The NFL season is finally settling in and calming down on the injury front. But that doesn’t mean that the waiver wire isn’t any less stocked with widely-available players who could make big impacts now that they are thrust into unlikely starting roles. Let’s look at the new landscape on the waiver wire for Week 5:
Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars
Not sure what the guy has to do to get ownership in fantasy. He’s still around 30 percent in CBS leagues, for example. All the guy does is drop 20-point fantasy games on the regular. He’s thrown two touchdowns in 3 of 4 games. He looked like Pat Mahomes on Sunday in Denver. Dude is more than a mustache.
Mason Rudolph, Pittsburgh Steelers
Another guy who is flourishing as the replacement QB, Rudolph’s fantasy points have increased each week since he took over for Ben Roethlisberger in Week 2. The Steelers actually looked like a real team on Monday night and the weapons are still there for Rudolph to make plays. He’s not going away.
Joe Flacco, Denver Broncos
It’s all going wrong in Denver, but it’s not the quarterback’s fault. Flacco had his best game of the season on Sunday and should have had the winning touchdown with a minute left if his defense wasn’t so horrible. It’s not pretty for the Broncos, but there’s no reason to think there will be any sort of quarterback change here and the receivers are legit. Flacco is going to get his points, even if his team only gets losses.
Another quarterback whose name does not engender great confidence, but the results on the field are there. Mariota has two fantasy games of 29 points, including Week 4, and two others at 15. So even the “bad” games are a solid floor. That’s consistency that can go a long way.
Jordan Howard, Philadelphia Eagles
Howard’s carries this season: 6-8-11-15. That, my friends, is a good trend. Howard was sensational last Thursday in the upset win over Green Bay, and after Miles Sanders had fumble issues in Week 3, perhaps Howard’s 15 carries are sign of things to come. The matchup with the Jets this week should offer Howard another chance to close out a victory with extra carries.
Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Peyton Barber is still a factor in this offense, but it’s clear that Jones has a big role here and he’s going to get his points each and every week. Jones has been in double-digits in carries three times this season and ran the ball a season-high 19 times on Sunday, including his first touchdown. Clearly, Barber isn’t cutting into the production. I’ll let myself out.
Ryquell Armstread, Jacksonville Jaguars; Dontrell Hilliard, Cleveland Browns
Both of these guys are essentially handcuffs and shouldn’t necessarily be used as standalone players as long as Leonard Fournette and Nick Chubb are healthy. But if anything happened to either of them, and Fournette is a known injury risk, Armstead and Hilliard would be in terrific spots to take over and be hugely productive.
A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans
The Titans rookie receiver came through with a monster game against Atlanta, scoring his first two career touchdowns as part of a 3-93 afternoon. It was his second big game in four and his rapport with Mariota is only getting stronger as the season goes on. As long as the Titans’ offense is functioning well, as it is thus far, Brown is going to be a factor.
Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers
AB who? Johnson has really started to emerge in the Steelers’ passing game, shaking off a fumble early in Monday’s game to finish with a 6-77-1 line and his second touchdown in as many weeks. Donte Moncrief was supposed to be the No. 2 alongside Juju Smith-Schuester, but it’s Johnson who has assumed the role going forward.
Geronimo Allison, Green Bay Packers
Check the status of Davante Adams this week, but even if Adams is healthy, Allison is carving out a nice role for himself in the resurgent Packers offense, scoring his second touchdown of the season last Thursday.
Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills
Just as he did in Dallas, Beasley is providing the Bills with a sure-handed possession receiver who lights up the scoreboard in PPR leagues. He is the perfect complement to deep threat John Brown in the Bills’ offense and Josh Allen has targeted Beasley 23 times in the past two games.
Ricky Seals-Jones, Cleveland Browns
Seals-Jones was a touchdown machine in his days with the Cardinals and now he’s taking over as the lead tight end for the injured David Njoku in Cleveland. Seals-Jones blew up the Ravens for a 3-82-1 on Sunday and should be the lead man here for the time being.
Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills
Despite his massive size, this guy is flying under the fantasy radar. He followed up a 3-67-1 in Week 3 with a 3-58 against the stingy Patriots’ defense last week. He’s starting to look like the real thing.