Free-agent recommendations refer to 12-team leagues, unless specifically stated otherwise. FAAB $ amounts are based on a $100 budget.
Bye weeks: Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Chargers, New Orleans Saints, Las Vegas Raiders
Fantasy football waiver wire targets
Priority Free Agent
Andy Dalton, Dallas Cowboys
Dallas lost quarterback Dak Prescott to a gruesome ankle injury, illustrating exactly why Dalton was signed in the offseason as a veteran presence. Prescott’s absence will make a huge ripple effect in fantasy, and gamers can hope Dalton will play his best ball to help offset some of the natural regression we’ll see from losing Dak. In a pinch, with the heart of the bye weeks upon us, Dalton is a favorable target for gamers looking to replace Prescott in any way possible, or those who have more or less lost backups, like Jimmy Garoppolo, Philip Rivers, etc., to futile play. Dalton will make his share of mistakes, and he’s more of a game manager than a gunslinger, but he deserves to be rostered as long as Dallas has so many weapons and such a porous defense.
1-week plug & play
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets
On the year, Fitzpatrick is the sixth-best fantasy quarterback in conventional scoring formats — and that’s with an 11-point dud in the opener. He shouldn’t be on this many waiver wires, but gamers haven’t had many planned bye weeks with which to contend. Miami appears nowhere near turning the keys over to rookie Tua Tagovailoa. The Jets have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points per game thus far, and most of the work has come from two quarterbacks. New York gave up 35.3 points to Josh Allen in Week 1 and 32.1 to Kyler Murray this past weekend. The three quarterbacks in the middle belong on the scrap heap: Jimmy Garoppolo, Philip Rivers and Brett Rypien. Fitz still has his legs, and this is a prime matchup if you’re without Russell Wilson or Drew Brees.
Alex Smith, Washington Football Team
Head coach Ron Rivera says Kyle Allen (arm) will be the starter when he’s healthy enough. It’s an interesting situation, since Allen was cleared to return Sunday and Rivera stuck with Smith, who clearly looked like he hadn’t played in a few years. While there may be merit to the idea that Allen actually gives them a better chance of winning right this minute, the faster they get Smith to shake off the rust, the sooner this team will be consistently competitive. Granted, there are plenty of holes to fill that a veteran quarterback alone can’t mask, but their $21 million salary cap investment in Smith is going to waste with every pass thrown by Allen.
1-week plug & play/grab & stash
J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team at New York Giants
With eight targets in each of the past two games, cycling through three different quarterbacks, McKissic is on the upswing. He has double-digit PPR performances in each of those games, and the checkdown has at least eight utilizations in each game this year. Washington desperately needs someone to step up behind Terry McLaurin, and the pint-sized running back is seizing the opportunity in the passing game. Should Alex Smith start this week, he’s the king of checking down, and regardless of the quarterback, this system inherently involves running backs in the passing game. New York has permitted the position five catches for 46.2 yards, on average, and one in 12.5 receptions has scored in the hands of a running back. McKissic has staying power, as well.
Mike Boone, Minnesota Vikings vs. Atlanta Falcons
No word yet on the severity of Dalvin Cook’s groin injury, and Alexander Mattison is universally owned, so gamers in a tough situation can turn to Boone. He has played well almost every chance he has earned, and the matchup is quite tasty. The Falcons have given up 139 offensive yards per game to RBs in five appearances, and the position has scored six total times (four receiving). Boone isn’t a great receiver, and he will play a spell role, but there’s potential for a short-term rental. He was explosive in two games late last year, filling in off of the bench, and we saw him go for 19 yards on his two carries coming in cold in Week 5. The Falcons also underwent a coaching change after their 0-5 start, which could take time to make a difference.
grab & stash
UPDATE — LaMical Perine, New York Jets
Tuesday’s release of RB Le’Veon Bell creates an opening for Perine, as Frank Gore simply isn’t getting it done. The problem, though, is there’s little reason to expect Perine to be much better. The offensive line is an issue, quarterback play has been inferior, and the receiving corps doesn’t scare any defenses. Perine belongs on a roster by virtue of opportunities alone, but it’s tough to see this going anywhere positive.
Priority Free Agent
Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers
Claypool scored four times (one rushing) in Week 5. The fourth was on totally busted coverage, for what it is worth. One element that cannot be ignored: Wide receiver Diontae Johnson injured his back on a punt return in the first quarter and did not play afterward. Claypool wasn’t utilized prior to the injury. Where it gets interesting is now that the Steelers have seen the myriad ways the dynamic rookie can be effectively utilized, how much does it cut into Johnson’s role upon a healthy return to the field. Players lose their jobs to injuries on the regular, and coaches get enamored with the allure of “what could be” after a performance like this … sure, Philly stinks, and, yes, a confluence of events opened the door for Claypool, but he has flashed prior to Sunday. Johnson has fought injuries in multiple games this year, and while he was productive in others, it’s fair to believe he’ll lose action to Claypool. Add him but realize you’ll be paying a premium for a one-in-a-lifetime performance.
1-Week Plug & Play
Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears at Carolina Panthers
The production really hasn’t been there to date, aside from a Week 2 touchdown, but the speedy rookie has effectively overtaken Anthony Miller as the No. 2. Miller still plays primarily from the slot, but it has been Mooney with more targets since Nick Foles took over. Both receivers have been equally ineffective in those two games, largely due to tough matchups. Carolina ranks low for receptions against, but four receivers in five games have scored, and the Panthers have been fortunate to play Las Vegas, the Bucs without Chris Godwin (Mike Evans still owned), the Chargers (Keenan Allen killed it), and Atlanta without Julio Jones (Calvin Ridley was a stud) … Mooney is an intriguing one-week gamble for owners facing injuries or the loss of Michael Thomas, Allen, D.K. Metcalf and/or Tyler Lockett because of byes.
grab & stash
Auden Tate, Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati lost WR A.J. Green (hamstring) in Week 5, and it’s the second time in less than two months he has battled such an injury. Then there’s the whole factor of his overall lack of durability. At time of writing this segment, his Week 6 status is unknown. Should he be out of commission a few weeks, Tate makes for a worthy waiver add. Cincy has three games before its bye — barring another reshuffling by the league. This week’s matchup isn’t particularly friendly, facing the Indianapolis Colts, but Tate’s 6-foot-5 frame could be the difference in a jump-ball situation in the end zone. He is not explicitly being promoted as a one-week play, although starting him isn’t totally unwarranted with so many receivers hurt or on their bye. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are poised to see the majority of targets, so rolling with Tate must require acknowledgement of his boom-or-bust nature.
Travis Fulgham, Philadelphia Eagles
No Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Dallas Goedert and Jalen Reagor has led to Travis Fulgham seeing 16 targets in the last two games. He has 12 receptions for 209 yards and a pair of scores vs. two quality defenses (SF, PIT) on the road in that time. He has bounced around from Detroit and Green Bay to Philly in his short career, but there’s a chance with the Eagles to latch on for a few weeks. At 6-foot-2, 214 pounds, he brings size and is also an elite blocker, which will keep him in the coaching staff’s good graces. The long speed is better than at any other range of his mobility band, and he reminds a little of Chris Hogan in this regard. Fulgham excels in contested-catch situations, and despite a brutal matchup vs. the Baltimore Ravens this week, he has a puncher’s chance at relevance once again. Play him only if you must, but he’s still worth rostering one more week in reserve to see if there’s anything beyond Week 6 here.
Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams
The veteran caught all four of his targets in Week 5, posting 90 yards along the way — or 18 more than his counterpart, Tyler Higbee, has mustered in his past three games combined. In Week 6, gamers should watch how this dynamic plays out once more before investing much into Everett. He could be worth a speculative buck or first-come, first-served addition in deeper setups. Higbee, aside from a three-TD outburst vs. Philly, has been unplayable after his monster run to close out the 2019 season. Higbee ran only 16 percent of the routes in Week 5, and the matchup couldn’t have been much more favorable for his position, so keep tabs on how this works out vs. the New York Giants next Sunday. New York has been strong at limiting receivers, which means the target distribution is more important than the actual results.
Priority Free agent
Jason Sanders, Miami Dolphins
After kicking four field goal tries in the first three weeks, Sanders has booted all 10 of his attempts through the pipes in the past two outings. He added four PATs vs. the Niners and Jacksonville, showing he can be a useful option even if the field goals aren’t there. In Week 6, the play the Jets, a team that has yielded an average of nine fantasy points per contest to the position, or eighth most. In total, 12 field goal attempts (tied for 9th) and 18 point-afters (tied for most) have come against Gang Green.
1-Week Plug & Play
Joey Slye, Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears
The way Carolina most effectively moves the ball has been by extending the running game into the short-area passing attack. Chicago is on the tougher half of the league in receptions and yardage given up to RBs, and none of the catches have scored. Overall, the Bears are strong enough on defense to keep Carolina in scenarios where settling for three is acceptable. No team has given up more field goal attempts than Chicago so far, and only three of the 18 kicks have missed. Slye, for his part, has been seen at least three FGAs in three of his five games and two or more in four contests.
1-week plug & play
Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets
In the past three games, Miami has 11 sacks and four interceptions. On the year, this unit has a takeaway and at least one sack in every game. The Dolphins invested tremendous capital in improving the defense, and we’re starting to see signs of it paying off. Versus the Jets in Week 6, it could be a fireworks show for Miami. The confidence of blowing out the San Francisco 49ers on the road, coupled with an offense that has given up at least a trio of sacks in three of the games this year, we’re talking about a matchup that is 84.9 percent better than the league average for fantasy points generated.