The Wire - Week 6
By Levi Ellis
Another week passes and another round of schedule changes and star player injuries. It’s unfortunate that this has become the new norm each week but this is what 2020 looks like. At this point it is almost worthless to plan your bye weeks out in advance because it seems inevitable that there will be schedule changes and major injuries. I think we have to look at the remainder of the season and break the remaining weeks into segments and plan accordingly. I recommend planning for only two weeks at a time, this week and the next. Then after each week re-evaluate the two week plan and make changes accordingly.
Regardless of whether you are 5-0 or 0-5 no one is out of the playoff race this year with all of the uncertainty that each week brings. But make no mistake, regardless of your record, you need to view each and every week as a must win and your waiver wire can help you do just that. In the famous words of Al Davis “Just Win Baby”!
If you missed last week's column take a quick peek as many of the players listed last week still apply and only a few were mentioned on this week's column.
Andy Dalton now becomes the hottest QB waiver add since Justin Herbert a few weeks ago. If you were a Dak owner like me you are now left scrambling but Dalton should be available in most leagues and he steps into a fantastic situation. Bad defense, loads of offensive weapons and a pass heavy offense. You can’t ask for much for. Dalton stepped in after the injury to Dak and led the Cowboys to a win. He was 9 for 11 with 111 passing yards including a big time pass to Michael Gallup late in the fourth quarter which set up the game winning field goal. Depending on your QB need, Dalton could be valued anywhere from 10-25% of your remaining budget.
Derek Carr is quietly the overall QB8. Carr leads the NFL in completion percentage at 73.1%. His high efficiency has led him to 1,442 yards, 11 TDs, and 1 INT. He even outdueled Patrick Mahomes this week while leading the Raiders to an upset victory. Carr continues to find Darren Waller and has made it work with his WR corps that includes Hunter Renfrow, Nelson Agholor, and 2 rookies (Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards) that have been injured. Ruggs returned this week and Edwards will be returning at some point. Carr should not only be owned in all leagues, but he should be started as a mid-to-low end QB1. Value Carr with 20-30% of your remaining budget if you are in need of a QB.
If you’re really desperate you could roll the dice with Kyle Allen. But I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have no other choice. Allen was knocked out of last week's game but before going out he was 9 for 13 with 74 yards and 1 rush for 7 yards and a touchdown. Minimum bid only.
Alexander Mattison is this weeks #1 player to target on waiver wires. What makes this difficult is because we don’t know the extent of Cook’s injury at this point but one could assume that Cook will at least miss a week or two and as I mentioned earlier we need to only look one to two weeks out with all the volatility this season. Mattison finished with 20 carries for 112 yards and 3 catches on 3 targets for 24 yards. Mattison is a true three down back and can do it all. If Cook’s prognosis comes out before your waivers then factor that into your bid. Minnesota faces the Falcons this week but they are on bye in Week 7 (as of now). If Cook were to miss a couple “games” I would value Mattison at 40% of your remaining budget. Just keep in mind this valuation is directly tied to your need and Cooks availability.
Cam Akers pops back on this list again after missing the last few games with an injury. He finished this week with 9 carries for 61 yards. Akers appears to be the most talented back on this Rams roster but it is still a committee. Buying Akers now is an investment for the future and he should not be started immediately as the next two matchups against the 49ers and Bears will be difficult plus we need this backfield to sort itself out. Bid 10%-15% of your remaining budget for Akers.
Chase Edmonds should be owned in all leagues but for some strange reason he is still available in over 50% of leagues. He finished this week with 3 carries for 36 yards and 1 touchdown and tacked on another 5 catches on 6 targets for 56 yards. He continues to out produce Drake and on less touches. At some point Edmonds may see the lion’s share of touches and if that happens, look out if this efficiency continues. Buy now before you can’t buy later. Bid 20% of your remaining budget.
One guy that has a role for the foreseeable future is Justin Jackson. He touched the ball more than Kelley this week and was more productive with his touches. He finished the game with 15 carries for 71 yards and 5 catches on 6 targets for 23 yards. As we’ve talked about before, volume is gold in fantasy football. I still have concerns that this backfield could be split each week and a different guy on top each week but if you need a back then get that bid in on Jackson. 20% of your remaining budget seems like a fair price for a decent running back especially with the Jets and Dolphins on tap the next two weeks.
Honorable mention: In PPR leagues JD Mckissic continues to have a role for the Washington Football Team. This week he only had 1 carry for 3 yards but he had 8 targets for 6 catches and 46 yards.
I don’t think I should have to even mention this one but if Justin Jefferson isn’t owned in your league then you’re doing something wrong. Maybe consider retiring from fantasy football.
I’m not sure many rookies have ever had a better week than Chase Claypool. He finished the week with 3 receiving touchdowns and 1 rushing touchdown. He would have had another receiving score but it was removed due to a bad penalty call. He also had 11 targets with 7 catches for 110 yards and 3 carries for 6 yards. The Steelers have so many weapons it will be difficult to predict each week on where the ball is going. Claypool also had the benefit of Diontae Johnson getting hurt early in this game which tremendously increased his workload. With that being said anytime a guy blows up like this you can’t just leave him on the wire. He is a must own but bid cautiously as he is likely to never repeat this type of performance in his career. I think 15% to 20% is probably spending too much but he’s worth the gamble now that we know his ceiling.
If you didn’t see, Sammy Watkins hurt his hamstring and is likely to miss multiple games. That means Mecole Hardman is a must add this week. He plays in a prolific offense with the best QB in the game and he has speed that can’t be matched (outside of Tyreek of course). Hardman had just 3 targets this week with 2 catches and 50 yards but he can take the top off of a defense and he only needs one long catch to make him worthy of a start each week. Bid 20% for this guy.
Henry Ruggs III returned from injury this week and showed his explosiveness and gamebreaking ability. On 3 targets, Ruggs had 2 receptions for an incredible 118 yards and 1 TD. He will continue to get more comfortable with the offense and will get more and more opportunities. I would use 25-30% of your budget on Ruggs. He should be worth it in the long run.
Travis Fulgham was a huge surprise this week that not many saw coming. He finished with 13 targets, 10 catches, 152 yards and 1 touchdown. Fulgham's role moving forward is difficult to predict. On one hand he has performed in back to back weeks and the Eagles are in desperate need for playmakers on offense. On the other side, Alshon and DJax are both due back possibly as early as next week and Jalen Reagor is not far behind. I don’t think we can ignore last week so bid 15% and take a chance on this guy.
Tee Higgins is a guy that was mentioned last week but I couldn’t ignore bringing him up again as he is still available in too many leagues. He has all but taken AJ Green’s place in this offense as he had 8 targets with 4 catches and 62 yards this week, while AJ had just one target. Bid 25% to 40% depending on your need. He seems to have chemistry with Burrow and this team will be playing from behind a lot.
Another rookie wide receiver who continues to shine is Laviska Shenault. He finished the week with 7 catches on 8 targets for 79 yards. He is being utilized more and more in this offense and this is a team that will be playing from behind a lot. The sky is the limit for this kid and trust me, you want to be along for the ride. Bid 25% to get this guy.
A surprise performer was Tyler Johnson who played in the Thursday game last week. With Godwin and OJ both out and Miller missing significant snaps Johnson stepped up with 6 targets for 4 catches and 61 yards. I’m not sure his role is safe once Godwin returns (assume this week) but he is worth monitoring. Minimum bid only at this time.
Honorable mention: Jeff Smith had 11 targets this week although he only hauled in 3 of those for just 23 yards. But at the end of the day, 11 targets is amazing and he was much better the previous week with Darnold. Minimum bid only.
With OJ Howard out and Rob Gronkowski playing like a grandpa, Cameron Brate has a real shot at being a great streaming tight end for the rest of the season. Brate has performed in the past when given the opportunity. He finished last Thursday with 6 targets, 5 catches and 44 yards. Bid 10% to take a chance on this touchdown scoring tight end.
Honorable mentions: A guy that has been completely invisible this year is Irv Smith but he came through last week with 5 targets, 4 catches and 64 yards. I’m not sure his role in the offense is secure each week but he’s worth a look. Minimum bid only. Eric Ebron was involved in the offense again and this time had 6 targets, 5 catches and 43 yards. He also had a costly fumble and almost had a second. Ebron is worth monitoring at this time but not a guy to rush out and add. Minimum bid only. Another guy worth monitoring is Gerald Everett. It’s anyone’s guess on when a tight end will be used in the Rams offense and now we have to also wonder which tight end after Everett finished the game with 4 catches on 4 targets for 90 yards. Everett is not a guy I’m adding right now but keep an eye on this situation.