Receivers are some of the most fickle players to project in fantasy football; Steve Johnson and Brandon Lloyd owe a number of fantasy owners dinner after their week 5 performances. The key to having a solid receiver on your team, then, is having a guy that you can count on for a number of targets each week. Some weeks, like week 3 for instance, those guys might not be available. This week, however, the receiver riches are overflowing.
This is a very receiver-heavy version of the waiver pickups article this week, but due to injury, there are some running backs to look at as well. I'm not in Rihanna-for-Chris-Brown-type love with any of these guys, but I think they can all be solid contributors to your team moving forward if you have space.
Top 7 Fantasy Football Waiver Pickups for Week 6
RB Alex Green - Green Bay Packers
Week 5 Fantasy Points: 5
Leagues Owned: 0.4%
Hop on board the injury train everybody, it's leaving the station! With Cedric Benson out for about eight weeks, you need to take a look at Alex Green. The second-year player out of Hawaii looked pretty good against the Colts, racking up 55 yards on nine rushing attempts with some hard running. He looks like a solid pickup, even with the Packers' constant reliance on the passing game, but two things should give you pause if you're looking to pick up Green. 1. The Houston Texans are numberFire's #1 opponent-adjusted defense so far this season, so there's not a guarantee that any Packers back will do well this Sunday. 2. James Starks still lurks as he tries to come off injury; Mike McCarthy said before the Colts game they would look to involve him in the offense, but ultimately had to rule him out. Green isn't all flower pedals and unicorns moving forward. Even with that said, though, he's still my favorite pick up for this week.
RB La'Rod Stephens-Howling - Arizona Cardinals
Week 5 Fantasy Points: N/A
Leagues Owned: 0.4%
I mentioned in my long-shot sleepers article from last Thursday that Stephens-Howling could be a player to watch. I just thought that you would be watching him because of a potential Arizona timeshare, not because Ryan Williams would require season-ending shoulder surgery. But fantasy football works funny like that, sometimes.
Stephens-Howling has been injured each of the past two weeks, but seeing as how he was a game-time decision against the Rams and now gets 10 days of rest before week 6 against the Bills, he should be good to go. And it's just in time for the Cardinals too, because he's the presumptive clear #1 back for a team facing off against of the worst run defenses in the league. Buffalo has surrendered five double-digit fantasy point games to opposing running backs this year, and some of them aren't too much better than Stephens-Howling: Shonn Greene, Brandon Bolden, and Trent Richardson each had 10 FP or higher days against the Bills. The exact extent of the Arizona timeshare remains to be seen, but note that Williams had 14 of Arizona's 17 rushes as the starter in week 5. Stephens-Howling has not been the most effective back this season (did you see his -14 yard week 3?), but as the clear #1 starter, he's absolutely worth the flier.
WR Kendall Wright - Tennessee Titans
Week 5 Fantasy Points: 6
Leagues Owned: 10.5%
Oh, just another week with double-digit targets and the team lead in receiving yards? Ho hum. What should Wright do for attention at this point? Pull a Plaxico and go on a nightclub self-shooting spree for attention? Go T.O. Style and hold a tear-filled press conference calling Matt Hasselbeck his true quarterback? Threaten to take over Chris Johnson's spot at running back? (Actually, that last one really would make a lot of people happy.)
I have now been harping on him for a couple of weeks now, and every single week, his stats just seem to be getting better. He has now led the Titans in targets for three straight weeks, and he leads the Titans overall with 44 targets, 16 more than the next closest player (Jared Cook). His catch rate now sits at 61.3% on the season, bolstered by his 9-for-11 day this past weekend. Even if Jake Locker does not get back soon, Wright sure looks comfortable with Hasselbeck: 23% of Hasselbeck's passes went his way this past weekend. Oh, and did I forget to mention, he's only a rookie. With three weaker defenses in Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Indianapolis due up the next three weeks, he's set to break out.
WR Andrew Hawkins - Cincinnati Bengals
Week 5 Fantasy Points: 4
Leagues Owned: 31.4%
I've had my eye on him for a while, but I'm finally ready to say that Andrew Hawkins is worth the pickup in your league if you haven't already. And I'm ready to say this after his two worst fantasy point outings of the season.
What gives? For me, it's all about how much the Red Rocket is willing to throw Hawkins the ball. In his past "break out" weeks, Hawkins would only see four to five targets, but bust one of them deep for a touchdown. This past week, however, was a return to the Hawkins I saw and loved in week 1. His 13 targets tied for the team lead with A.J. Green and was the seventh highest total of any NFL receiver this past weekend. Those 13 targets were 30% of Dalton's throws, and the third-place Bengals receiver sat at only six targets. On the season, Hawkins is now second on the Bengals with 32 targets, and his lead between himself and the next closest Bengals receiver, Armon Binns, is growing. And with a 63% catch rate, he has proven that Dalton should trust him. I like his matchups the next two weeks against the Browns and Steelers as well. If he's not owned, snatch him up. If he is owned, attempt to buy low while his owners are disillusioned with his back-to-back low point outings.
WR Andre Roberts - Arizona Cardinals
Week 5 Fantasy Points: 3
Leagues Owned: 29.3%
Discouraged by his performance against the Rams on Thursday night? You shouldn't be. If anything, I'm more encouraged by seeing how often he was targeted as Arizona's #2 receiver.
Kevin Kolb's face spent Thursday's game oscillating somewhere between "Man, I wish I wasn't here" and "Will the Eagles do trade-backs?" with the Rams' constant pressure. Over the next couple weeks, that pressure isn't likely to subside; teams now have a way to beat the Cardinals. But the constant blitzing should mean a lot of one-on-one looks for Roberts, and if the past couple weeks are any indication, Kolb will give him every opportunity in the world. His 10 targets this past week were second on the team, only behind Larry Fitzgerald. Out of those 10, Roberts was able to corral five, a 50% catch rate that hangs significantly below his season average of 57%. If that catch rate returns to normalcy in week 6, he could have a big day. The Buffalo defense the Cardinals face in week 6 has been as effective at stopping opposing offenses as they have been at stopping yearly Buffalo snow: that is, not even close. 10 targets in week 6 should mean the same type of numbers you saw from him before this past week.
WR Nate Burleson - Detroit Lions
Week 5 Fantasy Points: N/A
Leagues Owned: 47.3%
The Lions had a bye last week, so I deserve a bye in writing the exact same thing about Burleson that I did last week in this space. And since then, he has now dropped to being owned in under half of ESPN leagues. That's a bad idea:
But considering Burleson was a common drop candidate each of the past two weeks, this is a semi-friendly reminder that you may want to go ahead and pick him back up. The Lions are throwing the ball over and over, which reared its head again as the Lions threw the ball on 72% of their offensive plays against the Vikings this past week. Of course that's going to benefit Calvin Johnson, and Brandon Pettigrew has grown into an often-start tight end as well. But the guy receiving the looks that may be overlooked is Burleson. He had eight targets this past week, third on the team and only one behind Pettigrew. Because he didn't score a touchdown, you won't see his name at the top of the fantasy point charts... unlike what he did in week 3. Against Tennessee, Burleson put up 14 FP and tied for the team lead in targets with 12. In total, he has 31 targets, which is tied with some big names (Jordy Nelson and Julio Jones anyone?) for 31st in the NFL. Especially with Titus Young floundering, don't sleep on Burleson.
WR Jeremy Kerley - New York Jets
Week 5 Fantasy Points: 9
Leagues Owned: 33.2%
Somebody has to catch passes in that Jets' offense, right? I mean, Mark Sanchez can't just throw it into the ground every time; random variation dictates that one some occasions, the ball just may happen to fall into a receivers' hand by chance. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while. And the lucky Jet who will have the ball thrown in his general vicinity more than any other Jet is shaping up to be Jeremy Kerley.
Unless you're on the Cleveland Browns, if you're the #1 receiver of a team, you deserve to be owned. That's my entire case for Kerley. He has been efficient, but not to an extraordinary sense with his 65% catch rate. He has gotten targets pre-Holmes injury, but even with a game less played, Holmes still leads the team by 18 targets. He looks to catch some red zone passes, but he also has Jeff Cumberland and a returning-from-injury Stephen Hill to deal with as well. If his nine targets on Monday (28% of Sanchez throws) are any indication, then I want him on my team. But out of the leagues' #1 receivers, he's near the bottom.
Who I would pick up this week, in order (with auction waiver $, assuming a $100 spending limit)
1. Green ($6)
2. Stephens-Howling ($5)
3. Wright ($5)
4. Roberts ($5)
5. Hawkins ($4)
6. Burleson ($2)
7. Kerley ($2)