Waiver Wire Watch: Week 5 Targets
The worst part of being a fantasy writer isn’t when people call you out for being wrong and never give you credit for being right. Believe it or not, there is a worse fate: watching games with folks who don’t pay as much attention to football as you do. I cringe every time I hear somebody talk about running to set up play-action. I shiver when they complain about penalties or call the refs biased. I throw up in my mouth when they cheer against teams for irrational reasons they try to rationalize.
Yet, when my father and I sat down to watch the game Thursday night, every time he said something that would normally make me shudder, I smiled and thought about how much I appreciated what his being a sports fan led me to in life. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t know the difference between a mike and a two-technique. All that matters is that he loves sports and passed that love on to me.
Oh, and I lied. Getting yelled at on Twitter is definitely the worst part of my job. By a lot. A way lot. So please don’t do it when some of the following players inevitably fall flat.
Throughout this series, we will be using PPR scoring, a $100 FAAB budget and a 50% threshold for player ownership. The intro to Week 1’s edition of Waiver Wire Watch (WWW) goes into far more detail about the details. As always, John Paulsen will edit this piece and reorder/adjust the prices as necessary.
- Jameis Winston, 11% owned ($6)
- Blake Bortles, 32% owned ($6)
- Baker Mayfield, 44% owned ($5)
- Marcus Mariota, 33% owned ($4)
- Derek Carr, 35% owned ($1)
- Dak Prescott, 38% owned ($1)
- Joe Flacco, 25% owned ($1)
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After playing horridly four of the last six quarters, Ryan Fitzpatrick gave way to Winston this week. Things went relatively well, as he threw for 145 yards and a score to go with two interceptions on 16 of 20 passing. Obviously, we shouldn’t expect him to repeat what Fitzpatrick did the first three weeks, but Winston is incredibly talented and has as explosive of a group of pass catchers as exists in the NFL. Tampa is on a bye Week 5, making Winston a difficult pickup for leagues with short benches, but if you have the room or are struggling for quarterback production, Winston should flirt with QB1 numbers the rest of the way.
Paulsen's Take: In the 11 games last season where Winston played 90% or more of the snaps, he averaged 307 yards, 1.7 touchdowns and 1.0 interception for an 18.9 fantasy point per game average. That would have been the fifth-highest per game average at his position. Owners suffering through quarterback problems should strongly consider adding Winston despite his Week 5 bye. His talent, plus a loaded receiving corps and a fairly easy schedule, should result in a boatload of fantasy points.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
All Mariota did in his first healthy game back was beat the defending world champions in overtime, scoring a stout 24.4 fantasy points along the way. Not a bad re-start to the season, eh? Having Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor and Dion Lewis to go with a coaching staff not stuck in the 1970s, we have plenty of reason to believe this sort of play could continue. If he can stay out of the trainer’s room, Mariota has top-15 upside the rest of the way.
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
I’ve spent quite a bit of time on WWW talking Carr down as a fantasy option. Even after a 35/58, 437-yard, four-score game, I’m not sold. He has thrown four interceptions the last two weeks, and as bad as the Raiders’ defense is, you can’t expect 58 attempts every time out. Still, if Carr can manage to keep throwing touchdowns, something he didn’t do the first three weeks, he is worth a look as a streamer. On that note, the Raiders play the Chargers and Seahawks the next two weeks. Seattle just lost Earl Thomas for the season and Los Angeles has given up 288 yards and 2.5 touchdowns per game to opposing quarterbacks.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Before we go any further, this is a one-game streaming play only, as Dallas faces the Jaguars in two weeks. Also, Prescott hasn’t been very good. Hampered by a bottom-two receiving corps and a practically paleolithic run-first offense, you shouldn’t expect much most weeks, but Week 5 against Houston isn’t that. The Texans’ pass defense has been awful, allowing 346 yards and three touchdowns per game to quarterbacks not-named Blaine Gabbert. That they’ve managed only one interception all year adds to the mouth-wateringness of the whole thing.
Still Worth a Look
I had this to say about Blake Bortles two weeks ago: “At some point, we should probably learn from past mistakes and stop underestimating Bortles as a fantasy force. In the last three seasons, he has finished as the No. 12, No. 14 and No. 4 quarterback. A little digging and we find his average end-of-season ranking over that span is higher than the far more respected (and owned) trio of Matt Ryan, Alex Smith and Ben Roethlisberger.” After a 388-yard masterpiece against the Jets, those words are as true as ever. Fire him up as a QB1 against the Chiefs Week 5.
Baker Mayfield is looking more and more like a quarterback with an elite NFL future. He had a massive game in Oakland Sunday that could have been bigger if not for half-a-dozen or more drops. Baltimore presents a tougher challenge this week, but Mayfield’s seven games after that are an absolute dream: Chargers, Buccaneers, Steelers, Chiefs, Falcons, Bengals and the Texans.
Don’t look now, but Joe Flacco is a QB1. Averaging 313 yards, two touchdowns and .75 interceptions a game, the veteran is having by far the best fantasy season of his career. His upcoming schedule isn’t overly kind, but he’s been playing well enough it may not matter.
Missed the Cut
Last week I talked about how Eli Manning (30% owned) has been playing fairly well. Unfortunately, due to his unwillingness to throw it more than five yards, the fantasy production hasn’t been there three of four weeks. The bad matchup against Carolina next week makes him an easy avoid.
Mitchell Trubisky (15% owned) has arrived! Maybe. The Bears’ offense looked great last week, with Troobs throwing for six touchdowns. Maybe he has figured it out and this will be the start of big things, but he has a Week 5 bye and a whole lot of not-anything-like-this performances that give me pause.
Sunday was ugly for Ryan Tannehill (23% owned) and the Dolphins. I’ve recommended him a few times this year, which I stand by based on his play the first three weeks. I still believe in him as an underrated player and producer, but the Dolphins’ offense is stuck in the mud. Until they figure out how to run more than 45 plays a game, I’m staying away.
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