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9 route: Top 9 fantasy football waiver targets in Week 5

October 3, 2018

It feels like a number of NFL defenses have been on bye each week, with a league-record 3,030 points and 344 touchdowns — including 228 through the air — in the first quarter of the season, according to ESPN.

In fact, only the Carolina Panthers and Washington have officially rested thus far, and they’ll be followed by the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 5, the second-to-last two-team open date prior to Week 12.

With injuries mounting and more and more teams nearing their weeks off, the stakes are rising on the waiver wire. So let’s do some digging. For the uninitiated, the ‘9 route’ only includes players who are owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Because of that, we’re compelled to point out that T.J. Yeldon (52 percent ownership) would be our top waiver target were he eligible.

9. Bengals TE Tyler Kroft

No fantasy position has been ravaged more than tight end, where Tyler Eifert, O.J. Howard and Will Dissly joined the mix of fallen contributors Sunday. Eifert’s injury is particularly brutal — nauseating to see in the moment, much less the bigger picture view for a guy who’s gone from the fast track to stardom to yet another grueling rehab for a season-ending injury. But Eifert might also be the easiest to replace, if only because we already know what the Bengals’ new TE1, Tyler Kroft, can do: he was TE10 overall last season, when he caught more TDs (7) than everyone at the position who hasn’t been to a Pro Bowl. On one hand, Kroft might not slide seamlessly back into that role, as the Bengals have since watched Tyler Boyd break out and John Ross at least threaten to do the same. Plus, Joe Mixon will be back soon enough, further clouding Kroft’s potential market share. On the other hand, few owners are in the position to quibble at this position.

8. Colts WR Ryan Grant

Andrew Luck has to throw to someone Thursday night in Foxborough, where he’ll be without his two favorite targets in T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle. We understand if you prefer Chester Rogers or Zach Pascal, both of whom outproduced the more established Grant in Luck’s long-awaited renaissance game Sunday. We’re following the money — Grant signed a one-year, $5 million deal this offseason — and usage on the season, where Grant has out-snapped Rogers 230-186 and shown a bit more big-play chops.

7. Jaguars WR Donte Moncrief

Just when we’re off Moncrief, he pulls us back in with plays like the 67-yard touchdown Sunday, when he blew by Jets’ $45-million man Trumaine Johnson on a simple go route. Moncrief hasn’t been as efficient as Dede Westbrook or Keelan Cole but efficiency goes out the window Sunday at Arrowhead, where the Jaguars could need to throw a bunch to hang with Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs, whose defensive issues aren’t going away anytime soon.

6. Jaguars WR Dede Westbrook

Westbrook had a career day Sunday vs. the Jets: nine catches for 130 yards on 13 targets, all personal bests for the second-year player. He’s the most talented wideout in Jacksonville’s stable, although he’ll see plenty of the Chiefs’ most talented cover man, Kendall Fuller, this weekend. But if you’re targeting long-term upside, Westbrook is where to look.

5. Browns WR Antonio Callaway

Callaway has commanded 20 targets over the past two games, since his clutch 47-yard touchdown that should’ve beaten the Saints. Has Callaway taken advantage? Not yet. He’s managed only 7-74 receiving with 59 of those yards coming on one play Sunday in Oakland. But as long as Baker Mayfield keeps feeding him, the big plays should keep coming, and the more Callaway gets his feet wet, his comfort in the offense and, subsequently production, stand to improve. The guy is a big play waiting to happen.

4. Titans WR Taywan Taylor

Taylor was tearing it up in the preseason when Delanie Walker and Rishard Matthews were on the roster. They’re gone, and he seems destined to take advantage. He had 7-77 receiving on nine targets Sunday vs. the Eagles, when Marcus Mariota not only appeared healthy but was driving the ball down the field like we’ve seen only sporadically over the past few seasons. That’s where Taylor and sidekick Corey Davis are most dangerous, and that’s where Tennessee’s Sunday foe, the Bills, could have trouble with injuries piling up in their secondary.

3. Texans WR Keke Coutee

Per Next Gen State, only Ravens TE Maxx Williams gained more separation per route than Coutee, who went over 100 yards in his NFL debut (11-109 receiving to be exact) and brings 4.4 speed a Texans offense in which he’s flanked by monsters in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. And the fourth-round blazer’s 15 targets are the most a Texan has seen this season and second-most since Deshaun Watson took over as the starter. This is a tremendous situation, suffice to say, and Coutee left some production on the field, according to Bill O’Brien. That could change Sunday in Dallas, where a Cowboys ‘D’ that let Golden Tate and Tyler Lockett go off in the previous two weeks awaits.

2. Browns RB Nick Chubb

You win some, you lose some, and I appear to have lost by touting Carlos Hyde as Cleveland’s established bell cow in my Week 4 RB rankings, only to have the second-rounder Chubb break off TD runs of 63 and 41 yards as part of his gargantuan 3-105-2 rushing day on just three snaps on offense. Seriously. Even Hue Jackson can see Chubb, whom the Browns traded up to draft in the second round, needs more work — and he’s already admitted its coming. The Browns get a tough matchup Sunday when Baltimore’s stout ‘D’ comes to town, but the Chargers, Bucs, Steelers, Chiefs and Falcons follow them on the docket, the 11th-easiest for RBs the rest of the way, according to fantasypros.

1. Colts RB Nyheim Hines

Marlon Mack is unlikely to return on a short week to face the Patriots. Jordan Wilkins has done absolutely nothing with his three starts and 45 TD-less opportunities. Hines? Hines found the end zone twice Sunday, when he was Andrew Luck’s leading receiver (9-63), to increase his team-leading TD total to three. The fourth-rounder from North Carolina State has averaged 11 touches per game and is the Colts’ most explosive player with T.Y. Hilton out. He’s also about to see a Patriots ‘D’ that might have only allowed 18 catches and one touchdown to backs this season but has second-level speed shortcomings. Hines, not Mack nor Wilkins, is the biggest investment GM Chris Ballard has made in the Colts’ backfield since taking over as general manager, and he should continue to be the busiest back, if not Colts skill player, Thursday night.

QBs

1. Blake Bortles

2. Marcus Mariota

3. Joe Flacco

4. Jameis Winston

5. Baker Mayfield

6. Dak Prescott

7. Derek Carr

8. Case Keenum

9. Eli Manning

RBs

1. Nyheim Hines

2. Nick Chubb

3. Ronald Jones

4. Mike Davis

5. Marlon Mack

6. Corey Clement

7. Frank Gore

8. Ty Montgomery

9. Wendell Smallwood

WRs

1. Keke Coutee

2. Taywan Taylor

3. Antonio Callaway

4. Dede Westbrook

5. Donte Moncrief

6. Chris Godwin

7. Ryan Grant

8. Geronimo Allison

9. Chad Williams

TEs

1. Tyler Kroft

2. Ricky Seals-Jones

3. Geoff Swaim

4. Cameron Brate

5. Ian Thomas

6. Antonio Gates

7. Hayden Hurst

8. Mark Andrews

9. C.J. Uzomah

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