After six teams took their byes in Week 4, Week 5 presented another challenge to fantasy owners in the form of injuries suffered by some major fantasy players. That means, for the second time in three weeks, there will be some hot competition on the waiver wire.
Three preseason top-25 running backs -- Montee Ball (groin), Reggie Bush (ankle) and Rashad Jennings (ankle) -- suffered injuries in Week 5 and could be sidelined this weekend, and the status of an elite wide receiver and the game's best tight end has fantasy owners even more worried. Calvin Johnson (ankle) and Jimmy Graham (shoulder) are first-round picks in jeopardy of missing time after getting banged up on Sunday.
The Dolphins and Raiders are coming off of bye weeks after their trip to London, and once again only two teams are off in Week 6, as the Chiefs and Saints take a breather. This gives Graham an extra week to get healthy, and coupled with Travis Kelce's week off, the tight end position is light on starting options.
Each week, we’ll share 8-12 players we think are worth a look in standard fantasy football leagues based on performance and upcoming matchups. Each of these players listed is owned in fewer than 30 percent of leagues on CBS Sports, ESPN and Yahoo! leagues.
Since they are barely owned in more than 30 percent of CBS leagues, you won’t see these rising players on this list: Teddy Bridgewater, Justin Forsett, Andre Williams, Isaiah Crowell, Allen Robinson, Brian Quick, Justin Hunter and Jordan Reed.
Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay (Owned in 15 percent of CBSSports leagues, 0.5 percent of ESPN leagues and seven percent of Yahoo! leagues) -- The second-year quarterback made some excellent passes in Sunday’s loss to the Saints, and he was also the victim of several drops. The Bucs can’t find anything resembling a ground game these days, which means they might have to rely on his arm more than they'd like. He has big weapons that can win most jump balls, and his running backs are capable pass-catchers. He’s a low-end QB2 going forward, but he’s the best option among those owned in under 30 percent of leagues.
Keeping an eye on: Tennessee’s Zach Mettenberger.
Ronnie Hillman, Denver (15 percent, 0.9 percent and 10 percent) -- Montee Ball suffered a major groin injury in Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, which could keep him out two to three weeks. That means the Broncos have to move one of his backups into the No. 1 spot. Not too long ago, before Ball’s arrival, Hillman was considered the future for the Broncos at this position, but he couldn’t lock down pass protection. He improved there eventually, but the Broncos had already drafted Ball. Hillman has great speed and good hands, and he’s my top waiver option in most 12-team formats.
Branden Oliver, San Diego (19 percent, 0.7 percent and 17 percent) -- Once Donald Brown left Sunday’s game against the Jets with a concussion, Oliver became the featured back in the Chargers offense. Oliver responded with a huge game (114 rushing yards, 68 receiving yards and two touchdowns) when very few fantasy owners were even considering him for their team, much less their starting lineups. The No. 43 Chargers jersey has helped Oliver draw comparisons to Darren Sproles, but Sproles is lighter and more elusive. The Chargers play at Oakland this week, and the Raiders are allowing one rushing touchdown per game (tied for second-worst in the NFL). He’d be my top waiver choice if not for the fact that Ryan Mathews is expected back from his knee injury by Week 7.
Benny Cunningham, St. Louis (16 percent, 1.4 percent and six percent) -- While Zac Stacy’s calf injury doesn’t sound bad, Cunningham’s performance in his place has us thinking he could start stealing touches even when Stacy is healthy. This week’s opponent, however, is the 49ers -- the second-best defense against fantasy running backs so far this season.
George Winn, Detroit (zero percent, zero percent and zero percent) -- Bush’s ankle injury and Joique Bell’s concussion from Week 5 suddenly bring up Winn’s name on our fantasy radar. He picked up 48 yards on 11 carries in Week 5 after Bush went down. Theo Riddick could return in Week 6 after missing Week 5 with a sore hamstring. The Vikings, Detroit’s Week 6 opponent, are giving up 4.7 yards per carry to running backs, so whoever is healthy for Detroit should see some fantasy success. Bush considers himself day-to-day.
Keeping an eye on: Denver’s C.J. Anderson, Atlanta’s Antone Smith and Carolina’s Darrin Reaves.
Odell Beckham Jr., N.Y. Giants (23 percent, 3.8 percent and 12 percent) -- In his first NFL game, the rookie caught four passes for 44 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons. When he was selected with the 12th overall draft pick in May, the fantasy community instantly crowned him the second-best receiving option for the Giants, bypassing Rueben Randle, who had a disappointing end to his 2013 season. Randle is off to an encouraging start in 2014, and both LSU products scored a touchdown in Week 5. Head coach Tom Coughlin told the New York Daily News that since Beckham’s hamstring was fine after the game, the Giants will "push him along even further now." Beckham deserves a look in larger leagues, but Victor Cruz, tight end Larry Donnell and Randle will eat first in this offense for now.
Davante Adams, Green Bay (nine percent, 0.8 percent and five percent) -- We were “keeping an eye” on Adams last week, and since Jarrett Boykin’s groin and knee injuries could keep him out for another week or so, we bumped Adams up on the priority list. The Packers travel to Miami for Week 6, and Adams should remain the team’s No. 3 wide receiver, picking up the scraps left by Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.
Keeping an eye on: Minnesota’s Jarius Wright and Tampa Bay’s Louis Murphy.
Tim Wright, New England (nine percent, 2.3 percent and 10 percent) -- The player who came over from Tampa Bay in the Logan Mankins trade paid dividends in Week 5, catching five balls for 85 yards and a touchdown against Cincinnati. While Wright isn’t on the field all the time, he has proven to be reliable for Tom Brady in a season where his pass-catchers have been inconsistent at best. Jimmy Graham’s owners can look to Wright as a short-term replacement in Week 6 when the Patriots travel to Buffalo, but know that the Bills have allowed just one touchdown catch to tight ends so far this season.
Keeping an eye on: New Orleans’ Ben Watson.
Chandler Catanzaro, Arizona (17 percent, 3.1 percent and five percent) -- With a Week 4 bye week, many fantasy owners likely forgot about Catanzaro in Week 5. But the rookie has been perfect through four games, averaging 2.75 field goals and 1.25 extra points (good for 9.5 fantasy points) per game. The only kickers averaging more fantasy points per game than Catanzaro are Stephen Gostkowski, Cody Parkey and Adam Vinatieri.
Keeping an eye on: Tennessee’s Ryan Succop.
Titans Defense (14 percent, 1.2 percent and 10 percent) -- The Titans host Jacksonville in Week 6, and while Tennessee hasn’t been great defensively in recent weeks (three turnovers and one sack in the past three games), the matchup is too good to pass up. The Jaguars offense is allowing the most points to fantasy DSTs this season -- nearly 30 percent more fantasy points than any other offense is allowing.