Compared to the last couple weeks, there were relatively few impactful injuries during Week Five. Couple that with the fact that a number of the teams on bye next week (Arizona, Denver, Kansas City, San Diego, Seattle, and Tennessee) aren’t exactly offensive juggernauts, and you might think there aren’t many worthy pickups on the waiver wire this week.
To a certain extent, you’re right. There are very few must-adds this week, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t guys out there who can help your team the rest of the way, possibly as soon as this week. (For more Week 6 analysis, here is this week’s Start/Sit column.)
As always, the players listed here are owned in fewer than 50% of Yahoo! leagues.
Fantasy Football Week 6 Waiver Wire Advice: Quarterback
Colt McCoy (33%), Cleveland
The Browns head to Oakland next week to face a Raider defense that has allowed at least two touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks for four straight weeks. McCoy is also coming off of a career-high 350 passing yards, although much of it game in garbage time. Still, he makes for a solid spot start, and you may keep him around thanks to some enticing upcoming matchups.
Matt Cassel (31%), Kansas City (bye)
After tossing four scores against Indy, Cassel now has seven touchdowns compared to just one interception over his last three games. Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston are playing well on the outside, and Cassel finally looks comfortable (and by comfortable, I mean competent). After a bye this week, Cassel and the Chiefs face the aforementioned Oakland defense in Week Seven.
Andy Dalton (14%), Cincinnati
The “Red Rifle” now has two touchdowns in two straight weeks, and while the overall stats aren’t awe-inspiring, the matchup with the Colts secondary is. He’s not a guy I’m going out of my way to get in my lineup, but he’s a good matchup play if you’re in a pinch.
Alex Smith (14%), San Francisco
When I mentioned Smith last week, I said it would be interesting to see what he could do with some confidence. Apparently the answer is throw three touchdowns. Smith now has seven passing TDs in his last four games compared to just one pick. He’s completing better than 65 percent of his passes heading into a matchup with Detroit. The Lions have amassed some decent pass defense numbers through their first four games, albeit against some inferior and/or struggling quarterbacks. Again, it’s not a phenomenal matchup, but you could do worse than riding the hot hand.
Tim Tebow (7%), Denver (bye)
Many expected the Broncos to make a quarterback change during their bye week, but apparently they couldn’t wait. John Fox yanked an ineffective Kyle Orton in favor of Tebow in Sunday’s loss to the Chargers. Tebow completed just four of his 10 passes, but he threw for one TD and ran for another. For all his mechanical faults, he racked up huge fantasy numbers late last season, so he’s worth picking up to see if he can do it again following a bye this week. He has by far the most upside of any of the waiver wire signal callers this week.
Fantasy Football Week 6 Waiver Wire Advice: Running Back
Ryan Torain (49%), Washington
Maybe Torain slipped under the radar since the Redskins were on bye this week. If you need a reminder, he has a sweet matchup against the woeful Eagles run defense this week. That’s all you really need to know. And as an Eagles fan, that’s really all I can say without using excessive amounts of profanity.
Kendall Hunter (24%), San Francisco
Hunter’s emergence has led to Frank Gore’s resurgence, but he’s still valuable as a handcuff. The 49ers have talked of giving Hunter a third of the backfield touches, and on Sunday he ran for 65 yards on just nine carries, including a 44-yard scamper. Hunter’s explosiveness, coupled with injury concerns for Gore, make him worth a roster spot.
Earnest Graham (14%), Tampa Bay
Monday didn’t bring definitive news on LeGarrette Blount’s status for Sunday’s game with New Orleans, but it certainly didn’t sound promising. If Blount can’t go, Graham would draw the start against a Saints defense that has allowed three rushing TDs to opposing running backs through the first five games. To this point, Graham’s biggest fantasy contributions have come via the passing game with 23 receptions on the year. He was actually shutout as a receiver against the 49ers, but his pass-catching ability makes him a RB2 in PPR leagues and a flex option in others.
Montario Hardesty (13%), Cleveland
There were rumors out of Cleveland last week that Peyton Hillis may request a trade due to the lack of progress in contract negotiations. While that seems a bit extreme, Hardesty was already starting to see more touches, and the Browns definitely want to see what kind of workload he can handle as they determine their future with Hillis. The Raiders give up plenty of points to opposing running backs both on the ground and through the air, as Arian Foster showed this week. Keep in mind Hardesty was the target of a number of passes in Cleveland’s Week Four loss to Tennessee. If he can actually catch those targets this week, the potential is definitely there.
This is one of the few guys on this week’s list I would look to add in pretty much all leagues. Joseph Addai’s injured hamstring should keep him out at least a few games, and Carter earned 12 carries compared to five for Donald Brown. The only bad news is that Brown outgained him, but Carter is the goal-line option as he proved on a short TD run. The Colts have already given Brown a number of chances to prove he was worth a first round pick, so they figure to see what Carter can do in what is already a lost season. Beware of a tough matchup next week against Cincinnati’s solid run defense though.
Jackie Battle (7%), Kansas City (bye)
Todd Haley said earlier in the week that Battle would get more carries going forward, and he made good on that promise Sunday. Battleheld up his end of the bargain with 119 rushing yards on 19 carries to go with 21 receiving yards. There’s a reason Battle averaged fewer than 3.0 yards per carry over the last two seasons, but there’s more upside with Battle than the aging Thomas Jones. It’s worth noting that Jones also averaged better than 5.0 yards per carry against a poor Indy run defense on Sunday, so their ineptitude played a role in Battle’s emergence. He does have a nice matchup with the Raiders after the bye.
Jonathan Dwyer (1%), Pittsburgh
This one is only for deep or dynasty leagues, but Dwyer racked up 107 rushing yards against Tennessee, doing most of his damage on a 76-yard run in the first half. He still played behind Isaac Redman, and Rashard Mendenhall should be able to start next week. However, he did show the ability to contribute when called upon, so keep him in mind going forward.
Fantasy Football Week 6 Waiver Wire Advice: Wide Receiver
Michael Crabtree (41%), San Francisco
Despite his two-catch, 36-yard performance, I am still optimistic about Crabtree’s prospects. He had the second-most targets on the team and continues to show no ill effects of his foot injury. The 49ers didn’t need to throw a ton with a comfortable lead, but that won’t always be the case.
Antonio Brown (34%), Pittsburgh
Brown’s streak of 60-plus receiving yard games came to an end on Sunday, but he seems to have clearly passed Emmanuel Sanders on the depth chart. The Steelers have some good WR matchups in the coming weeks against Jacksonville, Arizona, and New England, making Brown a guy worth hanging onto.
Early Doucet (24%), Arizona (bye)
Before the season started, I profiled Andre Roberts as the guy who could benefit from Larry Fitzgerald drawing so much coverage. Turns out that Doucet is the beneficiary. The 16 targets on Sunday were inflated by the fact that the Cardinals got down 28 points in the first quarter, but he has at least six targets for four straight weeks, culminating in this week’s eight receptions and 92 yards. Doucet also had a TD called back due to a penalty, so things could have been even better. Thanks to a porous defense, Arizona should be playing from behind much of this season, leading to plenty of garbage time opportunities for Doucet.
Steve Breaston (15%), Kansas City (bye)
Breaston now has at least 50 receiving yards in three straight games, but the two touchdowns on Sunday were particularly surprising given that he had just one score all of last season. Still, Cassel is improving as I mentioned above, and the post-bye week matchup with Oakland is a decent one.
Kevin Walter (13%), Houston
While Jacoby Jones had more targets, Walter had significantly better numbers with five catches, 81 yards, and a score. He won’t wow you, but someone has to catch the ball for the Texans.
James Jones (10%), Green Bay
With Aaron Rodgers adeptly spreading the ball around, it’s tough to know which Green Bay wideout not named Greg Jennings is the safest to start each week. Jones now has touchdowns in two straight games heading into a great matchup with St. Louis, which makes him worth a look if you need a bye week fill-in. He’s by no means a sure thing, but you could also do a lot worse than investing in the potent Packer passing game.
Darrius Heyward-Bey (6%), Oakland
It was only fitting that one of Al Davis’ most maligned draft picks had a big game the day after his passing. DHB followed up his 115-yard effort in Week Four with seven catches for 99 yards and a score against the Texans. It’s certainly a high risk move, but if he can avoid Joe Haden when he faces the Browns next week, the potential is there. I actually feel dirty after saying that. Excuse me while I go shower.
Doug Baldwin (4%), Seattle (bye)
After 83 yards and a score in the opener, Baldwin posted just 27 yards over the next two games, making him look like a one week wonder. Since then he racked up 84 yards against Atlanta and broke out for eight catches, 136 yards, and a TD in the upset win over the Giants. The touchdown came on a play where the Giants essentially stopped playing after jumping offsides, but fantasy owners could care less. The Seahawks have a bye next week, but Baldwin is looking like a solid PPR league option at the very least.
Jason Avant (2%), Philadelphia
The good news is he caught nine balls for 139 yards to give him 15 receptions and 208 yards in the past two games. The bad news is he lost a key fumble and had Michael Vick’s final interception glance off his hands (and then his feet) on a drive that could have tied the game. Avant is typically sure-handed, so the Eagles won’t give up on him after this performance. Besides, with their defense scuffling, they are sure to be in plenty of shootouts over the remainder of the year.
Fantasy Football Week 6 Waiver Wire Advice: Tight End
Jared Cook (40%), Tennessee (bye)
Cook saw nine targets on Sunday and posted 59 yards against the Steelers. With Kenny Britt out, he’s easily the team’s most talented receiver, so look for his involvement in the offense to continue to increase following Tennessee’s bye week.
Fred Davis (38%), Washington
One of the few things Philly’s defense did well on Sunday was to limit Buffalo tight end Scott Chandler. That doesn’t erase the fact that they’ve been abused by opposing tight ends on multiple occasions this year. Or the fact that their linebackers and safeties have been generally awful at every phase of the game. Yes, that’s my Eagles fan bitterness showing through.
Heath Miller (17%), Pittsburgh
The Jaguars have given up a touchdown to opposing tight ends for four straight weeks. It’s up to Miller to keep that streak alive, and he should come in with some confidence after 46 yards and a score this week.
Ben Watson (17%)/Evan Moore (2%), Cleveland
The Raiders gave up a number of big plays to Houston’s TE duo of Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen, who combined for 12 catches and 201 yards on Sunday. With few proven receivers, the Browns throw to their tight ends regularly, which may bode well for Watson and Moore this week.
Ed Dickson (15%), Baltimore
After 12 targets against the Jets last week, Joe Flacco has now looked Dickson’s way 32 times in Baltimore’s four games. He has at least four catches and 45 yards in three of those contests, which makes him a decent PPR league option at minimum.
Jake Ballard (2%), New York Giants
He now has a TD reception in two straight weeks and seems to be developing a nice rapport with Eli Manning. The Bills have given up three touchdowns to opposing tight ends over the last three weeks, so if you want to roll the dice, Ballard is an option if you are desperate.
Joel Dreessen (0%), Houston
I listed James Casey last week as a potential offensive option with Andre Johnson out, but it was Dreessen who stepped up with five catches for 112 yards, including a 56-yard TD where he slipped out the back side of the play. He entered the game with just three receptions and 44 yards on the season, but he has filled in admirably (at times) for Owen Daniels in the past. He’s a huge gamble against a Ravens team giving up virtually nothing to opposing tight ends.
Streaming Defense(s) of the Week
Cincinnati (25%) vs. Indianapolis
The 20 points allowed to Jacksonville was a season high for the Bengals, but they made up for it with three sacks, two fumble recoveries, and a TD on the final play of the game. Another solid matchup awaits with the Colts this week.
Buffalo (11%) at New York Giants
The Bills have scored a defensive touchdown in three straight games, and Eli Manning is coming off of a four turnover effort on Sunday.
Have any questions or feedback? Leave them in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter (@andybottoms).