Week 5 of the young, rapidly-pacing NFL season is ready to get underway, and so far—minus the injury to Adrian Peterson and the hubbub surrounding Odell Beckham Jr.—high draft picks have executed how they’re supposed to.
Julio Jones broke out for a whopping 300 yards in his last tilt, Le’Veon Bell returned to the gridiron having not missed a beat with 178 all-purpose yards, and Antonio Brown has a new celebration dance with what seems like every week.
For all intensive purposes, fantasy owners are flourishing. But alas, there’s teams out there who are either missing a completely consistent roster or are hampered with injuries and struggling to remain relevant in the early going.
Here are five players you should consider adding off the waiver wire:
1. Wendell Smallwood, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
While Ryan Mathews seems to be on the verge of returning to full health, Smallwood capitalized on his opportunity to prove himself worthy of more touches in Philly. Compiling 96 yards rushing and a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers in his debut, Smallwood carved up a team that is currently ranked fourth against the run and showed an ability to hit the hole hard, which led to large gains on the ground.
Another thing to remember is Mathews has always been an injury prone back, and considering Smallwood, a fifth-round rookie, has the Eagles’ best rushing performance of the season, it may take just one more explosive outing before head coach Doug Pederson pulls the trigger on Smallwood to make him the lead RB for the birds.
It may be best to pounce on him before that happens.
2. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers as a whole have gotten off to a rocky start, despite their 2-1 record. However, their next four-out-of-five games are at home against teams that post high-scoring affairs—Giants, Cowboys, Bears, Falcons (in Atlanta) and Colts. That means, regardless of how inconsistent he’s been, Davante Adams is a sneaky play for the near future, given squads can only hold Green Bay’s offense back for so long.
Adams, who some may have thought would’ve been a dominant fixture by now in his early NFL career, hasn’t been targeted quite as much this season, though, he has been able to find paydirt in two games. As to be expected, Jordy Nelson’s received the lion’s share of looks, but when both him and Randall Cobb are on the field, teams are going to leave Adams open more often than not.
Don’t expect Adams to be a dynamite contributor every game, but we all saw how well James Jones did last season, and he wasn’t exactly their go-to.
3. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, New York Jets
Unless you have one of the big name tight ends, it’s almost always a recurring issue that fantasy owners will plug in a mediocre filler on a game-to-game basis. However, the tight end position is arguably one of the more important slots to fill, given the shallow pool of producers to choose from. One player that could turn things around and become a touchdown threat is Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Claimed off waivers a few weeks ago by the Jets, Seferian-Jenkins is prepared to make his New York debut this Sunday, and with the news that Eric Decker is suffering from a partially torn rotator cuff, he could be a major sleeper. Still at a young age of 24 and a second-round pick back in 2014, Seferian-Jenkins has a massive 6-foot-5, 262 pound frame that Ryan Fitzpatrick can look for.
The change in scenery should put Seferian-Jenkins back on track and focus more on being a professional, considering he’s now surrounded by some of the best veterans in the league, unlike his situation in Tampa Bay. When he knows the playbook, he could be scary good.
4. Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
Unless you have Demarco Murray on your roster or you’re hanging on to Delanie Walker hoping he’ll snap out of it, it’s a forgone conclusion that there’s nothing to love about Titans’ players. That could change in these coming weeks, however. It’s why quarterback Marcus Mariota—for those in a Cam Newton dilemma and Eli Manning droughts—is a great play up until Tennessee’s bye in Week 13.
Going up against squads that have defenses ranked in the bottom-half of the league, with the exception of Jacksonville and Green Bay (barely), Mariota’s next four-out-of-six games will be at home and the four contests coming up are versus teams that own a 3-13 record combined. Although members of the Titans are risky plays, there’s a lot to like about their upcoming schedule, especially for Mariota, who could garner those plentiful QB rushing yards.
There’s a bunch of signal-callers to cypher through, yet Mariota presents an intriguing replacement for some of the underachieving ones thus far.
5. Jalen Richard, RB, Oakland Raiders
Reportedly ruled out for their Week 5 matchup with the Chargers, Latavius Murray is battling what is believed to be turf toe, which will open the flood gates for both electric backs, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. Believe it or not, turf toe can evolve into a lengthy recovery timeframe, and the Raiders are all-too familiar with it when Darren McFadden nursed turf toe in both feet on more than one occasion.
The question is: Richard or Washington?
Their yard totals almost mirror each other, but Washington has received more touches. One factor that could lead to Richard mustering out more carries is his big-play presence and the fact Washington’s fumble toward the end of the game in Week 4 that nearly cost Oakland the victory are telling inclinations. Richard may also draw more screen plays, considering his open-field elusiveness.
Murray could very well return in their Week 6 tussle with Kansas City, but then again, if Richard and Washington contribute mightily, they could sit him until he’s fully healthy. It’s imperative to have Richard in case that happens.