By Matt Citak
(CBS Boston)- Having a strong bench has always been important in fantasy football. Injuries happen every week, and a solid replacement on your bench could make a huge difference for your season. But this year more than ever due to COVID-19, having a deep roster is crucial to fantasy success.
Fantasy owners woke up Sunday morning to hear that the Patriots-Broncos game, which had previously been switched to Monday evening, would not happen in Week 5, while the Bills-Titans Tuesday night game was in jeopardy after Tennessee received another positive test. The league was forced to change the schedules of several teams to make up for this week’s postponement, throwing a wrench in many fantasy owners’ bye week arrangements.
As unfortunate as these scheduling issues were for the league and fantasy owners, it will unlikely be the last time something like this happens this season. This is why having a deep bench will be more important than ever, making each week’s waiver wire a vital part of fantasy owners’ preparation.
Let’s dive right into this week’s top waiver wire adds heading into Week 6. Before we begin, keep in mind this was written prior to both the Chargers-Saints MNF game and the Bills-Titans game on Tuesday.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins- Fitzmagic lives on! The career of Ryan Fitzpatrick has truly been fascinating to follow. The former 7th round pick, now in his 16th season on his eighth different team, has been doing things this year that not many soon to be 38-year-olds could accomplish. Going up against a good 49ers defense in Week 5, Fitzpatrick completed 78.6 percent of his passes for 350 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. The veteran QB added 16 rushing yards, totaling 101 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns over the last three weeks. Fitzpatrick now has multiple touchdown passes with zero interceptions in three of five games this season, and gets a matchup against the Jets in Week 6. Fitzmagic looks set for another big performance this week and is the top QB streamer.
QB Andy Dalton, Dallas Cowboys- The injury to Cowboys QB Dak Prescott was easily the most devastating injury to occur in Week 5, and our thoughts and prayers go out to Prescott and the long road he faces in his recovery. When stepping in for Prescott on Sunday, Dalton looked impressive. The veteran quarterback completed over 80 percent of his passes for 111 yards and helped lead the Cowboys down the field to set up the game-winning field goal as time expired. Dalton won’t have as much success as Prescott, but considering the weapons the Cowboys have on offense, he could easily offer low-end QB1 value for the rest of the season. Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup, not to mention Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, is one of the most talented group of skill position players in the league. Dalton could be the answer for anyone in need of a quarterback, and should at least serve as a solid matchup-dependent fantasy QB.
RB Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings- Through the first four weeks of the season, Mattison was seeing an average of about seven touches per game playing behind Dalvin Cook. Unfortunately for the Vikings, Cook suffered a groin injury during Sunday night’s loss to the Seahawks. While he did make a return to the field, he was only out there for one play before sitting for the rest of the game. As of this writing, there is no word on the severity of Cook’s injury. But regardless of the diagnosis, Mattison needs to be added if he is still available. After filling in for the injured Cook, Mattison ended up rushing the ball 20 times for 112 yards, adding three receptions for 24 yards. The Vikings are one of the most run-heavy teams in the league, ranking inside the top 5 in the league in rushing attempts. If Cook is sidelined for even one game, Mattison becomes an instant workhorse back. The second-year back is averaging 4.7 yards per carry on his 144 career rush attempts, and would serve as a strong RB2 if Cook misses any time. Even if Cook’s injury is minor, Mattison needs to be added as possibly the top handcuff RB in the NFL.
RB Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals- Kenyan Drake has undoubtedly been one of this year’s biggest fantasy busts. He’s scored just two touchdowns in five games and is averaging 3.7 yards per carry. Drake will remain the team’s starting running back, but his struggles could lead to an expanded role for Edmonds, who’s already finding success in the limited role he currently has. Edmonds rushed just three times against the Jets in Week 5, but gained 36 yards and a touchdown while also catching five passes for 56 yards. Edmonds has now finished with at least three receptions in all but one game this year. His receiving production, along with his usage in the red zone, offers some standalone FLEX value, and if Drake were to get hurt or continue to struggle, Edmonds could see his role expanded even more.
RB Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers- With Austin Ekeler out of the lineup, Jackson took the lead in the backfield not only as a pass catcher but also as a rusher in the Chargers Monday night matchup with the Saints. Jackson carried 15 times for 71 yards and added five catches for 23 yards in the passing game. Jackson was much more effective with his carries than Joshua Kelley who carried 11 times for 29 yards (2.6 yards per carry). Based on that performance, it would appear that Jackson takes over the lead back role for the Chargers while Ekeler is out. He’s worth a pickup heading into Week 6.
WR Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers- What an impressive performance by the rookie wide receiver
in Week 5. The second-round pick out of Notre Dame saw 11 targets against the Eagles and was able to turn that into seven catches for 110 yards and three touchdowns. As if that wasn’t enough, Claypool also added three carries for six yards and an additional touchdown, totaling four on the day. Even with JuJu Smith-Schuster there, Claypool might have begun his takeover as Pittsburgh’s number one option in the passing game. At 6-foot-4 and 238-pounds, Claypool ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine. That is not normal… With this unique combination of size and speed, along with the injury to Diontae Johnson, it would not be surprising to see Claypool provide starting WR numbers for fantasy owners for the rest of the year. Go out and grab the rookie wide receiver before it’s too late.
WR Travis Fulgham, Philadelphia Eagles- Two weeks ago, saying the name Travis Fulgham to just about anyone that follows the NFL would have been met with a very confused look. Now? He’s one of the hottest names in fantasy football. Fulgham caught two passes for 57 yards in his Eagles debut in Week 4, including the game-winning touchdown grab. He followed that up with a phenomenal performance this past Sunday, catching 10 of 13 targets for 152 yards and another touchdown against a tough Steelers defense. The Eagles lined him up all over the field, and Fulgham found success everywhere he went. Even after Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Jalen Reagor return, Fulgham seems to have earned himself a solid role in the Eagles offense moving forward. He comes in right behind Claypool on the priority list this week for anyone in need of a wide receiver.
WR Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans- It took a few weeks, but Brandin Cooks finally had his welcome moment in Houston. After not catching any of the three passes thrown in his direction in Week 4, Cooks exploded for eight receptions for 161 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets against the Jaguars. Will Fuller V will likely remain the top option in the Texans’ passing game, as he has caught a touchdown in each of the last three weeks. But given Fuller’s injury history, all it would take is one bad step or change of direction for Cooks to jump to the top of the pecking order in Houston. Some fantasy owners might have panicked and cut the veteran receiver after his disappearing act in Week 4. If this was the case in your league, don’t let someone else beat you to it- add Cooks to your bench now and let’s see how the target share is distributed in the Texans’ offense moving forward.
TE Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns- After not producing much in his first few games with the Browns, Hooper has turned it on over the last two weeks. In Week 4, the tight end reeled in five of seven targets for 34 yards and a touchdown. Against the Colts in Week 5, Hooper was targeted a team-high 10 times, producing five receptions for 57 yards. As we all know, the tight end position can be incredibly volatile. Hooper’s recent production could be a sign of what’s to come, or it could just be a two-week outlier. I’m not entirely confident about it, but I tend to lean towards the former. His Week 6 matchup against the Steelers isn’t ideal, but I’m taking a chance and stashing Hooper on my bench in hopes that his connection with Baker Mayfield continues to grow stronger.
TE Jimmy Graham, Chicago Bears- Many people criticized Bears GM Ryan Pace for the offseason signing of Graham, bringing in a 33-year-old tight end who didn’t produce much for the Packers last year. Five games into the season, Graham has already topped his touchdown total from 2019. Graham has caught touchdowns in three of five games, totaling four on the season. The veteran has totaled 13 receptions for 126 yards and three touchdowns over the last three weeks, most of which has come with Nick Foles under center. Graham also came down with a jaw-dropping one-handed touchdown grab against Tampa Bay, showing off his athletic abilities as a former basketball player. Graham has been on the field for at least 62 percent of Chicago’s offensive snaps every game this year, putting to rest any concerns about the veteran only seeing limited playing time. Considering the state of the tight end position every season, Graham is certainly worth an add in hopes that he keeps producing in the red zone.