Fantasy football waiver wire targets
Priority free agents
1) WR Kadarius Toney, New York Giants: UPDATE: Toney is dealing with a minor ankle injury, and it’s unclear if he will miss any time. Joe Judge said it’s not significant but also added it isn’t season-ending, which is an odd way to phrase an injury Toney himself downplayed. Judge comes from the prestigious New England University of Coach Speak, so take it with a grain of salt.
Never mind a fourth-quarter ejection for throwing a right jab, Toney delivered a haymaker of a performance vs. the Dallas defense in Week 5. Provided he doesn’t get suspended, which is unlikely, the rookie’s breakthrough showing comes on the heels of being a watch lister in this very space last week after a nine-target, 6-78-0 Week 4. The explosiveness displayed in Week 5 makes him dangerous regardless of the quarterback. Daniel Jones was concussed and wobbled his way onto a cart ride into the locker room after sending four of Toney’s 13 targets. Human-giraffe hybrid Mike Glennon threw nine passes to the Florida product out of a total 10 catches for 189 yards between the QBs. The Giants lost wideout Kenny Golladay (hyperextended knee) in a game in which New York also was without Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard for the second straight contest. The G-Men play the Los Angeles Rams, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders before a Week 10 hiatus. Toney could be a busy dude.
2) RB Devontae Booker, New York Giants: Saquon “Snake-bitten” Barkley stepped on a defender’s foot in Week 5 and rolled his ankle severely enough to immediately grow a baseball worth of swelling just above his lateral ankle bone. It appears as if he escaped serious injury with a low-grade sprain, though it’s unlikely he can shake it off before next Sunday’s tilt with the Los Angeles Rams. His backup, Booker, may be handcuffed to Barkley in deeper and/or more competitive leagues. There’s a strong chance he’s available in smaller formats or causal settings. Booker ran 14 times for only 35 yards in Barkley’s stead, finding the end zone once on the ground and another time via a three-catch, 16-yard aerial display.
3) WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions: Last week, the rookie was listed in the “watch list” section after he was targeted eight times (6-70-0), and St. Brown came through again with another quality day for PPR purposes. The Lions lost WR Quintez Cephus to a broken clavicle in Week 5, which helps the chances of St. Brown remaining involved. Detroit’s most talented wideout saw eight more targets, going for 65 yards on his seven snatches. He isn’t going to be a serious threat to score touchdowns, making St. Brown a weekly flex consideration in PPR as bye weeks alter the lineup landscape for the next few months. Cincinnati, LAR, and Philly are ahead before a Week 9 rest, but St. Brown has season-long rosterability.
UPDATE — 4) RBs Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon, Kansas City Chiefs: Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s knee sprain will cost him several weeks, making Williams the primary target for fantasy purposes. He’s owned in about 53 percent of leagues polled. McKinnon is a low-end consolation prize for desperate times. The Chiefs simply don’t run the ball enough, which makes both backs no better than matchup plays or fill-ins for bye weeks. Williams offers more TD upside, while McKinnon could catch a few passes here and there.
Availability: 47% (Williams) and 98% (McKinnon)
FAAB: $18-20 (Williams) and $2-3 (McKinnon)
5) RB Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears: As Chicago tries to find its way for the next month-plus without running back David Montgomery, Herbert, a rookie sixth-rounder, paced the team in carries with 18. The 5-foot-9, 212-pound back ran for 75 yards (4.2 YPC) and had no passes sent his way. The Bears could get RB Tarik Cohen (knee) back soon, which makes Herbert a less appealing short-term investment, but he’s worth an add with bye weeks upon us. Veteran running back Damien Williams toted it 16 times for 64 yards and scored, catching 20 yards worth on two passes. Herbert doesn’t have the easiest schedule, though, which is another factor preventing him from being a stronger recommendation. Chicago hosts Green Bay in Week 6 before traveling to Tampa Bay, returning home vs. San Francisco, and then heading to the Steel City before a Week 10 bye.
6) RB Alex Collins, Seattle Seahawks: Chris Carson (neck) could return this week, which would render Collins useless, but it’s no guarantee. Any starting running back belongs on rosters, so if you were late to the party last week, make sure to check your wire for the veteran. In the past two weeks, including one start, he has posted 78 and 72 total yards, respectively, including a touchdown on the ground two games ago. The loss of QB Russell Wilson (finger) should lead to more reliance on the backfield. Unfortunately, despite pitching well in relief last Thursday, Geno Smith doesn’t scare defenses. And the units Collins will see in the next couple of games (PIT, NO) are terrifying for fantasy backs. Add him but only due to bye weeks and the ever-present need to cover a running back injury.
7) QB Taylor Heinicke, Washington Football Team: Week 5 wasn’t pretty for Heinicke, but gunslingers keep slingin’, and he will have to do just that over the next few games. In Week 6, with bye weeks commencing, the Kansas City Chiefs come to town, and the matchup all but promises a pass-happy day for Heinicke. The following week sends him to Lambeau Field for a meeting with Green Bay Packers, a defense that will be without star CB Jaire Alexander (shoulder). The Packers, like KC, should force excessive passing by Washington. Anyone playing Heinicke must accept the bad with the volume-driven good.
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cleveland Browns vs. Arizona Cardinals: Jarvis Landry is at least one week away from returning from a sprained knee, and the Browns will need all receiving hands on deck vs. the undefeated Cardinals. Arizona’s offense could erupt on this defense, much like the Los Angeles Chargers did in a Week 5 barn-burner. The Michigan alum has been inconsistently utilized this year, and Cleveland doesn’t care to throw it more than necessary, which makes Peoples-Jones a highly volatile play. That said, bye weeks and injuries create nose-plugging lineup choices sometimes, so this one is all about the opportunity to capitalize on a season-high five catches for 70 yards (six targets).
TE Ricky Seals-Jones, Washington Football Team vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Washington lost starting tight end Logan Thomas to injury ahead of Week 5, and he has been put on IR. His well-traveled backup saw eight targets against New Orleans, corralling five for 41 yards. The Chiefs have permitted tight ends to post top-five figures in 2021, and there’s an inflated probability we’ll see Washington playing garbage-time football.
TE Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Held to one catch for seven yards on a half-dozen Week 5 looks, Ertz played well enough in the two weeks entering that dud performance to warrant consideration vs. Tampa. The Bucs couldn’t stop a tight end from producing double-digit PPR production in every game over the first month, and Miami’s Mike Gesicki (8.3 points) was the lone starter who narrowly missed that mark. Adding to the upside, starting tight end Dallas Goedert was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, making it improbable he plays Thursday in Week 6. Ertz is far from being a panacea in fantasy this week, but injuries and byes always make the medicine go down easier.
PK Evan McPherson, Cincinnati Bengals at Detroit Lions: The rookie sent every kick through the pipes in the first three weeks. In the past two contests, however, McPherson has missed a trio of field goal tries, presenting a risk-reward situation. The Lions have yielded 14 field goals in five contests, which is the second-highest figure in football. The remarkably scrappy Detroit defense is just good enough to keep Cincinnati from dropping bombs all day long.
PK Chris Boswell, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks: The veteran has booted all of his PATs through the uprights and only one of nine three-point tries has missed its mark. Kickers have attempted a dozen extra points and as many field goals in 2021 — only three teams have given up more FGAs. Ten kicks of each variety have gone through the uprights.
Indianapolis Colts D/ST vs Houston Texans: The Colts have posted at least five points in each game this year, including seven in consecutive contests ahead of a Monday Night Football meeting with Baltimore. The Houston offense looked drastically improved vs. New England in Week 5, but some of the trickery and the fluke touchdown to Chris Moore have me skeptical we’ll see an encore showing. This one really could go either way. The consistency of Indy overvalues the one-game offensive upgrade by Davis Mills and Co.
Cincinnati Bengals D/ST at Detroit Lions: Jared Goff has seven turnovers — including a few hideous decisions — in five games as a Lion, and he’s lucky to not lose two of his fumbles. The Bengals gave Aaron Rodgers everything he could handle in Week 5, and with Detroit’s offensive line injuries, Goff may be harassed all day. Cincy is tied for sixth in sacks (13) and 10th in interceptions.
Grab & stash
QB Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints: It’s easy to get hung up on his Week 5 performance that was highlighted by four touchdown strikes, but it’s not easy to also forget the prior three games of utter mediocrity. The Saints go on bye in Week 6, which means you’ll need to tie up a roster spot on him in a week with four teams on vacation. The upside is wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle), among other receiving threats, should return in Week 7, and the former Tampa Bay quarterback will have a legitimate month’s worth of lineup utility. The Weeks 7-10 schedule serves up the quarterback-challenged defenses of Seattle, Tampa, Atlanta and Tennessee before the schedule stiffens again.
Keep your eye on ’em
WR Anthony Miller, Jacksonville Jaguars: The loss of wideout DJ Chark Jr. for presumably the rest of the year created the need for a deep threat. The Jaguars will sign Miller to the practice squad and try to fast-track him. He has a long-standing durability issue, and while the fact he couldn’t stick with talent-deprived Houston is alarming, consider this likely Miller’s final chance before he officially gets tossed onto the scrap heap. Keep tabs on his progress.