Looking at some of the players available on the waiver wire in more than 50% of leagues on any given platform will typically turn up less than fruitful results. However, this week provides as much long term starter potential as the beginning of the season, when we’re all still figuring out who is having a breakout season and who had a lucky week.
Teams on a bye: Lions, Dolphins
Ownership percentages are from ESPN.com as of 9/30
Ronald Jones 41.2% owned
Fresh off a career-high in carries and his first rushing touchdown of the season, it is beginning to seem like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have found their lead back in Ronald Jones. 19/70/1 isn’t an overwhelming line, but backfield mate Peyton Barber saw nine carries and wasn’t involved as a receiver. Drafted in the second round last year, Jones was considered a complete back. Yet poor pass blocking and a lack of explosion in his rookie year had many fantasy football players wondering if he was properly scouted as a prospect. A matchup against the Saints isn’t quite as appealing, as they just held Cowboy running backs to 18 carries for 35 yards, but Bruce Arians’ vertical passing attack will keep safeties out of the box and create more opportunities for RoJo. Even with a tough Week 5 aside, Jones should not be out there on the waiver wire.
Nyheim Hines 7.9% owned
Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines saw the bulk of the action when Marlon Mack missed time with an ankle injury last week. Reports are that Mack was not medically barred from returning so his status for Week 5 shouldn’t be an issue, but his workload could be reduced. Additionally, if the Chiefs get up on the Colts, early Hines will see more use as the primary receiving back. All of these factors point towards Hines potentially returning to a workload that more closely resembles his rookie year when he was a usable fantasy asset. 10+ points in PPR leagues is a perfectly realistic expectation. After a disappointing start to the season, Hines is widely available on the waiver wire, and those looking to replace Kerryon Johnson in deeper leagues can find their man in Hines.
Corey Davis 46.2% owned
After a frustrating start to the fantasy season, it seems like Corey Davis could be finding his footing. A more stiff matchup with Tre’Davious White doesn’t exactly scream fantasy goodness in Week 5, but the return of Taylor Lewan from his four-game PED suspension means Marcus Mariota will be better protected and allow Davis a few more steps to break free. What’s more, is that Adam Humphries is now keeping defenders honest on underneath routes while rookie AJ Brown has had explosive plays to open things up across the field. Davis is in his third year, and fantasy owners need to see him put things together and realize his full potential. Even if he doesn’t hit your starting lineup this week, he does not belong on the waiver wire.
Deebo Samuel 17.4% owned
Coming off an early bye week, it is impressive rookie Deebo Samuel that stands to benefit the most of anyone in the 49ers WR room. Albeit to different degrees, Samuel was involved in each win and could potentially be turning into the primary receiver for Jimmy Garoppolo. Working primarily on the outside, Samuel has the footwork to beat most NFL defensive backs inside, providing quick hits for Jimmy G. He’s been involved in a lot of motion for Kyle Shanahan, really stretching the lateral dimensions of the field, forcing teams to defend the boundaries, and opening up the running game for Matt Breida and company.
Jimmy Graham 35.7% owned
We can get this out of the way quickly; Jimmy Graham is touchdown-dependent more than he’s ever been in his career. But with Aaron Rodgers at the helm of an offensive attack that’s looking to find its footing, Graham fills the need for a weapon in the endzone in addition to Davante Adams. Notching 9 targets against the Philadelphia Eagles was a good sign for Graham’s usage, but you also have to factor in how much the Packers wanted to target the opposing linebackers. People who drafted the likes of Kyle Rudolph, Hunter Henry, and David Njoku can find themselves a usable weekly option with Graham. With the state of the tight end position in fantasy football today, he should not be available on the waiver wire.
Chris Herndon 8.1% owned
No, New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon will not be taking the field this week as he is finishing up the last of his four-game suspension for a DUI incident. However, when he and Sam Darnold are back in the fold for gang green, we can expect both parties to pick up where they left off last season when they were establishing an impressive connection down the stretch. Herndon carries a high TE2, low TE1 upside at a position that lacks many weekly starters. He’ll make everyone’s sneaky pickup section of waiver wire articles next week, which is exactly why you need to avoid the fuss and add him before the Week 5 matchups begin.