The Week 5 waiver wire roster has a number of candidates who will be plug and play starters on many fantasy rosters.
The full list of 90 players sorted by waiver priority rankings (1-5, with 5 being the best) and current roster percentages in ESPN leagues can be found in the Excel chart. This article will review some of the highest rated picks on that chart and aim to provide insights to help guide fantasy managers through their Week 5 waiver wire selections.
To help better navigate the process of sorting through the 5-star prospects, I have added tenths of a point totals to give them greater granularity.
The Browns added Kareem Hunt to their backfield in 2019 in part because they don’t want to funnel all of their ground game through a single running back. That mindset seemed to carry over once Nick Chubb was injured in Sunday’s contest, as Johnson ended up with more carries than Hunt even though Hunt had more offensive snaps. With Chubb now on IR and expected to be out for as many as six weeks (per Adam Schefter), Johnson has a clear path to becoming a platoon back since he racked up 95 yards on those 13 carries against Dallas.
Waiver priority ranking of 5.2
Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals, roster rate: 25.7 percent
The Bengals offense is starting to hit full stride and Higgins is part of the reason why. Over the past three weeks he’s tallied 12 receptions on 22 targets and could see even more targets due to the subpar performances of A.J. Green. The caveat here is the Bengals do face the Ravens and Colts in Weeks 5 and 6, so Higgins might not have too much value in those contests, but the reality is he might gone in most leagues if fantasy managers don’t roster him this week, so now is the time to put in a claim.
Devonta Freeman, RB, New York Giants, roster rate: 55.8 percent
The Giants still have the worst rushing offense in the NFL right now, but Freeman went from five carries and a 29 percent offensive snap rate in his first game in this offense to 11 carries and a 54 percent offensive snap rate in his second game. This means he is already setting up to be a platoon back at worst and he may already be setting up as a lead back right now. That type of workload simply has too much value to not roster, especially with a Week 5 matchup against a Dallas defense that just got through allowing a team record in rushing yards.
Schultz is doing what Blake Jarwin was supposed to do in this offense this season. Over the past three games Schultz has tallied 17 receptions for 208 yards and two touchdowns. That he’s posted 24 targets over that span shows that Schultz has already become a primary cog on one of the best passing offenses in the league. Dallas doesn’t face another red-rated tight end matchup until Week 11, so the competition level should be smooth sailing for Schultz to keep this trend going.
Joshua Kelley, RB, Los Angeles Chargers, roster rate: 56.2 percent
Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers, roster rate: 8.6 percent
For those fantasy managers who were frustrated having picked up Kelley a couple of weeks ago only to see him post meager fantasy point totals over the next two weeks, now is the time when that waiver investment will pay fantasy football point dividends. Adam Schefter has reported that Austin Ekeler will be out for 4-6 weeks due to a hamstring injury. Kelley will take over as either the top platoon back or even possibly a lead back role in Ekeler’s absence and should generate a double-digit carry volume in an offense that is starting to show some serious horsepower. Justin Jackson could either become a platoon back with Kelley or be a highly utilized alternate back with superb breakaway ability and thus also rates a 5-caliber waiver claim rating.
Waiver priority ranking of 5
Tim Patrick, WR, Denver Broncos, roster rate: 0.6 percent
Patrick has started to take over the Courtland Sutton role in the Broncos offense and it had led to consecutive games of 14+ fantasy points in PPR leagues over the past two weeks. It’s a bit difficult to project this pace continuing given the potential QB carousel in Denver and because Patrick has never caught more than 45 passes in a collegiate or pro season, but in many leagues he will serve as a solid upgrade over non-performing bench candidates.