Week 5 of the 2021 NFL season is here and we’re starting to see some trends when it comes to how teams operate. This helps when looking at fantasy football rosters and the waiver wire, which offers managers a chance to make immediate improvements without paying a significant price as they would in a trade.
Here’s a look at 10 names to search for on the waiver wire who are widely available in most fantasy leagues. As usual, these names aren’t “must add” or “must acquire” players. They do represent strong streaming options with some long-term upside if things fall in place.
Bears RB Damien Williams (10.2% in ESPN fantasy leagues)
Williams is the natural replacement for David Montgomery in Chicago’s offense. The Bears starter did not suffer long-term damage but is expected to miss at least one week with the injury. Williams continues to hold a complementary role in the offense but could be a nice plug-and-play guy in Week 5.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan (29.4%)
Ryan had a big day in Week 4, throwing for 283 yards and four touchdowns in a close loss to Washington. The veteran quarterback has played a clean game for back-to-back weeks and heads into a three-game stretch against the Jets, Dolphins and Panthers. Given Atlanta’s ability to move the ball through the air, Ryan is a strong streaming option for the next three contests.
Eagles RB Kenneth Gainwell (24.6%)
Gainwell is catching the eyes of most fantasy managers, especially those who roster Miles Sanders. The Eagles running back group has been confusing for fantasy purposes at times but Sanders was expected to be the lead running back. Gainwell might have to show it again in Week 5 before managers trust him in a starting role but he is getting significant work.
49ers QB Trey Lance (18.7%)
The 49ers made a switch at quarterback at halftime in Week 4 due to Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury. Garoppolo could return this weekend but we won’t know until later in the week. This could be Lance’s audition for the job. San Francisco gave up a lot of draft capital to move up and take Lance, meaning the next few games are critical for the rookie. His running ability adds fantasy intrigue for managers, and the 49ers have great talent at the skill positions to boost Lance’s stock.
Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz (21.6%)
Schultz is making his mark in a productive offense, catching three touchdowns in the last two weeks. That type of scoring volume is unlikely to continue but Schultz is clearly Dallas’ top tight end ahead of Blake Jarwin. As defenses try to focus on Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, Schultz will have great individual matchups to exploit.
Packers RB A.J. Dillon (58.1%)
Dillon had a great performance against the Steelers with 81 yards on 15 carries, a sign he’s emerging in Green Bay’s backfield. This has the makings of a committee split by the end of the season, with Dillon carving out a bigger role in the redzone as well. He may need to prove he’s worth starting by having another decent game in Week 5 but managers should monitor his involvement in a strong offense.
Bears WR Darnell Mooney (40.8%)
It’s clear the Bears will eventually turn things over to Justin Fields, which may come sooner rather than later given Andy Dalton’s health. Mooney has great chemistry with his rookie quarterback, which was on display against the Lions with five catches for 125 yards. The speedster gets the Raiders, Packers and Buccaneers in the next three weeks.
Seahawks RB Alex Collins (0.9%)
Collins led the Seahawks in rushing yards in a 28-21 victory over the 49ers, getting into the endzone as well. He tallied two receptions in addition to his productive day on the ground and could be a part of Seattle’s dynamic offense moving forward. If Chris Carson goes down, Collins becomes the starter in that backfield. He’s worth at least a roster spot at this point.
Cardinals WR A.J. Green (27.2%)
It’s not 2013, although Green’s recent performances might suggest otherwise. The receiver nearly had seven consecutive 1,000-yard seasons but missed out due to an injury. He’s showing he’s still got something left with the Cardinals, one of the best offenses in the league. After catching a touchdown in two of the last three games, Green is likely to be a big target on the waiver wire this week.
Rams WR Van Jefferson (5.3%)
Jefferson is in a crowded receiver group but he is involved in Los Angeles’ offense. The receiver has seen six targets in each of the last two games and could be supplanting Robert Woods as the secondary playmaker in the offense. The Rams get the Seahawks, Giants and Lions in the next three games, which are all good matchups for Jefferson.