Winston, Hines among top fantasy football free-agent finds for this week

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Updated: October 10, 2018

6:07 PM ET

It has been said that timing is everything in life; it can apply to fantasy football, too. As we cruise into Week 6 of the NFL season, another notable saying comes to mind: it’s never too soon to plan ahead. In this case, these two thoughts tie together. Though there are just two teams on a bye in Week 6, there will be four in Week 7, four more in Week 8 and six in Week 9. Nearly half the league will be on a bye during a three-week stretch, meaning you’re going to need all sorts of contingency plans for your fantasy lineup.

In Week 7, a team with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback and Antonio Brown at receiver — an enviable duo — will be on the hunt for replacements. But here’s the thing: it’s hard to find them when you absolutely need them. In the same week that you are looking for a Rodgers replacement, someone else might be looking for a Ben Roethlisberger replacement; in the same week you are looking for a Brown replacement, someone else may be seeking Davante Adams reinforcement.

The takeaway? Don’t be afraid of planning ahead. Rather than waiting for the week in which you have no choice but to add a player, get ahead of the curve. It’s sound roster management.

To help you do that and more, here’s the fantasy waiver-wire adds for this week.

Reminder: players must be available in more than 50 percent of leagues on ESPN.com to be eligible for this column.

Teams on a bye this week: Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints

Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12.5 percent rostered): The Bucs return from a bye this week and Winston will take over under center, equipped with a ridiculous cast of pass catchers. In five of his past 11 starts, Winston has finished as a top-eight quarterback in fantasy and he’s completed nearly 69 percent of his passes during his past six games, up from 60 percent during his first 40 games. His upside? It’s top-10 quarterback for the rest of the season.

Week 5 recap: Does Isaiah Crowell’s big day change his value?

Is Isaiah Crowell here to stay? Eric Karabell provides his takeaways on the week’s top fantasy football storylines.

  • Breaking down the film: Fantasy takes on McCoy, Watkins and more

    Matt Bowen breaks down the tape to glean a deeper understanding of what stood out around the NFL in Week 5.

  • Will the Jets’ O-line propel Isaiah Crowell to more great days?

    KC Joyner looks at the emergence of Crowell. Plus, a look at how offensive lines will impact the output of Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman and Russell Wilson the rest of the way.

  • Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts (47.2 percent): It’s nearly impossible to find quality running backs at this juncture of the season, so don’t bypass your chance to snag Hines. Amidst a crowded Indy backfield, my belief is that Hines has separated himself from the pack. While Marlon Mack‘s health has limited him of late, Hines has emerged as by far the team’s best pass-catching back who can play a lot of snaps when the team is pressed to go up-tempo. A porous defense and offensive line has led Indy to throw the ball an astonishing 121 times in its past two games. Hines has possible top-25-back upside in PPR scoring.

    Alfred Morris, RB, San Francisco 49ers (49.7 percent): With Matt Breida now nursing an ankle injury, it’s at least possible that Morris will have the starting gig for a few weeks. While not a big-play threat, Morris should see favorable volume (perhaps close to 20 touches a game) if Breida misses any contests. Morris is not typically a factor in the passing game, but he had three catches in Week 5. A likely top-25 running back for the period that Breida misses.

    Corey Clement (28.2 percent) and Wendell Smallwood (7.5 percent), RBs, Philadelphia Eagles: The surprising news of Jay Ajayi heading to injured reserve after tearing an ACL leaves a void of significance in the Eagles’ backfield. How it will be filled is a massive question, and the truth is that we could make a case that Smallwood, Darren Sproles and Josh Adams will all have a role going forward. We’ll turn to Clement to start, though, because of his talent and previously seeing him handle a reasonable workload (including 16 carries in Week 3). He’s an adept pass-catcher, too. Smallwood also merits consideration as a pickup to use sooner rather than later, as Sproles is currently hurt, not having played since Week 1. Smallwood has 18 carries in his past three games, but should see a steady uptick in usage on Thursday against the Giants. If Clement does return (he’s missed two straight games), he’ll be ranked highest amongst Eagles backs in Week 6.

    Keke Coutee, WR, Houston Texans (19.5 percent): After a scintillating Week 4 performance with 11 catches on 15 targets, Coutee showed in Week 5 that his role in an offense led by a red-hot quarterback could continue to flourish. He made good on six of his seven targets for 65 yards and a short touchdown reception, flashing quickness out of the slot and a rapport with Deshaun Watson. He won’t be the top wideout in Houston — that’s DeAndre Hopkins — but the early returns are really promising.

    Alfred Blue, RB, Houston Texans (14.9 percent): The first of back-to-back running backs we’ll mention whose value is tied to the health of the starter on their roster, Blue actually caught the ball very effectively in Week 5, hauling in eight passes for 73 yards. While he chewed up just 46 yards on 20 carries, volume and overall involvement make him a viable flex play if Lamar Miller sits again (though he was active in Week 5, he did not play in the game). A note: Second-year player D’Onta Foreman is eligible to be back on the field in Week 7. He’s another name to consider rostering for those eyeing a young, upside runner.

    Latavius Murray, RB, Minnesota Vikings (45.5 percent): It’s yet to be determined if Dalvin Cook will play for the Vikings in Week 6, but at this point, Murray needs to be rostered in all leagues. He filled in as the starter for Cook in Week 5, handling a total of 13 touches for 56 yards. While Murray has been less effective this season than he was while filling in for Cook last season, there are so few available running back options that Murray is a worthwhile snag in your league.

    Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (16.6 percent): Chemistry isn’t always quantifiable on the football field, but for Brate and Jameis Winston … it is. With Winston under center in 2017 and with O.J. Howard in the mix, Brate saw 61 targets for 41 catches, 517 yards and 5 touchdowns, compared to 19 catches on 29 targets for 322 yards and 5 touchdowns for Howard. Howard is now out for what could be another one to three weeks, making Brate a legitimate top-12 tight end option in that time.

    Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Green Bay Packers (2.2 percent): It’s totally possible that either Randall Cobb or Geronimo Allison (or both) return next week for the Packers after missing Week 5 due to injury. But, should they be unable to suit up, MVS has a legit chance to remain a factor in the Green Bay passing offense after posting 7 catches, 68 yards and 1 touchdown (and nearly 2 touchdowns!) on Sunday. A deep-league add for someone looking for an upside play.

    Josh Reynolds, WR, Los Angeles Rams (0.1 percent): Reynolds, a promising second-year player out of Texas AM, plays behind a star trio of receivers in Los Angeles. But when Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp left Week 5 due to concussions, it was Reynolds who saw an amplified role within the Rams’ offense, catching two passes for 39 yards and adding another 10 yards via a rushing attempt. Should Kupp and Cooks miss Week 6, there is immediate value for Reynolds in one of the game’s best passing attacks. A smart add in any size league.

    Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns (38.7 percent): We’ve written about Mayfield before and he’s been a popular add since becoming the Browns’ starter. But let’s reframe the context this time, as Mayfield — coming off on 18-point outing against an excellent Ravens defense — has an awesome schedule to be mindful of in Weeks 7 through 10. During that stretch, he faces the Buccaneers, Steelers, Chiefs and Falcons, all of whom profile as very favorable matchups for passing offenses. A good quarterback to add for those keeping an early eye on bye week fill-ins or streamers.

    Ryan Grant, WR, Indianapolis Colts (23.8 percent): It sounds at least possible that T.Y. Hilton will not return to the Colts’ lineup by Week 6, leaving them without their top wideout. Grant has been busy all season for the Colts, as he’s on pace for more than 100 targets this season. Game script has helped the Colts’ offense of late, with Andrew Luck attempting 121 passes over the past two games, the most in any two-game stretch by a quarterback in league history.

    Chester Rogers, WR, Indianapolis Colts (7.5 percent): Speaking of Colts receivers, Rogers has been hot during the past two weeks, racking up eight catches in each game. The reality for Rogers is that his role is likely dependent upon the availability of Hilton. But should Hilton be out again and you’re playing in a deeper league, keep an eye on Rogers as a flex play.

    Mike Davis, RB, Seattle Seahawks (14.5 percent): We now have two weeks of evidence on Davis, who was one of our top adds last week. The mitigating circumstance for Davis is apparent: he’s the backup to Chris Carson, but he handled 14 carries in Week 5 and appears to be a fixed part of the offense. He’s an add in deeper leagues, though Carson is clearly the top Seahawks back.

    Kyle Juszczyk, RB, San Francisco 49ers (0.8 percent): This might be the first time we’ve listed a player whose roster position is fullback (he’s a running back in our ESPN Fantasy system, of course), but Juszcyzk is a unique player. He’s an excellent pass catcher whose role might stay robust after a Matt Breida injury in Week 5. He posted 6 catches for 75 yards on 7 targets on Sunday. A deeper-league flex to consider? In PPR leagues of 14 or 16 teams, I’d say so.

    Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets (42.3 percent): If you were among those who dropped Anderson, we don’t blame you after his slow start to the season. Sunday of Week 5 brought a pair of Anderson touchdowns and more than 120 receiving yards, albeit on just three catches. The reality for Anderson is that he is big-play dependent, but he remains a useful bench piece in leagues of 12 teams or more in case the Jets show a stronger dependence upon him going forward.

    Tre’Quan Smith, WR, New Orleans Saints (0.9 percent): Smith was a part of history on Monday night as the recipient of the pass that pushed Drew Brees into first all-time for most career passing yards. His two touchdowns and 100-plus yards were encouraging, as was the fact that he played the second-most snaps of all Saints wideouts in this game. New Orleans heads to a bye this week, but Smith is an upside add to the end of your bench.

    Trent Taylor, WR, San Francisco 49ers (0.3 percent): The 49ers’ wide receiver depth has been severely thinned due to injuries, and Pierre Garcon was banged up in Week 5. Taylor cashed in with 7 catches for 61 yards and 1 touchdown, albeit while playing fewer snaps than a player such as Victor Bolden. A deeper-league flier to consider, particularly if Garçon’s injury lingers going into Week 6.

    Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (18.2 percent): We’re the hopeful types here, so allow this to be our wildcard add of the week. Is Jones definitely going to be the starter in Tampa Bay? No. Is he going to produce if that becomes the case? That’s no sure thing, either. But after seeing his first action in Week 4 and with Peyton Barber largely sputtering as the starter, the Bucs ought to at least consider more work for Jones. And if you’re desperate for running back depth, the add of Jones is on the hope that he gets a chance and makes good on it. He was the 38th pick in this year’s draft and stranger things have happened than a player with such pedigree finding his way after a forgettable start to his career.

    Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals (11.1 percent): The talent of Kirk is hard to miss when you catch a glimpse of the Arizona offense. He scored on a 75-yard strike from Josh Rosen to open Arizona’s Week 5 scoring, and while he added just 10 more receiving yards in that game, Kirk is the kind of end-of-the-bench player who fits on your roster. He’s got enough ability that if Rosen makes strides, Kirk could eventually fly onto the flex radar.

    Donte Moncrief, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (12.8 percent): Disclaimer: There have been multiple wideouts from the Jaguars to make this list this season, but let’s add another in the mix in Moncrief. He has 11 catches over the past two games and saw an astounding 15 targets in Week 5 against the Chiefs. A starter in your lineup each week? Nope. But a name to keep on the radar in a deeper league, with enviable size and some red zone upside.

    Article source: http://www.espn.com/fantasy/football/story/_/page/freeagentfinds181008/fantasy-football-jameis-winston-nyheim-hines-top-fantasy-football-free-agent-finds-week-6