Most Mondays when it's not NFL season, I go do bar trivia with some friends, and one thing I've learned from that is to trust your gut instinct when you start to waver on an answer. If you've got an immediate answer to a question that you then talk yourself into, it's often better to stick with that initial answer.
I spent most of the offseason skeptical of the idea that Waller was going to have a huge impact on the Giants offense. He was a great player at his peak, but we hadn't seen him play at that level in a couple of seasons, and he was a 31-year-old who had missed time in each of the previous two seasons with injuries, so I was mostly out on him as his price rose in the preseason.
But the drumbeat out of Giants camp was hard to ignore. Waller was by far the best player in the Giants passing game, and was making big plays seemingly every day. My guard broke when Waller was Daniel Jones' clear favorite target in their lone preseason game. I ultimately ended up moving Waller up, to the point where he was right behind T.J. Hockenson, and nearly a top-50 pick in my preseason rankings.
Writing it all out like that, I'm seeing how bad the process was. Training camp reports should rarely move your opinion about a player or team – I'll point to the Steelers as another example where we should have faded the noise – and we ultimately only saw one drive with Jones and Waller in the preseason. That's not very much to go on, especially when I was still pretty sure Jones wasn't a good QB and the Giants offense wasn't likely to be much better than average at best.
As it turns out, I was giving them too much credit. Monday night was an absolute disaster, with Jones getting sacked 10 times and clearly playing scared even on those rare occasions when he wasn't under duress. The Giants managed just three points against the Seahawks, with Waller targeted just three times, and now I'm wondering whether even Saquon Barkley will be able to overcome this mess.
The schedule does them no favors, either, with fearsome pass rushes in the form of Miami, Buffalo, Washington, and the Jets over the next four weeks. Things might stay ugly for the Giants, and for the first time this season, I can't make the case for Waller (or anyone else in this offense) as a buy-low candidate.
And with that, we're off to Week 5, officially. Today's newsletter hasfor you plus a look at some trade targets with . Let's go improve those rosters:
My Week 5 Rankings:| | |
If you've been holding on to your FAB or waiver-wire priority for a potential league-winning addition, you probably need to make sure you keep your powder dry for at least one more week, because Week 5 isn't the time to be going all-in.
There's a caveat attached to that statement, though: If Javonte Williams' hip injury isn't serious, then this isn't the week to be going all-in. We received a report Monday morning indicating that WIlliams isn't "expected to miss much – if any – time," but as of Monday evening we haven't received any more details than that. If Williams does end up having an injury that costs him multiple weeks, Jaleel McLaughlin would be worth a decent bid, though still significantly less than what Puka Nacua, Jerome Ford, or De'Von Achane went for in previous weeks.
, and here are my thoughts on the top five options for Week 5:
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Jamey Eisenberg's top targets
- Jaleel McLaughlin, RB, Broncos (3%) – Entering the season, we assumed Samaje Perine was going to be the guy to roster if something happened to Williams, but now I'm starting to think Perine has his role, and McLaughlin is going to be the one who steps up in Williams' absence. It'll still be a committee, but McLaughin looks dynamic in both phases of the game, while Perine has always been a "get what's there" type of runner. I ranked both as RB2s for Week 5, so if Perine is available, he's a decent streaming option if you need one.
- Jake Ferguson, TE, Cowboys (63%) – I'll take a bit of an L on this one, because I thought Ferguson might lose his job after a couple of rough games to open the season. However, none of the other tight ends on the Cowboys roster have stepped up, while Ferguson has, with 12 catches for 125 yards on 14 targets over the past couple of games. I still don't think he's an especially impressive talent, but he has a consistent role in an offense that will use him, which is more than we can say for some tight ends.
- Cole Kmet, TE, Bears (58%) – Kmet's in a similar spot to Ferguson. I think he's probably a better player, but in a Chicago offense that has really only looked decent throwing the ball for about one half of one game so far, it comes out in the wash. Both might just be low-end TE1s, but I think both are probably clear of the true streaming options at the position, which makes them fine targets if you don't have someone you can trust.
- Michael Wilson, WR, Cardinals (5%) – Wilson dealt with a ton of injuries in college, but he generally produced when he was on the field, and he's starting to do the same for the Cardinals. Week 4 was really his first complete good game, as he had relied solely on big plays prior to this one. But still, seven catches for 76 yards and a pair of scores is the kind of production we want to see from a young guy. I think Williams is unlikely to be a consistently useful option in the near future, but he's showing an ability to win down the field and in the red zone, and that could make him very useful as his game continues to grow – especially if Kyler Murray can return and elevate a surprisingly feisty Cardinals team.
- Jameson Williams, WR, Lions (47%) – There were plenty of people who thought Williams might be the best wide receiver in last year's draft class, and he ended up going 12th overall despite an ACL injury that kept him out well into his rookie season. Things haven't gone well for him since: He had one catch in six games as a rookie, suffered a hamstring injury this preseason, and then served a four-game suspension for gambling. He's eligible to return this week, and while Dan Campbell laid out some pretty low expectations for Williams' return, it's a rare bet on a talented, blue-chip type prospect with a clear path to a role if he can earn it that won't cost very much to acquire. Throw out a 7% bid in FAB and see if you land him. I think it's probably a relatively low probability bet, but it's one with quite a bit of upside if you can be patient.
Before you make any trades,. Here are some buys and sells to help get the conversation started:
Three to buy-low
I wrote about what I'm expecting from Taylor in yesterday's newsletter, but I only mentioned the potential of selling Taylor as he makes his way back, with the risk of re-injury highest in his first week or two back to practice. But I worry I painted too pessimistic a picture, so I want to be clear: My strong preference right now is to try to trade for Taylor before he gets on the field. I believe he might be the best running back in the NFL, and this Eagles offense has made Zack Moss look like a must-start RB in Taylor's absence. Every time I watch this Colts team, I just get excited about what Taylor might be doing in place of Moss (or especially Deon Jackson). He was a top-five player for me before his holdout/trade demand blew up, and I'd be thrilled to acquire him right now.
I don't really have a strong sense of how the Jaguars will turn things around, but I still like the idea of buying low on Ridley. This offense hasn't looked great, and Ridley is, somehow, third in targets, which would be a bad sign for him even if the offense had looked as good as expected. Ridley really hasn't done much of anything since halftime of Week 1, and I can see how folks who have him on their roster might be getting antsy. I still think this offense will be one of the 10 best before long, and Ridley will be a big part of that, even if the top-12 WR outcome looks increasingly unlikely. A top-15 WR season still seems very possible, and he probably won't cost that much after his past three games.
Jones didn't do much in his return from injury in Week 4, but he was also clearly less than 100% in his first game back, against what looks like it might be a much better than expected Lions defense. The entire Packers offense looked terrible last week, but notably, AJ Dillon continues to show next to nothing. The best version of this Packers offense is going to see Jones taking on the lead role out of the backfield, and we should see that in Week 5. Jones still has top-12 upside – he showed it in Week 1 with a couple of big plays in the passing game – and he'll cost a lot less than that right now. I moved Raheem Mostert along with Tank Dell last week for Jones and Christian Waston last week, and I feel very good about how that's going to work out in the long run.
One to buy-high
Kamara's Week 4 performance was a function of Derek Carr clearly being less than 100%, for both good and ill. Kamara obviously benefited with the 14 targets, but I think he was also clearly held back by the offense as a whole being limited to short-area throws – just 16 of Carr's 37 passes traveled more than 5 yards down the field, and he completed just four of them. Kamara ran the ball well and dominated playing time, playing 76% of the snaps and running a route on 70% of dropbacks, and I don't think that's going to change much here. Kamara looks like an RB1 and might even be a top-five RB in full-PPR scoring.
Three to sell-high
Stroud has been tremendous so far, with three straight 300-yard, two-touchdown games, made all the more impressive by Houston's massive injury issues along the offensive line. He deserves a lot of credit for how well he's playing, but I'm starting to get a sense that some Fantasy players are viewing him as a top-12 QB moving forward, and I'm just not ready to get there yet. The schedule remains pretty tough – the Falcons in Week 5 might be a tougher test than expected, especially with their offense seemingly designed to slow games to a snail's pace – and we still haven't seen what things look like for Stroud when they really go south. I'm not holding that against him – it would be ridiculous to hold how well he's playing against him – but it remains an unknown variable for now. Stroud is a nice QB to have around, especially if you invested too much in Joe Burrow, but if he's my top QB, I still don't necessarily feel great about that.
Mattison has looked much better the past two games as the schedule has gotten lighter, and that's good news for a guy who felt like he might be a bad game away from losing his job early on. But the thing is he still might be a bad game away from losing his job, especially with Cam Akers actually looking pretty solid in his debut for the Vikings last week. I'd still bet on Mattison being the lead back moving forward, but Akers wasn't just spelling Mattison on Sunday; he was playing full drives when he was in, which suggests there's still plenty of room for his role to grow if he shows the hot hand. Mattison just feels especially precarious right now, and coming off two good games, I think this is the perfect time to try to move him.
Opportunity and talent are both incredibly important in Fantasy Football, obviously, and it's always tough to know how to approach players who lie on relative extremes in both regards. In Williams' case, we have a fifth-round pick who barely played as a rookie after running a 4.65 40-yard dash as a sub-200-pound back, a profile that certainly suggests he's at a talent deficit. But his role is so massive that it almost doesn't matter – he's a top-five back in both PPR and non-PPR despite averaging 3.8 yards per carry and with a 50% catch rate. Six touchdowns in four games will do that. But I just don't know how tenable this is. Williams is an undersized back playing more snaps than just about any back in the league. Can he hold up to that kind of usage? Will the Rams keep giving him this kind of usage if his inefficiency keeps up and costs them in important spots? We've seen Sean McVay run very hot and cold on backs in his time, and what we're seeing from Williams just doesn't feel sustainable at this point. If it is, you might have a league-winner on your hands, so trading him feels scary. But it's at least worth considering.
One to sell-low
I didn't buy the idea that Ezekiel Elliott was going to get "starter's reps" last week, and I don't buy that he's somehow going to come for Rhamondre Stevenson's job. And I think there's some room for Stevenson to improve moving forward – his 2.7 YPC is way too low, and will probably improve by at least a yard and a half. But the problem here is, even with regression, I'm just not sure he has the RB1 upside we hoped he would have this season. The Patriots threw 22% of their passes to their running backs last season, and Stevenson got 74% of them. He's down to 60% of the RB targets, and the team's RB target share is down to 17.4% – so, a smaller slice of a smaller pie, which was a concern with Bill O'Brien coming in as offensive coordinator. Ultimately, the issue comes down to this: Stevenson might just be stuck in a committee in a bad offense, which is the worst thing that can happen for an RB.