We’re a day late on our usual waiver wire breakdown, but the extra day could work in your favor as it allows you to digest the Monday night game and see what’s left on the wire. More specifically, this could be helpful to point out the not so obvious pickups that are actually still out there in fantasy football leagues, unlike the more obvious calls like Duke Johnson, Allen Hurns and the like.
There are more waiver wire adds to consider, though, and the deeper the league, the more value they’ll hold. We’re rolling up the sleeves this week and looking for options available in 70% of Yahoo leagues or more to try to make sure you’re getting a gem or two that, you know, you actually can add. Let’s get to it for week five:
Quarterbacks: Jay Cutler (Available in 76% of leagues), Alex Smith (75%), Michael Vick (82%), Josh McCown (97%)
If you weren’t a believer before your draft that quarterback is deep as balls, you should be now. The rest of the waiver wire is super bare, yet quarterback has tons of quality options on a weekly basis, if not for the entire year. All of these guys can suck in any given week, but Cutler looked very solid last week, Smith is on pace for his best single-season yardage year of his career, McCown has actually been very good in his last two starts and Vick still carries some upside. I like Cutler above them all and even more when/if Alshon Jeffery gets back to full strength, with Smith right behind him. I also prefer McCown over Vick, but if the Steelers take the training wheels off and actually let the dude play, Vick could be a real nice pickup for the next month.
Running Backs: Antonio Andrews (91%), Christine Michael (91%), Theo Riddick (96%)
Running back is a nightmare out on the wire right now, so stashing is the name of the game and banged up guys like Tevin Coleman or guys supposedly with no role like Tre Mason or Alfred Blue are largely the name of the game. Stash these guys for later in the year if you can afford to soak up a roster spot or two, as they’re just one injury or poor play away from having huge roles again. For now, Andrews is the top pickup because he’s been playing well and Bishop Sankey blows. Right behind him is Riddick, who has some PPR value and Michael could factor into the equation in Dallas more now with Lance Dunbar going down for the year (knee).
Wide Receivers: Leonard Hankerson (79%), Allen Hurns (79%), DeVante Parker (83%), Ty Montgomery (87%), Willie Snead (94%), Chris Givens (97%), Kamar Aiken (97%)
Hankerson is in one of the best offenses in the league and Devin Hester just went on designated to return/IR, so he’s got at least a moderate role for pretty much the rest of the year. His production will still be tough and go, though, so I like Allen Hurns a lot more. Hurns is pretty steady, as he has four catches or a score in every game this year. Kamar Aiken has more value than you think, too, as Steve Smith’s injury suddenly makes him Baltimore’s #1 option in the passing game. Yuck, right? Well, he’s not a terrible receiver actually and he did score last week. His matchup this week stinks (Haden Island), but Haden was out last week and his play has been erratic. Aiken is definitely worth picking up, while Parker and Montgomery are more stash plays right now. The same goes for Givens, who the Ravens traded for out of St. Louis. It might take some time for him to make an impact with the Ravens, but he has the speed and playmaking ability to end up being a solid pickup. Snead is a tough guy to gauge because he’s a fairly pedestrian talent, but he’s been one of the Saints best receivers and has a role. Don’t frown upon that.
Tight Ends: Coby Fleener (77%), Gary Barnidge (88%), Jared Cook (84%), Crockett Gillmore (83%)
The tight end crop is weak out on the wire and I truly don’t love any of these options. However, Eric Ebron got banged up and Antonio Gates’ return could crush the value of Ladarius Green. That and other reasons could force you to the waiver wire, where the position is very thin. Fleener just went off this past week so there’s at least a shot he starts picking things up. For now I unfortunately like Barnidge the most, which tells you how bare and unreliable the position is. If you can hold off, Gillmore is an upside stash and Fleener is worth rostering to see if he ends up getting back to where he was in 2014. Otherwise, making a trade for a tight end isn’t a bad idea at all.
Kickers: Cairos Santos (96%), Josh Lambo (96%)
You can go a lot of routes at kicker, but I prefer Santos and Lambo, as they’re both solid kickers that also are in offenses that aren’t amazing but they also don’t totally suck. We saw that big time last week with the Chiefs, where KC moved the ball all day but couldn’t score, which led to seven Santos field goals. He’s the pick here, but Lambo is a solid kicker with a big leg (nailed a game-winner last week) and he should be fun with the Bolts if Santos isn’t out there.
Team Defenses: New York Giants (89%), Minnesota Vikings (86%), Washington Redskins (99%), Atlanta Falcons (94%)
If you’re looking for an option this week, you’re avoiding the Redskins for sure and probably rolling with ATL, who are fresh off of an insane week four and will once again be at home in week five. They also get Kirk Cousins, so there is serious upside there. The Giants could be in play against the inept 49ers, while they also have some long-term appeal if they can keep what they’ve been doing going. Minnesota is on bye, but they’re probably the best option for the rest of the season. They’ve been rock solid for most of the year with just 73 total points allowed, along with 8 sacks, 4 picks and 4 fumble recoveries.