We’re heading into Week 4 of the fantasy football season and some fantasy owners are really needing to make dramatic changes to their teams. Countless injuries have knocked star players out, and plenty more key players are dinged up and dealing with day-to-day/week-to-week statuses. Because of these injuries, the ineffective play of some stars, the COVID-19-related postponement of the Steelers-Titans game, and the official start of bye weeks in Week 5 (Packers and Lions), fantasy owners are scrambling to check the waiver wire to find worthwhile streamers, sleepers, and potential starters. Late in the week, the “must-have pickups” are usually gone, but ahead of the post-Week 4 waiver period, it’s important to look ahead and try to find some available free agents that can help you in weeks beyond this one.
At this point, you should be comfortable dropping one or two players from your bench (or you should be able to put someone in your IR spot in Yahoo leagues when they’re officially ruled out). As nice as it may be to hang onto some handcuffs, if you need a starter in the immediate future, you can feel free to drop a Boston Scott-type for a worthwhile Week 5 streamer or speculative add. Barring a surprise, you can usually get the handcuffs you drop back unless the starter in front of them happens to get hurt the week you drop them (we’ve all been there).
Any time you add or drop a player, you’re just making an educated guess. They don’t always work out. But when they do, the players you add can be big-time difference makers, and not having to sweat the waiver process or spend up in FAAB to get them is certainly a good thing.
Now three weeks into the season, there are several players that are still surprisingly available on the waiver wire. Sure, some player production may be unsustainable, but you can feel free to ride the hot hands of certain players now. Other options are targeting excellent matchups and starting them as a potential flex or trusting players that will get a high volume of opportunities to produce points (Laviska Shenault, N’Keal Harry, and Jimmy Graham all come to mind).
And if you’re not ready to make a move yet or don’t want to, that’s fine. You can just take a look at the players that are readily available and bookmark some that might interest you when it’s time to make Week 5 pickups.
Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Watchlist
Reminder: This list was put together in the lead-in to Week 4, looking forward to the players that could be waiver-wire targets to scoop before the season starts to use in future weeks. If you have a roster spot to play with, these are options you could pick up early to beat the waiver buzz.
All these players are below 50-percent ownership on Yahoo unless otherwise specified.
Week 5 Waiver Wire Watchlist: Quarterback
Key QBs out because of byes: Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford
Gardner Minshew, Jaguars (50 percent ownership)
Minshew didn’t look good against the Dolphins last week, but with DJ Chark (chest) likely coming back, he should be better positioned to find success in Weeks 4 and 5. He has two solid matchups with the Bengals and Texans and has averaged 262.3 passing yards and two TDs per game while completing 73 percent of his passes. He’s pretty consistent and can be trusted as a quality streamer.
Daniel Jones, Giants (40)
Jones hasn’t lived up to expectations this season and has scored just twice while turning the ball over six times. In Week 5, Jones and the Giants get a matchup against a porous Dallas defense that is allowing 32.3 points and 277 passing yards per game to offenses. Both are bottom-five marks in the league. As a result, Jones could feast and end up being a QB1 in a rivalry game.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (36)
It seems that Garoppolo is progressing well in his recovery from a high ankle sprain and should have a chance to return to action either this week or next. In Week 5, Garoppolo’s 49ers get to match up with a Dolphins defense that is allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to QBs at a mark of 23.5, making him a quality streamer.
Philip Rivers, Colts (22)
The Browns allow 21.5 FPPG to QBs and have some holes in their back seven created by injuries to Mack Wilson, Greedy Williams, and Grant Delpit. They are getting healthier, as Wilson played nine snaps against Washington, but a veteran QB like Rivers could take advantage of a team that has allowed 253.7 passing yards and 29.3 points per game to offenses.
Teddy Bridgewater, Panthers (17)
The Panthers are taking on the Falcons in Week 5. The Falcons allow the most FPPG to quarterbacks (34.1) and they allow a league-high 36 points per game to offenses. Bridgewater has the weapons needed to take advantage of that defense in D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, and Robby Anderson.
Week 5 Waiver Wire Watch List: RB
Key RBs out because of byes: Aaron Jones, Adrian Peterson, D’Andre Swift
Phillip Lindsay, Broncos (53)
Lindsay is the only player on here that’s over 50 percent owned, , but he should be owned in a much higher percentage. Lindsay had seven carries and one target on 19 snaps in the Broncos’ opener before leaving the game because of a toe injury. He seemed to be on pace for a roughly 50-50 split with Melvin Gordon, and he even got a goal-line carry in that game. He should get plenty of opportunities to prove himself. The Broncos figure to skew run-heavy with Drew Lock (shoulder) out, as well, so feel free to grab Lindsay even ahead of a tough matchup with the Patriots.
Carlos Hyde, Seahawks (39) | Travis Homer, Seahawks (1)
Chris Carson is battling a knee injury that could keep him out for a week or two. Hyde would likely be the starter if Carson does, in fact, miss time while Travis Homer would fill in as more of a pass-catching and change-of-pace back. The Seahawks play the Dolphins in Week 4 and the Vikings in Week 5, and both defenses have allowed three-plus TDs to the RB position this year.
Rex Burkhead, Patriots (33) | Damien Harris, Patriots (26)
Burkhead is coming off a game that saw him tally three TDs and nearly 100 scrimmage yards. He can’t be trusted to do that every week, but he has a nice matchup with a beat-up Broncos defense in Week 5. If he continues to get touches despite James White (personal) returning, he’d be worth considering. Meanwhile, Harris (hand) will likely come off IR in the not-so-distant future and he could end up being New England’s backfield leader by the end of the season. Take a flier on the second-year man from Alabama after he looked good by all accounts in training camp.
Duke Johnson, Texans (19)
Johnson will soon return from an ankle injury that kept him sidelined for a couple of weeks. He has two favorable matchups against the Vikings and Jaguars upcoming, and David Johnson could use a running mate to spell him and keep him fresh. Duke is a solid handcuff who could also have flex value, especially in PPR formats.
Gus Edwards, Ravens (2)
Edwards has yet to play more than 20 snaps in a game, but he has generated 129 yards on 18 rushing attempts so far this season. Greg Roman will mix up the backfield order weekly, so Edwards always has upside and would be a potential flex play if either Mark Ingram or JK Dobbins goes down.
Week 5 Waiver Wire Watch List: WR
Key WRs out because of byes: Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr.
Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers (49)
Aiyuk could be a Swiss Army Knife for the 49ers. In Week 3 against the Giants, he racked up 70 yards on five catches (eight targets) and ran the ball three times for 31 yards and a TD. He will continue to get touches even with George Kittle (knee) and Deebo Samuel (foot) coming back in the near future. Aiyuk’s ceiling is sky-high, so grab him while you still can, as the 49ers are playing the Eagles and Dolphins the next two weeks.
Anthony Miller, Bears (48) | Cordarrelle Patterson, Bears (7)
With Nick Foles replacing Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback, the Bears receivers have a lot more upside. Miller could become a weekly WR3/flex play given his solid target share (14) and penchant for big plays (117 yards for two TDs). Patterson, meanwhile, is listed as a receiver in most fantasy leagues, but he will be the team’s new top backup at the RB spot with Tarik Cohen (knee) out for the year. He might only be used to spell David Montgomery, but with 15 rushing attempts already through three games, he surely as a high-floor as a matchup-based flex play, especially in PPR leagues.
N’Keal Harry, Patriots (38)
Harry has been a boom-or-bust flex option this year, but he has logged 22 targets through three games and is clearly Cam Newton’s second-favorite receiver. He should continue to rack up targets as the season goes along and could fill a Devin Funchess-like role for the Patriots. In Week 5, Harry takes on a Broncos defense that will have to focus on stopping Julian Edelman and may have a tough time containing him as a result.
Mecole Hardman, Chiefs (34)
Hardman broke through in the Chiefs’ win over the Ravens tying a career-high with four catches and logging 81 yards, the second-highest total of his career. He also grabbed his first TD of the season. Hardman should be viewed as the Chiefs’ third receiver and gets to take on a beatable Raiders secondary in Week 5. And, oh yeah, his quarterback is Patrick Mahomes. That always helps raise a player’s value.
Tee Higgins, Bengals (28)
Higgins caught two TDs last week for the Bengals and appears to be their new third receiving weapon in place of speedster John Ross III. His Week 5 matchup with the Ravens won’t be easy, but if he becomes a red-zone threat for Joe Burrow, he needs to be added because of his TD upside.
Hunter Renfrow, Raiders (27)
With Henry Ruggs II (hamstring) out in Week 3, Renfrow led the Raiders in targets (9) and caught six passes for 84 yards and a TD. He came up just inches short of a second TD, so the upside is there. Renfrow plays the Chiefs in what could be a Week 5 shootout, so don’t be afraid to grab him as a potential standard flex or PPR WR3 these next couple of weeks.
Laviska Shenault, Jaguars (26)
Shenault is being used as a dual-threat weapon by the Jaguars. He is averaging just 35 yards per game as a receiver, but he has added 48 rushing yards and a receiving TD to make him a multi-faceted threat. Shenault has a high floor thanks to the touches he’s getting, so feel free to trust him in his matchups against the Bengals and Texans, two defenses that allow a lot of rushing yards.
Curtis Samuel, Panthers (24)
Like Shenault, Samuel is doing damage both as a receiver and a runner. Samuel has gotten four carries in each of the past two weeks and should continue to get opportunities out of the backfield with Christian McCaffrey (knee) out. And you can absolutely trust Samuel in a cupcake matchup with the Falcons’ porous defense in Week 5.
Scotty Miller, Buccaneers (17)
It seems likely that Chris Godwin will miss at least a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury. That’ll make Miller Tom Brady’s WR2. The Bears won’t be an easy opponent for Miller in Week 5, but in Week 6, he takes on the Packers, so he could be a good bench stash to use against Green Bay’s leaky defense.
Alshon Jeffery, Eagles (17) | Greg Ward, Eagles (7)
As of Thursday, the Eagles had one healthy receiver at practice. It was Ward. Jeffery should soon return from a foot injury, too, and given that the team is desperate for bodies at receiver, both could be high-volume targets for the reeling Eagles. Ward has 19 target through two games and both could see a lot of action against a Steelers defense that has, surprisingly, let up some big plays to WRs.
Cole Beasley, Bills (17)
John Brown is dealing with a calf injury that held him out for half of last game. Beasley was able to log 100 yards as the No. 2 receiver in his place. Three matchups against the Raiders, Titans, and Chiefs should make Beasley an intriguing flex play the next three weeks, especially in PPR.
KJ Hamler, Broncos (9)
Hamler has 12 targets through two games with the Broncos and has six catches for 78 yards. The numbers aren’t great, but they’ll be much better once Drew Lock comes back from a shoulder injury.
Andy Isabella, Cardinals (6)
Isabella already started getting more involved in the Cardinals’ game plan before more injuries struck the Cardinals receiving corps. Against the Lions with Christian Kirk (groin) out, Isabella caught four passes for 47 yards and two TDs. The speedster is a deep threat, averaging 19 yards per catch this year, but he can also use his speed to score in the red zone. If either Kirk or DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) are out this week, Isabella could be an intriguing flex play with a nice Week 4 matchup against the Panthers followed by another fantasy-friendly Week 5 game against the Jets. Kirk is owned in just 36 percent of Yahoo leagues, so he would be worth grabbing if he’s back, especially if Hopkins is out.
Week 5 Waiver Wire Watch List: TE
Key TEs out because of byes: T.J. Hockenson
Dalton Schultz, Cowboys (35)
Since taking over as the Cowboys’ top tight end in wake of a season-ending injury to Blake Jarwin, Schultz has been targeted 20 times by Dak Prescott and has caught 14 passes for 147 yards and a TD. Because of the team’s other weapons, Schultz will be left open a lot and against a leaky Giants back seven, he should have a chance to catch passes early and often.
Eric Ebron, Steelers (30)
The Steelers are taking the Eagles in Week 5 and the Eagles allow the eighth-most FPPG (11.1) to TEs. Ebron has combined to catch eight-of-12 targets for 95 yards and a score. If Ben Roethlisberger keeps giving him roughly six targets per game, Ebron should have a big day against the Eagles.
Logan Thomas, Washington (29)
Thomas has seen a total of 24 targets from Dwayne Haskins so far this season. That’s tied for third most among tight ends behind only Travis Kelce and Darren Waller. Thomas hasn’t done a tone with those targets — 12 catches, 94 yards, one TD — but he is a heavily targeted player that can occasionally find the end zone. At the very least, he’s a quality player to keep around in PPR.
Jimmy Graham, Bears (28)
Graham may not be the player he once was, but the veteran has been targeted 18 times this season and has scored three times in three games this season. Graham’s matchup with the Buccaneers may not be the best (the Bucs allow just 4.6 FPPG to TEs), but he will always be a red-zone threat.
Mo Alie-Cox, Colts (23)
Alie-Cox is the new top tight end in Indy after he performed well while Jack Doyle was out with an ankle injury. Alie-Cox has at least 100 yards or a TD in his last two outings and should have a chance to do some damage against a Browns defense that allows the fourth-most FPPG to TEs this year at a mark of 12.0.
Week 5 defense streamers and sleepers
D/STs out because of byes: Packers, Lions
Arizona Cardinals (41) | Week 5 opponent: @ Jets
Dallas Cowboys (23) | Week 5 opponent: vs. Giants
Cleveland Browns (22) | Week 5 opponent: vs. Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars (3) | Week 5 opponent: @ Texans
Week 5 isn’t exactly a great one for streaming defense. The Cardinals are far and away the best unit, as they’ll have a chance to take on a beat-up Jets team that has been awful to start the year. If you’re planning ahead, make sure to grab them, as the other available streaming options don’t look nearly as appealing.
The Cowboys have a good matchup against the turnover-prone Giants. However, Dallas’ defense is not good at all and has struggled to contain passing offenses throughout the year. Daniel Jones could take advantage of that and score, but the Cowboys should still be able to force some sacks and turnovers against a Giants team that hasn’t shown improvement thus far in 2020.
Elsewhere, the Browns are another dart throw against the Colts because Philip Rivers can be prone to throwing interceptions. That said, the Browns are weak in the middle of their defense, so they’re far from a safe play against a team with a strong offensive line. Meanwhile, the Jaguars could have a chance to sack Deshaun Watson thanks to their solid pass rush, but like the Browns, they’re far from a safe play because of their young secondary. Even still, both sides should have a chance at a splash play that could make them viable streamers in a tough week at the position.