Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 5: Byes bring new set of issues to fix

Even if you'd somehow dodged injuries in the season's opening weeks, you're probably gonna need a little help from the waiver wire very soon. The byes are now officially upon us. We won't have our Browns, Chargers, Seahawks or Bucs at our disposal next week. So, yeah, we have some work to do. Lucky for you, every week around here we identify a collection of useful fantasy options, all of whom are available in a majority of Yahoo leagues.


C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans (47% rostered)

Just another ho-hum 300-yard performance from Stroud, his second in the past three weeks. The Ohio State rookie is now averaging 303 passing yards per game and he's thrown for multiple scores in each of the past three weeks. Both of Sunday's TD passes went to Nico Collins, another of this team's emerging stars.

Houston travels to Atlanta this week to face a team coming off an ugly London loss. If you're looking for answers at QB, Stroud is likely your best option. He won't be so widely available next week.

Recommended FAB, assuming $100 budget: $9

Sam Howell, Washington Commanders (18%)

We were treated to the full Sam Howell experience during Washington's narrow overtime loss to the Eagles on Sunday. He was sacked another five times, which makes 24 through four weeks, a wild total. But he also led five scoring drives against a menacing defense, finishing with 290 passing yards and one of the day's clutchiest passing touchdowns:

Howell also ran for 40 yards on six attempts, his highest rushing total of the season. It was a much-needed bounceback following the disaster game against Buffalo. Washington's schedule gets a great deal friendlier this week, as the team hosts Chicago on Thursday night. There is simply no way — none, zero — that the Bears secondary in its current state can handle Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson. Howell is a near-lock for a respectable week.

FAB: $3

Additional QB pickups

  • Joshua Dobbs hasn't yet thrown an interception and he's produced three straight games with 40-plus rushing yards. Arizona will host the struggling Bengals next Sunday.

  • Matthew Stafford picked up a hip issue in Week 4, but it isn't expected to affect his availability for the matchup with Philly — which is, by the way, the first game in which Cooper Kupp is eligible to return from IR.

Running backs

Jaleel McLaughlin (4%)

We probably shouldn't be surprised when the Denver Broncos find useful UDFAs, because it's kind of their specialty. First-year running back Jaleel McLaughlin appears to be the latest in the team's long line of undrafted impact players. He made an early house call against the Bears on Sunday, flashing vision, patience and serious jets on this 18-yard score:

McLaughlin handled an expanded role in Week 4 after Javonte Williams exited with an early hip injury. The rookie finished with 104 total yards on the afternoon, out-touching and substantially out-gaining veteran Samaje Perine. He's an undersized back (5-foot-7, 190), but he certainly doesn't seem overmatched — or, at the very least, he wasn't troubled by Chicago's substandard defense.

Just in case you weren't aware, McLaughlin is the most prolific rusher in NCAA history, regardless of division. The highlights from his Youngstown State days are plenty fun

For however long Williams is sidelined, McLaughlin should be a flex-worthy fantasy option. Add as needed.

FAB: $16

Keaton Mitchell, Baltimore Ravens (17%)

The Ravens are in no position to refuse any potential backfield playmakers at the moment, so don't be surprised if Mitchell has a meaningful role when he comes off IR. At 5-foot-8 and 190 pounds, Mitchell is a De'Von Achane-sized rookie with elusiveness and 4.3 wheels. He was monstrously productive in his final collegiate season at East Carolina (7.2 YPC, 1704 scrimmage yards, 15 TDs) and he was a highlight machine in the preseason:

Mitchell missed the early weeks with a shoulder injury, but it was never characterized as a serious issue. We can't realistically expect huge workloads from the rookie, given his dimensions. But he's capable of making plenty of noise in a part-time role. Mitchell is a solid stash-and-wait prospect who should be available this week without a bidding war.

FAB: $4

Tyjae Spears, Tennessee Titans (24%)

Spears has played over 50% of the snaps in three of four games this season and he's doubled up Derrick Henry's receiving usage, catching 10 balls on 14 targets. The rookie hasn't actually produced a notable fantasy performance to this point, but his playing time is tough to ignore. Spears was a massively productive collegiate back at Tulane — he gained 1,837 scrimmage yards last year and scored 21 times — and he's now the clear backfield understudy in Tennessee. If Henry misses time at any point down the road, Spears would emerge as a full-workload back.

FAB: $6

Additional RBs on the wire

  • Chuba Hubbard saw a season-high 16 touches on Sunday, though he didn't convert them into anything useful (53 yards). His usage could remain high with Miles Sanders playing through a groin injury.

  • Justice Hill returned from his toe malfunction to a limited-yet-productive role in the win over Cleveland.

  • OK, yeah, it feels like we're really struggling for names when we toss Latavius Murray into the pickups column, but he has a well-established goal-line role in Buffalo's offense.

Wide receivers and tight ends

Michael Wilson, Arizona Cardinals (2%)

Wilson made his first visit to an NFL end zone on Sunday...

...and then, roughly an hour later, he followed it with his second score:

Yup, he certainly does deserve some waiver attention. Can't argue with our social team on this one.

Wilson was a summer-buzz rookie out of Stanford who's actually been heavily involved in the Cardinals offense since the opener. He entered Week 4 having played 67% of this team's offensive snaps. It seems as if he's not going away any time soon.

If you're reluctant to invest in Arizona's passing game beyond Marquise Brown ... well, OK, that might be reasonable. Let's just please recognize that Wilson has topped 50 receiving yards in three straight games. He's worth a flier as a bye-week seat-filler ahead of his Week 5 matchup with Cincinnati.

FAB: $9

Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals (37%)

At this point, you shouldn't need an expert to tell you that Boyd gets a big bump in fantasy value whenever one of Cincinnati's big-name receivers is sidelined. Tee Higgins is currently dealing with a rib fracture that could keep him off the field in the week(s) ahead, which makes Boyd an auto-add. He's seen 24 targets over the past three weeks, so he's been plenty involved in the Bengals' (utterly unimpressive) offense. Prepare to fire him up in any sort of PPR format.

FAB: $8

Josh Reynolds, Detroit Lions (39%)

There's a very good chance that everyone else in your league is going to aggressively chase the recently un-suspended Jameson Williams this week, but I'm asking you to take a long look at a Lions receiver who's been feasting since the opener. Reynolds is a big-play vet who's reached the end zone twice this season and delivered three games with 60-plus receiving yards. He has longtime chemistry with Jared Goff, dating back to their years with the Rams.

In fact, Goff's passer-rating when targeting Reynolds this season is a ridiculous 137.0. On Thursday night, Reynolds made multiple highlight catches against Green Bay, none better than this sideline one-hander:

Reynolds isn't going away when Williams returns, because he's been much too important so far this season. Let everyone else pursue the guy with an uncertain role while you grab one of Goff's personal favorites.

FAB: $4

Other priority WRs and TEs

  • Terrace Marshall Jr. caught nine passes on Sunday and he's seen 18 targets over his last two games.

  • Wan'Dale Robinson is pretty clearly a playmaker, and the Giants aren't refusing any of those at this time.

  • Michael Gallup just hauled in five of six targets and he's delivered 152 yards over the past two weeks.

  • Jameson Williams is definitely of interest as a lottery ticket given his speed and explosiveness, but you shouldn't plan to start him until we get a proof-of-concept week.

  • Jayden Reed makes plays for the Packers every week and the team is clearly committed to feeding him. Green Bay is headed to Vegas for a matchup against a user-friendly defense in Week 5.

  • Rashee Rice had a relatively quiet week against the Jets, but let the record show that he was the Chiefs' second most-targeted receiver after Travis Kelce.

  • Jake Ferguson caught all seven of his targets on Sunday, gaining 77 yards in his best effort of the season.

  • Zach Ertz caught six balls for 53 yards on 10 targets against the Niners, although he dropped a potential TD. He's seen at least eight chances in three of his four games so far this season.

  • Cole Kmet's big day against the Broncos (7-85-2) was probably fool's gold, but it would feel wrong to not give him a mention.

Team defense

Detroit Lions, D/ST (12%)

Aidan Hutchinson and friends have delivered a dozen sacks and three takeaways over their past two games. This week, the Lions are at home facing a rookie QB and a low-wattage Panthers offense, so we're likely to get a double-digit point total. Detroit and Washington (vs. Chicago) should be the in-demand Ds during this waiver period.

FAB: $2