Best Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups Week 5: Jaleel McLaughlin, Michael Wilson, & C.J. Stroud break out

If you’re a fan of Missouri Valley Conference Football, then congratulations — you’re one of the few who had actually heard of soon-to-be waivers prize Jaleel McLaughlin. McLaughlin shined in relief of an injured Javonte Williams (hip) on Sunday, leading the Broncos’ backfield over presumed handcuff Samaje Perine. Both will be among the top Week 5 fantasy waiver wire pickups and free agent adds

Our full waivers list below is seemingly lacking a lot of high-impact adds, but there are still some potential contributors who could really pay off now that the bye weeks are starting. Chuba Hubbard is a worthwhile RB handcuff, while Michael WilsonTyler BoydTerrace Marshall Jr., and Braxton Berrios also look like potential flexes. C.J. Stroud and Cole Kmet might be legit adds at QB and TE, respectively, but we also have a bunch of potential Week 5 streamers with favorable matchups at both positions. As always, we also have a slew of D/ST streamers ahead of Week 5, which can be found at the end of the list. 

Even with the bye weeks upon us, this looks like a “free agency” week. Unless we get overwhelmingly negative reports about Javonte Williams, it’s tough to recommend using a high waiver claim on any of this week’s top pickups. McLaughlin and Perine will likely both be claimed, but if you don’t need an RB, you can stay out of the fray entirely. 

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When it comes to streamers at TE, D/ST, and especially kicker, you should avoid using waiver claims, at least this early in the season. Ideally, you would’ve planned ahead and picked up your favorite streamer before Sunday’s games, but if you waited, you can continue to wait until free agency. There are enough similar options at every position, so resist the urge to blow up your spot in the waiver order for a one-week rental.

WEEK 5 FANTASY: FAAB budget planner | Trade report

Top fantasy football waiver wire pickups for Week 5

Unless otherwise noted, only players owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues are considered.

Jaleel McLaughlin & Samaje Perine, RBs, Broncos. Starter Javonte Williams exited early against Chicago due to a hip injury, paving the way for McLaughlin and Perine to split RB duties. McLaughlin had the better day (10 touches, 104 total yards, TD compared to eight touches, 35 total yards for Perine), but given his size (5-7, 187 pounds), it seems unlikely Denver would make him their lead back. Either way, both McLaughlin and Perine are worth adding — but not starting — ahead of Denver’s Week 5 matchup vs. the Jets. Based on Week 4’s output, McLaughlin is the priority add over Perine. 

Michael Wilson, WR, Cardinals. Wilson raised some eyebrows with a 69-yard catch in Week 3, and he fully broke out with a seven-catch, 76-yard, two-TD effort against the 49ers in Week 4. Marquise Brown remains the top option among Arizona’s receivers, but Wilson has proven to be a solid route-runner and big-play specialist. With the Cardinals more competitive than many expected, Wilson will be in play as a potential flex most weeks, including next week against the Bengals.

QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kickers

C.J. Stroud, QB, Texans. Stroud has been even better than advertised as a rookie, posting his third straight game with at least 280 yards and two TDs in Week 4. The Texans haven’t been afraid to put the ball in the air and let their talented young receivers make plays, and Stroud has shown he can take advantage of favorable matchups and/or garbage time. A mediocre, jetlagged Atlanta defense will give Stroud opportunities to rack up more points in Week 5, making him a top streamer and high-upside stash.

Chuba Hubbard, RB, Panthers. Miles Sanders entered Week 4 with a groin injury, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that Hubbard got more run than usual. However, few expected Hubbard to receive one more carry (14) and post 22 more rushing yards (41). Obviously, the numbers weren’t great, but with Sanders nursing a soft tissue injury, Hubbard is a smart pickup. If he continues seeing north of 15 touches per game, he’ll have flex value next week against Detroit.

QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kickers

Cole Kmet, TE, Bears. Not every game will be against Denver’s porous pass defense, but Kmet showed what he’s capable of with a pair of TDs in Week 4. For the day, Kmet hauled in seven-of-nine targets for 85 yards. Kmet has seen at least six targets in three-of-four games this year, and that’s enough to make him a streamer in more than the 53 percent of Yahoo leagues in which he’s owned. He’s in play next week against Washington.

Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals. The Bengals’ offense hasn’t looked good this year, but with Tee Higgins suffering a rib injury, Boyd figures to see more targets. It’s fair to think Joe Burrow and the passing game will get going eventually, and if it does, Boyd will benefit as long as Higgins is out. He caught four-of-seven targets for 26 yards in Week 4, but focus on the targets and not the yards. Grab him now ahead of Cincinnati’s favorable Week 5 matchup in Arizona.

Jake Ferguson, TE, Cowboys. For the third time this season, Ferguson had seven targets, and he actually turned the relatively hefty workload into an impressive yardage total. Ferguson caught all seven looks for 77 yards, proving he can be more than just a TD-dependent, boom-or-bust option. He has a tough matchup next week in San Francisco, but he’s still worth adding in the 47 percent of Yahoo leagues in which he’s available.

Jameson Williams, WR, Lions. Williams is eligible to return in Week 5 against Carolina after the league reduced his suspension for gambling by two games. Amon-Ra St. Brown is entrenched as the No. 1 WR, while both WR Josh Reynolds and TE Sam LaPorta seem locked in as favorites of Jared Goff, too. Still, Williams is a supremely talented receiver who has the potential to put up big plays against anyone if he gets regular snaps and targets. He’s worth a speculative add in 12-team leagues.

Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, Panthers. Marshall caught a team-high eight-of-10 targets against the Vikings, finishing with 56 yards. He’s had at least eight targets in back-to-back games, and even on Carolina’s mediocre offense, that kind of workload can have value in PPR leagues. Marshall is a sneaky PPR flex next week against the Lions.

Josh Reynolds, WR, Lions. After a surprising shutout in Week 3, Reynolds bounced back with a three-catch, 69-yard effort on six targets in Week 4. No one is mistaking Reynolds for the No. 1 in Detroit’s offense, but he’s a solid receiver who can pay off with WR3/flex-caliber stats most weeks. He’ll be in that range next week against Carolina.

Braxton Berrios, WR, Dolphins. Berrios caught a season-high (and team-high) passes for 43 yards and a TD against the Bills in Week 4, and it wasn’t as if he simply padded his stats in garbage time. The Dolphins offense is high-powered enough to support three WRs some weeks, and Berrios plays enough snaps to merit a flex spot in deep leagues during the byes. He’ll likely be inconsistent, but it never hurts to have a piece of the NFL’s top passing offense. Consider Berrios a boom-or-bust option next week against the Giants.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, WR, Titans. It’s tough to recommend voluntarily signing up for a piece of the Titans’ passing game, but with Treylon Burks (knee) out in Week 4, NWI stepped up. All told, he caught five-of-six targets for 51 yards and a score. If Burks remains out, Westbrook-Ikhine will likely see a similar workload in a favorable matchup against the Colts next week, making him a potential deep-league flex.

Deven Thompkins and Trey Palmer, WRs, Buccaneers. Mike Evans suffered a hamstring injury in the first half against New Orleans, and Thompkins and Palmer took advantage. Thompkins caught all four of his targets for 45 yards and a TD, and Palmer hauled in two-of-three targets for six yards and a score. The Bucs are on bye next week, but if Evans’ hamstring injury lingers, both will be good to have on your bench. We’d favor Thompkins over Palmer, but their outlooks are generally the same.

Ronnie Rivers, RB, Rams. It’s unclear how serious Kyren Williams’ “hip bruise” is that was announced on Monday, but his fantasy owners should grab Rivers just to be safe. You won’t start him against the Eagles in Week 5, but he’ll have long-term value if Williams’ injury lingers.

Top fantasy QB streamers for Week 5

Matthew Stafford, QB, Rams (vs. Eagles in Week 5). The Eagles have a nasty pass rush, but they’ve still given up a lot of passing yards this year. Stafford might also be getting Cooper Kupp (hamstring) back for this one, so if you’re in a bind at QB, he’s a solid option. 

Sam Howell, QB, Commanders (vs. Bears). Howell hasn’t done much this year, but he remains a gunslinger who can pad his stats with his legs. Chicago entered Week 4 allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to QBs before allowing three TD passes to Russell Wilson, so Howell makes for a strong streamer. 

Top fantasy TE streamers for Week 5

Luke Musgrave, TE, Packers (@ Raiders in Week 5). Musgrave suffered a concussion in Week 4, so he’s no sure thing to suit up against the Raiders, but if he does, he’s a high-floor streamer. Vegas entered Week 4 allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to TEs, and Musgrave was seeing steady targets before his injury.

Hayden Hurst, TE, Panthers (@ Lions). Hurst’s targets have been inconsistent, but the Lions have struggled against TEs virtually all year. If you need a streamer, you could do a lot worse than Hurst.

Zach Ertz, TE, Cardinals (vs. Bengals). Ertz has been getting targets, just not yards or TDs. He could put it all together in Week 5 against a Bengals’ defense that entered Week 4 allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to tight ends.

Logan Thomas, TE, Commanders (vs. Bears). Thomas is back from his concussion, and he should be good for six-plus targets against a Bears’ defense that entered Week 4 allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to TEs.

Dalton Shultz, TE, Texans (@ Falcons). Schultz had been an afterthought this season before his TD on a trick play in Week 4, but only four teams entered Week 4 allowing more fantasy points to TEs than the Falcons. Expect Schultz to get more involved and potentially work as a deep-league TE stream.

Top fantasy defense streamers for Week 5

Denver Broncos (vs. Jets in Week 5). We know — Denver’s defense hasn’t been good this year, but virtually every defense is good against the Jets, at least for fantasy purposes. Play the matchup and take advantage, just like many owners did with Denver in Week 4 against Chicago.

Washington Commanders (vs. Bears). A Thursday night home game against a Bears’ offense allowing the most fantasy points to D/STs? This is a no-brainer.

Detroit Lions (vs. Panthers). The Lions can get after the quarterback, and in a noisy road environment, rookie Bryce Young will definitely feel the heat. Expect several sacks and a couple of turnovers.

Miami Dolphins (vs. Giants). The Giants entered Week 4 allowing the second-most fantasy points to D/STs, so Miami’s opportunistic defense will get chances to make some plays and pile up points. 

Houston Texans (@ Falcons). Desmond Ridder has finally started throwing INTs, so the boom-or-bust Texans have some sneaky upside against the low-powered Falcons.

Indianapolis Colts (vs. Titans). Tennessee’s offense has been stuck in neutral most of the year, so even though run-heavy attacks limit the potential for sacks and interceptions, we still like the Colts as a high-floor stream this week.

Green Bay Packers (@ Raiders). Jimmy Garoppolo (concussion) will likely be back, but the Raiders are still generous to D/STs. Green Bay will cause enough problems to merit a start in 12-team leagues.

Chicago Bears (vs. Commanders). The Bears have been dreadful this year, but so has Washington. No team was allowing more fantasy points to D/STs entering Week 4, and the Commanders figure to be even less sharp than usual on a short week. If you’re willing to take a risk, the Bears could pay off.

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