by Will Overton
After the rookie QB class stole the show in Week 3, we got back to the real meat of the waiver wire performers yesterday, wide receivers and running backs. We had a few incidents of game scripts making guys look like superstars, and now the task is telling who really may have had a breakout and who just took advantage of a favorable opportunity. Let’s get to work breaking down eight players who are likely to be popular names on the wire after this week’s games:
Taylor Gabriel – WR, Chicago Bears
I think the Chicago Bears shocked just about everybody with the air assault offensive onslaught they put together against the Buccaneers. The Bear’s game plan was to attack the Bucs secondary early and often, and it worked like a charm as the Bears amassed 354 yards through the air and 6 TD. The leading WR in the mix was Taylor Gabriel, who ended up with 7 catches for 104 yards and 2 TD.
This is certainly a breakout game for the wideout, but there have been some signs that Gabriel might be a well-liked target. He had 10 targets in Week 3, and seven in Week 2. Up until this game it hadn’t translated into much, but it means the potential was there. I don’t expect many, or any, other games like this for the Bears offense this season, but I don’t think Gabriel can just be ignored given that Mitch Trubisky does seem keen on throwing to him often.
Verdict: Don’t get too caught up, but don’t ignore this either
Ronald Jones – RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs were getting completely blown out by the Bears, so it’s not a surprise that Ronald Jones got some looks in the second half (the first action of his NFL career). Jones carried the ball 10 times for 29 yards, so nothing eye popping by any means, but it’s still worth noting. Peyton Barber has not blown anyone away so far this season so Jones could earn more looks going forward, especially if the losses start piling up for Tampa Bay. I am not a big believer in the talent of Jones, but if opportunity presents itself you have to take a look.
Verdict: He’s a flier, but may be worth a bench spot
Kalen Ballage – RB, Miami Dolphins
This is more of a pre-emptive mention than Ronald Jones, but I think it’s important to bring Ballage up at this point. Kenyan Drake is supposed to be the Dolphins lead back, but he ran the ball just three times yesterday. Frank Gore led the team with 11 carries, but I can’t believe the Dolphins want to rely too heavily on him. I don’t think Drake is done or anything, but it does seem like he might be on thin ice and Ballage was drawing positive reviews in training camp. I can see him starting to get some looks, and if he can impress the looks would keep piling up.
Verdict: He’s a deep league stash at the moment
Taywan Taylor – WR, Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans put up an impressive fight against the Eagles yesterday to pull out an overtime win. Corey Davis was certainly the star with his 9 catches for 161 yards, but Taylor may be the star of the waiver wire. He caught seven passes for 77 yards, being targeted nine times. He has steadily gotten more involved in the offense and is now looking like the number two option and the safety valve outlet with Delanie Walker sidelined. I don’t know if we’ll see Marcus Mariota throw as much as he did today too often, but Taylor looks like he’s going to be a consistent piece of the offense.
Verdict: Worth the add in a majority of leagues
Donte Moncrief – WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
It’s been a while since we have seen it, but we got a Moncrief blow up game yesterday. He caught all five targets that went his way for 109 yards and a TD. When Leonard Fournette went down early in the game the Jaguars opened up the passing attack and Moncrief and Dede Westbrook led the way. Moncrief is capable of big plays and big games, but it’s going to be hard to predict them going forward. I think Moncrief is still behind Westbrook and Keelan Cole, and I think there are more consistent receivers out there I’d rather have.
Verdict: Big game upside, but going to be unpredictable
Mike Davis – RB, Seattle Seahawks
When Chris Carson was ruled inactive we all thought that Rashaad Penny was going to get his shot at being the bell cow, but it was Mike Davis who took on the job. Davis ran the ball 21 times for 101 yards and a pair of TD, while also catching four passes for 23 yards. Penny looked good with his carries, nine for 49 yards, but Davis was the star of the show. Carson shouldn’t miss much time and Penny was a first round pick who isn’t going anywhere, but Davis may have earned himself more carries further complicating the backfield. If you need running back depth you can take the flier, but it’s a bit of a muddled mess.
Verdict: Take a stab if you need depth, but don’t expect too much
Keke Coutee – WR, Houston Texans
There were lots of shootouts yesterday and the Texans and Colts were no different. It ended up being a fine time for Coutee to be healthy for the first time and make his NFL debut. Will Fuller left the game in the second quarter and Bruce Ellington was already out, so Coutee stepped right up, ending up 11 catches on 15 targets for 109 yards. He is a perfect compliment to the big play options in Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins and while Ellington looked good, Coutee has a lot of upside as a slot receiver. The Texans don’t have that tight end or pass catching running back to keep the sticks moving and Coutee could absolutely fill that void. I’d much rather have the third receiver in Houston than Jacksonville.
Verdict: Worth a grab in most formats, particularly PPR
Nyheim Hines – RB, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts backfield is maddening for fantasy owners, but for this week the standout is Nyheim Hines. The Colts game plan was to throw early and often and Hines played a big role in that. He caught nine passes for 63 yards and a pair of TD. Hines now has five or more catches in three of the first four games with 22 catches overall for the season, more than Theo Riddick or Duke Johnson who are known PPR specialists. Marlon Mack should be getting healthy at some point and he may throw a wrench in things, but right now Hines is a PPR must own. The Colts throw, and throw a lot, so I’d much rather have the running back catching passes then the one running the ball.
Verdict: PPR must own
Make sure to check out all of our Week 5 rankings: