Published: Oct. 1, 2018 at 01:40 a.m.
Updated: Oct. 2, 2018 at 10:27 a.m.

2018 Week 5 fantasy football waiver-wire targets

If you can believe it, a month of football is already in the books. 2018 has been a wild start, too. Through Weeks 1-4, teams are averaging 1.80 passing scores per game -- most in NFL history. The previous high was set in 2015, with 1.64 passing touchdowns per contest. The league's added emphasis on quarterback and receiver safety have defenders playing more tentatively, while offenses are throwing the ball deep often. Over the last two seasons, NFL teams have averaged 4.0 deep ball attempts (20-plus yards in air) per game. This year, that figure has shot up to 7.7 deep ball attempts per game. A pass-friendly rulebook and extra deep ball attempts leads to more fantasy-relevant options for you to pick up off your league's waiver wire.

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  • Since making his debut in Week 2, Vance McDonald has seen five targets in each game -- hitting receiving lines of 3/26, 4/112/1, and 5/62. Per Next Gen Stats, McDonald has the highest yards after the catch above expectation among all players while his snap rate has risen in three-straight games (45 percent, 49 percent, 63 percent). If McDonald wasn't added in your league after Week 3, make sure you set those waiver wire claims for him now. The tight end landscape is destitute, and McDonald offers week-winning upside in the Steelers pass-heavy attack. McDonald is still over 70 percent available on NFL.com. 8

    Don Wright/Associated Press

    Vance McDonald, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers

    Since making his debut in Week 2, Vance McDonald has seen five targets in each game -- hitting receiving lines of 3/26, 4/112/1, and 5/62. Per Next Gen Stats, McDonald has the highest yards after the catch above expectation among all players while his snap rate has risen in three-straight games (45 percent, 49 percent, 63 percent). If McDonald wasn't added in your league after Week 3, make sure you set those waiver wire claims for him now. The tight end landscape is destitute, and McDonald offers week-winning upside in the Steelers pass-heavy attack. McDonald is still over 70 percent available on NFL.com.

  • In now three games with Marlon Mack (hamstring) sidelined, Nyheim Hines has taken over the Colts' backfield. Without Mack, he's played on 62 percent of Indianapolis' snaps and has caught five or more balls in each game. In fact, in Week 1 and 3-4, Hines' 25 targets is third on the team behind only T.Y. Hilton (27) and Eric Ebron (25). The Colts will likely be forced to play from behind in Week 5 against the Patriots on Thursday Night Football, leading to even more passing-down work for the rookie receiving back. Hines needs to be owned in all PPR formats. 7

    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts

    In now three games with Marlon Mack (hamstring) sidelined, Nyheim Hines has taken over the Colts' backfield. Without Mack, he's played on 62 percent of Indianapolis' snaps and has caught five or more balls in each game. In fact, in Week 1 and 3-4, Hines' 25 targets is third on the team behind only T.Y. Hilton (27) and Eric Ebron (25). The Colts will likely be forced to play from behind in Week 5 against the Patriots on Thursday Night Football, leading to even more passing-down work for the rookie receiving back. Hines needs to be owned in all PPR formats.

  • Dalton has now thrown two or more passing scores in 13 of his last 18 games dating back to when Bill Lazor took over as the Bengals offensive coordinator in Week 3, 2017. In this span, Dalton is averaging 19.3 fantasy points per game (QB8 among all passers) and he has started this season with QB15 (at IND), QB8 (vs. BAL), QB13 (at CAR), QB9 (at ATL) weekly fantasy finishes. Now, the 3-1 Bengals get the Dolphins, Steelers, Chiefs, Bucs, and Saints in their next five games. Four of those contests are at home while all five of the Bengals' next opponents are top-ten in passing yardage allowed. Dalton needs to be treated as a low-end fantasy QB1 (top-12) from here on out. 6

    John Amis/Associated Press

    Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

    Dalton has now thrown two or more passing scores in 13 of his last 18 games dating back to when Bill Lazor took over as the Bengals offensive coordinator in Week 3, 2017. In this span, Dalton is averaging 19.3 fantasy points per game (QB8 among all passers) and he has started this season with QB15 (at IND), QB8 (vs. BAL), QB13 (at CAR), QB9 (at ATL) weekly fantasy finishes. Now, the 3-1 Bengals get the Dolphins, Steelers, Chiefs, Bucs, and Saints in their next five games. Four of those contests are at home while all five of the Bengals' next opponents are top-ten in passing yardage allowed. Dalton needs to be treated as a low-end fantasy QB1 (top-12) from here on out.

  • Westbrook leads the Jags' in targets (28; 19 percent share) and he has scored at least ten PPR fantasy points in three of his first four games. Granted, Westbrook has only seen one red-zone target and his average depth of target downfield (6.6 yards) is well behind Keelan Cole's (8.1 yards). Still, the Jags' top target through Weeks 1-4 needs to be on significantly more NFL.com fantasy rosters. Jacksonville faces Kansas City's destitute secondary and Air Mahomes in Week 5. Westbrook is nearly 98 percent available. 5

    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Dede Westbrook, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Westbrook leads the Jags' in targets (28; 19 percent share) and he has scored at least ten PPR fantasy points in three of his first four games. Granted, Westbrook has only seen one red-zone target and his average depth of target downfield (6.6 yards) is well behind Keelan Cole's (8.1 yards). Still, the Jags' top target through Weeks 1-4 needs to be on significantly more NFL.com fantasy rosters. Jacksonville faces Kansas City's destitute secondary and Air Mahomes in Week 5. Westbrook is nearly 98 percent available.

  • Through the first month, Taylor Gabriel (29) is right behind Allen Robinson (32) in Bears' targets while his 22 receptions leads the team. With Anthony Miller (shoulder) sidelined multiple weeks, Gabriel has WR3/4 fantasy appeal in the Bears' up-and-coming attack. Chicago won't get to beat up on Tampa Bay's lifeless secondary every week -- but Gabriel saw a promising 27 percent of Bears' targets and 25 percent of their air yards in Miller's first full-game absence in Week 4. Chicago has a Week 5 bye, then they return to face Miami, New England, and the New York Jets in Weeks 6-8. Gabriel is 99 percent available on NFL.com. 4

    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Taylor Gabriel, WR, Chicago Bears

    Through the first month, Taylor Gabriel (29) is right behind Allen Robinson (32) in Bears' targets while his 22 receptions leads the team. With Anthony Miller (shoulder) sidelined multiple weeks, Gabriel has WR3/4 fantasy appeal in the Bears' up-and-coming attack. Chicago won't get to beat up on Tampa Bay's lifeless secondary every week -- but Gabriel saw a promising 27 percent of Bears' targets and 25 percent of their air yards in Miller's first full-game absence in Week 4. Chicago has a Week 5 bye, then they return to face Miami, New England, and the New York Jets in Weeks 6-8. Gabriel is 99 percent available on NFL.com.

  • It is apparent Chubb deserves more playing time. Whether he gets it is another story. The No. 35 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft has only played 15 snaps this year, but he's taken his 10 carries for an absolutely ridiculous 146 yards and 2 TDs. Both his scores came in Week 4's loss in Oakland. Per PFF, Chubb is averaging 13.7 yards after contact and has made six defenders miss on his handful of carries. This is still Carlos Hyde's backfield -- his snap rate has actually increased in each game so far -- but Chubb's small sample, early success <i>should</i> earn him more playing time in a rational coaching environment. 3

    D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press

    Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

    It is apparent Chubb deserves more playing time. Whether he gets it is another story. The No. 35 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft has only played 15 snaps this year, but he's taken his 10 carries for an absolutely ridiculous 146 yards and 2 TDs. Both his scores came in Week 4's loss in Oakland. Per PFF, Chubb is averaging 13.7 yards after contact and has made six defenders miss on his handful of carries. This is still Carlos Hyde's backfield -- his snap rate has actually increased in each game so far -- but Chubb's small sample, early success should earn him more playing time in a rational coaching environment.

  • Whomever is under center in offensive coordinator Todd Monken's high-flying aerial attack, you are going to want them on your fantasy team. Winston was likely dumped in a ton of fantasy leagues after Ryan Fitzpatrick "won" the starting job, only to replaced after one half in the Bucs' embarrassing Week 4 48-10 loss in Chicago. Winston tossed two picks, but he completed 16-of-20 passes and averaged a healthy 7.3 passing yards per attempt against the Bears' stout defense. In 11 full starts last year, Winston was fantasy's QB8 (in fantasy points per game), he was second in YPA (8.1), second in PFF's QB Rating under pressure, and he led all QBs in passing yards per game (306.8). Tampa has a Week 5 bye, but their schedule is gorgeous in Weeks 6-9 (Falcons, Browns, Bengals, and Panthers). Not a single secondary on that docket should scare you. 2

    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Whomever is under center in offensive coordinator Todd Monken's high-flying aerial attack, you are going to want them on your fantasy team. Winston was likely dumped in a ton of fantasy leagues after Ryan Fitzpatrick "won" the starting job, only to replaced after one half in the Bucs' embarrassing Week 4 48-10 loss in Chicago. Winston tossed two picks, but he completed 16-of-20 passes and averaged a healthy 7.3 passing yards per attempt against the Bears' stout defense. In 11 full starts last year, Winston was fantasy's QB8 (in fantasy points per game), he was second in YPA (8.1), second in PFF's QB Rating under pressure, and he led all QBs in passing yards per game (306.8). Tampa has a Week 5 bye, but their schedule is gorgeous in Weeks 6-9 (Falcons, Browns, Bengals, and Panthers). Not a single secondary on that docket should scare you.

  • Before you rush to the wire to pick him up, Coutee's Week 4 breakout (11/109 on 15 targets) needs some context. Will Fuller (hamstring) left the game against the Colts early while Deshaun Watson attempted a career-high 42 pass attempts. Fuller ended up only playing 27 snaps in Week 4, thrusting Coutee into a bigger role. If Fuller is back healthy in Week 5, Coutee's target share will surely plummet. Still, Houston desperately needs an underneath option in their aerial attack. Per PFF, Coutee lined up in the slot on 65 percent of his snaps in his debut. He's available in almost all NFL.com fantasy leagues. 1

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Keke Coutee, WR, Houston Texans

    Before you rush to the wire to pick him up, Coutee's Week 4 breakout (11/109 on 15 targets) needs some context. Will Fuller (hamstring) left the game against the Colts early while Deshaun Watson attempted a career-high 42 pass attempts. Fuller ended up only playing 27 snaps in Week 4, thrusting Coutee into a bigger role. If Fuller is back healthy in Week 5, Coutee's target share will surely plummet. Still, Houston desperately needs an underneath option in their aerial attack. Per PFF, Coutee lined up in the slot on 65 percent of his snaps in his debut. He's available in almost all NFL.com fantasy leagues.