I will be yelling it from the proverbial fantasy football mountaintops (or moderately-sized hills, see: Indiana) until we finish the year: roster depth is everything this season. It’s difficult enough trying to navigate injuries and bye weeks in a “normal” year without the threat of impromptu postponements each week. Now approaching six weeks into the season, it’s time to lose any underwhelming players on your bench and start seeking out ascending talents who your league mates may have dropped in recent weeks due to slow starts. Keep in mind that many young players, as well as those wearing a new uniform, often benefit the most from having a preseason to get acclimated to a new setting. Since the preseason did not exist in 2020, it stands to reason that we will begin to see a number of these slow-starters rise to relevance in the coming weeks. This week’s RB/WR/TE streamers feature a few of these players who I feel can beef up your roster depth.
* 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 10/14/20.
Phillip Linsday (RB, Denver Broncos)
Over the last few weeks, Lindsay has been listed as a “stash” in the “Other names to consider” section below. Typically, I wouldn’t recommend starting a player coming off a nagging, multi-week injury (turf toe) going against Bill Belichick’s defensive game plan. However, reports have been optimistic out of Denver with Lindsay trending in the right direction to play this week. With starter Melvin Gordon likely facing disciplinary action, there’s a good chance Lindsay may catapult to the front of the line and lead the Broncos backfield in his first game back. There will still be some concern about his workload and conditioning as he “shakes off the rust,” but Denver is in desperate need of playmakers and Lindsay is a proven commodity that has rushed for over 1,000+ yards in each of his first two NFL campaigns. I understand waiting to see how he looks in Week 6 before putting him in your lineup, but if you’re in need of help at RB like most teams, Lindsay is an efficient, impact player when healthy.
Damien Harris (RB, New England Patriots)
Let’s try this again. Since the Patriots had their Week 5 game moved after last week’s article was published, I hope you’ll forgive me for double-dipping on this talented rookie. The same holds true as last week: New England wants to feature their rushing attack, Harris has the opportunity to prove himself as the primary early-down back with Sony Michel out, and he has already shown the potential to be an efficient runner in the NFL with 5.9 yards-per-carry in Week 4 (17 carries for 100 yards). Although the Broncos are currently allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing RBs, I don’t view them as a defense to avoid by any means. Even if Cam Newton (COVID) isn’t able to return to action in Week 5, I see this as a game where the Patriots are playing with a lead throughout the contest, providing a nice floor for Harris to receive a healthy amount of touches. With the RB landscape as thin as it is, Harris is a guy you need to make room for on your roster.
Other names to consider: Alexander Mattison (likely to surpass 65% after waivers; top streamer if available), Justin Jackson (bye), Chase Edmonds, Frank Gore, Cam Akers, Joshua Kelley (bye), D’Ernest Johnson, Latavius Murray, Zach Moss (stash), Adrian Peterson, Rex Burkhead
*Mecole Hardman (WR, Kansas City Chiefs)
Whenever you get the opportunity to pick up a regular in the Chiefs offense, you do it, period. Hardman will now slot into the WR2 role in Kansas City after Sammy Watkins exited with a hamstring injury in Week 5 and has the big-play ability to make his fantasy managers very pleased for the next few weeks. Hardman has displayed the skill necessary to make waves despite low target-volume, as evidenced by his 8.4 yards-after-catch per reception (fourth-best in NFL). With an expected uptick in targets, it’s now reasonable to view Hardman as more than the boom-or-bust player he has been so far in his young career. Whether you’re hurting at WR or not, there are not many players available who offer his combination of game-breaking ability, stellar supporting cast, and now-more-reliable target floor.
*Brandin Cooks (WR, Houston Texans)
While Cooks is far from the the most reliable WR out there (likely the reason why he may be available in your league), he provides a ceiling that few others on the waiver wire do. His Week 5 performance showcased just that, with a whopping stat line of eight receptions on 12 targets for 161 yards and a score. The week before that? Zilch. This may be heading down “narrative street” a bit, but I believe that we got taste of where the Houston offense is headed now that Bill O’Brien is out as head coach/ play-caller. Cooks has been no stranger to big games throughout his career and has four 1,000+ yard receiving seasons under his belt at age 27. I still consider him to be a boom-or-bust Flex right now until we see more consistency, but he’s a must-add if available.
Other names to consider: Tee Higgins, Christian Kirk, Laviska Shenault Jr, Mike Williams (bye), Alshon Jeffery (stash), Preston Williams, Henry Ruggs (bye), N’Keal Harry, Tim Patrick, Brandon Aiyuk, Keelan Cole, Cole Beasley
Austin Hooper (TE, Cleveland Browns)
Whether it’s the absence of Nick Chubb or opposing defenses selling out to dampen the Browns’ potent rushing attack, Austin Hooper has been one of the primary beneficiaries the past two weeks (10 receptions on 17 targets for 91 yards and a score across Weeks 4-5). With most streaming tight ends, it usually comes down to “TD or bust.” While Hooper managers will gladly take his trip to the endzone in Week 4, it’s the targets and downfield prowess that has gotten my attention. Yes, the Browns still want to establish the run and still have other high-profile mouths to feed in the passing game, but Hooper offers the ability to provide a nice target and yardage floor that most streaming-tier TEs do not possess. Unless Robert Tonyan (below) is available, you could do much worse when it comes to your TE starter this week.
Other names to consider: Robert Tonyan (top streamer if available), Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Cameron Brate, Trey Burton
Accountability is everything, so here’s a quick look back at last week’s recommendations
Justin Jackson (RB, Los Angeles Chargers): Jackson surpassed expectations with 20 total touches (five receptions) for 94 all-purpose yards on Monday night. Although the Chargers backfield is likely to continue operating as a timeshare with Joshua Kelley while Austin Ekeler is out, Jackson was the more effective runner and was counted on in short-yardage situations in addition to receiving work in the passing game. Whether or not the Chargers staff feels Jackson earned a larger share of the backfield is yet to be determined, but he’s the guy I would bet on moving forward.
Damien Harris (RB, New England Patriots): The Patriots Week 5 game was rescheduled, so Harris gets a mulligan and returns in this week’s article.
Tee Higgins (WR, Cincinnati Bengals): In case there were any doubts previously, Higgins seems to have now ascended as the WR2 for the Bengals. He brings a versatile skill set to the table and has received no less than six targets since Week 2 (24 over the past three weeks), providing a nice weekly floor for fantasy managers who were fortunate enough to scoop him up. He registered four catches for 62 yards despite stiff competition from the Ravens and has another tough matchup in Week 6 at Indianapolis.
Zach Pascal (WR, Indianapolis Colts): There’s a good chance you will not see me recommending any Colts pass-catchers in this article for a while. Pascal secured both of his targets for a lowly 15 yards in Week 5 and is not likely to see the volume necessary to have an impact in this struggling offense.
Mo Alie-Cox (TE, Indianapolis Colts): This one was even more of a swing-and-miss as Mo Alie-Cox incited “No Alie-Cox” puns after receiving just one Week 5 target. With Indianapolis rolling out three tight ends and failing to do much of anything in the passing game, he’s a surefire drop candidate.
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 6!
(Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire)