Denver and Dallas engaged in a shootout on Sunday, but outside of the quarterbacks, the top fantasy producer in that game was a rookie wide receiver. This is just another example of why you never know who will emerge from the shadows in a given week. What other under-the-radar options are out there entering Week 6? Athlon Sports has got the waiver wire covered.
The players listed in Athlon’s weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding onto all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may want to keep an eye on. So without further ado, here are some players worth grabbing.
Teams on bye in Week 6: Atlanta, Miami
Week 5 Recap: Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t win, but he was decent in his first start for Tennessee in place of an injured Jake Locker. Fitzpatrick finished with 297 total yards and two touchdowns (1 pass, 1 rush) against a pretty good Kansas City defense, although he did throw two interceptions. Remember, Locker is expected to miss more than a month, so Fitzpatrick will remain the starter and could be a bye-week fill-in, depending on the matchup. Brian Hoyer tore his ACL in Cleveland’s Thursday night win over Buffalo and is out for the season.
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Michael Vick injured his hamstring in the second quarter of Sunday’s win over the Giants, which presented Foles with his first meaningful opportunity of running Chip Kelly’s offense. Foles led the Eagles on four scoring drives, throwing two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and he finished with 197 yards through the air. Kelly said Vick is the starter as long as he’s healthy, but I also don’t think he would hesitate to hand the reins over to Foles if need be. If you have Vick on your roster, now would be a good time to add Foles too. After all, Vick has played all 16 games in a season just once in his career.
Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
Blaine Gabbert got hurt, again, but it’s not like he did much (181-1-2, INT returned for TD) when he was there against St. Louis. Enter Henne, who completed 7-of-13 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown in the loss to the Rams. It’s not known how bad Gabbert’s hamstring injury is, but I would be a little surprised if Henne didn’t get the start this week against Denver. Yes, the Broncos should roll over the Jaguars with little difficulty, but don’t forget that Tony Romo just hung 506 yards and five TDs on Denver’s defense. If Henne does start, he should get plenty of chances to throw, and the Jags have some weapons on the outside in Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon (see below).
Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
Brian Hoyer’s surprising run as the Browns’ quarterback came to a sad end as he tore his ACL Thursday night against Buffalo. Hoyer is done for this season, meaning the team will go back to Weeden, at least for the time being. Weeden took over after Hoyer got hurt in the first quarter and actually led the Browns back from a 10-0 deficit to a 37-24 win. Weeden completed 13-of-24 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown, and didn’t turn the ball over once. One of the reasons Hoyer was successful, was that he had a habit of getting the ball to wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron. Weeden has those same weapons at his disposal, so it’s possible that he could produce similar numbers. If that happens, Weeden could enter the bye-week fill-in conversation.
Week 5 Recap: Ryan Mathews left Sunday night’s game against Oakland with a concussion, leaving Danny Woodhead as the Chargers’ primary back. Woodhead finished with just 13 rushing yards, but led the team with nine receptions, which went for 58 yards and a touchdown. In that same game, the Raiders’ Rashad Jennings picked up 41 yards rushing before halftime, but didn’t return for the last two quarters after injuring his hamstring. LeGarrette Blount carried the load for New England with Stevan Ridley out because of a thigh/knee injury, but he managed just 51 yards on 12 carries (4.3 ypc) in the Patriots’ loss to Cincinnati.
Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts
Trent Richardson continues to get the bulk of the carries, but he is averaging just three yards per carry for his new team. With Ahmad Bradshaw weighing his options regarding his neck injury, Brown should see most of the work as Richardson’s backup moving forward. If Brown can continue to do what he did on Sunday against Seattle (6.2 ypc, rushing TD), he could begin to force the coaching staff to cut back on Richardson’s workload.
Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
Rashard Mendenhall is the Cardinals’ leading rusher, but Ellington is making a strong case for turning the backfield into more of a timeshare. The rookie is averaging 6.7 yards per carry and also has been effective as a receiver (13 rec., 144 yds., TD). He led the Cardinals with 83 total yards in Sunday’s win, while Mendenhall is currently averaging 3.2 yards per carry. The offensive line can be blamed some for Mendenhall’s lack of production, but that’s another reason to give Ellington more opportunities, as he is faster and more explosive than the veteran back. With just a few more touches per game, Ellington could merit flex consideration, especially in deeper leagues.
Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams
The Rams’ offensive line is somewhat of a mess right now, which has carried over to the backfield. Daryl Richardson has been ineffective (2.9 ypc) and Isaiah Pead has been pretty much invisible this season. What the Rams’ plan is with their running backs is anyone’s guess, but it looks like Stacy will get his chance to state his case. The rookie rushed for 78 yards, a team-high this season, on just 14 carries (5.6 ypc) in the win over Jacksonville. It’s very hard to trust any Rams in fantasy right now, but if Stacy is getting the bulk of the carries, he’s one to keep on the radar.
Week 5 Recap: All Alshon Jeffery did was follow up his breakthrough 107-yard game last week with a Bears franchise-record 218 yards on 10 receptions and another touchdown on Sunday against New Orleans. Robert Woods led the Bills with 64 receiving yards, but he will have a new quarterback (Thad Lewis) throwing to him this week as EJ Manuel injured his knee in the loss to Cleveland. Nate Washington tied for the team lead with eight targets against Kansas City, but hauled in just three of them for 30 yards. Kenbrell Thompkins finished with just three receptions on 16 yards, as the return of Danny Amendola (team-high nine targets) and the Cincinnati defense negated his impact.
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
Malcom Floyd is on injured reserve and Eddie Royal has cooled off considerably from his hot start, so Rivers has turned his sights to Allen. In the past two games, the Chargers’ third-round pick has caught 11 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown. Allen produced his first 100-yard game of his career against Oakland (6-115-1) on Sunday night and his 225 yards on the season are second only to Antonio Gates. Rivers has plenty of options in the passing game, but he and Allen have been successful on 14 of 19 targets (74 percent), so don’t be surprised if the rookie continues to see a steady amount of passes thrown his way.
Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars
Talk about making an instant impact. Fresh off of his four-game suspension, Blackmon’s first catch of the season was a 67-yard touchdown in the first quarter against St. Louis. He finished with five catches for 136 yards and teamed with Cecil Shorts, Blackmon gives the Jaguars two legitimate weapons on the outside. Quarterback play has been an issue for the Jaguars for a while, but Blaine Gabbert threw the TD to Blackmon on Sunday and Blackmon also had some success last season when Chad Henne was under center. The bottom line is that Blackmon’s talent and upside is obvious and with him back on the field, it’s only a matter of time before he is no longer available in your league.
Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
Moore is the Raiders’ clear-cut No. 1 target, has three touchdown receptions and is a borderline top-25 fantasy wide receiver after five games. Other than a no-show Week 2 performance, Moore has caught at least four passes in every game and he has scored in three contests. Terrelle Pryor is entrenched as Oakland’s starting quarterback and he’s starting to show a little more consistency as a passer. Moore may not be WR1 material, but he is capable of producing double-digit fantasy points most weeks.
Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys
Miles Austin missed his second straight game because of a hamstring injury, but the Cowboys may have found their new complement to Dez Bryant. Williams exploded against Denver on Sunday, picking up 151 yards on just four receptions, the biggest being an 82-yard touchdown. Dallas’ third-round pick has 11 catches for 222 yards in his last two games and appears to have carved out a role for himself even after Austin is able to return. Granted, Tony Romo is not going to throw for 500 yards every game, but as Williams showed against the Broncos, he just needs one pass to make a fantasy impact.
Week 5 Recap:Coby Fleener caught just two passes for 15 yards against Seattle, as Andrew Luck focused his attention on his wide receivers.
Sean McGrath, Kansas City
McGrath is about as unknown as it gets. After playing collegiately at both Eastern Illinois and Henderson State, McGrath signed as a undrafted free agent with Seattle in 2012. He worked his way from the practice squad to the active roster, but never saw any game action with the Seahakws. The Chiefs claimed him off waivers in September and all he’s done is emerge as the team’s top tight end. McGrath is fourth on the team with 15 catches and has seen his targets go up in each of the past three games. Alex Smith has already shown he’s not going to take many shots down field (sorry, Dwayne Bowe owners), which is why McGrath could develop into a possible fantasy option, especially in deeper leagues.
Week 5 Recap:Carolina lost to Arizona, but don’t blame the defense. The Panthers held the Cardinals to 20 points, picked off Carson Palmer three times and sacked him twice. Carolina’s next two games are against St. Louis (home) and Tampa Bay (away).
After limiting San Francisco to just one touchdown on the road in Week 3, the Colts’ DST manhandled the Jaguars and then made just enough plays (namely a blocked FG returned for a TD) to beat the Seahawks at home on Sunday. After five games, Indy is the No. 4 scoring DST and next up is a San Diego team that has six turnovers in its last two games and has given up a defensive score in each. Perhaps the horseshoe on the Colts’ helmets can bring you luck, and I don’t mean Andrew, this week?
Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point PER 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.