The Week 5 fantasy football waiver wire is a bit slim, but with bye weeks starting, we will need fill-ins more than ever. We have some injuries — Mike Evans, Javonte Williams, etc. — to monitor, which could result in some waiver pickups becoming starters in Week 5. We kick it all off with some major worries, including Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins (rib injury).
- Players must be under 60% rostered on Yahoo
- Listed in order of preference — I’ll often prioritize potential upside over immediate middling production
- No FAB suggestions: It varies wildly by league tendencies and always relative (ex: if you lost your RB1 to injury and there is a clear backup, you’re going to be more aggressive)
- Streaming QB and TE are grouped together— weekly ranking can change once projections/ranks run — DST could shift a bit too
** BYES: CLE, LAC, SEA, TB **
More Ducks+Eggs (1-5) = More Concern
- Joe Burrow, CIN 🦆🦆🦆🦆 — The calf isn’t right. Burrow isn’t right (OffTGT% of 10.7 along the likes of Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Mac Jones). Starting him isn’t right. Burrow isn’t startable until he’s 100%, and that might not happen if he continues to play through it. We’re bordering on Infinity Duck and droppable.
- James Cook, BUF 🦆🦆🥚 — RBTouch% and PassSnap% by week: 72.7; 56.8; 60.7; 52.0 and 65.9; 58.1; 56.4; 43.5. Interestingly, Cook had a season-high two goal-line rushing attempts, but Damien Harris had one called back and the volume is concerning. Concern is warranted for those who invested in Cook as a must-start, no-worry, mid-high RB2.
- Rhamondre Stevenson, NE 🦆🦆 — Those Ezekiel Elliott starter reps were a rumor, as Stevenson had 66.7% of the RB touches. However, Elliott does have 41.0% over the past two games, and Stevenson has just one goal-line attempt (Week 2). Stevenson is more of a mid-low RB2 and not a fringe RB1 as we had hoped.
- Jerome Ford, CLE 🦆 — See the tweet.
– 70.6% of the RB Touches in Q1-3
– 20.8 TmTGT% in Q1-3
– 14 touches, 45 yards w/ 26 called back on Cooper hold
– Hunt 29.4% & 0.0%
Also, Pierre Strong only saw work in Q4 during garbage time (zero snaps Q1-3)
Ford is a good buy low coming off Week 4 and on a bye
— Jake Ciely (@allinkid) October 2, 2023
The Browns are treating Ford as a bellcow type, and the Browns have the Colts, Seahawks and Cardinals after the 49ers in Week 6.
- Jaylen Waddle, MIA 🦆🥚 — Most of Waddle’s numbers are in line with what we want — reception percentage is up, YPPR in line with last year, AirYD/TGT down a bit but good, YAC up quite a bit and YD/TGT up a good amount too. The problem is Waddle has a low 17.8 TGT% on his routes — it was 24.2 and 22.4, respectively, in the previous two seasons. Unless Tua Tagovailoa narrows his target options and leans into Waddle more, we have legitimate worries.
- 😤 = I Tried to Tell Ya — players included for several weeks (not much more to add if you don’t want them)
- 🔍 = Check if Dropped — players whose managers might have cut for other need or impatient
- 🎯 = Long-Term Target — players with starter+ upside who require patience (stash picks)
- = Backup/Next Man Up — players who have almost no value but starter+ upside if injury ahead of them
WAIVER WIRE RUNNING BACK RANKS
- Jaleel McLaughlin, DEN — McLaughlin could have just one week of startability, but he’s worth stashing as another next-man-up option. McLaughlin has pushed ahead of Samaje Perine, and while the split would be close to a De’Von Achane-Raheem Mostert type share, that would give McLaughlin RB3 value with a ceiling inside the Top 20. If Williams doesn’t miss time, McLaughlin is a stash down by Tyjae Spears.
- Matt Breida, NYG — The clear lead with Saquon Barkley sidelined. Would be in the RB2/3 conversation if Barkley doesn’t return this week. If Barkley is back, Breida is down by CEH.
- Jaylen Warren, PIT — Najee Harris had a decent Week 4, but Warren neared a 50/50 workload split with 48.3% of the touches. Warren also has more passing game upside.
- Justice Hill, BAL — Hill had just three touches in Week 4, but in games where the Ravens aren’t holding a healthy lead (and Hill was coming off an injury), he should be more involved.
- Roschon Johnson, CHI — When the Bears aren’t having their way and need to pass more/play catchup, Johnson should see more use. Johnson also has upside as the clear lead if Khalil Herbert gets hurt.
- Keaton Mitchell, BAL — 🎯 Upside stash. Mitchell can return this week and has Achane-like upside, though a bit lower ceiling given the offense. This is a lotto ticket pickup.
- Chuba Hubbard, CAR — Miles Sanders wasn’t 100% in Week 4, so I wouldn’t expect a 50/50 split otherwise, as the split was 72/28 heading into Week 4.
- Ezekiel Elliott, NE — Next man up and partial timeshare (though, more of the one-third split we’ve seen and not the rumored “lead work”).
- Kenneth Gainwell, PHI — Relegated to next man up now that D’Andre Swift has finally happened.
- Jeff Wilson, MIA — Could be too high, as Achane and Mostert leave no need for another option, but the Dolphins like Wilson. There is always a chance Wilson could get lead work, and given this offense, he’s a worthy flier.
- Devin Singletary, HOU — Backup to Dameon Pierce, and he might see more of the share if Pierce continues to be so-so performance-wise. However, without lead touches, Singletary would be impossible to start.
- Zach Charbonnet, SEA —
- Tyjae Spears, TEN — 😤 Has Top 20 potential if Derrick Henry gets hurt.
- Rico Dowdle, DAL — Stash where you can for one of the more valuable backfields — bruised hip, FYI, which may not result in missed time.
- Tank Bigsby, JAX — 😤
- Elijah Mitchell, SF — Banged up but still RB2 upside if healthy and Christian McCaffrey gets hurt.
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire, KC —
- Samaje Perine, DEN — If Williams is out, Perine would get a share warranting an RB3/4 play.
- Ronnie Rivers, LAR — It’s Rivers, not Zach Evans, currently next up behind Kyren Williams.
- Keaontay Ingram, ARI —
- Kendre Miller, NO — Nothing more than the backup plan, as even with Jamaal Williams out, Alvin Kamara’s return relegated Miller to two touches, same as Adam Prentice.
- Pierre Strong, CLE — See Worry Report. Had nothing until garbage time.
- Jerick McKinnon, KC — Matt Nagy doesn’t care about late-2022 McKinnon. Touchdown or nothing.
DUMPSVILLE 🗑️ (Order I’d Drop)
- AJ Dillon, GB — Not usable with Aaron Jones healthy… or when Jones was out.
- Joshua Kelley, LAC — Might have some deep-league desperation value with Austin Ekeler back after the bye, as Kelley is better as the change-of-pace, not the lead.
WAIVER WIRE WIDE RECEIVER RANKS
- Romeo Doubs, GB — 😤 Christian Watson ran just 19 routes in his return, but Doubs remained a top-two option with 36 routes, 38.2 TmTGT% and 36.1 RteTGT%, all Packers’ highs.
- Jameson Williams, DET — 🔍 He’s back early! Williams had just 9-1-41-1 last year — yep, one catch for that big touchdown on nine targets — but that big-play upside is appealing. Williams is the second-best talent, and his ceiling is a WR3 in the Nico Collins range (boom/bust), but the risk is zero if you want to consider selling high too.
- Michael Wilson, ARI — Wilson was a preseason and weekly upside stash, so you should be familiar with the explanation. Quick version: top-two receiver in Arizona; offense isn’t awful; Wilson has NFL No. 2 receiver ability; can become more consistent than Marquise Brown.
- Zay Jones, JAX — 😤 When Jones is healthy, he’s the No. 2 and Christian Kirk the No. 3, but if a team is man-heavy in coverage, Kirk would have the edge.
- Brandin Cooks, DAL — The schedule hasn’t been the best for the passing game (tough matchup and/or cruise control beatdown of the opponent). But if the passing game gets going, Cooks has shown he has a little bit left in the tank.
- Tyler Boyd, CIN — 🔍 Tee Higgins might only miss a week or two, and Joe Burrow is broken, but Boyd steps in and Burrow can’t throw it deep. Boyd would be a Curtis Samuel-type play. Boyd is behind only Doubs if you only need a one-week option.
- Quentin Johnston, LAC — 🎯 Big bump in routes, as Johnston had 22 (Keenan Allen and Joshua Palmer, 30 each), but Johnston saw just three targets. Not startable yet, but the breakout is nearing.
- Rashee Rice, KC — Tied with Skyy Moore for third in Route% (48.6) behind Justin Watson and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (60.0%) but led the receivers in targets and receptions (5-3-32). It’s not much, but Rice could ascend to the No. 2 role for future value.
- Wan’Dale Robinson, NYG — Similar to the Chiefs, we’re looking for someone to step forward, and it looks to be Robinson again now that he’s 100%. Unfortunately, it’s the Giants and not the Chiefs offense.
- DJ Chark, CAR — 🔍 Down week, and Chark is nothing more than boom/bust, but some managers might need that.
- Treylon Burks, TEN — 🎯 Was out with an injury, but if DeAndre Hopkins ever got hurt too and Burks was playing, he’d have WR3 upside.
- Rashid Shaheed, NO — Still seeing plenty of routes and opportunities, but Week 4 was a lost week with Derek Carr’s injury.
- Jayden Reed, GB — Pushed down to third in GB receiver pecking order. Reed has a higher ceiling than Doubs but would need to get a top-two role (bumping Doubs). Though, if Watson were to get hurt again, Reed would be in the WR3/4 mix.
- Curtis Samuel, WSH — Floor play if healthy. Samuel has been targeted more consistently than Jahan Dotson, though, he brings a lower ceiling. If you never need him, bump Samuel down to the bottom.
- Marvin Mims, DEN — 🎯 Can’t start him based on a Hail Mary type of play, as the Broncos haven’t given Mims more than 12 routes in a game.
- Jaxon Smith-Njigba, SEA — 🎯 Copy/paste Mims with a few more routes.
- Jonathan Mingo, CAR — 🎯 The Panthers could use Mingo to spark the receiver room, but he still needs to climb the ladder to play as the No. 2 for startability.
- Michael Gallup, DAL — Gallup is third in the wideout pecking order, and that often falls behind tight end Jake Ferguson as well. Deeper stash only if CeeDee Lamb or Brandin Cooks were to miss time.
- Trey Palmer and Deven Thompkins, TB — Palmer is my pick and Thompkins would be in “Meh,” if Mike Evans misses time. Chris Godwin is the obvious benefit, but Palmer has run as the No. 3, and Thompkins is limited size-wise, likely relegated to three-wide and slot work only. Buccaneers are also on a bye, which could delay Evans updates.
- Allen Lazard, NYJ — What we were hoping for with Aaron Rodgers, but without him, it’s tough to see that happening multiple times.
- Terrace Marshall, CAR — Would be more exciting if Adam Thielen and DJ Chark weren’t the No. 1 and 2 options, plus Jonathan Mingo is returning as competition for the No. 3 role.
- Braxton Berrios, MIA — Berrios (or some other wideout) will have another good game or two, but they are impossible to predict for any receiver running as the No. 3 in Miami.
- Darnell Mooney, CHI — In Justin Fields’ best game this season, Mooney still had just 4-4-51.
- Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, TEN — Stepped in for Treylon Burks as the No. 2, who already was tough to start anywhere.
DUMPSVILLE 🗑️ (Order I’d Drop)
- JuJu Smith-Schuster, NE — I can only guess that managers who have him have already quit.
- Jonathan Mingo, CAR; Jaxon Smith-Njigba, SEA; Marvin Mims, DEN; Quentin Johnston, LAC — Again, these rookies are No. 3 options and are long-term stashes (hence also being pickups above), but not everyone has that luxury.
STREAMING TIGHT ENDS
- DET vs CAR
- MIA vs NYG
- WSH vs CHI
- DEN vs NYJ
- GB at LV
- MIA vs CAR
- JAX vs IND
- DET at TB
- WSH at ATL
- LAR vs ARI
- ATL vs WSH
- MIN at CHI
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)