Bjorn Yang Vaernet examines which players on the waiver wire are worth prioritizing for Week 5 and highlights others to preemptively stash.
Week 5 showed fantasy players how keeping up with the waiver wire can pay dividends down the line. Jamaal Williams and Khalil Herbert, players that could have been had on the waiver wire since Week 1, were the starters for their respective teams. Both running backs received 20 or more opportunities (targets and rush attempts) and Williams even scored more than 20 fantasy points. While there is no clear low-owned backup stepping into a featured role ahead of Week 5, there are still plenty of good players to pick up.
The waiver wire is one of the most important pieces of season-long draft leagues. It is the easiest way to acquire new players and every year there are gems to be found. The goal of this article will not only be to highlight which weekly breakout players to prioritize but find others to preemptively pick up before the breakout happens.
This article will be published once on Mondays with a quick run through my favorite pickups and again on Tuesdays with more charts and data points added in.
This article will only reference players that are less than 50% owned in ESPN leagues. The players are categorized by position group and within each group is the order of how I would prioritize them. In lieu of free agent acquisition budget percentages, which are highly dependent on the makeup of each league, I have highlighted which players I would prioritize on the week.
Geno Smith (Available in 85% of Leagues)
I never thought I’d be writing about Geno Smith at the start of the season, but he has been a pleasant surprise in 2022. In the right matchup, Smith has value as a waiver wire pickup as he can be productive. The last two weeks against Atlanta and Detroit are the perfect examples of this. First, the offenses of the opposing teams need to be just good enough to keep the game close and make the Seahawks feel like they have to keep on their normal game plan. Second, the defenses need to be soft enough that Smith can operate. Altogether, Smith was able to produce 18.9 and 31.7 fantasy points these last two weeks.
Looking ahead, Week 5 at New Orleans might be tough for Smith, but the four-game stretch between Weeks 6 and 9 appears to have some appealing streaming situations — ARI, @LAC, NYG, @ARI. The strength of schedule streaming app gives the Seahawks the second-best schedule for QBs between Weeks 6 and 9.
Jared Goff (Available in 55% of leagues)
After pointing out that Jared Goff has some waiver wire appeal as a QB on a team with a strong offense and a bad defense after Week 3, the story played out again in Week 4. Despite missing Amon-Ra St. Brown, De’Andre Swift, and D.J. Chark, Goff and the Lions’ offense produced 45 points. To update the statistics from last week, the Lions have scored 30 points or more in 3/4 games and had game totals of 73, 63, 52, and 93.
While the Detroit offense tends to play balanced, Goff has the ability to play in shootouts because of the strong Lions’ offensive line. When Goff has time to operate, he can be an above-average to strong fantasy QB. Goff would not be my set-it-and-forget-it QB, but he has streaming appeal going forward.
Mike Boone (Available in 99% of Leagues)
Mike Boone was more involved in recent weeks and may be even more relied upon in the coming weeks. First, Javonte Williams suffered a torn ACL in Week 4 and will miss the rest of the season. Second, Melvin Gordon not only left for a bit during the game to tend to an injury but had a fumble that was returned for a TD. Boone ended up splitting the snaps with Gordon in the second half of the game and would be a strong pickup if Gordon is out with injury or is given less work.
Boone is a stash for me at this point in the week (Sunday evening), but could quickly move to a priority pickup if the RB situation in Denver breaks a certain way.
Update: Boone moves to a priority pickup for me (as of Monday evening) with Williams out for the season with a very serious knee injury and Gordon limited in practice. While the Broncos added Latavius Murray to the RB room, I think Boone will still likely have the upper hand on the receiving work–he was the primary RB playing in the 2-minute drill while the Broncos were trying to catch up in Week 4. If Boone can take some of the early-down work, he may even have standalone value.
No other RBs are worth placing the priority pickup on this week. However, one RB nearly met the threshold for the article and he was: