The second quarter of the fantasy football campaign is coming up with Week 5 of the 2019 NFL season just around corner. There is more than enough data to make accurate assessments on the state of your team and league, which is why it’s the right time to start making tough roster moves and bolster your depth with waiver wire additions. Some players just aren’t panning out the way they were expected to, whether those were early selections that simply aren’t producing or late-round sleepers that have failed to live up to the hype. Cutting ties with these busts and bringing in a contributor off the waiver wire could end up being the difference between making the playoffs and narrowly missing out.
Don’t forget the slew of byes that ramp up in the coming weeks, a factor that adds a magnitude of importance to smart free agency acquisitions. Week 5 will only see the Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions on break, but a long stretch in which four or more teams will be out on byes each week besides one (Week 8) starts in Week 6 and goes all the way through Week 12. Injuries are mounting as well, with several more fantasy football contributors going down this past weekend. A handful of quarterbacks limped off on Sunday, specifically Mitchell Trubisky of the Chicago Bears and Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, while Cleveland Browns receiver Jarvis Landry and Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack were just two of a smattering of notable fantasy players that exited their respective games in Week 4.
Whether you need to unearth talent to replace your injured players or are just looking to bring on some depth for the long season, you’ve come to the right place to find the top waiver wire additions for your team. Read on to see who the best free agent pickups are for Week 5 that are available it at least 50% of Yahoo and ESPN fantasy football leagues. Last week’s suggestions, most of which are still relevant and worth scooping up if unclaimed in your league, can be found here. With that said, here are the top waiver wire adds for Week 5:
Ronald Jones II, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers have been deploying a two-headed attack out of the backfield, with Ronald Jones II and Peyton Barber splitting carries nearly equally over the first four weeks of the 2019 NFL season. Fantasy owners have had every reason to stay away from this platoon prior to Week 5, but it’s now readily apparent which of the two is the more effective rusher. During this four-game span, Jones has turned his 50 carries into an impressive 234 yards and a touchdown, while Barber has compiled a meager 182 yards and two scores on his 53 totes. You can be sure that Bucs head coach Bruce Arian is aware of this, as Jones earned more snaps this past Sunday (36) than his backfield partner (19) for the first time all season, turning 20 touches into 82 yards and a TD—Jones, the nominal starter, garnered just 19 yards but did find the end zone—in a surprise 55-40 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
Arians admitted he isn’t concerned with who starts at running back for Tampa and stated he will ride the hotter hand (via Buccaneers.com):
I like where we’re at. Peyton had a big game [this season] and when RoJo gets going, he’ll stay in there. When you get the hot hand – and [Jones] had the hot hand, he was making people miss. Peyton had it in Carolina, so it’s a good problem to have to have two guys, and both did a great job of scoring in the red zone.
Steve Frederick pointed out that Jones had two big plays against the Rams called back due to penalties:
#Bucs RB Ronald Jones has looked more like USC RoJo this season.
The box score won’t reflect it because two big plays were wiped out due to penalties but there were a ton of flashes today.
Jones has eclipsed 80+ yards from scrimmage in 3 of 4 games.
RoJo Week 4 Highlights : pic.twitter.com/xQ1bZ3tY1X
— Steve Frederick (@_SteveFrederick) September 30, 2019
Many were starting to sour on RoJo after an abysmal rookie season in 2018, as the back played in just nine games and finished the year with 23 rushing attempts for 44 yards and a touchdown despite being a second-round pick. The USC product looks far more comfortable with his role in the offense this year, which was upgraded after Tampa Bay dumped head coach Dirk Koetter and replaced him with Arians. The team’s offense, absolutely loaded with quality players, flourished with Jones getting most of the rushing work on Sunday and is starting to fire on all cylinders after a few up-and-down performances out of the gate. The Tampa passing attack is especially dangerous when it gets going like it did against the defending NFC champs, with quarterback Jameis Winston dissecting the defense for 385 yards and four touchdowns on just 28 completions. That kind of aerial assault opens plenty of room for Jones to work and he’s showing he can take full advantage.
One downside for potential Jones owners, especially in PPR leagues, is that the coaching staff doesn’t seem interested in getting him involved in that passing game. Jones has only drawn three targets this season, but has caught them all for an impressive 71 yards. He’s certainly flashed potential in that department, but right now the Bucs seem content with rookie Dare Ogunbowale—who has 11 receptions on 13 targets for 81 yards in four games—as their third-down and passing situation back. Regardless, Jones is shaping up to be a reliable fantasy weapon at a position that isn’t exactly rife with available talent. He should only see his production improve as he continues to out-snap and out-touch Barber, so place a waiver claim in on Jones with confidence. You will be getting a serviceable fantasy flex option starting in Week 5 with the upside to eventually become a regular starter for your squad.
Golden Tate, WR, New York Giants
This is a speculative add, but one you probably can’t afford to miss out on if your fantasy squad is hurting at the wide receiver spot. Golden Tate just finished serving a four-game suspension for a violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing materials policy and is set to return to the field in Week 5 when his New York Giants face off against the Minnesota Vikings. The veteran wideout will be making his first appearance for the franchise that acquired him free agency this past offseason and should improve an offense that is starting to look fantastic with rookie quarterback Daniel Jones at the helm.
While Tate had a mildly underwhelming 2018 campaign by his lofty standards—playing in just 15 games, split between the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles, and catching 77 passes for 795 yards and four touchdowns—he is poised to become an important part of the Big Blue offense. From 2014 to 2017, the skilled receiver played in all 64 games while averaging 93 receptions for 1056 yards and scored a total of 19 touchdowns. He’s already caught a few passes from Jones in the preseason finale and should immediately slot in as the young signal-caller’s top target alongside fellow receiver Sterling Shepard.
Tate is saying all the right things leading up to his debut, claiming he will be ready to contribute in any way he can in order to make New York’s offense even more potent (via Giants.com):
I just want to come in and be a spark, an addition to what we’re doing, just help everybody around me get better and just be myself. There is no secret that in the slot I’m pretty dangerous once I get the ball in my hands. I feel like I’m pretty dangerous on third down. Hopefully, I am utilized that way. Whatever it takes to win. These four weeks have been very long for me. I have just been thinking about football, ready to get back out here and the time is now. We just want to get another win, go 1-0 this week and keep this thing rolling. As you can probably see in this locker room, the vibe is great. When you win, it’s all great, so we’ll see.
Field Yates highlighted all the notable players returning to the field in Week 5 after serving four game suspensions:
Players returning from suspension this week include:
* Titans OT Taylor Lewan
* Giants WR Golden Tate
* Patriots TE Benjamin Watson
* Browns WR Antonio Callaway
* Chiefs CB Morris Claiborne
* Raiders CB Nevin Lawson
* Bucs CB Ryan Smith
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 30, 2019
Tate has all the incentive in the world to play well for the 2-2 Giants, as the four-year, $37.5 million contract he signed back in March is now devoid of guaranteed money due to his suspension. He’s going to come in well-rested and with something to prove, which could add up to some impressive fantasy performances for owners that have patiently been waiting on the receiver’s return. If he’s still available in your league—he’s already rostered in approximately 50% of them—then don’t hesitate to pull the trigger on a priority waiver claim. The Giants have totaled up 578 passing yards and three touchdowns through the air in two victories since Jones took over for Manning prior to Week 3. That figures to improve with Tate running routes for the squad, so if you aren’t happy with how the WRs on your team are shaking out, nab Tate in free agency deploy him immediately for your Week 5 matchup and beyond.
Gardner Minshew, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
It looked as if the Jaguars would be in for another lost season after prized free agency acquisition Nick Foles went down with a clavicle injury in the team’s 2019 NFL season opener. A rookie sixth-round pick named Gardner Minshew wasn’t going to let that happen without a fight and he’s now lifted Jacksonville to back-to-back wins and helped the team claw back to .500. He’s doing it with poise and confidence, attributes that are showing up in the 23-year-old’s stats. Since making his first start in Week 2, Minshew has connected on 62-of-96 passing attempts, racking up 630 yards and five touchdowns without a single interception. Those are respectable numbers for a player that was completely off the fantasy football radar going into the campaign.
Minshew spoke about the opportunity he has to make an impact as Jacksonville’s starting quarterback (via ESPN):
I think we’re all building trust right now. Whether it’s me and Flip [offensive coordinator John DeFilippo] … or me and the guys on the field, all I can do is try to earn that trust every day, and I think when you do that you get more opportunities to do fun things…A lot of people never thought I would get this opportunity, so now that I do have it, I make the most of it. I’m super grateful for it, but I know through everything I’ve learned in my career, with the situation I’m in, I know I may only get one, so you gotta make the most of it. So that’s what I’m trying to do now.
NFL on CBS highlighted Minshew’s elusiveness in the pocket:
Apparently it’s impossible to tackle Gardner Minshew.pic.twitter.com/m7YUrmoVf5
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) September 29, 2019
The Washington State product is no longer an unknown prospect, as “Minshew Mania” has taken Jacksonville by storm. The quarterback may not be an every week, no-brainer fantasy starter at this point in his career, but a 19-of-33, 213-yard, two-score performance on the road against the Denver Broncos last week proved the signal-caller can get the job done in tough environments. Things don’t get easier for the Jags in Week 5 when they hit the road again to match up with the Carolina Panthers, but there’s plenty of reasons to believe that Minshew has the potential to put up a worthwhile fantasy stat line for owners that are scrambling to find someone who can provide those for their squad.
Don’t waste a waiver claim on this young QB unless you are in a dire situation, but that’s something that isn’t so farfetched in standard leagues this year. There’s been a rash of injuries that have absolutely ravaged the position, leaving fantasy players who were counting on contributors like Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Mitchell Trubisky and Josh Allen to man the quarterback position direly trying to find a serviceable option for Week 5. Decent quarterbacks are rarer than ever right now, so don’t let one like Minshew pass you by if you need the help and he’s available in your league.