Week 4 was pretty brutal in fantasy football on the injury front, and adding four teams on a bye for Week 5 makes the waiver wire even more important. Quarterbacks and running backs were particularly hard hit, as Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, Dalvin Cook and Chris Carson all suffered injuries on Sunday.
In many leagues, the wire is already picked over, but some options may be available. Don’t forget that Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans and Washington are on bye this week as well, so plan accordingly.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans (34 percent owned)
The other shoe is going to drop on Watson at some point, but for fantasy owners of Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota or a quarterback on a bye in Week 5 (Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins and Trevor Siemian), Watson may be the best available option on the waiver wire. He's likely not going to match his five-touchdown total from Week 4, but he did throw for more than 300 yards in Week 3 and has shown signs of adapting to the NFL. He's going to have good games and he's going to struggle, but owners who just lost their quarterback for the foreseeable future could do worse.
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears (3 percent owned)
In many leagues, waiver wires are picked over, and guys like Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff, Tyrod Taylor and others are already owned. For that reason, Trubisky makes the list. He's already been named the Week 5 starter for the Bears, much to the delight of their fan base. His first NFL game will come at home against the Vikings on Monday night, so it is a tough test for the rookie. However, this the guy Chicago traded up for and it’s time to see what he’s got. Trubisky doesn’t have a ton of weapons to work with, so he’s a desperation option but at least he should be available.
Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints (46 percent owned)
Kamara was listed in this space last week. Those owners who picked him and started him benefitted from his 10 catches for 71 yards and a touchdown against Miami in London. He only had 25 rushing yards but he more than made up for that as a receiver. In PPR formats, Kamara is a RB3 with upside each week. In standard formats, he is a low RB3 as he is still very involved in this offense and a target in the red zone. He’s on bye this week, but is still worth an add if you have the room.
Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks (29 percent owned)
It's hard to really recommend picking up Rawls, but he will likely be a starter for a position that has seen its share of injuries and will be without the likes of Devonta Freeman, C.J. Anderson, Tevin Coleman, Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson, Alvin Kamara, Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson, Jamaal Charles, and Samaje Perine this week. For the Seahawks, Chris Carson (broken leg) is headed to IR and even though Rawls was a healthy scratch Sunday night, head coach Pete Carroll has already hinted that he’ll be the starter when he returns. Eddie Lacy is still in the mix and undrafted rookie J.D. McKissic impressed in the win over the Colts in place of an injured C.J. Prosise. Seattle will employ multiple backs but should Rawls get the kind of workload that Carson was before he got hurt, he could emerge as a viable starting option.
Latavius Murray, RB, Minnesota Vikings (18 percent owned)
With Dalvin Cook (ACL) now out for the year, Murray will take over as the lead back in Minnesota. He'll still share carries with Jerrick McKinnon, but the between-the-tackles work will be Murray's. The former Raider has been recovering from offseason ankle surgery, and he still isn’t 100 percent healthy. But he has the easiest path to significant carries of any RB mentioned above. Fantasy owners who just lost Cook should look at replacing him with Murray.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers (11 percent owned)
After Ty Montgomery exited Thursday night's game with a rib injury, Jamaal Williams stepped in. However, he then left with a knee injury, paving the way for Jones. The fifth-round pick from UTEP finished with 49 rushing yards and a touchdown and has a chance to be the starter this week. Montgomery is expected back fairly soon, so this may be a short stint, but Montgomery owners could do worse for a fill-in and this will give Jones an opportunity to carve out a bigger role moving forward.
Wayne Gallman, RB, New York Giants (4 percent owned)
With Orleans Darkwa out and Paul Perkins injured, Gallman stepped up for the Giants. The fourth-round draft pick ran for 42 yards and also caught a touchdown pass. No one New York RB has impressed to this point, so Gallman could potentially stake his claim to the starting role if he makes the most of his playing time. It’s somewhat a shot in the dark, but Perkins owners should at least think of making the switch as well as those hit hard by injuries at the position.
Elijah McGuire, RB, New York Jets (3 percent owned)
While Bilal Powell had the long run and touchdown, McGuire stepped up with Matt Forte out because of a toe injury. He had 10 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown of his own, while also adding 38 receiving yards. McGuire's role is dependent on Forte’s health, but he may still be worth a look in deeper leagues.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams (44 percent owned)
While Kupp had a solid Week 4, he is going to have weeks like Week 3 (2 receptions, 17 yards) as well. He hasn't become the PPR monster that he was hyped to be in the preseason. However, he has shown that he is one of Jared Goff's favorite targets, especially near the red zone. He will get looks and he will get receptions, but starting him each week will lead to disappointment. He's the Rams receiver to own over Robert Woods, but the three wideouts (including Sammy Watkins) are going to alternate big games.
Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans (32 percent owned)
In Fuller's first game in 2017, he had four receptions for 36 yards and two touchdowns. While he's not going to score multiple touchdowns each week, he has added another weapon to Deshaun Watson's arsenal. Alongside DeAndre Hopkins, Fuller helps spread the field and is a dangerous threat in the red zone. He's worth a look as a third or fourth wide receiver.
Devin Funchess, WR, Carolina Panthers (26 percent owned)
Funchess was in this column last week, but fantasy owners didn't bite. Those who did, and started him in Week 4 were rewarded with seven catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Even with Kelvin Benjamin active (and adding 104 yards of his own), Funchess had a role in this offense. As long as Curtis Samuel is out, Funchess is a WR3. He seems to be taking over some of the targets that Greg Olsen used to get.
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (50 percent owned)
Typically players have to be less than 50 percent owned to make this list, but this is an exception. Brate should be owned in more than half of leagues. He's had four receptions and a touchdown in each of the past two games. He will continue to be a big target for Jameis Winston, and while the rush to the waiver wire isn't for tight ends this week, with the bye weeks upon us (and Tampa Bay already done with its bye), Brate should be owned.
Defense/Special Teams (DST)
Philadelphia Eagles (41 percent owned)
While the matchup against the Cardinals doesn't seem like a great one, the Eagles’ defense has been solid through four weeks. This unit has 10 sacks and four interceptions on the year, which may not seem like a lot, but is actually in the middle of the pack numbers-wise. Carson Palmer has thrown five interceptions so far this year, and odds are he'll throw more in Week 5. The Cardinals’ offense hasn't been the same since losing David Johnson, and while this game could be high-scoring, the Eagles DST isn't a bad fill-in for fantasy owners who have the Broncos or Falcons or just don’t want to go anywhere near the Jets vs. Browns matchup.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.