- With Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard AND Brandon Marshall all exiting with injuries during the Giants' loss to the Chargers, New York will likely be calling on their reserve receivers more frequently.
Injuries were again at the center of the action on Sunday. Odell Beckham is likely out for the season after fracturing his ankle. Charles Clay suffered what looked like a serious knee injury. DeVante Parker left the Dolphins eventual win over the Titans with an ankle injury in the third quarter, and did not return. A calf injury limited Bilal Powell to two carries in the Jets win over the Browns. Before we get to those situations, however, we kick off the Week 6 Waiver Wire with a player who’s already taking advantage of an injury-induced opportunity.
Aaron Jones, RB, Packers
Jones is just above the 50% ownership threshold we typically use as a cutoff, but we have to make an exception here. First, he’s just over the mark, so we’d be doing a disservice to owners in the surprisingly abundance of leagues where he isn’t owned. Secondly, he looked great in Green Bay’s win over the Cowboys, running for 125 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. This now becomes the most intriguing backfield situation in the league. Before Ty Montgomery broke his ribs against the Bears in Week 4, he was a true workhorse, handling more than 90% of the snaps and touches out of Green Bay’s backfield. He practiced in limited fashion last week, and looks like a good bet to return in Week 6. When he does return, though, will he be doing so to a shared backfield? Jones was too good on Sunday to relegate to a bit role in the offense. The fantasy community should still assume that Montgomery is the starter when healthy, but Jones has likely forced himself into the picture, and should be owned in every competitive league.
Alex Collins, RB, Ravens; Javorius Allen, RB, Ravens
Fantasy’s most confounding backfield threw us another curveball in Week 5. This time, Allen led the Ravens in carries, running the ball 21 times for 73 yards and a touchdown. He also got five targets, catching four of them for 12 yards. Collins was the most effective runner, at least in terms of yards per carry, for the third straight week, picking up 55 yards on 12 rushes. At this point, we can say with some certainty that we know how to approach this backfield. Terrance West is done, and shouldn’t be owned in any but the deepest of leagues. Allen, who is slightly above the 50% ownership mark, will split the backfield with Collins, but will get most, if not all, of the pass-catching work. Collins should inspire the most confidence as a runner, but he will give up more carries than is desirable to Allen. Given the unpredictability of the situation from week to week, and the low value of the Baltimore offense, you’ll only want to turn to Collins or Allen as a fantasy starter in special circumstances, likely those driven by byes or injuries.
Marlon Mack, RB, Colts
Mack looked great in Week 5, running for 91 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. He set up Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal in overtime with a 35-yard run, giving the Colts an alternative to Frank Gore late in the game. Gore still led the backfield in carries, targets and snaps, but he got just 48 yards on his 14 totes. It’d be silly to expect Mack to steal Gore’s job, and chances are he won’t be worthy of a start in most fantasy formats for the time being. Still, with what he showed on Sunday, we can bet on him carving out a larger role in the Colts offense, and one that leads to him being fantasy-relevant for the rest of the year. At the very least, he’ll be a valuable depth back who serves as a palatable spot starter when your regulars are on bye.
Wayne Gallman, RB, Giants; Orleans Darkwa, RB, Giants
An already disastrous Giants season hit rock bottom on Sunday. They fell to 0-5 and lost their best player, Odell Beckham, to a fractured ankle that will likely have him out the rest of the year. There isn’t a whole lot to get excited about with this team, but Gallman and Darkwa are both capable of providing a silver lining over the final 12 weeks of the year. Darkwa got the start and ran the ball well, picking up 69 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. He left the game, however, with a calf injury. It’s not thought to be serious, but it did open the door for Gallman a bit more, and he ran right through it. The rookie out of Clemson looked good for the second straight week, racking up 57 yards on 11 carries and catching all five of his targets for 25 yards. With Beckham on the shelf, and Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall also nursing ankle injuries, the Giants are going to need to hunt for playmakers wherever they can find them. That means there could be room for both Gallman and Darkwa to have fantasy-relevant roles the rest of the way. Both are worth claiming in all fantasy formats, but the preference here remains for Gallman.
Elijah McGuire, RB, Jets
McGuire already had some buzz in deeper leagues after he ran for 93 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and caught two passes for 38 yards last week. His opportunity stemmed from Matt Forte being out with a toe injury, but after playing as well as he did, it stood to reason that he’d retain enough of a role to be interesting in deeper leagues. Depending on the severity of Powell’s injury, deep-league owners might be getting some company.
McGuire didn’t follow up on his effort in the Jets win over the Browns on Sunday, totaling just 30 yards from scrimmage. The silver lining, though, is that he got 13 touches, establishing himself as the clear leader in the Jets backfield. We won’t know more about the severity of Powell’s calf injury until later in the week, but he has never been the most durable player in the league. He suffered a dislocated shoulder in 2012, and groin and ankle injuries in ’15. Even with Forte on the mend, McGuire is the better bet to take over as the Jets starter should Powell end up going on the shelf.
Matt Breida, RB, 49ers
Carlos Hyde has been nursing a hip injury the last few weeks, so, on paper, it wasn’t necessarily a surprise to see him sit out most of the second half and overtime of the 49ers loss to the Colts in Week 5, even though he wasn’t on the injury report late in the week. After the game, however, Kyle Shanahan said the hip injury had nothing to do with it. It’s not easy to see why Hyde would get benched for Matt Breida, but if that scenario is in play the fantasy community must react. Breida ran for 49 yards on 10 carries and caught three passes for 22 yards in the loss to the Colts. He started the season with a small role behind Hyde, but now has double-digit touches in consecutive games. Even with Hyde’s surprise benching, it would be a shock to see Breida, an undrafted rookie out of Georgia Southern, move to the top of the depth chart. Hyde entered Week 5 with 321 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 62 carries, good for 5.18 yards per carry, and 17 catches for 88 yards. With Shanahan muddying the situation, though, Breida is worth an add in all fantasy formats, even if you go into the claim knowing that he’s almost certain to be a backup all year.
Roger Lewis, WR, Giants; Evan Engram, TE, Giants
Beckham wasn’t the only Giants receiver to leave the team’s 27–22 loss to the Chargers with an ankle injury. In fact, the entire top of the depth chart got knocked out, with varying degrees of ankle injuries claiming Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall, as well. Lewis was thrust into the spotlight, turning one of his two targets into a 29-yard touchdown. Back in Week 1, when Beckham was out because of the injury he sustained during the preseason, Lewis caught four of six targets for 54 yards. The second-year receiver out of Bowling Green has never been more than a bit player in the Giants offense, but with Beckham out, and Shepard and Marshall possibly joining him, Lewis will have a significant role in the offense.
Engram, too, should see his role grow. The Chargers held Engram catchless on Sunday, but he did get four targets. He caught 19 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown over his first four games, racking up at least four catches and 44 yards in all of those contests. Engram has already made himself into a reliable threat in the middle of the field for Eli Manning. If Shepard is forced to miss time, Engram will likely be Manning’s favored targets on those intermediate routes between the numbers. While he won’t benefit directly in the same way Lewis will from Beckham’s and Marshall’s injuries, the mere fact that there are now more targets to go around in the offense makes Engram more attractive from a fantasy perspective than he was before Sunday.
Mike Wallace, WR, Ravens
I can’t speak from experience because I’m not invested in the Baltimore offense in any way, but I imagine the worst part of it is feeling forced to watch them play. It seems like a torturous way to spend part of your Sunday, sitting there hoping for the Ravens offense to do something worthwhile. And yet, Wallace has put together a couple of strong games in a row, catching nine of 13 targets for 188 yards and a touchdown the last two weeks. Given his track record and all the injuries across the league, Wallace demands our attention. There will be duds mixed into his game log the rest of the season. That’s unavoidable when you play in this brand of offense. But, remember, we’ve still got 25 teams other than the Ravens set to go on bye through Week 11. If Wallace can simply play like a WR4 the rest of the way, he’s going to mix in his fair share of startable weeks with the duds. Winning on the fringes can make a huge difference in all fantasy leagues, and Wallace is a player who can help you do just that.
Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles
Agholor made another big play on the opposite end of a bomb from Carson Wentz on Sunday. This time, he took a pass 72 yards to the house in the Eagles 34-7 thrashing of the Cardinals. He finished the game with four catches for 93 yards and the touchdown, so it was a quiet day outside of the big play. While that sort of volatility makes it hard to trust Agholor with regularity, he’s another player who can provide the necessary depth to get you through bye weeks. With Wentz taking a big step forward in his second year, and the Eagles offense looking bankable from week to week—they’ve scored 26 or more points in four of their five games—you’ll never feel terrible about betting on Agholor. For what it’s worth, 56.1% of his standard-league points have come on just two plays.
Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins
As bad as Miami’s offense has been this season, Parker has made multiple plays deep down the field, and Jay Cutler has targeted him on deep balls every week. If Parker ends up missing time with his ankle injury, Stills is the player most likely to get those targets. The speedster has always been a weapon capable of taking the top off a defense, but he hasn’t enjoyed a major role in Miami’s offense this year, comfortably trailing Parker and Jarvis Landry on the depth chart. Still, it’s worth noting that, entering Sunday, six of his 19 targets traveled at least 20 yards in the air. Parker, meanwhile had nine such targets. If Parker is out for even just a few weeks, Stills will have fantasy value as a depth receiver and bye-week replacement in all fantasy formats. He has 10 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown this season.
Adam Humphries, WR, Buccaneers
Humphries is a depth for deeper leagues. The Buccaneers have already had their bye, so he’ll be available to needy owners every week the rest of the season. While he doesn’t have a huge ceiling and is still looking for his first touchdown, he gets enough targets every week to have a relatively safe WR4 floor. He has 25 targets on the season, and has pulled down 17 of them for 207 yards. Those numbers don’t jump off the page, but the mere fact that he has averaged more than six targets per game alongside Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Cameron Brate should tell you just how important he is to the Tampa Bay offense in real life. His role should translate into enough fantasy production to make him the type of receiver worthy of a couple of spot starts in deeper formats.
Jermaine Kearse, WR, Jets
Kearse, like Humphries, doesn’t have a huge ceiling. Unlike Humphries, he can lay claim to the No. 1 receiver job on his team, and that gives him plenty of touchdown upside. Kearse found the end zone in Week 5 for the third time this season, to go along with 22 catches and 220 yards. He has 29 targets on the year, and has at least five looks from Josh McCown in three of his five games. Thanks to the touchdown upside attendant with being a No. 1 receiver, Kearse is worth claiming in deeper leagues.
Ryan Griffin, TE, Texans
Griffin isn’t much of a fantasy asset, but he does have one thing going for him this week: a matchup with the Browns. The Browns surrendered another touchdown to a tight end in Week 5. This time, it was Austin Seferian-Jenkins hitting paydirt. The Browns have now allowed the quartet of Jesse James, Ben Watson, Tyler Kroft and Seferian-Jenkins to combine for 26 catches, 229 yards and five touchdowns. All of them had at least one touchdown or 90 yards. Every starting tight end is worth rolling out against the Browns, especially one tied to Deshaun Watson.
George Kittle, TE, 49ers
If you need someone who might have a little more staying power in a deeper league, Kittle is worth your attention this week. The rookie out of Iowa had his best game of the season to date in Week 5, catching seven of nine targets for 83 yards and a touchdown. He hadn’t got much run in the offense before Sunday, but he did catch a couple passes for 35 yards in Week 4. The 49ers aren’t exactly brimming with playmakers, so when one shows himself, the team is likely to give him more opportunity. With an inventive offensive coach like Kyle Shanahan at the helm, Kittle could be in not only for more work, but for lucrative work, too.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Jets
The two best things Seferian-Jenkins has going for him are pedigree and opportunity. Seferian-Jenkins was the 38th overall pick in the draft just three years ago. After playing his way out of Tampa Bay, he is turning into one of the key weapons in the Jets offense. He has 18 targets in three games, hauling in 15 of them for 106 yards and a touchdown. The nature of this offense will put a limit on his fantasy value, but tight end has turned into a wasteland of a position. Anyone who doesn’t own Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz or Jordan Reed is in some trouble, and even three of those four are dealing with minor injuries for the time being. Seferian-Jenkins carries the sort of touchdown upside that will have him on the TE1 radar more often than not in one of the worst seasons for tight ends in recent memory.
Kevin Hogan, QB, Browns
This is mainly directed at the superflex and two-quarterback league owners out there, though Hogan can be a decent stream play in Week 6 with the Browns visiting the Texans, who will definitely be without J.J. Watt, and could be missing Whitney Mercilus. Every starting quarterback needs to be owned in superflex and two-QB leagues, and that will make Hogan a popular player in those formats this week, assuming he has taken the starting job from DeShone Kizer. The rookie out of Notre Dame struggled again on Sunday, completing just eight of his 17 pass attempts for 87 yards, 5.12 yards per attempt and an interception. Hogan, meanwhile, looked great in relief, going 16-of-19 for 194 yards, 10.21 YPA, two touchdowns and one pick