However, for those of you degenerates ... err I mean "die-hards," in more intense leagues, this is the column for you. As the season progresses, this is where I'll highlight the players you want to be a week early on, as opposed to trying to get in on the waiver-wire bidding war post-breakout. Many of these players will hopefully graduate to the main waiver wire column, and if you're smart they'll already be on your roster. Of course, I can't promise anything. Fantasy is far from a guaranteed game, as we all know all too well, and we're reaching the point in the season where there aren't many stones left unturned at this point. But who knows, maybe we'll find a few gems in the process.
Any way, enough blathering. On to the "Deep Dive" waiver wire targets for Week 6.
Thompson was in the main waiver column last week on the merit of his matchup against the Falcons, but I bumped him out this week as the Washington backfield continues to be a frustrating committee. Thompson once again saw the most snaps of this three headed monster with 26 (Matt Jones saw 20, and Alfred Morris got 14), but he was out-touched by Jones on the back of his 11 carries. Thompson is a flex-play in PPR formats, as his seven targets were the second-most on the team, and he caught six of them for 33 yards. At this point his role is well established and PPR owners can feel safe-ish about his weekly floor.
Michael saw only one offensive snap on Sunday, but still has some value if the Cowboys decide to roll him out more frequently or Joseph Randle/Darren McFadden suffer an injury. Until Tony Romo returns, this offense is going to live and die with a dink-and-dunk attack. Brandon Weeden is only averaging 6.5 air yards per pass attempt, and McFadden was the team's most targeted receiver against the Patriots with 10 passes sent his way. Michael is worth stashing for a few more weeks if you have the bench space.
The Titans split up their backfield touches about as frustratingly as possible from a fantasy perspective on Sunday. Antonio Andrews and Bishop Sankey both saw 10 touches, while Dexter McCluster saw nine. However, Andrews saw the most red zone rush attempts (a whopping two) and for the second straight week converted one of said attempts into six points. It's clear no one is running away with this backfield (though I'm holding out hope David Cobb does when he makes his triumphant return from the IR boomerang), so for the time being, Andrews is the horse to hitch your fantasy wagon to. His goal-line opportunities are the difference maker in this disgusting fantasy backfield.
Ameer Abdullah's two fumbles on Sunday aren't going to win him much favor with the Detroit coaching staff. With Joique Bell still battling injuries, the door is open for either of these backs to assume a larger role. Ideally, you'll be able to avoid this backfield (and offense for the most part), as their issues are plentiful. However, if you're in a pinch, both Zenner and Riddick can be worth a look on the waiver wire. Both actually had more than double the offensive snaps of Abdullah on Sunday, with Riddick seeing 54, Zenner 31 and Abdullah just 15. Zenner received 10 carries yesterday, but only managed 30 yards against a tough Cardinals front. He's a touchdown-dependent play in standard leagues moving forward, as the team could hand the short-yardage and goal-line looks to him. Riddick meanwhile is a PPR stud, notching 10 receptions on Sunday and at least five in four straight games (he's currently the RB13 in PPR formats to boot). Game flow will undoubtedly be crucial to Riddick's success, but the Lions have the look of a team that will be constantly behind, which is what Riddick needs. Again, this is not an offense that inspires a lot of confidence in fantasy at the moment, but there are reasons to like Riddick/Zenner.
Latavius Murray barely played in the second half against the Broncos, and head coach Jack Del Rio cited Murray's "health" as the reason why, but didn't offer specifics. The Raiders have their bye in Week 6, so it's possible whatever is ailing Murray (if something is at all) could be cleared up with a little rest. If not, his owners will want to keep an eye on Roy Helu and Marcel Reece on the waiver wire. Reece has three receiving touchdowns on the year, but basically disappeared from the offense for three weeks. Helu saw more snaps (27 to 23), but was targeted less in the pasing game (eight to six), which is usually where he makes his hay. Don't rush out and grab these two just yet, but monitor the news out of Oakland this week in case there's something wrong with Murray the team isn't telling us.
The C.J. Anderson-Ronnie Hillman 1-2 punch is about as potent as a hit from a Rock 'em, Sock 'em robot, which is why Juwan Thompson makes the list again. Anderson and Hillman rushed the ball 18 times on Sunday for a combined 43 yards (2.4 ypc average). Thompson had just one catch for 16 yards, but if the two backs ahead of him continue to struggle, the team might give the big bruiser a look. He's worth a speculative add in deeper leagues.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, free agent (0.4 percent owned)
With Davante Adams working his way back slowly from a badly sprained ankle, rookie Ty Montgomery has risen up the ranks as the Packers third wide receiver. In fact, he played the most snaps of any Green Bay wideout (98 percent) on Sunday. He caught his second touchdown of the season on a nice catch-and-run through the Rams defense, while hauling in four of his five targets on the day. Over the last two weeks, he's the team's second most targeted receiver (11) behind Randall Cobb and Richard Rodgers (14 a piece). Montgomery has a great combination of speed and strength, and should improve as the season moves on. He's probably worth an add in most standard leagues, too, as while the Packers offense has "struggled" a bit recently, they're still the Packers and could drop a 40-burger at any moment. It's never a bad strategy to have a talented young pass-catcher getting heavily targeted from Aaron Rodgers on your roster.
Diggs is coming off of his bye, and it's possible some players in your league forgot about his impressive six-catch, 87-yard outing two weeks ago against the vaunted Broncos secondary. Well, hope they did, as Diggs gets a matchup against the porous Chiefs secondary this week and could make even more noise in the stat sheets. The Vikings will be rested and (hopefully) well-prepared for this contest. I might have Diggs ranked in the WR3 range for this upcoming tilt, and would recommend you grab him off of the waiver wire before he becomes a hotter commodity.
After the classic Rueben Randle splash game in Week 3, Harris has quietly emerged as the true No. 2 receiver on the Giants. He's caught 11 of his 14 targets over the last two weeks for 123 yards and a touchdown. He's been able to take over a little more of the slot role typically occupied by Victor Cruz, and he's done well as a fill-in. Next up is a date with the Eagles, who are one of four teams to allow over 1,000 passing yards to opposing receivers so far on the young season. Harris could be on the WR3 territory for Week 6.
The Eagles have been high on Huff all offseason, and the second-year wideout finally came out with a bang on Sunday, catching four of his five targets for 78 yards and a touchdown. Huff will have a little more value if Nelson Agholor (shin) remains sidelined for any length of time. He merits a speculative add in deeper formats, but won't have any value in more traditional or standard leagues.
Strong is oddly high-owned, even in light of a two-touchdown outing in primetime last Thursday, and the brakes need to be pumped a bit on his hype train. He saw 41 percent of the team's offensive snaps Week 5, his first NFL action. He also only saw two targets, one of which was on a Hail Mary at the end of the first half. He'll have some upside, but we need to see him more involved in the offense before truly recommending him as a waiver claim. Mumphery on the other hand has seen 15 targets over the last two weeks, even though he only turned them into eight catches for 79 yards. If Cecil Shorts or Nate Washington returns, they'll likely take back all of their targets in the offense. But for now, Mumphery and Strong have some upside off of the waiver wire.
With Julio Jones and Leonard Hankerson both dealing with injuries, and Roddy White dealing with general ineffectiveness, Nick Williams saw four targets on Sunday. Williams was a preseason standout, and could see more looks if the injuries to the top options linger. He really will only have value in the deepest of PPR formats, but like I always say in this column, it's better to be early rather than late.
Inman has yet to play in Week 5 as of the writing of this column, but with Steve Johnson already out and Malcom Floyd still working his way out of the concussion protocol, Inman could have some sneaky value this week (and in the future. He's produced in most of his limited opportunities at the NFL level, and has the Steelers secondary lining up against him tonight. If you were banking on Martavis Bryant playing tonight and are in desperate need of some wide receiver production, give Inman a look.
The Baltimore passing offense is still looking for a hero. Waller saw two targets against the Browns, but only hauled in one for 1 yard. He's worth a speculative add in deeper or dynasty formats given his size/speed combination, but he still looks raw and could need time to develop before making any sort of fantasy contribution this year.
Smith, like Diggs, is coming off of his bye, so some owners might have forgotten that he received 15 targets over his past two games. Eric Decker will likely be closer to full health after a week off, which means the passing pie will once again be divided heavily between him and Brandon Marshall. However, Smith remains the best deep threat on the team, and has home-run potential every week. Give him a look in deeper leagues, or leagues that reward bonus points for longer touchdowns/catches.
I wrote about Carrier in this space last week, expecting him to inherit some, but not all, of Jordan Reed's targets. And that's exactly what happened on Sunday, as Carrier saw three targets, bringing in two for 27 yards and an all-important touchdown. Hey, even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in awhile, right? Any way, as long as Reed is battling his knee injury and yet another concussion, Carrier will have some upside as a streaming tight end or punt play in DFS. The Jets are far from an ideal matchup this week, but Reed owners will definitely want to target Carrier on waivers if they haven't already or lack a trust-worthy backup.
Rodgers didn't have his best game against the Rams, suffering from a bad drop on what could have been a touchdown, and getting flagged for a few costly penalties. However, he did see eight targets come his way, and over the past two weeks is tied with Randall Cobb for the most targets on the team with 14. He's starting to become more involved in this offense, which would explain why fantasy fans have responded by greatly increasing his ownership percentage. If Rodgers is still available in your league, he's definitely worthy of a bench stash as the Packers offense tries to find it's mojo once again.
Given the injuries plaguing the Falcons pass-catchers on Sunday, it wasn't that surprising to see Jacob Tamme garnering double-digit targets. While his upside will be a bit limited, for the interim he's worth a look in deeper leagues, as the target volume could stay. Especially this week as the Julio Jones and Leonard Hankerson have less time to recover as they play the Saints on Thursday Night Football. Tamme could see a healthy amount of looks once again, and should have a relatively safe PPR floor.
The depths of the quarterback market are quite bleak, but the Amish Rifle is coming off of his bye week and will face a Washington secondary that has been taken to task a few times this year. He could be worth streaming or deploying in two-quarterback formats if you're in need, as Eric Decker and Devin Smith should both be healthier after the bye.
Hoyer turned in a decent performance last week after Ryan Mallett left the game with an injury (and was effectively benched after that). The Jaguars secondary is a work in progress, and Hoyer has the benefit of throwing to DeAndre Hopkins. It's a decent matchup if you're in need of a streaming target or a secondary option in deeper two-quarterback leagues.