NFL Fantasy waiver wire watch: Deshaun Watson, Devin Funchess and other Week 5 pickups

Several players stepped into the spotlight this weekend, just in time to cover the first bye week and another round of injuries in Week 5.​

Deshaun Watson leads the list of rookies and also-rans who validated their worth in Week 4, even as others suffered through a tough weekend that has owners thinking twice about their roster spots. One major injury and a bunch of nagging health issues have owners scouring the waiver wire for replacements. Here are a bunch we think you should focus on, starting with the aforementioned Mr Watson.

QB Deshaun Watson, Houston

Even after Deshaun Watson almost defeated the Patriots last week with his first 300-yard passing game, he was left unowned in two-thirds of NFL fantasy leagues. That situation should correct itself after his league-leading 33-point performance against Tennessee. Watson’s running ability supports a high floor and his ability and intelligence offer a huge ceiling.

One caveat: his two great performances came against the Patriots and Titans, the worst two pass defenses in the league. This week’s contest against Kansas City will tell us if Watson is a weekly must-play as he works through some rookie curves.

QBs Jared Goff, Eli Manning, Andy Dalton?

Free agent quarterbacks are harder to come by than other positions. The most available passers all face challenges. Jared Goff and Eli Manning are ranked eighth and ninth in NFL fantasy scoring through four weeks, but they both face stronger defenses in the next month than what they have seen so far. Andy Dalton’s resurgence under his new offensive coordinator was against two weaker pass defenses than the Buffalo Bills team he faces in Week 5. Goff has the best supporting cast to help out. Manning has the best pedigree.

RB Latavius Murray, Minnesota

Dalvin Cook sure made the Vikings offense fun to watch, but before they knew what he would bring to the table, Minnesota signed Latavius Murray. Murray is far more vanilla than his rookie teammate, but he will get the job done like he did in Oakland. Minnesota will alter their game plan to fit their veteran rusher’s style and allow him to lead the team as originally planned. Jerick McKinnon will handle passing downs, but Murray will be the primary runner and get the goal-line work. He had 14 touchdowns last season for the Raiders for a reason.

RB Alex Collins, Baltimore

Alex Collins is being given the opportunity to revive the Baltimore Ravens’ offense. His 82 yards on only 9 touches in both Week 3 and Week 4 solidified his position as the most explosive player on the team. But he has one problem. He fumbles a lot.

So far, he has lost the ball twice in 25 carries. Some coaches would provide a little advice on how to secure the ball. Coach John Harbaugh put him on notice. That is the risk of picking him up. It took 14 minutes for him to get back into the game after his last fumble. His next one could put him on the bench for a game or more. Or he could keep gaining nine yards per carry and save your week.

RB Andre Ellington, Arizona

This is Ellington’s second week on my waiver list. Few answered the call last week, but those who did were rewarded with 10.4 NFL fantasy points, mostly through the air. If you are in a PPR league, you must pick up Ellington. He led the team in targets with 14 this week, catching nine for 19.4 PPR fantasy points. The situation in Arizona isn’t changing soon. Touchdowns will come eventually and propel Ellington up standard leaderboards, too.

RB All-the-others

Green Bay’s Aaron Jones is a must-add until Ty Montgomery’s chest heals up. If that takes more than a week, so be it, but the Packers are listing Montgomery as day-to-day.

Wayne Gallman will slide into the starting running back spot for the NY Giants. That’s kind of like being named the captain of the Titanic, but despite several rushes for a loss, he averaged just under four yards in his debut and caught a touchdown.

Alvin Kamara will split touches almost 50-50 with Mark Ingram sooner than later. His work in the passing game gives him the higher ceiling of the two.

Remember the Seahawks before Carson took over the primary running back role? Thomas Rawls could round out a three-headed monster in Seattle again. I am hesitant to pick up JD McKissic or Eddie Lacy.

WR Devin Funchess, Carolina

Funchess will be on the list until people put him on their rosters. He is the most targeted Panthers’ receiver since Greg Olsen was injured. Two weeks ago, Funchess caught four short passes out of ten targets. This week he caught seven of nine targets for 70 yards and two touchdowns. He has the same large stature as Kelvin Benjamin, making both red zone targets, but defenses will focus on the bigger name for a while, helping Funchess break free.

WR Taylor Gabriel, Atlanta

Don’t be scared off by Taylor Gabriel’s zero catches in five targets against Buffalo. In Week 3, Gabriel snagged five of six targets for 79 yards and a touchdown. He is a trusted target of Matt Ryan and can provide explosive plays for quick NFL fantasy points. This is assuming that Julio Jones’ hip and Mohamed Sanu’s hamstring are lingering issues going into Week 5.

WR Will Fuller V, Houston

In his first game after a fractured collarbone, Will Fuller was greeted with six targets, which he turned into 35 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Fuller is not likely to score two touchdowns with only four targets and 35 yards each week, but that is not the point. He looked great. Deshaun Watson has no problem feeding three wide receivers. If the rookie continues to dole out 275-300 yards per week, both Fuller and Bruce Ellington could be nice depth pieces for your roster.

WR Jaron Brown, Arizona

Jaron Brown was on the field for 97% of the snaps in Week 4. He has a similar number of targets, receptions, yards, and scores as Larry Fitzgerald. His catch percentage for the year is only 50%, but it has increased each week. He provides a good floor and high ceiling in what is becoming more of a passing attack each week in the desert.

TE Charles Clay, Buffalo

Charles Clay sits in the TE-3 spot on the leaderboard after four weeks. He receives over 25% of all Buffalo passing targets. With wide receiver Jordan Matthews due to miss some games, Clay’s targets will only go up. He has two touchdowns on the year and surpassed 100 yards in Week 4. He should start every week and not sit unowned like he is in 66% of leagues.

TE Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay

Cameron Brate remains unowned in three-quarters of all leagues despite owning the seventh highest total of NFL fantasy tight end points. Some point to OJ Howards 12 points Sunday as a sign of more work for the rookie. But Howard scored his twelve points on one 60-yard reception on a defensive breakdown; Brate had more targets and more points with his own touchdown on a play designed for him. Brate should be owned in all leagues.

Kickers Ryan Succop and Greg Zuerlein

Justin Tucker remains owned in 93% of leagues while Greg Zuerlein (7%) and Ryan Succop (44%) hold the top two PK fantasy points positions. That should probably change as Baltimore doesn’t look like it will give Tucker many more opportunities than he’s been seeing while Tennessee and the Rams keep trotting their kickers out there.

D/ST Buffalo Bills

Buffalo is for real. In what is a blow to the Ryan Brothers’ mystique, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier has the Bills playing defense better than they did before Rex Ryan turned a top-five unit into a lower echelon defense. They have been a top-ten D/ST in each of the first four weeks. They need to be owned in more than the 7% of leagues they are currently rostered.

Follow RealSport for regular NFL fantasy updates and advice. If you have a question about NFL fantasy football, send it to us at [email protected] We’ll print the answer in our weekly Mailbag post every Wednesday.

Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?

Pat Opperman


Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.