As we depart from Week 5 and head toward Week 6 of the NFL season, several important injuries have surfaced in the league, headlined by Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson and Miami Dolphins running back De'Von Achane.
Below, we'll offer up some key waiver wire acquisitions you should consider this week using roster percentages of Yahoo! leagues. The cutoff for our analysis is below 50%, as these options are more likely than not available in your league, regardless of platform.
Let's check it out.
Note: The lists below aren't in any specific order.
- Sam Howell, Washington Commanders (33% rostered): Minus a bad performance against the Buffalo Bills, Howell has still put up fantasy numbers close to QB1 territory for 12-team leagues. In Week 5, he completed 37 of 51 passes for 388 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. This was in a game trailing the Chicago Bears. He's fourth in the NFL in attempts, and with that comes more opportunities for fantasy points. What also helps is the bevy of weapons he has. Over the next few weeks, he has quality matchups against the Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.
- Gardner Minshew, Indianapolis Colts (1% rostered): Rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson is set to miss time with an AC joint injury, and Minshew will step in. He starts in Week 6 against the team that drafted him, the Jacksonville Jaguars. He's an emergency start if you're dealing with bye weeks or are a Richardson owner.
- Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers (10% rostered): The No. 1 overall pick from the 2023 NFL Draft showed some life in Week 5, throwing for 247 yards and passing for three scores. You don't like seeing the two interceptions, but it provides some confidence for his Week 6 matchup against a beatable Miami Dolphins secondary, and it's a game he should be trailing in. The Panthers have a bye in Week 7 but play the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears in the three weeks following. These are also excellent matchups if you're in a bind.
- Tyrod Taylor, New York Giants (less than 1% rostered): For deeper leagues or 2QB leagues, if Giants starter Daniel Jones cannot go in Week 6, Taylor will be in line to start. He offers some rushing upside.
- Emari Demercado, Arizona Cardinals (3% rostered): Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner exited Week 5 early with a knee injury. As Dr. Jesse Morse points out, Conner has a history with MCL sprains in his right now, and the team also picked up Tony Jones Jr. off the waiver wire. Should Conner miss time, Demercado looks to be the next man up, with Keaontay Ingram also dealing with injuries. In relief of Conner, Demercado rushed 10 times, picked up 45 yards and had a touchdown.
- Roschon Johnson, Chicago Bears (41% rostered): Khalil Herbert exited Week 5 with what looked like an odd-looking knee injury, and it turns out it was a high-ankle sprain. As a result, he'll miss some time, and Johnson looks to be the next man up should he play this week after also leaving Week 5 with a concussion. He has nine days to recover. He's offered some upside in the passing game, seeing seven targets in Week 1, but hasn't seen more than two since.
- Tyjae Spears, Tennessee Titans (27% rostered): In Week 5, Spears saw 11 touches, gained 69 yards, and scored a rushing touchdown. He's averaging around four targets per game and 5.8 yards per carry. Running back Derrick Henry is averaging just 3.8 yards per carry, and Spears could start to see more work. At worst, he's a flex option with his receiving upside.
- D'Onta Foreman, Chicago Bears (7% rostered): A healthy inactive each week since Week 1, we could see Foreman activated with Herbert's injury and Johnson's concussion. Even if Johnson suits up, Foreman should see time, and he's proved to have some success in the NFL. In Week 1, he had five carries for 16 yards and added two receptions on three targets.
- Ezekiel Elliott, New England Patriots (44% rostered): It may not be the best idea, but Elliott is seeing plenty of touches, even with Rhamondre Stevenson in the fold. Elliott has 42 carries this season compared with Stevenson's 68, and they both have 12 receptions. In Week 5, Elliott had 12 touches to Stevenson's eight. Four of Elliott's touches were receptions, and Stevenson finished with zero. Both options have been pedestrian this season, but Elliott's usage in this offense is real, and this is more of a 50/50 timeshare.
- Jeff Wilson Jr., Miami Dolphins (26% rostered): Star rookie running back De'Von Achane is potentially headed to injured reserve with a knee injury, and Wilson's 21-day practice window has been activated. With Achane sidelined for the next few weeks, Wilson Jr. is returning at a great time for fantasy players who need a replacement for Achane on the waiver wire.
- Josh Downs, Indianapolis Colts (9% rostered): Averaging more than six targets per game, Downs has been an excellent option in PPR (points per reception) leagues. Of course, he hasn't scored yet, but he's had 57 or more receiving yards in two of his last three games and has seen fewer than five targets in a game just once this season. He's running fewer routes than fellow wide receiver Alec Pierce but has 14 more targets.
- Curtis Samuel, Washington Commanders (18% rostered): Running the third most routes on the team, Samuel has the same number of targets as Jahan Dotson (27) and just four fewer than Terry McLaurin (31). Tight end Logan Thomas has also seen 24 targets this season, so Howell is distributing the ball to multiple receivers. Samuel has seen 15 targets over the last two weeks and has 13 receptions and a touchdown.
- Rashee Rice, Kansas City Chiefs (39% rostered): The Chiefs wide receiver room is filled with many quality players, but none has emerged as the go-to guy beyond Travis Kelce. Rice has only run 66 routes this season (eighth on the team), but he has a route running percentage of 97.1%, indicating that he's running routes when he's on the field. Despite his low route numbers, he's second on the team in targets with 23, trailing only Kelce, who has 37. If he can get as many opportunities as Skyy Moore or even Justin Watson, he should see a surge in production even more.
- K.J. Osborn, Minnesota Vikings (10% rostered): Well, the big news this week is Jefferson headed to injured reserve — so, naturally, we will look at the receivers behind him. Osborn leads the routes run at 203 but has just 25 targets. With Jefferson out and his 10+ per game, Osborn figures to see more opportunities, along with rookie Jordan Addison.
- Logan Thomas, Washington Commanders (16% rostered): As mentioned, Thomas has seen 24 targets this season and leads the team in receiving touchdowns. He's fourth on the team in routes and targets, and he's played in just four games compared to everyone else's five. He's getting plenty of usage and is coming off an 11-target, nine-catch day for 77 yards and a score.
- Dalton Schultz, Houston Texans (36% rostered): The Texans' offense is surging, and Schultz is a big part of that. He saw 10 targets in Week 5 in a game the Texans were trailing. His best performances have come when the Texans are behind, which could be the case in Week 6 against a tough Saints defense. He's caught touchdowns in back-to-back games and could be a solid fill-in this week.
Statistics courtesy of Pro Football Focus.
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