What more could go wrong for fantasy owners? They are now without Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall at WR, Tyler Eifert is headed for back surgery, thus ending his season, and it appears Ty Montgomery may have lost his starting RB job to rookie Aaron Jones after he put up 174 yards and 2 touchdowns through 2 games. Injuries are always a factor in professional sports, but this NFL season has seen more season-ending and fantasy roster-changing injuries than I can ever remember.
With all the injuries, the waiver wire has been picked cleaner than a Thanksgiving turkey! With that said, the two names you need to focus on for the waiver wire this week are Jerick McKinnon and Elijah McGuire. A lot of people will be running for Adrian Peterson, but you will focus on McKinnon and McGuire!
The Vikings may split the carries a little more evenly with Latavius Murray if McKinnon slows down. But for now the job is McKinnon's to lose. McGuire's role may be more temporary with Bilal Powell likely to miss this week with a calf injury. A strong showing could change all that, but for now he is a just a Week 6 play. The Patriots give up a ton of points and yards on defense, so the opportunity will be there for sleeper status this week.
Deshaun Watson – Texans: Watson has come on like gangbusters the past three games, totaling 845 passing yards, 96 rushing yards, and 12 touchdowns. Because of the recent surge in production, the rookie is now ranked #3 for fantasy QBs this season.
This week Watson gets a Browns defense that is generously giving up 23.2 PPG to fantasy QBs this season, the 5th-most in the NFL. It's a prime matchup for Watson, and I would consider him a top-5 QB option this week.
Carson Palmer – Cardinals: Palmer is an underrated option at QB this season, as he is owned in just 67 percent of leagues, yet he ranks as the #11 fantasy QB. Palmer has attempted the most passes in the NFL (227), as has the 2nd-most passing yards (1,573) because of it. Fantasy is all about numbers, and the Cardinals are clearly willing to chuck the ball around the field.
There is some worry that with Adrian Peterson at RB now, the Cardinals will employ a more balanced attack on offense. I'm personally not worried for the time being because it will take Peterson time to learn the playbook, and he didn't have the same explosiveness in New Orleans that we've seen in the past. Palmer is my bye week filler at QB in all my leagues where I need one.
Elijah McGuire – Jets: With Bilal Powell dealing with a calf injury he suffered in Week 5, and Matt Forte clearly in the twilight of his career, McGuire is in line to carry the load for the Jets this week. The game could very well be a rout, with the Patriots coming to town. But McGuire is an interesting guy to add if you missed out on Jerick McKinnon on the waiver wire.
Consider him more of a low-end RB2/flex play, but a better play than guys like Peterson and Jonathan Stewart.
Jerick McKinnon – Vikings: Speaking of McKinnon, he is the #1 option off the waiver wire for me this week. Let those other guys chase Peterson and his name; as for me, I take McKinnon! Latavius Murray started for the Vikings, but McKinnon is clearly the lead dog in the Vikings backfield.
The Packers have given up an average of 19.7 PPG to fantasy RBs this season, the 14th-most in the NFL. McKinnon has been a bit of a dual-threat RB, giving him added value in PPR formats. Consider him a RB2 with upside.
Will Fuller – Texans: Fuller's early success since returning from a broken Collar bone has opened some eyes, with him accounting for 92 yards and 4 touchdowns over just two games. It's hard to argue with those numbers when you consider guys like Demaryius Thomas and Sammy Watkins have done next to nothing at a higher average draft position. The problem is, Fuller only has 9 targets and 6 receptions through those two games. He is largely a touchdown-dependent WR in fantasy terms.
With that said, the Browns are just as bad on defense as they are on offense, making Fuller a solid WR2/3 play for those searching for bye week options. The touchdowns will come to an end eventually, but I don't think that happens this week.
Devin Funchess – Panthers: Like Fuller, Funchess has come alive over the past two weeks, amassing 17 targets, 14 receptions, 123 yards, and 3 touchdowns. He seems to finally be building a rapport with Cam Newton, and it is paying off for fantasy owners who grabbed him.
This week he gets a juicy matchup against an Eagles secondary that has given up the most receptions (77) and receiving yards (1,033) to WRs this season. With the Eagles giving up 26.7 PPG to fantasy WRs, 2nd-most in the NFL, the floor for Funchess should be in the WR2 range.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Jets: I know it is hard to trust Josh McCown and the Jets passing offense, but ASJ is one of the lone weapons McCown seems to trust when throwing. Even though he didn't play in Weeks 1 & 2, Seferian-Jenkins has the 3rd-most targets on the Jets with 18 this season, and is steadily climbing up the TE rankings because of it.
Tight end is an all-or-nothing position in fantasy football, but ASJ is a quality guy to grab off the waiver wire if you are searching for a TE. He's not going to be a Rob Gronkowski, but he is someone to consider if you own Travis Kelce and he ends up missing Week 6 due to his concussion.
Jacksonville Jaguars defense: The Jaguars defense has arrived, and they are in the "elite" category this season. Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are the best CB tandem in the NFL, Paul Posluszny, Telvin Smith and Myles Jack have been arguably the best LB corps in the league, and Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church are two of the top-end safeties in the league.
As if that wasn't enough for an opposing offense to deal with, then you have a defensive line that features Calais Campbell, Dante Fowler Jr., Malik Jackson, and Yannick Ngakoue. I know it is cliché for the team website to say it, but there really isn't a weak spot on this defense!
The Rams offense is no simple task, with Jared Goff making a complete 180 turn from last season. Cooper Kupp looks like a poor man's Julian Edelman, and Todd Gurley is one of the better RBs in the game again. With that said, the Jaguars just dismantled a much better offense in the Steelers. If they can do that to them, I have faith in them to do it to the Rams.
Eli Manning – Giants: Manning has thrown the 2nd-most passes this season (202), which is always a good thing in fantasy. The more passes you throw, the more chances you have to put up yards and touchdowns. The problem Manning is facing is he has lost everyone on his WR depth chart, and is down to Roger Lewis as his only WR of name.
With virtually nobody to throw to, it is hard to imagine Manning being able to find success against a stout Broncos defense. I would actually not only sit Manning, but consider cutting him in all formats. Unless the Giants trade for a WR, their season is about to get really ugly.
Carson Wentz – Eagles: Wentz has been one of the better QBs in the NFL this season, racking up 1,362 passing yards, 108 rushing yards, 10 TDs, and just 3 INTs. The addition of Alshon Jeffery has been big for him, and Zach Ertz has taken the leap forward we've been waiting for from him.
With that said, the Panthers have given up the 8th-fewest fantasy points to QBs this season at 16.8 PPG. They have allowed 7 passing TDs to just 1 INT, but they have done a good job at limiting the damage once the offense gets on their side of the field. Consider Wentz a QB2 with better options available.
Adrian Peterson – Cardinals: AP will be the hot waiver wire add this week, and with good reason. Peterson is a dangerous back that has, or had, game-changing abilities. He didn't look like the same RB we were used to seeing while with the Saints, averaging just 3.0 YPC and 20.3 YPG on the ground.
The reason I'm not a fan of his right now is because he was just traded to the Cardinals on Tuesday. He simply doesn't have the time to effectively learn the playbook in time to make a meaningful impact unless he breaks one loose. He was quickly listed as the starter, but remember above that Palmer has thrown the most passes in the NFL this season. The Saints may be the sexier passing offense, but the Cardinals throw it more. Peterson might not have landed in a better position after all.
Marlon Mack – Colts: Mack is another hot waiver wire commodity after running for 91 yards and a touchdown in Week 5. The problem is those 91 yards came on 9 carries, and 35 of those yards came in overtime on a single run. Add to that the fact that Frank Gore still leads the team with 14 carries, and you have all the makings of a RBBC.
Mack should earn a bigger role going forward, but he is going to split carries with Gore more so than take the RB1 duties outright. Mack is likely to disappoint more than impress, making him someone I would avoid until his role is a bit more cemented.
Sammy Watkins – Rams: Watkins started off the season solidly, hauling in 5 catches for 58 yards in Week 1. Then, in Week 3, he was a top-tier WR thanks to his 6/106/2 line. Since then, Watkins has been invisible, managing just 6 targets, 1 catch, and 17 yards over the next two games.
Coach Sean McVay said he will "continue to try and find ways to get the ball" to Watkins, but that won't be easy facing the Jaguars #3-ranked passing defense. I'm not sure I would cut Watkins just yet, but I certainly would wait for him to see more than 2-4 targets before playing him.
Demaryius Thomas – Broncos: Thomas is clearly not the favorite WR in Denver with Trevor Siemian at QB, as he is managing just 1 catch for 11 yards. The yardage was the lowest he's seen since Week 14 of the 2014 season.
The Broncos take on the Giants at home, coming off a bye. And the Giants seem to be imploding with the team suspending CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie after he walked out of a team meeting on Wednesday. With that said, I am going to sit Thomas and wait for him to show me he has Siemian's eye before playing him again.
Kyle Rudolph – Vikings: Sam Bradford is out again for the Vikings, putting Case Keenum back in at QB. Rudolph has been solid this season, reeling in 16 of 24 targets for 154 yards and 2 TDs. Those numbers rank #12 among fantasy TEs this season, right on the TE1/2 bubble.
The Packers/Vikings game is likely to be a close scoring game, but the Packers have limited fantasy TEs to the 2nd-fewest points this season at a meager 3.1 PPG. In five games this season, the Packers have given up just 20 catches for 167 yards and no touchdowns. Rudolph is more of a red zone threat with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen being the chain movers in the passing attack.
Kansas City Chiefs defense: The Chiefs have the 4th-best fantasy defense this season, racking up 14.0 sacks, 4 interceptions, 3 recovered fumbles, a defensive touchdown, and a KR/PR touchdown in leagues that count them for defensive stats. Even with the loss of Eric Berry, the Chiefs remain one of the top options in all fantasy formats this season.
Now, the reason they are on the sit 'em list is because they play a Steelers team looking to rebound after being shut down by the Jaguars last week. Ben Roethlisberger is a competitor, and you can be sure he was embarrassed by his 5 INTs and 2 pick-sixes in Week 5. With that motivating him, I am not going to bet against him with Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell on his side.