As we enter Week 6 of the 2020 season, I want to share some tips, advice, and thoughts on various players, teams, and situations. With all of the outlets and resources available now, it is becoming more difficult to separate yourself from the rest of the pack when it comes to knowledge and strategy. To gain that extra edge, you have to make proactive moves that cash in, plan ahead, know your players' schedules, read helpful columns, and above all, execute the game plan for success. In no particular order, here are a few items that can help you gain that edge.
1. Be aware of players returning from injury, as well as players benefiting from an injury
- Michael Thomas, NO - Thomas is a big one here, but he is not going to be on the waiver wire. Thomas could've returned for Week 5 against the Chargers, but a team-sanctioned disciplinary action resulted in him not playing. The Saints have their bye next week and Thomas should be good to go for Week 7.
- Andy Dalton, DAL - We know the Cowboys offense is talented and we also know Andy Dalton may be the best, most experienced backup quarterback in the league. He may not put up similar numbers to Dak Prescott but he should be a decent replacement for us, especially in superflex leagues that can use two quarterbacks.
- Parris Campbell, IND & Michael Pittman Jr, IND - Pittman (calf) will likely be the first to return to action, but not til Week 8 at the earliest (IND has a bye Week 7). Campbell (knee) may be able to return this season. If he does, he could be a productive player for us during the playoffs.
- Chris Godwin, TB - Chris Godwin (hamstring) has returned to practice in a limited capacity. No doubt he is taking it easy as he nurses his tender hamstring back to health. He may play Week 6, but Week 7 seems more likely. He has already attempted to come back from this injury before, only to reinjure it. Keep tabs on this situation, but the good news is, Godwin is on the way back.
- Phillip Lindsay, DEN - Lindsay (toe) is expected to be back for the Week 6 game vs Miami. He would've played Week 5 if the game wasn't rescheduled. Melvin Gordon III is still the top back in Denver but Lindsay is capable of making a splash and providing decent fantasy production.
- Diontae Johnson, PIT - Johnson (toe, back) is going to be eased back into practice this week and might be able to play in Week 6 vs the 4-1 Browns. Johnson has been quiet recently, while Chase Claypool has received all of the accolades. It's possible that those not in the know, dropped Johnson due to his injuries and lack of production. He would be an ideal pick-up if he's available on the wire.
- Leonard Fournette, TB - Fournette (ankle) is trying to make his way back to action for Week 6 against the Packers, but even if he returns to full health, the Bucs may elect to utilize Ronald Jones II more, due to his two consecutive 100-yard rushing efforts. One costly fumble or drop in production could result in Fournette being back in business for increased touches.
- A.J. Brown, TEN - A.J. Brown (knee) has benefited from the Titans hiatus from the league over the past few weeks. He has missed significant time, but only absent from one game. The Titans are still a run-first team, but with Corey Davis and Adam Humphries (COVID-list) out, Brown becomes a player of interest. Also benefiting from those two losses is Kalif Raymond and Nick Westbrook. Raymond had a nice 3-118 stat line in Week 3 against Minnesota.
- Alexander Mattison, MIN - The groin injury to Dalvin Cook isn't bad enough to force him to IR (for 3 weeks) but he is going to miss at least one game, and maybe two. Filling in for Cook is the more than capable Mattison. He'll have a good matchup against Atlanta in Week 6. The Falcons have allowed, on average, 9 receptions to running backs per game this year.
- DeSean Jackson, PHI - Jackson (hamstring) is hoping to be back at practice this week and eventually will return to a lineup that welcomes his ability. Travis Fulgham and Greg Ward has filled in nicely and are worth consideration as possible fill-ins and maybe more once Jackson and rookie Jalen Reagor (thumb) return. Reagor is probably out until Week 9 (PHI has a Week 8 bye). Don't forget about Alshon Jeffery (foot) either. He might be able to return Week 6 or Week 7
2. Stay active on the waiver wire, but also see who others are dropping and be prepared to claim
- Be active on the waiver wire, targeting players who have a productive future, not just a one-game outing. How do you know the difference? Targets and snap counts will give a clue as to the player's involvement in the offense. You want players who have at least 65-70% of the team's offensive snaps and generally five targets or more, along with a good game to show for it. Such possibilities include Diontae Johnson, Tee Higgins, Brandon Aiyuk, Curtis Samuel, Preston Williams, Randall Cobb.
- Target players who have risen in the depth chart due to an injury or performance. Justin Jackson is a good example of this. As is Devonta Freeman, Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Duke Johnson Jr, Darrel Williams, Travis Fulgham, Cameron Brate, and Zach Pascal. This is also true for quarterbacks - Teddy Bridgewater, Andy Dalton, Justin Herbert, etc have been good pickups as backups in one-quarterback leagues and decent producers for two-quarterback leagues. Herbert and Bridgewater are borderline starters in 1-quarterback leagues.
- There are several different variations for obtaining players available on the waiver wire - there's your first come first serve waiver, which can be great if you're on the ball and ahead of your league-mates. You get the player you want and you don't have to outbid anyone else to claim that player. There's an order of rankings waiver order, which is not as good as first come first serve (FCFS), but it can still be a beneficial, and perhaps an easy way to get the players you want. When bidding becomes the process for obtaining players, you have to know how much you have to spend, what the maximum budget is for the season, and how important it is to acquire a player at all costs. Generally, spending in the early weeks of the season is the way to acquire coveted players, but saving your free agent budget could prove helpful later on when your starting running back gets hurt and you need his replacement - hopefully he's on the waiver wire.
- Be ready to pounce on players who are dropped. In some leagues, waivers are run after 10:00 pm and possibly later. This is the time to pounce on players when the activity level of your league-mates is lower. Those on the west coast can especially benefit from this. Let's say your league-mate wants to acquire the flavor of the week but he/she has to drop someone to keep the roster legal. That player dropped could be Diontae Johnson, Marvin Jones Jr, Josh Kelley, Zack Moss, Leonard Fournette, Cam Akers, Mark Ingram II, Kenyan Drake, or someone even better. Be ready to pounce, especially if your league allows immediate acquisition of players who were recently dropped.
- Generally, fantasy teams only keep one defense on their roster (if your league includes team defenses). Be ready to scoop up a high-performing defense that was dropped due to a bye week, especially if you have the space on your roster to temporarily house two defenses. Baltimore and Indianapolis have a bye Week 7 coming up. A team may elect to drop them which would be a nice pickup. Baltimore and Indianapolis are #1 and #2 in team defense (FanDuel scoring). The Ravens have forced 10 turnovers and the Colts have 9 interceptions alone. Both teams also have decent sack totals.
3. Read other Footballguys articles
Footballguys produces a ton of weekly content. If you're reading this article, you also have access to these outstanding weekly must-read pieces, among others that we provide at Footballguys.
- UPGRADES AND DOWNGRADES - by Sigmund Bloom. This will tell you who you should target on the waiver wire, how much you should spend (if bidding), and a commentary on why players have been upgraded or downgraded. We do the work for you in this weekly piece. Posted weekly Monday late afternoon or early evening. If you're in IDP leagues, Aaron Rudnicki does the same for IDP players - IDP UPGRADES
- TRENDSPOTTING - by Ryan Zamichieli. Ryan puts a lot of time into this weekly piece that showcases statistical and graphical trends that strongly benefit certain matchups for the coming week.
- THE TOP 10 - by Matt Waldman. Each week Matt shares 10 important facets of the game, that can be player-driven, coach-driven, scheme-driven, or just chronicling things he observed in last week's slate of games. Not only does he share his thoughts, but he uses video to explain how or why something caught his attention.
- REST OF SEASON RANKINGS and REST OF SEASON RANKINGS IDP - Both Bob Henry and Ryan Sitzmann do a great job of updating their spreadsheets to factor in recent success that updates their end of season rankings. This can be helpful when evaluating trade offers or if you're on the fence about a player to pick up or drop.
- MONDAY INJURY ROUNDS, INJURY EXPECTATIONS MIDWEEK, *SUNDAY INJURY EXPECTATIONS *avail Sun - by Dr. Jene Bramel. Jene is a medical doctor with a great deal of knowledge on sports injuries. He provides updates on player injuries three times a week - Monday, midweek, and Gameday. It's a must-read if you're on the fence about the status of players on your team.
4. Target pre-emptive waiver pickups
What is a pre-emptive waiver pick up? Targeting a player on waivers where you don't have to spend much, if any, of your free agent budget. This generally occurs after waivers have gone through for the week. In some cases, if a player is highly coveted, you can target them using your free agent budget so you ensure you claim them.
These players are usually non-starters who could benefit in the coming weeks due to a matchup, impending coaching decision, increase in usage, or a general hunch that they will rise to fantasy relevance. Usually, these pickups are planned for future use as players that you can stash and wait for them to blossom into fantasy starters. Larger leagues or leagues with high roster spots are best for stashing players. Winning on a pre-emptive waiver claim makes the return on your investment a much sweeter experience, because it was you who decided to roll the dice on a player that turned into a gem. Examples of gems from this season include Will Dissly, D.J. Chark Jr, Marquise Brown, Demarcus Robinson, among others.
Pre-emptive waiver claim rankings Week 6
- Parris Campbell, IND - If he returns for the playoffs, he could be exactly what Philip Rivers and your lineup need - a boost.
- Michael Pittman Jr, IND - Rinse and repeat as above with Campbell without as much certainty.
- DeSean Jackson, PHI - Jackson (hamstring) could be available for Week 6 and he might be on the wire.
- Jalen Regor, PHI - If he is available, he is a good pickup for use Week 8 or later.
- Kalif Raymond, TEN - The Titans have a need at wide receiver with Corey Davis and Adam Humphries on the COVID list. Raymond is coming off a 3-118 game.
- Duke Johnson Jr, HOU - David Johnson hasn't been outstanding and the new regime may want to see what Duke Johnson Jr can bring to the table
- Ke'Shawn Vaughn, TB - Ronald Jones II may have two straight 100-yd games, and Leonard Fournette is waiting in the wings, but Vaughn could be the Bucs version of James White if he continues to progress.
- Breshad Perriman, NYJ - The Jets aren't exactly an offensive juggernaut, but Perriman (hamstring) is a starter when healthy, which could come as soon as Week 7. He and Jamison Crowder are the lead dogs, not Jeff Smith and Braxton Berrios.
- Bryan Edwards, LSV - Edwards (ankle) has not had the chance to showcase his talent yet, but he will. If he's available, he's a good stash and wait candidate.
- Tony Pollard, DAL - Pollard may be one of my favorite backup running backs in the league. He can do it all, but he has Ezekiel Elliott ahead of him. If Zeke goes down, Pollard can fill-in rather nicely.
- Mike Boone, MIN - Dalvin Cook is out for a game or two and Alexander Mattison has taken over in his absence. If Mattison gets hurt, Boone will see action in a productive Minnesota running game.
- Wayne Gallman, NYG - Devonta Freeman may be the back of choice right now, but if Gallman could get some play as well. The Giants schedule also opens up.
- Van Jefferson, LAR - Josh Reynolds is currently getting the snaps ahead of Jefferson, but if an injury opens up a spot, Jefferson has the talent to produce.
- Ryquell Armstead, JAC - James Robinson is the RB1 right now, but it's always good to have protection. Armstead is currently on the COVID-list but he's arguably the next best back on the Jaguars.
- C.J. Beathard, SF - If Jimmy Garoppolo's leash has shortened, Beathard is the next in line. If Jimmy Garoppolo continues to struggle, Kyle Shanahan may make a move.
- Jacoby Brissett, IND - Philip Rivers is a future Hall of Famer, so I'm not sure what it would take to bench him in favor of Jacoby Brissett, but it's entirely possible. If you're in a two-quarterback league, Brissett may be a decent target.
- Matt Barkley, BUF - After Andy Dalton, I view Matt Barkley as the next best backup quarterback in the league, even ahead of Brissett. If you have Josh Allen and you have deep rosters, especially a two-quarterback league, Barkley is not a bad pickup just to be safe.
- Garrett Gilbert, DAL - Andy Dalton is newly appointed as the Cowboys starter due to Dak Prescott's injury, but the new backup to Dalton is Garrett Gilbert. You may remember him from the AAF where he led Orlando to a 7-1 record before it was disbanded. He also led the league in yards and passer rating. Something to consider in deeper two-quarterback leagues. One injury to Dalton and Gilbert is the new star.
Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to email@example.com