Welcome to the Week 5 Waiver Wire, where you will find all the spiciest ingredients for improving your fantasy stew. Week 5 may not be the week to blow a #1 waiver priority or 90% of your FAAB budget, but there are some nice additions, particularly in the wide receiver aisle. The top week 5 waiver targets are below, listed by position and then by order of priority. Feel free to leave all waiver questions in the comments below…
Brandon Weeden: Over the past 3 weeks, the Browns’ rookie QB has averaged 293 yards passing despite playing with one of the league’s worst receiving crews. Cleveland will often be in passing mode as they chase their opponents, so Weeden’s yardage totals should remain respectable. The smart play is to pick up Weeden if you are starting Brees or Cam. While those two big dogs are resting up on bye in week 6, Weeden will face the Bengals at home, a team he already hung 322 yards and 2 touchdowns on this season.
Kevin Kolb: Kolb has steadily improved his yardage and touchdown totals since he became Arizona’s full time starter in week 2, and had a great game against Miami in week 4. Still able to chuck picks with the best of them, Kolb is better off left alone on the wire unless you play in a very deep league.
Matt Hasselbeck: Old man Hass is back, as Jake Locker sustained another shoulder injury and will miss week 5. The Titans have a couple tough matchups upcoming (@MIN, vsPIT) so Hasselbeck won’t be of much use unless you play in one of those pesky 2 QB leagues, which are the only leagues in which he should be added.
Brandon Bolden: While New England was busy beating down the Bills, both Bolden and Ridley had monster performances. Bolden rushed 16 times for 137 yards and a score, and is a solid pick up in all formats this week. Bolden will provide nice bench depth, but be careful about counting on him for a spot start anytime soon. Ridley is still the top Patriot running back and Bill Belichick loves using strange backfield rotations. Grab Bolden and hope he carves out a long term role in New England.
Joique Bell: Bell has emerged nicely since the week 3 arrival of Mikel Leshoure and subsequent fantasy death of Kevin Smith (RIP) in Motown. Since the reshuffling of the Detroit backfield, Bell has caught 10 passes in 2 weeks, and averaged 58 yards receiving along the way. Leshoure remains the lead back for the Lions, but Bell can be useful, especially in PPR leagues. For those who are still letting Kevin Smith collect dust in your closet, dump him for Bell.
Kendall Hunter: As Frank Gore’s backup, Hunter hasn’t had a ton of work so far in 2012. However, week 4 was a bit kinder for Hunter, as he saw 8 carries and 56 yards in the 49ers’ pounding of the Jets. If Hunter is still hanging around on your wire, give him a look if you’ve got dead weight on your bench. As the weather turns and Frank Gore wears down, Hunter should pick up a bigger share of the backfield work in San Francisco.
Jackie Battle: The only things Battle’s week 4 performance proved is that he is indeed the desired handcuff to Ryan Mathews, and that Norv Turner is clueless. The 2 touchdowns turned in by Battle against Kansas City were a nice surprise, but Battle is best left on the wire. The Chargers came out and backed Mathews after the game and all signs point to him returning to his feature back role, so stay away from Battle unless you can snag him as a handcuff if you already own Mathews.
LeGarrette Blount: The Tampa battering ram had his biggest workload of the season, after Bucs head coach Greg Schiano admitted that Blount “probably” needed more carries in the days leading up to week 4. While the world continues to wait for Doug Martin’s emergence, Blount is going to be moderately useful in Tampa Bay as a short yardage hammer. In 12 or 14 team leagues where spotting an available running back is like spotting Big Foot, you could do worse with your final bench spot. Grab him, hope he punches another one in when the Bucs return from their bye and throw him into a trade package to a RB thirsty owner.
Brian Hartline: The biggest eruption of week 4 belonged to Brian Hartline. 12 catches, 253 yards and a touchdown capped off a monster day for Hartline and was his 2nd big game of 2012. The only issue with the ‘Phins receiver is that he has now alternated great games with stinkers. Worth a pickup in all leagues, Hartline will be a contributor for the majority of 2012 (especially in PPR), but beware of the occasional clunker as Tannehill matures.
James Jones: With Greg Jennings nursing a sore groin once again, there will be more Aaron Rodgers targets to spread around in Green Bay and James Jones will be the prime beneficiary. Jordy will be the go-to guy, and Jermichael Finley simply can’t catch what is thrown to him, leaving Jones to clean up the rest of Green Bay’s targets. Take out Jone’s week 2 game, and he is averaging 4.6 catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. Snag him off the wire, especially if you need a fill in for Nicks, Jennings, or Holmes.
Leonard Hankerson: Hank did his thing in week 4 as he was heavily involved in the ‘Skins passing game. His 7 catches and 57 yards are just the beginning, as he should be able to sustain production even as Garcon gets healthy. A young WR to grow alongside RGIII is a good thing, grab him.
Andre Roberts: Ever since Anquan Boldin left the desert, the Cardinals and fantasy owners alike have been searching for a “Robin” to go alongside the great Larry Fitzgerald. Could Andre Roberts finally be the productive #2 WR in Arizona we’ve been searching for? Roberts has been targeted far more than the other lesser Arizona wide outs and now has 4 touchdowns on the season. As long as Kevin Kolb can continue playing at an acceptable level, Roberts will be productive. Add him.
Domenik Hixon: When Hakeem Nicks surprisingly sat out in week 3, it was Ramses Barden that come through for the Giants. However, with Nicks out yet again in week 4, it was Hixon that raked in 6 grabs for 114 yards. With Nick’s outlook far from sunny, Hixon is a great add in all leagues and is a great play this week at Cleveland if your team has bye week/injury issues.
Davone Bess: Hartline wasn’t the only Miami wide receiver enjoying a great week 4, as Bess hauled in 7 passes for 123 yards. Bess now has 297 yards through 4 games (74.3 per) and has proved to be a useful PPR player. I’d rather have others on this list, but grab Bess if you need a bye week plug in over the next few weeks and don’t have the priority/FAAB bucks for Hartline.
Stephen Hill/Jeremy Kerley/Chaz Schilens: With Santonio Holmes out, the Jet’s clown show will need other receivers to step up and catch some passes from Sanchez/Tebow/Testaverde. I wouldn’t rush out to grab any of these guys with a brutal matchup against Houston looming, but keep an eye on who Sanchez looks for this week.
Jermaine Gresham: Now the proud owner of back to back 5 catch performances, Gresham is rounding into shape in 2012. His touchdown total will surely rise, and is worth a spot on your bench as a backup tight end. You can do far worse than a tight end averaging 4 catches and 45 yards per game who is a red zone threat.
Scott Chandler: Chandler caught 2 more touchdowns in week 4, giving him 4 on the season. The Bills TE would make a marginal bye week fill-in, but be mindful of the injury report this week, as he smacked his noodle against New England and may miss week 5.
Marcedes Lewis: If you are desperate for tight end help or play in a very deep league, check out Lewis. He has 2 touchdowns on the season and may see an increase in targets with Laurent Robinson out in week 5. He is as boring as it gets, but bye weeks are a pain in the backside.