NFL Waiver Wire: Week 5 Deep Dive

NFL Waiver Wire: Week 5 Deep Dive

This article is part of our NFL Waiver Wire series.

Every week, a new position group seems to emerge as the most intriguing. Running back highlights this article, as a number of recent injuries have significantly changed backfields and created plenty of opportunity for speculation. We may also be quietly seeing a new crop of tight ends emerge into fantasy relevance, an under-the-radar position for some potentially impactful pickups. 

Quarterbacks

Matt Ryan at Broncos (16 percent ESPN)

Ryan hasn't passed the eye test, and I wouldn't be particularly eager to start him at Denver. Despite that uneasy feeling, he's produced over 350 passing yards or two touchdowns in three of four games this season.

Ryan Tannehill at Commanders (15 percent ESPN)

Tannehill has been the definition of a game manager so far. There's a possibility the Commanders could force the Titans into a bit of a heavier passing offense, but expect Derrick Henry to be the primary source of production as usual.

Zach Wilson vs. Dolphins (12 percent ESPN)

Great QBs often make their wide receivers relevant. Sometimes, great receivers make their quarterbacks relevant. If Wilson can display more consistent accuracy, he has the receiving corps to pull him to fantasy relevance.

Jacoby Brissett vs. Chargers (four percent ESPN)

The Browns are happy to hide Brissett in matchups that allow it, but they're likely to have to take to the air more than usual in Week 5 against the Chargers. He should be a decent option in deeper leagues for those in need at the position.   

Running Backs

Mark

Every week, a new position group seems to emerge as the most intriguing. Running back highlights this article, as a number of recent injuries have significantly changed backfields and created plenty of opportunity for speculation. We may also be quietly seeing a new crop of tight ends emerge into fantasy relevance, an under-the-radar position for some potentially impactful pickups. 

Quarterbacks

Matt Ryan at Broncos (16 percent ESPN)

Ryan hasn't passed the eye test, and I wouldn't be particularly eager to start him at Denver. Despite that uneasy feeling, he's produced over 350 passing yards or two touchdowns in three of four games this season.

Ryan Tannehill at Commanders (15 percent ESPN)

Tannehill has been the definition of a game manager so far. There's a possibility the Commanders could force the Titans into a bit of a heavier passing offense, but expect Derrick Henry to be the primary source of production as usual.

Zach Wilson vs. Dolphins (12 percent ESPN)

Great QBs often make their wide receivers relevant. Sometimes, great receivers make their quarterbacks relevant. If Wilson can display more consistent accuracy, he has the receiving corps to pull him to fantasy relevance.

Jacoby Brissett vs. Chargers (four percent ESPN)

The Browns are happy to hide Brissett in matchups that allow it, but they're likely to have to take to the air more than usual in Week 5 against the Chargers. He should be a decent option in deeper leagues for those in need at the position.   

Running Backs

Mark Ingram vs. Seahawks (19 percent ESPN)

It may turn out Ingram offers no fantasy value as early as Sunday's matchup against the Seahawks. Alvin Kamara logged a limited practice Wednesday, but did that for the entire week leading up to his inactive status versus the Vikings. If he's inactive, Ingram has a path to significant work, particularly now that Latavius Murray has joined the Broncos.

Latavius Murray vs. Colts (eight percent ESPN) 

Speaking of Murray, he's signed with a spot on the Broncos' active roster after the Saints' practice squad. With Javonte Williams sidelined for the rest of the season, Denver's backfield has been shaken up. Melvin Gordon will get the first crack at the top spot, but he's struggled with fumbles and efficiency early on. The fantasy community is clamoring for Mike Boone, but Murray could see his role increase if Gordon continues to underwhelm.

Phillip Lindsay at Broncos (zero percent ESPN)

At time of writing, Lindsay isn't on the Colts' active roster. With Jonathan Taylor already ruled out, Lindsay is a candidate to be promoted from the practice squad and that makes plenty of sense given Nyheim Hines isn't likely to carry a full workload out of the backfield and Deon Jackson is nearly exclusively a special-teams contributor. 

Isiah Pacheco vs. Raiders (14 percent ESPN)

Pacheco has received double-digit carries in two games this season. That work has come primarily in garbage time, but there's a fairly clear indication he's the backup to Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

Eno Benjamin vs. Eagles (seven percent ESPN)
Darrel Williams vs. Eagles (four percent ESPN)

The RB situation in Tampa Bay is getting all the attention, but Arizona may be another backfield to monitor in the coming weeks. James Conner has operated as something of a workhorse, but only topped 50 rushing yards for the first time in Week 4. And in 45 rushing attempts, he's yet to log a gain of more than 20 yards. It's unclear whether Benjamin or Williams would ultimately benefit from a shift in touch allocation, but speculating here could pay off. 

Gus Edwards vs. Bengals (four percent ESPN)

Edwards returned to practice Wednesday and has been designated to return from injured reserve. That means he'll have to be activated within 21 days, or will be lost for the season. J.K. Dobbins will lead the backfield, but the Ravens have yet to find a suitable backup. Justice Hill looked destined for that role, but he's battling a hamstring injury that will seemingly cost him at least one game and potentially more.

Damien Williams at Buccaneers (four percent ESPN) 

Williams is not eligible to return from IR until Week 6, and there's no guarantee he'll be back when first eligible. However, Cordarrelle Patterson was just put on injured reserve and will be out for at least the next four weeks. In the short term, Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley could benefit. But in the long term, Williams could be the back to roster in Atlanta.

Craig Reynolds at Patriots (seven percent ESPN)

D'Andre Swift has yet to return to practice and Reynolds was the backup to Jamaal Williams in Week 4 against Seattle. Reynolds only posted two carries in that contest, but did run 12 routes. Most encouragingly, he turned three touches into 42 yards. That efficiency could create more opportunity.  

Wide Receivers

Devin Duvernay vs. Bengals (20 percent ESPN)

Duvernay was added at a relatively high rate this week, and for good reason. Rashod Bateman has failed to make the impact expected and has now developed a foot injury. Duvernay has been very efficient to start the year with 12 targets on 13 receptions while also recording 2.12 yards per route run.

Rondale Moore vs. Eagles (20 percent ESPN)

Moore made his season debut last weekend and immediately put an end to Greg Dortch's season. More importantly, Moore led the team in routes run. And even better, his usage was much improved from his rookie season with an aDOT of 9.4.

Alec Pierce at Broncos (eight percent ESPN)

Pierce has slowly but steadily seen his role increase in Indianapolis. He's involved where it matters for fantasy purposes with three of his seven receptions going for more than 20 yards and three of 13 targets coming inside the red zone.

Josh Reynolds at Patriots (18 percent ESPN)

Reynolds took advantage of a depleted Detroit receiving corps in Week 4. He's battling an ankle injury of his own, but could be in for another significant role depending on the availability of other wideouts. New England isn't a fantastic defense, but they are superior to the Seahawks unit that the Lions shredded last week - so keep expectations in check.  

Wan'Dale Robinson at Packers (seven percent ESPN)
Richie James at Packers (seven percent ESPN)

The Giants don't want to throw the ball, which takes a significant amount of intrigue away from everyone in the offense except Saquon Barkley. Despite that, I like both Robinson and James. Robinson returned to a limited practice Wednesday and could immediately become the top receiver as soon as he steps on the field. On the other hand, he offers virtually no floor. James is the exact opposite as a pretty safe bet for a few catches and 40-50 yards per game, but it's hard to imagine him consistently producing more.

Ben Skowronek vs. Cowboys (one percent ESPN) 
Van Jefferson vs. Cowboys (nine percent ESPN)

Allen Robinson isn't getting the job done in LA and his incompetence is a contributing factor to the Rams' losses this season. Tyler Higbee has been the primary beneficiary so far, but Skowronek has run more routes outside (as opposed to in the slot) than you might expect. Jefferson could have the biggest impact of the group once able to return from injured reserve.

Tight Ends

Robert Tonyan vs. Giants (22 percent ESPN)

Tonyan saw his snap count dip in Week 4, which is a bit of a surprise. Even so, Aaron Rodgers continues to search for receivers he can rely upon and has a proven rapport with Tonyan from past years.

Trey McBride vs. Eagles (zero percent ESPN)

McBride recorded the first targets and receptions of his career last weekend. There's no clear reason for his sudden involvement, so his production could disappear as quickly as it appeared. But at such a poor position, it's worth speculating on McBride now before any potential breakout becomes obvious.

Daniel Bellinger at Packers (zero percent ESPN)

At first glance, Bellinger took a step back with his Week 4 stat line. However, the Giants only took to the air 16 times, meaning his three targets were a reasonable share of the overall team output. In games where the Giants are forced to pass often, expect Bellinger to be a solid contributor.

Chigoziem Okonkwo at Commanders (zero percent ESPN)

Okonkwo is probably safe to ignore in most leagues at the moment as he's only run nine routes this season. Five of those came last Sunday, as did his first career TD. Geoff Swaim is primarily a blocking tight end and Austin Hooper has done little to impress early in his tenure in Tennessee, making Okonkwo a watchlist player.  

Greg Dulcich vs. Colts (zero percent ESPN)

Dulcich is eligible to return from injured reserve as soon as he's able. He's already been ruled out for Week 5 due to the team's short week, but the following matchup could be realistic. The Broncos appear to have moved on from Albert Okwuegbunam, so Dulcich could immediately step into a significant role upon activation.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dan Marcus
Dan started covering fantasy sports in 2015, joining Rotowire in 2018. In addition to Rotowire, Dan has written for Baseball HQ and Rotoballer.
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