Every week, fantasy football owners hope there are no injuries, but we also know that a big injury, especially at RB, leads to the best pickups. So, again, while we definitely don’t root for guys to get hurt, we’re also quick see opportunity when they do. Our top Week 5 fantasy waiver wire pickups and free agent adds are headlined by such players, as Bears handcuff Damien Williams is line to be a starter for at least a game or two depending on the severity of David Montgomery’s knee injury and Trey Lance might be taking over at QB in San Francisco if Jimmy Garoppolo’s calf injury keeps him out. (Update: Garoppolo is expected to miss multiple games.) Fortunately, there weren’t many more key players who left games early, but plenty more potential breakouts had nice games, including Sam Darnold, Dawson Knox, Dalton Schultz, Van Jefferson, and Darnell Mooney.
Our full free agent list features many more interesting depth pieces coming off notable games. Guys like Quintez Cephus, Kenny Gainwell, Daniel Jones, Tyler Conklin, Curtis Samuel, Michael Carter, Maxx Williams, Randall Cobb, and DeVante Parker all have potential fantasy value, especially with the bye weeks fast approaching. These aren’t necessarily “must-haves,” but they’re certainly guys worth targeting as free agents depending on your team needs. If all you’re looking for is someone for Week 5, we have plenty of streaming suggestions at QB, TE, and D/ST, which can be found at the end of this list.
MORE WEEK 5: Full waiver list
If Montgomery is expected to miss multiple games, Williams will be a worth a top waiver claim. Lance is a little tougher to evaluate. Most teams have a capable QB, but Lance’s dual-threat upside gives him top-10 potential every week. Of course, we said the same about Justin Fields and that hasn’t exactly turned out well. Because of that, using a top claim on Lance might be unnecessary, but it’s tough to watch him go to another team and light it up like we’ve seen from other rookie QBs in the past few years. It really comes down to your situation. If you have Kyler Murray or Patrick Mahomes, ignore Lance. If you drafted Ryan Tannehill to be your starter and don’t feel confident in your backup, maybe it’s worth the gamble.
No one else looks to be worth a top-five claim right now (we have two TEs among the top pickups, after all), but obviously that could change as more information comes out early in the week. We’ll stay on top of it so you know who’s worth adding.
Top fantasy football waiver wire pickups for Week 5
Unless otherwise noted, only players owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues considered.
Damien Williams, RB, Bears. David Montgomery suffered what looked to be a potentially serious knee injury against the Lions, opening the door for Williams to take over as Chicago’s lead back. Williams looked good spelling Montgomery on Sunday, rushing eight times for 55 yards and a score and catching another two passes for another 15 yards. Yes, it was against Detroit late in a big win, but Williams has put up decent numbers for the Chiefs in the past, so he can work as an every-down back. He’ll be a top waiver pickup barring positive reports about Montgomery’s health. It’s worth noting that Tarik Cohen (knee) is eligible to come off the PUP list in Week 7 and could steal the bulk of the passing-down work when he’s back.
Trey Lance, QB, 49ers. Lance took over for Jimmy Garoppolo (calf) at the start of the second half. He had an up-and-down performance despite some eye-catching stats (157 passing yards, 41 rushing yards, two TDs passes, two-point conversion), but we caught glimpses of his tantalizing dual-threat potential even if most of his production came on a blown coverage and in garbage time. With Garpoppolo expected to miss multiple games, Lance will be worth a waiver claim. Fantasy owners might be leery after hearing similar things about Justin Fields (and we’ve all seen how that’s turned out), but Lance is in a much more stable offense with a better play-caller. We’ll stop short of saying he’s “better” than Fields, especially given his college inexperience, but Lance certainly has a lot of upside and could have a major fantasy impact if he gets going.
Sam Darnold, QB, Panthers. Darnold had some “Bad Sam” moments against the Cowboys, but fantasy owners can live with a few INTs if he’s going to keep passing for 300-plus yards and posting four overall scores. To sweeten the deal, Darnold even had 35 rushing yards. He’s now had 300 passing yards in three straight games (and at least 279 yards in all four games), and he’s rushed for five TDs on the season. He’ll be forced to do more with Christian McCaffrey (hamstring) out, and with the Eagles, Vikings, Giants, and Falcons on deck, he should continue to post pleasing fantasy stats.
MORE WEEK 5: Full waiver list
Dawson Knox, TE, Bills. The Bills have a lot of mouths to feed on offense, so it always seemed risky to trust “TD-or-bust” Knox. This year, he’s been much more reliable, scoring in three straight games, including twice in Week 4. For the day, he caught five-of-eight targets for 37 yards. He’s caught four passes in three-of-four games this year, which doesn’t sound like a ton, but at TE, that’s valuable, especially in PPR leagues (and especially when it comes with a touchdown). Knox will have some duds, but that can be said of almost all tight ends. The Bills can move the ball against anyone, and that will be especially true next week in Kansas City and the week after in Tennessee.
Dalton Schultz, TE, Cowboys. Even though Blake Jarwin scored in Week 4, Schultz led the entire team in targets (8), catches (6), and scored his third TD in the past two games. With at least six targets in three-of-four games, he’s clearly Dallas’ lead TE, and that status puts him in play at such a weak position (especially in PPR formats). The Cowboys have one of the best offenses in the NFL, and they’ll continue moving the ball next week against the Giants.
For more waiver/free agent suggestions, including additional QB, RB, and WR breakouts and potential streamers, check out our full Week 5 list.