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2021 Fantasy Football: Week 5 Waiver Wire Rankings

We are just under 30% of the way through the fantasy football regular season. The first four weeks have come and gone in the blink of an eye. At this point, you may be suffering in the win column, maintaining a healthy roster, or both. Whatever the case may be, moving forward with success on the mind can be achieved on the Week 5 waiver wire.

Last week, I made it a point to suggest the likes of Cordarelle Patterson, AJ Green, Dawson Knox, and Sam Darnold as players to add on the waiver wire. If you made them a priority, I’m sure you’re glad you did. If you happened to claim them and started them in Week 4, you’re really glad you did. There is value to be had each week on the waiver wire. It’s best you capitalize on it before the rest of your league does.

Below, we’ll look at players at each position, who are on 50% or less of most fantasy football rosters, that could be considered on the Week 5 waiver wire.

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Week 5 Waiver Wire Rankings

Running Back

Damien Williams, Chicago Bears

Another week, another starting running back that goes down. Bears back, David Montgomery, is dealing with a knee injury that is likely to keep him sidelined for a few weeks at least. The next man up is Damien Williams, who you may remember as the workhorse hero of the Chiefs Super Bowl LIV win.

So far, Montgomery is averaging just over 17 carries per game in this Bears offense. Before his injury, he logged 23 on Sunday for 106 yards and two touchdowns. He steamrolled the Detroit Lions defense. Once he left the game, Damien Williams came right in and picked up where Montgomery left off. On just eight carries, he racked up 55 yards, for a 6.9 yard per carry average, and found the end zone.

Williams himself suffered a thigh bruise in Week 4, but it shouldn’t keep him out of Week 5. If you’re in need of immediate help at running back, Williams should be your top priority on this week’s waiver wire. With the Las Vegas Raiders and Green Bay Packers on deck the next two weeks, he is in the conversation to be in your starting lineup.

By Week 7’s meeting with the Buccaneers, hopefully you have a better option. It’s a week-to-week game. Figure that out then, and get Williams now on the waiver wire.

Michael Carter, New York Jets

It’s been a while, but it looks like we have a Jets running back worth starting each week in fantasy football. Albeit a rookie, Carter continues to cement himself as the lead back over Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson. In Week 4, Carter played his most snaps yet with 51% in a thrilling overtime win over the Tennessee Titans.

This will be the last week Carter is as readily available on the waiver wire. Having just scored his first NFL touchdown, and with a juicy matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, Carter is likely a unanimous top waiver wire target in your league.

The elephant in the room is how rough the Jets offense can be to count on any given week. They’re likely playing from behind and have a rookie quarterback in Zach Wilson. With that said, expecting much out of Carter week to week will be difficult, especially with a few tough defenses along the way on the Jets’ schedule. Running back depth is hard to come by, however, so if you’re in need, go put in a waiver wire claim ahead of Week 5 for Michael Carter.

Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles

This article may as well be a weekly Go Get Gainwell piece. As his fantasy football roster percentage remains low, his snap count continues to rise. In a battle against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Gainwell played the most snaps he has yet at 39%.

So far, the rookie is averaging 10.1 fantasy points per game. He is undoubtedly worth a roster spot based on that stat alone. In addition, Gainwell is averaging 4.8 carries and a fantasy-friendly 4.5 targets per game. Running back, Miles Sanders, is carrying the ball more, but Gainwell is getting more of the passing-down work and running back targets.

In Week 4, Gainwell saw eight targets and got a goal-to-go carry that resulted in a touchdown, bringing the Eagles within five points of the Cheifs in the fourth quarter. It’s clear head coach, Nick Sirianni, is using him similarly to Nyheim Hines, of the Colts, whom he previously coached. This could be your last chance to reasonably steal Gainwell off of the waiver wire.

Latavius Murray, Baltimore Ravens

On Sunday, Murray carried the ball 18 times, which is the most by any Ravens running back so far this season. It’s usually a good bet that quarterback, Lamar Jackson, is going to threaten to lead the team in carries any given game. With that said, I don’t feel good about starting a Baltimore back unless I absolutely have to.

Still, 18 carries is hard to ignore, especially in a road game against a usually stout Denver Broncos defense. The big story from this game is Baltimore head coach, John Harbaugh’s, decision to run the ball on the last play instead of taking a knee. In doing so, the Ravens are officially tied for the most consecutive 100-yard rushing games with 43.

This team, in part due to Lamar’s rushing ability, is likely to lead the league in rushing attempts for the third year in a row. After losing a handful of running backs to season-ending injuries, it’s worth stashing Murray for any bye week filling on your roster. He’s the starting running back in Baltimore under further notice.

Samaje Perine, Cincinatti Bengals

Proceed with caution if you’re targeting Perine on the Week 5 waiver wire. Lead back, Joe Mixon, is reportedly day-to-day with a low ankle sprain, although originally reported as week-to-week. This injury came about toward the end of the team’s Thursday Night Football win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Even prior to the injury, Perine got most of the snaps on passing downs. If Mixon is unable to go in Week 5, then Perine would be the starting back, with Chris Evans mixing in. It’s more than likely that you have better options on your bench. If that is the case, don’t sacrifice a player of clear value on your current roster to get Perine on the waiver wire.

Quarterback, Joe Burrow, threw the ball 32 times in Week 4, the most he has yet in 2021. As he continues to get more comfortable, following a season-ending knee injury last year, I expect the team’s passing volume to continue to increase. With that said, Perine could work in more, even with Mixon, as the passing down back, but the production is not worth counting on.

Other Running Backs to Consider

Alex Collins should make managers with Chris Carson on their roster sweat a little bit. In a crucial divisional battle against the San Francisco 49ers, Collins shined. Carrying the ball more times in this game than the first three combined, Collins totaled 12 touches, 78 all purpose yards, and a touchdown on Sunday. The big downside for Collins is that Seattle is running the least amount of offensive plays across the league through four weeks. Still, stash him on your bench in deeper leagues in the event he continues to carve out a role.

Darrell Williams, like Collins, is a threat to the lead back in front of him, Clyde Edwards-Helaire. In a get-right game for the Kansas City Chiefs, Williams carried the ball 10 times to CEH’s 14. While CEH logged 102 rushing yards, it was Williams who got the 1-yard touchdown carry in the 3rd quarter. Williams isn’t startable unless you’re truly desperate. However, in the event CEH were to go down, having the next man up in this Chiefs offense is a bargain to grab on this week’s wire if you have the room.

Are you finding this Week 5 Waiver Wire helpful? Check back later in the week for more fantasy football fun for Week 5: Waiver Wire | FAAB Guide | Buy-Low, Sell-High Trade Targets | Start & Sit | Loves & Hates | Stock Watch | Sleepers & Streamers | QB Streamers | D/ST Streamers |

Wide Receiver

Devante Parker, Miami Dolphins

Devante Parker leads the Miami Dolphins in targets through four weeks with 32 targets. Just behind him is rookie, Jaylen Waddle, with 31. No other wide receiver has more than nine.

It’s clear, at this point, that Parker, Waddle, and tight end, Mike Gesicki, are the only reliable fantasy options in this offense for 2021. Parker is the only one of the three on less than 50% of rosters. That should change this week as he’s a top consideration at wide receiver on the waiver wire.

As bye weeks approach, Parker’s volume alone is worth plugging into your starting lineup when necessary. He’s establishing a weekly floor of about 10.0 fantasy points with the opportunity for more based on if he finds the end zone. Will Fuller is unreliable at this point in the season and I’d prefer Parker on my roster.

AJ Green, Arizona Cardinals

It is difficult for me to admit, but AJ Green looks the best he has in years. I’ve heard that phrase and been disappointed by him countless times in recent years. However, Green really does look the best he has in years playing football.

At 33 years old, Green has seen exactly six targets in each of the Cardinals’ first four games. In the last two games, Green has caught 10 of 12 targets for 179 of his season total 248 yards. Green’s also found the end zone twice in the last three weeks.

Even if you don’t want to believe in Green in 2021, believe in his quarterback, Kyler Murray. AJ Green is second in Cardinals wide receiver targets, just one behind DeAndre Hopkins. He’s healthy, he’s producing, and he’s worth a look on the Week 5 waiver wire.

Curtis Samuel, Washington Football Team

Samuel is finally back on the field after battling a groin injury since June. Having just played 37% of the Football Team’s snaps on Sunday, Samuel still caught all four of his targets on just 13 routes run. If tight end, Logan Thomas, misses significant time with a hamstring injury, Samuel could quickly emerge as the second pass-catching option in Washington.

Curtis Samuel is on the waiver wire because he was probably cut by a manager unable to put him in an IR spot following your league’s draft. Capitalize on his availability. I’m not sliding him in as a flex just yet, but if he proves to be healthy, he could produce as such moving forward in 2021.

Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers

After demanding the Packers acquire Cobb via trade this offseason, we finally saw Aaron Rodgers show them why. Cobb turned six targets into five receptions for 69 yards and two scores on Sunday in a win versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.

With Marquez Valdes-Scantling on IR, Cobb saw his highest snap total yet playing 46% of the team’s snaps. That was third-most amongst receivers behind Davante Adams and Allen Lazard, who saw an increase himself upon MVS’ absence.

Cobb’s relevancy moving forward may be matchup-based. He’s likely the third option behind Adams and tight end, Robert Tonyan. That’s without any consideration for running back, Aaron Jones, who is known to see a decent target share of his own. The Rodgers-to-Cobb connection has it’s moments so it’s worth stashing Cobb if those moments become more frequent. I’m just skeptical he will get on the field enough to feel good about for fantasy football purposes.

Other Wide Receivers to Consider

Van Jefferson, if available, is worth adding just to have a piece of the Los Angeles Rams offense. Coming off of a game where he hauled in all six of his targets for 90 yards and a score, I’m sure others have the same idea. However, Jefferson is still third in wide receiver targets behind even the disappointment that is Robert Woods. He’s not seeing enough playing time or target share to warrant a start, but getting him on your bench isn’t a bad idea.

Darnell Mooney is going to loom all season long on the waiver wire. Following a five-catch, 125-yard receiving effort Sunday, I’m sure he’ll find his way on a few rosters ahead of Week 5. Whether it be Andy Dalton or Justin Fields under center, Mooney is averaging 6.5 targets per game. The volume is there, but the inconsistent quarterback play is too risky to start him. If you have the bench space, Mooney should be there if available to you.

Rashod Bateman is still waiting to get on the field for his first regular-season game. When he does, he figures to be a top playmaker in the Ravens offense. Even still, Baltimore prefers to run the ball. Bateman is still worth a bench spot, though, with the idea that they will throw more as he adds to the arsenal of pass-catchers.

Tight End

Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills

Last call for Dawson Knox. It’s abundantly clear he and quarterback Josh Allen have a connection. Although he’s fourth on the team in total targets, he makes them all count. Knox has four touchdowns in the last three games on just 11 receptions. He’s a reliable target on a team that’s averaging 39.3 points on a three-game win streak. Tight end can be a complete wasteland, so don’t miss the opportunity to add Knox on the waiver wire.

Daulton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys

It’s now back-to-back weeks that Schultz makes the waiver wire column. That’s because, in back-to-back weeks, he’s caught six passes for at least one touchdown in each game. Again, tight ends that you can set and forget in your fantasy lineup are hard to come by. Schultz is averaging over 20 fantasy points the last two weeks. The Cowboys are averaging 32.3 points on a three-game win streak of their own. Schultz is a no-brainer at this position to add off of the waiver wire.


Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers

I don’t know what more Sam Darnold has to do to convince people to grab him off of the waiver wire. In his biggest test of the season yet against the Cowboys, he posted 33.54 fantasy points. That’s the most he has had in a game this season. He’s doing it through the air, and more importantly, on the ground with five rushing touchdowns so far. That’s more than any other player, including the rushing leader, Derrick Henry. If you’re ready to jump ship from the quarterback you drafted, Sam Darnold should be your top priority on this week’s waiver wire.

Week 5 Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | PPR | Flex

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