’t getting it done. Just check out the usage from Week 4.

PLAYER
SNAPS
RUSH SHARE
TGT SHARE
PPR PTS
Brandon Bolden
19
12.5%
14.3%
5.1
Damien Harris
36
50%
4.8%
7.2
J.J. Taylor
4
25%
2.4%
(-2)
Jakob Johnson (FB)
16
0%
0%
0

Right now, Bolden appears to be the leader in the clubhouse for the James White role, but Damien Harris did run a career-high 17 pass routes. J.J. Taylor also fumbled so now maybe Stevenson gets a shot. For now, Bolden is worth a minimal bid in the hopes that he retains a weekly third-down role.

Alex Collins (RB) Seattle Seahawks (2% FAAB) – Chris Carson losing so many touches to Collins was one of the strangest outcomes from Week 4. Collins actually looked pretty good, so it’s something we could see more of in the coming weeks. For now, Collins is best left on the wire, but in deeper leagues, people that drafted Carson might want to make a minimal claim as insurance. Carson has never played 16 games in any season.

Dan Arnold (TE) Jacksonville Jaguars (2% FAAB) – It was pretty surprising to see Arnold actually get in on 18% of Jacksonville’s snaps after just be acquired in a trade. That bodes well for his potential role moving forward. The Jags’ 19-game losing streak has no end in sight, so Arnold could see a decent share of targets each week.

Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR) Detroit Lions (2% FAAB) – St. Brown was in on 72% of Detroit’s snaps last week and reeled in 6-of-8 targets for 70 yards. The Lions will be playing from behind in the vast majority of their games, so St. Brown should see plenty of favorable game scripts.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (WR) Tennessee Titans (2% FAAB) – Due to the absence of both A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, Westbrook-Ikhine played 81% of the Titans’ snaps in Week 3 and ran a route of 53 of Ryan Tannehills 63 dropbacks. That’s outstanding usage but the issue here is both of Tennessee’s wideouts should be back soon and Josh Reynolds is likely to take over WR3 duties, leaving little playing time for NWI and Chester Rogers moving forward.

Keelan Cole (WR) New York Jets (1% FAAB) – Taking advantage of Elijah Moore’s absence, Keelan Cole played 59% of New York’s snaps and put up a season-best 92 receiving yards. Moore is tentatively expected to be back in Week 5, so Cole isn’t a priority target.

Kyle Juszczyk (RB) San Francisco 49ers (1% FAAB) – Depending on the health of San Francisco’s backfield, Juszczyk can make an impact as a receiver out of the backfield. He’s caught four passes in each of San Francisco’s past two contests. That will likely change if/when the Niners get healthier at running back, but for now, the fullback is worth a look as an extremely low-cost source of targets.

Ricky Seals-Jones (TE) Washington Football Team (1% FAAB) – Logan Thomas will miss a game or two with a hamstring injury. That puts RSJ in a position to start for Washington, but he’s not likely to command enough of a target share to be anything more than a middling streamer.

Tavon Austin (WR) Jacksonville Jaguars (1% FAAB) – Austin could be the biggest benefactor of the season-ending injury to D.J. Chark. After Chark exited the game, Austin played nearly every down for the Jags, who were thrust into three-wide sets due to trailing in a close game. The playing time might be there for Austin, but there’s very little upside here, so he’s only worth a speculative add in the deepest of leagues.


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