The road to a fantasy championship is never a smooth ride, free of impediments and injuries. Every season has its challenges. Fortunately, the waiver wire never takes a week off. If you have roster problems, we have plenty of potential solutions. Each week around here, we identify a collection of useful fantasy options, all of them available in a majority of Yahoo leagues.
Teams on bye in Week 6: Packers, Steelers
Johnson was actually among the most-dropped players in Yahoo leagues in the days following his concussion-related early exit from Thursday Night Football. But the rookie is likely headed for an uptick in workload, assuming he’s cleared for action in Week 6. (We wouldn’t typically assume a rapid return, but the extra three days should help.) Khalil Herbert suffered a high-ankle sprain on Thursday while attempting to snag an underthrown pass, so he could be looking at a multi-week absence.
The Bears have a string of user-friendly defenses ahead on the schedule, beginning with a home matchup against Minnesota. This is no time to send Chicago running backs to the discard pile. Johnson has played extremely well in his rotational role in the early weeks, averaging 4.9 YPC and 5.3 yards per catch. Additional usage would make him an obvious fantasy starter. He’s an absolute nightmare to tackle when he gets rolling:
D’Onta Foreman has been a healthy scratch over Chicago’s last four games, but he’ll clearly reenter this team’s backfield mix as well and he deserves deep-league attention.
Recommended FAB, assuming $100 budget: $26
Another week, another Ravens running back to chase on the wire. We’re burning a silly amount of FAB resources on these guys, in keeping with tradition. Hill reemerged as a key committee member on Sunday, handling 11 touches, gaining 45 scrimmage yards and delivering the game’s first touchdown:
He was again the only Baltimore back to catch a pass, finishing with four receptions on as many targets. Hill is clearly a full and trusted member of the Ravens backfield committee, plus he’s the only RB on the team with any PPR appeal. This week, Baltimore travels to London for a matchup with Tennessee, a team that just allowed 195 unexpected yards to Zack Moss.
James Conner exited with a knee issue on Sunday following a terrific run, leaving Demercado as the next man up in the Cards backfield. The undrafted rookie from TCU was excellent in relief, carrying 10 times for 45 yards with this 11-yard TD included:
Demercado actually played 35% of the snaps for Arizona in Week 4, so he’d begun to carve out a role well before Conner’s injury. Keaontay Ingram is dealing with a neck injury and was inactive on Sunday.
Some of you may remember Demercado from his 150-yard performance against Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl, when he handled a full workload following Kendre Miller’s knee injury. He’s a bruising back with receiving ability who could be looking at significant touches in Week 6 against the Rams, depending on Conner’s status. Arizona claimed Tony Jones Jr. on Monday, but he figures to be a depth add. Demercado is the priority in this team’s backfield.
We didn’t enter the season expecting any sort of committee arrangement in the Titans backfield, and yet that’s what we appear to have. Derrick Henry turned his 16 touches into 62 scoreless yards on Sunday, while Spears converted his 11 touches into 69 yards and an impressive 19-yard TD:
Spears, a rookie from Tulane, came into the week having played 50% of the offensive snaps for Tennessee this season, so Sunday’s usage wasn’t particularly shocking. He has standalone flex value moving forward, and, if Henry misses time at any point, he has must-start potential.
Additional RBs on the wire
Because we simply cannot have nice things: De’Von Achane picked up a knee injury on Sunday, which of course has the potential to sideline him in an appealing home matchup with Carolina in Week 6. Jeff Wilson Jr. should soon be available to practice and is obviously worth adding as an insurance policy. He certainly doesn’t have Achane’s rare athletic traits, but he was a productive runner in Mike McDaniel’s offense last season.
D’Onta Foreman is Chicago’s break-glass-in-case-of-emergency running back and there’s really no question that he’ll be needed in Week 6, following the injury to Khalil Herbert.
Kendre Miller had a beefy role for the Saints as they mauled New England on Sunday, carrying a dozen times for 37 yards and catching four passes for 53. He’s the clear understudy to Alvin Kamara at the moment.
Chuba Hubbard is now splitting snaps evenly with Miles Sanders in a go-nowhere offense, if that interests you at all. Neither back has made much fantasy noise.
Jordan Mason ran as the clear No. 2 back for the Niners with Elijah Mitchell (knee) sidelined, rushing 10 times for 69 yards and a score against Dallas.
Wide receivers and tight ends
Indy’s rookie slot receiver just delivered his most productive day as a pro, snagging all six of his targets for 97 yards, thriving with both Anthony Richardson and Gardner Minshew behind center. Downs is just two weeks removed from a 12-target game, so volume certainly hasn’t been an issue. He’s been mostly a short-range weapon to this point, but he’s demonstrated an ability to get deep as well:
Downs was a fantastically productive collegiate receiver at UNC, catching 195 balls for 2,364 yards and 19 scores over his last two seasons. He’s gonna be an ongoing problem for opposing defenses, no matter who’s at the controls of the Colts offense, which looks like Minshew for the time being.
Rice’s second touchdown of the season was a second-half go-ahead score at Minnesota on which he took a huge shot, shrugged it off, completed the catch and celebrated like a vet:
We haven’t yet seen a huge yardage performance from the SMU rookie, but he’s clearly becoming a circle-of-trust receiver for Patrick Mahomes. Rice has good size, exceptional leaping ability (41-inch vertical) and he’s attached to a wizard of a QB. Rice’s snap counts have been heading the right direction, too. It’s easy to imagine a breakout performance coming soon — possibly this Thursday at home against Denver’s squishy defense.
It wasn’t difficult to see a big day coming for Reynolds with Amon-Ra St. Brown (abdomen) sidelined in Week 5. As expected, Reynolds delivered. He caught four balls for 76 yards against Carolina, snagging a 1-yard toe-drag score:
By now, you should surely know about the rapport that exists between Reynolds and Jared Goff, dating back to their Rams days. Let the record show the veteran receiver was plenty productive before St. Brown’s injury. He’ll remain a factor moving forward in one of the league’s most productive offenses.
Logan Thomas, Washington Commanders (15%)
A lightly rostered tight end was targeted 11 times, you say?
Yup, he’s an automatic pickup at this miserable position.
Thomas hauled in nine balls for 77 yards and one score on Thursday, leading all Washington receivers in every category that matters. He opened the year with an 8-target game against Arizona, too, so it’s not as if this past week’s usage was completely unprecedented. In all likelihood, your fantasy team’s starting tight end does not have a 9-catch game to his credit this season. Thomas belongs in our waiver plans.
Other priority WRs and TEs
K.J. Osborn was targeted nine times in the loss to KC and he’s headed for similar volume in the weeks ahead with Justin Jefferson (hamstring) expected to miss multiple games.
Kadarius Toney has managed to catch 13 of his 14 targets since his disastrous drop-filled season-opening effort. We’re not talking about high-yield downfield targets here (3.5 ADOT), but, hey, it’s a kind of progress.
Curtis Samuel has found the end zone in back-to-back games and he delivered a 6-65-1 receiving line on Thursday.
It’s not wild to hope the Chargers drew up a few opportunities for rookie Quentin Johnston during the team’s bye.
Dalton Schultz saw significant volume for the first time this season in Week 5 and turned it into a useful 7-65-1 performance.
After five weeks, it’s still not clear that Howell is actually good in a traditional sense, but he’s certainly fun. He passed for 388 yards and two scores in a failed comeback effort against the Bears on Thursday, although he also threw an ugly interception (his sixth this season) and he was sacked another five times. Howell is currently on pace to take 99 sacks this year, which … well, it’s ridiculous and it may not be survivable. It would of course destroy David Carr’s single-season record (76).
Still, Howell is plenty persistent and his rushing ability is well documented — he ran for a two-point conversion in the loss to Chicago. His receiving corps is excellent as well. Washington’s upcoming schedule doesn’t have a stay-away matchup any time soon — the Commanders have the Falcons, Giants and Eagles upcoming — so Howell can help you navigate the byes.
Additional QB pickups
Baker Mayfield is now past his bye, coming off a 3-TD performance and headed for a potential shootout with Detroit.
Gardner Minshew will get a start against a former employer this week with Anthony Richardson sidelined by his shoulder injury.
Desmond Ridder feels like a dangerous dice roll, but he’s coming off a 329-yard, 2-TD performance and he’s preparing to face a Washington defense that was just cooked by Chicago.
Jacksonville Jaguars, D/ST (16%)
The Jaguars finally get a legitimate home game after two weeks in London, as the Colts and Gardner Minshew roll into town in Week 6. Jacksonville’s defense has generated 11 takeaways through five weeks, tied for second-most in the league. The Jaguars face the Saints and Steelers following the Indy matchup, so this unit might be more than a single-use defense.