Week 5 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Grabs
Pretend you're on a cross country trip; driving along a barren stretch of Interstate looking for lodgings for the night. You pass by two motel advert signs, one for Best Western and the other looks privately owned. Which would you check out first after taking the exit? The one closest after you come off the ramp? The name-brand franchise? The one you think might be cheaper? Do a drive-by of both first to see how each looks from from the outside?
Not easy to answer. You might say a lot of the decision depends on your mood or how tired you are.
In fantasy football, right from the very moment you enter a draft, you are in a game of decision. We make decisions all the time. We decide lineups, waivers, trades, who to drop, who to grab, etc. Sure, you get know-it-alls on Twitter that like to think they have the right decision for everything, but in the end much of it is just fantasy football statistical alchemy. We cannot decide outcomes - no matter how smart we think we are.
I have pulled away somewhat from relying too heavily on statistics for decisions in recent years, because the effort I was putting in was just not giving back enough. I prefer the eye test nowadays and seeing what players are doing, rather than strictly what the numbers say. I don't give up on the tried and true of some statistics, but generally the weight I give is much different now than before.
I look ahead and try to picture how the player roles may shift on a team down the road. You can fault me perhaps on putting too much optimism in a young prospect; after seeing only a flash or two of good football from them. I sometimes inflate, or deflate, my expectations too much, but I'm on an anti-overthink kick at the moment.
These and many other ideas go into my decision process these days. But you can always count on this: I will stand by those decisions and play the advice you see in my columns.
Week 5 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire
Bye Week: Jaguars, Chiefs, Saints, Seahawks
Sounded like a rant, didn't it? Oh well, I didn't have a great Week 4, so I'm a bit grumpy. The pickings aren't as exciting as last week, but there is still time for another gem to emerge from somewhere.
It's another week and another rummage through the bone pile to see if there are any good prospects. Remember that I select only players owned in no more than roughly 30-35% of Yahoo leagues.
Picking up players, means you have to cut someone. Alex Hamrick has his weekly drop list to help with that.
**Percentages based on Yahoo ownership
Quarterbacks all vary depending on your league, so you can never be certain of who would be available where.
Carson Wentz (39%) has the best match up of quarterbacks with loose ownership. The Eagles are at Detroit and considering the relatively fine outing Mariota had there, Wentz should enjoy the same, if not better.
Bryan Hoyer, Chicago Bears (5%)
A very nice streaming option this week against the Colts. Hoyer has surprised fantasy football over the past couple of weeks, with two consecutive 300 yard passing games and no interceptions in either. Hoyer has out-performed Cutler and apparently has all but secured the role as starter. Quite an amazing thing. Drop Cutler if owned.
Another fine matchup for Hoyer awaits in a game that has serious post-season pursuit ramifications. Both teams are at 1-3. The Colts give up the 9th most fantasy points to quarterbacks.
Bilal Powell, New York Jets (23%)
Somewhere down the road, if the Jets overworked Matt Forte, it would affect his health and reliable productivity. The Jets, obviously aware of this, scaled back his touches over the past two games. By easing Forte's load here and there, they could save a few heavy touch games for when they really needed him. Sounds good in theory, right?
Well, Bilal Powell is doing all the receiving out of the backfield these past two games. Not only that, the snap count from a 60-40 split in favor of Forte in Week 3 vs the Chiefs, diminished further against the Seahawks to 48-52 in favor of Powell. This could be gameplan stuff, but if I'm a Forte owner, I'm still not happy about the trend.
Forte owners should have Bilal Powell on their rosters now, just in case. Further news of Forte's health is something to keep watch on as he went for X-rays on the cart after the contest.
Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens (29%)
The Baltimore Ravens backfield had a breakthrough of sorts on Sunday. Terrance West, always in the mix over the first three weeks, held the feature role ahead of Forsett for the first time. Forsett was this time the healthy scratch - instead of Javorius Allen.
West didn't waste the opportunity and rushed 21 times for 113 yards. This performance might put a delay on Kenneth Dixon (25%) stashers because John Harbaugh is presumably just riding the hot hand. Terrance West could be in that spot for some time as the Ravens matchups for running backs look more or less pretty good until the Week 8 bye.
This makes West one of this week's hottest waiver grabs. Include Kenneth Dixon in your stash grab list too if you miss out on West. The Ravens play at home against Washington next Sunday.
Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia Eagles (12%)
A very under-owned prospect that was in my column last week. Ryan Mathews does hold the backfield early down role when healthy, but it is Smallwood who is next up if anything happens to him. The bye came just in time for Mathews as the injury watchers once again had to follow his progress. We're expecting he'll play against Detroit this Sunday.
Smallwood owners will never be far from having a feature back as long as Mathews continues to ail or under-perform. He's the best stash of the week and needs to be on your roster.
Sammie Coates, Pittsburgh Steelers (17%)
Throughout the early part of the season, finding the number two receiver on the Steelers was like looking for a fifth Beatle. Antonio Brown gets so many of the quality looks, that the target spread below him is nearly impossible to predict week-to-week. I think we can start to settle on Sammie Coates. I say start, because as for how it finishes is anyone's guess.
Coates is the speedster on the team. He currently holds roughly 25% of the passing yardage to Antonio Brown's 33%. That's with half the receptions Brown gets. This tells you Coates is getting big yardage on few receptions. Therefore, in deep standard leagues, Coates is a better grab than PPR. For PPR, there's just not enough targets to be worth owning him unless you desperately need a bye week fill.
Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills (7%)
There is no team so desperately unexciting for wide receivers than the Buffalo Bills. Someone has to do the job after Watkins and the best of the worst is Robert Woods. Charles Clay? You can count on some targets his way, but his production continues to be plodding and nowhere too. I wish I could say that Woods has upside beyond Watkins on IR, but I can't.
This will tell you how fantasy interested I am in Woods: I wish Chris Hogan was still on the team.
So why is he in my waiver grabs? For one, there are four teams on a bye. Second, he might get a touchdown against the Rams. They are middle of the roaders in giving up fantasy points to wide receivers. So if you need a spot start in a so-so matchup, Woods will suffice.
Eddie Royal, Chicago Bears (13%)
As much as I hold lukewarm interest in Eddie Royal, I can't argue the fact that Hoyer likes getting him the ball. I don't have confidence in him apart from this week as a spot fill. The reason? The Colts, while weak overall defensively, are among the top ten when it comes to curbing wide receiver fantasy points. Where the Colts are really weakest is against opposing running backs.
Again, these are bye weeks and if you are in a PPR, the Bears will try to win this game from all directions. Royal has a chance because the target spread has become diverse with Hoyer and the ongoing health issues of Alshon Jeffery limit his effectiveness. Royal, as much as I grudgingly have to concede, while not a good play, is a fair enough for those needing a bye spot fill.
Brice Butler, Dallas Cowboys, (2%)
His value as a pickup depends on the health and availability of Dez Bryant. Bryant is dealing with a "bone bruise", whatever that is. Since bones don't have blood vessels, this must be an equivalent sparing us a long winded medical term. The bottom line is that Dez Bryant's practice status needs monitoring through the week.
Just the same, Brice Butler isn't a bad stash pickup. Opposing defenses are closing in on the Cole Beasley problem the Cowboys have posed by tightening the coverage on him. This naturally results in Terrence Williams and Brice Butler getting more looks. Not forgetting the trusty veteran Jason Witten. This is all well and good, but the Cowboys' offense primarily design their drives with Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris in mind.
So Butler is a lower grab; leaning closer to a flier, in any case. Especially when you consider that Bryant himself is having trouble involving himself in the run heavy and short game offense.
Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11%)
Brate has a lot of involvement in the Tampa Bay offense. It surprised me somewhat when going through his record that his targets are relatively equal to Adam Humphries and Vincent Jackson at around 15% of the take. Brate ranks third in fantasy points among the pass catchers on the team with plenty of red zone looks too. His two touchdowns are just one less than Mike Evans has, so Brate is always a possibility for a major score.
Those without Julius Thomas, Coby Fleener, Travis Kelce or Jimmy Graham should pick up Brate this week. The Panthers, even at home, don't scare anyone anymore and they give up the 4th most fantasy points to tight ends. You do well to grab Cameron Brate - he might even stay on your roster.
For the Watch List...
Dontrelle Inman, WR, San Diego Chargers (2%)
Inman had his best game of the season on Sunday hauling in seven passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. This is well outside his normal workload. He may be worth another try against Oakland, since the Raiders allow the 2nd most fantasy points to wide receivers. More often however, the balance shifts back to the main receivers in these cases. Use with caution.
Brian Quick, Kenny Britt, WR, LA Rams (1%, 4%)
Quick hasn't exactly erupted, but Keenum is getting nice protection enabling him to find receivers like he and Britt. Beating Arizona and Seattle is not easy and the Rams are putting together a better offense in 2016 than I ever expected. Last season as a team, they were the lowest in almost all fantasy relevant categories. The Rams are currently 3-1 and have a dishy game against a Bills team that also find themselves in a "let-down" situation after a huge emotional win. The problem with Quick is that his moment may have passed. As for Britt, the door feels less jammed, but I can't commit myself to fully go out and grab him for a roster. I'll just watch instead for now.
CJ Spiller, RB, Seattle Seahawks (7%)
Another CJ already? Prosise out. Spiller in. For Spiller to have an immediate impact in the Seahawks offense made me stand up and take notice. How do the Seahawks always make something out of nothing on such short notice? The guy wasn't even on the Seahawks for seven days. There is no doubt Spiller got a "welcome to the team" touchdown on Sunday. They want him and are going to use him. Is Spiller happy? You bet he is. I'm still stunned and hope some sort of reality shakes me out of it. Seahawks are on a bye, but watch list Spiller anyway and be ready to pull the trigger.