Week 6 is now officially upon us, and with that we get into my personal favorite part of the weekly grind: the waiver wire! Whether you play in a league that does standard waiver claims or FAB (free agent bidding), we will highlight players below based off players rostered in 33.3% or less of ESPN leagues. If you happen to play in a 10-team league or smaller, this article will serve more as a "watch list and stash" report, rather than a guide to directly making your top pickups and FAB bids. For a complete list of our waiver rankings with no write-ups, check out our weekly Waiver Wire Rankings page here.
Author's Note: While we don't want to overreact to just a five-week sample size, we do want to jump on the opportunity to improve our rosters as often as humanly possible. We do this through waivers, trades and streaming positions at QB, TE, D/ST and/or Kicker. The ability to drop these positions at the start of the week and make at least one or two additional, speculative adds, can often be the difference in hitting on a league-winner off the waivers and not. It's the owners who stand pat and stay stagnant who often see their fortunes fade down the stretch. That's why it's so important to grind the bottom of your rosters each week and not be afraid to cut players with "household names" who aren't seeing good usage.
Have a specific add/drop question or anything more specific that isn't covered? Hit me up on Twitter @maddjournalist or @betpredators. I will do my best to address each one of you before our first set of claims go through on Tuesday night, or in this case for most leagues, on Wednesday night, ahead of Week 6.
- Andy Dalton (Roster Percentage - 0.2%): Andy Dalton is no Dak Prescott, let's not get it twisted. He isn't an above-average NFL quarterback, either. He is, however, more than capable of being a starter for your fantasy football team. Dalton has indeed been a top 10 fantasy quarterback before, back when AJ Green was in his Cincinnati Bengals prime, and in 2020 he's surrounded with possibly the most talented group of offensive weapons he's had in his 10-year NFL career. I mentioned on our Betting Predators NFL Week 5 Recap podcast that I believe Michael Gallup is one of the premier deep threats in the league, and with two of the top slot weapons in Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, Dalton will have no shortage of options in the passing game. When you consider the fact that Dallas' defense ranks near the bottom in almost every statistical category, it only adds to both Dalton's fantasy ceiling and floor. The Cowboys will continue to be pressed into neutral-paced situations and negative game scripts all year, and as much as the team will try to lean on Ezekiel Elliott out of the gates, Dalton will be forced to air it out more often than that. Look no further than a prime matchup on Monday Night Football in Week 6 against Kyler Murray and the high-flying Arizona Cardinals offense. Dalton's first career start in Dallas will coincide with one of the four highest over/unders (54.5) on the slate, making him at worst a viable streamer/starter in deep leagues.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick (19.9%): The "Fitzmagic" show continues, for now. Entering Week 5 the Miami Dolphins were quite mum about whom they would name as the starting quarterback against the San Francisco 49ers. Ryan Fitzpatrick eventually got the starting nod mid-week, and by week's end he was the MVP of a 43-17 shellacking of San Francisco on the road. Fitzpatrick turned in the third best (fantasy) performance of Week 5 with 27.6 points, only behind Mahomes' 29.7 and Tannehill's 30.0 on Tuesday Night Football against the Buffalo Bills. When Fitzpatrick is on, he's on. The grizzled vet has now scored 20+ fantasy points in four straight weeks after a Week 1 dud against the New England Patriots, throwing for 315+ yards in three of four games with a stellar 7:2 TD to INT ratio. The chance Tua takes over will always be looming over the heads of Fitzpatrick and his fantasy owners, but ride the train now while you can. He gets the get-right spot of all get-right spots in Week 6 against a Jets secondary and overall roster that wants nothing more than their head coach to get canned. Fitzpatrick went 45-for-73 for 533 yards and 3 TD's in two matchups with the Jets in 2019, and this year he faces them without Jamal Adams and other key starters missing on multiple levels. Fire up Fitz as a QB1 this week and enjoy the ride while it lasts. Tua season is coming.
- Kirk Cousins (16.4%): If you're looking for just a bye-week streamer for Week 6 with a plus matchup, look no further than Kirk Cousins against the atrocious Atlanta Falcons secondary. I wrote up Cousins here last week as well, and while he didn't necessarily light up the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football, he at least put up a floor game of 14 fantasy points. If you remove Cousins' Week 2 dude against the Indianapolis Colts, he still sports a solid 8:4 TD to INT ratio and has throw for 249+ yards in every game. Justin Jefferson's emergence in the passing game has also boosted the stock of both Adam Thielen and Cousins, and Minnesota's (lack of) defense will keep Cousins slinging it early and often, especially against the Falcons in Week 6, by far his best matchup of the young season. The 0-5 Falcons have allowed 30+ points in four of five games this season, even allowing the lowly Chicago Bears offense to put up 30 points. Opposing quarterbacks have absolutely lit up Atlanta week in and week out, which boosts Cousins floor and makes him a solid top 12-15 option in Week 6.
- Honorable Mention: Derek Carr (15.9%), Baker Mayfield (17.7%), Daniel Jones (26.9%)
- Deep(er) League Adds: Kyle Allen (1.6%), Tua Tagovailoa (5.5%), Jalen Hurts (1.1%)
- JD McKissic (Roster Percentage - 14.8%): Let this serve as your annual, semi-friendly, fantasy football public service announcement for mid October: HANDCUFF YOUR DAMN RUNNING BACKS. Although I mentioned at the top of this column that we are only writing up players in owned in 33.3% or less of ESPN leagues for this column, I must mention this again. Guys like Alexander Mattison, Chase Edmonds and Justin Jackson don't make the ownership for Hunting The Waiver Wire because they are owned in more than 33.3% of ESPN leagues on average, but if they are still out there, they should absolutely be prioritized on your waiver wire this week. I've listed a bonus section below just for "priority handcuffs" and I would highly recommend rostering your handcuff/backup, especially if you own a Top 10 to Top 20 RB like Ezekiel Elliott (Tony Pollard), Aaron Jones (Jamaal Williams), James Conner (Anthony McFarland), David Johnson (Duke Johnson), etc. On top of regular injury risk, which we deal with every season, we know have the COVID-19 factor mixed in, not just individual players, for entire teams/offenses. All of that goes to say that handcuff season starts early in 2020, and if you somehow can't roster one of the guys listed below, then McKissic might not be a bad flex starter if you're desperate, especially in full PPR scoring formats. McKissic ranks third in overall targets (25) for Washington this season, and he has 16 targets during the past two weeks alone. In Week 5 he led Washington in receptions (6), receiving yards (46) and targets (8). A receiving back by trade, McKissic's stock only rises if the coaching staff continues to ride with the "Checkdown King" Kyle Allen at quarterback. McKissic will continue to rack up the receptions/targets.
- Matt Breida (28.0%): It took a little bit longer than most of us thought, but we finally a saw brief glimpse of the Matt Breida we all know in Week 5. The former 49ers running back tallied a season-high touches against his old team, running for 28 yards on nine targets and hauling in his lone target for an impressive 31-yard reception. Breida is still entrenched firmly behind Myles Gaskin in the Miami backfield, but he has produced in fantasy before and could the Dolphins to give him more touches over the course of the 2020 season. I opted to include Breida here, rather than on the handcuff list below, because he could indeed have standalone value in deeper leagues as an RB 3/4 or flex. Gaskin has played well so far this year, but he's still unproven as a starting back in this league and hasn't yet had any wear and tear put on his legs in his young career. Breida, who also had a season-high three catches for 39 yards in Week 4, now has back-to-back games with 25+ yards receptions and has caught all four targets thrown his way. The Dolphins offense has been playing well, too, and could use an extra playmaker for Ryan Fitzpatrick - and eventually, Tua.
- DeAndre Washington (0.3%): This classifies as more of a "deeper league add" below, but I didn't want to DeAndre Washington to get lost in the shuffle here for Week 6. The former Raider was recently called up from the Chiefs' practice squad and has the chance to become Kansas City's immediate backup/handcuff for CEH. Washington was teammates with Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech, and there's a reason why the Chiefs brought him in this offseason. Second-year back Darwin Thompson might've fumbled away his minute role already, and Darrell Williams' drops are mounting in the pass game. Enter Washington, who actually graded as one of PFF's top running backs last year when he filled in admirably late in the season for Josh Jacobs. If Washington does surpass Williams on the depth chart, then don't be surprised to see him play a change-of-pace role as early as Week 6. And if anything ever happened to CEH? You would have a potential "league-winner" on your hands. The x-factor of Washington and Mahomes being former college teammates puts the icing on the cake for me this waiver claim. He might not be start-worthy right this second, but if you can manage your lineup at least one more week and stash a guy, Washington is it.
- Priority Handcuffs: Tony Pollard (23.6%), Mike Boone (0.2%), Jamaal Williams (16.0%), Anthony McFarland (2.4%), Boston Scott (14.1%), Darrynton Evans (4.0%), Duke Johnson (28.6%), D'Ernest Johnson (29.1%), Brian Hill (10.4%), Wayne Gallman (1.4%), Jordan Wilkins (1.6%), Giovani Bernard (4.1%)
- Honorable Mention: Chris Thompson (12.4%), Benny Snell Jr. (13.6%), Carlos Hyde (10.3%), Gus Edwards (1.7%), Travis Homer (1.6%), Dontrell Hilliard (0.3%)
- Deep(er) League Adds: Rashaad Penny (2.2%), Ryquell Armstead (5.5%), Devine Ozigbo (3.5%), Eno Benjamin (0.2%), AJ Dillon (3.7%), DeeJay Dallas (0.4%)
- Laviska Shenault Jr. (Roster Percentage - 32.0%): Laviska barely makes our ownership threshold (33.3% or less owned) for our Week 6 edition of "Hunting the Waiver Wire," and I have no hesitation in ranking him ahead of Week 5 breakouts Chase Claypool and Travis Fulgham. If both Shenault and Claypool are available, however, I would 100% prioritize Shenault with my bids/claims this week. Shenault could slowly but surely be emerging as the #1 option in the Jaguars passing attack. The talented rookie out of Colorado saw a team-high and season-high eight targets in Week 5, and he's seen a consistently weekly rise in his overall targets (4-4-6-6-8) and receptions (3-3-5-5-7). Week 5's loss to Houston was the first week that Shenault didn't in fact get a carry, which goes to show you the many ways Jacksonville is looking to get him involved. With no preseason to show for in 2020, you could essentially say that Shenault just played his first NFL career game and led his team in targets in a game where the Jags trailed from end to end and Minshew attempted 49 passes. Shenault is also being used all over the field with his routes, as evident by his long reception of 25 yards and a solid 11.3 yards per catch. His skillset and role will only each continue to grow, and he could find himself locked into your fantasy seasons by mid-season or sooner.
- Chase Claypool (8.8%): Talk about a coming-out party. Chase Claypool stole the NFL Week 5 show with a ridiculous 7-110-3 receiving line on a team-high 11 targets and also saw three carries for six yards and a rushing touchdown. Did I mention he also had a potential fifth touchdown called back by penalty? The reason why Claypool ranks behind Shenault on this list, however, is his clear path to consistent target volume moving forward. Juju Smith-Schuster, although quiet over the last few weeks, is still a featured part of this offense, as is Dionate Johnson, who left Week 5 in the first half after suffering a hard hit to his back on a punt return. Claypool in fact has had his best two games as a young pro in both games that Johnson has missed, and coaches so far this week are saying that Johnson looks good to go for Week 6. This isn't to say that Claypool isn't worth a pickup or a spot in your flex/bench this week. But with a healthy cast of James Conner, Juju, Diontae and Eric Ebron, consistent targets will be tough to come by week to week, especially in games where Pittsburgh isn't forced to air it out, like they did in Week 5 against Philadelphia. The talent is obviously there, however, and Claypool with a healthy Johnson on the outside have the looks of one of the most dangerous deep threat duos in the NFL. Good luck to opposing secondaries trying to slow this Pittsburgh Steelers offense.
- Brandon Aiyuk (30.9%): Don't look now, but Brandon Aiyuk quietly is tied for third with 22 targets for the San Francisco 49ers this season. Take out his season-low of three targets from Week 2 - a game in which he was coming off an injury that forced him to miss Week 1 - and Aiyuk becomes a clear second in the passing game pecking order for whoever is under center in San Francisco. Aiyuk, similar to Shenault above, has carved out a role as a pure playmaker in this offense. From Weeks 3-5 he has four rushes for 69 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, as well as a solid 10 catches for 162 yards on 19 targets. Deebo Samuel is now back and healthy, and I would argue that actually helps Aiyuk because Deebo will draw enough respect from opposing secondaries on the opposite side. Kyle Shanahan is using Aiyuk all over the field, and if we again consider the offseason COVID clause, then he has yet to play even a full preseason. Aiyuk's role will only continue to grow from here, and with a depleted 49ers defense, the potential for negative game scripts and shootouts becomes more and more likely with each passing week. I'd put on him roughly the same priority level as Claypool, with a slight nod to the latter because his starting QB in Ben Roethlisberger is healthy and throwing the football well.
- Honorable Mention: Marquez Valdez-Scantling (24.9%), Travis Fulgham (0.2%), Alshon Jeffrey (13.6%), Greg Ward (21.4%), Randall Cobb (15.4%), Tim Patrick (18.6%), Corey Davis (31.0%), Cole Beasley (32.1%), Keelan Cole Sr. (14.7%), Jalen Reagor (11.2%), Zach Pascal (5.3%), Nelson Agholor (1.4%)
- Deep(er) League Adds: Tyler Johnson (0.3%), Demarcus Robinson (0.8%), Cedrick Wilson (1.0%), Gabriel Davis (0.9%), Jeff Smith (0.8%), Jalen Guyton (0.4%), John Hightower (0.3%), Rashard Higgins (0.1%),, Darnell Mooney (1.8%), KJ Hamler (2.2%), Olamide Zacchaeus (6.1%), James Washington (5.5%)
- Cameron Brate (Roster Percentage - 1.8%): The tight end wasteland days are upon us. Last week we were able to write up Robert Tonyan coming off his three-touchdown performance on Monday Night Football and also mention Eric Ebron as a solid pickup. This week, however, we are left with Cameron Brate as our top choice for tight ends owned in 33.3% or less of ESPN leagues. It could be worse, though, so hear me out: Brate was tied for second on the Bucs in targets (6) in Week 5, hauling in five receptions for 44 yards, while Gronkowski caught just three of his six targets. The only Tampa Bay passing weapon to receive more than six targets was Mike Evans (9), and the broadcast crew on that Thursday Night Football game made it clear that beat reporters were buzzing about Tom Brady's fondness for getting Brate more snaps and playing time. Brate, now a seven-year NFL veteran, has quietly carved out a role as a reliable route runner and endzone threat, which is really all we need to feel confident in streaming our tight ends in fantasy from week to week. I mentioned last week that Brate was "the ultimate TD or bust tight end," but I stand corrected. Brate was heavily involved in Brady's passing attack against a tough Chicago secondary, and if he continues to earn Brady's trust by catching five of six targets like he did, then the opportunities will continue to come his way. Gronk's fragility and age are two factors that contribute to the rise of Brate's stock as well. Brate became a personal favorite of Jameis Winston last year, especially near the goal line, and it could turn out that wasn't a fluke. Brate now has 201 career catches and 28 career touchdowns, so it's not like he's never produced before. It won't take much of your FAB budget to get him, so strike now while there's value to be had. Tampa Bay hosts the Green Bay Packers in Week 6, a team that has allowed receiving lines of 4-51 to Hayden Hurst and 4-62 to TJ Hockenson. Stream Cameron Brate with confidence this week.
- Trey Burton (0.2%): The Colts' tight-end carousel continues, as former waiver wire star Mo Alie Cox has seemingly faded into the abyss. Since Burton's return from injury he has clearly been used as the Colt's #1 tight end for Phillip Rivers & Co. Burton now has 11 targets in his two games since returning from IR, and he's turned that into a respectable seven catches for 49 yards. The production is nothing to break your FAB budget for, sure, but it's enough to plug-and-play if you're dealing with injuries or bye weeks. Burton's Week 6 opponent - the Cincinnati Bengals - have been one of the more tight end-friendly matchups in the NFL this season, allowing lines of 6-56-1 to Mark Andrews, 7-70 to the corpse of Zach Ertz and 5-73 to Hunter Henry. We all know Rivers' love for checking down to his tight ends, running backs and slot receivers, and in a game where the Colts are favored by eight points and at home, he won't need to sling it deep. This Indianapolis coaching staff has been bullish on Burton since they signed him this summer, and the usage has aligned with those sentiments. Lastly, let's not forget Burton was once labeled a tight end fantasy breakout star when he signed with Matt Nagy's Bears two years ago. While he never flashed with consistency in Chicago, that might've been more of a product of Nagy's scheme and Trubisky's inefficient arm than anything else. Burton is one of then more athletic tight ends in the NFL and gives Rivers a safety blanket in the short-to-intermediate areas of the field. It's tough to find ourselves a clear-cut starting tight end on waivers right now in Week 6, but Burton's usage and profile fits that bill. Scoop him now while you can.
- David Njoku (1.7%): Njoku had just one catch for six yards against the Colts in Week 5, but keep in mind that it was his first game back since going on IR early in the season. Indianapolis has also been one of the tougher matchups for tight end so far in 2020. Njoku did replace rookie Harrison Bryant as a starter in Kevin Stefanski's two-tight end sets, however, and the opportunities will increase moving forward for the former first-round pick. Don't forget that it was Njoku who actually led all Browns tight ends with three catches for 50 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 before getting hurt. Njoku's trade demands during the offseason were politely declined by Cleveland, and playing with tight-end happy Stefanski means that the Browns head coach has major plans for utilizing Njoku in the passing game this season. Njoku is still just 24 years old, and we all know tight ends take more time to develop than any offensive position in the NFL. I truly believe we have yet to see the best of Njoku in his four-year career, and this is the best opportunity and scheme he's been in so far. If you can stomach stashing a tight end on your bench for high upside down the road, then I would prioritize Njoku here over Brate and Burton. His Week 6 opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, have been relatively tough on tight ends in 2020, but they did allow 4-57-1 to the similarly athletic Noah Fant in Week 2. Njoku is nothing more than a dart throw this week if you need to start him, but he has the talent and upside to become a top 10 option over the course of the fantasy football season.
- Honorable Mention: Irv Smith Jr (4.3%), Greg Olsen (31.6%), Dallas Goedert (26.9%)
- Deep(er) League Adds: Gerald Everett (0.5%), Darren Fells (0.7%), Jordan Akins (3.2%)