Week 4 served as a reminder of the importance of flexibility and depth in the NFL. One game was postponed entirely and another delayed by a day, with a long day of uncertainty as the league worked to decide how to best proceed with the Chiefs-Patriots game originally scheduled for 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday.
This season has already been and will continue to be unlike any other. It’s the reality of a season amid a pandemic. And this wasn’t something we didn’t expect; we just met the reality of the situation in a more glaring way this week.
One of the core truths of fantasy football is that we have so little control over what happens on Sundays. We must be willing to be flexible and dynamic. Along those lines, as it pertains to your roster, this is a year to work as hard as you can to cover your bases as much as possible.
Here’s the Week 5 ESPN Fantasy waiver wire column.
Note: Players in this column are available in more than 50% of leagues on ESPN.com.
Week 5 byes: Packers, Lions
Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots (15.4%): Harris made his season debut in Week 4 and lived up to the preseason rave reviews he drew, compiling 100 yards on 17 carries. The reason for a more modest level of enthusiasm in terms of his fantasy outlook is twofold: he did not see a single target and the Patriots still have one of the deeper backfields in the league, so guys like James White and Rex Burkhead (and eventually Sony Michel) will still get their opportunities. Still, Harris is a really smart add for those looking for backfield depth, as he is a rock-solid runner the team will need in its run-heavy attack.
Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (8.8%): The first step in this process is checking on Joshua Kelley, who was available in around 44% of leagues as of this writing. With Austin Ekeler out for multiple weeks, per Adam Schefter, Kelley is in line to start, but Jackson should serve as a useful counterpart. He’s an athletic pass-catcher, which could help him simulate some of what Ekeler did at a high level. He’s a 12-team-or-larger consideration for sure.
Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys (32.6%): Schultz has become the player many thought Blake Jarwin would be prior to his season-ending knee injury, as Schultz is piling up catches and targets of late (24 targets in three weeks). The Cowboys’ defense is beyond description right now — though a sieve comes to mind — meaning Dak Prescott has and will continue to throw a ton. Schultz can stay busy in this offense.
D’Ernest Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns (0.0%): Nick Chubb is being placed on IR with an MCL injury and is expected to miss about six weeks, so we must now consider the possibility of a role for Johnson until Chubb returns. He stepped in on Sunday with 95 rushing yards as Kareem Hunt‘s backup and ran extremely well. The Browns have successfully folded two running backs into the mix this season, and while it’s hard to bank on Johnson being a part of your lineup right away, he’s a consideration. A stashable add.
Hunter Renfrow, WR, Las Vegas Raiders (36.1%): Injuries have crushed the Raiders at wide receiver of late. Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards both missed Week 4. Renfrow has a total of 17 targets in his past two games and figures to remain busy for as long as the two rooks are banged up. He has 10 or more points in each of his past two games and is a solid player who won’t draw too much attention as long as Darren Waller is on the field. A good add who should slot into the flex spot in many leagues with 12 or more teams (or any league that plays with three wide receiver spots).
Scotty Miller, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11.3%): The Bucs’ top duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have been banged up already this season, and Godwin is a stretch to play this Thursday against the Bears. Miller earned Tom Brady‘s trust in training camp and has shown up early this season with double-digit scoring in three of four games (the three games in which he saw at least five targets). In the event Godwin sits on Thursday, Miller is already on the deeper-league flex consideration radar and should most certainly remain rostered in all leagues.
Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (27.8%): There are signs of a breakout from Shenault, who notched a career-high 86 receiving yards in Week 4. The Jaguars have been crafty and creative in the ways they’ve used Shenault, who has double-digit scoring in three of four games and an average of five targets per game. A fun stash to have on your roster for when the voluminous bye weeks hit.
Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay Packers (14.1%): Williams is a really steady player for the Green Bay offense and an exceptional pass-catcher, as he picked up eight catches in Week 4 to go along with eight rushing attempts. He’s not the touchdown scorer in the backfield, but a name to consider in deeper leagues and an insurance add in all leagues. We saw him carve out some fantasy utility in 2019, even when running behind Aaron Jones on the Green Bay depth chart.
Robert Tonyan, TE, Green Bay Packers (7.9%): What a story Tonyan has been so far this season, as he’s now tied for the NFL lead with five receiving touchdowns in just three games played. There’s no question that Green Bay’s target distribution will be more saturated to Davante Adams when he makes his likely Week 6 return, but Tonyan is looking the part of a guy who has a chance to stick around in a steady role. It’s hard to find tight ends, so he’s a player to grab and use as soon as Week 6.
Tre’Quan Smith, WR, New Orleans Saints (20.1%): Michael Thomas is bound to return soon, perhaps as early as Week 5. So let’s establish that his return could immediately render all other Saints wideouts unlikely to be in your fantasy lineups. But Smith has stepped up with Thomas out, posting 13 catches on 17 targets and a pair of touchdowns. I’d suggest adding and stashing Smith in any league, but for anyone who rosters Thomas, he’s a must-add for insurance purposes going forward.
Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (25.0%): It feels almost sacrilegious to say, but if I were rostering a second Bengals wide receiver beyond Tyler Boyd, Higgins might be the pick. He posted another 77 receiving yards on four catches and seven targets in Week 4, looking the part of a player who was just one pick away from going in the NFL’s first round of the draft. Higgins is an athletic receiver with great size, and Joe Burrow has been money so far. Higgins is exactly the kind of upside wideout I like to have on my bench.
Quarterback adds: as stated above, Week 4 was a reminder of the need for flexibility in fantasy football. While rostering two quarterbacks is not a strategy I frequently employ in all other years, this is a season when most of my teams are rostering two quarterbacks just in case. I’ll try to highlight a few names per week to consider for your roster at this position.
Gardner Minshew II, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars (45.9%): Another quarterback with at least 20 points in three of four games. Minshew makes it happen.
Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers (11.8%): The talent is obvious, and the upside is substantial. Herbert is going to be an excellent quarterback in time and is already a fantasy consideration.