Did your fantasy football team lose its FitzMagic when Jameis Winston stepped in for journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday? Do you need a T.Y. Hilton replacement for Week 5? Has Leonard Fournette’s injury or Tevin Coleman’s relegation to the second string left you thin at running back?
Look no further, because we’ve identified three strong fantasy football pickups at each position (except for kicker and defense, because … come on) to improve your lineup for Week 5 and beyond.
Amazingly, Los Angeles Rams signal caller Jared Goff — who’s second in the NFL in passing yards and passing touchdowns — is still available in a lot of leagues. He’s owned in just 69.1 percent of ESPN leagues and a more appropriate (but still too low) 89 percent of Yahoo leagues. The Rams’ Week 5 opponents, the Seattle Seahawks, have yielded strong results against opposing quarterbacks so far this season (sixth-fewest QB points against in standard ESPN leagues, eighth-fewest in Yahoo), but they haven’t exactly faced a murderer’s row: Case Keenum, Mitch Trubisky, Dak Prescott, and Josh Rosen. Seattle will also be without three-time All-Pro safety Earl Thomas.
If Goff’s not available, check in on the availability of Alex Smith (owned in 64.3 percent of ESPN leagues; 55 percent in Yahoo). The Washington Redskins quarterback has gotten off to a slow start, but he’s coming off a bye week with a new team, and a Week 5 matchup with the offensively inclined New Orleans Saints should produce plenty of throwing opportunities.
But if your regular starter under center is on a bye week or has a tough matchup and you’re in the market for a spot starter, Blake Bortles is quite available (19.1 percent in ESPN; 33 percent in Yahoo). He’s coming off a 388-yard, two-touchdown performance against the New York Jets, and has an inviting matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, who’ve surrendered the fourth-most and fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in ESPN and Yahoo standard scoring leagues, respectively.
With Fournette out indefinitely with a hamstring injury, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ T.J. Yeldon (47 percent in ESPN; 52 percent in Yahoo) will be one of the hotter pickups of the week. Due to Yeldon’s skills as a pass catcher out of the backfield, he could have a big day if the Jags trail the offensively inclined Chiefs early.
Beyond that, things get murky. If Sony Michel (82.7 percent owned in ESPN; 84 percent in Yahoo) or Kerryon Johnson (77.9 percent; 84 percent) isn’t still on the waiver wire, I’d go after the Baltimore Ravens’ Javorius Allen (61.7 percent owned in ESPN leagues; 62 in Yahoo) or the Los Angeles Chargers’ Austin Ekeler (58.4 percent; 64 percent). Both are a teammate’s injury away from being close to an every-down back, and both have matchups with defenses that have been torched by opposing running backs this season (the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders, respectively).
Receiver ownership is more fluid than at running back, so we’re going to give you more than three options.
First, make sure Calvin Ridley (82 percent in ESPN; 87 in Yahoo) isn’t available. The Atlanta Falcons wideout’s six receiving touchdowns lead the NFL. The Detroit Lions’ Kenny Golladay (85.7 percent; 83 percent), the Philadelphia Eagles’ Alshon Jeffery (85 percent in each), and the Tennessee Titans’ Corey Davis (77.5 percent; 80 percent) are also each more available than they should be.
But if those guys aren’t out there, there are plenty of solid options on the waiver wire. Geronimo Allison (43.1 percent; 47 percent) is becoming one of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite targets, amassing 64 or more receiving yards in each contest this year. In Week 4, Allison set a career high with 11 targets and tied a career high with six catches. He’s facing a Lions defense that has been good against fantasy wideouts but has yet to face a good crop of receivers: They’ve played the Jets, the San Francisco 49ers, the New England Patriots, and the Dallas Cowboys. As of this writing, Allison is questionable to play in Week 5 due to a concussion, so maybe stay away if you don’t have an emergency backup to replace him.
The Cincinnati Bengals’ Tyler Boyd (66.7 percent; 72 percent) is enjoying a breakout season. He’s playing a Miami Dolphins defense that has yet to be challenged by a receiving corps as talented as Cincy’s.
Like Yeldon, Jags wideouts Keelan Cole (61.3 percent; 66 percent) and Dede Westbrook (12.5 percent; 18 percent) have plenty of potential in their tilt with the defenseless Chiefs. Westbrook, a sophomore, set career highs of 13 targets, nine catches, and 130 receiving yards against the Jets in Week 4.
Assuming Jared Cook (78.1 percent; 85 percent), Eric Ebron (68.8 percent; 80 percent), and George Kittle (82.2 percent; 88 percent) are all off the board, go after the Falcons’ Austin Hooper (39.3 percent; 38 percent). His big-play ability could prove fruitful against a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that’s surrendered the second-most points to fantasy tight ends and the second-most overall passing touchdowns.
Speaking of the Steelers, Vance McDonald (31.4 percent; 44 percent) is red hot, securing nine catches for 174 yards and a touchdown across the last two weeks. He could get plenty of chances going up against a Falcons team that’s been engaged in three straight shootouts after an ugly season opener.
The Cleveland Browns’ David Njoku displayed nice chemistry with first-time starter Baker Mayfield on Sunday, hauling in a career-high five catches on seven targets for 52 yards. If he becomes a preferred target of the rookie quarterback, the second-year pro could have a big rest of the season in store.