2021 NFL Fantasy Football Week 5 Waiver Wire Pickups

NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football waiver wire and injury help is here! 

RUNNING BACKS (RB): Latavius Murray, Kenneth Gainwell, Jeremy McNichols, Damien Williams, Samaje Perine

WIDE RECEIVERS (WR): AJ Green, Hunter Renfrow, Kalif Raymond, Van Jefferson, Emmanuel Sanders, Darnell Mooney, 

TIGHT ENDS (TE): Zach Ertz, Dalton Schultz, Dawson Knox

QUARTERBACKS (QB): Sam Darnold, Trey Lance, Zach Wilson

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS (D/ST): Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys


Latavius Murray, RB, Baltimore Ravens (currently owned in 34.2% of all ESPN leagues):
It looks like Murray is finally emerging as the Ravens’ lead back.  Ty’son Williams was held out which means Murray got the starting nod and he responded by taking 18 totes for 59 yards and a touchdown.  The Ravens are one of the most run-heavy offenses in the league which means there’s room for rushers like Lamar Jackson, Murray, and Lev Bell.  Murray faces a couple of good fronts in the Colts and Chargers next, but then the schedule softens up with the Bengals, Vikings, and Chicago with a week 8 bye mixed in. 

Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (currently owned in 24.6% of all ESPN leagues):
The Eagles offensive backfield is now a full on timeshare with Sanders getting most of the carries, but Gainwell getting heavily involved in the passing game.  Gainwell could end up in a role similar to JD McKissic, James White, or Cordarrelle Patterson.  The Eagles had to find ways to efficiently move the ball which meant lots of dump offs that played into Gainwell’s favor.  Gainwell was targeted 8 times and brought in 6 of those targets for 58 yards.  This could be a one time thing, but Gainwell could be worth rostering and leaving him on the bench until he carves out a consistent role.  To see what Gainwell did during his time at University of Memphis, check out our 2021 Running Back Rookies and Redshirts section here

Jeremy McNichols, RB, Tennessee Titans (currently owned in 2.1% of all ESPN leagues):
Like Gainwell, McNichols got involved in the passing game with both AJ Brown and Julio Jones sidelined.  He brought in 8 of his 12 targets for 74 yards and added 11 yards on a single carry.  He could continue to be a part of the Titan’s passing attack if both Brown and Jones remain sidelined.  Grab him, stash him, and get him in the lineup against weaker opponents if both of the Titans wideouts remain sidelined. 

Damien Williams, RB, Chicago Bears (currently owned in 10.2% of leagues):
Williams stepped in after Montgomery had to be helped off the field with a knee injury.  While Montgomery didn’t get carted off the field, the fact that he couldn’t walk off under his own power is concerning.  Montgomery is expected to miss at least 3-5 weeks which makes Williams the next man up in the interim with rookie Khalil Herbert backing him up.  Williams logged 55 yards and a touchdown on 8 carries and brought in both of his targets for 15 yards against the Lions last week.  He does have a decent matchup against the Raiders coming up, but then the Bears will run the gauntlet of the Packers, Buccaneers, 49ers and Steelers in the following weeks. 

Samaje Perine, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (currently owned in 1.5% of all ESPN leagues):
Perine got a little bit of work in after Mixon succumbed to a minor ankle sprain.  He’s the next man up if Mixon can’t go which means he’ll get plenty of opportunities to produce.  He’ll face a pretty nasty Packers front but at least the volume will be there.  Keep an eye on Mixon’s health before starting Samaje.  He’ll also get the Lions in week 6 if Mixon still can’t go. 


AJ Green, WR, Arizona Cardinals (currently owned in 27.2% of all ESPN leagues):
AJ Green is experiencing a bit of a resurgence in his career.  For years the injury-prone wideout sat sidelined in Cincinnati, but the change of scenery might be just what the doctor ordered.  Green has been targeted 6 times per game through his first 4 games as a Cardinal.  He’s parlayed those targets into a 100 yard receiving game or a touchdown in 3 of his first 4 games.  Prospective owners need to be careful starting Green against the 49ers or Browns, but the Texans do look like a great matchup.  He’s worth stashing to see if he can stay healthy and continue producing. 

Hunter Renfrow, WR, Las Vegas Raiders (currently owned in 41.9% of all ESPN leagues):
Renfrow has always been a Gruden favorite.  The Clemson walk-on and fifth round draft pick has been productive.  He’s been targeted at least 6 times in each of his first four games and he’s found the endzone 2 games in a row now.  The Raiders aren’t deep at wideout so they’ll need guys like Renfrow to keep being scrappy and find ways to fill the stat sheet.  He knows the offensive system and he has a good rapport with Derek Carr.  He’ll have a few tough matchups coming up against the Bears and Broncos, but he’s worth rostering or trading for after the Raiders’ week 8 bye when they’ll face the Giants, Chiefs, Bengals and Cowboys. 

Amon-Ra St Brown, WR, Detroit Lions (currently owned in 4.7% of all ESPN leagues):
The little brother of Green Bay Packer Equanimeous St Brown is starting to make a name for himself in the Motor City.  He and tight end TJ Hockenson we’re both targeted 8 times in a loss to the Chicago Bears.  He pulled in 6 of those targets for 70 yards but failed to reach paydirt.  The rookie and USC product is rapidly emerging as potentially the most talented wideout on the team.  He should already be rostered in dynasty leagues and he could continue getting plenty of looks as long as Tyrell Williams remains sidelined with a concussion.  He’ll try to keep things rolling against the Vikings and Bengals in the coming weeks.  To find out more about what the former Trojan did, check out our 2021 Rookies and Redshirts Wide Receivers section here

Van Jefferson, WR, Los Angeles Rams (currently owned in 5.3% of all ESPN leagues):
Jefferson is rapidly developing a rapport with new signal caller Matt Stafford.  He’s been targeted 6 times in each of his last 2 games.  He brought in all 6 of his targets for 90 yards and a touchdown last week against the division rival Cardinals.  He could continue to get additional looks with most defenses trying to stop Kupp and Woods first.  Jefferson’s speed, route running, and big play ability pair well with Stafford’s big arm.  

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Buffalo Bills (currently owned in 45.1% of all ESPN leagues):
Sanders helped the Bills blank the Texans this week.  Although he couldn’t get in the endzone this week, he did bring in 5 of his 6 targets for 74 yards.  The experienced route runner and journeyman is an upgrade from John Brown last year and Sanders’ speed pairs well with Josh Allen’s big arm.  Sanders has been targeted at least 6 times in every game and he should continue to get work as his relationship and rapport continue to develop with his signal caller.  He has some nice matchups coming up as well against the Chiefs, Titans, Jets, and Jaguars.  

Darnell Mooney, WR, Chicago Bears (currently owned in 40.8% of all ESPN leagues):
Last week’s victory over the Lions was a showcase of Fields’ skill set and why the Bears drafted him.  Mooney was the beneficiary of a soft matchup and improved play calling.  Fields’ Combine tape and game tape show he can throw a very accurate deep ball which helped Mooney average a massive 25 yards per catch.  He reeled in 5 of his 7 targets for 125 yards.  He and Fields will have another chance to put their talents on display against the Raiders, but then things get tough with matchups against the Packers, Buccaneers, 49ers and Steelers. 


Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles (currently owned in 16.4% of all ESPN leagues):
Ertz was a top 5 tight end just a couple of years ago, but he’s fallen to the wayside with most of the press going to Dallas Goedert, Jalen Hurts, and the struggling Eagles backfield.  That’s good for Ertz who has become a defensive afterthought.  However, he’s been targeted 15 times total in the last 2 games. He’s brought in 10 of those targets for 113 yards and a touchdown during that timeframe.  Yes, Ertz has had his struggles, but he’s still worth rostering at a fantasy position that lacks any kind of depth.  He has the Panthers and Buccaneers next, but then he gets the Raiders and Lions which should help him get a spot start in fantasy lineup.

Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys (currently owned in 21.6% of all ESPN leagues):
Schultz continues to be one of the focal points of the Cowboys offense.  After a slow start to his season, he’s been targeted 15 times through the last 2 games.  He’s brought in 12 of those targets for 138 yards and 3 touchdowns during that time.  Dak needed someone to step up as a third receiving option with Gallup on IR and Schultz has answered the call.  He’ll have the Giants this week followed by the Patriots and a week 7 bye, but the schedule eases up with the Vikings, Falcons, Chiefs and Raiders all on the docket after the bye.  He’s certainly worth adding in deeper leagues and he should continue to produce while Cooper is hobbled by a lower body injury and Gallup remains on IR.

Dawson Knox, TE, Buffalo Bills (currently owned in 20% of all ESPN leagues):
Knox has now scored 4 touchdowns in his last 3 games.  More importantly, he’s seen his target share continue to rise in the last 3 weeks.  Unfortunately, Knox has logged just 49 yards or less in all of his games this season so far.  In other words, Knox is a touchdown-dependent boom or bust play who’s worth a flier.  He has some nice matchups coming up as well against the Chiefs, Titans, Jets, and Jaguars.  


Sam Darnold, QB, Carolina Panthers (currently owned in 18.3% of all ESPN leagues): 
Darnold has rushed for 2 touchdowns two weeks in a row now.  He’s rushed for touchdowns in 3 of his first 4 games in Matt Rhule’s offense and is having a fantasy resurgence.  He’ll continue to use his feet to fill fantasy stat sheets until some defensive coordinator decides to spy him.  As a passer, he’s thrown for 300 yards or more in his last 3 games and he should continue to do so as he gets more and more comfortable in his new offense.  

Trey Lance, QB, San Francisco 49ers (currently owned in 18.7% of all ESPN leagues):
Lance finally got his chance to play some meaningful football with Jimmy G hobbled by a calf injury.  The rookie didn’t do too badly either.  He threw for 157 yards and a pair of scores and added another 41 yards on 7 carries, but most importantly he took care of the ball.  Lance’s availability will depend on Jimmy G’s health, but he’s worth rostering especially in 2QB leagues.  


Zach Wilson, QB, New York Jets (currently owned in 7% of all ESPN leagues):
Yes, Wilson has thrown 9 picks in his first 4 games, but this week’s matchup is just that good.  The Falcons’ defense has surrendered over 30 points to opponents in 3 of their first 4 games.  Wilson should continue to get better and better with each game, but this week’s matchup is too good to pass up.  Wilson can be considered a streaming option even in single QB deep leagues. 


Carolina Panthers (currently owned in 58.5% of all ESPN leagues):
The Panthers struggled to contain the Cowboys offense and surrendered 36 points without creating a turnover.  However, they have a real shot at bouncing back this week against an Eagles offense that’s still struggling with a young QB in a new offensive system.  The Panthers will also have the Vikings, Giants, and Falcons in the coming weeks which is a pretty sweet lineup. 

Green Bay Packers (currently owned in 24.9% of all ESPN leagues):
The Packers have done a pretty good job of containing offenses.  They’ve generated 2 turnovers in each of their last 3 games and they’ve held opponents to just 17 points in 2 of those games.  They’ll take on Joe Burrow and a struggling Cincinnati offense this week that could be without starting RB Joe Mixon.  The Packers also take on an anemic Bears offense next week so this defense is good for at least a couple of weeks. 

Dallas Cowboys (currently owned in 32.3% of all ESPN leagues):
The division rival Giants come to town this week.  If the Cowboys can contain Daniel Jones, they should be able to stifle a Giants offense that’s scored less than 21 points in 3 of its first 4 games so far this season.  Buyer beware: they’ll need to do it without Demarcus Lawrence who’s sidelined at least another 2 weeks with a broken foot. 

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