Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Colts RB Nyheim Hines
- Ryan Collinsworth breaks down his best fantasy football waiver wire targets for Week 6, from handcuffs to top streaming quarterbacks and more.
- Running back Nyheim Hines has separated himself as the Colts' No. 1 offensive playmaker and is a must-own player in all formats.
- Texans WR Keke Coutee highlights other players to buy now, but there are still plenty of low-ownership players to stash for later.
If you’re one of the few fantasy football owners who hasn’t been bitten by the injury bug, give thanks to the fantasy gods, because this season’s injuries have been brutal.
In addition to navigating injuries, fantasy owners also have to find replacements for players on the Lions and the Saints, who have Week 6 byes.
But not to worry. Each week I break down top waiver-wire targets to help your fantasy team navigate injuries, suspensions, running-back committees and probably some relationship problems along the way.
I highlight players who are owned in fewer than 50% of ESPN fantasy leagues. I also recommend an auction price (in parentheses) for each player for leagues using a Free Agent Acquisition Budget system (which I highly recommend, by the way). All recommendations are made based on a $100 FAAB budget.
Injuries to Offensive Players This Season
There have been so many injuries to major fantasy contributors this season that I had to make a chart this week. The following list is not exhaustive; I’m highlighting only injuries to offensive position players this season. (There are 55 as of writing.)
For updates, check out our NFL Injury Report.
Notable Week 5 NFL Injuries
- Brandin Cooks, WR, Los Angeles Rams (concussion): Questionable
- Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams (concussion): Questionable
- Corey Grant, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (foot): Injured Reserve
- George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers (knee): Questionable
- Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions (ankle): Probable
- Matt Breida, RB, San Francisco 49ers (ankle): Questionable
- Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons (foot): Probable
- Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (back): Probable
- Ted Ginn Jr., WR, New Orleans Saints (knee): Questionable
- Tyler Kroft, TE, Cincinnati Bengals (foot): Questionable
It’s Cuffing Season
In life there are few absolute certainties: Death, taxes and fantasy football injuries. In this section, I highlight players to target on waivers when top players inevitably get hurt or suspended.
Alfred Morris, RB, San Francisco 49ers ($20)
Matt Breida suffered a sprained ankle against the Cardinals this past week, resulting in increased usage for Morris. Morris rushed 18 times for 61 yards and added three receptions for 30 yards on five targets.
Despite his timeshare with Breida, Morris ranks 15th in the NFL in carries (62) and 10th in red-zone rush attempts (12). He’s a borderline RB2 option in Week 6 and could offer extended value if Breida misses time due to injury.
Wendell Smallwood, RB, Philadelphia Eagles ($10)
The Eagles backfield is old and ailing, and Smallwood is likely the team’s healthiest, most reliable running back option: Jay Ajayi reportedly tore his ACL. Corey Clement was active this past week but did not play against the Vikings. And Darren Sproles has missed four straight games due to a hamstring injury.
Smallwood has carved a role for himself as the Eagles’ pass-catching running back, earning increased usage and two total touchdowns over the past three weeks. He’s a good flex option for fantasy managers looking for short-term help due to injuries or bye weeks.
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($7)
O.J. Howard is out for the next few weeks as he recovers from a sprained MCL. But even once Howard returns, he could suffer a decline in production due to his knee injury.
Brate should absorb a large share of Howard’s target volume. Before the Buccaneers’ bye last week, Brate scored receiving touchdowns in two consecutive games against the Steelers and Bears. With injuries to 11 starting tight ends so far this season, Brate offers excellent replacement value with season-long upside.
Top Streaming Quarterback Options
Each week, I highlight top quarterback streaming options for Late Round QB-truthers. These quarterbacks are week-to-week options and are not necessarily viable long term.
And after recommending Blake Bortles each of the past three weeks, his five-turnover performance against the Chiefs definitely deserves this Gollum gif:
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($4)
The Ryan Fitzpatrick era has fizzled out in Tampa Bay, leaving “Lin-sanity”-style mayhem in its wake.
Now, it’s Winston’s turn to lead the dynamic Buccaneers offense. He draws a dream matchup against the lowly Falcons defense in his first start of 2018.
Atlanta ranks 30th in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA and is coming off a 41-17 thrashing in Pittsburgh. The Buccaneers are even worse than the Falcons, ranking dead-last in defensive DVOA while allowing a staggering 358.0 passing yards per game.
Neither team has run the ball effectively this season, which suggests that this matchup could turn into a passing shootout. Winston boasts top-10 median and ceiling projections among quarterbacks and is a high-priority streaming target this week.
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears ($2)
The Bears were on bye last week, so it’s possible that some fantasy players have already forgotten Trubisky’s Week 4 masterpiece performance when he went 19-of-26 for 354 yards, threw for six touchdowns and added 53 yards rushing against the Bucs.
Trubisky has an advantageous matchup in Week 6 against the Dolphins, who are averaging only 52 offensive plays per game (31st in the NFL). The second-year quarterback was one of our top breakout candidates this season, and he has shown statistical improvement in Matt Nagy’s new offensive scheme.
Trubisky’s rushing upside keeps his fantasy floor high, but he also proved in Week 4 that he’s capable of posting big passing numbers with the right defensive matchup. He’s a strong streaming candidate for Week 6.
Buy and Hold
The following players with season-long upside deserve immediate roster consideration.
Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts ($30)
After his breakout 9-63-2 receiving performance against in Week 4, Hines once again saw high usage in Week 5. He rushed 15 times for 45 yards and caught seven passes for 45 yards on nine targets. Hines is currently RB15 in PPR formats and averages 5.8 receptions per game, which ranks sixth among running backs. He also leads the Colts in red-zone rushing attempts.
With T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle nursing injuries, Hines has separated himself as the Colts’ No. 1 offensive playmaker. He is a must-own player in all formats.
Keke Coutee, WR, Houston Texans ($17)
The Texans rookie slot receiver followed up his 11-109-0 receiving line from Week 4 with another big game against the Cowboys. Coutee snared six receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. That brings his target total to 22 in two games since returning from a hamstring injury.
Bruce Ellington was recently placed on Injured Reserve, paving the way for Coutee to earn starters’ snaps for the foreseeable future. The former Red Raider speedster is no flash in the pan — he’s the real deal.
Consider spending up to secure him on your roster this week.
Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals ($14)
Kirk posted a 3-85-1 receiving line on four targets for the Cardinals this past week. He’s taken advantage of increased target volume due to Larry Fitzgerald’s nagging hamstring injury. Kirk leads the Cardinals in receptions (19) and receiving yards (234) and is second with 24 targets, while trailing only Calvin Ridley and Saquon Barkley for receiving yards among rookies.
The Cardinals offense is pedestrian at best, but Kirk has solidified himself as one of Arizona’s top-three offensive weapons. Considering Kirk’s target volume and rapport with newly installed starting quarterback Josh Rosen, his season-long outlook makes him a viable flex candidate.
Taylor Gabriel, WR, Chicago Bears ($8)
With Anthony Miller sidelined due to a separated shoulder, Gabriel posted his best receiving line of the season in Week 4 (before the Bears’ bye), catching seven passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns. His recent explosion is no accident: Gabriel is averaging 7.3 targets per game this season for the Bears.
As Trubisky continues to improve each week, Gabriel’s stock should continue to rise. Stash him on your bench as a streaming flex option down the stretch.
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The Watch List
Every week, I highlight players who should be on your watch list — players to monitor who aren’t necessarily worth an add this week but who could develop into viable season-long options. Current ESPN ownership percentage for each player is in parentheses.
- Alfred Blue, RB, Houston Texans (15.5%)
- Antonio Callaway, WR, Cleveland Browns (26.8%)
- Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns (38.2%)
- Chester Rogers, WR, Indianapolis Colts (7.5%)
- Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (39.7%)
- Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos (9.9%)
- D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers (13.9%)
- Donte Moncrief, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (13.0%)
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Green Bay Packers (3.2%)
- Mike Davis, RB, Seattle Seahawks (14.5%)
- Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets (41.9%)
- Ryan Grant, WR, Indianapolis Colts (23.6%)