Week 5 is the first week of the 2023 fantasy football season with NFL teams on bye. To make matters worse, in regards to setting your lineups, injuries are starting to pile up. For one reason or another, most fantasy managers will be looking to the Week 5 waiver wire for help.
You may be dealing with injuries, bye weeks, or just need to cycle out players from your bench. Whatever the case may be, the waiver wire is there to help. There’s not always a need to put in a claim for players each week, but if you do, make it count. 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.
Week 5 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire By Position
Jaleel McLaughlin, Denver Broncos
The Week 5 waiver wire isn’t the most useful place to find running back help. This list of players being led by rookie Jaleel McLaughlin is evidence of that. He finds himself at the top this week given the unknown severity of Javonte Williams’ Week 4 hip injury. Even if Williams misses time, Samaje Perine still figures to see the bulk of the carries, especially inside the red zone.
All that said, we can’t ignore McLaughlin’s Week 4 production. He totaled 104 yards on just 10 total touches, even finding the end zone. McLaughlin’s three catches yielded 32 yards and the score. Prior to Week 4, Russell Wilson was targeting running backs at the third-highest rate in the league. McLaughlin will face a tough New York Jets defense in Week 5 with two matchups with the Kansas City Chiefs soon after.
Chuba Hubbard, Carolina Panthers
In Week 4, Chuba Hubbard logged 16 opportunities after totaling 21 in the first three games combined. He and Miles Sanders saw an equal amount in Week 4, as well. Hubbard led them both in carries, though Sanders drew just one more target. After sustaining a groin injury in training camp, it seems Miles Sanders could be dealing with an aggravation of it early on this season. If Hubbard’s trend continues, he will remain a flex-worth start, especially in PPR leagues.
Tyjae Spears, Tennessee Titans
In his last three games, Spears is averaging nine opportunities (carries + targets) per contest. Just when everyone thought Derrick Henry had started to slip, he put forth an RB7 week with 24.4 PPR points. That’s after racking up 122 rushing yards and contributing two total touchdowns. Spears is a high-quality backup that should be a priority bench stash, if available on the waiver wire, to play in the event of an emergency.
Other Running Backs to Consider
Jeff Wilson Jr. is eligible to return from injured reserve in Week 5. He’s just in time to watch rookie De’Von Achane run away with the lead-back role in Miami! On a serious note, Wilson is a strong runner who likely eats into Raheem Mostert’s touches more than Achane’s. This two-back approach could quickly develop into a three-headed monster. With the success Miami is having, all three backs need to be on a roster, if not already.
Joshua Palmer, Los Angeles Chargers
Last call on Joshua Palmer if he’s still available on the Week 5 waiver wire. In the Chargers’ first full game without Mike Williams (torn ACL), Palmer led all receivers in snaps (86%) as well as targets (8) in their Week 4 win. You can still stash rookie Quentin Johnston, as he saw an uptick in usage, as well. It’s clear the Chargers, who still have playoff aspirations, are more willing to trust Palmer out on the field this early on in the season. Palmer and the Chargers are on bye in Week 5, then have tough matchups back-to-back against the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs. They should have a pass-heavy approach in those contests.
Romeo Doubs, Green Bay Packers
In three out of four games this season, Romeo Doubs has scored 18.3, 185. and 18.6 PPR points. He has three total touchdowns in two of the games proving this is not just some touchdown dependent player. As much as fantasy managers would love to see Christian Watson emerge as the top wide receiver in Green Bay, he may just be the boom-or-bust compliment to the top target in Doubs. There are a lot of young players that Jordan Love can throw to, but if you’re going to invest in any, let it be Doubs. His 33 targets (12 and 13 in last two games) are tied for 15th in the league amongst wide receivers.
Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals
Similarly to the Joshua Palmer waiver wire pickup in the wake of the Mike Williams injury, Tyler Boyd becomes a priority add following Tee Higgins’ rib injury. Higgins claims he has one broken rib, but he may not miss much time if any at all. Regardless, Higgins’ playing time and effectiveness should decrease as a result. We’ve seen Boyd step up following injuries to both Ja’Marr Chase and Higgins in the past. He has two good matchups at the Arizona Cardinals and home to the Seattle Seahawks before the Bengals’ Week 7 bye. He’s a must-add to any bench but can be started as a flex play with plenty of upside assuming the Bengals get back on track in Week 5.
Jameson Williams, Detroit Lions
In an exciting turn of events, Jameson Williams is back two weeks earlier than originally expected following a suspension for violation of the NFL’s gambling policy. It’s conceivable Williams is stashed on someone’s bench already. However, if he’s not, Williams is a top wide receiver waiver wire add ahead of Week 5. At worst, Williams slides into the WR3 role on the Lions, but at best, he’s playing the second-most snaps behind only Amon-Ra St. Brown at the position.
Williams’ value is in his speed. His ability to get downfield yielded a 79/1,572/15 stat line in 2021 during his final season at Alabama. We haven’t seen much of Williams at the professional level due to injury, and the suspension, but he did catch a 41-yard touchdown pass from Jared Goff later on last season. The Detroit Lions rank eighth in points per game after ranking fifth in 2022. Adding the first-round talent receiver to your fantasy roster, on such a successful team, is worth the stash for at least two weeks or so.
Other Wide Receivers to Consider
Michael Wilson is coming off of a career-high seven-target game for the Arizona Cardinals. The rookie now has 216 receiving yards in his past three games on just 12 receptions. Furthermore, Wilson has at least 56 receiving yards in each of the last three games. He has officially overtaken veteran Rondale Moore in total snaps played this season, as well. He’s more of a consideration in 12 or more team leagues.
Jayden Reed is another rookie consistently making an appearance on the waiver wire column. His 25 targets are the second-most on the Green Bay Packers this season. They’re good enough for a 19.4% target share, as well. He has at least 9.0 points in his last three games. He’s averaging 13.16 points per game in the last three games, too. His nine red zone targets are second in the league. Reed’s playing time didn’t suffer much with the return of Christian Watson, either. He could get cut from some fantasy rosters if not needed this week ahead of the team’s Week 6 bye. I’m looking to scoop up Reed wherever I can for wide receiver depth.
Be on the lookout for our Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterback | Running Back | Wide Receiver | Tight End | Half-PPR by Position | Flex Rankings | Positional Ranks w/ K & DST | Dynasty | Superflex Dynasty
Jake Ferguson, Dallas Cowboys
In yet another bleak season of tight end productivity, Jake Ferguson is starting to rise to the top. Last season, Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz drew 89 targets, the second-most on the team behind CeeDee Lamb. With 25 through the first four weeks, Ferguson is on pace for 106 targets this season.
Ferguson has exactly seven targets in three of the Cowboys’ four games so far. After blowing out the New York Giants 40 to nothing in Week 1, Ferguson has averaged 11.5 points per game from Week 2 onward with Cowboys actually competing in games. It’s clear quarterback Dak Prescott views Ferguson as a reliable target in Dallas’ passing game. Adding Ferguson on the Week 5 waiver wire likely means you’re getting a top-10 tight end for the rest of the season.
Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals
Ahead of Week 5, Zach Ertz is second amongst all tight ends in targets. His 30 total targets are just one behind T.J. Hockenson’s 31 with the Minnesota Vikings. Ertz has two games with 10 targets so far this season. However, given the slimmer competition for targets on the Cardinals, Ertz is commanding a 24.7% target share. Even with his elite usage, Ertz is averaging just 8.4 points per game as TE14. Still, you can at least bank on the volume and hope he produces with it compared to other options at the position that would be lucky to see half of Ertz’ targets in a game.
Other Tight Ends to Consider
Luke Musgrave needs to clear the concussion protocol to play in Week 5. There’s no definitive timeline to return from a concussion, but Musgrave luckily has an extended recovery period having played on Thursday in Week 4. The Green Bay Packers also don’t play until Monday Night Football. Obviously, if he is a game-time decision, you’ll want to roll with another option that plays on Sunday. Musgrave is then on bye in Week 6. It’s worth noting, though, that he had a 15.7% target share from Weeks 1 through 3 while averaging a solid 11.27 yards per reception.
Hayden Hurst is a bit of a dice roll to pick up and start off of the Week 5 waiver wire. After scoring 15.1 PPR points in Week 1, Hurst has just 8.8 points total since then. He led all Carolina Panthers in targets in Week 1 and now finds himself fifth in targets on the team. He is a matchup-based play against a Detroit Lions defense that has allowed the most targets, receptions, and yards to tight ends through the first four weeks of the season.
Jared Goff, Detroit Lions
Simply put, Jared Goff is much better at home than he is on the road. In two home games this season, Goff is averaging 21.47 points. Meanwhile, in two games on the road, he’s averaging just 13.21 points. Even when you look back at the 2022 season, Goff threw 23 of his 29 touchdown passes at home, as well.
Goff and the Detroit Lions welcome the Carolina Panthers to town in Week 4. Carolina has allowed the third-most rushing yards and second-most rushing touchdowns to running backs this season. It’s feasible the Lions’ strong running game does most of the heavy lifting this Sunday. However, I still expect Goff to move the ball down the field, especially with wide receiver Jameson Williams returning from suspension.
C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans
After dropping his first career start to the Baltimore Ravens on the road in Week 1, C.J. Stroud has been on a tear ever since. From Weeks 2 through 4, Stroud is averaging 323 passing yards per game. He also has exactly two passing touchdowns in each game, as well. Stroud remains inside the top three in total pass attempts this season. With a solid group of weapons in the passing game and an expected negative game script week-to-week, Stroud should keep things rolling in Week 5. He and the Texans are also set to get two starting offensive linemen, Tytus Howard and Juice Scruggs, back from injured reserve.
Stroud has a bye in Week 7, but a fantasy-friendly schedule for most of the remainder of the season. It’s a bit early to be looking ahead, but C.J. Stroud’s fantasy football playoff schedule includes two matchups with the Tennessee Titans. They’re allowing the eighth-most passing yards per game. He’s a solid streaming option in 1QB leagues but could be a set-and-forget starter from Week 8 onward. It may be beneficial to grab him off of the waiver wire now.