Frankly, I was a little surprised that it took over three weeks for COVID to rear its ugly head and impact the NFL regular season. After a postponement (PIT-TEN) and rescheduling (KC-NE) popped up in Week 4, the fantasy community was put on notice that this will be an unfortunate, but realistic possibility each week. Good fantasy managers set themselves up for success in the current week, but great fantasy managers also have a contingency plan if everything goes haywire; hope for the best and prepare for the worst, as they say. I can’t stress enough how important it will be (particularly this season) to utilize the full extent of your roster, from your no-brainer starters to the very last spot on your bench. On that same note, make sure to occupy your Flex spot with players who have Sunday or Monday night games. If that player is ruled “Out” or the game is postponed, you will be glad that you have the flexibility to pull a warm body from the free agency pool so you don’t end up with a goose egg in your lineup. Whether or not they ultimately find a way into your starting lineup in Week 5, here are a few RB/WR/TEs that I feel can produce on your roster this week.
* Players marked with an asterisk below can also be found in the priority waiver wire adds article referenced at the end. All players below are under 65%-owned as of 10/6/20.
*Justin Jackson (RB, Los Angeles Chargers)
Any loyal readers who skimmed over my articles last season may recall me leading the unofficial Justin Jackson fan club in 2019. Although it pains us to see fantasy standouts like Austin Ekeler suffer an injury (knee, hamstring), it appears that Jackson will now have a fantasy-viable role in the Chargers’ backfield for the foreseeable future and potentially rest of season. He will still be sharing touches with rookie Joshua Kelley and is coming off an uninspiring Week 4 performance (six carries for nine yards and two catches for 12 yards), albeit against a tough Tampa Bay defensive front, but Jackson has the ability to help you out at a position void of solid replacement options. The Saints have been a middle-of-the-road defense against RBs thus far and I think Jackson will be involved to the tune of 13+ touches even if the Chargers are playing from behind. With a career average of 4.8 yards-per-carry (87 rushes for 419 yards), Jackson should be added by any teams in need of help at running back.
*Damien Harris (RB, New England Patriots)
I know, I know; picking the “right” Patriots RB each week often feels like spinning a roulette wheel and hoping it lands on your number. My optimism on Harris comes from a few different places, with caveats. First, Sony Michel’s injury (at least two more weeks on IR), which should give Harris the opportunity to cement his role as New England’s primary early-down back. Second, the Patriots are not a pass-first team, regardless of who is at QB. Third, Harris’ efficient Week 4 performance (17 carries for 100 yards). The caveats include Cam Newton’s involvement in the running game when he returns, particularly near the end zone, along with the obvious: the Patriots have a lot of RBs vying for touches in their backfield. Whether or not you feel that Harris is safe enough to trust in your lineup right away is another story, but he is a must-add at a thin RB position.
Other names to consider: D’Ernest Johnson, Jeff Wilson Jr, Malcolm Brown, Latavius Murray, Rex Burkhead, Philip Lindsay (stash), Sony Michel, Nyheim Hines, Frank Gore
Tee Higgins (WR, Cincinnati Bengals)
Not to be confused with Will Ferrell SNL character “Old Prospector Gus Chiggins”, Tee Higgins is an emerging name that fantasy managers won’t mind going to battle with this season. Currently checking in at third in targets (22) and second in receiving yards (152) for the Bengals despite zero involvement in Week 1, Higgins has seen no less than six targets in each of the last three weeks. His 16.1 average targeted air yards (10th-most in NFL) allow Higgins to rip off chunk gains, which is good news for a player who was highly regarded in the 2020 draft for his ability to come down with contested catches. Week 5 will present the Bengals with their toughest challenge so far against a talented Ravens defense (Higgins will likely be matched up with Marcus Peters), but Higgins’ downfield playmaking ability and involvement near the end zone (four targets inside the 20-yard-line) make him a solid streamer this week and beyond.
Zach Pascal (WR, Indianapolis Colts)
Although the Colts are far from a pass-happy team (more on that with this week’s featured streaming TE), Pascal is one of the primary options for Indianapolis when they do need to air it out. In a week where Philip Rivers attempted a modest 29 passes, Pascal led the team in targets (eight), receptions (three), and receiving yards (58). Those totals are not eye-popping by any means, but with Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman Jr sidelined with long-term injuries, Pascal should continue to see a handful of targets each week. The Browns are bottom-five against opposing WRs this season, surrendering eight total scores and 211+ yards per game to the position already. I wouldn’t recommend Pascal as an every-week starter in your Flex at this point, but I feel he’s worth an add for this plus-matchup against an exploitable Cleveland secondary.
Other names to consider: Russell Gage, Alshon Jeffery (stash), Laviska Shenault Jr, Scotty Miller, Brandon Aiyuk, Tim Patrick, Olamide Zaccheaus, Keelan Cole, Golden Tate, N’Keal Harry, Tre’Quan Smith, Greg Ward, Cole Beasley, Anthony Miller, Mike Williams
Mo Alie-Cox (TE, Indianapolis Colts)
While I would love to just use this as the “stream Dalton Schultz or Robert Tonyan until they’re over 65%-owned” free space, I do my best to talk about a variety of players throughout the season to keep things fresh. This week we have Mo Alie-Cox, the Colts’ leader in both receiving yards (194) and touchdowns (2, tied with Jonathan Taylor). No, that was not a typo. The 2020 Indianapolis offense is a far cry from the “air it out and try to score enough points to cover up our poor defense” unit that it has often been over the last couple of decades. Now, behind a stellar defense and bullying offensive line, the Colts aim to emphasize clock control in a run-first scheme. Philip Rivers, with waning arm strength and the mobility of a statue, is simply a game manager who the Colts rely on to make easy throws and not turn the ball over. Although Alie-Cox is not likely to see high target-volume every week (13 total targets so far), he’s a massive man who Rivers looks to near the end zone (four targets inside 20-yard-line, 2nd on the team). The Colts’ pass-catchers have taken a beating this season, leading to more opportunities for Alie-Cox to produce as a streaming option at TE.
Other names to consider: Dalton Schultz (top streamer if available), Robert Tonyan (second-best streamer if available), Jimmy Graham, Cameron Brate, Logan Thomas, Drew Sample, Chris Herndon
Accountability is everything, so here’s a quick look back at last week’s recommendations
Carlos Hyde (RB, Seattle Seahawks): In somewhat of a plot twist, starter Chris Carson was able to suit up on Sunday and play through a knee sprain that was initially expected to keep him out for 1-2 weeks. It was Hyde (shoulder) who ended up being the one out of action, rendering this once-promising streamer pick useless. If you are the Carson manager, Hyde isn’t the worst backup to own since this offense generates a lot of scoring opportunities, but he should never be in your starting lineup as long as Carson is active.
Joshua Kelley (RB, Los Angeles Chargers): With starter Austin Ekeler (knee, hamstring) going down on Sunday with injuries that are likely to keep him out for several weeks, Kelley should see a boost in opportunities moving forward. However, it wasn’t pretty when Kelley stepped in last week against a tough Tampa Bay defensive front. The youngster lost a critical fumble late in the first half, leading to an easy Bucs score, and rushed for a measly seven yards on nine attempts along with three catches for 26 yards. Despite the lackluster performance, Kelley should see a lot of work alongside Justin Jackson in Ekeler’s absence.
Justin Jefferson (WR, Minnesota Vikings): Jefferson set the bar high with a breakout Week 3 performance and followed it up in Week 4 with four catches on five targets for 103 yards. Though you would love to see greater target volume, Jefferson once again showed his efficiency in a week when the Vikings’ other primary playmakers (Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen) also turned in solid stat lines. The Vikings will likely need to score in bunches to keep pace with a dominant Seahawks offense, which is good news for Jefferson against a highly-exploitable Seattle secondary. Give him another go in Week 5 if you were fortunate enough to scoop him up.
Laviska Shenault Jr. (WR, Jacksonville Jaguars): Although we’ve yet to see a true “breakout” performance this season, Shenault had his most productive day so far in terms of receiving yards in Week 4, registering five catches on six targets for 86 yards and one rush for five yards. The volume still isn’t quite there for the talented rookie, though it was encouraging to see him finish second on the team in targets and receiving yards. He’s not a must-hold given his current role, but I don’t think you should be eager to drop him either, as I only see his involvement growing moving forward.
Jimmy Graham (TE, Chicago Bears): To be fair, nobody on the Bears offense got much done against the stout Colts defense on Sunday. Although Graham is somewhat of a TD-dependent red zone specialist, he produced a decent floor with four catches (five targets) for 33 yards. Unless you have one of the top options at TE or the frequently-mentioned Dalton Schultz on your roster, I think you’re just fine rolling with Graham on most weeks.
Make sure to check out Myles Nelson’s priority waiver wire adds article every Tuesday for more insights on who you should be submitting claims for heading into each Wednesday. Good luck in Week 5!
(Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire)