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Fantasy waiver wire targets for Week 5 of 2021 NFL season

Injuries were unfortunately the theme of Week 4. Not only was there an abundance of injuries, but many of them also shook-up teams' backfields, or worse, took out their starting QB. But perhaps none was bigger than Jimmy Garoppolo exiting with a calf injury that could keep him out multiple weeks. That means it is Trey Lance's chance to get his first crack starting in a fantasy-friendly Kyle Shanahan offense. Despite playing just 49 percent of the snaps, Lance still finished with over 20 fantasy points. He completed half his passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns. To put that into perspective, Jimmy G threw five more times than Lance but finished with just 165 yards, one TD and one interception. Accuracy is not Lance's strong suit, but he has a cannon for an arm and can open the Niners' offense in a way that Garoppolo cannot. He also is a fantasy stud in waiting because of what he can do with his legs. He rushed seven times for 41 yards in just a half of football this week. His rushing upside, paired with the fact that he plays in an offense coached by Shanahan with good playmakers, is enough to put him in the QB1 range as long as he is the starter. And, if he plays well, there will be no going back. Lance has the opportunity to run away with the job and fantasy managers have the opportunity of grabbing a QB with league-winning upside off the waiver wire. There will be growing pains at times, but Lance is this week's top waiver wire add and fantasy managers should be aggressive trying to land him on their roster. This week might be the only chance to ever pick him up off waivers, his upside is that high.

Check if available: Michael Carter , DeVante Parker, Curtis Samuel.

Quarterbacks

Sam Darnold has been balling out as of late. The Panthers QB has thrown for over 300 yards in three straight games, and in the one he didn't, he threw for 279. Plus, he has multiple passing TDs in two of his last three games. The big thing catapulting his fantasy value is that he has been running more in goal-to-go situations. In fact, he has five rushing TDs on the season, including two in each of the last two games. He also took the rushing to a new level in Week 4, running for a season-high 35 yards. That was after having a long run taken away due to penalties in Week 3. Forget about the days of Darnold on the Jets; he is thriving in a new system with better playmakers around him. He won't rush for multiple touchdowns every week, but his worst game of the season is 18.9 fantasy points, while he has twice scored over 25. That is a safe floor and a pretty high ceiling. He is easily worth rostering and starting at this point.

Taylor Heinicke had his best fantasy game of the season in Week 4 going off for nearly 28 fantasy points against the Falcons. He threw for 290 yards and three scores, which is great in itself but he added 43 rushing yards. That's after he rushed for 21 yards and a score in Week 3. Heinicke has topped 20 fantasy points in three straight and is looking like a high-end QB2 right now in fantasy.

Drew Lock is more just for deep leagues. Teddy Bridgewater exited Week 4 with a concussion and, if he is forced to miss time, it'll be Lock starting for the Broncos. Lock threw 21 times for 113 yards and an interception. Lock is a strong-armed but very erratic QB who will make his fair share of mistakes. He is purely an option if Teddy misses time, and you are in a deep format and desperate for a QB.

Running backs

Damien Williams suffered a thigh bruise in Week 4, but the belief is that he will be fine to play moving forward. That is important because David Montgomery wasn't so lucky with his injury. Montgomery is believed to have avoided an ACL tear, but him missing multiple weeks due to a knee injury that clearly had him in a lot of pain is looking like a very possible outcome. Williams played a third of the snaps in Week 4 and carried the ball eight times for 55 yards and a score. He also caught both of his targets for 15 yards. Williams has been a polarizing player in the past, but we have seen him go on runs as an RB1. He will be Chicago's lead back for as long as Montgomery is sidelined. He is the top running back to add this week and is Lance's biggest competition for top add of the week.

Latavius Murray is now the Ravens' lead running back. He played 63 percent of the snaps, getting 18 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown. The lone RB target went to Le'Veon Bell. Ty’Son Williams was a healthy scratch, which shows you how he is now viewed in this offense. Murray is not explosive, but he is a reliable runner. It doesn't matter who the back is, anyone getting usage like Murray saw in Week 4, in the Baltimore offense is going to have fantasy value. Murray should be prioritized on the waiver wire this week.

Samaje Perine was scaring fantasy managers on Thursday night by playing often on third down. But at the end of the game, it was all Perine. We later found out that Mixon is dealing with a low-ankle sprain and is week-to-week. That means in Week 5, it could be Perine's backfield. He played 24 percent of the snaps and had three carries for seven yards, as well as one catch for 15 yards. The Bengals have two favorable opponents in the Packers and Lions the next two weeks, meaning Perine could be in play as an RB2, or at worst as a flex option if Mixon misses time. Perine should be the second RB you target off the waiver wire after Williams. Chris Evans -- no not that Chris Evans -- is the RB behind Perine and can be added in deeper leagues. He could get some run as the third down option in Mixon's absence.

Brandon Bolden did not run for a single yard against the Bucs, but he did have six targets, catching all of them for 51 yards. That is after he saw four targets in Week 3. If I could, I would insert the pointing Spiderman GIF and just say Bolden is the new James White. Harris will remain the Pats lead back, but they clearly do not love using him in the passing game. That is a valuable role in this offense, as White was basically in the flex range weekly due to his part in the offense. With White now likely sidelined for the season, Bolden is worth grabbing off the waiver wire.

Kenneth Gainwell saw eight targets, catching six for 58 yards against the Chiefs in Week 4. Sanders only had three targets in that game. Gainwell now has 12 targets in the last two weeks and at least three in every game this season. Sanders has just 14 targets on the year. He will be a little up and down, as he scored nearly 21 fantasy points yesterday and over 12 in Week 1, but less than 8 in the other two games. Still, he has a clear role as the pass catching option in this offense. He should be viewed as a lesser version of Nyheim Hines right now. Philly, meet your modern-day Darren Sproles!

Deeper options: Marlon Mack has made his desire to be traded from the Colts known. They then activated him and gave him 10 carries and two targets. He only put up 23 yards, but it could have been their attempt at showcasing him after he suffered a severe Achilles tear last season. With injuries around the league pilling up, do not be surprised if a team makes a move for Mack. Grab him now, as his price will shoot up if that was to happen. Darrel Williams played 35 percent of the snaps, carried the ball 10 times for 42 yards and a touchdown, while also getting two catches for 16 yards. His usage could be because it was a blowout, but 12 touches in the Chiefs offense is nothing to shy away form, especially since his touchdown came from the one-yard line. The Chiefs have been hesitant about giving CEH those goal line touches and if they go to Williams, he will have fantasy value, especially in anything deeper than 12 teams. Jeremy McNichols had a big day against the jets, as predicted by our own Patrick Claybon! McNichols only had one carry for 11 yards, but he saw a team-high 12 targets, catching eight for 74 yards. He played 40 percent of the snaps. That is largely a product of the Titans being without Jones and A.J. Brown, but we have been praising them for throwing the ball more to Derrick Henry. McNichols showed he is a promising pass catcher, so he could steal some RB targets away. At the very least, he is worth a flier in deeper leagues. Alex Collins had 10 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown on 41 percent of the snaps in Week 4. Collins is Seattle's RB2 with Rashaad Penny on IR. After the Seahawks' game on Sunday, Pete Carroll talked up the spark Collins provided. While Chris Carson is still the lead back, Collins is making a case to see more touches. He is worth taking a flier on, especially in deeper leagues. A.J. Dillon carried the ball 15 times for 81 yards. It's usage that we have not seen all year and, due to that, it's tough to trust him just yet. The usage makes him worth grabbing off the waiver wire while we see if he can maintain that moving forward. He is also one of the better backups and would become a weekly starter if Aaron Jones missed time.

Wide receivers

Jamison Crowder made his season debut for the Jets this past week and finished with a team-high nine targets for seven catches, 61 yards and a touchdown. He scored nearly 20 fantasy points in his season debut. It was a good matchup against the Titans, but Crowder should remain a large target in the Jets offense. Zach Wilson has thrown to the slot on 28 percent of his throws, and Braxton Berrios, who was manning the slot in Crowder's absence, led the Jets in targets in two of the first three weeks. Being a slot receiver in the Jets offense does not give him the highest ceiling, but he has a very safe floor and should see consistent volume weekly.

Darnell Mooney was drafted in a lot of leagues, but fantasy players are not always the most patient. The Bears wideout may still be rostered in your league, but he is currently available in over sixty percent of NFL leagues. Mooney saw seven targets in Week 4 while no one else had more than three. He caught five of them for a team-high 125 yards. He also had a carry go for 10 yards, which clocked him in at 18.5 fantasy points in total. Mooney is explosive and a legitimate downfield threat. He has not been the problem; the Bears offense has been. This was a very encouraging game for Mooney and, if someone dropped him in your league, you should grab him off the waiver wire.

Emmanuel Sanders saw six targets in Week 4, catching five of them for 74 yards. That was in a game where Bills QB Josh Allen threw only 29 times because the Bills were up so big. That is a week after he had five catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns on six targets. After being held to single digits in the first two weeks, he has scored 26.4 and 13.1 fantasy points, respectively. The Bills' schedule really opens with the Chiefs in Week 5 in what could be a high-scoring matchup, followed by the Titans, Dolphins, Jaguars and Jets. Sanders is a consistent part of the passing game and with that schedule he has a lot of upside. Grab him now while you still can.

Tim Patrick was targeted six times, catching three of them for 39 yards. That was after he saw five targets in Week 3, which was tied for the most on the Broncos. He caught all five for a team-high 98 yards. Patrick is now the Broncos' No. 2 two wide receiver with Jerry Jeudy sidelined and K.J. Hamler done for the season. His value is higher with Bridgewater as he only had one catch for nine yards on three targets from Lock in Week 4, but he has seen consistent volume. That alone makes him worth taking a shot on.

Kadarius Toney was targeted a team-high nine times, catching six of them for 78 yards. Toney was a benefactor of both Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton missing time due to a hamstring injury, but if the two are out, you can expect volume to go Toney's way. The rookie is raw, but explosive. That volume can lead to a big play and the Giants invested a first-round pick on him, so if he puts up some numbers, he could carve out a larger role, even when all the receivers are healthy. Do not go too aggressively after Toney, but he is still worth picking up.

Josh Gordon is back in the NFL. I was all ready to fully be out on Gordon after getting sucked back in repeatedly. I mean, we're chasing that 2013 season, which was a very long time ago. But then Gordon goes and signs with the Chiefs. Not only did he sign with Kansas City, but he has a chance to suit up as soon as Week 5. The Chiefs have been searching for a second wide receiver to step up behind Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Right now, they have a rotation between Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson. It's possible Gordon just slides right into that rotation, but if plays well, he could take it over. It's worth taking a flier on him.

Deeper Options: Amon-Ra St. Brown saw eight targets after having 10 in the first three games combined. He caught six of them for 70 yards. The Lions have been searching for a receiver to step up and St. Brown is someone myself and others liked a lot heading into the season. He is a big-bodied slot receiver with upside. He can be added in 12-teamers if you have the bench spot but should be in anything deeper. His teammate, Kalif Raymond, stepped up in Week 4 as well, catching three of six targets for 46 yards and two scores. He is a deeper league option, but it's hard to ignore this performance in 14-team leagues or larger. Randall Cobb had six targets, catching five for 69 yards and two scores. He stepped up with Marquez Valdes-Scantling sidelined and the Packers coaches spoke him up after the game, saying he could be the piece that helps open up Davante Adams as defenses throw everything but the kitchen sink at him. This could be a situation where you add Cobb and this is his best fantasy game of the season. But, given what the coaches said and the fact that Aaron Rodgers wanted Cobb in town, he has a chance to carve out a role as the second target in this offense. He is more of a safe floor play than upside play.

Tight ends

Dalton Schultz led the Cowboys with eight targets, his second week in a row with the most targets. He has 15 in his last two games combined. He caught six for 58 yards and a touchdown in Week 4, a week after having six catches for 80 yards and two scores. He has topped 17 fantasy points in two straight and has over 10 in three of four games this season. The volume is simply too good to ignore, and Schultz should be valued as a TE1 moving forward. Blake Jarwin had three targets, catching one for an 18-yard touchdown. He is a deeper league option for those TE-needy teams.

Dawson Knox has become a consistent part of the Bills' passing game, especially in the red zone. He had eight targets in Week 4, the second most on the team. He caught five for 37 yards and caught both of Allen's touchdown passes. Knox now has four touchdown catches in his last three games. His fantasy points have increased in every week -- with at least eight in each and as many as 20.7. He is the top tight end add if Schultz is not available in your league.

Zach Ertz saw eight targets in Week 4, catching six for 60 yards. That is a week after he had seven targets, giving him 15 in the last two weeks combined. He topped 12 fantasy points in each of those games. Dallas Goedert has just nine targets in the last two games. Ertz is clearly still a big part of the Eagles offense and, after a slow start, he remains widely available. That is going to change after waivers run this week.

Deeper Options: Austin Hooper had five targets, catching one for 11 yards. But no one played well for the Browns as Baker Mayfield struggled mightily in Week 4. Hooper now has five targets in two of his last three and topped nine fantasy points in two of those three games. The production hasn't been great but there's consistent volume there, which is important at tight end in deep leagues. Mo Alie-Cox was targeted five times, tied for the second most on the Colts. He caught three of them for 42 yards and two scores. He is a weapon they like to deploy in the red zone. There will be ups and downs, but in deeper formats, any tight end that has a chance at a touchdown is useful. C.J. Uzomah had himself a day on the national spotlight. He caught five of his six targets for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Prior to that game, he had four catches for 39 yards on the season. Its hard to trust him after one big game, especially once Tee Higgins returns and takes a lot of targets away. But, in deeper formats, it's worth a shot.

Make sure to follow Michael F. Florio on Twitter and Instagram

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