Sunday was a rough one for injuries, which figures to put the Week 6 availability of several key fantasy players in doubt, at best. Calvin Johnson, Jimmy Graham, Rashad Jennings, Montee Ball, Reggie Bush and Jake Locker are the biggest names that got hurt, but Kansas City and New Orleans are both on bye. While this may be good news for Graham owners (gives him time to heal), it means no Jamaal Charles, Drew Brees, Brandin Cooks, Knile Davis, Travis Kelce or any other Saint or Chief. It’s shaping up to be yet another busy week on the waiver wire.
And that’s where Athlon Sports is here to help you sort through some of the potential free agent options. The players listed in our weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding on to all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may simply want to keep an eye on.
Teams on bye: Kansas City, New Orleans
Week 5 Recap: Mike Glennon also made it two wins in two starts, but Tampa Bay yielded an 11-point fourth-quarter lead on the road and eventually lost 37-31 in overtime to New Orleans. Glennon did his part, throwing for 249 yards and two touchdowns with just one interception. Teddy Bridgewater also missed out on an opportunity to go two-for-two, as his injured ankle prevented him from facing Green Bay on Thursday. Bridgewater is expected to start against Detroit on Sunday.
Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns
Johnny who? Perhaps it’s time to stop wondering when Johnny Manziel will take over the Browns’ offense and instead give some credit to Hoyer. Trailing 28-3 with a little more than two minutes to go in the first half in Tennessee, Hoyer orchestrated the biggest comeback by a road team in NFL history. Behind his 292 yards and three touchdowns, Cleveland scored 26 unanswered points over the 30:12 of play to shock the Titans 29-28. Branded a “game manager,” Hoyer showed what he can do when called upon to make plays, as he doubled his season touchdown total in a little more than two quarters. Hoyer has just one interception on the season and it looks like offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is now starting to open up the playbook some. Hoyer faces a pretty tough test next week at home against Pittsburgh, but after that is very appealing – at Jacksonville and home vs. Oakland. If he puts together another solid showing Sunday it may be time to see what this Brown can do you for fantasy team.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Tannehill was on bye last week, but this may be the ideal time to invest in this Dolphin. His numbers don’t jump out (902-6-3), but after seemingly being put on notice by his head coach, the third-year starter responded with his best game of the season two weeks ago. In London against Oakland, Tannehill completed 23-of-31 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns. He did have one interception, but the yardage and completion rate (74.2) were both season highs and he finished with a sparkling 109.3 QB rating. The Dolphins have shown signs of being a potent offensive team in first-year coordinator Bill Lazor’s system. As long as Tannehill continues in his progression as a passer and takes care of the football, he could develop into a reliable fantasy starting option.
Week 5 Recap: Khiry Robinson helped save the day for the Saints, rushing for 89 yards on 21 carries, including the game-winning 18-yard touchdown in overtime. Robinson and the Saints get Week 6 off though. Antone Smith was at it again on Sunday too, catching a 74-yard touchdown pass against the Giants. That catch was just one of his four total touches, so Smith’s workload is something to keep an eye on moving forward. Neither Jerrick McKinnon (7 att., 24 yds. and 3 rec., 22 yds.) nor Bishop Sankey (8 att., 27 yds.) were much of a factor in Week 5.
Benny Cunningham, St. Louis Rams
Zac Stacy suffered an apparent calf injury after fumbling in the third quarter, opening the door for Cunningham to see more touches. He capitalized on those opportunities, scoring on a 14-yard touchdown run and also catching three passes for 24 yards. The Rams’ comeback attempt came up short, but Cunningham finished the game with 47 yards rushing on seven carries (6.7 ypc) to go with that score and the 24 yards receiving. If Stacy’s injury is bad enough that he will miss time, Cunningham figures to get the starter’s reps. One thing to keep in mind regarding St. Louis’ schedule, however. The Rams just came off of their bye and will host San Francisco Monday night followed by Seattle in Week 7.
Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos
Continuing the injury theme, Montee Ball left in the third quarter against Arizona with a groin injury. He departed with a grand total of 18 yards on eight touches and was spotted using crutches after the game. Broncos head coach John Fox said on Monday that Ball's groin strain could cause him to miss up to three weeks, so this opens up an opportunity for Hillman to step in and produce. Against the Cardinals, Hillman rushed for a game-high 64 yards on 15 carries (4.3 ypc). Hillman has had his chances to emerge before, but he’s also no stranger to this offense, which should help his chances of securing the starting role. Even if Hillman doesn’t do his best Knowshon Moreno impression (circa 2013), any player who is a safe bet to get a decent number of touches in Denver’s offense is worth consideration.
Branden Oliver, San Diego Chargers
Ryan Mathews is out with a MCL injury, Danny Woodhead is on IR with a broken leg and Donald Brown left on Sunday after sustaining a concussion. Oliver was next man up for the Chargers and the undrafted rookie took full advantage of the opportunity, showing both the athleticism and all-around ability that helped him compile more than 4,700 yards from scrimmage at Buffalo. Against the Jets and their No. 1-ranked rushing defense, Oliver ran for 114 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries (6.0 ypc). He also added a touchdown catch (4 rec., 68 yds.) and had two plays that went for more than 50 yards. Even if Brown passes the league-mandated concussion protocols and is cleared to play this week, Oliver figures to remain a part of the game plan too.
Andre Williams, New York Giants
Rashad Jennings left with a knee injury in the third quarter and his team trailing at home to Atlanta. Williams, the Giants’ fourth-round pick, took over and picked up 65 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown that helped fuel 20 unanswered points that led to an eventual 30-20 victory. An MRI on Monday confirmed that Jennings has a sprained MCL and while surgery won't be necessary, he is expected to miss a few weeks. Keep in mind that Cleveland’s Ben Tate suffered a similar injury in the Browns’ season opener and he didn’t get back on the field until Week 5. With Jennings sidelined for the time being, Williams should get his first NFL start this week in primetime in Philadelphia. And a strong showing against the Eagles will only help him secure his role in the Giants' offense, even after Jennings returns to action.
Week 5 Recap:Brian Quick came out of a bye and continued his steady, productive play, catching two touchdown passes in St. Louis 34-28 loss in Philadelphia. Quick sure looks like the Rams’ No. 1 target. Minnesota’s offense struggled as a whole against Green Bay, as injury replacement quarterback Christian Ponder made few plays in the passing game. As a result, no Viking pass-catcher put up big numbers against the Packers, including Jarius Wright (3 rec., 27 yds.). Marvin Jones appeared set to make his season debut after breaking a bone in his foot in August, but an ankle injury sustained earlier last week prevented him from getting on the field Sunday night against the Patriots.
Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
It took five games, but the Giants finally got to see their first-round pick in action and he didn’t disappoint. Beckham hauled in four of his five targets in his first career NFL game, finishing with 44 yards and what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown, a 15-yarder early in the fourth quarter. Beckham’s five targets against the Falcons placed him third, a good sign considering all of the time the rookie had missed. Eli Manning and the Giants’ offense has really been clicking during their three-game winning streak and it appears that Beckham will be a part of the game plan moving forward.
Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans
The Titans lost a heartbreaker at home to the Browns, but at least there was a Hunter sighting. A popular breakout candidate entering this season, Hunter’s owners were disappointed with his meager production (9 rec., 138 yds.) through the first four games. That changed late in the second quarter, however, when Charlie Whitehurst and Hunter connected for a 75-yard touchdown. That big-play ability is what had everyone excited about Hunter this season and hopefully this is a sign of things to come. The other potential positive about that touchdown catch is that it came courtesy of Whitehurst, Jake Locker’s backup. Locker injured his hand against the Browns, so maybe a QB change will be the catalyst to finally get Hunter going.
Louis Murphy Jr., Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Evans, the Bucs’ first-round pick, is expected to miss about a month after injuring his groin last week. Murphy stepped in for Evans last week, finishing with six catches (on 11 targets) for 99 yards to help Tampa Bay come from behind and win in Pittsburgh. Then on Sunday, Murphy was making plays again, catching a 20-yard touchdown pass in the overtime loss in New Orleans. The Buccaneers’ passing game has gotten a jolt since Mike Glennon took over for an injured Josh McCown. Vincent Jackson may be the primary beneficiary of this change, but the opportunity is there for Murphy to produce as the team’s No. 2 wideout.
Week 5 Recap:Atlanta surrendered a 10-point third-quarter lead to the Giants, but the Falcons’ defense made sure Larry Donnell wouldn’t be the one to beat it. Coming off a three-touchdown game, Donnell saw just one target and didn’t record a single catch against the Falcons. Donnell still appears to be a relatively safe TE1 moving forward, but it’s also possible that he has already peaked.
Tim Wright, New England Patriots
This may be chasing fool’s gold, but it’s worth noting that Wright and fellow TE Rob Gronkowski both had big games in the Patriots’ rout of the Bengals on Sunday night. Gronk paced the team with six catches for 100 yards and a touchdown, but Wright was right there with five grabs for 85 and a score of his own. Wright’s five targets also placed him third on the team behind only Gronkowski (11) and leading wide receiver Julian Edelman (8). It has taken some time, but perhaps the former Buccaneer is starting to settle into his role with his new team. If that’s the case, Wright could be able to provide similar production to when Gronkowski had Aaron Hernandez as his running mate during the 2011 and ’12 seasons.
Week 5 Recap: Pittsburgh did what DSTs are supposed to be when facing Jacksonville – pile up some fantasy points. The Steelers held the Jaguars to three field goals, while also collecting a sack and picking off two passes, the last of which was returned 22 yards for a touchdown. Pittsburgh will be in Cleveland for a key AFC North matchup Sunday before going on bye.
It’s hard to not notice what the Eagles’ DST has accomplished this past two games. Two weeks ago, this DST racked up four sacks and accounted for three touchdowns – blocked punt, INT return and punt return. On Sunday, this collective unit was at it again, registering four more sacks and two more scores (blocked punt and fumble return). Put it together and that’s 51 fantasy points (Athlon scoring) over the last two weeks. Philadelphia is the No. 1 DST in fantasy right now and as well as the Giants’ offense has performed recently, the Eagles have shown it can be productive even when it gives up a bunch of points (54 PA the past two games).
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.