The NFL closes out Week 4 on Monday Night Football with the San Francisco 49ers hosting the Cleveland Browns. Both teams entered the season coming off rough recent stretches, but with expectations growing by the day over the summer.
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Plenty of fantasy football contests will be determined during tonight’s game, but in the meantime, all fantasy owners can start looking ahead to how we can improve our rosters heading into Week 6. If you’re anywhere in the mix in your leagues, there is always room to improve your roster. A key waiver addition can make a difference between playoffs or bust coming Week 14.
With that in mind, here are eight of the best players available in at least 50 percent of fantasy leagues, per ESPN ownership rates. We also include a look at a couple players that might show up on your waiver wire radar, but are likely fool’s gold and should be avoided.
Jon Hilliman, RB, New York Giants (1.1 percent)
Wayne Gallman suffered a concussion on the Giants opening drive and Hilliman took over as the starter. He was limited to 24 total yards on nine rushes and one reception. The Giants are on a short week leading up to Week 6 Thursday Night Football, so Gallman’s chances of playing take a hit. Saquon Barkley is reportedly close to getting back, with one report saying he has a realistic chance of returning in Week 6. I doubt he comes back on the short week, and if he does not and Gallman does not get through the concussion protocol, Hilliman would likely get the starting nod. It’s a bad matchup against a tough Patriots defense, but if you need a body, you could do worse.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Atlanta Falcons (42.9 percent)
Sanu was slow out of the gates, but the past three weeks he’s been a steady presence. He had five receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown in Week 5, marking his third straight double digit performance in half and full PPR leagues. He’s not a standard option, but is a valuable add in half and full PPR leagues. The Falcons face a bad Cardinals defense in Week 6, which bodes well for his chances.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, New Orleans Saints (9.5 percent)
Drew Brees will eventually return to action, but for Week 5, Bridgewater offered up a dominant performance of his own. Bridgewater threw for 314 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception in the Saints 31-24 win over the Bucs. It helped having Michael Thomas as a target (11 receptions, 182 yards, two touchdowns), but it was a great all-around performance for Bridgewater. If Jalen Ramsey misses next week’s game, Bridgewater could be in line for another solid effort.
Gardner Minshew, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars (18.1 percent)
I think we need to consider Minshew for real. He threw for a career high 374 yards and added two touchdowns against a solid Panthers defense. He did lose three fumbles, so that is something to watch, but he’s a legit option week in and week out even in basic re-draft leagues.
Auden Tate, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (10.3 percent)
The second-year receiver is making some progress with A.J. Green and John Ross sidelined. He had three receptions for 26 yards and a touchdown in the Bengals late comeback attempt vs. Arizona. His upside is limited for now, but with Bengals receivers dropping like flies, he’s a potential volume play for the next couple weeks.
Byron Pringle, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (0.0 percent)
I pondered including Pringle in the fool’s gold section, but I could see some value. He had five receptions fro 76 yards and a touchdown in Week 5 after Sammy Watkins went down with a hamstring injury. Once Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins are healthy, Pringle has limited opportunities. But until we know their health, he’s someone to grab in the short term to potentially cover for bye weeks.
Handcuff running backs
There aren’t many solid starting running backs to add off the waiver wire at this point in the season. However, as players start wearing down, backup running backs are lottery tickets to consider. The three above are backups to David Johnson, Dalvin Cook, and Josh Jacobs, respectively. If you own one of those three, you should consider their backup, with all three showing off in Week 5.
Steven Sims, Jr., WR, Washington (0.0 percent)
If you sort through points scored, Sims is showing up in the top 15 or 20 receivers for points scored in Week 5. He stunned us all with a 65-yard touchdown reception that juiced his numbers. He’s not someone to add.
Darius Slayton, WR, New York Giants (0.5 percent)
He finished Sunday as the Giants highest scoring receiver thanks to four receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown. Golden Tate was the guy people thought would outscore Sterling Shepard, not Slayton. Don’t expect that to continue, especially in a tough Week 6 matchup with the New England Patriots.